“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, Healthy News, Featured Recipe, Favorite Yoga Music / DVD, Happenings at Better Day Yoga LLC, Final Relaxation Quote.
Founder, Better Day Yoga LLC
“…it’s important to realize that questioning the intent of our practice inevitably leads us to inquire about the meaning of our life as well. We could just as pertinently ask: Why am I really alive?” ~ Richard Rosen
Inviting the sacred into your yoga practice
A recent article suggested experiencing your entrance into your home or onto your yoga mat as “entering a sacred temple”. That resonated with me. How about you? Do you approach your yoga practice as though your mat is sacred ground? The energy with which you approach anything will affect both the experience as well as the outcome.
Sometimes you don’t even realize how you are approaching a moment/project/bodywork practice and the energetic messages you instill and invest into them are not apparent—or so it seems. This is the difference between washing the dishes because you need to get the dishes done, and washing the dishes to wash the dishes; or practicing yoga as only a workout vs. approaching your yoga mat as though it were sacred ground.
You don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone.
This dovetails into a comment one of my students once made upon having missed a couple yoga classes. She said, why is it when I miss a workout at the gym I don’t really “miss it” so much; but when I miss a yoga class, I really seem to miss it? Here is an example of experiencing your yoga practice as having entered “sacred ground”. What’s more, it’s more than words can say, isn’t it? It’s your sacred ground and no one else’s. You develop a relationship with your yoga practice that feeds your soul in a very personal way as much as it feeds your physical body. Mind and body are connected.
Like many others, you may have come to yoga for the fitness aspect, but suddenly it means much more; and sometimes you aren’t sure why—as my student attested to. So while setting the intention to approach your mat as though you were entering a sacred temple will foster your personal relationship with your yoga practice, the relationship will happen of its own accord given your dedication to the practice.
You may not even realize the difference between your mindfulness when going to “workout” vs. participating in your yoga practice. Or perhaps your approach to your yoga practice has been less than focused for various reasons—time, energy, space, personal issues, etc. You don’t realize your lack of awareness until, suddenly, the energy feels somehow different and you wonder, why? What changed?
This could pertain to anything you dedicate your time to. You might have been doing something good for you on a regular basis and one day your schedule changes and you skip doing it. You begin to notice that for some reason you no longer feel the same—like taking a moment for some grounding rituals each morning before turning on your electronic devices, or taking an afternoon walk outside. Your ten minutes of meditation really do make a difference and the five minute break outside when having a stressful moment really does regenerate you. Take the time. You may not even realize the beneficial energetic effects until one day when you haven’t been doing it and you realize the energy—is gone.
How you do anything is how you do everything.
The yoga mat is a metaphor for life. How you approach your practice, how you participate in it, the attention you dedicate to it, is a metaphor for how you approach your life. You practice yoga to learn about yourself. How do you handle challenges? How do you handle a stumble? Do you tend to rush through life, or approach it with a controlled consciousness? Are you aware, intimately aware, of what you are doing while you are doing it? “Practice, and all is forthcoming.” ~ Pattabhi Jois.
Knowing that you are afraid to balance in, say, crow pose, you can choose to ask yourself what you are really afraid of. Failure? Hurting yourself? Hurting your ego? Not being perfect? While practicing balance poses you can begin to realize that balance is not about being rigid and still, it’s about the micro-movements your body just knows to do in order to keep you upright; and it’s about letting your body do what it knows to do without fearing a momentary stumble. You can always get back up. Daily practice increases your ability to stay balanced in challenging situations. Daily practice will change your relationship with yourself.
“If you fall, I’ll be there.” ~ Floor
Just as your yoga practice teaches you to drill down into what’s going on inside your body, your yoga practice will also deliver exquisite, life-affirming messages when you take the time to notice. You’ll never have enough of something that doesn’t feed your soul. Likewise, you can never have too much of something that does. You will always undoubtedly benefit by experiencing more of that. And just as your yoga practice is very personal, the benefits you experience will likewise be very personal. It will send energy just where you need it and release it from where you don’t. It is a tonic for your soul; an anchor for your day.
This year, in the wee hours of a winter morn’, I started to turn on three specific lamps in our bedroom to light my morning yoga practice area. (See the Charkascope section below for more on the power of three.) Two of the lamps are salt lamps. After an amazing visit to the ancient salt mine in our ancestors homeland, Poland, Wieliczka Salt Mine, my husband and I will always and forever have a heart connection to salt lamps.
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. Source: http://www.natural-salt-lamps.com/polishsaltlamps.html (Another source on salt lamp claims: https://www.healthambition.com/pink-himalayan-salt-lamps-health-benefits/)
I turn the first salt lamp on as I say my morning prayers and affirmations. It not only reminds me of our trip to our ancestor’s homeland, but of our history together as man and wife.
The second lamp is a night light given to me by my dearest friend (next to my sweetheart of a husband, of course)—Christine. She writes the “featured recipes” for my newsletter. It’s a nightlight with an owl on it—for wisdom. Owls have always attracted me. How about you? I’ve always considered them magical creatures. Ted Andrews writes in Animal Speak, The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small, that owls represent “The Mystery of Magic, Omens, Silent Wisdom, and Vision in the Night.” Owls are also associated with the Greek Goddess of Wisdom, Athena. When I turn this particular light on, I am, in my own way, inviting the energy and wisdom of my best friend to share my morning experience.
The last salt lamp I turn on was purchased in Poland at Wieliczka. At first we only lit it on “special occasions”—but why ration something that brings you joy? This lamp is a pink salt, like the first lamp, but a much lighter hue of pink—almost white. Lighting this salt lamp still evokes “special occasion” energy, and the memory of the ancient Wieliczka Salt Mine definitely adds an element of the sacred. (Wieliczka has many religious carvings and is sometimes referred to as “The Underground Salt Cathedral of Poland”. The religious carvings are what draw many to this mine. See for yourself.)
I practice yoga within the circle created by the three lamps. I’ve never been an “altar girl”, but lighting these three lamps evokes what I consider the equivalent of lighting the candles before mass in church—creating a sacred space, setting an intention.
At first I lit these lamps out of necessity—it was dark. Once it was lighter in the morning, I tried one day to refrain from lighting them. It felt somehow incomplete. Something was missing. The energy just wasn’t the same. So I turned the lights on again to create my circle of sacred space.
Within the confines of my sacred circle, I am safe; and as I approach my yoga mat, it is a space within a space—more sacred, more personal, simply “more”. Just as some recommend setting up a personal altar for your meditation practice, the three lights and my yoga mat have become my “altar” beckoning me inward each morning to find my connection to the sacred—to that still small voice within which says “Practice, and all is forthcoming.” ~ Pattabhi Jois.
Do you approach your yoga practice as though you were entering a sacred temple? Do you consider your yoga practice a prayer in motion? Any activity done with mind and body connected is considered “yoga”. Although it is helpful to have a dedicated area in your home for creating your sacred space, with a clear intention, you can create a sacred space within yourself. Viewing your yoga practice—or your life—as a “prayer in motion” brings new meaning to the quote from the Bible: “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Once you have found your sacred space upon your yoga mat, never lose your sacred connection. Come back to it again and again. Make your whole life a connection to the sacred. Draw upon that connection without ceasing. Make your whole life a prayer in motion. Your life is the Universe—God, Source, Spirit—speaking through you.
“My life is my message.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi