Saturday, October 31, 2009

Celebrate Life




Life should not only be lived,
it should be celebrated

-Osho




pumpkin caring takes on a new meaning as mr potato head takes over

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Yoga Sutra 1.1

Atha Yoganusasanam

The practice or discipline of Yoga.
"Without practice, nothing can be achieved."

Yoga Sutra 1.1

How do you cultivate discipline in your life? What do you to overcome those seemingly impossible tasks?

I have great discipline in certain areas of my life (Yoga and fitness, journaling and quiet time, my kiddos...). And other areas (everything else!) I often sorely neglect. I don't know any other reason except that maybe facing the challenge seems beyond my control. So today, I sat down and picked up my greatest challenge and just simply started... and a wave of relief and calm washed over me. Just letting go of the fear, I was able to face it, move it over and out of the way.

Just learning,

Melissa

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Aging

Daily meditation (samadhi) improves memory. At a recent Alzheimer's Association's International Conference on the Prevention of Dementia in Washington, D.C., results from a University of Pennsylvania study confirmed for the first time that daily practice of meditation can improve cognitive function among individuals with memory complaints.

There is a difference between normal aging, dementia (there are 70 different kinds of this type of memory loss) and Alzheimer's (affecting over 1 out of every 8, over the age of 65). Alzheimer's is a progressive incurable disease that "attacks the brain causing cell death".

If you're like me, you forget where your keys are or maybe where you parked your car or where you took off your watch. But, when you have Alzheimer's you forget what a watch is called or which car is yours. It is not a normal part of aging. There is a check list of 10 warning signs to look for on the Alzheimer's Association website.

I have a loved one with Alzheimer's Disease. But until she was diagnosed, I did not fully understand the impact that the disease would have on our family and especially my father, her caregiver. I hope by being involved through outreach in my local Alzheimer's Association and learning more about prevention for myself and my students, it will empower them to make subtle changes that can make a life-impacting difference.

Living to the full,

Melissa




Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Love

Love your body enough to exercise safely and effectively

Love your mind enough to be in the present time and let go of negative thoughts

Love your spirit enough to spend time with the Sacred

When you are filled with LOVE, there is no room for "dis-ease"



This quote came from Candace, PT and Yoga Instructor who specializes in helping women with pelvic floor rehabilitation. She was just amazing and so full of knowledge.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Yoga Therapy


I just arrived home from Atlanta where I completed a 4-day training in Yoga Therapy. Yoga Therapy is a field that the yoga community is still trying to define and get it's head around since it's such a diverse and complex field. (Click for more flying photos.)

Yoga Therapy defined by the International Association of Yoga Therapists: "The process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and well-being through the application of philosophy and practice of yoga".

But, as Chrys Kub, our trainer put it, yoga therapy is not a "cookbook approach" to yoga where you just pull out certain poses for them to do to fix them. It's more of a "holistic approach" where you look at the root cause of the condition. Where is the muscle imbalance occurring and more importantly, why?

There isn't really "Yoga Therapy" because Yoga IS therapy. Simply put, yoga heals.

This weekend was a bit surreal, achieving my 500 hour RYT. My son asked me when I got home, so what's the big deal? I said, you know, you're right. It's not a big deal to earn a certificate. It was a big deal, though, to devote the past 5 years (more than half Nathan's life) to this process of transforming myself into what am today. And, thank goodness, I won't be the same tomorrow as I am today! It sounds like a cheesy thing to say it's not the destination but it's the journey, however, it's true! I've never been more sure and secure in who I am as a person and a teacher, and I feel it's by the grace of God and through this amazing refining, humbling growth.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Yoga Sutra 2.1

Taph Svadhyahyesvara Pranidhanani Kriya Yogah.

Accepting pain into your life and learning from it, instead of avoiding it for: purification, spiritual awareness (from the heart rather than ego), and surrender (dedicate everything) to the Divine. All of this makes up Kriya Yoga which is a deep energetic work or action (creation of tapas or fire/heat) of yoga in practice.

Yoga Sutra 2.1


Boredom is often the result of unfinished dreams. Keep dreams within tapas, with hot awareness (and self discipline). Everyone starts something, but few finish and continue to the end.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Satya

Within the 8 limbs of Yoga, lies Yama (abstinence) and within the Yamas, is Satya or truthfulness, without lies. It can also be defined as awareness of True Self. Awareness of God. An honesty to be who you truly are while at the same time adapting, accepting, and accommodating for growth. Not wearing different masks, one for family, one for work, another for friends... just being You, uniquely You and dissolving those masks.

Satya Pratisthayam Kriya Phalasrayatvam

When an individual is established in truth and can create karmic joy and good deeds for himself and others.

Yoga Sutra 2.36

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Proverbs

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.
Proverbs 25:11

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Om Poornamadha Poornamidam

Om Poornamadha Poornamidam
Poornaat Poornamudachyate
Poornasaya Poornamaadaaya
Poornamevaavashisthyate
Om shanti shanti shanti

This is full (complete) and
That is full and
When you take this full out of that full,
That is still full.

Anand gave the analogy that when you have a full bucket of water and you just take a cup out, that the bucket is essentially still full.

Isn't our life like that? When we're filling ourselves with refreshing water (rest, love, food, our passions, quiet spiritual time- meditation or prayer) then when cups of water (life, energy, anger, joy, shared experiences) are taken from us, we still have more to give. But, when we continue to give and give and don't a time of renewal and restoration, our water will deplete itself. What then will we give?

Feeling full,

Mel

Friday, October 16, 2009

Swadhisthana Chakra

Continuing my study and reviewing notes from our lectures on Chakras this summer with Anand in Hood River, OR. (The first Chakra and Restorative Sequences can also be found on the blog.) More restorative sequences to come.

I leave for Atlanta next week to take Yoga Therapy for 4 days-- This will complete my 500 hour RYT! This is something that I've been working toward since early 2005. What a blessing to be able to do this and have such support from my family, friends, and students. Someone asked me where I go from here? You the know the saying, the more you know, the more you realize you don't know? I'll be a life-long student whether or not I'm taking courses. Other courses this
year: Peak Pilates (PPS2) and another test (ACE) that finishes in early December. Tentative plans for 2010 but I am trying to savor the moment and enjoy where I am right now- taking it all in, growing from it and incorporating it into my classes. I'm loving the daily journey of it all!

Melissa

"Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and they will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success." --Lao Tzu


Swadhisthana Chakra

Chakras are a wheel of energy used to awaken and enlighten the body. There are seven Chakras that correspond to the planets. This energy aligns in the spine. Often referred to as a spiritual tree, the energy can flow from the brain down or the root up.

The sacral Chakra, "heart abiding place", desire or experience center includes all the sexual organs and slightly above. It is active energy, not necessarily sexua
l energy. Achieve balance by redirecting that sexual energy, so that it creates a sense of awareness, enabling a letting go of frustrating or guilt-like feelings.
.
Teaching Asana: Create a circle or sense of flow and flexibility through practice.

Meditation: Choose to focus on the qualities of water and flow of breath and life. Can also add Anuloma Pranayama to balance the sun and moon, right and left sides of the body.

Element: Water (water is life)
Color: Orange
Planet: Jupiter (biggest planet- 12.5 times bigger than all the planets put together. It's almost the size of the sun and radiates 2 times more energy than the sun. There are constant storms on Jupiter.) The protecting energy-- as asteroids tend to hit Jupiter rather than earth because of the energy pull.
Animal: Crocodile (makes it the most active Chakra)
Senses: Taste
Day of the week: Thursday

Imbalanced state: Lust, greed, abuse, or "what about me", addiction; there is no sense of self/ associated with shame and guilt and carrying of emotional baggage.
Balanced state: Through respect; the third eye or Divine wisdom. (using the breath in through the naval center up to the third eye.

Inner Balance (gunas or 3 states): Tamas, Rajas andSattvic. (The root Chakra is usually more tamas/rajas in nature).

Tamas: Slow, lazy, lethargic and lacking life force
Rajas: Fast, dynamic, and action-oriented
Sattva: Alive, alert, balanced/ relaxed state with a clear mind and body

You can be in any state at any time, and there is a possibility of dropping back to another state at any time. If you're attentive, however, you can keep transcending through sustained practice.

Tomasic: Enjoy the pain
Tamasic/ Rajasic: Obsessed with desire (abusive or addiction)
Rajasic/ Tamasic: Betrayal (cheating on spouse, you are normal part of the time- but it is creating an illusion); the humor is more sarcastic at the expense of someone else (your intention is not pure)
Rajasic: More subtle; you function normally but there is a sense of what about me; dependant on other's opinions; there is a longing and some manipulation (if you make me happy, I'll make you happy); your humor also comes from here, there is a love and sense of community and ability to laugh at yourself; you can detach from yourself
Rajasic/ Sattvic: More creative; live a more creative life with inspiration. Joyous; you don't need pain to create things; solution oriented

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Words


Verbose \vuhr-BOHS\, adjective: Abounding in words; using or containing more words than are necessary; tedious by an excess of words; wordy; as, "a verbose speaker; a verbose argument."

I've never been accused of using too few words. Economy of words is something I struggle with as a mom and a teacher. Just yesterday, my son said "just tell me the part I need to remember, Mom."

Thoughtful Quiet.

Comfortable Stillness.

Beautiful Silence. It encourages God's presence and promotes thoughtful speech.

Just enough information to want more.

Learning to love the space between words,

Mel

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Waves of Life



"Women can handle the big waves of life because we constantly dealing with the little waves of our lives."-- Puja


Tuesday, October 13, 2009




"In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you." --Deepak Chopra

Nathan and I had a great discussion this morning about arguing. He's been in the habit of getting angry whenever things do not go exactly his way and especially when his little brother destroys his Lego world he's painstakingly created.

Our plan for the week? For one week, anytime one of us gets upset or angry, politely walk away and not discuss the situation until he's had time to calm down. I'll let you know how our little experiment goes. (For the record, I gave him several options on how to handle anger: Count to 10 and breathe deep; Instead of yelling, speak in an quiet tone until the anger in you or the other person goes away; Say a prayer even if you only have a moment.)

Remaining calm,

A sleepy mom

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Knowing

"How can you believe in God and live in fear?
Belief is based in love, not fear.
You don't need to believe in God when you know God.
Do you believe water is wet? You know water is wet.
God is all and everywhere."
-- Anand



Saturday, October 10, 2009

Breathing: Full Participation in Life



"Our breath is constantly rising and falling, ebbing and flowing, entering and leaving our bodies. Full body breathing is an extraordinary symphony of both powerful and subtle movements that massage our internal organs, oscillate our joints, and alternately tone and release all the muscle in the body. It is a full participation in life." The Breath That Moves Us, Donna Farhi

Questions often come up about dizziness in yoga and especially sun salutations. With the up and down of Sura Namaskar or sun salutations (head above and below heart quickly), those with high or low blood pressure will find discomfort and may choose to avoid them. However, when the breath is used in a mindful way, generally, the body will flow more easily and with proper use of breath, the lightheadedness will lessen.

Here's the science behind it: The Valsalva Maneuver occurs when the breath is held while a great deal of force is exerted. The glottis at the back of the throat closes when you hold your breath which increases pressure in the chest cavity (intrathoracic pressure) and cuts off blood flow back to the heart (venous return). With less blood flow to the brain, you could be come faint or dizzy.

The ability to perceive our breath and how it effects our movement takes time. Generally, inhale as the body lengthens (eccentric phase); Exhale as the body contracts (concentric phase).

Take a few minutes, finding a quiet place to sit comfortably or stand. Breath as you normally do and ask yourself: Can you feel your breath? Is it shallow, short, rhythmical or ...? Begin flowing arms up and down with the breath. Inhale arms up, exhale arms down. Notice any change in the breath pattern.

"Developmental patterns-- Breathing the first pattern lays the foundation for all the other succeeding patterns. Wherever the breathing is blocked in the body, future patterns will be blocked: whenever the breathing is free, the future patterns will develop efficiently." B. Cohen

Ms. Cohen was talking about movement, but I feel like she's speaking to my life today. Without even realizing it, I'm holding my breath again. Waiting and wondering what's around the corner rather than focusing on my current state of breath (awareness). Breathing is truly a full participation in the game of life. I want to play!

Breathing,

Mel





Friday, October 9, 2009

5 Things I'm thankful for

Vitarka Badhane Pratipaksa Bhavanam.

When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite (positive) ones should be thought of. This is pratipaksha bhavana. (Sri Swami Satchidananda)

A yogi practices a higher way or thoughts; turning the negative into a positive. (Anand)
Yoga Sutra 2.33

Martha shared how she applied this Sutra day after day. For years working as a cashier, she took coupons from people who were ungrateful, unhappy, and often rude. She made a choice to respond in a way that showed kindness, and in her heart she chose to see them differently and be positive.

I've kept a thankful list off and on for years. Growing up with a polly-anna mom, we were to cultivate an "attitude of gratitude". In my house now, we're to have a "happy heart" in all circumstances. More and more research agrees that those who keep a gratitude journal on a weekly basis "exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events." (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).

July 31, 2009
Hood River, Oregon
5 things I'm thankful for:

1. Lack of sleep because there is more laughter
2. Learning
3. Seeing things through others that I want to emulate and some things I don't-- and growing from it
4. My boys
5. A cold refrigerator

Today
Katy, Texas
5 things I'm thankful for:

1. Drew's mischievous behavior (last week: drew on the kitchen floor, in pencil, thank God. yesterday: urinated intentionally in the middle of the garage just to see where the pee would go.)
2. Love of learning (way too much love for this one)
3. Possibilities that come with taking risks and exposing who I really am
4. True friendships (the kind that challenge my thinking and yet love me anyway)
5. Coffee

Thankful,

Mel

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Gita 6:9

"A person stands supreme who has equal regard for friends, companions, enemies, hateful people, relatives, saints and sinners."
The Living Gita, 6:9

We are all the same. Humans who do both kind and unkind acts. "If your vision (drishti) always sees the spiritual side of a person, you will be unaffected by all these (superficial) external things". It's a tall order. But if I can at least realize that we're all desiring to be loved- we just show it by acting in different ways.... maybe, just maybe I can see past what's on the outside and show more kindness than deserved. And, hopefully, someone else will see beyond my actions and show the same loving, undeserved grace.

In need of grace,

Melissa




Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Nia


Movement never lies. It is a barometer telling the state of the soul's weather to all who can read it. ~Martha Graham

This weekend I experienced a Nia class. It's not exactly yoga and it's not exactly a free form dance class either. Julie*, my instructor informed that Nia came out of Portland with two people with fitness backgrounds who wanted to create something that had more of a mind/ body/ spirit connection, no impact and that allowed the body to move in a way it was designed to move and express itself using dance, martial arts-like movements and yoga. Let me be completely honest: for me, the first 10 minutes were torture. (If you were with me in Oregon when Puja and Beth made us "dance" free form around the room with our eyes closed... then you know how painful this was!) But, after I checked the clock, I realized that I could either surrender to this new experience or I could be miserable for an hour. My kids do this all the time right in our kitchen to their favorite songs, why can't I?

I went with it, and the next time I looked at the clock, we were finished. The music was beautiful and the movement was dynamic- some guided, some not. There was only one other woman there who had also never done Nia before, so there was certainly no hiding! I found the movement to be much like Kriyas. Some repetitive motions that morphed in to moving meditation. I was able to let go of my fear of doing it wrong or not having enough choreography to go on and just enjoy the music and moving. With tears streaming down my face, I had allowed myself to feel somewhat exposed and didn't care. I'm sure the emotion of the weekend in Austin visiting an dear college friend helped trigger the emotion but the movement allowed a release. Sometimes you just need a good cry.

Never trust a spiritual leader who cannot dance. ~Mr. Miyagi, The Next Karate Kid, 1994

Learning to dance,

Mel

*Julie will be in Houston next Monday, October 12 to teach a 6am class. (That's early for a holiday!) www.niamoves.com for more info.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Serendipity



I feel more and more like my mother these days. As a child she would constantly embarrass me by chatting up the grocery store checkout person-- complimenting something, anything she could find to compliment- their lipstick color, their eyes, smile... anything to start a conversation. She would meet people everywhere she went. She had (and still does have) the uncanny ability to make almost anyone feel good about themselves by noticing something unique in them. It dawned on me this weekend that I've started doing this myself. Just this morning I asked a woman if I could have her newspaper, then struck up a discussion about neighborhoods and why she loves Austin so much. Yesterday, I met the most interesting people... all because I was open to serendipity, and I smiled. Have you noticed that people don't smile at each other anymore? Try it. Smile at someone, for no reason... they will wonder what you're up to, I'm sure.

Taking risks, being bold, and really living without fear of failure... open to the serendipitous moments of life.

Living,

Mel

Friday, October 2, 2009

Shanti Mantra




Shanti Mantra

Om asatoma sadgamaya
Tamasoma jyotirgamaya
Mrutyoma amrutamgamaya

Lead me from the real to the unreal (to the Truth)
Lead me from dark to light
Lead me from mortality to immortality (who do you realize you are?)


"Certain moments are like swinging doors that lead from one room of life to another... I took my first steps beyond the room of trying to be someone I wasn't. The door swung open into the long hallway of becoming myself... using my heart's compass on the journey... that lead me into the unknown. Perhaps I will have courage to make big changes."-- E. Lesser

Moving toward change is hard. Finding the space in myself between my head and my heart. Grace: I'm learning to receive it and give it freely.

Grace and peace,

Mel