This month, I’ll be dedicating the blog to the energy of love. For a couple of reasons, my monthly Zoom class series, Yoga & the Chakras is addressing the heart chakra in August and also, this month my husband and I are celebrating our 37th wedding anniversary.
“When I first began to study yoga I thought that samadhi was a trancelike state which would take the practitioner away from everyday consciousness to a better state of being. Over the years, my understanding has changed. Now I think of samadhi as exactly the opposite of a trance. Samadhi is a state of being intensely present without a point of view. In other words, in samadhi you perceive all points of view of reality at once, without focusing on any particular one.” – Judith Lasater
Samadhi is often defined as enlightenment or the highest state of consciousness. In its illusiveness, it is the 8th and final limb of the yogic system. There are many variations and explanations of its meaning – a state of bliss, communion with God, union with the ultimate reality… In the end, I have concluded that it is a most personal experience. You receive your samadhi based on what it is that you most seek…
Here is the story of my enlightenment:
“Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.” – Rumi
A set of heart-opening poses may be the very most important piece of the yoga asana puzzle. Here are three reasons to lead with your heart:
#1: Emotional and Physical Revival – Psychologically, backbends can teach you receptivity, acceptance, compassion, and determination. Physically, backbends correct our tendency to hunch. Especially in this era of increased computer and cell phone usage, our “tech necks” and upper backs are in dire need of lengthening.
#2: Beat Bone Loss – The act of spinal extension or back bending can help to prevent or slow down the effects of osteoporosis or bone loss. Gentle back bends such as Salabasana (locust pose) or supported Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (bridge pose) were included in a long-term study of osteoporosis reversal (click here for details).
#3: Energizing – Back bends bring energy into our subtle heart centers. The heart or anahata chakra stimulates our love for self and others and permits our brilliance to shine. Often times in class following a back bend, I can feel my students’ positive energy level come alive.
Here are some heart-warming poses to ignite your flame. Try to incorporate one of these essential back bending postures into your yoga practice each day:
Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Lead With Your Heart”
“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize that there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” – Lao Tzu
In the context of our next yama, non-stealing or asteya, this week we will value what we have. Therefore, find one attribute each day that you are thankful for and celebrate it on your mat. If you are confident in your downward dog, do a practice that salutes that posture. If you are a patient person, try holding your poses for a little longer than you normally would. If you are good at standing up for yourself, work on those balancing postures a bit more.
Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Value Yourself”
…we should progressively embrace what is real for us, so that we may find health and harmony. As you go deeper into yoga, remember that you are doing this study in order to remember yourself, to come home to all of you… – Rolf Gates
In our practices this week, let’s focus on the second ethical quality or yama known as truthfulness. As a moral principle, truthfulness or satya, as it is called in Sanskrit, asks us to convey truth responsibly. Like the other yamas, we should consider truthfulness in thought, speech and action.
This week set a goal for yourself to be more authentic in your asana practice. Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: What is Your Truth?”
Now that we have built our foundation for a steady yoga practice, we are ready to begin supporting our practice so that we can keep it going. In my experience, I have found that the best way to keep a steady practice is to form balance. Balance teaches us to be moderate and achieve evenness – it keeps you upright and steady. And, in order to form balance you need to establish pillars to hold up your practice. We will begin with the yamas and the niyamas. These are the yogic branches of abstentions and observances that can stabilize your asana practice.
The first yama is ahimsa which is the Sanskrit word for non-violence. The obvious definition for non-violence is to do no physical harm onto others. However, ahimsa goes way beyond the obvious. Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Get Balance & Seek Harmony”
For the month of June, which is traditionally the month of love, we will get to the “heart” of what matters, our Self.
But first we need to open the door to receptivity.
To be receptive is to accept a signal, an idea or even another person into your life. For receptivity to occur, it is imperative that your heart and mind be open. This ability to see things differently requires flexibility. Not everyone is amenable or disposed to receiving what others have to share. Therefore, in order to fully receive, you may have to give up something that you already possess.
This is especially fitting for yogis who want to prepare and purify themselves to receive the teachings of yoga. Releasing your subjectivity, blockages and negativity will give you space for a lifestyle that is happier, healthier and compassionate or love-filled.
At this point in our Year of Living Yogically, we know that there is more to the system of yoga than the postures themselves. Time and again, the posts refer back to the Eight Limb System of yoga which includes:
- Yamas (restraints)
- Niyamas (observances)
- Asanas (postures)
- Pranayama (breathing)
- Pratyahara (sense withdrawal)
- Dharana (concentration)
- Dhyana (meditation)
- Samadhi (contemplation)
Maybe you have already incorporated some of these techniques into your own practice.
This week your challenge will be to review the eight steps and find the area(s) that you feel need enriching. Simply use the Topic bar on the right to click on the category you would like to read more about. Understanding each step in the eight-fold system will help you become more conscious of your true nature.
We have two weeks left in this journey. The next challenges will be the icing on the cake that will, hopefully, feed you for many years to come.
If you would like to start at the beginning of this year-long challenge please click here.
This week’s challenge was to use the heart opening postures of yoga to balance the anahata chakra. Anahata literally means “unhurt, unstruck, and unbeaten”. I equate this to having a fire within your heart.
If the heart pathway is made clear and energy is allowed to flow freely, you become a more passionate person. Once you feed yourself, you find it easier to instill the qualities of harmony, peace and love in others. Remember, deep within we are all inherently seeking love. Love is all you need, love cures all, love is the answer.
Here are some ways that you can nourish your anahata chakra:
- Connect with nature – get outside and find a source of inspiration
- Hug more
- Do a good deed
- Spend time with animals
- Use the essential oil Rose – smelling it actually brings a smile to your face
- Surround yourself with what makes you happiest – flowers, music and photos can trigger positive emotions
- Live by this quote from the poet Rumi, “Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love”
If you would like more insight into my heart’s desires, click on my pinterest link . Feel free to like, repin, or build your own boards. It’s a fun way to discover your passions and find new sources of inspiration.