Tag Archives: April 2011

30
March

“When we accept small wonders, we qualify ourselves to imagine great wonders.” — Tom Robbins

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Off-the-Wall Musings
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Each month, “My Better Day” newsletter contains tips for your yoga practice, yoga quotes to bring yoga off the mat and into your life, affirmations to brighten your day and motivate, and more!  It is my wish for your well-being that I send this newsletter to help make your day a Better Day!

In this issue: Yoga quote, Practice yoga pose, Meditation on the go, Chakrascope, Hand Mudra, Featured Card Deck and Quote, Healthy News, Featured Recipe, Favorite Yoga Music / DVD, Happenings at Better Day Yoga LLC, Final Relaxation Quote.

Namasté,

Sandy Krzyzanowski

Founder, Better Day Yoga LLC

“When we accept small wonders, we qualify ourselves to imagine great wonders.”
— Tom Robbins

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I decided to take a drive to St. Cloud, MN.  We go there a couple of times a year and enjoy the drive. We had no real goal in mind for the day but to enjoy each other’s company and to have fun.  So our mood was light and receptive.  Perhaps that’s when synchronicity makes its way into your life.

Our first stop was at Caribou Coffee.  The young lady that served our coffee was enjoyable and we had a fun exchange over the trivia question of the day.  As I took the change from her hand, I noticed a small tattoo written on the underside of her wrist and asked what it was.  It said, simply:  “Small Wonders”.  That touched me.  What a great way to remind yourself to be aware of all the small wonders in any given day.

Driving to St. Cloud, we passed many billboards, but one in particular stood out.  It was a billboard advertising a local hospital and it featured a small child with the caption “Small Wonders”.  What are the chances I’d run across that exact phrase twice in one morning?  Usually I take note at three occurrences, but this one seemed poignant at two.  I had to jot it down to dwell on later.

When I decided it was time to start writing this month’s newsletter, I wasn’t sure where to start, which is typical for me.  The sheet of paper on which I’d written about the two “Small Wonders” appearances stared at me from my desk, and I knew.

I found the opening quote by Tom Robbins and thought it was a great tie in—”When we accept small wonders, we qualify ourselves to imagine great wonders.” I’ve often referred to using your experiences in life as a stepping stone for the next one. You never know which small step you are taking will be the foundation for your next big thing.

How many small wonders make it to your awareness in a day? I’m as guilty as the next person for not noticing them.  Perhaps that’s why the tattoo and the billboard spoke to me that morning.  I knew that I wanted to recommit to recognizing the small wonders in my life. The second sighting of the phrase within a couple hours of the first was a high sign to me that the Universe supported my intention.

Seeing “Small Wonders” twice, back-to-back was in itself a “Small Wonder”. It felt like a “bonk” on the head when the Universe is trying to call attention to something in your life.  The Universe is talking to you in every minute of every day. All we need to do is actually be aware that everything is a message.There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”—Albert Einstein. Miracles and small wonders—I think they’re the same thing. How about you?

What do you consider a small wonder? Have you stopped to consider what it takes to make you wonder? How many times has the Universe bonked you on the head only to get a non-response?  I think the more you practice listening, the easier it will be to hear the message.  The more you acknowledge that you’ve heard, the more messages make their presence known.  The more receptive you are, the more likely you’ll be aware of the miracles that surround you.

Do you think that the two appearances of the “small wonders” phrases in my morning were not all that special?  After all, it was just a tattoo and a billboard.  Perhaps they’re special because I decided to consider them special. It’s up to me to decide what I think of the moments in my day, isn’t it?  You decide what’s important and meaningful. If I’m thinking this moment to be filled with something magical, didn’t I just create my own magic? (Yes, a continued theme from last month’s topic on fairies, elves, and leprechauns.)  So decide to consider more moments as special (if not all of them!).

As Tom Robbins suggests in his opening quote, allow yourself to accept the small wonders vying for your attention at every moment to promote yourself to imagining the great ones.  “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.”—William Arthur Ward.

One of the definitions of mindfulness is being completely in touch and aware of the present moment.  The practice of Hatha Yoga is one way to develop mindfulness, as is meditation.  The small wonders will make their presence known to anyone who is able to practice mindfulness.  It’s just that simple…but I didn’t say it was easy.

Be Inspired

“Our asana practice can have a positive impact on our lives because it constantly asks us to become more sensitive, more conscious, and more aware of our bodies, minds, feelings, and emotions. As our sensitivity increases, life becomes more rich and enjoyable because we can taste the unique flavor of each individual moment. More important, we also become more aware of what moves us toward our dharma, or life path, and what takes us away from it. This awareness makes us clearer and more peaceful, more able to elegantly handle life’s endless dilemmas without feeling overwhelmed or fearful. As a result, we become more effective in all of our actions, and our presence begins to inspire and bring out the best in people around us.

The awareness that we develop on the yoga mat, though seemingly small, affects all that is. As we become more aware in our yoga practice and in our lives, as we move away from force and violence and toward sensitivity, feeling, and awareness, we change our individual consciousness and actions. In turn, these changes influence the consciousness and the actions of everyone we meet. Slowly, we shift the direction the world is taking. As we practice each asana, whether it be a challenging twist such as Ardha Matsyendrasana II (Half Lord of the Fishes II Pose) or a simple standing pose such as Tadasana (Mountain Pose), we have the opportunity to become the embodiment of peace and to make our practice a prayer for harmony in the world.” http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/930?utm_source=DailyInsight&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=DailyInsight

Stop Thinking
“Give your mind a rest. The mental dribble we entertain prevents us from finding that space inside us that is total peace and quiet. Become the witness of your mind. When you really pay attention to your thoughts, they subside. When your mind is no longer energized with the thought there is a pause in the mental stream. As you practice this technique, the pauses will become longer and deeper. The end result is the joy of being.” (From Andrea Smith Gallery’s “Weekly Enlighten Up Message:  http://www.andreasmithgallery.com/)

So I’m suggesting you become aware of the present—of YOUR presence. Then the small wonders can speak to you, and perhaps you’ll have the “presence of mind” to be someone else’s “small wonder” for the day.

My “Meditation on the Go” section in each month’s newsletter offers some suggestions for being present:  http://betterdayyoga.com/category/newsletter/meditation.  Here’s a few that aren’t yet archived from my old website   :

  • Simple meditation exercise:
    Sit comfortably as described earlier. Close or half close your eyes if it feels comfortable. Make no effort to control your breath. Just breathe naturally focusing on your breath. Focus on the movement of your body with the inhalation and the exhalation. Observe the feeling of the air as it goes through your nasal passages and throat. Observe your chest rising and falling and your abdomen rising and falling. You are focusing only on your breath without any attempts to control your breath. Any time your mind wanders, bring your attention back to the breath. Maintain this practice for a couple of minutes to start and try it for longer periods as you develop your practice.
  • Find moments to say to yourself or to a loved one: “This very moment” and be aware of your present.  The “present” is all we really have.  If we miss it by dwelling on the past or the future, we lose the very essence of our lives.
  • One Minute Meditation:
    Use a timer to start. This takes your mind off of time. Treat the minute as if something truly profound will be experienced there, even though it’s just a minute. Be open to the possibility that a little while alone will prove more valuable than anything else that could ever be given to you. Press the pause button in your life for just a minute. Realize that there are few things so urgent that they can’t wait a minute. Settle your mind into your breathing. No need to focus on it. Just drop your mind into it.
    One Moment Meditation: Stillness for People on the Go by Martin Boroson
  • “Quiet/Relax” breath meditation:
    From the Chinese system of Qigong, this meditation is one that suggests lying on your back. Relax the body closing your eyes and mouth. Rest your tongue behind the upper teeth. (There are two nerve endings there of opposite polarity, and the tongue acts as a shunt or grounding loop to facilitate energy flows in your body during breaths.) Breathe gently and evenly through the nose. Help the mind to stay quiet by focusing on the word ‘quiet’ on the in-breath and ‘relax’ on the out-breath. Consciously relax each part of your body and then your nerves, veins, and finally internal organs.
  • Another version of the “quiet/relax” breath meditation is a simple breath meditation that I learned from the book “Walking Meditation” by Nguyen Anh-Huong and Thich Nhat Hanh is simply to quietly say “resting” on each inhale, and quietly say “softening” on each exhale. I use this one in almost every one of my yoga classes as we start our final relaxation pose. Actually it’s just hit me that I’m using “relaxing” on the inhale, and “softening” on the exhale. Guess I like to do creative combination.
  • Counting breath meditation: Sitting comfortably, relax your body, eyes closed or half closed – if it feels comfortable, tongue resting on that spot behind the upper teeth. (See the prior bullet point regarding how this acts as a grounding loop.) Breathing naturally, allowing the breath to slow to its own natural rhythm. Start counting ‘one’ as you inhale, ‘two’ as you exhale, etc., until you reach ten, and then repeat. Another variation of this would be counting only on the inhale.
  • The Walking Meditation book by Nguyen Anh Huong & Thich Nhat Hanh also reviews counting your breaths with similar simplicity: On the inhale say “in, one,” and on the exhale say “out, one” continuing up through ten, and working your way up to 15 next and perhaps 20. The authors suggest doing this ten count breath once in the morning and once in the evening.They say it takes approximately 28 days to create a habit. Why not challenge yourself to add a healthy habit to your life for 28 days? The counting breath meditation would be an excellent one to add to a healthy lifestyle.
  • Notice the Light Within Each Person: “Inside of you is a light that can never be extinguished or soiled—it’s pure and clear, and its embers are stoked by love. The warm feelings that you enjoy are fueled by this internal spark.

Take a moment right now to see the flame within you, noticing details such as its color, intensity, and size. Perceive how your body feels as you focus on this inner glow. Ask the light any questions that come to mind, and receive its answer clearly as a thought, feeling, word, or visual image.

This radiance is your connection to the Divine, and you’re its caretaker; you can increase its size and intensity with your thoughts, emotions, and breathing. Pay attention to how you feel as it grows brighter and larger. It can burn away the remnants of old pain or upsets like an incinerator, so toss anything that’s unwanted onto the flame, and witness its transformation into fuel for love.

Notice the illumination within you and others throughout the day. The more you focus on it, the more lighthearted you’ll feel. Daily Guidance from Your Angels by Doreen Virtue, PhD.

Still thinking that small wonders are child’s play? Being able to wonder is an innate ability we may have forgotten to use—so yes, use the child in you to remember the power of your mind. Wonder is not a Pollyanna stance, not a denial of reality; wonder is an acknowledgment of the power of the mind to transform.”—Christina Baldwin.  Here’s to being present.  Here’s to being on the look-out for your next small wonder.  Enjoy!

29
March

Tortoise (Sanskrit Term: Kurmasana)

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Empower Your Yoga Practice
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Tortoise (Sanskrit Term:  Kurmasana)

Kurmasana is called yoga turtle pose as it imitates a turtle pulling its head into its shell. It is said to help reduce fat in your belly and hips.

Since this month’s newsletter is focusing on being present so you can notice the small wonders in your life, I chose tortoise pose for its contemplative aspects.  Meditating on the tortoise nadi, an energy channel found in the sterna notch of the throat, brings about steadiness according to the Yoga Sutras.  In meditation, we come closer to our inner being by quieting the mind.  This focus of attention is an important aspect of meditation as well as in our yoga practice. Asking yourself where your mind is at brings you back to the present, back to your practice.

Taking a line from Rhonda Byrne and her book, The Secret, she suggests asking yourself throughout the day “what am I thinking?”  This little question brings you back to the present moment, which we are constantly trying to escape.  This question makes you aware.  As she puts it, the moment you ask, you are aware.  The highlighted deck/card below, The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle says it even better:  “When the compulsive striving away from the Now ceases, the joy of being flows into everything you do.  The moment your attention turns to the Now, you feel a presence, a stillness, a peace.”

Tortoise Pose is a great pose to embody the essence of “Now”.

Alignment Cues:

Begin in a seated straddle position and bend the knees.  Slide the arms as far as possible underneath each calf, palms down.  On an inhale, open your chest and elongate your spine.  On an exhale, slowly straighten your legs releasing them onto your arms as the body folds forward toward the floor. Continue to lengthen on the inhales and release on extended exhales according to your own range of motion. 


 

Advanced versions: Bring the soles of the feet together until the soles touch.  Wrap your hands underneath and around the body, resting on the back; or clasping them (not in my practice!)


Beginner’s tip: Still unsure on your form or new to yoga? You can try a practice pose.

Keeping the knees bent is a great way to embody this pose.

I sometimes modify further by suggesting you bring your hands to the ankles vs. the floor which is even more comfortable to me.


Benefits:

  • Strengthens abdominals
  • Stretches hips, groin, hamstrings, shoulders, and both upper and lower back.
  • Cleanses internal organs.
  • Tones the spine.
  • Reduces your fat in your belly and hips.

Contraindicated for:

  • Low back problems (avoid full forward bend)

From “One Spirit Book of Days” brought to my attention from a dear friend at the Healing Loft (http://www.thehealingloftmpls.com), Katie Fahnel:

“A cosmic myth of Hinduism describes how the world is carried on the back of a turtle—a vivid metaphor for some of the balancing acts that life requires all of us to perform from time to time.  The difficulties might sound impossible when stated plainly and succinctly.  Yet wherever there are challenges, many will rise to them and succeed.  Break down the overall picture into its component parts to obtain a less daunting idea of what’s needed.  Human resourcefulness is inexhaustible.  Have faith in yourself:  move the world in your own way.”

28
March

Purification Meditation / Surround it in light

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Magic of Yoga and Meditation
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Purification Meditation

This is a powerful, cleansing meditation that rids you of negative or destructive thoughts and thought patterns.  It also allows you to connect with the divine.  Do this meditation in your personalized sacred space, or use this version as a final relaxation meditation at the end of your yoga practice.

Begin by focusing on your breath.  Take a long, deep breath in, feeling the life-giving oxygen flood your body and then leave it, taking away the waste that your body does not need.  Repeat this three times.

Breathe normally and on every out-breath, visualize all of the negativity in your life—harmful and painful emotions, poor self-esteem, the mistakes you have made—leave your body along with your breath.  Visualize your out-breath evaporating as it leaves your body.  Feel yourself free of all the negativity that you have been clinging too.

As you breathe in, feel the pure energy of positive thoughts—all the things you are grateful for—fill you with light.  Maybe it’s your family and friends, maybe it’s some positive goals you have, or a vacation you’ll be going on.  Maybe it’s your yoga practice.  Let these thoughts flow with the oxygen into your lungs, through your bloodstream and into every cell of your body.  This energy brings clarity, wisdom and bliss.  Focus on your light-filled mind and body.  If any thoughts or feelings come to distract you, don’t follow them.  They are simply random thoughts.  Breath them out.  Enjoy this blissful feeling.

All of the negative feelings and thoughts that previously held you back have left you.  Stay focused on your breath for a few minutes.  Take this renewed positive energy with you as you go back to your normal day.

Source:  Adapted from the Crown Chakra Meditation in The Chakra Energy Plan by Anna Selby.

Surround it in light:

“As spring rolls in, we are surrounded by more light from the sun, and it feels good.  Light travels faster than most anything. Whenever you feel overwhelmed by anything, just picture the situation surrounded in light. The act of just focusing in light makes our consciousness clearer. Much the same way it is difficult to see in the dark, it is hard for us to “see” spiritually when we are not in the light.” (From Gary & Andrea Smith’s Weekly Enlighten Up message:  http://www.andreasmithgallery.com/).

If you found the above interesting, please consider taking my meditation “how to” classes.  Visit my Web-site, www.betterdayyoga.com, for details.

27
March

 

If you are familiar with chakras, then you can tell from my logo that I love chakras.  The rainbow-colored spheres within my logo are representative of the chakra system within the body.

If you are unfamiliar, here’s a quick lesson:  There are seven energy centers called chakras (literally “wheels”) that store energy/life force/prana.  They are along the spinal column and correlate to major nerve ganglia branching forth from the spinal column.  Each has a different relationship to a gland in the body’s endocrine system.  Each stimulates different organs and systems in the body.  Hatha Yoga activates these energy centers releasing the energy that flows through the spine.  Yoga helps these energy centers/nerve bundles to function correctly clearing blocks that may be there.  Each chakra also is associated with a mental/emotional focus.  In each newsletter I’ll highlight how you can work with a particular chakra to correspond with the season. ~

This month I’m suggesting you focus on being present, on the “now”, and accessing your spiritual essence so you can have access to the small wonders in your life which give your life meaning.  The crown chakra energy gives life meaning.  When the crown chakra is balanced, you experience peace and notice the small wonders in your life.  You experience fulfillment.

The crown chakra creates that inner calm of meditative moments.  The crown chakra is on the top of your head and vibrates to the color violet.  It is the fastest vibrating chakra and brings us closer to oneness with the Universe.  It is associated with knowledge and understanding.

“..it relates to questions like ‘Why am I here?’ and statements like ‘There must be more to life than this.’  These issues may never be looked at.  On the other hand, the action of exploring them may be the beginning of a radical change of life and work.” – Healing with crystals and chakra energies by Sue and Simon Lilly.

I think that when you focus on your inner presence, you define yourself less and less by outer standards.  You experience fulfillment because you have all you need inside.  The outer standards don’t matter anymore because there is no more “outer”.  There is no longer a separation between yourself and others—all is seen as “self”.  We are all one.

Having an open mind and the ability to question the status quo is an example of a balanced seventh chakra. When our seventh chakra is balanced we experience our own limitless nature. We are connected to spirit, but not addicted to that connection.

When your crown chakra is balanced, you experience fulfillment because you bring what is in you out to the world through the energy of peace.  “Once we start living from and within the crown chakra, we start to be thankful for our lives exactly as they are.”  The Book of Chakras by Ambika Wauters.  This inner calm draws others to you allowing you to be a channel of healing energy.

Being a channel of healing energy relates back to the violet color this chakra vibrates to.  Healing is represented by the color violet—the blue giving detachment and the ability to be devoted to the flow of energy, and the red supplying motivation to be of use to others.

Violet is also associated with imagination and inspiration.  Put violet in your life when there is:

  • A need to rebalance life
  • A need to speed up the natural healing energy of the body
  • A need to use the imagination in practical ways
  • A need to integrate new skills into everyday life
  • A need to remove all sorts of obstacles in life
  • A need to calm hyperactivity, or energize lethargy and depression.”

Source:  Healing with crystals and chakra energies by Sue and Simon Lilly.  (See the gem section below for some gem therapy to help bring violet into your life.)

The grounding root chakra vibrates to the color red. Just as the violet color of the crown chakra uses both red and blue energies, staying grounded in your body helps to stabilize the crown chakra.  This can be achieved as simply as eating and drinking pure foods, getting rest and exercising the body.  The crown chakra reminds you that God is in you—so treating your body like a temple is appropriate, isn’t it?

We need rest, tranquility, and peace to contemplate the small wonders and mysteries of life. Doing regular yoga and meditative practices develops both the root chakra and the crown chakra.  Daily reflections ground you—such as noticing the small wonders that present themselves in your day.

According to A Handbook of Chakra Healing by Kalashatra Govinda, “Normally a strong, healthy crown chakra ensures a long, healthy life. Chakra work can stimulate the crown chakra, thereby protecting against chronic illnesses and promoting the body’s own natural healing processes.” She lists a weakness in the immune system as being an attribute of a weakness or block in the crown chakra. She reminds us that all the chakras work together toward a healthy body, and that the best way of enhancing the crown chakra through natural healing methods is to engage in intensive work on all the other chakras.

One of the ways our seventh chakra can get out of balance is when we become attached to results and outcomes. We then believe that it’s our striving and effort that controls the outcomes of our life.  Then we have rigid belief systems—such as believing in the body’s inability to heal as we get older, and have a closed mind to thinking anything else is possible.  When you have a balanced crown chakra, you understand that “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”—John Lennon.  We can handle whatever happens because we’re okay with what is.

My May 2010 newsletter referenced a wonderful book on the subject of “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie.  Becoming attached to results and outcomes—a sign of an unbalanced crown chakra—can be painful when things don’t go as planned.  Byron uses something she calls “The Work”.  “The Work” consists of four questions and a “turnaround”, a way of experiencing the opposite of what you believe.  The questions are:  “Is it true?  Can you absolutely know that it’s true?  How do you react when you believe that thought? Who would you be without the thought? Byron says that “when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and this is true for every human being.” She says anyone can do “The Work” by visiting www.thework.com.  The Website includes free materials to download, audio and video clips, a network of Work facilitators, etc.

“The seventh chakra is about opening ourselves up to the spirit of creation living our lives through divine guidance and seeing the world with a sense of wonder, love, amazement, and unity, as we did as a small child. When you reach this ultimate balanced state, you are truly at peace with yourself and the world. You emanate love, wisdom, and compassion.” Anatomy for Yoga, Nicky Jenkins & Leigh Brandon.  “Seeing the world with a sense of wonder”—that’s what this month’s focus on “small wonders” is all about.

So while opening up the seventh chakra is associated with psychological maturity and spiritual development, I think it’s the sense of wonder and the amazement of a child as described in the previous paragraph that is so important here. “That’s the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up. They forget. They don’t remember what it’s like to be twelve years old.”— Walt Disney: Was founder of Walt Disney Productions.

What a wonderful chakra when balanced!  We cultivate the ability to be mature enough to know when it’s time to play—to do something as innate as “wonder”.  How did we forget?  It’s time to remember.

Breathwork and Visualization:

Affirmations:

  • God is in me, above me, below me, and around me at all times.
  • I seek the highest truth and the most healing ways to live my life.
  • I honor and protect my divine spirit.
  • I know that all is good despite appearances to the contrary.
  • I look within where I am safe, loved, and protected.
  • My spirit is eternal.  It loves beauty, harmony, peace, and joy.
  • I trust that my highest good and greatest joys are unfolding now.
  • I am grateful for all the good things and people in my life.
  • I accept who I am and honor the spirit within me.
  • I live in joy and gratitude for the goodness that fills my life.
  • I appreciate the beauty of Earth and will honor and protect it as well as I can.
  • I know my higher purpose is being fulfilled now.
  • I trust God to show me the next step in my process.
  • Goodness and joy are mine in all situations.
  • I am thankful for the awareness and insight I have into the profound mystery of life.
  • I honor all people, all religions and all spiritual paths.  Each leads to God.
  • Thank you for my life, for who I am and for what you have allowed me to become.
  • I am connected to and part of the Universal creative energy.

Sources:
The Book of Chakras,
Ambika Wauters.
Power Mudras, Yoga Hand Postures for Women
by Sabrina Mesko.

Diet and the Third-eye Chakra: The crown chakra enjoys a pure, light vegetarian diet.

Aromatherapy and the Third-eye Chakra: The crown chakra enjoys frankincense, lavender, and rosewood, among others.

If aromatherapy interests you, I use Young Living Essential Oils™ which are therapeutic, food-grade oils.  Please inquire if you are interested in purchasing a favorite scent and I can add your request to my personal monthly order.  Essential oils raise the vibrational frequency of the body. When the vibrational frequency of the body drops, we become more receptive to ill health: http://justalist.blogspot.com/2008/03/vibrational-frequency-list.html. Therapeutic-grade essential oils are great to have in your arsenal of health promoting natural products.

Gem therapy and the Third-eye Chakra: Gemstones amplify the energy when placed in contact with your chakras.  For those of you unsure on this subject, consider that it’s scientifically proven that everything is energy.  Nothing is really solid.  Why wouldn’t the energy of a stone work effectively with the energy in our bodies just as some research speculates that the energy of computers, cell phones, and microwaves may affect our bodies?  At the very least, I find that holding a favorite stone is like a talisman for me, or a “worry stone”.  As my favorite author, Wayne Dyer, likes to say, “If it’s a placebo effect, I’ll take two”.

Some Crown Chakra gems are: Amethyst, fluorite, sugilite, diamond, and Alexandrite, among others.  “Violet stones combine the vibrations of practical, down-to-earth red energy with the energy of blue—the expansive, spacious, undefined flow of peace.

Combining the two extremes allows the violet stones to bring a state of balance wherever it is required, while having a special focus on the workings of the mind.  Violet stones help the mind to become more organized and orderly.  This can aid where there is restlessness and difficulty sleeping.  Dynamic rest and effortless action are the characteristics qualities that violet stones can bring to our lives.”  – Healing with crystals and chakra energies by Sue and Simon Lilly.

If gem therapy interests you, you can find a great selection at www.crystallinelight.com or you can also link to her Web site from my links page at www.betterdayyoga.com.  I’ve known Jennifer, the owner, for many years and love her products!

Yoga poses for stimulating the Crown Chakra:

All yoga poses are essentially grounding and activate the chakras.  Yoga postures and breathwork are intended as preparation for meditation—stimulating both the third-eye and crown chakras.

Yoga without the connection of breath awareness is simply a stretching practice. So a consistent yoga practice stimulates all the chakras, as does the many breathwork practices outlined in the current and past newsletters.

Although not necessarily yoga, “dancing connects us with the higher realms of the divine.” And “Meditation can help you connect with your inner self.” The Book of Chakras, Ambika Walters. Hare pose, Half Shoulderstand as well as Headstand—if they are in your practice, are also stimulating to the crown chakra.  This month’s highlighted pose, the tortoise pose, was also chosen for its contemplative aspects.

26
March

Mudra to open the crown chakra

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Hand Mudra
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Mudra means “seal” in Sanskrit.  It’s a symbolic or ritual gesture using primarily the hands.  Each position is believed to have a specific effect.  Specific positions can lead to specific states of consciousness symbolized by the hand positions.  For example, if a person frequently and with feeling does a position of fearlessness, they will also be freed from fearfulness in time.  Mudras are said to engage areas of the brain and/or soul influencing them, sometimes physically, by their use—not unlike an affirmation, or reflexology for that matter.

“One way that all of us can better care for ourselves is by developing techniques for coping with the irritations and anxiety that are part of life…Think of these gestures as self-talk for your hands. These simple movements, the gestures that we often make unconsciously, can help us focus on our work, calm ourselves, release anger and energize us. Used for centuries by many different cultures, mudras are seen in Eastern dance and meditation, in ancient Egyptian friezes, even in Byzantine icons of Christ. Most of us use them today, too: we wave goodbye, we press a hand to our chest in distress, we wriggle our fingers to release energy, or press fingertips together to calm ourselves.

Easy to learn, mudras can be done anywhere, at any time: at traffic lights, in meetings, in airplanes, when we’re arguing, when we’re grieving, when we need to prepare for sleep. The word mudra can be translated from the Sanskrit as that which brings inner peace, and that s what mudras are: a physical means of quieting our bodies.”

Product description for Mudras: Ancient Gestures to Ease Modern Stress by Emily Fuller Williams.

A great video about mudras:  watch?v=e7-iXzMdfIs&feature=player_embedded#at=147

This month’s focus is on the crown chakra and using it to notice the small wonders in our life.  The mudra below is specifically for opening your crown chakra.  Enjoy!

Sitting with a straight spine, interlock your fingers keeping the thumbs pointing upward .

Bring your hands overhead.  Your palms will now be down and the thumbs pointing away from you.

Hold this position for 90 seconds noticing the energetic pulses in your thumbs.  Then lower your hands to your heart center and hold for another 90 seconds.  Relax and breathe long, deep and slow.

Affirmation: I am connected to and part of the Universal creative energy.

I’d like to add a mantra to this mudra: “So Hum” which means “I am that”.

I’ve also used the interpretation of “I am that” in a powerful yoga practice where we were to silently say our “Sankalpa” or intention for our spiritual purpose; and then out loud we chanted “So Hum” while bringing our hands to our opposite shoulders.  This affirms “I am that”.  This wonderful experience was brought to me by Lucy Pirner of Awakening Counseling and Wellness in Hudson, WI.  http://www.awakencounselingandwellness.com/

Source:  Power Mudras, Yoga Hand Postures for Women by Sabrina Mesko.

 

25
March

The Power of Now color cards by Eckhart Tolle

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Featured Card Deck and Quote
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I love affirmations and use “oracle” decks to provide a positive boost in the morning or whenever I need a lift.  It’s my way of telling the Universe I’m open to listening to their message:  “Have at it!”  “I’m listening!”  “Tell me more!”  I hope you enjoy as I introduce some of my favorite cards and quotes in my newsletters!  These make great gifts for any occasion as well as can be used as inspirational hand-outs in class if you are a yoga instructor.

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

This is one of the recommended books from my first 200-hour yoga training through YogaFit®.  I loved it so much, I bought the deck of cards.  Since this month’s focus is on being present in the moment, what better deck than “The Power of Now” to enable us to do that?

Card #1: Backside says “The joy of being” (not shown).  Front side reads:  When the compulsive striving away from the now ceases, the joy of Being flows into everything you do.  The moment your attention turns to the Now, you feel a presence, a stillness, a peace.

Card #2: Backside says “Portals to the now” (not shown).  Front side reads:  Keep some of your attention within. Don’t let it all flow out.  Feel your whole body from within, as a single field of energy.  It is almost as if you were listening or reading with your whole body.  Let this be your practice in the days and weeks to come.

Description: For admirers of the bestselling The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle’s wisdom now comes in a highly accessible form — an elegant boxed set of color cards. Each inspirational card expresses a quotation from the book on one side and art on the other — to aid busy people with their daily meditations. Topics include discovering portals of the now, rising above thought, and transforming suffering into peace.

You can buy your very own deck and the book of the same name at:  http://eckharttolle.mybigcommerce.com/search.php?search_query=the+power+o

About the author: Eckhart is a spiritual teacher and author who was born in Germany and educated at the Universities of London and Cambridge. At the age of 29, a profound inner transformation radically changed the course of his life. The next few years were devoted to understanding, integrating and deepening that transformation, which marked the beginning of an intense inward journey. Later, he began to work in London with individuals and small groups as a counselor and spiritual teacher. Since 1995 he has lived in Vancouver, Canada. Eckhart Tolle is the author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers The Power of Now (translated into 33 languages) and the highly acclaimed follow-up A New Earth, which are widely regarded as two of the most influential spiritual books of our time.

In my first newsletter, I highlighted one of my favorite decks—a wonderfully whimsical, inspiring, thought-provoking Enrichuals© deck, created by local author, artist and creativity coach, Suzanne Vadnais Monson.  Refer to the November newsletter archive for a sample card.  Suzanne has graciously agreed to let me make them available on Better Day Yoga’s product page online!  http://betterdayyoga.com/products.htm

24
March

Meditators get skinny!

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Healthy News
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Meditators get skinny!

In a study, dieters who spent about 7 minutes meditating each day experienced far fewer food cravings than their nonmeditating peers. And the meditators were far more likely to resist their cravings.

Over a 7-week period, a group of study participants was taught “mindfulness meditation.” With this method, they practiced recognizing, accepting, and experiencing their cravings rather than trying to ignore or suppress them. As a result of this meditative practice, people did a better job of holding those cravings off. Researchers think the mindfulness meditation worked better than relying on sheer willpower because the practice helped minimize the frustration and obsessive preoccupation with food triggered by trying, often unsuccessfully, to suppress food cravings.

http://www.realage.com/tips/craving-control-through-mindful-meditation?eid=1098936006&memberid=5734411

23
March

Peach-Blackberry Smoothie

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Delicious Recipes À la Christine
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One of my dearest friends cooks, bakes, and grills like a professional chef.  She loves to chop vegetables, says things like “ramekins” and has her own tablecloth named after her—The Christine—for purchase at The Palate in Stockholm, WI:  http://www.thepalate.net/.  Preparing food has been her passion since before my husband and I met Christine and her husband, Mark, over 15 years ago.  It has been our good fortune to be the lucky recipients of many delicious meals and absolutely wonderful times in their home.  Since I am all about following our passion, this is my way of letting her have an outlet for hers.  Enjoy!

Filling in for Christine’s busy schedule:

Created by: Almond Board of California
Description:
Let this crisp and fruity drink give you a smart morning start, or act as an afternoon snack to keep hunger at bay. With every sip, you’ll enjoy the smooth taste of almond butter, peaches, blackberries, and a touch of honey.

Ingredients

2 cups almond milk
2 cups frozen peaches
1 cup frozen blackberries
2 tablespoons almond butter
2 tablespoons honey

Preparation: Combine ingredients in blender and blend until smooth and thick. Serve.

Nutritional Information

Nutritional analysis per serving.

Calories 209 Fiber 5 g
Fat 7 g Cholesterol 0 mg
Sat Fat 0.7 g Sodium 109 mg
Mono Fat 3.5 g Calcium 186 mg
Poly Fat 2.2 g Magnesium 66 mg
Protein 7 g Potassium 417 mg
Carb 34 g Vitamin E 6.9 mg*
* total alpha-tocopherol equivalents

http://www.almondboard.com/healthprofessionals/RecipeIdeas/Pages/RecipeDetailView.aspx?RID=cd54c61d-6094-4b0d-bcf8-78679855614c&sr=1

2 cups almond milk
2 cups frozen peaches
1 cup frozen blackberries
2 tablespoons almond butter
2 tablespoons honey
Preparation: Combine ingredients in blender and blend until smooth and thick. Serve.

22
March

Buddha Card 1

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Featured Yoga Music/DVD
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I purchased this CD at the same shop highlighted last month—one of my favorite new age shops:  Mind Body & Spirit Gifts & Books in downtown St. Cloud, MN.  www.mindbodyspirit-online.com.  They carry stunning jewelry, stones & crystals, books & music, essential oils & herbs, candles & incense, unique gifts & artwork, Native American items, and relaxation & meditation CDs.  They also offer Intuitive/psychic readings, body & energy work, classes & workshops, and guest speakers!

Product Description:

Music CD Greeting Card – Buddha Card 1— Relaxing and calming with natural sounds.

Yes!  It’s a greeting card! It’s blank inside so you can write your own message.  The card is 5 ½” x 5 ½” and requires extra postage when mailing, but who am I kidding?  I’m keeping this CD!

These high quality cards not only offer beautiful images to send to friends and family but the gift of an enclosed CD. Each CD has been specially compiled.

You can hear the full CD during one of my yoga classes, or listen to clips and purchase it for your own listening pleasure at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3q4w4qB_JY8 or

http://www.amazon.com/Buddha-Card-Paradise-Music-Greetings/dp/1906738157

21
March

TeriLeigh one-day Energetics of Yoga workshop

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Magical Events at Better Day Yoga LLC
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At Vita Bella we offer a holistic approach to revitalize your whole being by addressing the mind, body, emotional and spiritual self.  Services include: aromatherapy; brain gym; emotional release; yoga; meditation classes; facial exercise classes; individual, family, couples and group therapy; and poetry therapy.

  • April 8, 2011Friday 7 – 10 PM. The Energetics of Yoga workshop with guest presenter, TeriLeigh! At Vita Bella Health & Wellness!

TeriLeigh’s ability to see and feel chakra energy adds much to this training, but there’s more. TeriLeigh has studied extensively with West African Shaman, Malidoma Somé.

In 2009, she was initiated as an Elder into the Dagara Tribe of Burkina Faso. The cosmology of the Dagara Tribe teaches the value of spiritual ritual, relationship to ancestors, and the healing powers of five elements: fire, water, earth, mineral, and nature.  It isTeriLeigh’s background and commitment to infuse these teachings in her yoga instruction that played a big part in my decision to take a second 200-hour yoga teacher training with her.

Cost:  $45 for the evening.
***CEUs available for Yoga Teachers!***
Payment ensures reservation, but
SPACE IS LIMITED—
So reserve your spot with payment ASAP!

Contact Sandyk@BetterDayYoga.com or call (612) 708-6900 to register.

Private Consultations with TeriLeigh are available next week.  Please contact her directly: (651)357-4658. For more information please visit her Website: http://www.terileigh.com/.

  • Julie Jacky Jewelry

Many of you probably remember Julie Jacky as an exhibitor at our Vita Bella open houses.  She has been kind enough to help me grow my yoga business by including free yoga class coupons (for those new to Vita Bella Health & Wellness Center) in her boutique gift baskets.  So send your friends who have been meaning to try a yoga class to her online store: You can order online at Julie Jacky’s hand-beaded jewelry store on this website or you can go to her etsy site at http://www.etsy.com/shop/juliejackyjewelry for pieces they carry in stock on a regular basis.

Wonder is not a Pollyanna stance, not a denial of reality; wonder is an acknowledgment of the power of the mind to transform.”—Christina Baldwin