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.
Founder, Better Day Yoga LLC
Last month I talked about graduating from a second 200-hour yoga teacher-training program. Two weeks later I completed a four-day yoga therapy II training toward a 300-hour yoga therapy certification I am pursuing through YogaFit®. We had master yoga classes daily, sometimes twice daily. One of the instructors, Kristy Manuel, held us in poses much longer than I was used to, and then drew our attention to our resistance. She asked us to connect with our resistance to holding a pose suggesting we convert the energy of that resistance to stay with the pose. After my initial gut-reaction to curse under my breath, I found that it really intrigued me.
We are all so used to avoiding anything uncomfortable whenever possible, arent we? We live in a society of quick-fixes so weve trained our minds to believe avoiding the uncomfortable is not only easy to do but also desirable. Have you ever stopped to consider how many feelings, situations, etc. that we habitually define as uncomfortable? As I analyzed the resistance I felt, I realized I couldnt even say that it was necessarily uncomfortable to continue holding the pose past my usual time so much as it was different than the norm. It was a change. Ah, theres the rubchange. We dont like change.
I dont mind change. I just dont want to be there when it happens.~ Detective Adrian Monk character from Monk TV series.
There is a famous yogi, Pantajali, who lived somewhere between 200 BC and 450 CE, and wrote a classical text on the eight-step path to yoga called the Yoga Sutras. (Theres a whole lot more available on the Yoga path than just the physical postures!) Within the Sutras, were Classic Yoga “do’s” (Niyamas) and Yoga “don’ts” (Yamas)sort of like the yogic version of the Ten Commandments:
Yamas: Wise Characteristics Niyamas: Codes for Soulful Living
Compassion for all living things Purity (cleanliness/orderliness)
Commitment to truth Contentment
Not stealing (belief in abundance) Disciplined awareness
Merging with the Divine/Energy management Self-Study
Not grasping/No greed Dedication to God/Devotion
The Sanskrit word for disciplined awareness is Tapas. In addition to discipline, tapas is defined as heat and perseverance. It is what is required for change to happen. If you have a habit you want to change or create, youll need discipline to do it.
Kristys lesson was an excellent way to drive home the meaning of tapas or discipline. Discipline can mean sticking with your asana (physical postures) practice and choosing to practice regularly or it can also mean allowing the holds within a pose to be a bit longer than is comfortable to facilitate change. It could also mean that you might attempt a pose you dont personally enjoy and notice the feelings in your body as you explore the reasons you dont enjoy it.
Now Im getting into the self-study Niyama. Be curious about you. This could apply to any situation or activity. Exploring the reasons you do or dont enjoy any activity will go a long way toward helping you either stick with it or eliminate it from your lifeyou get to choose how you apply discipline.
I often invite my students to be curious about their bodies and whats going on within their bodies. For example, your inner dialogue could be:
Why is one side tighter than the other? Is that why I dont enjoy this pose? Maybe you can hold that side a smidgen longer to enable your body to stretch more on the tight side. Notice if you tend to stand leaning to one side more than the other during your day or use only one side when you pick up and hold items, or open doors. You could catch yourself during your day and consciously correct the imbalance. Do you know which side of your body is tighter than the other and where that tightness sits in your body? You dont have to be actively doing a Hatha yoga practice to be paying attention to whats going on in your bodybe it physical or emotional.
“Listen to the whispers and you won’t have to hear the screams.” ~ Cherokee Proverb
Recognizing that you dislike a situation or are uncomfortable in your life and then analyzing why you label it that way can be an interesting exercise. For example, we sometimes use fear as a label we might apply to a situation when perhaps its partly exhilaration for performing the unknown. Notice how labeling a situation youre afraid of as exhilaration changes the whole scenario in your mind? Mind games? Perhaps, but isnt it important to monitor your self-talk to be on your side?
“The loudest and most influential voice you hear is your own inner voice, your self critic. It can work for you or against you, depending on the messages you allow.”~Keith Harrell
Perhaps we could remove some of the resistance we feel if we apply the fun factor and decide to have fun with whatever we are having difficulty with. Many times the situation is serious only because youve defined it that way. You are more in tune with your real self when you take time to laugh and play. Lightening up will give you a new perspective and allow less pushing and more enjoying. Remember its not the situation thats bugging you; its how you react to it. See what happens when you decide what youre feeling just needs some comic relief.
(Check out the Practice Yoga Pose below for a reminder of just what happens when not being able to stay in a pose evokes our inner child and makes us laugh. Noticing the attempts to hold the pose really tunes you into whats going on in your body and where the balance effort is needed–intuitively. I promise itll make you giggle as you wiggle! You just may enjoy the journey of the pose and find that the destination isnt necessarily what its all aboutAnother Kristy sentiment I enjoyed analyzing very much.)
How about you? Have you ever completed a tough project and realized that the final euphoria was less than the joy of getting there? Kind of like these are the good ole daysrecognize the contentment and joy you are having as you are having it. This not so little practice could eliminate your habit to procrastinate starting the next tough project. I contend that its the very toughness of the project that brought the contentmentsatisfaction of a job well done.
Ah! Theres another NiyamaContentment. Recognize that contentment is within you all along, and not in the outer achievement or attainment of things. Contentment is a natural state. You intuitively know you have all you need to feel content emotionally and spiritually just as you intuitively know how to move to stay in balance in the yoga pose.
As I dwelled upon staying with the resistance within my own yoga practice during the training, I realized Im so used to telling my students to stay within their own pain-free range of motion that I may be guilty of encouraging this avoidance of resistancethis avoidance of the uncomfortable. I often tell my yoga students that if you feel a sensation, its good. Its when that sensation crescendos* that you need to pull back.
*Yes, I know crescendos refers to volume and intensity of sound, but to me it also relays the message Im trying to deliver to my students. HeckIll bet your body wishes it could make a sound before it goes beyond its limit! So its become what I like to call a Sandyism in class. Oooshkaoo as in roomis another one. I thought it was a made-up exclamation to be used in place of other less pleasant words. Come to find out Ushka means meat-filled dumpling in Ukrainian which just adds to the fun of using it. Its especially gratifying to say after youve held a pose for a long time. Try it sometime. Just humor me.
We dont want a building sensation. We do want a sensation that we are, in fact, doing something for our bodies. If you felt no sensation, you wouldnt be in class, right? Staying with what is uncomfortable sometimes has its benefits, and not just in your Hatha yoga practice.
Realize Your Inner Diamond
Diamonds are forever. Maybe so, but did you know that diamonds come from coal? Under pressure, an unromantic lump of black coal transforms into the crystalline strength of a sparkling diamond. Just as heat and pressure turns a piece of coal into a multi-faceted gemstone of prized value, so the pressures in your own life can allow your unrealized potential to become successes. It takes some time and challenge, but it is so worth the effort to realize your inner diamond.
Life is not always peaceful and calm. Yet, the very difficulties and heartaches that test your inner grit can ultimately create a purity and strength of spirit. As you keep up and go through the pain, whether its physical, emotional or mental, you put the pressure on the lumps of coal that are your doubts and insecurities and chisel out the brilliant diamond that is your true being. The result?Priceless! http://www.yogamint.com/_webapp_3918902/The_Pressure_is_On
If everything in our life was exactly as we wanted it to be, it would be pretty darned boring, wouldnt it? Its the obstacles in the path, both mental and physical, that encourage our growth. They give us something to strive for. Perhaps thats why they refer to it as growing pains. Its through the discomfort that we learn.
Discomfort journeys with us through life and we learn ~ Kristy Manuel.
Think about this for a moment: Wouldnt it be terrible if you were never uncomfortable again? Think winning the lottery and retiring early is the ticket to longevity? Think again:
In 1921, Lewis Terman, a psychologist at Stanford University began a long-term study of 1,528 twelve year old American children. The goal of this project was to study their lives and habits until they died. Recently, Howard Friedman, a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California Riverside and Leslie Martin, Professor of Psychology at La Sierra University in Riverside, California analyzed the data from this 90 year old study and published their conclusions in a book titled The Longevity Project.
One of the more fascinating things they found was that the people who lived the longest were not the ones who were the happiest or the most laid back, but the ones who were the most engaged in pursuing their goals. The authors concluded the idea that working too hard can shorten your life is a myth. What they found instead was that, The people who worked the hardest lived the longest. Janice Lloyd from USA Today reviewed the book and came up with this prescription for longevity: Work hard (at something you enjoy). Dont retire early. http://reminders.rossreck.com/?p=521
If moving beyond your habitual comfort zone has been difficult for you either physically or emotionallyall is not lost. Your willpower is like a muscle. How cool is that?
Your willpower muscle can be fatigued so it cant perform indefinitely, which means you need to pick and choose your priority tasks to get the greatest bang for your willpower buck. If youve had a stressful day at work, youre more likely not to want to exercise when you get home, for exampleno newsflash there! So perhaps change your workout routine to morning, before work; or add some form of motivation to exercise after work, like meeting a friend at yoga class!
Studies also show if you constantly put forth willpower toward a given goal, it will be easier and easier to do so the next time. In addition to that, if you take care of yourself by getting the right amount of sleep and nutrition as well as work on positive emotions, youll fatigue your willpower muscle less easily. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/dont-delay/200902/self-regulation-failure-part-2-willpower-is-muscle
So being curious about your resistance, but not giving in to that resistance, will build your willpower muscle as it trains your mind. This sentiment is similar to one a famous yogi expressed in his book, The Art of Joyful Living by Swami Rama. (He was one of the first yogis to allow himself to be studied by Western scientists. In the 1960s he allowed himself to be examined by scientists at the Menninger Clinic who studied his ability to voluntarily control bodily processessuch as heartbeat, blood pressure, body temperature, etc.that are normally considered to be non-voluntaryautonomic). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swami_Rama
In his book, he talks about transforming our habit patterns. I mentioned earlier that its becoming a habit for most of us simply to avoid the uncomfortable, but is this a habit we really want to keep? He suggests that when we train ourselves physically, that trains our mind as well; and vice versaa common sentiment expressed on the benefits of yoga.
Learn to focus on the mat, and youll learn to focus off the mat. Learn to use the energy of resistance on the mat to stay in the pose, and youll learn to use the energy of resistance in life to work through seeming problems. Shine the light of curiosity on any resistance you feel physically, mentally, or emotionally and watch what happens to the resistance. It may not totally go away, but in trying to define it, you just may find it weakens.
If you are awake, but you remain in bed, it is because there is a coloring of tamas, laziness or inertia, in your personality. Your mind will say, Oh, its Sunday, I dont have to work, let me stay in bed. Thats a bad way of training yourself; its a bad way of teaching your mind. Regardless of whether its Sunday or Monday, you should get up. Otherwise, you are wasting time and energy, and at the same time you are forming a bad habit that affects you on both the physical and mental levels. Training the physical habits in this way has a direct result in training the mind.
This is an important secret of life: if you remain idle without doing something useful, your mind thinks scattered and random thoughts, and wastes its energy. https://www.himalayaninstitute.org/YI/article.aspx?id=4018
We cannot improve the caliber of the human being, but we can guide it. When we guide ourselves and are not at the mercy of subconscious habits then we become master of the self. But overcoming old habits and starting new ones requires strong nerves and willpower. ~ Gurudarshan Khalsa, Kundalini Blessings Meditations for the Aquarian Age.
All Im saying is if you are curious about just what the resistance is and where its coming from, perhaps it will go away when you shine your light of attention on it. The capacity to understand what makes up your personality develops your willpower.
This is exactly what happened to me as I held the poses longer in the recent training. By the end of the four-day training, I was enjoying the long holds and looked forward to the exhilaration of going beyond my usual resistance to what I know knew was a habit to avoid being uncomfortable. It was fun being more challenged than I normally challenge myself.
Yes, I felt the muscles the next few days, but it wasnt a pain of misuse. It was the pain of a muscle who went beyond its habitual comfort zonewhich is part of the goal if I want to grow. If I were always comfortable, my body would never get stronger. It would plateau. There would be no change. Did I drop out of a pose before the others at times? Of course I did. Only you know where your edge is.
I suspect weve all become so used to avoiding anything uncomfortable that we challenge ourselves less and less. How about you? Do you think you could raise the bar on challenging yourself? Are you trying to omit all feelings from your life that arent pleasant?
To build character, do something for no other reason than its difficulty. ~ William James
Remember, Yoga practice is like an obstacle race: many obstructions are purposely put on the way for us to pass through. They are there to make us understand and express our own capacities. We all have that strength, but we dont seem to know it. We seem to need to be challenged and tested in order to understand our own capacities. In fact, that is the natural law: If a river just flows easily, the water in the river does not express its power. But once you put an obstacle to the flow by constructing a dam, then you can see its strength in the form of tremendous electrical power. ~ Swami Satchidananda
How are your habits affecting your goals? We can become too used to what is usual and miss what is important. ~ Judith Lasater.
We all have goals about where we want to be in five years, ten years, twenty years, etc. If you want to be active and happy emotionally, mentally and physically throughout your life, what do you need to be doing now? If you want to pursue your lifes dreams, what do you need to start doing now? If you want to be able to take long walks and play with your grandchildren, what do you need to start doing now?
Look at your resistance to starting those things and shine your attention to just what it is you are resisting. We can resist success as much as failure because sometimes deep down we are afraid of both. Try to understand the reasons you resist starting to work on your goals. How is your ability to totally commit to your goals related to the resistance you feel? First ask yourself: What is the worst that can happen? Then prepare to accept it. Then proceed to improve on the worst. ~ Dale Carnegie.
Dont live your life on autopilot. If you want tomorrow to be different from today, youll need to take yourself off autopilot and make different decisions today than the ones you made yesterday. ~ Unknown author.
If you desire a glorious future, transform the present. ~ Pantanjali
So long as we are on automatic, we are propelled by our own habit patterns, and this merely reproduces our state of unenlightenment. The moment we introduce mindfulness, however, we can control undesirable thoughts, motivations, emotions, and actions and activate their positive counterparts. ~ Georg Feuerstein, Yoga Gems, A Treasury of Practical and Spiritual Wisdom from Ancient and Modern Masters.
I am a firm believer that all change is good. It literally means you are alive! Looking at your habits and deciding if its time for a change is something we should all do regularly. How about you? Are you afraid of change? Perhaps analyzing your habits makes you uncomfortable? Theres that word uncomfortable again! Invite change into your life physically, mentally, and emotionally. Get curious about any resistance to change. Is it a habit? Try something new. You just may find out you like it better than what youve been doing.
We limit the expression of God in our lives when we simply exist, rather than when we exist in a way that allows for the biggest expression of the Infinite that is possible for us at the time. Ask yourself where am I living small? Allow yourself to contemplate what living large would look like in those areas of your life. Source: Science of Mind, July 12 daily reading.
Heres where I add the common sense rule. If youre trying to change something that cannot be changed, like make yourself small-boned when you are big-boned, or you want to change someone else for example, you are just inviting trouble. Drilling down to the whys of your habits and your resistance doesnt mean you are not taking care of yourself. On the contrary, it means you are getting to know you so well that you know exactly what you need when you need it.
Remember the serenity prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
Accept all is as it is supposed to be although you have the power to change it. You get to decide. How can I change it? If its something that cannot be changed, you still have the power to change it from resistance to acceptance. Accept things you cannot change without resistance.
So yes I am challenging you to reassess what you consider comfortable and decide if its something you habitually strive for. Theres nothing wrong with comfort and theres nothing wrong with habits as long as you are aware of why you are doing what you are doing. Once you really, really know the whys, you may decide you want to change it. Its about getting to know you and how you tick. Analyze your habits and decide if you like them.
Habits you may not be aware of:
Take a look at the words that you use when you share your day with your friends and loved ones. Are you using positive words and focusing on positive experiences? This leads to the following bullet.
Even if you feel victimized, try not to speak about it negatively. The next time you want to talk about a situation that bothers you, remember that No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. ~Eleanor Roosevelt. Its up to you to decide how you react to a situation. Try it for a week. Speak only of yourself as being stronger than you think you are. Watch the magic happen. Youll begin to feel empowered, I promise.
This is where I started todays musing. I consider myself in pretty good shape. When I realized I was dropping out of poses much sooner than I was really capable of, I have to say I was actually a bit embarrassed. I wouldnt have described myself as a slacker! Keep the common sense rule in mind that I mentioned earlier. If working out longer or harder means youll be in sincere pain of misuse later, DONT do it! But if it means youll feel your muscles a bit more and perhaps gain a newly improved physique in the process, why not?
I read once that if you make it a habit to break down regularlybe it crying, pouting, sulking, or any other such thingyou are bleeding your power. Youre creating a habit where your first reaction will be to fall apart. Sometimes releasing anxiety is helpful and therapeutic. Im not talking about the sighs of release I recommend when holding pigeon pose (a great hip-opener that helps release the emotions stored there), or going for a walk to blow off some steam. Im talking about feeling beat before youve even tried because its your habit to break down first. Dont bleed your power.
It took me a long time to learn this one. I remember getting an inkling of it years ago when I went off the road during a snow storm and immediately started to cry. Only a few seconds into the crying I realized that crying wasnt going to get me any closer to being out of the ditch! I actually giggled to myself when I saw how silly the crying was and proceeded to get my shovel out of the trunk. Catch yourself the next time you start to break down out of habit. Dont bleed your power. Keep your power within you.
How about the habit of not completing the task before us (or staying in a pose for any length of time) because society has trained us to do too many things at once, moving from one task to the next so quickly we may not even realize we havent completed the task we started. I call it There goes a bird! syndrome. Analyze who is driving you to move so quickly. I sometimes find myself speeding more than I should even though Im not late for where Im going. Is this you? Is this healthy?
You are exactly where you are supposed to be right now regardless of past habits. Sometimes those habits needed to be there to protect you for awhile. Thats okay. Now is the time to touch your powerto shine your light of curiosity onto your habits and decide if you want to keep them or not.
It doesnt matter where they came from. What matters is you get to decide where theyre going.
Side-reclining leg lift / Vishnu’s Pose (Sanskrit Term: Anatanasana)
Lay on your right side with your right leg straight and right foot flexed as you press through your right heel. Stretch your right arm onto the floor creating a straight line from the stretched, right fingers to the flexed right heel. Bend your right elbow, prop your head up into your right hand, and stretch your right armpit away from the body. Reach up with your left arm and interlace your index and middle fingers around the left foot’s big toe, capping it off with your thumb. Alternatively, you can grab the ball of your foot instead. Inhale and slowly extend the left leg toward the sky as you create resistance with your left hand pulling it back down toward the floor. Feel a deep stretch in the raised leg. Root down firmly through the bottom arm and grounded leg using the outside of the bottom foot to help stabilize.
Engage your core to hold the pose. As you hold the pose, it becomes a play of balance to stay on your side. In the opening article, I suggested you shine your light of attention as to why you might feel resistance in a pose to learn more about yourself and your habits. In this pose, you intuitively know how to move to create balance—or not! Have fun with it!
It’s fun to balance isn’t it? It brings out the child in us when we wiggle and perhaps fall. It helps that this pose is close to the ground so we feel safe in our attempts and perhaps more apt to go at it again and again. You might find yourself laughing at your attempts. As mentioned in the opening article, this pose reminds us how applying the fun factor removes the resistance to working with a pose we are having difficulty holding.
You’ll find that it helps to firm your sacrum toward your pelvis to keep the top leg straight up toward the sky to keep from falling out. Engaging the straight leg’s quadriceps helps to stabilize the pose as well as helps to release tight hamstrings and inner thigh muscles. The more stability and strength you can bring to your core (solar plexus chakra), the easier it is to balance in this pose. “Think of the effort and attention you bring to this balancing pose as a meditation on calm and stability in the midst of change.” http://www.katsaksyoga.com/category/asanas/core-yoga-poses/anantasana/
Beginner’s tip: Still unsure on your form or new to yoga? You can try a practice pose.
Add a Prop:
Sources: YogaJournal.com, Beth Saw’s YogaFIt®, https://yogaposition.wordpress.com/tag/anantasana/
The following meditation is from one of my favorite Websites, Compliments of YogaMint.com
Your Knowing Breath
Developing Your Intuition
My first yoga instructor taught me that you cant hold fear in your body and breathe long and deep at the same time. When someone asks me how to develop their intuition, I tell them to breathe. When your breath becomes shallow it is usually because you are afraid. This can show up as anxiety, worry, concern, stress, and any number of descriptors for the same thing: fear. When you are afraid you do not hear the voice of your intuition.
The breath controls the mind and the mind controls the body. Slowing the breath to 6-8 breaths per minute, the mind slows down and you start to relax. Through this state of relaxation your inner knowing can be heard. Its not always easy to do. When Im really in a state of anxiety I have to do some vigorous exercise to get my body and my mind to relax. I like to walk down by the river where I live. Water stills the mind and is a great conductor of intuitive energy. I can gaze out over the water and a natural stillness comes over me.
If you do not have easy access to a natural body of water try this meditation. Fill up your bathtub and place a few drops of lavender oil in the water. Light a candle. The warm water will relax your body and the lavender oil will relax your mind. Start breathing long and deep. You can close your eyes or look lightly at the burning candle. Gently bring forward a question into your conscious mind as you seek inner guidance. Imagine that you are watching the answer come to you on the movie screen of your mind. Relax and watch the movie.
If an answer does not come to you at this time, trust that guidance will come over the course of the next few days. Once you ask a question, the Universe will find the right time and place to show you what you need to know. The key is trusting. For now, just breathe your knowing breath and listen to your heart. http://yogamint.com/_webapp_3918677/Your_Knowing_Breath
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.
We’ve been talking about applying discipline to our lives, analyzing where our resistances come from and deciding if they’re habits we want to keep or kick to the curb. That smacks of willpower doesn’t it? We hold our power in our solar plexus chakra! You get to determine what is important and meaningful in your life. You determine your boundaries. You determine what to get rid of in your life. That is the power of the solar plexus chakra! Would you like to have more of that?
I often remind my students to keep their ribs in as they hold the various poses reminding them the solar plexus area is where they hold their power. If you let your ribs pop out you let your power spill out. Keep your ribs in and your power stays within you. Just practicing that in mountain pose you can feel a difference in the energy of your body.
The element of this chakra is the fire element. Fire burns away what you don’t want. Fire makes way for the new in your life. The theme for this month continues! Make way for those new habits you are forming! Expand your horizons to facilitate the change you are looking for! You have the power within for the growth you desire. You just need to use it! That’s solar plexus chakra energy at work.
Fire can evoke feelings of fear—Fear of the unknown when fire comes into your life and burns away the old. Remember my sentiment in the opening—all change is good! It means you are alive! Use the power of your will to achieve the results you want. Fear of the unknown? What do you want? Make it happen. No more fear because you decide what you create in your life so no more “unknown”. No more fear of failure. Decide that you are the source of your reality. And why wouldn’t you be? Expect to succeed because you’ve decided that you won’t give up. That’s willpower. That’s solar plexus chakra power! As Dale Carnegie said earlier, “First ask yourself: What is the worst that can happen? Then prepare to accept it. Then proceed to improve on the worst.” ~ Dale Carnegie.
The solar plexus chakra helps us create our world. It helps us decide what’s important and meaningful. This is why I suggested in the opening section the importance of analyzing your habits and your resistance to situations so that you know exactly why you have them. If you don’t know why you are resistant or afraid or doing something out of habit, you’ve lost your power. Figuring out why you label something “fear” may actually weaken that fear. You may find that you’ve falsely identified something as fear. The solar plexus chakra controls the ability to identify a problem and find the solution to it through your total understanding of it. If you don’t understand your habits, your personality traits, you lose that ability. Your solar plexus chakra weakens.
How cool would it be to regain your power over some habitual fears? That’s solar plexus energy at work.
Once you get to know why you do the things you do when you do them, you can then use your willpower to work with your personality traits. I tend to be a worrier. I know like I know like I know there is a habitual response involved here. One of my personal affirmations is “The idea that something is wrong is easily lifted from me” because I have this tendency to always think there is something wrong! I’ve been using that affirmation whenever I start up with the worrying. I think about whatever it is I’ve decided I should fester upon that moment, and I say “the idea that something is wrong is easily lifted from me”.
You immediately know when you aren’t feeling optimistic. Your body is like a meter telling you; no that’s not the right direction; no—too far in the other direction. Ahh! Now you’re cooking with gas! Use your internal meter to alert you to when you just took a turn in the wrong direction. Use your willpower. Solar plexus energy is the power to do something. Use your solar plexus chakra!
Getting to know yourself is the realm of the solar plexus chakra. “It is not possible to define who you are unless you can also identify who and what you are not. When you know who you are, you can start to understand your place in the world.” Healing with Crystals and Chakra Energies, Sue and Simon Lilly. Developing your sense of your own self lets you shine your light brightly—finally! Don’t you want more of that? Determine that you are the source of your manifestations. Determine that you are the cause of your reality. How do you do that?—by constantly catching yourself being small. At first your baby steps will start with noticing that you’ve caught yourself. That’s a huge start! We’ve all heard that defining the problem is more than half of solving the problem. So pat yourself on the back for noticing. The gift of yoga (and the self-study Niyama mentioned in the opening section) is that it teaches you to be the observer. Observe first, and then take action with what you’ve observed. All in due time—we are in no hurry to get to know the self. It lasts your whole lifetime and isn’t that great?
Getting to know yourself will also help you find out where your talents and gifts lie so that you develop a sense of your own person. Letting your “real self” out means you are not limiting yourself. Know that you are worthy of the life you want. As you develop a sense of who you are, your level of inner joy increases. Inner joy creates inner healing—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Let you define who you are, not the outer world. Choose what and who you are. “Be who you are. Otherwise you will miss your life.” ~ Buddha.
As mentioned in the opening section, you never really know what you are capable of unless you place yourself in challenging situations. Overcome your fear to try new things. Overcome your habit to avoid change. That’s using your solar plexus power.
Laughter helps the energy in the solar plexus chakra to be responsive and to flow freely—another continuing theme of trying comic relief to move through the energy of resistance. So as you work your solar plexus chakra remember not to take yourself too seriously! Laugh more to keep your solar plexus chakra healthy! Enjoy! http://www.yogamint.com/_webapp_3187052/Cosmic_Resonance?A=SearchResult&SearchID=2488618&ObjectID=3187052&ObjectType=35 .
Breathwork and Visualization:
Visualizing the Sun
“Use this visualization exercise to invite warmth and joy into your life. This is a good exercise to do if you have feelings of unease or fear that you want to dispel. Using the positive aspects and strength of the sun you will create a feeling of security and contentment.
1. Sit or lie down comfortably. Wrap a blanket around you if the day is cool. Breathe in, and as you breathe out, allow yourself to relax. Imagine this sphere of golden light beginning to form between your navel and the bottom of your ribcage. Imagine this sphere is also giving off a comfortable warmth. Allow the sphere to grow until it enfolds the whole of your body.
2. Stay still for a few minutes, slowing the light and warmth to fill every part of your body. Imagine the sphere shrinking back until it is the size of a tennis ball. Allow the small sphere to sink into your abdomen, before shrinking down to the size of a pea. Let the imagery dissolve. Bring your attention back to everyday awareness.”
Source: Healing with Crystals and Chakra Energies by Sue and Simon Lilly.
Science of Mind, July issue
Universal Laws of Conscious Creation Deck, by Solara, Da Ponte and Chapman
The Book of Chakras, Ambika Wauters.
Diet and the Solar Plexus Chakra: Spices build your inner fire—black pepper, cayenne, cloves, and ginger. Seeds cool excess fire—fennel, anise, cumin, flax seed, and sunflower seeds. Other foods include complex carbohydrates to aid in digestion: rice, oats, millet, pasta, bread, muesli.
Aromatherapy and the Solar Plexus Chakra: Clary sage, juniper, geranium (my absolute favorite!), bergamot, chamomile, peppermint, among others.
If aromatherapy interests you, I use Young Living Essential Oils™ which are therapeutic, food-grade oils. Please inquire if you are interested in purchasing a favorite scent and I can add your request to my personal monthly order. Essential oils raise the vibrational frequency of the body. When the vibrational frequency of the body drops, we become more receptive to ill health: http://justalist.blogspot.com/2008/03/vibrational-frequency-list.html. Therapeutic-grade essential oils are great to have in your arsenal of health promoting natural products.
Gem therapy and the Solar Plexus Chakra: Gemstones amplify the energy when placed in contact with your chakras. For those of you unsure on this subject, consider that it’s scientifically proven that everything is energy. Nothing is really solid. Why wouldn’t the energy of a stone work effectively with the energy in our bodies just as some research speculates that the energy of computers, cell phones, and microwaves may affect our bodies? At the very least, I find that holding a favorite stone is like a talisman for me, or a “worry stone”. As my favorite author, Wayne Dyer, likes to say, “If it’s a placebo effect, I’ll take two”.
Some Solar Plexus Chakra gems are:
Topaz, amber, yellow tourmaline, yellow citrine, aventurine quartz, 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 Solar Plexus Chakra:
All yoga poses are essentially grounding and activate the chakras. This month’s highlighted pose, Side-reclining lift, stimulates solar plexus chakra. Other solar plexus chakra poses include all types of twists since this chakra influences the digestive organs, camel pose, revolved triangle pose, among others.
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.
A great video about mudras: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7-iXzMdfIs&feature=player_embedded#at=147
Mudra for Inner Integrity
In the opening article, I suggested we shine the light of attention on our resistance to being uncomfortable and see if the habits weve formed are habits we want to keep. I chose this mudra since it helps with honestly assessing our behavior and taking responsibility for them. I have to laugh because when you look at the posture it makes me want to say nana nana boo boo or neener neener neener which would be letting the little child inside out and applying the comic relief to a serious situation as suggested in the opening!
Posture: Sit with a straight back. Bend your elbows and lift your upper arms parallel to the ground. Bring your hands to ear level, palms facing out. Curl the fingers inward and point the thumbs toward your ears. Hold for three minutes and relax.
Affirmation: I see myself and my habits clearly. I take responsibility for all my actions and I am ready to conquer my inner fears.
Breath & Mantra: Short, fast breath of fire from the navel. (See the breathwork section in the Chakrascope above for instruction on breath of fire.) Mantra is Sat Nam (Truth is Gods Name, One in Spirit).
Source: Power Mudras Yoga Hand Postures for Women, Sabrina Mesko.
Another similar mudra is the Meditation for Habituation as explained in this YogaMint video and PDF handout available at the link below:
My May newsletter used the Sat Nam Mantra so I repeat the information here for ease of reference and to re-highlight the Kundalini Blessings Oracle Cards & Guide I highlighted back in May:
Sat Nam, Sat Nam, Sat Nam, Sat Nam, Sat Nam, Sat Nam, Wahe Guru.
Sat Nam rhymes with but mom. Sat Nam means truth is my identity. It is a seed mantrathese are single syllable sounds or roots like OM that have multiple meanings and indications depending upon their intonation and the intention with which they are used. Within the seed is contained all the knowledge of the fully grown tree. It is truth embodied in condensed form.
Wahe Guru: Wha-hay guroo. This is a mantra of the Infinity of ecstasy and dwelling in God. It expresses the indescribable experience of going from darkness to lightfrom ignorance to true understanding. Guru is the embodiment of the wisdom that one is seeking. )
I love affirmations and use oracle decks to provide a positive boost in the morning or whenever I need a lift. Its my way of telling the Universe Im open to listening to their message: Have at it! Im 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.
I picked them up on State Street in Madison at my often featured new age bookstore, Mimosas http://www.mimosaspirit.com/. If youre ever in Madison, you wont want to miss stopping in!
This months topic focuses on watching the thoughts in your mind and analyzing where they come from to determine if theyre a habit you want to keep. I thought this card about our thoughts fooling us and becoming the master of our thoughts was the perfect sentiment for the month. This card even touches on using comic relief as part of the solution. Perfect card for the month! I show the front and back of one card then list the guidebooks explanation for the card. The photos on the back side of these cards are absolutely beautiful. The photos themselves could be used as a contemplative focus. The words of Buddha and the guidebook explanation have been a constant source of wonder for me. Enjoy!
Product Description: This beautifully designed set offers a simple approach to meditation, as well as an enjoyable way to learn about one of the worlds great masters. Based on Gautama Buddhas Dhammapada or Way of Truth, the kit includes not only 36 illustrated cards inscribed with the Buddhas wisdom, but also an illuminating guidebook; together, theyll help create spiritual harmony in your life. The guide provides an introduction to the Buddha: his birth, search, enlightenment, Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, and much more. It also features information to help you interpret the cards, along with in-depth, individual readings of their text. As you go through the cards, youll begin to reflect on the questions all meditators askabout awareness, distractions, serenityand find encouragement when you feel disheartened.
About the Author: Priya Hemenway lived in India for many years, where she studied Eastern thought and philosophy, meditation and Oriental sacred scriptures. She has written many books for Barnes & Noble including The Little Book of Eastern Wisdom and The Little Book of Saints.
Card verbiage on back:
An arrow smith works diligently to make a perfect arrow. So you must learn to watch your mind. Like a fish thrown up onto the shore your mind flutters incessantly, desiring to be somewhere else. Its ways are elusive. Your mind does what it pleases so learn its ways and be attentive. How happy you are in the moment when the mind is stilled and watchfulness pervades.
Guidebook explanation of card: (Five) Thoughts:
Reduce your thoughts to objects and your mind will be less powerful. Look for the arguments you always use, the defenses you create, and the clever way you see things. Look for the ways in which you repeat yourself and the many times you try to tell someone how well you behave. If you begin to laugh at yourself you have taken a huge step.
Watch the way you unconsciously move through your life and see yourself like a drunken driver of a car. You are not in control and you are heading for disaster. You cant see where youre going and the car has a mind of its own. Why does this happen? Are there patterns that repeat? What are they and how do they set themselves up? Where did you learn them and why do you not know how to stop?
The human mind is one of the most sophisticated mechanisms in existence and it is capable of such great things. Allow yourself to become the master and kick that old drunk out of the drivers seat.
You can buy your very own deck of cards at: http://www.amazon.com/Dharma-Cards-Meditation-Teachings-Buddha/dp/1402759525/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_8
In my first newsletter, I highlighted one of my favorite decksa 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 Yogas product page online! https://betterdayyoga.com/products.htm
Can Meditation Help Your Heart?
A mind-body practice long used to calm the mind, meditation may benefit your heart. Although research on meditation and heart health is fairly limited, some studies suggest that taking up a meditation practice may boost your defense against heart disease (the leading cause of death in the United States).
How Can Meditation Help Your Heart?
Meditation is thought to reduce stress, a risk factor for heart disease. There’s some evidence that meditation may rev up activity in the parasympathetic nervous system, which is involved in lowering blood pressure and heart rate during periods of relaxation.
The Science Behind Meditation and Heart Health
To date, most of the data on meditation and heart health come from relatively small studies. For instance, a 2006 study of 62 adults found that mindfulness meditation may help lower blood pressure and increase respiratory sinus arrhythmia (a measure of parasympathetic nervous system activity). Published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, the study found that meditation had a greater effect on heart health than progressive muscle relaxation. In addition, a 2010 study from the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that three one-hour mindfulness meditation sessions decreased heart rate, improved mood, and eased fatigue. (The study involved 82 people with no prior experience in meditation.)
Several studies have focused on the heart health benefits of transcendental meditation, a type of meditation that involves repeating a mantra. In a 2002 report from the journal Australian Family Physician, for example, researchers analyzed the available research on transcendental mediation’s cardiovascular effects and found that the practice may help keep blood pressure in check, fight atherosclerosis, improve the health of heart disease patients, and promote smoking cessation.
Should You Use Meditation to Fight Heart Disease?
It’s too soon to recommend meditation for prevention or treatment of heart disease. However, taking up meditation may have a positive impact on your overall health, due to its stress-reducing benefits. Mind-body practices like yoga and tai chi may also help alleviate your stress.
It should be noted that using meditation (or any other alternative therapy) in place of standard treatment for heart disease can have serious health consequences. If you have a heart condition, talk to your doctor about how to incorporate meditation into your health routine.
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!
“Swiss chard is not only one of the most popular vegetables along the Mediterranean but it is one of the most nutritious vegetables around and ranks second only to spinach following our analysis of the total nutrient-richness of the World’s Healthiest vegetables.
Blood Sugar Benefits
Multiple studies on animals have shown that chard has unique benefits for blood sugar regulation. In addition, chard may provide special benefits in the diets of individuals diagnosed with diabetes.
Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
As an excellent source of vitamins C, E, beta-carotene and the mineral manganese, and a good source of the mineral zinc, chard offers an outstanding variety of conventional antioxidants. But these conventional antioxidants are only part of chard’s fantastic health benefits with respect to prevention of oxidative stress and diseases related to chronic, unwanted oxidative stress. Equally outstanding are chard’s phytonutrient antioxidants.
Support of Bone Health
With its very good supply of calcium, its excellent supply of magnesium, and the vitamin K it provides in amounts six to eight times higher than the Daily Value (in just one boiled cup), chard provides standout bone support.”
Read more details on all of the above at: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=16 Now for the recipe!
Remember that Yoga Therapy training I mentioned in the opener? Well I bought a series of CDs at the YogaFit® Mind-Body Conference held here in the Twin Cities earlier in June. This one is Spa Sessions / Healing. This CD is also available as The Healing Collection V
Product Description: Soft and melodious, smooth and serene. Submerge yourself in the warm tranquility of Healing Collection V, Pacific Moon’s newest offering in our healing music series. Perfect for massage, yoga, meditation – or just for relaxation.
You can hear the full CD during one of my yoga classes, or listen to clips and purchase it for your own listening pleasure at:
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.
She loves horses, dogs, cats, writing poetry, meditation, pine trees, her immediate, spiritual and global families and always those “light bulb” moments that makes being human an adventure, an ever evolving journey. She’s a Business Administrator, Life Coach, Poet and is now Mint Momma and C.E.O. (Chief Enlightenment Officer) of Yogamint. She is grateful every day for all blessings, in whatever size or shape, that flutter, barrel and glide into her life. Be sure and read next month’s newsletter to find out more about the excellent resource you have at YogaMint.com!
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
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!
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.)
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.