“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
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
This newsletter focuses on the bringing the sacred into your yoga practice and your life and highlights the Crown Chakra. Headstand pose is an excellent pose for stimulating the Crown Chakra. However, Headstand pose is not a pose I use in my yoga classes, and I use a headstand prop in my own practice. That being said, I still want to emphasize a pose that activates the crown chakra!
My March 2011 newsletter highlighted Standing Straddle Forward Fold as a headstand prep pose—an option to headstand that brings many of the benefits of headstand pose without the possibility for injury. This newsletter will focus on another headstand prep pose—Dolphin Pose.
From all fours, clasp your opposite elbows to establish the correct distance you want to have your elbows placed in this pose. This aligns the elbows with the shoulders.
Then interlace your fingers as though you are about to say a prayer and press the outside edge of the forearms into the mat.
Take the bottom pinky finger and pull it up and into the clasped hands so that the base of your clasped hands is solid.
Curl your toes under and push your hips up into the air, straightening the legs, as you would in downward facing dog.
Relax your head and keep your head suspended in mid-air away from the floor. Your head should not rest on the floor. Remember to keep your neck soft.
From Dolphin Pose walk your feet as far forward to your interlaced hands as is comfortable for your body. At the full extent of this option, aim to have the crown of your head parallel to the floor, but still floating in the air. Keep the elbows in line with your shoulders.
This is as close to the headstand prep portion of the pose that I get. It is still an excellent way to stimulate the crown chakra—our Chakrascope focus.
A nice flow to build core strength as well as triceps is to flow from forearm plank (shown below) with clasped hands to dolphin pose (shown above)—“dolphin swim”. Make sure you keep the shoulders directly over the elbows during the plank portion of the flow to protect the shoulders.
Animal Speak, The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small, by Ted Andrews.
Beth Shaw’s YogaFit®, The program for a more powerful, flexible, and defined physique, Second Edition
I’ve owned my “iPhone-esque” phone for a little over a year. Prior to that I had a “flip phone”—yes a flip phone. There was no internet service on the flip phone. Heck I was disappointed when I got the flip phone and it had voice-mail! I didn’t want to be bothered! Fast forward a year and a half later and I’ve acquired a new habit of looking up literally every question I have. Stop the madness!
The focus of meditation is to be still while letting your thoughts drift by your awareness like clouds drifting by in the sky. The point is not to become attached to the thought and to stay present. For those of you that have a regular meditation practice—be it 5 minutes or hours long—you know how easily your mind wanders, even for the experienced meditator.
Being able to continually bring your mind back to your mantra, your breath, your prayer, your focus—whatever you are using to “be here now”, is meditation. This practice increases your life skills to stay focused without getting your feathers ruffled when life throws you a curve ball, and it will! It will keep you calm when, in the past, you were quick tempered.
Recent research indicates mindfulness meditation is linked with positive brain changes, perhaps protecting you from mental illness, decreasing stress, slowed aging, increased alertness, lowered blood pressure, reduced pain perception and intensity—need I go on? The physical, mental, and spiritual benefits from a dedicated meditation practice are many, to say the least. One of my favorite sayings is “if it gives you only half of what it promises, it’s worth doing, right?”
It dawned on me that the urge to answer every question is similar to the tendency to attach to every thought during your meditation practice. This week I decided to use the weekend to begin NOT answering every question using Google—to allow for unanswered questions and be okay with that, like the “old days”.
How much time do you think you’ll gain by allowing unanswered questions to remain unanswered? Did someone connect with me on Facebook? How many hits did my recent post get? Where do I know that particular movie-star from? Who sang that song? Is that person still alive? How old is he or she? Where did that saying come from? How long ago did that show run? When will that show be back in season? What does this pain or symptom mean? How much does that type of product cost? When? What? How? Where? The list is endless. Yes—STOP THE MADNESS!
Leave some questions unanswered. I mean, you may want to know when the clocks “spring forward”, or when Easter is this year, or if the restaurant you are on the way to is open this early. Some questions are helpful and necessary. Many, and dare I say most, are not—at least in my humble opinion.
Think you don’t have time to meditate? Turn this practice of leaving questions unanswered into your daily meditation. Notice the urge to look something up and ask if you really need to know that right now. You may just open up enough time to start a more formal meditative practice, if that’s what your goal is; and I suspect if you’re reading this section of my newsletter, it just might be.
If you found the above interesting, please consider taking my meditation “how to” classes. Visit my Web-site, www.betterdayyoga.com, for details.
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.
Image Credit: Anodea Judith and the website: www.SacredCenters.com
My opening section was about being aware of your constant connection to the sacred in your life—whether it’s during your yoga practice or while doing the dishes. It is through the energy of the crown chakra that we fully connect with our Source. It is through this connection that we become whole.
Experiencing the sacred in every aspect of your life reminds you that there is no place where God isn’t. I think we all innately believe that but we forget to look for it. We forget to communicate with our Source. We forget. But your Source never gives up on you! God is communicating with you all the time. You just forget to notice.
All you have to do to strengthen the connection is ask, and if you forget to ask, the Universe just might remind you to do just that! When you increase your conversation with Spirit, you activate your Crown Chakra.
Do you forget you are loved and cared about and the Universe wants to hear from you? There is nothing new with the concept of asking the Universe for a sign or message and expecting to receive an answer, but how many of you, I wonder, really expect to receive an actual answer? I think experience makes us all believers, don’t you? How about believing you’ll hear back at the get-go because you have faith in the unseen?
Blessed are those who believe and have not seen. ~ Jesus
I’ve often used the famous quote “You’ll see it when you believe it.” Do you think, perhaps, the biblical quote above refers to the blessings of then seeing what you believe because you believed?
I’m not sure when I started to receive messages “between sleep and awake”—the magical ‘tween time, but I’ve come to treasure the messages when they do come. My regular readers know this is how I came to call my business “Better Day Yoga” . Sometimes I go for months without a “message”, or so I think. Perhaps I’m not listening. I mean, why would the Universe, or anyone, take time to talk to you if you’re not paying attention, right? Are you “on alert” to the signs and messages your Source is sending you every day?
Maybe it was my lack of “being on alert” that caused the Universe to lose patience with me. It knows I sit up and take notice when a message comes in threes—so it delivered the message to ask for a message—three times.
The power of three
How many of you believe “things happens in threes”? Three is a very auspicious number. Trinities appear in many of the world’s religions and cultures—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva; Mother, Maiden, Crone. The lucky “cat with nine lives” derives from the auspiciousness of three. Nine is composed of three trinities (9 = 3 x 3); and is considered to be “sacred three times”—the highest expression of sacred.
When asked for a lucky number, most pick either three or seven. We view and judge our world based upon threes—good, better, best; this, that, and the other; too warm, too cold, just right, etc. A trinity of sevens—777—is considered very lucky!
I, for one, sit up and take notice when something comes to me three times. Being intimately connected with all that I am and all that I do, my Creator knows this of me. I’ve often said that the Universe will communicate with you in the way most likely to be heard and accepted by you. We are each different and unique individuals with our own history and our own beliefs. Something meaningful to my history may not even make it on your radar.
The first message came to me through my usual inspirational, random readings from one of my favorite books: Oracle Within by Dick Sutphen. This particular reading suggested that right before you go to sleep ask for dreams that will assist you in understanding what is holding you back. And here’s the part I like—it suggests asking that the dreams be received literally, not symbolically. (I remembered thinking, “I can ask that?! Why didn’t I think of that?! Well why wouldn’t you be able to ask for a clear answer? The Universe is, after all, an aspect of your Higher Self.) Ask that you remember them immediately upon awakening and keep a pen and paper by the bedside for recording.
So that’s what I did. I asked what was holding me back. And, yes—right between sleep and awake the message came—and please know I don’t share this lightly. It said “Omit, not good enough.” Okay, okay. I’ll give you that. Most days I can be my own worst enemy. Hmmm. Do you think that might be holding me back? D’oh!
The second “message to ask for a message” came to me when curiosity got the better of me—as it often does—and I decided to click on a link I saw in the margin of one of my many newsletters. Yes—I do consider these moments a message as well. Why do you sometimes want to click the link and other times pass it by? Nothing is coincidence. I linked to what I considered a magical meditation practice. meant to connect your third eye chakra to your crown chakra allowing you to “connect to and communicate with your spiritual self.” (See the “Breathwork and Visualization below.) This became two Facebook posts on my Better Day Yoga page since the same web page had another suggestion in the column about asking for an answer:
1. Drink a small glass of water before going to sleep at night.
2. While sipping, close your eyes and focus on your Third Eye, the space between your eyebrows.
3. Think to yourself, “this is all I need to do to find the solution to the problem that I have in mind.”
4. Then finish the water.
5. When you wake up in the morning, repeat the process.
The synchronicity of similar messages hadn’t hit me yet—until it happened a third time. This time I wanted to find a reading to share during final relaxation/Savasana for my next yoga class. I turned to a new favorite book by one of my favorite chakra authors—Anodea Judith. She co-authored her new book, Creating on Purpose / The Spiritual Technology of Manifesting Through the Chakras with Lion Goodman:
“Deepak Chopra says that the Universe forms itself around your questions. It’s as if your question is a tagline typed into a cosmic search engine that then calls up all the appropriate sites where your question might be answered. It draws information to you.” Isn’t that a cool thought? And isn’t it exactly how it is?! Once you start expecting answers, they appear everywhere because you are aware. The authors suggest you craft your question during meditation, your shower, your drive to work, etc.; and send it out to the Universe. Then prepare yourself to receive it whenever and however it comes.
The “thump on the head” realization came to me as I was sharing this last reading with my students. It finally hit me—the Universe was reminding me, again, that it is in the asking that the messages increase.
So how about getting busy and doing some more asking? Okay? Got it! You don’t need to ration your conversations with the Universe. Treat Source like the old friend that it is. Invite a deeper awareness into your life. Deepak suggests you ponder a question each day. Start a conversation with your Guides—daily. Look and listen every day.
Trust that the Universe will deliver messages to you in ways that you personally will notice—just like you’d expect a good friend to do. Your connection and conversation with Source will grow exponentially once you become aware that everything is a message. Remember your connection. Your crown chakra will fill you with the energy of the Divine. Acknowledge your Divine Source and you will find your Guru within.
Find a quiet spot and take a few moments to relax your body and mind with your breath. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth—big, long, luscious complete breaths. Feel your shoulders relax with each exhale. You might even add the “Jnana mudra”: Connect index and thumb and extend the last three fingers of your hand with palms facing up. The author of this meditation, Ken Keicher, suggests this mudra closes your energy loop. Ken then asks you to “position your hands as if you are holding a ball of energy between your palms.”
Continue your breathwork for the entire session, allowing the rhythm of your breath to bring you to a meditative state. As you exhale, “visualize a stream of energy exiting through your Third Eye Chakra. The Chakra is, in effect, a ball of energy itself, with a channel through the center of it that allows energy transfer. Visualize this energy stream as being white. Repeat this process a few times.
When this has become comfortable, during your inhale, visualize drawing energy into your Higher Self through your Crown Chakra. Remember that your Crown Chakra is violet. Now you have established an inner energy loop, with energy coming in through your Crown Chakra and going out through your Third Eye Chakra. Continue this cycle for as long as you can focus, or if you are on a timed schedule, until you reach your time limit.
This particular meditation session is designed to allow you to connect to and communicate with your spiritual self. Through consistent and continuous daily practice, this increases your awareness, which, in turn, increases your energy frequency. When this channel of communication is open, your intuition and psychic abilities also increase.” Source: Ken Keicher. See some of Ken’s books on Kindle!
Since this Chakra about connecting to Source, developing awareness and a meditative state, a pure, light vegetarian diet is recommended. Detoxifying foods are also helpful for keeping lightness in the body.
The crown chakra enjoys frankincense, lavender, rosewood, and ylang ylang among others.
Young Living Essential Oils™ for the Crown Chakra :
Crown Chakra (Pineal Gland) / “I KNOW” /
Frankincense works immediately (as in, it begins working when you
open the cap) on opening the Pineal Gland, which many believe is the
connection that opens one to Spirit communication and communion with
your Higher Power. Prayerfully anoint your crown with one drop neat
(direct application), put one drop on hands, activate the oil’s
frequency by “stirring” with fingertips clockwise 3x, cup hands over
nose/mouth; inhale 3x. (There’s the power of three again!)
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.
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”.
Recently, I found this great write-up on the subject of crystal therapy at Ashley Leavy’s Love & Light Crystal Therapies website:
Since both crystals and the human body have an inherent energetic blueprint, it is thought that the energies of the body can be balanced and healed by introducing the energetic vibration of a crystal into the body’s energy field. Their perfect forms are a metaphor for the balance and perfection that humans search for in their own lives. Using crystals in this way can actually help to repair energetic imbalances within the ethereal body. Through entrainment, the human body will begin to mimic the perfectly stable, balanced energy of the crystal. For this reason, crystal healing can be performed on anything that possesses an energy field, be it a person, a plant, an animal, or the environment. The stable energetic vibrations from the crystals can be used to re-align and direct the flow of energy within the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual bodies, returning them to a state of health and wholeness. Listen to her amazing video on Crystals and the Human Energy Field here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSZVyrGpy8g&feature=player_embedded
*Crystal Healing is not meant to replace conventional medicine, but rather to complement and enhance it. The information within this site is purely metaphysical in nature and is by no means medical. Crystal Healing should only be used with the understanding that it is not an independent therapy, but one that is a part of a holistic healing approach.
Some Crown Chakra gems are: Activates the Crown Chakra: Celestite & Blue Sapphire. Calms the Crown Chakra: Charoite, Sugilite, Luvulite. Balances the Crown Chakra: Clear Quartz, Amethyst. Source: The Chakra Bible by Patricia Mercier.
For some of these and other great crown chakra stones, (Indigo Gabbro, Selenite, Amethyst, Lilac Lepidolite, Apophyllite) check out http://www.crystallinelightshop.com/collections/crystals-crown-chakra 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 (and her)! I’ve known Jennifer, the owner, for many years and love her products (and her)!
All yoga poses essentially 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, Dolphin Pose, is also considered a headstand prep and stimulates both the crown and third eye chakras.
Yoga Nidra is also an excellent way to induce a meditative state and calm your crown chakra. See the “Healthy News” section for more on the benefits of Yoga Nidra.
Mudra means seal in Sanskrit. Its 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 usenot 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 were arguing, when were 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.
This newsletter focuses on connecting with your Source regularly, communicating by asking questions, and expecting to receive answers as you would from a dear friend. What better mudra to focus on then Anjali mudra? Bringing your hands into Anjali mudra energetically prepares you to have a discussion with the Divine, be it a request or to express gratitude and reverence. Anjali mudra and its position in front of your heart supports an inner collection of thoughts, promoting clarity, harmony, and balance.
Anjali mudra is often referred to as prayer position, or Namaste position. Even non-yogis can attest to the sense of repose, silence and peace this mudra promotes. It connects the left and right sides of the brains enabling communication between the two sides. It fosters a sense of beginning or completion, allowing you to give thanks for the moment. Anjali in Sanskrit means to offer or to salute. This mudra is used when we honor or celebrate the moment. Placing the hands together in front of your heart chakra, with the thumbs touching the sternum brings the prayerful energy into your heart and out from your heart. This mudra calms your mind as it calms your thoughts, creating clarity and reducing anxiety and stress.
This gesture signifies the potential for an intention to progress to greatest spiritual awakening. When done properly the palms are not flat against each other; the knuckles at the base of the fingers are bent a little, creating space between the palms and fingers of the two hands resembling a flower yet to open, symbolizing the opening of our hearts. ~ Krishnamacharya
Description: Placing both hands in front of your heart chakra, leave some space between your palms. As Krishnamacharya suggests, this space symbolizes an opening of your heart.
I opened with the suggestion of approaching your yoga mat as a sacred space. The following meditation for Anjali Mudra, from Gertrud Hirschis book, Mudras, Yoga in your Hands, is the perfect complement to that suggestion.
Imagine that you are at a holy place of power. Perhaps you know of a holy place of power that has special meaning for you. Then, in your thoughts, you can bring it to the privacy of your room at any time. You can also visualize a place that harmonizes with your needs. Imagine this place as precisely as possible. At holy places, we feel a special energy. Try to also feel this energy within yourself. This mudra will bring you to the silence; whether you make a request, ask a question, give praise, or give thanksif you are willing to be helped, you are certain to be helped at the right time and in the best way possible. At the end of the meditation, remain in silence for awhile. Immerse yourself in the peace and joy of the Divine.
Affirmation: Full of thankfulness, I receive the good that awaits me.
I am linked in with a Yoga and Nutrition Group on LinkedIn. Carl Germano is a member and the source of this week’s “healthy news”:
Chief Science Officer/Inergetics, Founder/OmEssentials
Greater New York City Area
Over the past few months, several published clinical trials continue to confirm the efficacy of Yoga Nidra in treating various menstrual disturbances (blood pressure, postural hypotension, muscular strength, heart rate expiration, mild to moderate anxiety, pain & GI problems). With several hundred women participating in the 3 studies referenced below, regular yoga nidra practice over 6 month periods resulted in significant improvements in pain symptoms, gastrointestinal symptoms, cardiovascular symptoms, urogenital symptoms, mild anxiety/depressive symptoms, blood pressure, heart rate and muscular strength were made.
The fluctuations of certain hormones during menstruation that cause discomfort, pain, anxiety, etc. is common knowledge. From a clinical nutrition perspective, cleaning up the diet by avoiding sugar, saturated fat, caffeine and salt while focusing on a more plant based diet is a must. Specific nutrient focus on supplementing with magnesium, calcium and nutrients to help build red blood cells (B12, folic acid, B6, nucleotides, spirulina, wheta grass and gentle forms of iron such as iron bisglycinate) are recommended. Finally, special attention to balancing hormones is in order here and the use of certain herbs such as dong quai, ashwaganda, black cohosh and chaste berry have been helpful. Finally, a good whole food multivitamin/mineral is highly recommended.
Here are the references:
1) Effect of Yoga Nidra on physiological variables in patients of menstrual disturbances of reproductive age group. Monika, Singh U, et al., Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2012 Apr-Jun;56(2):161-7.
2) Yoga Nidra as a complementary treatment of anxiety and depressive symptoms in patients with menstrual disorder. Rani K, et al., Int J Yoga. 2012 Jan;5(1):52-6.
3) Six-month trial of Yoga Nidra in menstrual disorder patients: Effects on somatoform symptoms.
Rani K, et al., Ind Psychiatry J. 2011 Jul;20(2):97-102.
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!
I have to admit that until my personal chef/best friend, Christine, sent me this recipe, I didn’t know what “ramps” were—the vegetable that is! Oh, but are we Minnesotans ready for ramps! If you’re local you know April was a brutal continuation of winter with weekly snowfalls accumulating to eight inches or more in some areas.
Ramps emerge in early spring and go dormant in the summer. Ramps have traditionally been consumed as the “season’s first greens”. Towns in West Virginia, New York, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania celebrate spring with the arrival of the ramp. Most celebrate this coming weekend (April 27/28) or the first weekend in May—perfect timing!
Ramps are believed to have great power as a tonic to ward off many ailments of winter—not an unfounded assumption given ramps health benefits. So are you ready to “ward off the ailments of winter?!”
From Christine’s Collection:
This is an excellent dish for a brunch, lunch or lite dinner with a salad and some bread. The ramps add a nice light onion and garlic flavor and are only available for a few short weeks in the spring. Look for them in markets. They are well worth it. The asparagus and spinach are in season this time of year and the flavors are especially fresh if you can find some grown locally. Organic and free range eggs really provide a rich, flavorful and healthy dish.
Interesting side note for my Chicago readers: “ The city of Chicago took its name from a dense growth of ramps near Lake Michigan in Illinois in the 17th century, after the area was described by 17th-century explorer Robert Cavelier, sieur de La Salle, and explained by his comrade, the naturalist and diarist Henri Joutel. The plant called shikaakwa (chicagou) in the language of native tribes was once thought to be Allium cernuum, the nodding wild onion, but research in the early 1990s showed the correct plant was the ramp”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allium_tricoccum#cite_note-7 & http://www.chicagohistoryjournal.com/2008/03/how-chicago-got-its-name.html
This month promotes connection to your Source. Ive owned this CD for some years. While its a bit lively for my typical yoga class, it has provided upliftment when Ive needed it. Music has the ability to put you in a better moodthis one achieves that in spades. Theres an energy in this CD that compliments creativity, an open heart, and the desire to danceall of which are avenues for connecting to your Source. Enjoy!
This CD is a compilation chosen for pairing with Yoga, Pilates, and Mind Body exercise. Sensual and lively vocals provide an escape from outside distraction. No chanting. Over 70 minutes of great music. This is Volume 7 in the Zen Cafe series. https://webportal.orderwave.com/YogaFitCanada/portal.0?action=viewItemDetail&itemNumber=HC00012
You can hear the full CD during one of my yoga classes, or purchase it for your own listening pleasure at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/zen-cafe-vol.-7-yoga/id278596013 or https://webportal.orderwave.com/YogaFitCanada/portal.0?action=viewItemDetail&itemNumber=HC00012
Yoga Creations: Über-talented Linda Dias’s site has beautifully handcrafted products to compliment your yoga practice including meditation cushions, chakra and meditation bracelets, and more!
Want to have me work one-on-one with you on correct alignment? Maybe you have questions you want to ask but can’t during class time? A private physical assessment will help me to recommend particular yoga poses for your body, and perhaps other lifestyle enhancements that might help you, after we discuss your questions and history. Feel better about your practice! Schedule a private consultation at (http://betterdayyoga.com/products/services)