The Approximate Yogi

Conquering life one breath at a time


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The Meditation Practice that’s Working for Me Now

As my life seems to be getting more and more complicated lately, I have had a strong need to simplify my yoga and meditation practice.

For some reason Kundalini Yoga has felt too complicated. I can’t quite explain why, and I feel this is probably a temporary state, but it’s where I am. I’ve moved back to the basic hatha poses and sequences I started my practice with.

My meditation time too has simplified. I was having trouble picking from one of the many many Kundalini meditations, not having anything in particular I want to work on right now, other than the meditation practice itself. I have been drawn to simple silent meditation. Even chant and mantra has felt like too much.

So I sit.

I sit in silence.

An outward silence anyway.

I long for the simplicity of silence from within.

But the thoughts come.

I try to ignore them.

More thoughts come.

I’ve employed one simple technique to stop the thoughts before they carry me away. This is a practice I first read about in the book A Gradual Awakening, by Stephen Levine. Recently I have gone deeper with it and found it the most effective way to stop my thoughts, dead in their tracks.

I simply call them something. I give them a label and it appears this stops any momentum they were beginning to pick up. It’s like throwing a wet blanket over that thought.

I get quite specific with these labels, and this was the new difference for me. Before, all of my thoughts got one of four labels –planning, thinking, judging, remembering. But I discovered I could be more specific. Some planning thoughts are near-future planning, far-future planning, work planning. Many are rehearsing, where I’m lead into an entire imaginary conversation with myself. Much of my “thinking” is analyzing, processing, longing, wishing, wanting. A lot of times, putting the label on it allows me to see how silly, or pointless, or useless the thought is for this present moment.

Then there are thoughts that don’t hold much power over me in and of themselves, but the emotion attached to them does. Most of these thoughts are remembering. The emotions attached range from guilt, to sadness, to anger, to joy. Labeling the emotion lets me see it clearly for what it is. Once named, the emotion can just sit there with me, without holding on to me. I can go back into the silence, and it can join me or leave me there. I’m still sitting meditating, with or without the emotion.

I can go back into the silence for another moment, until another thought tries to take it over again.

Some thoughts are distractions from my environment –noticing bodily sensations, feeling, hearing.

Sometimes I actually find myself spending too much time thinking of the label, so, as silly as it sounds that thought gets one, “labeling.”

Silence lies within the spaces between all these thoughts. Putting a quick label on the thought suspends it. The more I do it, that little label pushes the thoughts back, creating slightly bigger and bigger spaces each time.

And this is what I want to get at. The goal of my meditation right now is simply the practice of it. The experience of those moments, split seconds sometimes, of meditation that is pure meditation and my mind does quiet.

This morning I sat zoning out a bit before I began my practice, watching the trees and grass outside. The sun was on the other side of the house, and it was a partly cloudy morning. I watched as, in a moment, everything became brighter and brighter, more vibrant shades of green and blue. The whole world changed as the cloud moved from the sun. It illuminated everything. Then just as suddenly, another cloud came back over it, and the colors dimmed again.

thoughts in meditation

the world under clouds

soul in meditation

sunshine illuminating everything

Meditation is like that for me. My thoughts are the clouds that muddy the moment. I can still see everything clearly, but nothing is illuminated. Then the clouds part for brief moments, and the sun, soul, God-particle, whatever you want to call it, illuminates everything and I can see what is really there.

Labeling those thought clouds seem to push them through the sky of my mind, letting that soul-sun shine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Namaste,

Catie

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Meditation in Action

sTreeOfYogaIn my last post I discussed asana as I understood it through B. K. S. Iyengar’s The Tree of Yoga. But it is too big and beautiful a book to just stop at asana. Since I’ve finished reading it, I’d like to process a little more of it with you and get to the heart of it, the heart of yoga itself.

Yogic Background

Most of The Tree of Yoga is based off the source text of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (next on my yoga reading list; let’s see if it takes me another 10 years to get to it!). In it, Patanjali breaks down yoga into its parts. Iyengar interprets these parts for us in practical modern terms.

According to Patanjali, yoga is an eight-fold path (eight limbs, which is where the name ashtanga comes from). These eight limbs can both be broken down into smaller branches, and put together into three larger parts.

Ok, stick with me for a bit!

Here are the eight, and their subcategories/principles that define them:

  • Yama –the five principles of which are: ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truthfulness), asteya (freedom from avarice), brahmacharya (control of sensual pleasure), and parigraha (freedom from covetousness and possession beyond one’s needs)
  • Niyama –the five principles of which are: saucha (cleanliness), santosa (contentment), tapas (ardour), svadhyaya (self-study) and Isvara-pranidhana (self-surrender)
  • Asana –“the various postures which bring the physical and the physiological functions of the body into harmony with the psychological pattern of yogic discipline (pg. 8).”
  • Pranayama –“the science of breath, which connects the macrocosm to the microcosm and vice versa (pg. 8).”
  • Pratyahara –“the inward journey of the senses (pg.8)”
  • Dharana –“concentration, focusing the attention on the core of the being (pg.8)”
  • Dhyana –meditation
  • Samadhi –“where the body, the mind, and the soul are merged with the Universal Spirit (pg.9)” or “diffusing the soul into each and every part of the body (pg. 73)”

These eight limbs can be divided into the three different levels of yoga:

1st: Yama and Niyama have to do with the social and ethical aspects of yoga, like the dos and don’ts of life in society.

2nd: Asana, pranayama, pratyahara have to do with your personal physical and mental practice, which lead to “the evolution of the individual, the understanding of the self (pg. 5).”

3rd: Dharana, dhyana, samadhi aren’t really part of the practice, but more like the product. They are the “effects of yoga which bring the experience of the sight of the soul (pg.5).”

Woah, I know that was more than a mouthful! But it had to all be said. The Tree of Yoga takes the rest of the book to go into more detail explaining these principles. The more you come into contact with these words, hear them repeated, and explained in different ways, they do all begin to slowly make sense and fit together.

I won’t go into Iyengar’s beautiful tree analogy here, you’ll have to read it for yourself. But these are the foundations of all yoga, no matter what the style or school. To me, it seems, the style or school (i.e. ashtanga, Iyengar, Kundalini) has to do with the interpretation of these eight limbs and where the emphasis is put.

The Nature of Meditation

Anyway, it was in a chapter near the end of the book,”The Nature of Meditation,” when this all seemed to click and I could see both the big and the small pictures. Iyengar’s main thesis of the book, it seems, is to place the physical practice of asana (hatha yoga) at the center of getting at all the other aspects of yoga, even meditation.

Before reading this I had always had the idea that the asanas are really just warm-ups for sitting down to meditate. Now, you can, and should, certainly be doing each asana with meditative mindfulness, but it didn’t seem like you could get at samadhi from asana alone.

Iyengar takes a different approach. He seems to see meditation, and everything in that third tier –concentration, meditation, enlightenment, as something that can be achieved during and through an asana practice. And this was finally making sense to me by this chapter.

The ultimate goal of meditation is not to reach enlightenment just while sitting on your nice meditation cushion in complete silence, but to maintain that state in everything you do in your life. Meditation is not wisdom, not the answers to all the questions in the universe we are seeking in a cave somewhere. Meditation is to help us live our lives the best we can, to live it through our highest possible Self.

So, I kinda had all that before (and when I say this, I mean “had” as in understood it on an intellectual level, not experiential, which is the tough part!). But Iyengar puts the body back into this equation –and why not, we can’t get rid of our bodies in this life. And by putting the body back into it, he activated it for me. He writes:

“When we become aware inside and outside, we can have the experience that meditation and physical action are not separate, that there is no division between body, mind and soul (pg.146).”

He goes on:

“You may practice meditation and develop awareness when you are sitting quietly in a park, and it comes quite easily. But when you are busy working, your life gets dominated by thought and it is hard to have total awareness. When you practice asana, pranayama and pratyahara, you learn to be totally aware –you develop awareness in your whole body while you are engaged in action. Then you can become totally aware in all circumstances. In a park, while you look at a tree, you forget yourself and you are one with the universe. Why can’t you learn to be one with the universe of your own world –that is to say, your self and your body? This way of looking at daily life is total awareness, total integration and meditation (pg. 146-7).”

maybe less of this?

maybe less of this?

Woah. This means my asana practice (as meditation in action) may more easily translate to meditation in the actions of the everyday than my previous idea of what meditation was.

I like this. I like it a lot. And of course you can see why you would need to practice yoga daily for the rest of your life! This isn’t something you just get one day on the mat and then “get” one day off the mat, and you’re done with yoga.

He ends the chapter with this lovely thought:

“You and I are runners in meditation, but we have not reached the goal (pg. 148).”

and more of this?

and more of this?

At least it’s a beautiful course! See you on the road.

But wait, am I totally giving up seated meditation? Probably not. But I like this new perspective on yoga that the book gave me. And there’s still more! He ends with two beautiful chapters on the art of yoga, and teaching yoga.

Do you have any yoga texts you love by other yogis? I’m looking for more good reading. 

(Note: This scheduled post was written on 3/16/14 as I take a break from writing to heal post knee-surgery.)

Resource: The Tree of Yoga, by B. K. S. Iyengar


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Shaking the Snow Globe of My Mind

This morning was one of those rare blow-your-mind yoga practices for me –where mind-body-soul is given a complete release. These always sneak up on me unexpectedly. It had been a long while since I’d had a Sadhana like that, and I feel quite blessed by the experience.

Some back story: The saga of my knee injury continues… I found out about a month ago now that I have a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL) in my right knee. I have been getting physical therapy twice a week, with twice daily home exercises that take me almost precisely 40 minutes each time to complete. The MCL is finally healing quite nicely, and in the last week I have been able to walk with an almost-normal stride, sit comfortably for a modest amount of time with my leg bent at 90 degrees, and driving has stopped becoming a delicate and tender issue. I’ve also gotten a lot of energy back that I wasn’t even that aware I’d lost as I spent time healing. In a few weeks I will get surgery to repair the ACL.

That was a long back story, but my point is, my life has really quite dramatically changed in ways I’m still discovering and just now beginning to accept. For one, my yoga on most work mornings has been replaced by the PT exercises, interspersed with a few stretches here and there and maybe a quick meditation while I ice my knee. Many of my favorite yoga poses are not available to me right now, as they require bending of both knees. I haven’t done a full kriya in quite some time. I’m learning to accept and adjust to this, some days better than others.

This Saturday morning I had done my PT exercises, and wasn’t feeling particularly inspired to do much else. But as I casually browsed through this month’s issue of Yoga Journal while I iced, I felt inspired to attempt some poses that I was curious if this week’s new mobility may allow me to do now.

I slowly re-engaged with some of the simplest hatha poses, and found my way through my own very modified Vinyasa. My body moved much slower and more carefully as I gently tested the limits of my right knee. Slowing things down brought a new awareness … No, actually, practicing these poses brought an awareness to the new way my body is working. I noticed the strength and stretch of my upper body in downward dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), a part I tend to ignore in favor of enjoying the stretch of lower back and legs. I experienced the need for modified poses, and inch-worming into them. The joy I felt just getting my leg barely into a warrior pose (Virabhadrasana II) as my toes hugged the mat. I felt my right leg working so hard just to hang on, and felt a tender almost pride toward it –“Way to go little leg, you’ve been working hard, and look what you can do now!” I felt the beauty in simple mountain pose (Tadasana).

Kermit in plank (photo credit: Google Images)

Kermit in plank (photo credit: Google Images)

Then after gingerly lowering myself into plank, I lost it –out of nowhere a burst of tears. Initially they were tears of sheer gratitude at being able to do these poses my body had been deprived of for the last month and a half. Then as the sobs continued I realized I was mourning my injury, mourning everything I haven’t been able to do, everything I won’t be able to do for quite a bit longer, just mourning the whole situation. And this wasn’t a pity party –this was my body releasing emotions I hadn’t let myself process. Getting it all out in the healthiest way possible –on my yoga mat.

Then a teary attempt at my favorite tree pose (Vrksasana), with my right leg as the very shaky trunk, my left toes still clinging to the floor, left heel barely off the mat resting gently on my right ankle. This is my work right now, this is my attempt at discovering a new balance.

I then sank into Savasana, with the mantra “This too shall pass” running through my mind. And it will. I feel a deep gratitude at the knowledge that these bodily and mental struggles my knee has caused me are temporary, and that eventually I will be doing every pose I had done before, every movement I had done before. And in the mean time, try to surrender to this healing process.

Meditation

I ended with the guided meditation in this month’s Yoga Journal, by international (and favorite of mine) meditation teacher and author, Sally Kempton, titled “Check Your Head.” The meditation is quite simple, and simply beautiful. The gist of the meditation is inhaling “I am.” Kempton writes, “Then with the exhalation, feel the space that these words leave in your consciousness. As your mind quiets, begin to drop in the question, ‘Who am I, without words? Without thoughts? Without memories or emotions?'”

Kempton recognizes this is no easy task, and many answers full of words may come up, but simply acknowledge them, and seek out those few seconds of stillness you may find. (Check out this month’s issue, March, 2014 for the full and beautifully worded meditation.)

photo credit: Google Images

photo credit: Google Images

It’s funny when I asked myself these questions, the things that first popped up were what I was not –I am not my knee. I am not this suffering. I am not this sadness. And then slowly, fleetingly, for a few seconds, here and there, between the words, I was the stillness, and it was beautiful.

I am now going through the rest of my day a little lighter. My yoga practice did not make the day any easier, or my burdens any less. I could now go into a thought tangent on energy movements and chakras, or ancient yogic philosophy, or new research behind meditation, but I won’t. Yoga does something to my insides that I can’t really explain, shifts things around in my head, shakes it up like a glittering snow globe. I like that, and right now that’s all I need.


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The Bandhas, Part 2: Neck Lock (Jalandhar Bandh)

This post is about Jalandhar Bandh, or neck lock. If you’d like to read more about the bandhas or body locks, read Part 1 here.

Unlike the root lock, neck lock is quite simple, so simple that I had been doing it without even realizing it. You probably have too. It is done during most meditations. When, in the meditation pose description, you hear lift your chest and tuck your chin, this is neck lock, simple as that.

How to do Neck Lock

Here’s a more detailed description (from The Aquarian Teacher Training Manual):

  • sit comfortably with a straight spine
  • lift the chest and sternum upward
  • gently stretch the back of the neck straight by pulling the chin toward the back of the neck (in other words, “tuck your chin” as it is commonly described)
  • the head is level and centered, the muscles of the neck, throat and face are loose and relaxed
  • don’t force the head forward or down; your neck shouldn’t feel sore

What Neck Lock Does

  • Just as the root lock helps contain and circulate the energy of the lower chakras so that energy can flow up, neck lock helps contain the energy of the upper chakras. Without neck lock, this energy could just kind of disperse willy-nilly through the upper body, but we want to direct it up through the central channel where it is most useful in awakening the kundalini energy.
  • Neck lock calms the heart and creates a natural flow of energy
  • It helps concentrate secretions from the pituitary, pineal and hypothalamus glands, and systematic practice of it can lead to creating an interconnectedness between these glands
  • It makes it easier to focus on internal sensations and perceptions without distractions from the peripheral senses
  • It prevents undue changes in blood pressure that can sometimes be induced by exercise and breathing. It acts as a safety valve that regulates that pressure by reducing dizziness that can result from a practice.

How to Experience Neck Lock

Neck lock can and should be done during all pranayam and meditations (unless otherwise specified). To experience neck lock you may want to do a few minutes of silent meditation, with the usual points of focus –breath, third eye, but also add the neck lock. Come back to this focus, checking in with your body to see if your head has moved out of the position. You can also engage the root lock as well, to experience the sensation both of these body locks has on your meditating mind and body.

The chin tuck is pretty slight. It may help to visualize bringing the chin down and in just until your neck is straight. There is this spot that just kinda feels right, so you may have to play around with it a bit. I had a teacher once use the analogy of a garden hose. We can think of our spine or that central channel as a garden hose. We want it nice and straight without any kinks in the hose, to let that energy flow up and out. That’s why we sit with a straight spin and tucking the chin creates that straight line at the top of the spine as well.

My head tends to slowly drift back up from the chin tuck. That’s why being conscious of this lock is important. In fact, when I first started meditating I preferred this little lift of my head. I had this lovely vision of lifting my head to the light. I had a teacher that would remind the class throughout meditation to tuck our chin, bow our heads (probably looking at me specifically, as I often chose not to listen to this). I used to get a little annoyed, not understanding why this was important. Now I like the visualization that I am humbly bowing to the light above.

Update (2/22/14): Sally Kempton, meditation teacher and author, describes neck lock (without calling it that) in her meditation in March’s Yoga Journal, like this: “let your chin move back so you feel as if your head is being suspended by a cord from the ceiling.” I really liked that image, and thought it may be helpful in visualizing the head position.

Resource: The Aquarian Teacher Level one Instructor Text Book, by Yogi Bhajan, PhD

I love this tree I found in the yard. I like to think that's what my third eye looks like.

I love this tree I found in the yard. I like to think that maybe that’s what my third eye looks like.


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My Slowing-Down-Take-it-Easy-Keep-Me-Sane Yoga Practice

I want to share what my yoga has looked like for the past two weeks.

My knee is not quite doing its healing thing as quickly as I’d hoped. One initial ER trip, one orthopedist visit, and one MRI later, we are still not sure what is going on. I only have one more day until my follow-up appointment, where we can actually look at the MRI with the orthopedic doctor, and hopefully find out some answers. Until then, I am on the couch, counting down the hours. This waiting game would be a lot more challenging without yoga. Yoga is what’s keeping this typically active girl sane right now!

Despite the frustration of my situation, there is a lot I can find to be grateful for. I am very grateful my injury wasn’t worse, and that, for the most part, I am pain-free. It is also a wonderful opportunity to be present with what is, and really explore patience (more about this topic later, I’m sure). Since this is the first significant injury I’ve ever had, I am given the chance to really understand what it is like to be less mobile and bendable in a way I never could before (a real benefit to me as a yoga teacher).

And also, to my surprise, my hurt knee has renewed and deepened my yoga practice. In the midst of my “off-season yoga,” I have all of a sudden found myself steeped in the practice once again.

First of all, since I am spending a lot more time sitting with my leg elevated and lying down than I’m used to, by the end of the night there is a pain in my lower back. This gets me up and out of bed quite early in the morning. So right there, one of my most difficult struggles, just getting out of bed, becomes moot. I welcome waking  up, moving my body.

Since I’m up early, I have plenty of time to stretch out my quiet morning. I start by making some warm water with lemon. I then take the mug over to my dining table to cool, while I start my standing practice. It’s funny how I have developed a new routine to my morning practice, and how quickly I have come to rely on its ritual.

I then take a few deep breaths and tune in while standing, since sitting on the ground is still a challenge. I could probably find a kriya or two that I could do with some slight modifications, but I have just been doing a series of warm-up poses instead, which has felt right.

If you’re looking for a gentle yoga practice, especially if you have any knee issues, or for a good warm-up, you may want to try this.

Here is what I do:

Standing Poses

  • Mountain pose –Standing tall, I take a few breaths to feel my body grounding through my toes, testing my weight to find an okay balance between and within each leg
  • 1 forward bend, remaining in the position for several breaths, fingers reaching to the floor, until the backs of my legs and lower back are feeling nice and stretched.
  • 4 more faster forward bends in rhythm with the breath (inhale arms up, exhale swan dive them down to the floor)
  • Downward dog –from my forward fold I am able to walk my hands out into a downward dog (triangle pose in Kundalini terminology). I was so relieved to discover, after a few days, I could comfortably do this stretch, one of my favorites.
  • Side bends -inhale right arm overhead, exhale bend to left side, inhale left arm up, exhale bend to right side

Chair Poses (but not “chair pose”)

forward fold

forward fold

  • Seated in a chair beside my dining table with my good leg planted on the ground, my other leg is elevated on another facing chair, or on a low box in front of me. My meditation pillow is now a cushion for my foot. I lean back against the chair and sip my lemon water between poses.
  • Sitting forward fold – with both legs up on the chair in front of me, I bend towards them. Sometimes I hold the pose, sometimes I inhale to half-way up, and exhale to the deeper bend, repeating this rapid movement, giving a more active stretch
  • Spinal twists, hands on my shoulders, fingers face forward, thumbs behind, inhale left, exhale right, 1 minute

    spinal twist

    spinal twist

  • Shoulder shrugs, inhale up, exhale down, 1 minute
  • Neck rolls, 5 on each side

And that’s the hatha portion. I can’t say I don’t miss a more vigorous practice, but that’s where I am. And that’s where that patience practice comes in.

Meditation

I’ve been doing a combination of different meditations that add up to a total of 31 minutes. (After 31 minutes of meditation all of the cells and rhythms of the body are affected. The endocrine system is balanced. The chakras are balanced.)

  • Sometimes I start with five minutes of breath of fire, if I’m feeling like I need a little more energy, otherwise I end with five minutes of silent meditation or bi-furcated kirtan kriya
  • Then, Meditation to be Rid of Internal Anger. This is my new 40 Day Meditation. Another choice made by my knee, since I was originally doing a 40 day kriya that I can no longer physically do. I was planning to do this one after that. The universe said, nope, let’s work on that anger now, not later.
  • I end with 11 minutes of Healing Meditation (Ra Ma Da Sa), and send that white healing light to my knee, as well as others around me that could use this healing energy.

More on Meditation to Be Rid of Internal Anger

This is a 15-minute long, two-part meditation. In the first part, you use strong arm movements with clenched fists, chanting “Har.” The second is a still and silent meditation with hands calmly folded at heart-center. Read the full description here.

I am only on Day 12, so I don’t have a lot to say about it yet. Some mornings I really feel like I’m going deep into the anger in the first half. Cracking into that space of neutrality in the second half has been a bit more challenging, but there are moments.

Now, you may wonder why I chose this meditation. (It’s probably something I’ll be writing more about as the 40 Days continues.) I wouldn’t say I’m a person with anger issues, but often, if there is a negative emotion to go to, anger is it for me. My gut reaction to many situations is anger. This typically mild-mannered gal may have a bit of the Irish temper in her, that is, of course, and unfortunately, most often reserved for those she loves most. I did notice yesterday, during an instance that I would have normally gotten angry at myself, I stopped mid-thought and changed course. Could it be working? I had the realization that the first and worst anger is towards myself, and that’s the anger I need to let go of first as well. I’m getting there.

Do you have a story to share about an event in your life that changed your yoga practice? I’d love to hear about it. Post in the comments below.

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Embrace the Unexpected

I am sitting on my couch, looking out the window on this frightfully windy day, and I am watching a flock of birds attempt to fly against the wind, and fail. They are flapping their wings and merely hovering in midair by the force of it. Some dive down to the ground in defeat. A little one is actually blown backwards. I’d never seen anything like it. I watch them over and over again do this.

I think to myself, willing their safety, why don’t they just decide to go in another direction for the day? They’re just birds after all, where do they have to be? Why struggle so hard?

Then I realize I could be giving myself this exact same advice. Two days ago, I sprained a ligament in my knee while skiing. In the grand scheme of things, I am quite alright and I am so grateful it wasn’t worse. But it has put me out of commission, needing to take time off work, and rely on someone else to make me meals, get me things, or help me take my socks off. Strategizing a hobbling trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night becomes a major feat.

Then there is the business of my yoga practice. Remember my post from earlier this week –how I was going to get back on track, restart that energizing morning practice with a new 40-day kriya? Well, that plan flew out the window. Doing daily crow squats is just not an option right now.

Ok, universe, you have other plans for me.

Well, I’m perfectly functional from the waste up, and there’s no bodily prerequisites to meditate. So that’s what I did. I have been experimenting with chair yoga for the past two mornings, focusing on lungs, heart, arms, neck, figuring out what exercises I can do from there. Then I end with a 31 minute meditation.

This morning I decided it would be helpful to do a healing meditation. With upturned palms, I envisioned myself pulling in this energy from the universe. The white healing light coursing through my body, ribboning around my knee joint. Since there’s plenty to go around, at the end I sent some of it out to others I know in my life that could use some healing. For now, this meditation feels right. Tomorrow I may try another.

IMG_4792 It has certainly been eye-opening for me, a person who has never been injured before, to experience moving more slowly. It has been a way to bring more mindfulness to every action in my life. All of the little activities I typically take for granted throughout the day –getting a mug from the cupboard, bending down to pick up a towel, getting up to answer a knock at the door – have become little studies in movement. The knowledge that this struggle is temporary, and my limbs will soon move back into their effortless everyday dance is constantly present. I can’t help but feel so grateful for every small movement now.

Then there is the fact that I can’t go to work, which is harder for me to accept. But really, I’m just human after all. Where do I really need to be when my body needs to heal? The world will go on without me. So I take this opportunity to be still, to think, to read, to write, to heal.

I’m not sure how those birds in the wind made out today, but I know I’m gonna be just fine.

I’d like to send this thought out (with much love) to anyone who is healing right now:

Wherever you are in this process is where you need to be. If it is a place of discomfort, it will not last. It’s all going to be just fine.

birds

Healing foods for the joints:

If anyone is experiencing a similar joint injury, I’ve been doing a little research online and in my yoga books as to healing foods I can be eating that I thought I would share:

  • For breakfast my fruit and veggie smoothies are still a good choice, or oatmeal. These are some things you can add to either a smoothie or oatmeal (complex carbohydrate good for muscles) to make them even better: ground flax seed (for omegas), wheat germ (for trace minerals), Vitamin E oil (for healing tissue)
  • Lots of colorful fruits and vegetables, especially dark leafies, and berries for Vitamin C and bioflavonoids, carrots for Vitamin A
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids, like those found in fax seed or salmon
  • Protein, plant or animal-based
  • Zinc, found in supplements, or barley, wheat, crab, oysters
  • Golden Milk (read recipe here) –this is a yogic recipe for lubricating the joints, the milk supplies you with calcium and Vitamin D, turmeric has all kinds of good properties (including anti-inflammatory), plus it’s really yummy and comforting!

Healing Meditation:

Here is the full instructions to the meditation I described above: Healing with the Siri Gaitri Mantra (Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung). And click here for a truly beautiful version of the mantra that goes with it, by Snatam Kaur.

Resources: Healing Muscles and Joints,

Food Remedies for Strains and Sprains,

The Aquarian Teacher, Level 1 Teacher Training Manual by Yogi Bhajan, PhD


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Start a Meditation Practice for the New Year and Make It Stick!

Hello and welcome to 2014! What will this year hold? The possibilities are so exciting! I know for me, my meditation practice will be there to help me figure it all out. If you are new to meditating, or need a refresher, I wanted to share with you my recent blog at Huffington Post. Just click here: Start a Meditation Practice for the New Year and Make It Stick And if you know someone who could benefit from these tips, please share.

7205a7a705d415f11b23a38348a533eaHappy New Year and Happy Meditating!

Sat Nam, Catie