The Spaces In Between

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around once in a while you might miss it.” This from the great sage, Ferris Buller :)

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At 34 Weeks. I’m bigger now!
Photo by Courtney Long at Studio Vibe

Everything is changing. As I move into my final weeks of pregnancy, as I stand at the threshold of motherhood, this statement is perhaps more true for me today than ever before. Forces deep and powerful like gravity pulling on the tides tug within me. What was is no longer, what will be remains a mystery. In between the known past and the unknown future exists the present. And my present is liminal space, a strong waiting for the mystery of what is to come.

To one degree or another we are always living in liminal space, always straddling the boundaries of the known past, the current reality of the present and the unknown of the future. This tension between known and unknown, mystery and reality that creates such richness to this life.

And yet, when life moves fast, as it has a tendency to do especially when I get wrapped up in busyness, the richness of this dynamic spectrum of experience gets lost. I miss things. Anxiety over the past and fear for the future starts to take over. It helps to slow down, look around and engage with the present. For me, this is one of the key practices in honoring the past and being responsive and open to the future.

While my liminal space, my current present of preparing for the unknown is more potent than ever before, and perhaps more potent that it ever will be, yours may be more subtle.

IMG_1491What are the liminal spaces in your life today that you could perhaps slow down, take a look around and engage? What riches are to be found there?

Perhaps you are feeling the awakening of the earth to Springtime after a long winter. Perhaps you are changing jobs or relationships.

Maybe the Words and Intentions you have been working with for the past few months are starting to sprout changes within your psyche that you have not yet integrated. Old modes of being – of thinking, feeling and behaving – no longer seem to work but new ones have yet to take root.

Or perhaps you just find yourself driving from activity to another and not knowing how you got there. Where ever you are, whatever spaces you find yourself in, stop, breathe, take a look around and find richness even, and perhaps especially in the mystery to be found through staying present to transition.

On a practical note, as we collectively dance through the liminal space of approaching Spring, there are some things you can do to engage it and feel vibrant in mind, body and spirit. Check out these resources as guides for journeying through this space.

1. Breathing with Ease - My blog post on Neti as a way to manage Spring Allergies, and keep your breath and prana free and clear.

2. Detox your Body – Review the tips and  listen to this conversation I had with Charlotte Clews of YogaRunner.com on Spring Cleansing to stay vibrant and healthy. She is also leading an excellent, user friendly 21-Day Detox which begins April 1st.

My Personal Fast

My Personal Fast Inspired by Abbey of the Arts

3. Clear Space in Your Mind to Make Room for the Fullness in Your Heart –  In the Christian tradition we are in the midst of Lent, the 40 days of fasting prior to Easter. Whether you consider yourself a Christian or not, I encourage you to check out both of the blog posts linked below for a refreshing take on Fasting – or Spiritual Detox – a means to open more fully to your Heart.

Abbeyofthearts.com

WheretheWind.com

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Breathe with Ease: An Essential Practice for Allergy Season!

Breathing in, I calm body and mind.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment
I know this is the only moment.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Prana:    Pra -  first unit     na = energy

Click on the Image to Download Your Free Neti Resource Guide!

Breath is the first gift of life. It is an external manifestation of prana. Breathing well leads to reduced stress, better circulation, and overall wellbeing. When breath is constricted dis-ease can take hold. Just like brushing your teeth everyday, proper washing and care of your nasal passages is a good way to begin to enhance your experience of the breath. If your nose is stuffy or dry, breath doesn’t flow as well. When your nose is open and properly lubricated, breath and prana flow with ease.

As spring allergy season approaches, try this handy practice to help you stay healthy and filled with good breath!

Neti

The practice of washing out the nasal passages with salt water to remove caking, clear debris and return the system to an optimal flow.

How Your Nose Works

    • Mucus flows continually over cilia (little hairlike structures)
    • Bacteria, microbes and debris trapped in mucus
    • Mucus swallowed and invaders destroyed through digestion
    • Healthy mucosal flow and healthy gut = better breathing, increased immunity and wellness

Problems

    • Too much mucus gets thick and can’t flow
    • When it can’t flow it gets dry, microbes get stuck and inflamed
    • Too little mucus also equals dryness

A good diet and regular practice of Neti is a key to good health!

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Benefits of Neti

    • Clears nasal passages
    • Removes allergens
    • Removes bacteria & viruses
    • Opens pranic channels

 

Tips

    • Can be done everyday or as often as needed
    • Especially good at the first sign of a cold
    • Increase frequency during allergy season
    • If severely or chronically congested notice if neti makes it worse if so stop. Try steam with peppermint to break things up.
    • Use a neti pot, rhino horn, or “squirt bottle”
    • Finish with oil for better breathing

How to Neti

  1. Fill your clean, disinfected neti pot with distilled or boiled water – cooled to room temperature.

  2. Dissolve 1/2 tsp of sea salt
  3. Bend over sink and turn your head to one side.
  4. Keeping pot level, place spout into your top nostril.
  5. Breathe through your mouth and tip head downwards allowing water to travel up one nostril and out the other
  6. Adjust angle of head accordingly
  7. Use half the water on one side, repeat on the other
  8. Gently blow nose to remove excess water and mucus
  9. If you have a tendency to dryness, it’s helpful to finish by putting a dab of oil (olive, coconut, sesame or ghee) on your finger and rubbing into nostrils and ears.

Adapted from www.sinussupport.com

Resources
Information: www.sinussupport.com
Supplies: amazon.com, Any local drugstore, Whole Foods

None of the above is intended to diagnose or treat illness. Melinda Thomas Hansen and The Householderspath.com are not responsible for any effects of practicing neti. 
Posted in Bringing You to Balance, Lifestyle Coaching, Resources, Seasonal Wisdom, Wellness, Yoga | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Love the Skin You’re In

“The body is your temple.  Keep it pure and clean for the soul to reside in.”~B.K.S. Iyengar 

 It’s 6:00am. I’ve been awake since 2. My mind, while alert, is racing and my body is vibrating… like I could leave the boundaries of my skin at any moment. I tried meditating, breathing, doing the dishes, reading, asana and still no sleep. This wouldn’t be so much of a problem if I didn’t have to leave in an hour for a full day of teaching.

Love The Skin Youre InI step into the shower and let the hot water relax my muscles. Two bottles of oil – one coconut, one sesame – sit on the shower rails. Because of the pregnancy* I developed a hormonal tendency toward itchy, red, irritated skin so I’ve been using only an oatmeal scrub followed by coconut oil to keep it in check. It’s worked. But today, when I’m this anxious about my energy, when it’s this cold outside, I go for the heavy warmth of the sesame oil. After pinning my wet hair back in a clip I start at the back of my neck. The relief is instant. Moving down my arms I feel my pulse start to settle. When I have finished covering my whole body with oil I no longer feel that I am pulling away from my bones. After the massage, I inhabit them.

The day proceeds well. I feel good about the classes I have taught. I was able to be present for students, family and friends. Having taken the time to nourish myself I am better able to nourish others with attention and generosity.

Abhyanga, or the Ayurvedic practice of oil massage is powerful “medicine.” It can – and should – be done everyday. Whether you’re feeling tired, stressed out and untethered; hot, brash and overworked; congested and sluggish or even if you’re feeling fantastic, treat yourself to abyhanga and discover a potent nourishment that reaches into every part of your body and soul and love the skin you’re in.

Note:  Yes, this is in place of lotion. Most commercial lotion is loaded with chemicals the body cannot metabolize. Use pure, food grade oils. Coconut and Shea butter are also good for added moisture but take care that they aren’t combined with a host of unpronounceable ingredients – the latin names for essential oils not withstanding. 

Benefits of Oil Massage

Oiling Entire Body

“The body of one who performs oil massage regularly, even if they are subjected to strenuous work or physical stress, is not much affected. His physique is strong, soft and charming and the onslaught of aging is slackened.” Charaka Samhita, Volume 1, dated 100 BCE

“The body of one who performs oil massage regularly, even if they are subjected to strenuous work or physical stress, is not much affected. His physique is strong, soft and charming and the onslaught of aging is slackened.”
Charaka Samhita,
Volume 1, dated 100 BCE

  • Nourishes & rejuvenates mind and body
  • Enhances complexion
  • Soothes nervous system
  • Enhances circulation and detoxification
  • Promotes sleep, relieves fatigue
  • Increases longevity, decreases aging
  • Builds stamina
  • Releases stress
  • Awakens senses
  • Recovers muscle fatigue
  • Supports digestion, blood pressure and organ communication
  • Teaches self-love and self-care

Oiling Ears

    • Decreases stiffness in neck
    • Release tension in jaw
    • Improves and protects hearing
    • Soothes Vata – Calms nerves
    • Prevents infection due to dryness

Oiling Feet Before Bed

    • Release tension
    • Stimulates detox
    • Aids in deep sleep and rest
    • Soft, supple, skin and nails

How to Oil Massage

    • Warm the Room

    • Fill a squeeze bottle with oil
    • Warm the oil ~ Fill a glass with hot water, drop in your bottle of oil
    • Work the oil in your body ~ Rub with vigor and love over your entire body, long strokes on the limbs, circular strokes on the joints. Use special attention to the parts you’re not best friends with. (Thighs, butt, chest, ears, whatever)… Even oil your anus, it will help you poop, trust me.
    • If time, let oil sink in for 20 – 30 minutes ~ Wear an old robe or t-shirt you don’t mind ruining
    • Rinse or Towel Off
    • Enjoy your luscious skin and nourished body

Types of Oil

    • Organic Untoasted Sesame or Almond ~ for Dry, Light, Spacey Types or Cold Weather
    • Sunflower or Coconut Oil ~ for Hot, Firey, Sensitive Types or Warm Weather
    • Olive, Apricot or Sesame Oil ~ for Solid, Watery, Congested Types – or Dry Brush (massage without oil) – working from limbs toward center

Easy Tips to Begin

abhyanga1011

Start Small

  • Start with rubbing oil on feet before bed, cover with cotton socks
  • Rub oil in ears
  • Put a drop or so on your pinky finger, rub it in and around your ears

Full Body

    • Twice a week rub oil all over your body
    • Can be done before, during or after a shower
    • Work up to every day, or nearly every day
    • At least once a week set aside time to rub oil in before or after shower and give at least 20 minutes to absorb into your skin before rinsing or toweling off excess

* Some literature advises against abyhanga during pregnancy. I have yet to discover why. In my opinion, the thing to do is be gentle. It’s unlikely that you’ll push hard enough on certain points that could trigger labor, but better to be safe. So if you’re pregnant, please check with your care provider and exercise caution when performing abyhanga.  I cannot be held liable for any adverse effects of practicing abhyanga. Also, regular practice of abhyanga with sesame oil in the two to six weeks following birthing is said to be one of the best things a new mother can do to heal and regain her vitality. I’ll let you know how it goes!

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On Practice: An Interview with Michelle Corey

In preparation for the upcoming Cultivating Your Personal Yoga Practice Online Retreat which starts Monday, February 3rd, I’ve been thinking about and collecting wisdom from local and international yoga teachers as well as student-practioners on aspects of a personal practice. Since many of you know this snazzy lady, I thought I’d share my interview with the one and only Michelle Corey, E-RYT. If you don’t know her, Michelle’s awesome. You can find her teaching at Cisco, The Cary Family Y and EVOLVE Movement. 

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Michelle rocking Surya Yantrasana (Sun Dial Pose)

How did you begin your personal yoga/asana practice?
I began my yoga practice on a regular basis, during my RYT teacher training.  We were supposed to practice once a day.  I forget the duration requirement, it was 2001, but the time for each practice varied from 15 to 60 minutes.

What obstacles get in the way of your asana practice and how do you navigate them?
Obstacles can be many, from injury, recovery, other family members and on and on…  I navigate them now, by knowing not to worry, that I’m not on my mat as much as I would like. I now know, that my regular asana practice will eventually return.  But that perspective took some time to come to.  :)

How has your asana practice evolved as a result of traveling/aging/hip replacement?
How my practice has changed is interesting.  As mentioned, during injury or surgery, the asana aspect of my life is not happening, but it’s then that the lessons that are garnered as a result of having an asana practice are put to the test.  The big one that comes to mind at the moment, is to remember to first, be kind to myself, then that tends to trickle out to others.  The age thing is real.  My practice now is not like it was when I began.  I find that I move more slowly, but I really enjoy the slower pace.  I do find that I still combat ego on a regular basis, just comparing my asana skills to others can be humbling.  I could go on for a while here, but I won’t.  ;)

How do you balance your asana practice with your other cardio activities?  
My cardio practice is about twice a week, where my asana practice is about 5 times per week.  Balancing the two is not a problem.  I think the body thrives with change and asking it to do different things is good for body and brain.

What keeps you coming back to your mat?
What keeps me coming back to my mat is the spiritual aspect/component of the movement. For me it truly is my church, my meditation in movement.

On a practical level, Yogaglo.com has been a wonderful tool for maintaining a home practice and an easy way to check and play with other styles of hatha yoga.

How does your asana practice help you serve the world?
How my yoga helps me serve the world is pretty simple.  I think it makes me a kinder, gentler person and this world needs more of that.

For more insightful and inspiring perspectives on personal yoga practice join us for the Online Retreat. As a bonus, register in the next 24 hours and take 10% off the registration! 

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