Happy National Yoga Awareness Month!

Happy National Yoga Awareness Month!

I’m excited this month because September is the anniversary month of my yoga journey. I am also excited because it is also National Yoga Awareness Month. National Yoga Awareness Month is an annual campaign that was created in 2008, by the Department of Health and Human Services that was designed to acknowledge and share the many health benefits of yoga.

During the month of September, there are often an abundance of offerings involving yoga related activities that can be found. As a result, it is a good time to find discounts and promotions on yoga classes, equipment, supplies, clothing, and the like.

Some of my favorite ways to celebrate National Yoga Awareness Month include:

  • Participating in a yoga challenge.
  • Trying a new style of yoga.
  • Making a commitment to your yoga practice.
  • Taking a yoga class. (Many of which, now, can be taken virtually).
  • Purchasing a new item to help you in your yoga practice.
  • Getting to know more about yoga by reading a book covering the topic of yoga.
  • Practicing an asana that you find challenging.
  • Sharing the benefits of yoga with others.
  • Taking or sharing photos of your yoga asana progress.
  • Strengthening the non-asana part of your yoga practice.
  • Practicing yoga with a friend.

For anyone looking to begin a healthier lifestyle that includes implementing a yoga practice, this is a great month to begin.

I hope that one or more of the ideas that I have presented help inspire you to try yoga, if you have never done so.

Or, perhaps assist you in finding ways to strengthen your yoga practice. Namaste.

Thank you for reading.

Until the next post…

Take Care.

How I Fell In Love With Yoga

My yoga journey began in 2013. It started with an exercise video that included several ashtanga based yoga sequences that were designed to build strength and increase flexibility. I truly enjoyed those yoga sequences, and remember performing them with so much ease. Later, I attended classes at a yoga studio and at a fitness center. My interest in yoga eventually waned with each passing year, and I began pursuing other interests; such as hiking. I know now, in retrospect, that those ashtanga asanas weren’t designed for anyone just beginning a yoga practice. So, when I look back at that time I feel extremely fortunate for that experience.

It wasn’t until the end 2019 that I would rediscover yoga, and learn that I didn’t know as much about it as I thought I did. Never, in a million years did I ever expect to be as intrigued with yoga as I am today; after making the decision to pick it up again and deepen my practice. My decision to do so arose from my intent to find a way to manage the grief that I was feeling after losing my son. That led me to begin taking courses that would help me learn about the foundations and fundamentals of yoga . It turns out that was one of the best decisions that I have ever made for myself.

There was a time when I once thought that yoga only consisted of performing complex asanas (poses), maintaining a “certain look”, or living a specific way. For some, it may be just that, but that is not all that it is. Yoga is so much more.

Besides asanas (poses), yoga is also comprised of meditation and pranayama (breathing). In fact, the word yoga means “to yoke” or join together in Sanskrit. Moreover, according to Pantanjali, the father of yoga, it is about mastering the stillness of the mind, understanding the nature of reality and the true nature of self.

The asanas (poses) are actually just one part of what makes yoga… well…yoga. They are the part that assists in the creation of strength, flexibility and balance. The other components of yoga are related to mental focus, personal and spiritual ethics, and using the breath as a life force. All of which, once practiced daily help increase resilience, compassion and a connection to your higher self and source.

A lot has changed for me personally since 2013 including my levels of physical activity and flexibility. But thankfully, yoga is very forgiving. It doesn’t demand perfection. It only asks that you continue to show up on your mat daily, and when you do show up, that you meet yourself wherever you are, and create space for where you are trying to go. I love that so much.

Thank you for reading.

Until the next post..

Please take care.


References:

Satchidananda, Swami, Sri. (2018). The Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali . Integral Yoga Publications.

Easwaran, Eknath. (2007). The Bhagavad Gita. Nilgiri Press.

Ayurveda: What is it?

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Ayurveda! A name that you’ve, undoubtedly, heard a lot about lately as it has become a trending practice. But did you know that ayurveda has been around for a very long time, and is one of the first systems of medicine in human existence?

Originating in India, it is a 5,000 year old system of healing that addresses the mind, body, and soul.

Other forms of healing and medicine have a connection to it such as traditional Chinese medicine, reiki, accupuncture, accupressure, polarity therapy, energy medicine and herbal medicine just to name a few.

One of the most interesting things about ayurveda is the way that it acknowledges the wisdom of other cultures and traditions in addition to its own.

Often referred to as “the science of life”, ayurvedic knowledge was derived from the Indian Vedas, which is one of the oldest written texts in the world, and a traditional concept of philosophical phrases, (known as sutras), as a way of transferring knowledge to the next generation.

A central belief in Ayurveda is that food is medicine, but ayurveda is not just about diet and nutrition. It is a lifestyle that can include diet, maintaining a daily routine, the elimination of bodily toxins, aromatherapy, yoga, meditation, breathwork, chanting and various other holistically based selfcare methods – but the most important part of ayurvedic practice is the utilization of dosha specific guidance.

The goal of an ayurvedic practice is to bring the body into a state of balance and to maintain that balance; which in turn, helps with overall wellness. It is also believed to help with healing faster should you become ill.

What I love the most about ayurveda is its personal approach to wellness through the use of doshas that help address your individual and unique health concerns. In other words, it’s customizable and what’s not to love about something that is specially designed to help you care for yourself and address your own specific health needs? Because if you really think about it, health and wellness (perhaps) shouldn’t consist of a “one-size-fits-all solution. Wouldn’t you agree?

Thanks for reading.

Until the next post…

Take care.

On Meditating

On Meditating

Meditation is one of those things that, when thought of, is often considered to be something that is rather easy to do. Yet, some people may find that once they get into position, (which is usually some variation of the lotus position, but can be just about any position that you find comfortable), they tend to have difficulty maintaining their posture, maintaining a still mind or both.

I used to be one of those people, until I attended a yoga class, one of which meditation was a part of; and I quickly discovered that it’s actually quite common to lose focus while meditating. It was my instructor who, ever so graciously, helped to put my mind at ease and made me feel less uncomfortable about my ability to meditate – and to do so in a way that I could actually benefit and grow in my meditation practice.

I learned that meditation doesn’t have to feel as initially intimidating as it often does for many. Nor does it require that you clear your mind of your thoughts. Instead, it is more important that you learn to work with the thoughts that come through your mind. Why should you do this? Well, because your thoughts are likely going to keep coming. So, in lieu of fighting your thoughts, it would be better to accept that they are there and say to yourself, (mentally, of course, especially if you are meditating in a class with others), “I am in control of my thoughts” and then simply practice controlling them.

One way to do this is to continue to relax, close your eyes, try stilling your mind, (you can do it!), and then pretend that your thoughts are on imaginary clouds. Place your thoughts on clouds that are floating by, in your mind while your eyes are closed, and while maintaining your focus on the task of meditating. Lastly, observe each thought as they float away – far away.

Another similar option would be to put your thoughts in imaginary balloons and observe each thought as they are being released into a sunset filled sky and then – just let go.

I have tried both methods and they have worked well for me. I found that they keep me from being distracted by any thoughts or concerns of the day to where it makes getting through a complete meditation session much easier and without feeling as thought I am clearly focused one minute; and then losing my concentration the next.

So, it is considered acceptable if you find that you have to keep trying again and again to maintain your focus while meditating until you are able to get to a point where your mind no longer feels the need to wander. With a regular meditation practice you will likely find yourself becoming less of a meditation amateur just like I did.

One of my favorite things about yoga and meditation is the philosophy behind the practice; and how they offer so much in way of self-compassion. My holistic living journey over the past several months has been quite the eye-opener and I am excited to see where else it takes me. Thank you for reading.

Until the next post…

With love. Take Care.

25 Ways to Live a Holistic Lifestyle…(With a Focus on the Mind)

25 Ways to Live a Holistic Lifestyle…(With a Focus on the Mind)

Hello everyone! Now that we know that holistic living is more a way of living than just a way to curb illness, (and involves the mind, body and soul), I would like to talk about what holistic living looks like when it solely involves caring for the mind.

A few weeks ago I watched a news program that covered a story on how the rain forest in the Amazon is in danger because of the the excessive practice of burning and clearing away of necessary plant life for commercial purposes due to some of the effects of consumerism. It was quite an interesting program.

They mentioned how that problem has an affect on animal life as well, which was kind of sad, but it really got me thinking. If you’ve ever watched a documentary or read a credible article on the Amazon, you know that it is considered to be “the lungs” of our dear planet earth. Without that critical part of our planet’s whole, who knows what the health of Earth will be like in the years to come. A simple domino effect of problems can have an adverse effect on the “whole”of just about anything. It’s no different with our “selves” .

Whenever one aspect of our health is impacted, (positively or negatively), it can affect other parts of our health, (positively or negatively), too. Our emotions can lead us to develop headaches or stomach issues; or they can have an effect on how well we recover from surgery or illness.

So as you can probably guess, working towards keeping our minds as healthy as we work towards keeping our bodies healthy is a part of living a holistic lifestyle because, again, our mind, body and soul are interconnected.

Here are a few ways that you can apply holistic health to your mind health. This list is not exhaustive, but these are a few things that I have personally learned from holistic practitioners, tried, and deem effective:

  • 1. Practice meditation daily.
  • 2. Use affirmations
  • 3. Practice yoga daily.
  • 4. Think critically about everything.
  • 5. Practice healthy optimism and positivity.
  • 6. Avoid negative thinking.
  • 7. Practice gratitude daily.
  • 8. Develop personal boundaries and avoid toxic relationships / “energy vampires”.
  • 9. Challenge yourself often and release yourself from “comfort zones”.
  • 10. Journal regularly to express and release emotions, feelings and thoughts.
  • 11. Be careful with your thoughts and the things that you allow your mind to entertain.
  • 12. Develop a strategy, such as using a mantra, to redirect your mind from any triggers that might lead to negative thought patterns.
  • 13. Get out into nature and go for a walk to help clear your mind and strengthen mental well being.
  • 14. Try learning new things – often.
  • 15. Give your brains periods of rest by practicing mindfulness, meditation or listening to music.
  • 16. Don’t let your ego take over your being.
  • 17. Practice deep breathing or Pranayama .
  • 18. Practice “Earthing” .
  • 19. Give yourself natural vitamin D by practicing healthy sun gazing.
  • 20. Maintain only those relationships and friendships that foster positive mental health – and that feel good.
  • 21. Try a little aromatherapy every now and then.
  • 22. Detach from social media and technology regularly.
  • 23. Separate your personal life from your work life,
  • 24. Practice minimalism.
  • 25. Create a sacred space in your home – a special place where you can go to for solace and quiet time to find peace from the busyness of daily life.

I hope that this list helps you as much as it has helped me, and if you have any tips of your own with ideas on how to live holistically, (with a focus on the mind), I would love to hear them, so please feel free to share in the comments section below.

Thank you for reading.

Until the next post…

With light and love,

Take care.