I recently read an article in Yoga Journal’s June 2012 issue, “Morning Awakening” by Phillip Moffitt, suggesting to start your day with a thought of gratitude. “Gratitude can be calming to the nervous system.” I don’t think we have to be wealthy and or have everything we want to be grateful. Ever notice how some of the poorest and those dealing with physical disabilities or illness are the most grateful? Nothing against the wealthy or healthy. In our media driven world it is so easy to get caught up in wanting the newest and the best of things out there. Is it really making us any happier? When I find myself caught in the space of wanting new things or frustrated because my body cannot do a certain yoga pose, I remind myself to be grateful for the bounty of what I do have and that my body is healthy and strong. It definitely calms my mind and changes my thoughts to how my family and I can give back. In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Sri Swami Satchidananda, he states that, “If we are completely free from stealing,(asteya), and greed,(aparigraha), contented with what we have, and if we keep serene minds, all wealth comes to us.”
So maybe ratherthan feeling sorry or depressed for what we don’t have, we can feel blessed for what we do have and look at how we can help those with even less!
“Gratitude helps you to grow and expand, gratitude brings joy and laughter into your life and into the lives of all those around you.” Eileen Caddy
This morning I saw a mother bird trying to put a twig into the bird house that my son built. The twig would not bend and go into the hole for this frustrated mother bird. She tried several times and finally dropped the twig and flew off to return with a more flexible piece of grass and with success she got it into the house! This can be a lesson for us to persevere and try, try again to fulfill our goals and reach our dreams. I have been practicing yoga now for 12 years and backbends have never been my strong suit because I tend to be muscular and tight through the shoulders and chest. I have been trying for all these years to open the chest and increase flexibility in the back and finally I had a pure bliss moment, much like this mother bird working so hard to provide shelter for her young. During a recent practice I entered my best feeling Cobra pose ever. It felt amazing in my mid and upper back, I felt my entire chest open. I wanted to keep coming back to this pose and this feeling in my practice everyday. Thank you mother bird for that brief but oh so important lesson you shared this morning.
Fall seven times, stand up eight. ~Japanese Proverb
I was very inspired by a training I went to this weekend talking about the importance of building a sense of community in our classes as yoga teachers. During my MS Yoga class I was filled with joy because, this class has a very strong sense of community. These folks, get to class even though they are exhausted, some not able to walk, arriving in wheelchairs and others have to rely on family or public transportation to get to class. They come early and chat with one another, never really complaining, but sharing how things are going. At this particular class I had a dear friend and fellow yoga teacher assisting me who loves to sing and got the group singing and laughing. We did our practice with our usual moments of pause and laughter. Many of the students are dealing with exacerbations due to the change in weather and temperatures, therefore, I planned to do a restorative pose before our Savasana. My 2 wonderful dedicated assistants and I went around and offered reiki which is a hands on energy healing practice. As we were doing this I got this wave of joy because this was such a beautiful thing, unconditional loving human touch, something that often is missing in our hectic lives. When the class came to a close there was more laughter and the students glowed and were able to stand a little taller than when they arrived. This class is evidence that yoga is not just asanas, but it is a practice for the mind, body and soul.
“Come out of the circle of time and into the circle of love.” Rumi
These are Hearts of Love made by my dear friend Gail Spirit Sky. Students rest them in their palms to add a sense of weight for deeper relaxation as well as comfort.
My husband and I were reminiscing about our childhoods of the 70’s when we were served an abundance of red meat with little flavor except salt and ketchup, neither of which do I crave now. No insult to our parents, this was just the times. I figured this is probably what lead me to my love of cooking with fresh garlic and herbs. My children have been brought up with these tastes, so it will be interesting to see what they prepare for their families when they grow up. Although they are also lovers of macaroni and cheese.
Fresh food can be a delight for the senses and the body! With this warm weather I have been craving fresh salads. It is easy to add lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil with dried oregano to a salad for a punch of flavor that may just leave you satisfied and not longing for empty calories.
Food is meant to nourish our bodies as well as to be a reason to gather with friends and families. I feel we have lost this in our hectic lives. I know I long for the evenings when I can sit down with my husband and children for fresh home cooked food.
If this has inspired you to try cooking with herbs, an easy recipe is to boil fettuccine and saute fresh minced garlic in olive oil with basil add 1-2 ladles of the pasta water to the garlic and oil and pour over cooked drained pasta, garnishing with Parmesan. Enjoy!
“Let food be your medicine.” Hippocrates
Last week I came down with a cold and was not sleeping well. I fortunately still had energy to go about my days however, every day I was sure to tune into what my body was calling for and Viparita Karani was it. This pose can be modified with legs over a chair especially if you are new to yoga or on blood pressure medicine. You never want to do this pose if you have detached retina.
This pose restores my energy and, supported by a bolster under the hips, becomes a restorative backbend. Viparita Karani helps boost your immune system by reversing the flow of lymph, which is why this pose is so good when you are feeling under the weather. Also, the pressure on the back of the head calms the nervous system. It is recommended that you only stay for 10-20 minutes.
Our bodies have a wisdom to share if we tune in and listen we will know how to best support our health.
Watching my children’s caterpillars transform into beautiful butterflies reminded me of a persons ability to transform. A yoga and meditation practice can transform one’s body, mind and spirit. I see how my body has transformed through my yoga practice, becoming stronger and more flexible. My mind is going through transformation as I find more stillness throughout my day, times to notice my breath or the sounds of nature.
Spring is a time of growth and transformation. As you look around, you see the new flowers and leaves on the trees as well as the new baby animals scurrying about. All the changes in nature may inspire you to make changes in your life. Maybe a new hairstyle, trying new recipes or starting a new yoga/meditation practice.
According to the dictionary to transform is to make a change, usually for the better.
I believe, like the butterfly, as we transform, we are able to spread our wings and fly.
“Personal transformation can and does have global effects. As we go, so goes the world, for the world is us. The revolution that will save the world is ultimately a personal one.” Marianne Williamson
I am excited and looking forward to this new adventure of blogging, a new way to connect with people who are new to yoga or have been practicing for years, and to connect with people who are looking for a little inspiration to add to their day. I stumbled upon yoga with a gift certificate and was in love and fascinated by the whole thing from the beginning. My passion in life is to help people and I realized I could help people with yoga so that lead me to teacher training. I am entering some new exciting adventures in my life and this blog is one. I have always been a dreamer but never seemed to see things through, I think things are changing. I hope to inspire others to follow and pursue their dreams, one step at a time.
“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.” Author Unknown
Maybe you are inspired to try something new!