Category Archives: meditation

Get Clean

I haven’t been good lately. I’ve been strictly vegetarian for sure.. but I’ve been a booze-atarian bordering on drunkorexic. I’ve fallen into the same trap as millions of people. Working 60 hours a week resulting in eating shitty food, lapsing in self care, and self-medicating with beer, chocolate, and even vegan junk food I trick myself into thinking is healthy.

I will never be happy being just okay. I know from being on a high raw diet for years that my mind and body can do extraordinary things when I give them the right care. I believe a good diet can cure my chronic inflammation, help me shed unhealthy belly fat (the worst kind!) and help me be a more peaceful, happy person.

What prompted this was on Thursday I reached a breaking point. I knew my pathetic work/life balance (if you could even call it that) was not sustainable and my body felt like a dark heavy lump I was dragging around from job to job. A couple tears and $70 at Whole Foods later and I made about a gallon of green juice that I am nearly finished with after two days. I feel so much better.

Here’s the plan. February 28 starts the detox and rehabilitation process.

GOALS:

  • Fresh green juices: At least one a day. Other fruit/veg juices are bonus but getting the greens in is essential.
  • Green Smoothies: Daily. I already do this almost every day but having this goal will keep me on track.
  • 30 minutes of meditation a day: This is a huge goal and a time investment for me. After my vipassana retreat in 2013, my meditation practice has been confined to the 5 minutes of Savasana after yoga and the couple minutes when my eyes are closed before I fall asleep. 15 minutes, morning and evening. I will make time for it.
  • Practice yoga 5 times per week.
  • Work-out/Lift weights 2-3x per week: I feel 100000x better when I do this.
  • Strive for a high raw/paleo diet. Cutting out grains, dairy, legumes, processed sugar. I am not cutting out alcohol or coffee but I’m going to try to keep it to a minimum. Wine, cocktails with soda water and lemon or lime, and when possible fresh fruit juices.
  • Supplementation: Apple cidar vinegar, Algae Oil, trace minerals, and turmeric DAILY. These are things that have been recommended to me from healers but I haven’t quite been able to commit to, even though they’re sitting in my cupboard. It’s time.
  • Sunday Technology Detox: Take sundays off to be with friends, alone time, play the piano, practice yoga, rest. Keep phone/computer time to a minimum and don’t work.

February 28 I will weight myself, take measurements and photos. Because who doesn’t love a good before and after post?

Any suggestions, encouragement, words of wisdom?

love always,

little windmill

Ganesha : The Master of New Beginnings

Happy 2014 Yogis! A time to celebrate sweet endings and exciting new beginnings.

Who is Ganesha? Ganesha is one of the celebrity gods in Hindu philosophy. He is the destroyer of vanity, selfishness, pride and is the remover of obstacles. He clears the obstacles in your life, so there is nothing stopping you between you and your ideal life. I feel Ganesh is a kindred spirit to me because he loves sweets, and he loves to dance!

ganesh-hindu-1

He is half boy, half elephant, and the son of Shiva and Parvati. The head of Ganesh represents the Atman (ultimate reality), while his child’s body signifies the earthly realm of human beings. In his upper right hand Ganesh holds a whip or goad, which seems harsh but helps him propel mankind forward(like cattle) remove obstacles from the way. The noose in Ganesh’s left hand helps him capture and restrain all difficulties.

In his lower right hand is a writing tusk he broke writing the Mahabharata, one of the two major sanskrit epics. The Mala beads in his other hand represents the endless pursuit of knowledge and being a student of life. The candy he holds in his trunk indicates that one must discover the sweetness of the life, he loves sweets! The snake that runs round his waist like a belt represents energy in all forms. He travels by mouse!

On December 31st I took my last yoga class of 2013. The teacher asked us to close our eyes and consider the question, “what would you do if there were no obstacles stopping you from your ideal life?”

Not enough time, not enough money, not enough energy, not enough this or that…. These are excuses we use all the time. In this time of new beginnings, let’s get really clear on our 2014 intentions by letting Ganesh demolish our obstacles and excuses and not waste another moment of 2014!

Ganesha’s Mantra. Ganesh resides in our firey root chakra, the foundation of our being, and we can ignite him by chanting his mantra or silently thinking it during meditation. “Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha,” which can be loosely translated to “Yo! Time to wake up Root Chakra! Let’s get the energy of transformation moving so I can kick my obstacles’ ass and live my ideal life!”

And now for all of you auditory learners, Ganesha’s story through the immortal words of MC Yogi!

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I am a miracle made up of particles

Bodies of info performing such miracles.
I am a miracle made up of particles.
and in this existence,
I’ll stay persistent,
and I’ll make a difference
and I will have lived it.

A quote from one of my new favorite songs in the world. Just talking about music rarely does it justice, so I encourage you to download and enjoy this empowering song.

Free download of the piano version here!

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10 day meditation retreat: To see things as they really are

Hello friends!

Today I’m leaving lovely Seattle for ten days. I’m not going on vacation or to some place exciting or exotic. I’m going to Onalaska, Washington, halfway between Portland and Seattle. I’m going to the Northwest Vipassana Center, Dhamma Kuñja. I posted about Vipassana a couple weeks ago, and since then have felt called to go. Here is my post about Vipassana to jog your memory about the practice. Don’t worry! I have fun and exciting posts all lined up for the entire time. Stay tuned for amazing guest posts from my inspiring friends and fun tips for teachers, inversions, and more. 

Vipassana:

  • to see things as they really are.
  • (in Theravada Buddhism) meditation involving concentration on the body or its sensations, or the insight that this provides, inward vision.
  • India’s most ancient technique of meditation, taught in India more than 2500 years ago as a universal remedy for universal ills.
Vipassana retreats are no joke. It is a ten day meditation described as a mental purification to eradicate suffering. The code of conduct prohibits talking, communication with the outside world, eating after midday, prayer, physical activity, music, reading, writing, and several other distracting behaviors. (Full code of conduct here). I’ve met three people in my life who have participated in Vipassana retreats, and all had amazing experiences. One described it as “the best and worst thing I’ve ever done to myself.”
A woman I respect and admire very much told me of how she focused on the spot between her nose and mouth intently for three days. One the third day, she could feel that spot, it’s energy became very vivid to her. She says she can always come back to it to ever since. A friend I met at Baptiste Level 1 training said by the last few days, he could sit outside and marvel at the world and hours would pass by that felt like minutes.
It’s clearly a transforming process, if not just radical. Vipassana meditation gives concrete results too- A prison in the south with one of the highest records of violence in the country ran a Vipassana retreat and had stunning results. You can watch the documentary on netflix, it’s called The Dhamma Brothers. 
I’d love to experience a Vipassana retreat, but right now ten days seems like a huge amount of time for me to take from the world. Sad, I know. All the info about Vipassana here, including if there’s one in your area. They’re run by donation only.
As you all must know by now, I am a huge Macklemore fan. Here’s his take on Vipassana.

“Yesterday, forget it
Tomorrow is, nada
The present is, right here, through the breath, watch it”

“Learnin’, yes, reflectin’ on what matters
People, permanence, lack of attachments
It’s space and time, a couple man-made distractions
The measure of a spirit that no human can ever capture”

“I don’t control life, but I can control how I react to it
Student of the breath, brick beats and balancin’
Desire versus truth until I finally find happiness”

Namaste, and you can expect a full report of my experience when I return!

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5 Minute Gratitude Meditation

acupuncture-and-gratitudeOf the eight limbs of yoga, four or more are based on meditation. The goal when doing yoga postures is to open the hips, strengthen the back, and quiet the mind so we can sit comfortably and meditate. Studies show that people who regularly acknowledge the things they are thankful for live happier lives, so I started this meditation so I can express these things to myself even on days when I only have five minutes to sit down and meditate.

Other thoughts will come up, but you don’t have to chase them. Don’t go to war with your brain’s honorable attempt to do its job. So grab a seat in criss cross apple sauce or hero’s pose, and let’s get started.

Minute one

Take this minute to focus on your breath. Inhale for five counts, exhale for five counts. Walk your internal gaze through your body, breathing into any places that you’re holding tension.

Minute two

Think of all the things you are thankful for in yourself. All of the parts of your character that help you to spread positivity and light to those around you. Avoid ‘wishing’ you were a certain way, and remember that even the little things are worth acknowledging.

Minute three

Think of every person you are thankful for in your life. Surely one minute will not be enough, but just flip through your mental photo album of everyone who loves, supports, and pushes you to do better. Taking just a minute to do this every day will enrich your relationships, even if it’s just subconscious.

Minute four

Fill in the blank with your own thank you prayer to the universe. Mine today- Thank you. I am grateful. I am grateful for this moment. I am thankful for my family, the roof over my head, my boyfriend, my friends. I am thankful for my process, and what I have accomplished in my life so far.

Minute five

Repeat the mantra: My life is full and abundant.

I like to listen to a 5-6 minute song playing quietly in the background to keep in the back of my mind how much time has passed, and I know some people who even set an alarm on their phones.

NAMASTE!

grateful4 always thankful

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My Ayurvedic Cleanse

It’s that time of year- spring cleaning!

At first I thought I’d just do a Kitchari only diet, but then I decidedto- why not just dive in?! This stuff is 5,000 years old, there must be something to it!

In my 200 RYT training we did a couple days of study on Ayurveda, yoga’s sister “life science.”

At the recommendation of some of my fellow trainees, I purchased “The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies.” I like it a lot! It’s organized perfectly and doesn’t have too much stuff about herbal concoctions I won’t ever find in my city anyways. And I’m starting to get nervous excited about it. I’ll check in with you all daily and introduce a few more techniques for tidying up your temple.

DINACHARYA – Daily Routine

Wake early. In Ayurveda, it’s essential to wake up early for peace of mind. I am a Pitta, so I will be waking up at 5:30am.

Say a prayer. My normal routine is opening my eyes and immediately checking my email. This is a problem. So I have decided on theses mantras-

  • Locah samastah sukhino bhavantu – May all beings everywhere be happy, healthy, and free.
  • Om namah shivaya gurave satchitananda murtaye nisprapancaya santaya niralambaya tejase – I honor the luminous teacher within me and within the universe who assumes the forms of truth, consciousness, and bliss. This guiding goodness is never absent, transending limitations with a deep, abiding peace. It is the sparkling beauty that shines out through all of creation. It is the purest, most powerful light, and it is beaming its goodness within you.

The second was my teacher training (Anusara) opening invocation, and the first is a common mantra used in yoga. Both have a wide variety of translations.

Eye exercises. Blink eyes 7 times, side to side, up and down, diagonally, clockwise, and counterclockwise. This is said to help you feel alert and fresh. We’ll see…

Warm water. Warm water first thing in the morning washes the gastrointestinal tract and flushes the kidneys.

Jiva Sodhana/tongue scraping. Have you ever looked at your tongue in the morning? Gross. That layer of whatever color is toxins from your body has excreted from your saliva glands. It doesn’t seem like a good idea to just leave them there, so the instructions are to scrape from back to front 7-14 times.

Kavala Gandusha/oil pulling. This was one I’d never heard of before. Gargling oil is said to strengthen the teeth, gums, and jaws and also strengthen the voice, and remove wrinkles. The process attracts and removes bacteria, toxins, and parasites that live in your mouth or lymph system, and also pulls congestion and mucus from your throat and loosens up your sinuses. With the help of your saliva, all these scary undesirables bind with the oil, ready to be disposed of. Pulling also helps re-mineralize your teeth and strengthen your gums by thoroughly cleansing the area.

Nasal irrigation.  Every day substances and pollutants enter our sinus cavities through our noses. Centuries ago the kinds of materials that entered our bodies through our nose were probably a lot less harmful that the substances that enter our body through our nose today. So- we rinse our noses! I won’t be using salt water like most do, I don’t like the taste of salt water in my throat hours after. Nasal irrigation freshens your sinus cavities and nose, especially in spring with allergens and different irritants flying around.

Ahbyanga/oil message. Before showering every day, massage your entire body with 4-5 ounces of warm oil. Oil massage improves circulation calms the mind, reduces stress, and clears excess Vata energy. And of course, the oil message makes your skin bright, soft, and supple.

  • Vata- Sesame oil
  • Pitta- Sunflower oil
  • Kapha- Corn oil

Kitchari monodiet. This one is going to be a toughie. I love sugar, I really do. But starting monday I will have Kitchari for every meal, and nothing else. A monodiet is easier on your digestion because your body only has to produce one kind of digestive enzyme. Kitchari is known as one of the most cleansing foods in the world. It is a combination of mung beans(dal), basmati rice, spices and optional vegetables according to your dosha. It’s easy and cheap to make, similar to rice. I’m making mine in my rice cooker with just mung dal, basmati rice, spices, coconut oil, and chopped cilantro. There are many recipes specific to your dosha.

Pranayama/breathing techniques. I’ve never been good at applying these in every day life. I will be doing Kapalabhati Kriya( breath of fire) every other day, and Nadi Shodhana(alternate nostril breathing) every other day.

Meditation. 5 minutes a day is my goal.

Check back for all kinds of fun stuff-detoxifying yoga flows, more ayurvedic cleansing techniques, herbal formulas, tinctures, and juiced greens/superfood shots.

Ayurveda Resources

The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies

Ayurvedic practices

Learn your dosha

About pranayama/breathing techniques

General info

Kitchari recipes

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Vipassana

Vipassana:

  • to see things as they really are.
  • (in Theravada Buddhism) meditation involving concentration on the body or its sensations, or the insight that this provides, inward vision.
  • India’s most ancient technique of meditation, taught in India more than 2500 years ago as a universal remedy for universal ills.
Vipassana retreats are no joke. It is a ten day meditation described as a mental purification to eradicate suffering. The code of conduct prohibits talking, communication with the outside world, eating after midday, prayer, physical activity, music, reading, writing, and several other distracting behaviors. (Full code of conduct here). I’ve met three people in my life who have participated in Vipassana retreats, and all had amazing experiences. One described it as “the best and worst thing I’ve ever done to myself.”
A woman I respect and admire very much told me of how she focused on the spot between her nose and mouth intently for three days. One the third day, she could feel that spot, it’s energy became very vivid to her. She says she can always come back to it to ever since. A friend I met at Baptiste Level 1 training said by the last few days, he could sit outside and marvel at the world and hours would pass by that felt like minutes.
It’s clearly a transforming process, if not just radical. Vipassana meditation gives concrete results too- A prison in the south with one of the highest records of violence in the country ran a Vipassana retreat and had stunning results. You can watch the documentary on netflix, it’s called The Dhamma Brothers. 
I’d love to experience a Vipassana retreat, but right now ten days seems like a huge amount of time for me to take from the world. Sad, I know. All the info about Vipassana here, including if there’s one in your area. They’re run by donation only.
As you all must know by now, I am a huge Macklemore fan. Here’s his take on Vipassana.

“Yesterday, forget it
Tomorrow is, nada
The present is, right here, through the breath, watch it”

“Learnin’, yes, reflectin’ on what matters
People, permanence, lack of attachments
It’s space and time, a couple man-made distractions
The measure of a spirit that no human can ever capture”

“I don’t control life, but I can control how I react to it
Student of the breath, brick beats and balancin’
Desire versus truth until I finally find happiness”

“I’m not gonna be content, until I find gratitude”

“Take all ugly shit inside and try to make it beautiful
Use the cement from rock bottom and make it musical”

“I just keep walkin’ my path and blessed to share my story”

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FEEL THE MUSIC

I’ve been going a little crazy over Kirtan style music recently. When I was training at the Baptiste Institute, there was no music during practice at all. I understand- for some it can be distracting and take away from their experience going inward. I was going a little bit insane. For me, music can only ADD to my yoga experience, it gets me out of my head and into my breath. Making and listening to music is such a natural instinct of being human, it awakens some powerful, joyful emotions in us that nothing else can.

Music is so powerful. I’ll never forget the song that played at my grandfather’s funeral, the song that played during my first middle school slow dance, or any of the words to the songs in The Lion King. There is nothing I love more than flowing through my Sun A’s and B’s with a nice beat vibrating through my being. I’ll never forget the Led Zeppelin theme class I took at Urban Yoga Spa, when our practice was finished with a harmonium lullaby at Brooklyn Yoga School, or the Go W/ The Flow music based yoga tour in Seattle.

A little bit about Kirtan & Sanskrit. Kirtan music is a Sanskrit chanting/repeating style mantras in song. Sanskrit is the oldest language known to man. It’s based on vibrations, the root sounds. A Sanskrit word is not a word chosen to name something, but an actual reflection of the inherent ‘sound’ of that object, concept or phenomena.  Perfect pronunciation of Sanskrit words can replicate the exact nature or essence, of that which it is referring to. So what? you say, I don’t know what they’re saying anyways. I think of it like an orchestra. You hear the violins, and even though they’re not speaking words or a language you understand, it still feels very emotionally charged and registers as something beautiful.

For teachers: In my class, I play the ‘Omstrimental’ versions of MC Yogi songs, which include the chants and music with no other words, it’s perfect. You can find all of his songs wordless on iTunes.

I will write very soon all about Sanskrit Mantras, but for now I wanted to share with you some of my favorite ‘remixed’ Kirtan songs. I’m apparently the last Yogi to hop on the Krishna Das bandwagon, but now I can’t get enough of him.

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Baron’s 40 Day Challenge

January 7-February 15 2013

Digital 40 Days:

  • A daily email from Baron and a team of teachers with insight and resources to support your experience,
  • A weekly streaming meditation from Baron to guide you as you build a meditation practice from the ground up,
  • Two free streaming yoga podcasts per week – one short and one long, that are yours to enjoy and experience wherever you are!
  • Access to public Digital 40 Days Facebook Page/Twitter/Instagram

Why 40 days?

Forty days is the time it takes to build an entirely new set of habits and practices to train and rewire your mind and body. This program is built from a foundation of commitment and is designed to create, piece by piece, new practices and commitments that propel you into lasting transformation of your body and your life.

What are potential outcomes of participating in this challenge?

The outcomes of this program are very specific to each individual. It will strengthen, open and cleanse your body, clear your mind and change your relationship to food in a way that creates whole-life health instead of quick fixes. You’ll learn how to get out of the trap of trying to find the time for the things that matter most to you, and start making the time and being the change.

This is a companion series to Baron’s Book 40 Days to Personal Revolution, but I don’t know where my copy is, so I’m not going to say(yet) that it’s essential to have. I love anything that keeps me focused from day to day with a positive message, and social media has become an awesome way to do that. Yes, it’s over-saturated with cat videos and can be a big waste of time. However, our world requires us to be computer-locked at times, and I think we should use it to our advantage and feed our brains the good stuff. Regardless, doing this will start this year off on a good foot!

It starts tomorrow, and you can sign up for free here. What do you have to lose?

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Collect memories, not Things

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!

This quote was a wonderful reminder to me about what Christmas is all about. I try each year to separate myself more and more from the “joy of getting” mentality. More and more in my adult life I’m beginning to see that spending this time of year with people who I love and rarely get to see is so much more precious than any physical gift. And I am so thankful for that. The more I concentrate on the present moment with my loved ones, the more I feel transformed by the renewing of my perspective in the holiday season.

Namaste.