Tag Archives: June 2011

30
May

“Dorothy: Did you say something? Tin Woodsman: [indiscernible sounds from the Tin Man, who is rusted] Dorothy: He said oil can!

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

Dorothy: Did you say something?
Tin Woodsman: [indiscernible sounds from the Tin Man, who is rusted]
Dorothy: He said oil can!
Scarecrow: Oil can what?
Dorothy: Oil can.
Dorothy: Where do you want to be oiled first?”

 

If you haven’t watched The Wizard of Oz, the above quote is new to you.  But let me just add that if you haven’t watched The Wizard of Oz, you need to!  I quit counting how many times I’ve watched it.  I grew up in a world of no videos or DVDs so when The Wizard of Oz came on annually, I was committed to being there—as was every last child in my neighborhood!  I think when something is only going to be available for a short time; we take the time to be present with it. We appreciate things more when we don’t have access to them all the time.  They take on their own magic, don’t they?

Take flowering bushes and trees, for example. As I write this, I can see lilac bushes from my window, and when those bushes are done, there’s another group of bushes closer to our house that will bloom a bit later—sort of like “take two”.  My husband grew up with lilacs on his family’s farmland, so they’re sentimental to him.  I have grown to love them both for their beauty as well as the emotion they evoke in my husband.  In our front yard, there are both white and pink flowering trees, and another in the cul-de-sac.  They are all a yearly reminder that it’s time to bloom, so be present, or the opportunity to enjoy it will be gone. “The earth laughs in flowers.”~E.E. Cummings.

We each have the ability to stop our thoughts, stop all the doing, and be present with what’s in front of us—A constant theme in my yoga classes.  “There’s no place else you need to be, nothing else you need to do, but be present.”

If you’ve been reading my newsletters, you already know I love The Wizard of Oz. In my March 2011 newsletter (http://betterdayyoga.com/tag/march-2011), I wrote about magical events and “the little people”, and I highlighted The Wizard of Oz:

The Wizard of Oz had me believing in a place far away over the rainbow where wizards and good witches helped you find your way home along with your good friends—the talking scarecrow, tin man, and lion.  Will you ever doubt you have the power within you after hearing it from Glinda, the good witch?  watch?v=11BQQvVy8LI

I’ve often said that I believe everything is a sign; and in particular, when things come to me in threes, I pay attention.  So when there were four references to Wizard of Oz during the graduation day from my second 200-hour yoga teacher training, I knew I had my next newsletter topic.

We started the last day of our final three-day module (eight months of three-day modules, once a month, comprised this training), doing what’s called a “Popcorn Yoga” class.  This means that all eight teacher trainers and our master teacher, TeriLeigh, taught the class to each other with guests also present as students.  We each popped up when the spirit moved us, or when we were “tagged” by a teacher.

One of the teachers was cueing “Cat/Cow” pose and I popped up to share that I like to refer to this pose as “my Tin Man pose” since it’s like the oil can in The Wizard of Oz.  It warms and lubricates the spine, giving it flexibility.  This is a great pose to do every day.  (See the Practice Yoga Pose below for more.)

Perhaps I invoked the sleeping magic contained within the characters of this movie by using the Tin Man analogy.  Perhaps it was the graduation ritual TeriLeigh had prepared for us that day that brought forth the magic.  (Not your usual graduation “ceremony”–this one was filled with the magic of nature, the five elements, remembering and calling in our ancestors, and speaking to the power and light within each other. We then sealed it with song, a special commemorative necklace and journal, and a toast from each of us to each of us. What an awesome ending to an awesome eight months!)

It was after the graduation ritual that we added our own fire ritual.  Now don’t laugh.  Over eight months we all worked hard to remove our schmaltzy yoga teacher voice.  You know the one.  It sounds like we’re almost wanting to hypnotize our students and we’re saying the same flowery phrases. There were many times over the past eight months that we were each called on the carpet for using that voice!  We vowed many times to be rid of her.  So, we nicknamed that voice, gave the name to a doll at our graduation ceremony, and burned her!

As the doll burned and then melted, more than one of us jokingly mimicked the words of the Wicked Witch of the West as she melted:  “I’m melting! I’m melting!” It was then that we noticed the doll’s red shoes, still intact and peeking out from under the wood—recalling the Wicked Witch of the East’s death when Dorothy’s house landed on her. This was the second and third of four Wizard of Oz connections that day…Good bye yoga teacher voice!

The Fire Ritual wasn’t part of the original plan for our graduation.  It wasn’t until each student expressed the heated desire to be rid of their yoga teacher voice persona that someone suggested a more symbolic way to be rid of her. What would YOU like to be rid of once and for all?  Try making your own personal fire ritual by making a list of what is holding you back, or what you’re afraid of, and then ritually burning it (in a safe place of course!).

“Fire is the Gateway to the world of the Ancestral Realm. As that which is burned turns to ash and smoke, fire serves as the element transgresses the physical to the spiritual. Through drumming, chanting, dancing, and interaction with fire inside the sacred space of community, fire ritual is how we connect and communicate with Ancestors in Spirit World to help us burn through that which no longer serves us, to let go of that which we no longer need, and to ignite our motivation, inspire our passion, and motivate our action in the direction of our purpose.” http://www.terileigh.com/fireritual.html.  (TeriLeigh offers other wonderful group rituals for cleansing and purifying—water, nurturing and abundance—earth, and release—grief).

Rituals are done for their symbolic value. Repetitive use of ritual builds your inner commitment, your inner energy. Rituals connect you to Spirit. “even though you can’t control the outside world, with the power of your Spirit, you can create a sense of purpose within that brings about profound contentment and personal peace—no matter what is going on around you. Unless we maintain a daily practice of connecting with our Spirit, we won’t feel its presence and support in our lives. My grace in life was learning early on how to connect with the Holy Spirit within on a daily basis. In fact, I was shown how to make it the foundation of my existence through many practices that have been so reinforced by repetition that they are now woven into the very fabric of who I am.”~The Power of Your Spirit by Sonia Choquette.
http://www.dailyom.com/library/000/002/000002586.html

I compose my newsletters in my home office in the basement which sometimes gets into disarray with all my reference books, calendars, bookkeeping, etc.  I have struggled with making this corner of the basement a place I want to be in—an inspiring place.  For awhile I moved my computer upstairs in the kitchen whenever I worked on the newsletter because it was brighter up there, and I felt less isolated…until I started this self-created ritual:

My husband knows I love sound healing and “singing bowls.”  “Singing bowls (also known as Tibetan Singing Bowls, rin gongs, medicine bowls, Tibetan bowls or suzu gongs in Japan) are a type of bell, specifically classified as a standing bell. Rather than hanging inverted or attached to a handle, standing bells sit with the bottom surface resting. The sides and rim of singing bowls vibrate to produce sound. Singing bowls were traditionally used throughout Asia and the tradition of making sound with bronze bowls could go back 3,000 years to the bronze age. Today they are employed worldwide both within and without spiritual traditions, for meditation, music, relaxation, personal well-being and religious practice. Singing bowls are used in health care by oncologists, psychotherapists, massage therapists, recovery, stress and meditation specialists. They are popular in classrooms to help facilitate group activities and focus students’ attention.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singing_bowl

One of our weekend jaunts took us to Grand Avenue in St. Paul.  There’s a wonderful shop called Ten Thousand Villages (http://stpaul.tenthousandvillages.com/php/stores.festivals/store.homepage.php).  You must visit this wonderful store if you haven’t yet!  “Ten Thousand Villages in St. Paul, MN, is a fair trade retailer of artisan-crafted home decor, personal accessories and gift items from across the globe. Featuring products from more than 130 artisan groups in some 38 countries, we are part of a network of over 390 retail outlets throughout the United States selling Ten Thousand Villages products.”

We found a shelf with three or four different singing bowls made of metal and proceeded to play on each of them.  My husband has a knack for this.  He often makes wine glasses sing while I futilely try to do the same.  I’ve often said he could make a paper cup sing.  Well there was one small metal bowl that I could make sing without fail.  It was close to my birthday…you’ve probably figured out the rest.  My husband bought it for me.

Each morning when I go down to my office, after turning on the computer, I ring a small bell hanging from my dragonfly lamp announcing the opening of my day, and then I light my salt lamp. (Many studies have shown that salt crystal lamps can increase the negative ion count. Negative ions benefit asthma patients, people with chronic lung illnesses, and allergy sufferers. As well, they help improve learning, memory, and emotional well being. By creating a balance of ions in the air, they stimulate natural drive and healthy energy. A low-cost method, a salt lamp is an excellent source of negative ion. Healthy ions cleanse the air. Ever experienced the change in the air after a good rain? That’s from negative ions. http://www.natural-salt-lamps.com/polishsaltlamps.html )

Then I play my singing bowl either clockwise or counterclockwise, depending on my intent.  I’d read (can’t find the source!) that clockwise aligns the chakras and counterclockwise clears them of negativity or blocks.  “It is said that Tibetan singing bowls are forged with a prayer in every hammer blow, infusing them with a million prayers of pure intention for the highest good.” http://www.crystalsingingbowls.com/about_crystal_singing_bowls.htm.  I imagine the highest good coming out of my time in my office that day.

Next I light a candle and some incense. After the lighting I say two blessings. The first is from one of my favorite kit of three candles called “Office Blessing” from Coventry Creations:  A Votive Triad of Prosperity, Sacred Space and Inspiration.  The intent on the label of the “votive triad” is:  “Work Space is an expression of our creativity as well as our attitude about work. Let the place where you spend so much of your adult life show you joy, abundance and the pure satisfaction of achievement. Keep this in focus while blessing your career.”

Now here’s the first blessing: “This place that I create in is sacred and holds gifts most precious to me. It holds my heart which bears my truth. It holds my mind which bears my life. It holds my spirit which bears my inspiration. With all three, I create joy.” http://www.coventrycreations.com/product_info.php?products_id=118

The second blessing is also from a Coventry Creations candle entitled “Guardian Protector Affirmation candle” and reads:

“Guardian Protector, I am in need of you.  Clear away the interference of others, be they in body or spirit, and strengthen my personal fortress of protection.  I am safe and comforted in your presence.” http://www.coventrycreations.com/product_info.php?products_id=31

I love affirmations—which is a constant theme in my newsletters.  Perhaps that’s why I love these candles and lighting candles with blessings. On the side of the Guardian Protector candle, it reads:  “Affirmations, when fully embraced, can fill your body, mind and spirit with their life changing powers.  The strength of an affirmation comes from the inner commitment you make to its success.  Combining your affirmation with a candle specially designed for the same purpose further enhances your personal magic, deepening its effect.”  I simply love these candles for the ritual and empowerment they’ve brought to my life, and they smell awesome!  I burn other candles, but these two blessings are a constant.  They’ve created a sense of the sacred for me as I enter my office, and infuse a deeper sense of purpose.

A great way to invite ritual into your life would be to create a sacred space in your home. “When you compare the floor plans of modern homes with those of ancient times, you will see that our needs have essentially gone unchanged. There is one major difference, however. In the space where the ancients once kept their altars, most modern homes now sport a television.

The effects of having a sacred space in the home are profound. In times of loss, extra stress, or when the world seems unfair, this place can be a refuge. No matter where you live or how much room you have, a corner or small shelf space can become a tool for creating closure, initiating new changes, setting goals and opening yourself to inner guidance. So make room for a few items (a candle, crystals, fresh flowers or pictures) that represent peace, calm and inspiration. Spend a little time every day in front of your altar and watch your capacity for reverence grow and overflow.”~ From the book Your Altar:  Creating a Sacred Space for Prayer and Meditation by Sandra Kynes.  http://www.yogamint.com/_webapp_1964078/Altar_Your_Space

Other ways to initiate new changes, or let go of what we no longer need, includes writing a list of things we’re afraid of or that we feel are holding us back.  Then drown the fears and limitations by immersing the list in water, burning the list, or burying it into the earth. You can also tear the list up into little pieces, throw it away, and then write a list of clearing affirmations that affirm what you want.

Now onto the fourth magical reference to The Wizard of Oz on graduation day.  We held our graduation rituals at the home of a fellow student—and what an awesome home it was—Thanks, Dana and Mark!  My husband and I joked about moving in on the deck.  The view out their lovely, green back yard was amazing—lush, green trees, a serene lake, deer roaming, ahh!  You could even call it an “Emerald City” now that I think about it—wink, wink.

Dana and Mark own a terrier just like the one on The Wizard of Oz. It wasn’t until after the other Wizard of Oz references that I heard the story of their dog “Jojo” and how they adopted the dog from a previous owner.  Perhaps to honor “Jojo’s” new beginnings and the freedom to roam her beautiful, new surroundings, they renamed their adorable terrier “Jojo”.  “Jojo’s” original name was—yes you guessed it—“Toto”!

Wizard of Oz analogy: I couldn’t help but wonder what message The Wizard of Oz characters were trying to tell us.  The last eight months had been an amazing journey—perhaps it could be called our very own “Hero’s Journey”.

“According to folklorists and other narrative scholars, the hero’s journey forms the basic template for all great stories. Described at length in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, the hero’s journey serves as the tale every culture tells. The journey’s path is described variously, but in general it includes the call to adventure, a supernatural aide or mentor, initiation by trials and adventures, victory, and return. Many fiction- and screen-writing courses focus on the hero’s journey, and its universality can easily be seen in fairy tales and other traditional tales (like Moses and the Prodigal son in the bible), as well as in such popular culture offerings as J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and George Lucas’ Star Wars.” http://www.cramster.com/definitions/heros-journey/553.

Over the past eight months of training, each of us were called to grow beyond our comfort zones and at times I was petrified just like Dorothy and just like the Wizard of Oz himself:  Dorothy: Weren’t you frightened? Wizard of Oz: Frightened? Child, you’re talking to a man who’s laughed in the face of death, sneered at doom, and chuckled at catastrophe… I was petrified.

There were times I wanted to quit for fear of losing what I thought was myself, but was really a fear of change.  This training confirmed for me that we do our best learning when we’re scared.  When you’re scared, you tend to learn very quickly and efficiently, or you run.  I wasn’t going to run because while I was afraid, I also knew that change requires feeling different—it demands it.  I knew I’d always regret it if I didn’t see it through to the end, and I knew I would use all that I learned to become better.  There’s always a lesson.

“Change of any sort requires courage”~Maryanne Radmacher.

So I became like the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz in search of courage.  I started out faking it hoping I wouldn’t be found out, and ended up finding out I had it within all along—like Dorothy.  I felt inadequate and lacking in knowledge, like the Scarecrow, but I ended up being the one everyone acknowledged and admired for having the most “nuggets of knowledge” to share during my classes.

Side note on the Scarecrow—I remember it was my Dad who always pointed out that Scarecrow was always the brains of Dorothy’s rescue—before the Wizard bestowed him with the diploma and “honorary degree of Th.D, …that’s Doctor of Thinkology”.  The knowledge was there all along. Had my Dad been alive he would have been the first to tell me I was as smart as the next person—if not smarter (he was my Dad after all).  During my part of the graduation ritual, my fellow students affirmed their belief that I had much knowledge to share, among many other beautiful comments; and a magical bird sang loudly as they spoke.  TeriLeigh pointed the bird out so we’d all make a note of it.  Later the only birds Dana and Mark acknowledged as being prominent in the area were cardinals.  I don’t know if the bird was a cardinal or not.  Just the mention of a cardinal reminds me of my Dad.  My Dad loved cardinals which is why the cardinal is the bird I always use as a sign that Dad is close by.  Thanks for always being there, Dad.

How about you?  Do you feel inadequate to the task at times?  Find your inner scarecrow.  We all have inner knowledge that is waiting inside to be revealed.  We just need to acknowledge it, and there it is.  What haven’t YOU acknowledged in yourself that’s YOUR special gift?  It’s there.

“Assume that you are the expert on your own experience, and that you have information which other people need to hear.”~Ricky Sherover Marcuse

The Wizard as he presented Tin Man with his ‘heart’: “Therefore, in consideration of your kindness, I take pleasure at this time in presenting you with a small token of our esteem and affection. And remember, my sentimental friend, that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.”

There were many moments during graduation and the past eight months where my fellow students showed kindness and friendship towards me—and vice versa.  I will always treasure each and every one of them.  During our graduation ritual, each of us had a chance to speak, all at the same time, to the one being acknowledged at the time (who remained silent).  Two were assigned to write the comments they heard into your personal journal that TeriLeigh gave each of us as a gift for our graduation.  Each and every comment written in my journal brings tears of joy and I am filled with immense gratitude. Tin Man to Dorothy: “Now I know I’ve got a heart, because it’s breaking.”

“We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed.  As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over. So in a series of kindness there is, at last, one which makes the heart run over.”~James Boswell.

We all meet new people in our daily round.  Sometimes they start out seemingly plain and perhaps even ordinary. Sometimes it isn’t until the end of the journey that you realize and appreciate the gifts each person has brought you—the magic inside is revealed.  And like the famous Joni Mitchell song, Big Yellow Taxi, “Don’t it always seem to go, you don’t know what you got ‘till it’s gone.”—suddenly the moment has passed and the journey has ended. I know I’ll have these friends forever, but the monthly training modules, and the final graduation ritual—those moments are precious moments to be honored and acknowledged for We may never pass this way again”~Seals and Crofts. watch?v=Vd6zYQPCgsc&feature=related

“Sometimes, the hero’s journey involves learning to believe in ourselves and our ability to play our part. We may even need to grow into and accept our ability to lead others, overcoming guilt or confusion–you remember Simba in The Lion King? Joseph Campbell taught that the hero’s journey is primarily a journey to the center of yourself, an inner journey to wholeness and understanding.

So it’s possible to see your entire life as a hero’s journey. And at the end of your life, you have the opportunity to look back with wonder, awe, and compassionate understanding at all that you have learned and experienced.” http://www.lyricalworks.com/herojourney/herojourney.htm

I would be remiss if I didn’t give a special thanks to our master teacher, TeriLeigh Schmidt.  Thank you for helping me become a better me—for helping me find the courage within.

Cowardly Lion: “I never would’ve found it if it hadn’t been for you…”

29
May

Cat Pose (Marjaryasana) / Cow Pose (Bitilasana) and Side-to-Side Stretch (Anyonya Paksa Nayana)

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Empower Your Yoga Practice
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As the “Yoga Quote” above mentions, I often refer to Cat/Cow pose as “my Tin Man pose” since it’s like the oil can in The Wizard of Oz.  It warms and lubricates the spine giving it flexibility.  This is a great pose to do every day.

Cat Pose (Sanskrit term:  Marjaryasana) / Cow Pose (Sanskrit term: Bitilasana) and
Side-to-Side Stretch (Sanskrit term:  Anyonya Paksa Nayana)

Benefits of Cat Pose:

  • Massages the internal belly organs
  • Strengthens the abdominals
  • Increases the suppleness of the spine
  • Improves Circulation

Benefits of Cow Pose:

  • Stretches the chest and neck
  • Strengthens the upper and lower back
  • Stretches the abdominals
  • Increases the suppleness of the spine
  • Massages the internal belly organ
  • Improves Circulation

 

Benefits of Cat/Cow combined:

  • Helps transform the energies of the second and third chakras into the higher centers
  • Helps release serotonin, the mood-regulating chemical that takes you from grumpy to all good

Benefits of Side-to-Side Stretch

  • Also increases the suppleness of the spine
  • Stretches the muscles along the sides of the upper torso

 

Alignment Cues: Start in tabletop position with wrists (or fists if you’re taking care of your wrists)underneath your shoulders and hips over knees. Generating the movement with your tailbone, exhale as you bring your chin toward your chest and your navel toward your spine (Cat Pose). I like to hold the first Cat Pose moving the arch a little more toward the middle and less in the shoulders. It’s a small adjustment that opens the vertebrae and feels awesome.

Next, always starting the movement with your tailbone first, inhale as your nose gently lifts, your belly comes toward the floor, and your neck stays soft—or as I often say “no wrinkles in the back of your neck.” (Cow Pose) Continue alternating moving slowly between cat and cow at your own breathing pattern.

Beginner’s tip: Still unsure on your form or new to yoga? You can try a practice pose.
If you have difficulty rounding the very top of the upper back in cat pose, ask a friend to lay a hand just above and between the shoulder blades to help you activate this area. (Not shown.)

Other versions:

Seated Cat/Cow Pose: Done while seated, this pose is very grounding.  Try it in “easy-seated”/cross-legged pose,

or in a chair—be it your office chair, or on the airplane (not shown)!

Seated Cat/Cow Pose flow: In cross-legged pose, you can turn this into a flow that gets deeper and deeper with progressively more rocking motion.

Standing Cat/Cow Pose: I like to do this version with legs a little wider than hip distance. Bring your hands, fingertips pointing inward, onto your legs as you bend your knees. Exhale as you curl your chin to chest and navel toward the spine for Cat Pose, then inhale as you gently backbend raising the head, keeping the neck soft, and shifting your belly out, Cow Pose.

I like to do the Cat Pose version of this when I’ve been walking or standing for a long time and my back feels compressed—ahh!

Warm-up version of standing Cat/Cow Pose: Another standing Cat/Cow Pose to try is a more subtle Cat/Cow done during warm-up.  Standing with feet hip distance apart, inhale, and reach up with arms spread wide overhead and a slight backbend, Cow Pose . Then as you exhale, wrap your arms around you as you fold into yourself with bent knees and hinge at the hip, kind of like hugging yourself in chair pose, Cat Pose Do this flow several times as part of your warm-up.

Additional stretch that could follow tabletop Cat/Cow Pose:
Side-to-Side Stretch (Sanskrit term:  Anyonya Paksa Nayana)

This is another wonderful pose was introduced to me by Beth Marik, a YogaFit® instructor at the time.  She said it helped to release the Sacroiliac joint (“SI” Joint).  It was love at first stretch for my previously injured “SI” joint!

Alignment Cues: From tabletop (perhaps after cat/cow), exhale as you turn your head to the right, and at the same time curl your lower body to the right as well, forming a letter “C” with your body—kind of like you’re a dog looking at its tail.As with all yoga poses, don’t push the stretch.  Just enjoy a gentle left side of the body stretch. Inhale back to tabletop.  Repeat on the other side.  Alternate a few times back and forth at your own breathing pattern.

Tabletop Cat/Cow and Side-to-Side Stretch done together will greatly reduce any stiffness caused by too much sitting and inactivity.

Contraindicated for:

Neck concerns?  Keep the head in line with the torso.
Wrist concerns?  Choose knuckles down or “fists as shown above.

Sources: YogaJournal.com, Beth Saw’s YogaFIt®, and Essential Yoga,An Illustrated Guide to over 100 Yoga Poses and Meditations, by Olivia H. Miller., Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan, Unlock Your Inner Potential Through Life-Changing Exercise by Shakta Kaur Khalsa., Whole Living Magazine.

28
May

Manifest Grace One Day at a Time

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Magic of Yoga and Meditation
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Manifest Grace One Day at a Time:

At the place where you relate to your Creator in the morning, place a sign that reads, “This Day Will I Be Graceful?”  That day you will be graceful because you have asked the question and the answer is, “You Will!”  It should manifest in your way of speaking, eating, telephoning, behaving, taking a bath, dressing, driving a car, and so on.  Your every action during that day must represent you as graceful.  The most beautiful thing about it is that if you can do that for forty days, you will have achieved a state of mind in which little by little you can become totally perfect.

Source: Kundalini Yoga, The Flow of Eternal Power as taught by Yogi Bhajan, Ph.D. Shakti Parwha Kaur Khalsa

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

27
May

Both physically and energetically, working with your root chakra grounds you and builds inner strength—strength for YOUR hero’s journey.

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Chakrascope ~ Your Vital Energy Centers
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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.

My opening quote talked about being on a “hero’s journey” in life and, in particular, during my most recent eight month training.  So what “hero’s journey” are you on?  As mentioned in the quote from above, “Sometimes, the hero’s journey involves learning to believe in ourselves and our ability to play our part. We may even need to grow into and accept our ability to lead others, overcoming guilt or confusion.”  Any journey begins with a single step.  You can always handle the one step, can’t you?  It’s when we try to make the whole journey in our mind that we start to panic. That first step requires firm contact with the earth element—feet firmly planted on the ground.  Earth is the element of the root chakra.

I often refer to your feet as the foundation of the particular yoga pose you’re in.  When you address your foot issues—supination, pronation, bunions, ankle stability, etc., you address issues further up in your body.  Suddenly your hip and back pains are gone all because you worked on your foot pronation, or on creating space between the toes.  Keeping your foundation healthy keeps the whole body healthy.  Such is the story of the root chakra.  If you keep this chakra balanced and strong, it will serve as the foundation of stability for the rest of the chakras up the ladder. The Sanskrit word for the root chakra is Muladhara which means root support—how appropriate.

Remember my comparison of the chakra system to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs?  You need food and shelter before you can consider being enlightened.  First things first, right?  So start with maintaining the body vehicle you are in.  Eat nutritiously, get plenty of rest, get the right doctor check-ups, etc.  Enough said.  I talked about Ayurveda in last month’s newsletter. Eating for your Ayurvedic body type will help you feel better.   http://www.kmtv.com/story/14665511/eating-for-your-body-type-helps-women-feel-better-and-lose-weight.
http://www.yogajournal.com/health/54

I immediately consider the “root chakra” when I’m feeling insecure, afraid, or anxious—as I did many times throughout the past eight months of training. The root chakra is our base chakra and is located at the base of the spine.

While researching the chakra sections for this article, I realize that the characteristics many of us might think come with a strong root/base chakra are also attributes of other chakras.  In The Complete Guide to Chakra Healing—Energy medicine for Mind, Body, and Spirit, by Philip Permutt, I found the following for unbalanced chakras describing chakras two through seven: lack of confidence, unbalanced emotions, lack of concentration, emotional confusion, feelings of unease, nervousness, and anxiety, feelings of negativity, and nervous system disorders.

I believe if we had a strong root/base chakra, many of the imbalances in the subsequent chakras up the ladder wouldn’t make themselves known.  As already mentioned, the root chakra forms the foundation for the other chakras up the ladder.

So it’s this chakra I’ve chosen to highlight this month.  Full disclosure here:  I’ve been told by more than one chakra reader that my root chakra needs some tender loving care.  Jody Tschida, a Certified Healing Touch Practitioner and a Reiki Master Teacher, told me during a chakra reading that I need to spend as much if not more time on building the energy in my root chakra as I do the higher centers.  (http://www.lighttouchspiritualhealing.com/).

How many of us feel like the childhood “Weeble™” toy?   Yes, “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down™”….but they wobble by definition.  That’s lack of root chakra energy.  That’s lack of grounding. I’m really done with being a Weeble.  How about you?  (See the “Healthy News” section for studies showing how improved balance decreases anxiety.  Something we already figured out with a strong root chakra.)

So what can you do to work with strengthening your foundation?  I already alluded to your feet.  Just giving yourself a basic foot massage as you slather lotion or essential oils on your feet after your daily shower will go a long way toward strengthening your grounding points—your plantar chakra’s on the sole of each foot.  These are your primary grounding points and the connection between your energy and the earth’s energy.  Google™ “foot massage” and you’ll find several videos if you’re looking for instruction.  Most of us can “wing” a good food massage, though, can’t we?

The feet contain nerve endings for the entire body.  If the basic foot massage interests you, try looking into reflexology—a form of bodywork focusing primarily on the feet:

When you engage “Pada Bandha” (“Pada” means “foot” in Sanskrit, “Bandha” means lock”) in mountain pose, you are pulling the energy from the earth up into your body.  One of my favorite cues in class is to “spread the toes, lift them wide, and plop them down”.  Then feel the arches cup the mat and pull the energy from foot lock up into your body, connecting that energy to “root lock” (Mula Bandha) and “belly lock” (Uddiyana Bandha), and sending it all the way up and out through the crown of the head. Feel how this lights up the whole body along the way—and I literally mean both the physical body and the energy body.  You can engage Pada Bandha any time you’re barefoot—so do it often and feel the extra earth connection strengthening your foundation and strengthening your root chakra.

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it any way, that Root Lock is another staple for strengthening your Root chakra.  For that matter, all the “locks” or “Bandhas” are helpful.  I’ve often used the analogy of a Kegel Move—where the pelvic floor comes up and in—as the description of root lock. Others say it’s like stopping the flow of urine mid-stream.  Since guys aren’t used to Kegel moves, I’ve added the sensation of going into a cold pool or bath.

Hard core yogis know this isn’t the full story—root lock involves the front part of the perineum and the pelvic diaphragm.  It does not include the muscles of the anus or rectum.  Do you see why I don’t always go into the full description?  I was once told by another wonderful YogaFit® instructor, Stephanie Adams, that if you considered the base of the pelvic floor like a diamond, it’s the front half of the diamond (front part of your pelvic floor) that you are pulling in and up.  You want to keep the back half of the diamond (back part of your pelvic floor) out of it.

I’ve described the “belly lock” or Uddiyana Bandha as a “zipping up” of the abdominal area.  We are aiming for the transverse abdominals—the ones your hands would lay over if your hands were in your front pockets—just slightly below the navel.  Holding root and belly lock at a low level of about two on a scale of ten is not only a good yoga practice, it’s a safe way to approach movement in life, in my opinion.  Think about lifting something heavy, or leaning from your chair to pick something off the floor.  Now think of how much safer it would be to do that with the two locks I just described.

Here’s a fun exercise for those that have been doing root lock long enough to play with this experiment:  Grab a partner (don’t panic!) and one of you stand in mountain pose (feet hip distance apart) while you connect one hand’s index finger to the thumb tip of the same hand.  Hold this mountain pose without root lock (I often call it root lift).  Your partner will try to pull the index finger away from the thumb.  Your job is to not let your partner do it.  Now, engage what you know to be root lock and have your partner try to pull your fingers away from each other.  Big difference, isn’t it?  This highlights just how much strength root lock gives your whole body!  Now can you see why holding root lock increases the safety of all the poses, and why I suggest making it a habit to engage root lock throughout your day? A strong root lock builds a strong root chakra.  (The above exercise came to me compliments of YogaEarth’s free weekly videos.  I tried in vain to find the video to include here!  http://www.yogaearth.com/terraflow/free-yoga-videos-weekly-sign-up-for-terraflow/ )

Working with the earth element will also strengthen your connection to Mother Earth and strengthens your root chakra.  This is a great time of year to reconnect.  Plant flowers in your yard, start a window box garden out your apartment window, or create an herb garden in clay pots on your deck.

I’ve highlighted container gardens in past newsletters, but I have a confession: Up until recently, I had yet to get actively involved myself.  For awhile I shied away from yard work because my parents were over the top into it, and I think I considered it “their realm”.  Then, after I was married, I used the excuse that my husband loves to do yard work so I didn’t want to take that away from him.  Then we took a chakra workshop with TeriLeigh and she also reminded me that my root chakra needed strengthening while Ed’s (my husband) was pretty darn stable—which is probably part of the attraction. She suggested getting my hands into the Earth.  So when it came time to plant the flowers around our house, Ed suggested I help.  He was profusely grateful for the help, which led me to believe I should have been helping all along.  He actually enjoyed having assistance–duh. “Thump on the head” to myself for waiting so long.  Here’s some Web-sites for creating your own personal container garden:
http://erthturf.com/AllAboutContainerGardening.html

http://www.veggiegardener.com/create-a-container-herb-garden/

http://www.ehow.com/how_5051639_build-tilting-clay-pot-garden.html

http://www.flowerpotheaven.com/deck-rail-planters.htm

While we’re at it, hiking in nature is a great way to connect with the Earth Element.  Just in time for June 21st—fee free entrance day into National Parks!  http://usparks.about.com/b/2011/05/22/june-21-fee-free-entrance-in-national-parks.htm.

Food for the journey, feet securely on the ground, a deep connection to Mother Earth’s bounty, inner strength—that’s a strong root chakra. Both physically and energetically, working with your root chakra grounds you and builds inner strength—strength for YOUR hero’s journey.  Here’s to the journey, begin it now.

Breathwork and Visualization:

My November 2010 newsletter highlighted one of my favorite grounding meditations repeated here for ease of reference. An Earth Element meditation follows:

Grounding breath

Take a deep inhale with eyes closed visualizing all your scattered energies coming back to you at center, like you’re a magnet attracting back to you what was yours to begin with, and as you exhale, send your breath down your feet into the ground down into the earth like roots of a tree.

Even picture the dirt pushing away from those roots as your breath energy goes down into the Earth. Do this with a few breaths going as deep into the earth as you can, and stay there as long as you need to. If you’re new to visualizing, just know it gets easier with practice.  Sometimes I like to hold a natural river stone in the palms of my cupped hands.  Natural river stones are especially grounding.

Earth Meditation

As mentioned, the element associated with the root chakra is the earth element.  “In the yogic tradition, vibhuti, holy ash, is placed on the forehead to remind wearers that the body will return to this element”—similar to the ashes placed on your forehead on Ash Wednesday in the Catholic faith—and the Priest says the prayer:  You are dust and to dust you will return. Meditating on the Earth element will increase your groundedness and stability.

1.      Kneel in front of your altar (see the highlighted card “Creating Sacred Space” below for suggestions, or the link from the opening section on creating sacred space:  http://www.yogamint.com/_webapp_1964078/Altar_Your_Space) with your knees and feet together, buttocks resting on your heels, and palms on your thighs.  If you prefer, you can sit cross-legged, or on a chair with your bare feet flat on the ground.

2.      Now place the backs of your hands on your knees or thighs and make Earth Mudra by joining your ring fingers with their respective thumbs.

3.      Close your eyes and become aware of the effects of gravity on your body.  Begin to experience a pleasant heaviness that becomes a feeling of stability and stillness.  Then think about the qualities of the element earth.  Feel as if you are rooting yourself firmly, while drawing up stability and strength from the ground beneath you.

4.      Mentally repeat an affirmation, such as:

  • My life is firm and grounded.
  • My patience is infinite.
  • I stand up for what I believe in.
  • I have my feet planted firmly on the ground.
  • My path in life reveals itself to me.
  • I am exactly where I need to be.
  • I am nurtured by the energy of the earth.

5.      Spend at least 30 minutes on the practice, then stretch your legs.

Affirmations:

  • My life is firm and grounded.
  • My patience is infinite.
  • I stand up for what I believe in.
  • I have my feet planted firmly on the ground.
  • My path in life reveals itself to me.
  • I am exactly where I need to be.
  • I am nurtured by the energy of the earth.
  • I am safe and secure at all times
  • I love my feet.  They show me the way.
  • I love my legs.  They give me support.
  • I know that I belong.  I know that I am safe.
  • I trust life supports me in fulfilling my purpose.
  • I have a right to be me just exactly as I am.
  • I trust in the process of my life to unfold for my highest good and greatest joy.
  • I am creating a healthy foundation on which creativity can flourish.

Sources: Chakra Meditation—Discover Energy, Creativity, Focus, Love, Communication, Wisdom, and Spirit by Swami Saradananda.
http://www.1lovespirit.com/affirmations-chakras.html

Diet and the Root Chakra: I already mentioned eating for your body type (Ayurveda) in the Chakrascope article above to increase health and well-being. Eating root vegetables like beets, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, yams, etc., is also very grounding. Beans, legumes, nuts, tofu and soy products are also grounding “comfort foods”,  as are seeds like pine nuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

Aromatherapy and the Root Chakra: The sense of smell is associated with the Root Chakra. Scents can be very grounding. I’m sure you all have your favorite scent from childhood. So that may be a good place to start. Some possible grounding scents to try: Sandalwood, patchouli, pine, cedar, balsam fir or frankincense.  Not surprisingly, these are all tree scents.  I love to visualize roots coming out of your feet into the ground, like at tree, grounding you to Mother Earth.

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 Root 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”.

Root  Chakra Gems: Red Jasper, Hematite, Black Obsidian, Smokey Quartz, Snowflake Obsidian, Red Calcite, Falcon’s Eye (also known as Red Tiger’s Eye), Zircon, Mookaite (this one is just too fun to say!), Black Banded Agate, Jet, Black Opal, Petrified Wood, among others.

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 Root Chakra:

All yoga poses are essentially grounding and activate the chakras.  In particular, the following are noted as good for activating the root chakra: Mountain pose, chair pose, forward bends, knees to chest pose, easy-seated pose or lotus pose, seated cat/cow pose, child’s pose, and final relaxation pose, among others.

 

 

 

 

26
May

Mudra for Courage: Release fear

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:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7-iXzMdfIs&feature=player_embedded#at=147

Mudra for Courage:  Release fear

Since I talked about finding my courage was within me all along—just like the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz, I’m choosing a mudra for courage and releasing fear.  This particular mudra was listed in a group of mudras entitled “Reframe thinking group”—just like the Cowardly Lion only had to reframe his thinking to realize the courage was there all along.

Posture:

  • Sit Straight and tall
  • Raise your right hand with your elbow bent, palm facing outward with fingers and thumbs straight up. (Right hand asks for help.  Left hand accepts the help.)
  • Breathe deeply and slowly for 3 minutes.  Inhale protection, exhale defeat.

Special note: Affirm:  “I feel safe and protected.”

Time: Try a mudra for 3 minutes.  You may want to increase or decrease the time depending on how you feel when you do it.

Comments: Some say, with this mudra, you are asking for protection from whomever you put your faith in, which will vary according to your faith tradition.  Sometimes when we’re afraid we may attract what we fear.  This mudra increases your courage.

Source:  Mudras—Ancient Gestures to Ease Modern Stress by Emily Fuller Williams.  http://www.amazon.com/Mudras-Ancient-Gestures-Modern-Stress/dp/0943990408

Book description:

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. That’s why we’re introducing this book on mudras.

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.

25
May

ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE … activation card deck by Melissa Harris

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.

ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE … activation card deck

I found this gem of a deck at the shop 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!

I know you’ve all seen the art of Melissa Harris!  I’ve been in love with her art since I first laid eyes on the one I believe she calls the “Creatrix”.  Her artwork inspires the Goddess within.  I chose the “Creating Sacred Space” card since I referenced the subject a few times in this newsletter, and I chose “In Your Power” because it came from the “confidence” group and was where we all need to stand to gain confidence—another theme for this month.

In Your Power—key, center, confidence

Choose to stand firm, elegant, graceful, upright and centered in your power.  Allow your intuition to be your guide.  Know you are supported by the energy of the moon that amplifies your psychic abilities.  Ask yourself, “What am I really afraid of?”  Let the answer follow and heal your fear.  Know that you have within you all that you need to take any action or make the best choice for yourself right now. One of the keys to stepping fully into Creatrix energy is to stand in your power, experiencing the confidence that comes from connecting to the core of your being.  Trust the wise woman within you.  She holds all the answers.

Creating Sacred Space—initiation, meditation, receiving

Create a special private space for connecting with the core of your being and with Spirit.  In this space you may meditate, honor where you are now, give gratitude for the easy and the difficult, create intentions, pray and simply BE.  With this card you are being reminded to initiate time in sacred space for however you need to spend it.  You might enjoy creating altars incorporating the four elements using such items as feathers, special bowls for holy water, and candles.  In this space, quiet and undisturbed, honor all you have been given through the cycles of dark and light.

Description: For three decades artist Melissa Harris, MFA has combined her unique gifts as a clairvoyant with her artistic abilities in her paintings. CREATRIX Anything is Possible showcases the universal stories of women Melissa has gathered and archived in the thought-provoking art in this deck. These activation cards serve as a guide through 33 universal challenges women experience. Women can turn to this accessible tool for inspiration, contemplation, comfort, direction, exploration, or daily as a reminder that anything is possible. The cards are organized into four suits including invocation, grace, keys and initiation. The accompanying 48-page booklet includes definitions of each card written by Melissa with inventive ideas for divination and guidance spreads.

Deck Size: 3.75″ wide x 5.5″ high ~ 33 cards with messages ~ 48 page booklet

You can buy your very own deck of cards at: http://www.melissaharris.com/creatrix/deck-anythingispossible.shtml
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnyNgufxge4

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
May

It only makes sense that balance is affected by anxiety, right? But can balance improvement affect anxiety level? Researchers now think so!

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Healthy News
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It only makes sense that balance is affected by anxiety, right?  But can balance improvement affect anxiety level?  Researchers now think so!

“If you’ve had anxiety problems for long enough you may have experienced balance problems.  You may have felt like the ground was moving, or like you were going to literally fall down.  This phenomenon is in fact a common symptom related to anxiety disorders.  Researchers now believe that if anxiety sufferers improve their balance through physical exercises they may be able to reduce their level of anxiety.

Researchers from Tel Aviv University have discovered a link between anxiety and balance problems by studying children with General Anxiety Disorder.  During the research study children with GAD and children without GAD (control group) were asked to perform several balance exercises.  These exercises revealed that most children with GAD had a difficult time performing the various balancing activities.

In addition, after a 12 week course of “sensory motor intervention” the children with GAD showed a noticeable improvement in their levels of anxiety.  The intervention is mainly based on physical therapy exercises aimed at strengthening balance.

Although it’s unclear if anxiety causes balance issues or vice versa what is clear to researchers is that treating the mind through physical movement is possible.

This led me on a search for balance exercises that might fit the mold.  There are exercises designed specifically to improve balance, such as plantar, knee, hip flexion exercises, and side leg raises.  There are several other types of exercises, such as these, that could also help improve balance.

The take home message is that correcting balance problems could have a positive impact on your anxiety.  Although the research study did not include adults (wish it had) we could infer a similar effect on adults.”

http://www.anxietyguru.net/improving-your-balance-may-help-you-reduce-your-anxiety/

And more on the same study:

Treating the Mind Through the Body

“You can’t treat children with anxiety in a cognitive way because of their immaturity and lack of operational thinking. Working with the body may be the answer,” Dr. Bart explains. The treatment therefore focused on letting the children use equipment to experience their environment and move in space. Dr. Bart found that by working with their bodies, children could work through their emotional problems, including anxiety. Dr. Bart is now working on expanding the initial results through a larger study with more control groups. The goal is to explore the exact nature of the relationship between balance and anxiety in children, and to focus the results on more specific treatment types.

“Young children who have anxiety should first be assessed for balance issues to see if that is the source of the problem,” says Dr. Bart. “We can now treat these children because we have a better understanding of the relation between these disorders.”
Source: Tel Aviv University

http://www.yoga-recess.org/healthbenefits.php

http://www.34-menopause-symptoms.com/reducing-anxiety-levels-may-relieve-dizziness.htm

23
May

Green Cabbage and Mushrooms

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:  http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/RCP00216/Green-Cabbage-and-Mushrooms.html

Green Cabbage and Mushrooms

Description:

Cabbage is a true vegetable treasure, widely underappreciated. It is low-cost and highly nutritious. Along with the other cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kale), cabbage provides significant amounts of fiber, vitamin C and an important class of nutrients called indoles. Research on indoles is focusing on their ability to protect against both breast and prostate cancer. An additional bonus in this savory side dish is the mushrooms. Use the more flavorful (and healthful) shiitake mushrooms if you can find them.

Ingredients

1 small green cabbage, cored and diced, about 6 cups
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 pound mushrooms (shiitake, if possible)
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed into 1/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon fresh dill weed, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions:

1. In a covered pot over high heat, steam the cabbage in the stock for 5 minutes until it is just wilted and still bright green. Remove from heat and remove cover.

2. While the cabbage cooks, heat the olive oil in a large skillet or wok, and sauté the onion and mushrooms until they brown. Add the cabbage and heat through, mixing well.

3. Stir the cornstarch mixture well and add it to skillet. Bring mixture to boil, stirring, until liquid thickens. Reduce heat and season to taste with dill, paprika, salt and pepper.

22
May

The Best of Wah!

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Featured Yoga Music/DVD
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I purchased this CD at my Yogi sister’s studio, Tracey Mortensen of Inspiring Actions in Hudson, WI. http://www.inspiringactions.com/ Just to visit her retail section is a treat, let alone all the fantastic classes she offers.

She just started carrying a line of music from “Sound’s True”. I’ve been a fan of Wah! and her work for some time. I love her book, Dedicating Your Life to Spirit, and highly recommend it.  Her devotional chants will inspire you.

About Wah!:

Wah is a word that pervades Eastern cultures, and as it turns out, means just about the same thing in every language. In India, and as it is written about in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, it is vah. In Korea it is transliterated as hoe or hoa. In China, the sound includes a pitchshift. In America, it is wow. In any language, this sound expresses the experience of deep infinite understanding and wisdom, indescribable bliss.Wah has carried this name for 23 years and she is still on that path of bliss, seeking to understand the nature of her name.
She grew up in many places all over the world, and never really had a home in a traditional American setting.In 1976 Wah! moved into an ashram in Brooklyn, NY and spent 13 years in rigorous spiritual training. She immersed herself in yoga, meditation, study of ancient texts, singing the Divine Name, and achieving personal perfection, arising in the early morning hours for meditation and yoga, and spending a major portion of each day in practices of heightened awareness.

In 1989 her life became more public, and she served as personal assistant and assisted the running of businesses for the head of a spiritual organization. Although exciting and catalystic, by the end of 3 years, this experience was exhausted and she moved on.

Wah’s music reflects a thirst for spiritual experience. Chanting is part of her daily routine, her practice. Meditation and devotion are woven into her daily existence. Ancient scriptures and poetry, meditative technology, and longing for God are all part of her everyday thought.

Her existence is one of spiritual pursuit – it’s all she talks about, in the music and in person. She has always been immersed in some kind of spiritual practice – in Africa, in India, in America. It is her love, her passion, her ultimate fulfillment.

By travelling through the US over the last 10 years, Wah! has had the opportunity to share her music and spiritual experience with peers, friends and fans. Participating in national conferences and retreats (Yoga Journal Conference, Kripalu, Omega Insitute, Midwest Yoga Conference, Southwest Yoga Conference, Naropa Institute, to name a few) has allowed Wah! to feel part of a global spiritual community. http://www.yogatech.com/bios/wah.html

 

Product Description:

This album is a 10-year retrospective celebrating the advent of chant music in mainstream America . Who knew that over the past decade yoga and healing centers would become the new community hubs for physical and spiritual growth?  My music has found its way to you because of this grass roots movement. Ten years may seem like a long time, but to be honest, I have been doing this all my life. The broadband connection to Infinite is created the moment I start singing. I don’t know why that is, I just know that it is so. Opening up to that energy is something that has both nurtured me and catapulted me into the abyss. Many of you share this experience, and together we have created a community of fans and friends all over the world. I thank you for buying my CDs, supporting my tours and generally offering your enthusiasm. It is because of you that I have been able to explore the gift of healing through music. -wah!

http://www.wahmusic.com/audio/cdkrishna/gopala_hare.MP3

21
May

Better Day Yoga’s newsletter featured on Spirit voyage Web-Site!

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; and facial exercise classes.


Better Day Yoga’s newsletter featured on
Spirit voyage Web-Site!


How very cool! The publisher/author of the featured deck in my May newsletter, Kundalini Blessings: Meditations for the Aquarian Age, connected with me and liked my write-up! I am so very honored! Gurudarshan Khalsa, the author, liked my write-up so much that she asked if she could use a link to my write-up to promote her cards on other Web-sites!  How exciting!

Spirit Voyage then posted a link to my May Newsletter write-up on the Kundalini Blessings Cards! This is a great website to: Get the best in Yoga CDs, Yoga Music MP3’s, Yoga DVD’s, & Meditation Music.  See the link:  http://www.spiritvoyage.com/blog/index.php/kundalini-blessings-meditations-for-the-aquarian-age

 


Announcing the “refer a friend”
extended longevity incentive!

 

Summer’s can be a slow time in yoga land. As a special for my newsletter subscribers only, I’m adding a little extra sweetness to the current “refer a friend program” online starting now until the end of 2011:

In addition to the current refer a friend program which is: If you refer a person new to Better Day Yoga who buys six classes, your next six-class purchase is $48 vs. $60.  If they buy 10 classes, your next ten class purchase is $80 vs. $95 for your next 10 class purchase.

I’m adding: For every person you bring on board who is new to Better Day Yoga and purchases two six class buys at the $60 rate (2 x 6 classes @ $60), you will get four classes for free.  Your four free classes will be given once the second set of six classes is purchased. ($12 discount for you from the first session buy + $40 worth of free classes for the second session buy = $52 value!)

If your “sponsored” friend purchases two ten class buys at the $95 rate (2 x 10 classes @ $9.50), you will get 6 classes for free. Your six free classes will be given once the second set of 10 classes is purchased. ($15 discount for you from the first session buy + $57 worth of free classes for the second session buy  = $72 value!)

The timeframe for this “extended longevity” offer will start now through the end of calendar 2011. So your “sponsored” friend could purchase their second set of whichever level on Dec 31, 2011 as the last date for this program, and you still benefit by the free classes!

Thanks to all the referrals in the past and future!  I really appreciate it!

 


Gathering interest for Meditation /
Breathwork “how-to” Class

 

Learn how to de-stress and rejuvenate with several basic types of meditation including general awareness, breath, guided meditation, object focus meditations, and more! Come learn how to use your breath to center your mind, experience a guided visualization, start to develop your own meditation practice that works for you, and receive several take-home practices. While this class is broken down into two evenings, each evening can serve as a stand-alone class.

(This class is available Tues. PM at 7:00 – 8:30 PM pending 4 person minimum. Please call to check for availability of the Tuesday of your choice.
$30/night prepaid or save $10 and prepay for both parts for $50.
)
http://betterdayyoga.com/products/services

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 (http://www.juliejacky.com/jewelry/julies-online-store.html) 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.

Tin Woodsman: What have you learned, Dorothy?
Dorothy: Well, I – I think that it – it wasn’t enough to just want to see Uncle Henry and Auntie Em – and it’s that – if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with! Is that right?”