As signs of springtime—renewal, warmth, and expansion—emerge, you may still feel worn out from battling budding allergies, rather than energized and ready for the new season. But adopting these simple holistic practices for balancing, purifying, and rejuvenating the body and mind can help you fully prepare for and enjoy the dynamism of spring.
You may have chanted Sat Nam, one the most commonly used mantras in Kundalini Yoga, without realizing its profound meaning and transformative properties. Sat means truth and Nam means name. Together, Sat Nam essentially translates into something deeper: “I am truth,” or “Truth is my essence.”
Although the thoracic spine doesn’t get much attention, it’s literally the backbone of your lungs and heart, surrounded by your rib cage, which protects these vital organs. Of the spine’s 70 joints, 50 percent are in the thoracic spine. If you factor in the additional 20 specialty joints (called the costotransverse joints) that help your ribs articulate and move, you’ll quickly understand that your thoracic spine is a workhorse responsible for two-thirds of the movement in your torso—so the odds of something going awry are high.
I’ve reached a point of no return! I have one daughter graduating high school and one graduating eighth grade. My mind has been spinning with these endings and also the new beginnings. It’s a super busy time, but reflecting back I see that every year has been busy.
Finding neutral—or what I call coming home to your body—is a practice of its own. What is your neutral? No matter what part of the body we’re talking about, it’s good to know the answer to this question, so you don’t keep returning to a position that doesn’t serve you or your yoga practice. There are lots of differing opinions about what constitutes a neutral position. Mountain Pose describes a neutral standing position: easily resting upright, stacked up in gravity, and bearing weight on centered, balanced feet. A second neutral position can be easily found in Corpse Pose: lying horizontal, resting out of gravity, and fully supported with your arms open.
Your base emotions can become energy trapped in reactive and protective defensive patterns. Fear, anger, resentment, and all their variations of emotional pain are all base emotions that are reactions to perceived danger, violation or hurt. But within each emotion is a higher emotional state, a non-reactive state, that can respond with love and intelligence to the appropriate circumstances of life.
In the Yoga Sutras, the introduction of Isvara pranidhana: the total surrender to a higher power, no matter what the outcome. The teaching of Isvara pranidhana serves as a remedy for steadying the wavering mind and freeing oneself from agitation and suffering in the face of potential obstacles (for, after all, obstacles are really only obstacles if they agitate you).
In Buddhist and Yogic studies, the concept of non-attachment is a popular one. It is understood that deep attachment to people, outcomes, and objects can cause suffering—as when these things leave, we may experience grief, sorrow, regret, or resentment. So, a common thread woven into the fabric of living a more mindful life is to practice the art of non-attachment. But what about also practicing attachment as well?
Tapas-one of the Niyamas of 8 Limb Path of Yoga—activities that are part of healthy, fulfilling living—is derived from the Sanskrit verb tap, or “to burn.” It refers to the discipline of burning away physical, energetic, or mental impurities.
Named after the moon, the standing balance Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose) invites you to tap into both the calm, balancing the energy of the moon and the fiery force of the sun. In this pose, you discover how the coming together of two opposing energies generates a power that is greater than its separate parts.
In the West, we translate this gesture as a posture of prayer. Because we have grown up with this gesture as part of our culture, each of us probably has our own personal connection to this mudra. The beauty of this gesture, which positions us right at the core of our being, is timeless and universal.
In one sense, generosity is natural: We can no more help giving than we can live without the support of everything we receive. One way to describe the act of generosity is to relate it to the natural elements: the way the earth supports us without ever demanding thanks, the way the sun shines and the rain falls.
There are many reasons why we don't fully receive gifts, favors, and compliments—ranging from feelings of guilt or insecurity ("I don't deserve it") to a sense of entitlement ("I have it coming to me, so what's the big deal?"), a fear that we don't have the wherewithal to reciprocate, or a sneaking suspicion that the gift has hidden strings. Even when we're truly in need, our ego will often resist the discomfort of fully receiving.
Monica Biery is a momma of three, two teenaged sons and an eight year old daughter and considers her vocation as a mother to be the most important, most amazing and the most difficult of all. Often times being a new momma in our culture can be very isolating. The purpose of this group is to bring new mommas together to learn from each other, to gain encouragement, insight and information and to love and support one another through this beautiful and precious yet sometimes scary and vulnerable time of life.
In Sanskrit, Visoka va jyotismati translates to the light within which is free from all suffering and sorrow. What is noteworthy about this Yoga Sutra is that it does not contain any specific instructions. Instead, it simply offers the image of jyotismati, or our inner light, free from sorrow or grief (visoka)—and purposely leaves the way open for the application of the sutra to vary according to each person's individual needs and beliefs.
It’s so hard to turn your brain off these days and get some quiet. There seem to be endless distractions or tasks that demand our attention. And this makes it so hard to disconnect for quiet and rejuvenating time to simply do nothing.
In Sanskrit, the word Svara translates to the sound of the air that is breathed through the nostrils. More than anything else, the ultimate objective of this breathing practice is to invite yourself to tune into the sound of your breath as well as the sensation of the breath flowing in and out of all points of your nostrils.
Kumbhaka is the central practice of traditional Hatha pranayama; there are two types of retention in this breathing practice: after an inhale (antara), and after an exhale (bahya) The Sanskrit word kumbha translates to “pot” (a traditional image of the human torso as a container for the breath with two "openings" at the throat and base of the pelvis).
Utilizing the practice of yoga as preventative medicine is an inherently holistic approach as it simultaneously soothes on the body, mind, and spirit. This holistic medicine truly heals the body from the inside out and maintains longevity.
The body awareness has gone too far! I have heard it all, from too skinny to too fat, too tall, too short. Implants in the chin, cheeks, and now buttocks! Nose jobs, boob jobs, taking out the implants, spray tanning the skin, freezing the muscles in the forehead and fat tissue.
There was a point during my time serving at the Ganga Prem Hospcie when Reshu asked if I would help carry her to the outdoor area where she would be bathed. I was under the impression that there would be some type of method or contraption that would transport her without too much effort. As it turns out, I was instructed that we would simply grab Reshu by her limbs and lug her to the bathing area.
The yoga Asana practice—including prolonged holds of sitting poses for meditation—will require your comfort with discomfort. Without such discomfort, we’d never progress in our physical and mental training. There will naturally be discomfort as we explore our edges. But when we bear too much discomfort and push beyond safe boundaries, we can damage ourselves. Thus, it’s critical to learn how to cope with discomfort and how to discern between intensity and pain.
On the physical level, the yoga Asana practice lets us see how our bodies naturally move through space. Are there areas of tightness that restrict our freedom of movement? Are there imbalances in the body—front to back, top to bottom, left to right—that affect the way we move? Yoga lets us both observe and correct these areas of tightness and imbalances. This guides us to the knowledge of knowing when to exert effort and when to softly release.
With the New Year births new aspirations that are fertile with positive intentions and expected outcomes. Ranging from calling forth more abundance to eliminating what is no longer necessary, the collective is inevitably off-to-the-races with a fierce commitment to their goals. This eagerness and newfound resolve can be a transformative experience when we allow the progression to unfold organically. The tendency, however, can be to go all the way, right away.