Tag Archives: contemplative time

Morning Rituals

lily pad

 

In the Ayruvedic Tradition, it is recommended to start one’s day with a morning ritual.  These rituals can aid in firing up digestion, bringing about a feeling of groundedness and are overall balancing.  After attending a mini workshop on Ayurvedic Morning Rituals, I made a commitment to  myself to begin more of a routine in the morning.  I decided out of the list of Ayurvedic rituals I would start my morning with a glass of warm lemon water, oil pulling and meditation.  Previously I tried a morning meditation practice and would end up very frustrated as I would sit and worry about packing lunches and getting everybody out of the house so, I just gave up on morning meditation and started meditating in the evening.  I decided to make this work, I needed to restructure my morning.   I Pack lunches first while doing my oil pulling then, after my daughter  leaves for school,with the house still dimly lit and quiet, I meditate.  Just after 2 days, I felt more grounded and centered and, grateful for the time I gave to myself.  I look forward to my morning rituals.  I also wanted to take a moment to share that the Yoga Studio that I teach at, Yoga on High, is opening a School of Ayurveda.  Please follow the link if you are interested in learning more about this.

http://yogaandayurvedainstitute.com/school-ayurveda

What are your morning rituals?  How do you start your day off feeling centered?

When diet is wrong medicine is of no use.
When diet is correct medicine is of no need.
~Ayurvedic Proverb

Sabbath Moments

Sabbath Keeping

Recently in our final days of onsite training for Urban Zen at Wexner Heritage Village, the Rabbi Cary Kozberg joined us to deliver a most inspiring maybe even, life changing speech.  He commented that Urban Zen offers people “Sabbath moments” in their daily busy, stressful lives.  He spoke about the Sabbath as a time to “just be”.  I then received a book recommendation from a dear friend and co-worker; ‘Sabbath Keeping’ by Lynne Baab.  She too mentions “Sabbath moments” but encourages us to take an entire 24 hour period to really receive the benefits of the Sabbath.  I did not grow up in a religious family.  I sometimes attended church with friends’ families.  My family and I currently do not attend church however, I do believe in God and would like to encourage my children to have a reverence for God and his creations.  After listening to the Rabbi and reading ‘Sabbath Keeping’, I’m setting an intention to have a day where my family and I unplug, take a walk together and, enjoy a meal together.  We may create certain rituals around this Sabbath day as well to remind us of our relationship to God and this world and, to remind us of the gifts that we receive.

How do you and your family celebrate and enjoy the Sabbath?

“Most of the things we need to be most fully alive never come in busyness. They grow in rest.”
Mark Buchanan

 

Living with Intention

I’ve really missed being here!  I hope this finds you and yours well!  This past summer I set an intention to spend quality time with my kids and I did just that.  We had a wonderful summer together!  My kids for the most part got along.   We didn’t go on any extravagant vacations, we simply enjoyed each others presence, visiting local attractions, enjoying  trips to Jeni’s for delicious ice cream, and hiking through our local parks.

 

photo Elise and Liam

Intention according to the dictionary is: An aim that guides action.  At the beginning of many of the yoga classes I teach and attend, the teacher offers a moment to students to set an intention for their practice.  Often this intention comes from asking oneself, “why did I come to yoga today?”.  This intention creates an “aim” or focus for one’s practice, and, maybe even one’s life off the mat.

I have found  the act of setting daily intentions  allows me to maintain my focus and move through my day with purpose and connection to my family and students.  By no means does this mean that I live a “perfect” life without regrets.  Living with intention provides me a “road map” so, when I take a wrong turn I can find my way back.

As we head into the Holiday Season it is my intention to stay present and to enjoy time with my family.

Shitali Pranayama

Shitali means cooling.  I thought it fitting to share this breath practice as the humidity of summer arrives.  This pranayama practice is great for my MS students to help deal with the heat and, great for my prenatal students to lessen their nausea.  My daughter and I routinely practice Shitali Pranayama when we are feeling nauseous from hormonal changes.

Benefits: 

*Activates the liver and spleen

*Improves digestion

*Relieves thirst

*Calm  feelings of anger

*Alleviates nausea

*Can help lower fever

Shitali

 

How to:

Find a comfortable seat with the natural curves in the spine.  Stick your tongue out and curl it, if you cannot curl your tongue as this is a genetic trait, make an O shape with your lips.  Inhale through the mouth, feeling the cool air flow over the tongue then, close your mouth and exhale through your nose.  I’ve read that you should do 5 rounds of this breath in order for it to be effective and, I recently read to do no more than 10 rounds in one sitting.   However, you can practice Shitali Pranayama several times a day.

Note:  Please discontinue practice if it does not feel right for you.  Also, if you start to get a sore throat, gargle with warm salt water.

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” Thich Nhat Hanh

Balance On and Off the Mat

sunset

Ardha Chandrasana has become one of my favorite yoga poses.  By engaging the core and finding the strength of the standing leg, I can open into freedom, into a feeling of bliss.  I often tell my students that by practicing balance poses we can find balance in our life off the mat.  Hmmm….  With my children home for summer and my erratic work schedule, I seek balance on a daily basis.  As I mentioned in my post Disconnecting to Connect, I set aside a day each week to just be with my children fully engaged and present.  This helps me to have some balance between work and family time.   A recent trip my family and I took to Lakeside, Ohio offered me just what I needed to feel firmly planted and open.   At Lakeside, there is very limited access to Wi-Fi, the local coffee shop is the only place that offers Wi-Fi, so I refrained from my daily activity on email, only using my phone to tell my daughter when to return to the cottage.  Our days were spent riding our bikes, walking down to play by the lake and sitting on the porch reading and greeting the passer-byes.  I felt firmly rooted with an open heart and mind to be present for my family and myself.  Returning home I had a busy week of Yoga for Girls Camp yet, I felt so grounded and open to each moment of the week.  I’m still enjoying a sense of balance as a result of this week that my family spent away from the chaos of our modern life fully engaged and balanced.

How do you find balance on and off the mat?

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.”  Thomas Merton

 

Disconnecting to Connect

IMG_1449A Heart of Love made by Gail Spirit Sky

 

 

It is etiquette to turn off your cell phone upon entering a yoga studio.  This practice helps us to drop into the present moment and tune into our breath, sensations and the community in the room.  I’ve taken this practice off the mat and into my life.    This summer I’ve dedicated Tuesdays to spending time with both my kids.  During this time, I’m not checking email or Instagram, I’m present to my kids and our experiences together.  Our connections have strengthened from this practice of disconnecting from the digital world and connecting to each other.   We laugh and “play” together.   I get to really listen to my children and bear witness to their hopes, dreams and thoughts on life.  I’ve noticed how my teenage daughter is also able to stay present to us and, not check her phone every time she hears a chime signaling a new text.  I notice I feel less stressed and therefore, my family is less stressed.  I know this time with my kids is so precious and fleeting.  I want them to know that I’m really there for them.  I also want to instill a practice/habit in them that they learn to stay connected to those in front of them instead of the virtual world.    I can’t help but wonder, what message are we sending our loved ones when  they are trying to talk to us and, we are so focused on our phone.

Your children need your presence more than your presents. ~Jesse Jackson

“We’re living in an era where capturing moments using our phones is more important than actually living these moments with whoever is beside us.”  Unknown

Bhramari

bee

Bhramari (pronounced brah mah REE), which means the “buzzing of the bees” according to Dr. Timothy McCall.  Bhramari is a breath practice that activates the parasympathetic nervous system, the calming nervous system by lengthening the exhalation.  Bhramari can help reduce anxiety and bring one’s focus into the present moment.    I recently taught Bhramari in my prenatal yoga classes.  I often teach them pranayama practices that lengthen their exhalation to bring about a sense of calm as well as relax the muscles of the body.  These practices are helpful in labor as well when a woman needs to stay calm and relax the pelvic floor muscles.   Even if you’re not pregnant, you can still benefit from Bhramari breath.  I invite you to give it a try.

Practice:  Sitting comfortably with the natural curves of the spine, close your eyes if it’s comfortable and feel the parts of the body in contact with the floor, feel the hips resting on their support, and notice your breath moving in and out of your nose.  Inhale through the nose and exhale through the nose making a humming sound.  Repeat maybe 3 more times then, on the last round, cover the ears and feel how the awareness of the vibrations increases.  Sit in silence for a few more breaths noticing the silence.

This is a great practice at the beginning of your meditation session to quiet the mind.  Children enjoy this practice too!

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky.  Conscious breathing is my anchor.”  Thich Nhat Hanh

An AHA Moment

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I had a wonderful practice this morning.  As I laid down for Savasana my mind started to wander to posting here.  I was thinking that maybe I would post about setting intentions for practice, teaching and, living, for that matter.  I would share how I set my intention to be present and open to receive guidance.  Suddenly I had this “thought”,   not sure what to call it, that my body is truly just a vessel in which God’s love and work is flowing through. I felt this wonderful sense of comfort that I’m not really in control I just need to be and to remain open.  I began weeping.  I felt this overwhelming sense of peace, joy and freedom.  Surrendering control feels right, frankly, it feels amazing!  I’m sure I will move in and out of this comfort and freedom as life’s struggles appear but, for this moment, I’m celebrating this AHA Moment.    Have you had any AHA Moments?  Please share!

“Understanding dissolves fear.  When we understand the true nature of our being, fears dissipate.  We are spiritual beings not human beings.”  Brian Weiss

Put on Your Oxygen Mask First

If you’ve ever flown before, you’ve heard this statement, “In the event of an emergency and the oxygen masks drop down, please put  your mask on first before assisting children or others.”  This serves as a reminder that we need to care for ourselves before we can care for others.  As women, it is part of our nature to be the care-givers of the people in our lives, while also caring for our homes and maintaining a career outside of the home.   We, at least many of us, tend to place our needs and desires last on the list.  I invite you to make a change and “put on your oxygen mask first”!  I often find that, when I take some time for myself, I  have all that much more energy and love to give to my family.   So, make a date with yourself!  Below are some suggestions if you’re at a loss for where to begin.  Enjoy!  Please share in the comment section your self care ideas.

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*Sit outside and read a good book

*Enjoy a cup of tea and some quiet time

*Take a relaxing bath

*Practice yoga alone or take a class with some friends

*Practice some restorative yoga

*Take a walk and be with nature

*Share a meal with friends

*Get a massage

“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”
Eleanor Brownn

 

 

Parent and Child Yoga Minutes

The truth of the matter is that I have reaped so many benefits from my yoga and meditation/mindfulness practice that yes, I would love for my entire family to practice on a daily basis with me.  I will say, my daughter does enjoy going to class with me when she is not hanging with her friends.  My son well, I think if he could teach the class he would practice yoga.  And my husband would rather play his guitar.  I have discovered a way to incorporate yoga into my son’s life. After attending a 1 day Workshop on Yoga 4 Classrooms in which I received this lovely deck of cards, my son and I started our Yoga Minutes.  In the morning just before going out to the bus stop, he chooses a card or two.  The cards have a pose and a description of how to do the pose as well as benefits of the pose.  There are also various visualizations and breath practices in the deck.  He and I look forward to choosing our card and, giggling always becomes part of the practice too. Another tool for mindfulness in our mornings is an app I have on my phone that I can set to chime at certain times.  When we hear the chime, we stop what we’re doing and take a breath or do wiggly tree.  These Yoga Minutes have proven to be a great way to incorporate mindfulness and yoga into my son’s life and mine.  My hope is that these minutes will provide him with tools for his daily life to manage his emotions and the stresses that children incur in this hectic world of ours.

I would love to hear in the comment section how you and your family incorporate yoga and mindfulness into your lives.

 

yoga cards

 

“Simple practices like conscious breathing and smiling are very important. They can change our civilization.” Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace is Every Step