“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!
My primary goal for 2013 is to continue to share the transformative power of yoga and wellness with you. Can you help me with this goal? Here are a few ways that you could help:
Last year, I changed the timing of my newsletters from one every month to one every two months, and it even became less than that toward the end of the year. The holidays are meant to be enjoyed! I may be switching that up this year as well. I’d rather write quality vs. quantity. I hope you agree. If I have something important to relay to you, I’ll send a dedicated email vs. a full newsletter, if need be, on the off months.
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
Last year at a YogaFit® Mind Body Fitness Conference I purchased a hand-made bracelet that was created with the intention of helping you clear your energetic knots (“granthis” in Sanskrit). It has one of those “Chinese coins” in the middle picturing a dragon-like image on one side and Chinese characters on the other. There are two strands extending from each side of the coin with one of the strands on one side containing a unique “square” bead representing a “knot” or “granthi”. Several red/orange agate stones adorn the bracelet (agates are great grounding stones!) along with a few beautiful light green to milky yellow jaspers, and there’s a dove charm at the clasp. It feels very “earthy” and grounding to me.
The energy of stones speaks to me. I am enamored with energy. Working with the energy body has always been a magical subject for me. How about you?
I’ve referred to energetic knots/granthis in past newsletters. Let me recap a bit here.
Just as acupressure or acupuncture releases blocks in your energetic “subtle” body, yoga releases blocks along the nadis—or delivery system—in the body. “Nadi” means “movement”. They operate as a delivery system for the chakras and transport subtle energies throughout the body. They are often compared to the Chinese meridian system since both distribute energy and interact with the chakras.
Knots are considered “thresholds” where the energy gets stuck. When energy is stuck at the various thresholds, it develops a physical “pathology” specific to that area of the body. When the knots clear, we become “aligned with the truth of our nature, and the symptoms disappear.” (Source: Kundalini Rising. Exploring the energy of awakening by Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, Andrew Newberg, Sivananda Rhada, Ken Wilber, and John Selby.)
The knots lie within the root, heart, and third-eye chakra. (Some texts say the first knot is in the solar plexus chakra.) Yoga helps release the energetic knots or blocks. Once the blocks are released, our energy flows freely—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. When there is no energy, there is no life. Our energy—also known as prana or chi—is vital to our life-force. When it flows freely, we feel healthy, vibrant and connected to our true spiritual nature; and are able to become all that we are meant to be.
As mentioned earlier, the first knot we must unlock is located within the root chakra. This first knot is “Known as the knot of names and forms, the world of ambitions and desires..” The Chakra Bible by Patricia Mercier.
The root chakra is my “go to” chakra for health and well-being since it is typically the one I need to strengthen. It speaks to feeling safe, secure, centered and grounded—nurtured. It is the “seat of survival.” You need to satisfy your survival needs of safety and security before you can become enlightened, right? I tend to focus on staying grounded, stable, and secure sometimes at the expense of venturing out. Putting yourself out there feels vulnerable, doesn’t it?
How about you? Have you struggled with feeling centered, secure, and grounded? Do you feel stuck because the risk seems too great to be “out there”?
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom ~ Anais Nin
Here’s the rub—the first knot remains shut until you have overcome your attachment to stability, inertia and identification with the physical alone. That’s been a sticking point for me, to say the least, but it makes sense. The root chakra is all about stability and security—but when you strive to attain those things in excess, it still blocks you from recognizing your true nature—your spirit. We weren’t meant to survive life “safe”. We were meant to thrive! We were meant to let our spirit loose! We were meant to connect with our true spiritual nature!
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, “WHO HOO, what a ride!” ~ Author Unknown
I believe we attract the lessons in life we personally need. We all have different lessons and different paths to learn those lessons. When I bought the bracelet, I knew there was something about it I needed to address—this clearing of energetic knots.
“What do you want more of in your life? Create a piece of jewelry to symbolize your desire and focus your intention.” ~ Suzanne Vadnais Monson’s “Enchanted Jewelry” Enrichuals© card.
We’ll come back to the “unlocking energetic knot bracelet” later! Hold that thought!
This past weekend I had the honor of presenting a recently updated version of my Facial Exercise, Acupressure, and Self-Massage workshop at my favorite yoga studio—my yoga sister, Tracey Mortensen’s, studio—Inspiring Actions, LLC. I’d presented this workshop a few times at my original studio location, within Vita Bella’s in Little Canada, as well as at Spirit River in Anoka.
The recent updated version adds more yogic philosophy. While the additions were subtle, it really clicked with my personal vision of what I wanted to communicate in this workshop. (Or to use the phrase from Cyndi Dale’s book referenced above—the workshop “aligned with the truth of my nature”.)
Ultimately, what speaks to you and feeds your soul is the true calling behind your apparent role. What is the larger goal in the work you do?
There’s always been a section reminding the student that a yoga practice is a great anti-aging practice in and of itself. And I have always stressed this workshop is not about getting a “Botox-like” perfection. The results are more subtle and natural. We aim for an improved, better you—not perfection.
Combining the two sentiments brought it home: Coming from a yoga philosophy, I added a reminder of the importance of being okay with where you are at, to love yourself “as is”. Just as your yoga practice is not meant for achieving the “perfect” pose, neither is the intent of my workshop to achieve the “perfect” face.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” ~ Reinhold Niebuhr.
You have certain features you can improve upon, but what you have to work with is God-given and should be treasured, loved, and even nurtured. The most important element of an anti-aging routine is your mind. That message—the importance of a positive, nurturing mindset in all of your endeavors, and the importance of loving and nurturing yourself—is the larger goal in what I am called to teach. It focuses on love and joy—simple, yet not easy. While there are tools I use to convey that message, the “click” came when I switched my focus from the details of the tools to focusing on the larger aspect of love and joy.
How often have you heard to quit focusing on the details—to focus on the bigger picture—to achieve all? Detach from the details, and all will be forthcoming. Remember your true nature in the bigger picture. Flow with that. Focus on your larger goal and the details will take care of themselves.
“The wave forgets the truth that it is ocean, thinking itself
to be the grand shape, which it has temporarily taken.
For a while, it takes on the rupa (form) of wave.
Finally, it remembers its true rupa (form) of ocean.
The two coexist, though one is true, and the
other, though beautiful, is only relatively true.
So too, we humans forget our true nature,
but, through yoga, can remember.”
One of the facial acupressure points highlighted in the workshop utilizes the grounding aspects of the point to help focus on “what do you really want?” I’d never really been able to nail the answer to that when I focused on the details. It seemed so big. But when I focus on the larger goal, the answer is simple.
“The answer is simple…Love Yourself, Live Your Spirit” ~ Sonia Choquette (the tile to her new book.)
Other luscious, yogic and energy philosophy additions to my workshop included:
All I can say is these additions to content made the workshop literally come alive with new life for me as the teacher. It has a whole new feel to it when I present it because it speaks to my passions so much more directly. Curious? Book a workshop!
I wrote this newsletter before I received this email about Gaiam’s® “Connect 2 Happiness” program : “When we take a moment to listen to our inner guide, we get clues that can lead us down the path toward happiness. Choosing what makes us feel happy over what makes us feel safe can take us out of our comfort zone; yet when we connect to our passions with our actions, we stop seeking and start living. Find you joy. Listen to yourself, and take action.
Start a conversation with your inner guide. Ask yourself these three questions, and listen closely to the answers:
Infuse your current life with more that you are passionate about and watch your world pop!
The workshop being held at my yoga sister’s studio added a very special significance for me. Tracey (the owner) and I completed our first and second 200 hour yoga teacher trainings together, so we’ve walked the yoga path together for several years. Her friendship means the world to me. Presenting at her studio was, for me, a crowning achievement. She was placing her trust in my abilities and I didn’t plan on letting her down!
Feedback from the workshop was very positive, with several students giving unasked for compliments on content and presentation. I was walking on cloud nine for the rest of the weekend, feeling content and “on purpose”. “On purpose”—something I had not felt until I focused on the larger goal and putting my “passions into action” as primary and let the details be secondary.
The next day, I even treated myself to a celebratory shopping excursion at Kohl’s® and found myself in the yoga clothes section. Then it happened. I was in the try-on room when my bracelet unraveled. I was stunned and at first, disappointed. I mean, who wouldn’t be? I gathered up the beads on the floor and quickly realized all the beads weren’t there so I found some others on the floor where the yoga clothes were. **Sigh***
Glass half-full—the bracelet was hand-made with high quality materials and I didn’t question the workmanship. I used to sell beaded jewelry so I know they can’t possibly last a life-time. It’s the nature of the beast. Still, I had to sigh. What did this mean? Was it some sort of sign?
I didn’t realize until later that the only strand that unraveled was the strand with the square bead representing the knot/granthi. Then I remembered YogaFit® has a line of other simpler bracelets referred to as “Karma bracelets” that are designed to fall off when your karma is complete—when you have released your negative karma and achieved your personal goal. They are supposed to turn your intention into action. (Portions of proceeds go to the Khushi Charitable Society in India, providing after-school opportunities to impoverished children.)
Karma is defined as “the force generated by a person’s actions”. I had to wonder, did I unlock the first knot?
A couple of weeks prior to this, while in the preparation stages for the workshop, I had experienced a pretty dramatic reaction to a deep tissue/trigger point massage—Lymphatic congestion to the nth degree and subsequent kidney heaviness—all part of your detox and immune functions of the body. The first chakra, where the first knot resides, governs the immune system and the blood and is also associated with the kidney meridian. Also, in Chinese physiology the kidneys rule the emotions fear and insecurity—root chakra issues.
Note to self: If you are coming down with a cold or just getting over one, it is NOT recommended you have a deep tissue massage. Got it! Check that lesson off! Yet and still, a good mind/body expert/friend, Dori Brown, PT, suggested that perhaps a clearing that happened quickly, albeit dramatically, was better than slowly over several weeks, adding—everything happens the way it’s supposed to, and my body was calling for a clearing. Read the Chakrascope section for more on kidneys and the root chakra (and salt cravings).
Again, to repeat an earlier quote from Cyndi Dale’s book: When energy is stuck at the various thresholds, it develops a physical “pathology” specific to that area of the body. When the knots clear, we become “aligned with the truth of our nature, and the symptoms disappear.” (Source: Kundalini Rising. Exploring the energy of awakening by Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, Andrew Newberg, Sivananda Rhada, Ken Wilber, and John Selby.) I wondered, could this be what was happening to me?
Detox—getting rid of what you don’t want. As I contemplated the “bigger picture” message my body was trying to tell me, several questions came to mind. I am, by nature, intensely curious about how life’s lessons manifest in the body, energetically, spiritually and physically. It’s all connected.
The next time you have a physical symptom, ask yourself what might be going on in your life/mind that could be affecting your physical body. Sound strange? Why? Do you question that frustration can lead to either over or under eating or over or under exercising? And would that result in a physical manifestation? Do you question stress affecting your immune system, or causing you to clench various parts of your body? And would that result in a physical manifestation? How else would the body speak to you if not through its symptoms? Have you let this habitual pattern of stress or frustration become your norm so that you no longer see how it leads to the physical manifestation? All I’m asking is that you try listening for a change and perhaps enlighten yourself for your own healing journey.
Inna Segal in her book The Secret Language of Your Body, states that the antidote to a rebelling lymphatic system is to practice courage, self-esteem, and leadership and focus on appreciating yourself, loving yourself, and creating a supportive environment where you can feel comfortable to be creative, lively, and spontaneous. I believe I accomplished that by creating and presenting my “new and improved” workshop. Was this all part of a transition to release the first knot? I believe you never really know.
All I do know for sure is I feel as though I am living “on purpose” and I am so enjoying my life exactly as it is. Perhaps by teaching with a focus on a larger goal, I am finally learning the lesson of love and joy for myself. I think you are called to teach what you need to learn. I’ve heard it referred to as the “wounded healer”. It is your own hurt that gives a measure of your power to promote healing.
“People who love themselves and live their Spirit are not necessarily subjected to any fewer challenges in life than those who rely solely on their egos and intellect to guide them. Life is life. Loving and living the Spirit within doesn’t prevent you from facing life’s storms. It does, however, greatly assist you in navigating the treacherous waters as painlessly and creatively as possible. And it allows you to do this while enjoying the journey.” ~ Sonia Choquette quote from her new book, The answer is simple…Love Yourself, Live Your Spirit.