Tag Archives: relaxation

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

 

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Balance On and Off the Mat

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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

 

Bhramari

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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

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

 

 

Week 4 Meditation/Mindfulness Journey

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This week I would like to invite you to try a meditation/visualization practice.  After the birth of my daughter, 14 years ago, ( wow, really), I went through a period of my life with high anxiety.  This anxiety was keeping me from doing fun things around others and hurting my marriage.  I started seeing a psychiatrist that was more open to talk therapy, yoga and meditation.   In a session, she invited me to close my eyes and visualize a place where I felt most peaceful and joyful.  The first place that came to mind was a beautiful rose park in our town, (I wrote a previous post about this beautiful park https://yogaandinspiration.com/2012/06/).  She took me through this park  with my senses.  I found this practice so helpful and accessible to do on my own when I started feeling overwhelmed.  I often used this meditation/visualization while going to sleep which helped me drop into a deeper more restful state of sleep.  I invite you to read through this and then sit or lay down and try for yourself.  What is your most peaceful place?

See all the colors around you.

Notice any sounds you hear.

Notice the textures around you and, feel the warm sun on your skin or a soft gentle breeze blowing through your hair.

Notice any pleasant aromas in the air.

Observe how calm and peaceful you feel in this favorite place.

Find a place to sit or lay down and rest in this favorite place feeling so relaxed and safe.

May you find comfort with this practice.

The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.
– James Allen

Inhale, Exhale, Pause

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Filling up, emptying, stillness.  Taking in, letting go, bliss.  This powerful breath practice has fostered me through many moments of restlessness and anxiety.  This time of year can be difficult for me and when it is time to go to sleep even though, I’m sleepy, my mind starts to race.  I turn to this breath practice to calm my mind and relax my nervous system.  It is in the pause that I find a moment of absence of thought, freedom from fear, a moment of relief.  When the practice is repeated, it culminates into several moments of inner peace and allows me to drift into a deep sleep.  In the pause, I can be in the now, in the present moment.  Which I know this is the only moment I have, the only moment any of us have.  When you lay down to sleep or any time you find your mind racing, I invite you to notice your breath and notice the pause between the exhalation  and the inhalation, not a holding of your breath, just a natural pause.   Notice the stillness, the peace.

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

Lazy Days of Summer?

I recently read a blog post commenting about the long, relaxing days of Summer, it created such a wonderful image in my mind and something I longed to create for my family for the last few weeks of Summer break.  Our Summer, although gratefully, has been anything but relaxing.  I have been teaching an abundance of classes, then entertaining the kids with going to the pool or some other adventure.  I’m longing for that Pause that I use as a tool in my teaching.    My husband and I have a week to ourselves, the kids are on vacation with friends and family, so I am using this week to slow down and Pause, so that when the kids arrive home, I can help them slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures of Summer, like reading a book under a tree, hiking through the woods, listening to the crickets and enjoying fresh seasonal food at a slower pace.   I have been enjoying yummy smoothies for breakfast daily, eating a bounty of veggies, relaxing on the patio with a good book, practicing yoga and spending time in meditation.

Yoga after all is about balance, balancing mind, body and spirit.

Enjoy your last few weeks of Summer!

“There is no need to go to India or anywhere else to find peace.  You will find that deep place of silence right in your room, your garden or even your bathtub.”  Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

“Learn to relax.  Your body is precious as it houses your mind and spirit.  Inner peace begins with a relaxed body.”  Norman Vincent Peale