The Come Back!


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Hello Everyone,

It’s been 2 years, 3 months and 12 days since we last met. Since then I moved to Ashland, Oregon and have been in the process of reinventing myself (sometimes without great results).  I have learned so much during this time and perhaps the greatest lesson is when life knocks you down, is it really a knock down or an opportunity in disguise?

Humans, so the saying goes, are creatures of habit. Why? When things are the same day after day (even if they aren’t great), we don’t have to do much. Something like living on cruise control. It’s when the unexpected appears that we need to put on the breaks,stop, look, reassess our route and perhaps take a detour or change the destination entirely.  This is where meditation and listening to our hearts is key. Meditation dissipates fear and without fear we are able to hear the messages of our heart and the Universe.  Is this the job for me? Should I continue in this relationship? The question is, are you RESPONDING to the life events around you OR are you CREATING the life you want in all its facets?

Sometimes we need to intentionally and purposefully break away. Other times the break comes from outside ourselves. But however the break manifests, it is an indication (a need) for change. Change is the constant in life and actually what keeps us young and vibrant because it keeps us moving. Imagine if the only yoga pose were Savasana (Corpse Pose)? It would feel good at first, wouldn’t require much effort, but soon its benefits would disappear leading to lethargy, muscle atrophy and pain.

With this in mind, I am going to propose that you do something different today. Take a different route home, take a walk during the day, sprout some seeds, turn off the television and write down what you are feeling. Be the catalyst of your change toward CREATING the life you want. If life has made you stop what you were doing or where you were going, consider this a valuable opportunity to reassess, change directions and start working on your COME BACK.

NAMASTE!

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Can you hear me now? Learning to listen to your body


Our body is constantly sending us messages.  It tells us we are tired, hungry, in pain or discomfort.  It tell us when we are hot, cold, or coming down with a bug.  The body is immensely wise and if we pay attention to the messages it sends us, we would probably be in incredibly better shape.  However, we live in a society that prescribes precisely the opposite.  Over-the-Counter (OTC) medication revenues in 2011 surpassed $17 billion dollars and there is a reason for it.  We need to keep doing whatever we are doing whether it is working, exercising, studying, eating, etc.  The body, for example, will say to you, “Hey, every time you feed me Mexican food I give you heartburn, diarrhea and acid reflux,” and what do you do you take medication that alleviates the symptoms or even better, corporations tell you, “Hey, take my little blue pill and go on have that triple layer taco with hot sauce. You know you deserve it.”

Another great example is pain relief medication.  Headaches are a symptom that something else is going on in your body.  It can be that you are tired, didn’t digest food properly, are stressed out, have hormone imbalance, etc.  So the first thing we do when we get a headache is pop two (or in some instances more) pills to shut up the pain.

What we don’t realize is that by masking these symptoms we are ignoring and avoiding a much bigger problem that perhaps won’t go away with an OTC and will require surgery, long medical attention, and perhaps worse disability (which is actually the reason that we took the OTC in the first place so that we wouldn’t have to stop).

Integrating yoga into our life means paying attention to all aspects of our life and seeing that they work together toward a happy, healthy, spiritually wholesome existence.  As a yoga instructor, I am constantly advising students to not take the asana or yoga pose to the extreme; to where they feel pain because they may not only injure themselves, but will probably have a hard time moving the next day.  Still many students (and I must admit I have fallen into this category at times) not listen and the next day or sooner I am soaking in Epsom Salts.

Of course, there are times that we do need to visit a medical specialist at the onset of a symptom,  but very often prior to that moment our body has sent us many signs and warnings that we were overdoing it.  So the next time that you reach into your bag for the pain reliever or the 5-hour energy drink, stop and think of what you will feel the next day or a week later.  Have OTCs become your daily supplements?  An what is the long term effect of ignoring such valuable internal wisdom.  Honor the Temple of the Spirit.

Namaste!

 

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Healing a Broken Heart with Yoga


 

It has happened to all of us at one time or another. Someone has broken our heart and all the talk, friends, ice cream, therapy sometimes don’t seem to be doing the trick because we want to feel better fast (that’s of course outside of the person coming back to beg forgiveness and admit he/she have been a complete fool).  So what’s a person to do?

Well aside from all the advice you will receive through friends, relatives and millions of online resources, there are things you can do and things that really make you feel better for about 20 minutes and then you actually feel worse. So here’s it is:

What you don’t want to do:

-Drink too much. (We are talking alcohol.) Why?  Because over-consumption of alcohol has a numbing effects initially, but then it lowers your blood sugar and your B-12 which actually makes you feel worse than you did before you served yourself that initial libation.

-Eat too much. If what you are eating is fruits and veggies (which is probably not the case) then you have no problem. If you are carb loading or sitting down to pint after pint of Ben and Jerry’s well that’s a problem.  Too many carbs cause inflammation and too much sugar, well you’ve all heard of sugar crash.

-Stay in bed or turn on the tv and watching mind-numbing marathons of Law and Order or what ever your favorite sitecom?  Why because actually the alpha waves created in the brain provoke a sort of hypnosis which actually deadens the brain. But it is still not resolving the problem.

-Allow yourself to go into deep depression. While it is important to allow yourself to feel pain, depression actually compromises your immune system. It is not strange that often when we are depressed for long periods of time we end up getting sick.

What you should do:

-Move!!! Everything from walking your dog, working in your garden, taking up a new project, going to meet friends and of course yoga.  Why yoga?  Because yoga works at multiple physiological, psychological and spiritual levels. When you get on your mat all those stretches and twists also cause your internal organs to move and squeeze fluids and fresh blood into your system. The outcome you feel better.  Breathing of course is key because you are oxygenating your body and it will make you feel better. Plus, if you are focusing on the poses and focusing on the breath you are no longer focusing on your pain.

Here is a link to a Moving Prayer and Sun Salutation that will get you started. Check out  Kathryn Budig: Moving Prayer
Unroll your yoga mat. Now. The power of yoga and intention is amazing. I want you to think of your body as a moving prayer. Set your intention at the beginning of your practice. If a home practice threatens you, simply repeat Sun Salutations and end with long holds in your hip openers. With each inhale, breathe in what you need, with each exhale breathe out any resistance to what you need, anything that does not serve you. Envision a ball of goodness surrounding you and supporting you.  There is always support, we just need to be okay with asking for it, but the support starts with you. Do this practice everyday, even if only for five minutes. This daily prayer or meditation will begin to remind you what really matters in your life and help you get back on track.

-Eat well. Yes, that means healthy foods (veggies, fruits, sprouts, nuts) and lots and lots of water not only because of all the ice cream, alcohol and junk food you may have consumed, but because you really want to flush out your system.

-Get a massage. I don’t know what I would have done without my massage therapist when life was tough.  He once explained to me that stress creates lactic acid inside the tissues and  if not massaged out, these toxins eventually will turn into proteins (not the good kind) that will lead to disease.  If you are on a budget I suggest you look into self-massage like abhyana and dry brushing using a natural bristle brush. Not only will you feel better, it also promotes lymphatic drainage and you will have beautiful luminous skin.

-Trust in your Higher Power.  Yes, I know, so easy said than done.  In my experience, there hasn’t been one time that I was dumped that down the road Ididn’t thanked my Higher Power for getting that person out of my life.  Very often we are blinded by love, lust and/or infatuation so we are going around with these rose-colored glasses and refuse to see what is right in front of our nose. I saw this amazing t-shirt the other day that read: “Nobody is perfect until you are in Love.”  Well, here are the facts: “Nobody is perfect…period!” In Deepak Chopras’ book, “The Way of the Wizard” he states that we all hate unpredictability but have benefited from it multiple times in our lives.  So just trust. Trust that your life will be better.  The pain does go away, I promise.

Sending love and healing…Namaste!

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September is National Yoga Month….and Why Movement is Important


Only through movement can fear be dissolved.

 

Wow, it’s been almost a month since my last post. Lots has happened.  I had the chance to visit my son, Michel, who is a white water raft guide on the Pigeon River in Tennessee, and yes, white water anything is exhilarating.  To top it off, I did zip lining 120 feet up and between the altitude, the speed and the view, well talk about Zen moments. Unfortunately, when we travel too far outside the grid, internet connection isn’t possible so thus my silence.

The most important things I learned from this trip is how imperative it is for us to go out and commune with nature. Part of communing with nature includes walking, swimming, paddling, and yoga.  All this intimately ties in the the title of my post in that the focus of yoga is  to unify, unite and integrate. It is so vital that we take time out in our day to go outside and take in all that surrounds us.  We spend so many hours of our day on the computer, watching television or movies, and often in mind-numbing activities.  This month change your routine.  Take a brief walk during lunch (yes, that means some of your will have to pull yourselves away from your desk and your computer).  Take another brief walk after dinner.  Get yourself out there and move and breathe.

This leads me to the second topic of this week’s blog and here I am going to post a link to my teacher and friend, Shiva Rea’s, video about the importance of movement (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i31gGh9KcAo).  As Shiva points out, fear does not move.  Want to get rid of fear start moving, dancing, running, walking. stetching, twisting.  Movement creates a cascade of serotonin. You WILL feel better and won’t have the side effects of antidepressants.  So many times in my life I have been dragging around barely having the energy to get up and go outside.  I have literally had to force myself to change clothes and put on my sneakers or get on the mat. However. the end result has always been the same. I feel better, often break out into a sweat and reap the benefits of detoxing at the same time.

So here is what I propose: Starting today, take a 15 minute walk. Walk your dog, check out what’s blooming in your neighborhood or see how many edible plants are growing in your backyard.  Take you mat outside, put it on your lawn and stretch, breathe, twist and thank your Higher Power for the body you have been given and its ability to move.  Start the Yoga New Year with a different way to connect with all that surrounds you.

Many blessings…Namaste!

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The Dandelion Seed Effect


Hello from Sunny South Florida!

I’m in Miami attending a non-yoga related conference and feeling the effects of travelling. In Ayurveda, the ancient Hindu medicine, the body’s constitution is made up of three humors or doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha).  Each of these humors has very specific characteristics.

The central concept of Ayurvedic medicine is the theory that health exists when there is a balance between three fundamental bodily humors or doshas called Vata, Pitta and Kapha).  A brief definition extracted from Wikipedia is:

  • Vāta or Vāyu (wind) is the impulse principle necessary to mobilize the function of the nervous system. It affects the windy humour, flatulence, gout, rheumatism, etc.[1][2]
  • Pitta (bile) is the bilious humour, or that secreted between the stomach and bowels and flowing through the liver and permeating spleen, heart, eyes, and skin; its chief quality is heat.[3] It is the energy principle which uses bile to direct digestion and hence metabolism.
  • Kapha (phlegm) is the body fluid principle which relates to mucous, lubrication and the carrier of nutrients.

Each person has the three doshas with one that tends to be dominant. So for example, I am a Pitta-Vata-Kapha. Pitta is my dominant dosha. The dosha that becomes unbalanced when we travel is Vata and the interesting thing about Vata is that it has the ability of unbalancing the other two almost immediately.  Without wanting to over-simplify, when we feel scattered, restless, not able to sleep well and/or focus, this is a clear indication that your Vata is out of whack.  To get in back into balance, the first thing to do is to try and get back to your eating, sleeping and activity schedule.  That is why so many people say that they need a vacation after going on vacation.  Here are a few pointers that may help:

  • Try to get to bed before 10pm, awaken by 6am, and eat your meals at regular times.
  • Avoid becoming chilled. Wear adequate clothing appropriate for the season and keep your head covered when the weather is cold.
  • Perform a daily self-abhy massage using warmer, heavier oils like sesame and almond. 
  • Light exercise that enhance balance and flexibility is best for a Vata body type. Take care not to push yourself too far and exceed the limits of your energy. Beneficial activities for Vatas include: yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, walking and short hikes, light bicycling, light tennis, golf, dance, and aerobics.
  • Fresh ginger root is beneficial and can be used frequently. During the cool weather, sip ginger tea throughout the day.
  • Be certain that your bowels move regularly on a daily basis.
  • Favor soothing, calming music.
  • Touch and be touched regularly by the people you love. Get regular massages treatments.
  • Favor warm colors in your clothing and environment such as earth colors, pastels, browns, and warm yellows.
  • Favor aromas that are sweet, heavy, and warm. Examples include basil, bay, cinnamon, citrus, cloves, frankincense, lavender, pine, sage, and vanilla.

To find out what dosha you are taking the quiz at: http://doshaquiz.chopra.com/

Until next time, may your Doshas be balanced. Keep smiling!

Namaste!

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Are you turning into a prune??


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Hello Everyone,

You have heard that old proverb you are what you eat.  But what does it mean? Outside of the philosophical premises of whether we are vegetarian or not, there is a clear link between what you eat (and drink) and how you feel.  For example, I notice that when I haven’t eaten enough (healthy food) during the day, I tend to go into excess snacking or eating whatever is at an arms reach at the end of the day. A heavy meal at dinner is tantamount with having difficulty getting up and feeling sluggish the next day.

Recently, I read this really good post by Lucas of Yogabody discussing how hydration and flexibility are intimately related. In a prior post Lucas had mentioned that coffee, along with other foods and beverages, lead to muscle stiffness. One of the main reasons behind this effect is that caffeinated drinks such as coffee, teas, and now more popular energy drinks actually dehydrate you. Think of what happens to a leaf or fruit that has been dehydrated. It becomes stiff and brittle. Consequently, if you want to increase you flexibility, a great way to start is by increasing your water intake.  For most of us, we should start with at least 4 liters or 135 ounces of water to jump start our hydration process.

I realize it sounds like a lot but if you consider that the majority of the drinks out there have 2 8-ounce servings, you are actually looking at 8 glasses of water.  Additionally, not only will you become more flexible, your digestion will improve and your skin will almost immediate look younger and more subte.

With in a week or two you will notice marked improvements in your health, looks, and flexibility. After that you can determine your water consumption needs based on your weight.  I am including a water requirement link based on your weight, age, and levels of physical exercise which I hope will be useful. http://www.csgnetwork.com/humanh2owater.html. In the meantime, let’s begin by getting up and getting yourself a glass of water and visualize as you drink  how you are on the way to a better you.

Cheers and Namaste!

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Grounding and Centering


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Multitasking or being able to do multiple things at the same time used to be a skill. Today, it has almost become a requirement.  Can you efficiently juggle various tasks at the same time?? Can you email, be insightful at a meeting, recall your next appointment, and make sure you child makes it to the dentist on time. Just writing about this is exhausting.  Nevertheless, it is almost telltale of our lives today. As I said before, it is expected if you want to be successful and “make it” (which is a whole other dilemma and post!).

What happens to a lot of us during this process is that we become frazzled. We don’t sleep well, eat poorly, are short-tempered, and often resort to “unhealthier” habits such as alcohol, drugs, coffee or high-dose caffeinated drinks just to function. (I actually heard of a new variety of coffee that has 200% more caffeine!).  I am going to skip the part of premature aging, ulcers, excess weight, etc.  So what do you do?  How do you keep your head on straight without eventually fall apart??

That’s when those two words come up. Grounding and centering.  In other words, coming back to center to a place where you can actually remove yourself while at the same time also being functional. Of course, one of the ways is yoga. Yoga is really great at grounding and centering because it is one of those things that your really can’t do more than two things at the same time well. Those two things are breathing and the pose.  If you are doing a pose and thinking what you forgot to do at work or who you need to call after class or whether your kids did their homework.  You are probably holding your breathe and your body will let you know because as you bend over or try to stretch, you can’t because you are NOT breathing.

The second way toward grounding and centering is meditation and that takes a little more practice because you can sit crossed legged in front of a candle til the cows come home and go over and over all the stuff you have to do. Usually it won’t be too long before you get up because you feel you are wasting time. Again, as with yoga, the key is in the breathe.  The more you focus on the process or exercise of breathing, the more you will let go of your thoughts until they (or what is known as the monkey mind) finally shuts up.

Both yoga and meditation as way toward grounding and centering take practice. The more you do it the more you start to realize you are getting better at being in the NOW.  The reason people love yoga so much and say they come out of it so relaxed is because for 30 minutes to 1-1/2 hours or however long your practice, you have focused primarily on the breathe and in yoga on the pose. Depending on the style of yoga you are practicing, you may be tired, but mentally you just took a look bath with epson salts, candles and soothing music.  When you come back from either yoga and meditation who will feel grounded, centered and refreshed.

I am going to share a secret with you. Lots of people say, “Meditation, in the morning?? Are you kidding??” I have to get the kids ready for school, walk the dog, make my lunch. I barely have time to shower and brush my teeth.”  However, if you can get up 10 minutes earlier and close your eyes and sit and breathe. I promise you, you will feel better, will accomplish more in your day, and be in a better mood.  Again, it takes a couple of times before you can quiet that monkey mind, but once you do, you will NEVER want to start a day without meditating or just clearing the mind and breathing.

Try it and let me know how it goes.  For questions, doubts, techniques, email me at yoganeshashiva@gmail.com. post your comment here, and tweet me at yoganesha17@twitter.com. Also, don’t forget to visit me on Facebook at Yoganeshashiva. In the meantime, don’t forget to breathe.

Written with love.  Namaste!

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