The Simple Things in Life

What is your object of desire? What do wish you had that would make things so much better for you? More importantly, what do you already possess that you can learn to appreciate more?

Moving is always a good time for reevaluating your possessions. Do you really need #$@&%*! pairs of shoes? And, is it worth packing and unpacking all of those dishes and glasses and coffee mugs?

Continue reading “The Simple Things in Life”

Using Essential Oils for Yoga Practice – Part II: Energize

Lately I have been enjoying the benefits of essential oils in dozens of ways for my health and well-being. It seems only natural that I would start to incorporate the oils into my yoga routine. Today, I continue a series I started back in October based on the use of essential oils for yoga practice. I have connected this usage to the more subtle aspect of yoga, the chakras or energy complex. 

In the past, I have posted frequently on the concept of the chakric system. Many books and articles explain how each chakra can be balanced or pacified. There are seven chakra centers that follow the body from its base to its crown. If you are interested in learning more about the general chakra system, click here

We will continue this series with the svadhisthana or pelvic chakra. It’s the second chakra and is located at the level of the hips, sacrum, genitals and kidneys. This chakra balances our creativity and harmonizes our expressions and emotions. With characteristics of the water element, it relishes fluid motion.

Within yoga there are many poses that can help an individual to focus on the energizing quality of this chakra like Lunges, Cat/Cow pose, Bhujangasana (cobra pose), Navasana (boat pose), Setu Bandhasana (bridge pose) or Supta Baddha Konasana (supported bound angle pose).

Along with the postures, chakras can be influenced by the use of essential oils. When combined, the benefit for this subtle energy system can be incredible. As I discuss the particular oils associated with a specific chakra, I will refer to the Young Living essential oils that are found in the Premium Starter Kit (see below).

For the purposes of balancing the energy of our second chakra, I suggest the blend Citrus Fresh.

When I received this oil, I felt compelled to use it daily. It provides such renewal and aliveness. Citrus Fresh is one of those multipurpose oils; good for the body and household use (as a cleaner). Citrus Fresh is known to help with the appearance of healthier looking skin. I’ve also heard stories of how worthwhile it is for those who need to balance emotions, addictions and desires.

Since the second chakra is so closely associated with fluidity and taste, Citrus Fresh is the perfect complement. The blend is composed of a mixture of lemon, grapefruit, orange, tangerine and mandarin – literally all of the juicy citrus fruits! In addition, it contains spearmint oil to add minty coolness. Citrus Fresh can promote feelings of inspiration and encourage creativity – qualities that are definitely needed if you want to feel more energized and free-flowing. It has the capability to banish stagnation and remediate traumas associated with sexual, physical and emotional abuse.

I would begin by using this oil in a diffuser during your yoga practice. Inhaling its aroma is most effective and immediately uplifts. You can also apply the oil in a 1:1 dilution (using a carrier oil such as Jojoba) to the bottoms of your feet, ring finger or navel area. One word of caution, however, if you are applying any citrus oils to skin which will be exposed to the sun – they are photosensitive and contain compounds known as furanocoumarins which greatly increase UV sensitivity.

Once applied, try a few energizing poses like those mentioned in my post, Zest Things Up!

If you are new to essential oils and want to get started incorporating them into your yoga practice, you can register with Young Living here and get your Premium Starter Kit (which includes Citrus Fresh and all the other oils we will be discussing). Once you are enrolled, I will be connecting with you directly to provide reference sources and helpful advice. 

Flow with Feeling my friends!

Keep it Real

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Looking into someone’s eyes is as real as it gets. If you’ve ever been in deep love, staring into your partner’s eyes can be one of the most profound and genuine experiences. Likewise, a teacher or guru’s gleaming eye contact has the potential to communicate heartfelt devotion from across a room.

There are many examples of sayings and proverbs that refer to the eyes as the seat of sincerity:

The eyes have it.

The eyes are the windows to the soul.

Seeing eye to eye.

The eyes don’t lie.

So it seems that our eyes mirror our truth. On the contrary, what happens when we find it hard to be honest? Don’t we tend to avert our gaze? Or, how about those times when we try to pull the wool over someone’s eyes? Or, turn a blind eye?

Continue reading “Keep it Real”

7 Ways to Dedicate Your Yoga Practice

Some days you just need a good reason to get out of bed and onto your mat. Lately, our impending move is motivation enough to rise and shine but when I need incentive to honor my practice first, I turn to dedication. This is my way of easing into the day, especially if it’s going to be a busy one.

This week I began each practice with a special dedication to stay focused on my greater purpose. Here are the seven different themes I chose to reflect upon.

Continue reading “7 Ways to Dedicate Your Yoga Practice”

Reflection on a Yoga Practice

Over the last few weeks I have relaunched my yoga practice – choosing to begin as a new student and establish a fresh daily yoga routine. I have started simply with sitting with my breath first thing in the morning and reflecting on the true meaning of yoga.

As a word, yoga (or yuj) means to bind, join or yoke. I love this definition as it plainly specifies a very important concept – connection. The connection of our breath to our bodies and minds and the connection of our energies to the universe.

Now I am excited to begin each day and reconnect to my practice and the foundation of yoga. However, I have found that in order to acquire any new connections, I first have to clean my slate. I need to allow for a fresh perspective; one that isn’t influenced by a prior practice or of what I presume to know.

This week I have been reflecting on a quote from the poet/calligrapher Kohad:

I cast the brush aside

From here on

I’ll speak to the moon

Face to face.

By reflecting on these words, I can receive what it is I seek in this new phase of my yoga practice. Like the waning moon, I will slowly dissolve my old state so that I can begin anew.

I look forward to the journey ahead. Namasté.

As promised, I am now using this blog to supplement my new book, Yoga Posts: Building a Steady Yoga Practice One Day at a Time. This week’s post refers back to Chapter #3: Prepare Your Mind. If you wish to start at the beginning, please look to my first post.

A Practice Before Practice

Namasté Friends! As promised, I am now using this blog to supplement my new book, Yoga Posts: Building a Steady Yoga Practice One Day at a Time. In book club fashion, this will be our space to reflect on each chapter’s challenge and the ways we honor it throughout the week. Please look to my last post to get more information on what to expect.

Here are my reflections for Week #1. The book’s first challenge provides us with a baseline to forge ahead in creating or reestablishing a personal yoga practice. No matter where we are coming from or where or we are going, regardless of the stage of life we are in and despite the types of burdens or expectations we hold onto – we are all starting here.

We begin by inviting ourselves to stand open. Although it appears simple, this first step is the most complex because it has many layers. In order to be clear, you must peel away the coverings that bind you and make you rigid. Like the stalk of lemongrass I used in my cooking this week – you need to eliminate the hard shell to access the soft core.

For myself, I am meditating on releasing my burdens by placing all of the guilt, anger and resentment I currently possess into an imaginary backpack. Each morning, I visualize myself carrying the backpack up a big grassy knoll, taking it off my shoulders and setting it down. Turning away from it, I imagine lying down on the cool, inviting grass. Then I visualize myself rolling wildly down the hill like I used to do as a child. It’s a wonderful way to release and let go!

One last note, this past weekend, I started reading a book that was gifted to me by one of my students called Drinking from the River of Light by Mark Nepo. I came across a passage that is so relevant to our studies that I would like to share it with you:

“We can work long, hard hours with a dull mind or a calloused heart. Or, we can pause to sharpen our mind and refresh our heart. These efforts to be clear and touchable are part of the practice before practice.”

Enjoy your week and the clarity you receive! ☮️

And, please leave your comments and insights below so we can truly share this experience! 🙏🏼

Using Essential Oils for Yoga Practice – Part I: Ground

Lately I have been enjoying the benefits of essential oils in dozens of ways for my health and well-being. It seems only natural that I would start to incorporate the oils into my yoga routine. Today, I will begin a series based on the use of essential oils in yoga practice. I’d like to connect this usage to the more subtle aspects of yoga, specifically the chakras or energy centers.

In the past, I have posted frequently on the concept of the chakric system. Many books and articles explain how each chakra can be balanced or pacified. There are seven chakra centers that follow the body from its base to its crown. If you are interested in learning more about the specifics of the chakras, click here.

We will begin this series with the muladhara or root chakra. It’s the first chakra and is located at the base of the spine. It literally gives us our foundation and grounds us to the earth. Within yoga there are many poses that can help an individual to feel more grounded like tadasana (mountain pose), balasana (child’s pose) and various other seated and standing postures.

Chakras can also be influenced by the use of essential oils. When combined with the yoga postures, the benefit for this subtle energy system can be incredible.

In discussing the particular oils associated with a specific yogic quality, I will refer to the Young Living essential oils that are found in the Premium Starter Kit (see below). For the purposes of grounding, I suggest the blend Valor.

This is one of my favorite oils. Valor is composed of a mixture of oils, namely black spruce, camphor wood, blue tansy, frankincense and geranium. Interestingly, as an oil chosen for rooting, three out of four of its ingredients comes from trees! This may explain why this oil blend supports my “wobbly” personality so effectively.

Valor is also known as the “chiropractor in a bottle” for its effect on the bones and alignment. I’ve heard stories of how worthwhile it is for those who experience chronic back pain or scoliosis.

In addition, Valor can promote positivity and encourage confidence. Qualities that are definitely required if you want to feel more connected or grounded. Therefore, Valor may be helpful in cases of attention deficit disorder or hyperactivity since it is able to generate a considerable sense of peace and gentleness.

I would begin by placing a couple of drops of the oil on a damp, warm washcloth that you can apply to the bottoms of your feet. If you just use 2-3 drops you should not experience any oiliness on the practice mat.

Once applied, try a few grounding postures like those mentioned in my post Getting to Your Root.

If you are new to essential oils and want to get started incorporating them into your yoga practice, you can register with Young Living here and get your Premium Starter Kit. In the month of October, YL is offering free shipping for these kits. Once you are enrolled, I will be connecting with you directly to provide reference sources and helpful advice.

Namasté my friends!

Are You Ready to Start a Personal Yoga Practice?

As a yoga teacher, I know that a personal practice is the ultimate way to magnify all of the benefits that yoga has to offer. I also know that building and sustaining a home practice can be difficult and challenging – just like developing healthy eating habits can be. In my classes and through this blog, I have tried to design small yoga “bites” that are easy for students to digest and incorporate into their daily lives. But a blog is not the greatest reference for organizing content since it is written in a designated time with posts that are disassociated from other posts.

Looking back, I wished that I had a home practice resource for myself – one that would slowly and steadily introduce new concepts to build a personal yoga practice that was fulfilling and consistent. Since I was pretty positive that others would also appreciate a tool to develop their own regular yoga routine, I set a goal to generate a home practice book. The content was pretty much already available since I had been blogging frequently over the past three years. I had already written a great deal about my experiences, teachings and research on topics such as postures, breathing, philosophy and many other yoga related subjects.

My idea was to arrange the book into 52 chapters – one per week for a year. In this way, a new task could be presented and practiced for a full week to build a steady, life-long commitment. The concept of gradually setting up a practice plan with small, enjoyable doses of yoga was the key to my objective.

I also wanted the book to represent the complete system of yoga. So I built the content based on all eight limbs of yoga: yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. But I also thought that the book should address some of the more subtle aspects of yoga including the chakra system.

The book needed to include the foundational elements one needs to develop a home practice, the supporting features (the 8 limbs) for practicing yoga and some ways to invigorate or strengthen the practice once it was built. I saw it as being ideal for students who are beginners yet also great incentive for those more advanced practitioners who have always wanted to formulate a true home practice. I also viewed the text as an excellent tool for teachers who were looking to generate new life into their classes.

After many months of planning and developing, I am happy to report that the book is ready! Or, at least the kindle version is. I chose to do it all myself so that I could control the daily tasks of creating, formatting and marketing the product and it took a while to produce. To be honest, the writing aspect was the most fun for me. I had that accomplished nearly a full year before I started exploring and implementing the book’s layout and construction. I hope you will click on the link below to check it out!

Yoga Posts: Building a Steady Yoga Practice One Week at a Time is now available for free on amazon kindle for a limited time. We anticipate that the paperback version will be available early next month.

Namasté, Kim

Tips for a Safer Yoga Practice: Mastering Chaturanga Dandasana

If you are a practicing yogi, you know what a sun salutation is – a set of postures linked together in a particular sequence. Although there are slight variations, most sun salutations include plank, chaturanga dandasana, upward facing dog and downward facing dog. Chaturanga dandasana (or 4-limb staff pose) is that tricky transitional pose that occurs between plank and upward facing dog. It takes awareness, alignment and strength to avoid injuring the shoulder joint. The question is, should everyone be using it?

Well, how else can you get to the floor? Sure, you can start in 1/2 plank or ardha phalakasana to make the transition easier. However, it still takes good alignment and overall strength to get safely to the floor. It also requires full body awareness – and that is the key.

Here are some steps to start building the full body awareness you need to master the elusive chaturanga dandasana: Continue reading “Tips for a Safer Yoga Practice: Mastering Chaturanga Dandasana”