Get Your Cit Together – Part I

Cit: {Ch-it} Sanskrit for Consciousness. 

Purple Coneflowers often bring about an impulse, a deep longing within me... What awakens the impulse in you?

Purple Coneflowers often bring about an impulse, a deep longing within me… What awakens the impulse in you?

It started with a prayer. Actually it started with a nightmare, then a prayer; “God guide my thinking.” Actually it began when I woke early one morning and felt a deep impulse to clear my altar of everything but the candles. Got the order here? Impulse. Clearing. Prayer.

A day or so later I received an email from the library informing me that a book I requested was now available.

A day or so after that Cole and I were out for an appointment. On the way home he fell asleep in the car. I pulled into our neighborhood but when I approached our driveway I thought, “I bet I could prolong this nap if I drove over to the library to pick up the book.” So I turned around in the cul-de-sac and headed out to the library.

I put Cole in a sling, he stayed asleep (!). I walked over to the section of reserved books, found the “H’s” and scanned for my name. I pulled the book down and, drat, it was not what I was expecting.

Having only scanned the notification email I thought I was picking up “The 21 Day Sugar Detox” but in my hands I now held The 21 Day Consciousness Cleanse: A Breakthrough Program for Connecting with Your Soul’s Deepest Purpose by Debbie Ford.

Disappointed and resisting the inner tug to pay attention to what had just happened I wandered over to the mystery section to look for the Walt Longmire Series. (I’m loving the A&E Show and wanted to see if landscape played as much of a role in telling the emotional story in the books as it does in the show). Finding one, I also picked up a Margaret Maron mystery (this library trip was beginning to be ambitious… I don’t really have much time to read right now!). Then I logged-on to the computer card catalogue to look up yet another book, which I reserved and have no idea when I’ll be able to read.

51G+pEXkq8L._AA160_After all this dilly-dally I thought, “well, I’ll at least look through the Consciousness Cleanse.” I flipped to the table of contents. Ok, I guess. Then the dedication page “fell open.”

“This book was written to honor the writings and teachings of Emmet Fox…” My eyes bugged out, I stood gaping like a cod fish, then chuckled. “Ok, I hear You. I’ll get the book.”

Emmet Fox was a spiritual writer and teacher from the early 20th century whose work has been a powerful influence in my marriage and in understanding of the meeting points between Christianity and yoga. Even if you don’t consider yourself a Christian (or a yogi), I highly recommend giving his classic Sermon on the Mount a read.

This is how these things work. An impulse. A desire for something to shift or be created. A clearing of space for what is being called forth. A prayer, a heartfelt request to God, the Universe, Grace, whatever you want to call it. And then attention. You have to pay attention to the coincidences, the synchronicities.

In answer to the impulse to redirect my thinking and open to a deeper, more soul oriented rather than task oriented daily experience – to get my cit together – I’m embarking on this 21 Day Consciousness Cleanse. (I’ll save the sugar detox until blueberry season ends.) So far, it’s good.

It’s also helping me relax a little and at least try to not to overwork, over-plan and run too many errands prior to going on vacation in a couple of weeks. I’m hoping this soul work will make it feel like I’ve started vacation early. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Part of the altar, now clear and ready to receive.

Now I’m not suggesting you need to do a full 21 day consciousness cleanse to open you to new direction in your life (though it might not hurt). But, as we are now at mid-year, do you remember the Word you discovered for yourself back in January? You know, the one to guide and direct your intentions 2014?

I invite you take some time this week or weekend to sit in silence or pull out your journal; go for a walk or take a yoga class and revisit your intention. Your word. Your Sankalpa. How have you lived into this intention? How have you avoided or resisted it? Does it still apply? Is another intention trying to come through?

Think of this a mid-year check in. A time to listen for an impulse, clear some space, ask for guidance and then pay attention to the small but powerful ways you receive the answers to your soul’s longing.

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7 Things I’ve Re-Learned about Yoga Since Becoming a Mother

Eight weeks ago I become a mother. While I’m in love with my new son, our life together has yet to settle into a sustainable rhythm. It’s times like this when I am so grateful to have a yoga practice. It helps keep me somewhat sane and connected to the person I want to be.

As I return to asana and adjust to my “new,” postpartum body, I’m afforded great opportunity to remember some basic lessons of yoga

1. Plank to chattarunga is hard.

No joke!  After years of practice I sort of forgot how challenging this transition can be. One minute I’m steady in plank, the next I’m flat on my face (much like the rhythm of recent days!) But, for building your core strength there’s nothing better!

It’s also good to remember that when you’re doing 2000+ plank-chattarungas* a year, keeping the head of your arms bones lifted is crucial!

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Yes, I’m still pregnant in this picture. This was my last prego-headstand. Took a few months off. Glad to have them back in my life.

2. A little extra around the middle really can get in the way of deep forward folds and twist. 

After 9 months of avoiding them I couldn’t wait to twist again. But something is in the way! When the belly feels like an obstruction I breathe more deeply into the back of my heart, expand my back body and let it lead the way… which is what should happen even without the excess around the middle – whether that middle is the middle of the belly, or the middle of the mind.

3. Headstand is the bomb. 

There’s nothing so refreshing as a little inversion break. Since long holds in handstand still elude me, I tend to opt for headstand. Like plank, it too builds core strength. But it also shifts my perspective and refreshes my tired brain. Perhaps I’ll do one now🙂

4. Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutes) and Hip Openers are a great way to reestablish practice. 

A decade or so ago, while at an artist’s residence center in Vermont (the same place where I discovered my calling to teach yoga), a yoga instructor gave this piece of sage advice which I still find to be true today. “After a long absence from practice, it’s helpful to return with hip openers.”  Hip openers such as pigeon, bound angle, janu sirsana, and quad stretches clear out buttock, hip and back tightness subsequently opening the body to a deeper breath which calms the nervous system and provides fuel for the rigors of standing poses, the energy of backbends and the introspection of forward folds and twists.

5. Yoga is Always There

Whether it’s been 6 days, 6 weeks, 6 months or 6 years, the yoga practice is always there. It doesn’t leave. It’s a home we can always come back to.

6. Stability Enhances Freedom

Whether it’s the steadiness of muscular contraction or the steadiness of a consistent practice (asana, meditation, gratitude lists, inspiring daily readers, or healthy food choices), holding fast to those things that enhance our lives is essential, especially in times of great change or chaos. The practices themselves may look different than they once did, the body might not be as strong, but finding small ways to continue to daily incorporation of those practices that keep us steady, leads to greater freedom. Otherwise the changes, the chaos, “the flow of life” can become a free-for-all, or a deluge that pulls away from who we want to be.

7. Breath is essential. 

This should really be first.

Just after delivery I found my hamstring attachments were painfully tight. But, being unable to exercise, I couldn’t do much about it. Every now and then I would sit in a pose or take a standing forward fold while having a conversation with my mother. Just forming the shape of a pose isn’t nearly as effective as forming a shape and then settling into the breath. The two work together. Shapes without breath are just shapes. Breath without the shape is just air. The two intertwined create yoga. And the yoga brings harmony, balance and refreshment.


 

* Conservatively – 10 P – to – C transitions per practice x 5 practices per week x 50 weeks a year = 2500

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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