Main Photo Credit - Michael Neville

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Finish Line?

31 days of yoga! I made it! I'm giving my self a congratulatory pat on the back, but I'm nowhere near the mark of where I know I can be. I've made it to my temporary goal, but this is merely a landmark on my path to enlightenment. It's an incredible feeling to have made it this far. I feel a lot like jumping for joy! April 1st -- Fool's Day, as promised I will re-take my chakra test. Tomorrow will also mark the first day of my EFT Challenge. I will practice at least 10 minutes of EFT for self-improvement everyday for the month of April in an attempt to remove any blocks I might still have surrounding my success and life-goals and free myself to move ahead in a stronger and more sure direction. I have no problem with acknowledging that after this yoga challenge, I feel different somehow; more self-assured, at peace, and centered. This doesn't mean I'm going to slack one bit in my yoga practice. If anything, I'm going to attack it with even more vigor. I'm looking at 11 more months until my ultimate goal of yoga everyday for 1 year. I'm confident that I can do it 1 day at a time. I'm pacing myself and settling in for the long-haul!

Photo Credits: Ambro

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Easing the Reins...

Today was the first day of practice that I really felt I could flow into it with a truer natural grace. They say that it takes 30 days to form a or break a habit. I will attest to this fact from personal experience. My practice of yoga has deepened to such an extent that I don't think my day would feel whole and real without it. Ditto for my blog postings. Along with forming the positive habit of practicing yoga, in accordance with the yogi lifestyle I am breaking a lot of bad habits as well, such as my predilection for chocolates and sweet things, and the physical exertion and deep breathing exercises are increasing my thirst and therefore served to up my daily water intake. Little by little more fresh fruits and veggies are finding their way to my palate and I'm learning to deal with everyday stresses in a more positive manner. In short, the effect that just this one good habit has had on my health in 30 days is immense! Now I feel more comfortable in my own skin during practice and my body is relaxing into each pose with a familiarity I haven't before experienced. This has allowed me to loosen up considerably both physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. My mind is becoming a mirror of my body. Or is it the other way around? The beauty of it, is that I can no longer tell. All I know is that with each measured exhalation I release a bit of hard stuck granite from my soul every single day.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

3 More Days!

In just 3 more days my current challenge will be over. I'm really excited about the benefits I've gained from my regular yoga practice and isochronic meditation thus far. My goal right now is to add on at least 30 minutes of supplementary cardio to bolster my strength and flexibility and round out my exercise routine even more. It's amazing how my attitude about working out has morphed into a whole new animal. I'll have to say that I'm stronger and much more flexible then ever and it's incredible how calm I am under stressful situations that would normally either ruin my whole day or make me anxious. With a new month just around the corner, I am eager to make even more strides in my daily practice and to deepen my understanding of the way my mind and body works as a compliant unit. The more that they work together the better I can rejuvenate my entire spirit!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Yoga Addict

For some reason today I was obsessed with the correct form of of my poses. I would stop at random times during the day when I had a break and fall into an asana. My favorite pose of the day to get into was Triangle Pose. I was beginning to think I was a little absurd, but that certainly didn't stop me from trying out a not so graceful Standing Forward Bend, or getting up from my computer to stretch out my tired limbs strong and tall in Mountain Pose. Ahhhh my upper and mid-back thanked me all day long for that one. And when I wasn't off-handedly practicing poses, I was thinking about them. Saying to myself, 'I wonder if I'm my Cobbler's Pose was executed correctly during my practice this morning?' Or ' maybe I could've gotten just a little bit more extension out my downward facing dog?' Tomorrow I'll calm down and go back to normal, I promise myself. OK. Just one more Mountain Pose...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

It's A New Day

I'll have to repeat the sentiments of an jazz band from the 80's and 90's Basia who have a song entitled New Day For You. That's exactly how I feel. Yes today it's overcast and the sky has a dreamy gray cast to it, but there's a patch of blue peeking through it and it's not raining anymore. I'm heading to the edge of my first goal and feeling the excitement. For those of you wondering what my new goal is, it will evolve EFT. For more information on what that is click here. On the horizon, I will be using positive thinking and the law of attraction to align my energies with bigger and better things that are even more wonderful. Will my blog still have plenty to say about yoga, meditation, chakras and other forms of energy work? You betcha! But my EFT challenge will deepen and enhance my practice by encouraging me to take the difficulties from when I'm on the mat and in everyday life and work through them, by releasing myself from all the negative vibes that come my way. Fear, anger, frustration, hopelessness, sadness, anguish, anxiety and their kin will all have to check themselves at the door to my personal temple. I'm dancing inside my temple and I don't need them to cramp my style. It's a new day!

Photo Credits: Federico Stevanin 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Yoga's The Best!

Somewhere deep inside of all the self-assurance and confidence, there's a little voice saying 'wow you're really doing it!' It's amazing to me that I've improved so much over the last few weeks. Of course the true test will be on April 1st when I test my chakras. Since practicing yoga, I've noticed that there is a profound sense of fulfillment and happiness bubbling up from deep within me. It's changing not only my body and increasing my energy level, but it's really changing my life and the way I look at things.This morning while the rain was pouring down outside and I was working through the challenges of Kundalini yoga, I noticed an subtle strength coming to the fore. Gurmukh was so right! There is a knowing and an understanding that comes with making yoga a regular part of your lifestyle. You know that 'when the going gets tough' you can carry on no matter what. I'm so sure that this is one of the best things that I could have ever done for myself!

Photo Credits: Jomphong

Friday, March 25, 2011

New Goals Ahead

Day 25. I salute Mr. Rodney Yee on the mat again for his easy -to-follow and challenging yoga routines. I'll admit that this started out as an experiment to see if I could keep a belated New Year's resolution to revive my ailing chakras and renew my commitment to fitness through yoga. But it is clear to me now that those goals were way to transitory in nature to satisfy my inner aspirations. And with each passing day, my resolve to make daily yoga a regular part of my life grows stronger and stronger. Now I'm planning to take my yoga teacher training in the summer of next year. I have my sites set on the Anamaya program. Located in the lush rainforests of Costa Rica; not only is Anamaya Resort an absolutely breath-taking get-a-way destination, but it's creditials as a yoga school and it's curriculum are down-right some of the best that I've seen. What do I have to do to get into Anamaya. Well just enroll as soon as they post next year's calender of classes. Anamaya also recommends that their students have been regularly practicing yoga for at least 1 year. Check that box. By next summer I will have at least 1 1/2 years of steady yoga experience under my mat. I imagine where I'll be with yoga in over a year's time and I tingle with excitement and anticipation for the journeys to come!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pulling It Together

Day 24. Today's yoga practice was all about symmetry. I've finally pulled all the lessons I've learned -- patience, humility, acceptance, forgiveness, and will-power together to begin forming all the pieces of the puzzle. I'm really getting into the flow of things, moving through my days and learning from each asana. What I'm noticing more than anything is how empty the day would feel if I missed a practice. Honestly, I've gotten to the point where if I skipped a day it would feel completely wrong. This is just where I want to be. The sweet spot of still feeling the challenge, while finding my place in the midst of things. It's almost midnight, and I just had to post how truly grateful I am for what it is I am able to do. I have all my 4 arms and legs, and though my body isn't perfect, it's mine to enjoy the full range of movements inside of, and to breathe into. And that's something that I cannot
and will not take for granted. I'm going to take that gratitude and run with it for the long-haul. I'm gunning full-speed ahead!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Body Rhythm

I had a strange discovery during practice today. It was the innate rhythm of my body. And I don't mean the kind of rhythm that makes you dance to a beat. This was something more integral-- soul deep. One might liken it to a sort of trance, induced by the musicality that dwells within you, enhanced by the music that is playing during your yoga practice; or if you practice silently, inherent to the atmosphere around you. In other words, the cars outside your city street, the birds chirping near your rural home, the crickets of an evening summer practice, or that Enya on your mp3 become a tapestry that connects you to your own little corner of serenity. For me it was the sound of falling water that moved me to stretch my practice to another level. Rainstorms have hit the California terrain with a vengeance and this morning there was a virtual downpour. The strong spikes in wind only served to drive the water more strongly against my windows. In the small space of my room, I practiced Kundalini yoga with steady breathes, flowing into each change of movements with a fresh energy. The hypnotic sounds of the drumbeats, Gurmukh's serene instructions, and the strenuous exertion of every part of my body began to blend with falls of water. As I was wildly flailed my arms above my head taking deep fire breaths, I could feel my energy, power and strength increasing, and my body's gain seemed to mirror the out-pour of rain. Day 23 -- a practice I will remember for years to come. It has taught me the beauty that lay inside of my spirit, and with what ease my mind can overcome itself when I just stop thinking and let my body take over.Them moving through my morning practice will become more of a reflex like hunger or thirst, and will just be a part of being me.

Photo Credits: seaskylab

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Speaking Of Flexibility...

One of the reasons why many thousands of people dedicate themselves to a practice of yoga is because of the promise of improved flexibility. I would have to say that, while that isn't the only reason I am practicing yoga, it is definitely a great incentive. In that regard, I am happy to say that my flexibility has gotten so much better. Giving an honest guesstimate, I will say that since I started I'm probably about 15% more flexible then I was before and it's only been 22 days. If you go on-line you'll hear a lot of talk about increasing your flexibility. People make a lot of wild claims about what their program can do, but I think that even though diet and proper rest play a huge part in being able to stretch further,there is no substitute for good old-fashioned hard work. One has to put in the time in order to reap the results. I think that my flexibility will become more and more pronounced through my practice, mainly because I am limbering up my body daily. One website even recommended yoga twice a day for optimum flexibility. I agree. Plus 15-30 minutes of slow easy yoga can really relax you before bedtime. I plan to add at least 15 minutes of gentle yoga stretches to my evenings just to see if this helps.The important thing I'm developing is patience and humility and I'm listening to what my body can and can't do. Slow and measured success will follow if I keep doing that. I've gone 22 days. 6 more days -- less then a week and I will take my chakra test. Then start the daily cycle all over again. I'm taking it to a year and beyond, with the goal of taking a yoga teacher training abroad for a month next year in the summer. That's another 343 days to go!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Temper Temper...

Yoga and meditation are wonderful to even out your mood and help you stay mellow. When a situation arises where I am angered I can always fall back on my mantra to breathe. During the most fiery of attitudes it is an anchor I can grab onto to stop the white-hot fury that can ensue. I'm most usually a calm person, but when something does push my buttons, it's difficult to hold back the tide of emotions that come from it. Yoga, meditation and Ho'oponopono are teaching me the power of forgiveness and how to overcome myself. When I feel overwhelmed by a negative emotion, I take deep breaths, and assess the issue to see if it warrants my energy. At the end of that analysis, even if I find that it does, I try to release that negativity into the universe with each inhale and exhalation so that I can better solve the problem. Then I repeat to myself 4 simple sentences that always seem to quiet my mind and soul. I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you. In turn I am both forgiving myself for attracting this negativity into my sphere, and forgiving the other person for bringing it to me. Hanging on to all that pain is not worth it. I rather use that energy to benefit my life in some way, or help someone else. The word I'm keeping in mind for today is peace. Namaste.

Photo Credits: Jomphong

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Gaining The Yoga Body

Day 20. Before today I didn't really notice the physical side of things, because I was so focused on all of the wonderful mental and emotional benefits I was gaining from my daily yoga practice. I haven't missed a day of practice and I plan to keep his going way past one month. I want to see if I can make it to one year without having ever missed a day of practice. If I get sick, I want to still practice a slow gentle movement of PM yoga in laying postures with breath-work. The biggest part of yoga lies in learning to breathe properly, which balances out your entire system and lifts away stress. So even if it's just sitting there crossed-legged and breathing, I will still have my daily practice. Getting back to talking about the visual changes in my body, I've noticed that I've slimmed down everywhere. And the slimming is not in a forced way, it's a natural shedding of anything extra around the waist. Not that I had a problem with weight per say, but my body's image is going through a
profound metamorphosis. My legs are more toned and muscular, but lithe and without bulkiness. My arms are more defined then ever, and I think I might have dropped any excess that was anywhere on my body. Also my skin is beaming from the inside out. It's like I had a facial everyday! I just feel so good all over, and airy and light, like I could fly away. I love that I've committed to doing this. I am... well... ecstatic!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I've Come A Long Way Baby!

Today I feel pretty on top of the world. I did 30 minutes of yoga with Rodney Yee. Sometimes you just have to keep pushing and trying no matter how much you want to stop. I can often have the determination of a pit bull terrier. Day 19. I can say that hope rains eternal for me right now. I've witnessed hard cold proof of my efforts. I was so strong in my practice that I was able to master the Urdhva Dhanurasana, or wheel pose, otherwise know as the back bend. With my eyes looking at the wall behind me I felt like jumping for joy. Instead, I put all the energy in to propelling my chest and hips forward to futher open up my heart chakra and just breathed into the pose to deepen in. OK, so my form could improve a lot but I'm completely in a back bend. I'm so juiced about this! A huge part of me can't believe that I've come this far. I feel like celebrating or something. I think I will too. I'll celebrate by doing 10 Urdhva Dhanurasana's in a row! Tomorrow is day 20. I can't wait to get back to my mat!

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Chronological Timeline...

Today was actually sort of normal and benign. I guess it went something like this: I noticed the alarm clock went off and has been ringing for a considerable time. Damn it's 7:16 am. I'm an hour overtime. Curse daylight savings time! Should I do my yoga at the office or on lunch break? No I'll do it here and be about 15 minutes late since there's no super-early appointments. Rodney Yee's AB's Yoga is full of boat poses and twists at the waist. Shower and dress to dash out the door. Breakfast is a bowl of Cheerios and soy milk. I have a cancellation for this evening. I'm bummed, but maybe karma thinks I need the extra hour. Next client is a Morning facial. She always leaves a smile on my face. Makes up for the cancellation. Wow my mind is full of the fact that I haven't done my daily isochronic chakra meditation yet. When will I squeeze that in.Text from a friend in the morning. I'll have to answer that later. My horoscope's a bit underwhelming. Get ready for the next client. Ahhh... finally I can meditate. Lunch for 20 minutes and I indulge in my latest Korean drama while eating. Then it's off to run errands all over town for 2 hours before my late afternoon appointment. I prep for the next treatment. Gosh, I still have 2 writing assignments to complete. And what about that short story I'm still working on? I giving myself 1 1/2 weeks to finish it, revision and all. Back to the real world I need to set up for my next client. I think I spilled some soup on my black skirt. I wiped it with a damp cloth. Did I get it all? My Yahoo IM is lighting up again. Why did I join Second Life? Like I need another thing to waste my time. LOL. I'll have to work late tonight.Guess I'll grab dinner when I can. I haven't done my speed reading exercise today. Working on a client. It's only 4:30?!?! Breath. Ohmmm...

Photo Credits: Renjith Krishnan 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Just Rolling Along...

Today's yoga practice was fuel to keep my day in perspective. It was another yoga lunch break for me. 30 minutes of high-powered sun salutations to brighten up my 12 hours of awake-time. Each practice tends to simplify my day and make it so much easier to center my various tasks around. I had another breakthrough during my chakra meditation this morning. Today all I had to do was close my eyes and I was able to gain a deep state of relaxation within the first minute of listening to my isochronic recording. There is something supremely satisfying about know that you are moving forward each day into a new era of being. Now the days are entering a pleasant flow from one sunset into the other, and I can see more and more of my true purpose with each and every dawn. I know that this is only a pit stop on the universal highway, but I'm enjoying my moment in the sun, and the ride -- cruising in this astral convertible, top down, hands catching the wind, tasting the freedom of boundless energy.

Photo Credits: winnond

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Shedding Old Skin

Hope is a wonderful thing. Like rays of sunlight peeking out from behind an ominous cloud, it instills a sense of grateful being. This is what yoga and meditation inspires me with. Hope. And a feeling that I can ascend to something much higher within myself; become more whole, happier, healthier, and live life on a surer path -- a road where I know my place and the ground greets my feet with each passing step. And I now realize that I don't care how long it takes or how patient I have to be to realize the enlightenment that will come as my reward. I have a certainty and a knowing that it will find me before I even discover it has come. Then the fears that we all cling too, the ones we never even admit to ourselves will finish dropping away and there will be a time for something else that becomes effortless with the lost of resistance to it. Change. It's time to invoke the true meaning of the the yoga practice Kundalini and embrace the "awakening serpent" as each chakra springs to life with vibrant energy. Like a year that seasons cover the distance of, I will experience my personal periods of light and rain, shadow and revealing and breathe into each one. These are the lessons I'm learning with the fall of every drop of sweat that lands on my yoga mat. And as the days pass, the waiting for each joint and muscle to unlock seems more like a blessing then burden.Today my horoscope read,"Sagittarius, a new clarity is coming to you soon -- be sure to think things through slowly." Could it be that my new-found insight will come in the form of a deeply drawn breath or a brand new asana? Only the future holds the answer to that question. And I stretch into it with calm anticipation.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Deepest Cleanse

Today's Kundalini yoga With Gurmukh and meditation sessions were highly enriching on an emotional level. With each undulation of my spine and swift movement of my arms, I could feel the stuck negative energy breaking free in way that was similar to a catharsis of the soul. I was able to rid myself of a lot of feelings that had been trapped in places that even I wasn't aware of. Occasionally during my Kundalini practice, a movement would get particularly difficult and I knew it wasn't only because of the challenge of the motion itself, but that it was something more intrinsic. I kept breathing through it and random emotions like anger, frustration, sadness, or disappointment would surface in my mind. I wouldn't stop, I'd just keep right on with the exercise and focus on my steady breaths coming in and out from my diaphragm. The results after this practice were phenomenal. I felt clearer, my concentration was through the roof, and it was as if a weight from somewhere deep inside had been lifted. This is what a cleansing of the spirit must feel like. My body and mind are gaining unison, working not as separate entities but as a team cheering for the continual improvement of my health. I'm starting to smile not only on the outside, but also on the inside!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Staying Centered

Self improvement is a funny thing. For some people it's about finances, others romance, and still others health. For me it's about an outlook on life, one that is well-balanced in all areas if not equally alloted. I'm on this quest to better myself emotionally, spiritually and physically and it's a learning experience each step of the way. I'm feeling phenomenal all the time, my stress level is lower and when troublesome issues arise I simply don't deal with them with the same level of panic that I used to. Even today when personal problems made me antsy, I fell back on my morning chakra meditation and was feeling leagues better in no time. I couldn't believe how much my mentality had changed. I felt so much more in control and aware of just what I could do to handle my situation. My yoga session with a Rodney Yee DVD had already focused my mindset and fine-tuned my body so I was in an even more relaxed state. I'm excited about where I'm headed and I'm not looking back. My horoscope today read, "Sagittarius, you should turn off your engine completely -- you need to take things even slower." I took that advice today both in yoga, meditation and in life.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

More Then Simple Reflection

Meditation has become an increasingly valuable tool in managing my day. Balancing out my chakras has opened my horizons to just how powerful that this practice is. My thoughts are more clear, my day less stressful, and my goals seem that much more within reach; as if I can see the path ahead of me, the long stretching expanses and the obstacles that might arise along the way. Within my mind's eye I have become more alert, stronger, and self-assured. During my isochronic tone meditation, I started at the root chakra and could imagine the resonating red ball of energy stemming right from the base of my spinal column and radiating down to my toes. I could feel the energy stored there growing from the faint red that it used to be to a now larger glowing orb of light. I then moved to my sacral chakra region and the color orange sprung immediately to mind this time and filled my lower belly with it's soft brightness spinning in clockwise orientation. From there I progressed to the beaming lemon yellow that sat right between the upper swell of my ribs and spun around it's sunny rays showing even on the outside of my torso. At this point my body began to awaken and energize. As I had just completed an hour long session of Rodney Yee's Power Yoga, I really felt alive. As my mind accessed my heart chakra the whirl of color changed to a vibrant jungle green and in the center the vulnerable soft pink circle turning at the same speed clockwise. At each step as I progressed from chakra to chakra I would envision a white healing light that to me represented divinity, enclose each color completely and then cross it to bind it together with two bands of white energy. On to the throat chakra, a shade of turquoise turning slow and then faster and faster as it gained strength to open.Then I moved to the third eye, that confident dark hue of indigo swirling like a mysterious sea right in the middle of my forehead. Finally the crown chakra greeted my psyche strongly with vivid impressions of violet that intensified as I focused in on them. Then I saw all my chakras as spinning in harmony from bottom to top, and bathed them hot-white healing and crossed my body with that healing from top to bottom. That was today's meditation. I took the concepts from the book The Book of Chakras: Discover the Hidden Forces Within You by Ambika Wauters, and modified them to fit my own style of reflection. I received a tip from a close friend to not visually spin your chakras from top to bottom but actually across from let to right, and I find that the colors move more fully in their perspective places. It's a beautiful thing to know that your mind can transport you to an eternal destination of rest and regeneration that has no ticket fare. Within it you can train a place of sanctuary that is both priceless and rare. In an experience that is unique each time I try it I've found an immensely satisfying treasure if only for 15 minutes. Peace.

Photo Credits: Sura Nualpradid

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Still Going...

Today I experienced unbelievable joy in just the simplicity of my practice. I'm getting into the rhythm of things and my practice is beginning to feel second nature to me. Kundalini was a challenge as always, but I seemed to welcome it even more this time. With each breathe and exercise a little bit more of the puzzle that is transcendence - me becoming more than I am, is being peeled way one session at a time. My energy level is through the roof, and it's no wonder with all the meditation and chakra work I've been doing. Who knew that this process would not only be enriching, and enlightening, but could also be a whole lot of fun. I laugh at myself and my weaknesses and failings each yoga practice, because at the end of the day that's all you can do. And then you stand up again and keep the faith in yourself. Like Gurmukh says "Keep it going...little bit more. Even when it gets hard to do, that is exactly where you wanna be. You want it to get hard. You want it to get challenging. And then you go through that challenge to what we call the other side. You go to your edge. You pass you edge.And in it you're able to live in that space in your life. You know what the going gets rough, you'll be able to keep up." Day 12 for me and I'm still going strong. Somewhere between Siddhasana and Sat Nam I've figured out that this is way more then just a 30 day test for me. I've found a way of being that will far outlast this month, this year, and this lifetime.

Photo Credits: Idea go

Friday, March 11, 2011

Meditations On Success

Today's lesson is that everyday is brand new and full of potential. With my yoga practice today I'm just having fun. I practiced for about 30 minutes; first with Rodney Yee's AB's Yoga For Beginners and lastly I just did 10 minutes of basic sun salutations to limber and warm up my body a bit more. Then I dedicated the remaining 30 minutes of practice time to meditation. 15 Mins of isochronic meditation was followed by Kundalini Fire Breathing techniques, and then the binaural meditation below. EFT tapping on my chakra points cleared away any negative energy still stuck within. The result is that I am moving ahead into the day with a bright smile on my face. After yesterday's chakra breakthrough I'll have to admit I feel pretty invincible. So I'm stopping for today, remembering to balance both on the mat and in life, and not to try too hard. I'm just going to bask in my success of the moment and let the joy from this accomplishment take me through clear until the sun sets. My horoscope today read, "Sagittarius, let other people do the driving while you sit back and enjoy the ride." I'm going to follow that advice for a time and just remain secure in the knowledge that each day I am becoming...more.

Photo Credits: Africa

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Growing Pains

In life you trip, you fall down, you get back up. Well I didn't exactly fall down; tremble a little bit on a shaky pose maybe. This yoga practice I noticed a lot of things, like for instance, deep breathing isn't a trifling matter. The meditations seemed to be more taxing then the physical movements during today's practice. I could actually feel pain, but it wasn't anything tangible. Still it was there. Perhaps some bits of trapped negative energy from my many gloomy childhood memories, or maybe it was an old pre-programed thought process that needed to leave my body and mind. Whatever it was, it was reaching out for nourishment. I really had to pace myself during my Kundalini. I was definitely pushing my self-imposed boundaries today. I'm right at the edge of a precipice that I'll admit feels a little daunting. I can tell I'm headed for a breakthrough. I could actually feel my heart chakra opening up. It's an unusual sensation. I'm sure for everybody, releasing the holds on their chakras is a different experience. For me it was almost as if in the center of my chest there was this tired spot.And as I stretched further, and let healing light into it, it was expanding, being pried open just a bit more like a slow yawn. This is what it would feel like if my heart could yawn. When I think about it I guess my heart has went through a lot to make it weary. It's been hurt, broken, sad, confused, joyous, disillusioned, inspired, exercised, on various diets, discouraged, loved, warm, cold as ice, and a myriad other conditions. It's also been serving my body for 33 years of life, and I haven't always given it the pampering it deserves. So yeah it's a tired heart. It's entitled to a little TLC, a little space to sit back and say 'now I can just relax and let go'. Kundalini allowed me to do that today for which I'm eternally and divinely grateful. Each day yoga reminds me to be thankful for the little things and to cherish the gifts that I have right now, despite the hard times. This too is part of healing.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Slow And Steady...

Yoga, being the something like an extended marathon while other western exercises are sprints, has made me exercise patience. But as I breathe into each pose, I know that the long-term benefits are well worth it. Today I split up my workout into two parts. I used Comcast On Demand with their handy programs on Exercise TV. I've gotta love Tom Morley for taking yoga a bit out of it's breathe and chant routine to create Yoga For Abs. Jennifer Galardi's Zen In Your Den, rounded out the end of my 30 minute practice session with a more standard repertoire of movements. My focus today was more on meditation and Ho'oponopono though. Every challenge throughout the day was met with this mantra. 'I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.' I also experimented with manifestation methods. My favorite videos to this end are at I love the one on Courage, it's perfect for when you are faced with an obstacle to your goals. Practicing the Kundalini 'Fire Breath' meditation pushed harder and harder against my willpower. It's amazing how just the art of breathing can try your endurance. The key word for today is 'exploration'. I sought to test my body and mind's limits, which as far as I can tell are endless. I'll keep simply looking ahead in Warrior 1 pose; standing strong and tall. I'm stretching, breathing with each arm opposing, chest jutted out proudly, fingers trembling a bit from the effort. Ahhh... There it is, just on the horizon. Nirvana.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Taming The Serpent With Kundalini Yoga

I feel a breathe of fresh air flowing through my entire spirit! Day 8. Outside there is a sunny and clear blue sky. It matches my optimism and the level of my enthusiasm to be present and awake with what I am bringing to this morning. I got an early start at 6:15 am with Kundalini Yoga With Gurmukh. Her yoga practice is absolutely incredible! Kundalini literally means "the coiled" or "Serpent Power". It challenges you to look beyond the part of yourself you thought wasn't capable, and see into the realm of life where everything is possible and your abilities are boundless. Imagine that the energy beginning at the base of your spine where the root chakra is located is spiraling up all the way to your crown chakra like a snaking cord. Kundalini explores the energetic mind-body-soul healing within you. This is no a yoga session for the faint of heart. Even so, anyone can participate if they are mindful of what their body is telling them. Gurmukh will push you to stop contemplating your limits and just do. Her soul is calm and her spirit wild as she executes a series of movements that awaken your inner child with abandon. You feel playful, light-hearted, yet grounded. Gurmukh says, "the most important thing to do each day is sweat and laugh." I can acknowledge the truth of her words as she guides me through a series of active poses. I certainly found myself hilarious while performing this unorthodox method of yoga. At times my body protested to the verge of giving up, but I did as Gurmukh said and worked through the difficulty to surpass myself. Towards the end of the practice I was panting heavily, but energized, awesomely alive and ready for the peaceful meditation  to the resonating sound of a gong which closed out the session The word for the day is 'perseverance', and it is really paying off in spades! To learn more about Gurmukh, watch the 'Visual Inspiration For The Day' below the postings, or visit her yoga studio The Golden Bridge's website.

Monday, March 7, 2011

3 More Weeks Of Yoga Challenge And Beyond...

My key word today is consistency. I've made it through an entire week of bends,twists, and adjustments to my body and posture. These last 7 days have been very eventful. They have changed the way I look at my personal goals, my body, my physical and mental health and my spirituality. My days are now less stressful, more focused, and by body feels at ease and beautiful within itself. I can't imagine how I ever let my yoga practice go astray. Even when I was practicing regularly before, my sessions were only 3-4 times a week, an adjunct to my "real" exercises such as the treadmill or the elliptical. Now I'm practicing about 1 hour of yoga per day, and I'm going to use my cardio as a 30 minute addition. I think I'm going to rediscover Billy Blanks. I've used his Focus Series - Abs & Glutes because even thought it's a VHS, it's arguably one of the best workouts I've ever done that targets the common problem areas of waist to hips. Tae Bo is always a tried, true and effective cardio routine that gives me endurance and burns a lot of calories. I will combine traditional training with yoga for even more results. I know that even after this month is over, I will continue my daily 60 minutes of mat time. I honestly don't remember how I used to get by without it. 20 minutes of chakra meditation each day goes a long way toward balancing out my body's systems and will only increase my mental and spiritual awareness. I couldn't be more pleased with the path I've chosen. My soul is smiling right now. The path ahead only becomes clearer and clearer with each passing sunset.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Moving Past Barriers

I'm beginning to see a small circle of light at the end of the tunnel. I'm not saying that I was particularly discouraged before. But while I've been consistent and for the most part felt very positive about my whole experience, now I really feel for the first time that I can see my feet taking one step ahead of the other. Today it was me, the mat and Rodney again for another divine hour-long session. I made great strides in my practice My transitions from asana to asana were more seamless, my body even more limber and I noticed a considerable increase in my strength. All this and it's only 6 yoga practices later! And as for the difficult pose of Urdhva Dhanurasana, it is getting further within reach. Today I tried it and was able to lift my body up and away from the ground, although my form and the time I was able to hold it pretty much sucked. The important key here is progress. I can't believe how far I'm getting. That is what's encouraging me to stick with it. Well both that , and the fact that my chakra meditations are also improving, thanks to the isochronic recordings I'm using. Oddly I'm noticing old emotions and negative thoughts coming to the surface and then being purified away. Only more good can come of this process, and I can't wait to see how much longer the road to enlightenment will get!

Photo Credits: Sura Nualpradid

Saturday, March 5, 2011

5 Days And Counting...

Unexpected discoveries must be my theme for the weekend, because today I just experienced another one. Yesterday evening I saw a late night movie, a fabulous film that I highly recommend, called The Adjustment Bureau. I ended up staying up past my bedtime and combined with the fact that I had to go in to work early, missed my regular yoga time. My Rodney Yee Power Yoga was left at home, so I had to use Comcast On Demand's Exercise TV at my office and was able to complete a 45 min yoga session with Rainbeau Mars. Namaste to Rainbeau Mars for creating the inspiring routine of her DVD Yoga for Beauty with Rainbeau Mars: Dawn. It is an incredible vinyasa that floats effortlessly from one pose to the next. I was able to loosen up the stuck energy in my lower back and hamstrings and warm up my spine. Rainbeau must be a yoga angel, because those graceful and limbering asanas were just what I needed for my busy day. At the end of the session, I felt radiant inside and out. It was a lovely feeling. I love yoga flows that don't intimidate and are completely devoid of ego, allowing me to grow in a non-judgmental space. Even though life is not always like that, I've found a little piece of heaven that is right on my non-slip mat. It's my 5th day of my commitment to yoga everyday for the next 30 days, and I haven't slipped yet!

Friday, March 4, 2011

An Unexpected Breakthrough

Today I was really feeling the wear and tear of my newly developing yoga practice. I've discovered that my hamstrings can be particularly tight. That spot just above the knee joints on the backs of my legs was killing me. Thanks to a little Mineral Infrared Therapy, I've put a lot of the discomfort at bay, and now it's just an absent reminder that I've indulged too much over the winter.Appropriately my cell phone's daily horoscope message read, "Sagittarius, if you can't get revved up to start the day, don't fret! Energy is coming later on." I did have a bit of a trial today. I contemplated not doing yoga this morning and postponing it until this evening. But everybody knows how that works. If you wait until later, there's a good chance that it won't get done. So I dragged my lazy butt out of bed and decided on the lesser of two evils. I practiced Rodney Yee's ABS Yoga For Beginners for 30 minutes. Boy am I glad I did, because I ended up dedicating the remainder of my 30 mintute practice to chakra meditation! That was a wonderful decision. I lay present, yet relaxed in Savasana pose, my thumb pressed to middle finger in the traditonal stance of inner contemplation. I started at the root chakra which was a pretty dim red, and worked my way all the way to the crown chakra. I recently came across an amazing advancement with chakra balancing isochronic tone meditation. I listened to the recording as I tuned in to each chakra deeply. I could feel surges of energy pulse through me from the base of my spine to the top of my head. It was really wild! Afterwards I felt completely at peace. I know that I made great progress today with a combination of yoga that focused on my lower chakras (the areas I have issues with) and the isochronic recording. Try out an isochronic recording during your next chakra meditation and experience the same benefits I did. It was a soul-searching experience for me. I've never felt more in synchonicity with my own body and mind connection. So slacking off was actually to my advantage today. Tommorow morning it's back to my 1 hour session of sweating with Rodney Yee.

Photo Credits: Salvatore Vuono

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Going Even Futher...

My gosh! Today is day 3 of my yoga and chakra challenge, and I'm just buzzing with good vibes. All my life I was told that perfection was the ultimate goal for a human being to strive to. There was a lot of pressure put upon me by my parents to conform to the rigors of their cultist believe system. This put so much negative mental programming inside my head that I'm using EFT to gradually wash it away from my psyche. It's a process, as with everything worth attaining in life. Yoga and meditation are teaching me that one day at a time.The thing about yoga and chakra balancing is that it's not about perfection but about maintaining equilibrium and balance. Both practices marry the smooth calm of self-control with the liberation of letting go. In my practice today I did just that. I said goodbye to my inhibitions and trusted in the firm foundation of strength I'm building within my mind and body giving my heart permission to just release... In just 3 short days I've made a lot of progress. I feel as if my chakras are starting to stretch, breathe and test their boundaries which are limitless. When I first begin to meditate on my solar plexus region at the beginning of this challenge, trying to imagine the yellow swirling vortex of energy was hard. I would actually have to look at the color yellow and then close my eyes to visualize it. Now I can close my eyes and almost feel the invisible energy radiating just below the apex of my ribs right in the concave spot just beneath them; spinning, for now a subtly muted yellow going clockwise in the right direction. It's not strong but it's there. Reflecting on my root chakra I can feel it getting more confident, spinning slowly and steadily; a warm muted scarlet, radiating from the base of my pelvic floor right down to the tips of my toes as I pose tall and sure in Warrior 1 position. Today I made a major breakthrough in Urdhva Dhanurasana pose. Whereas before I couldn't even lift the weight of my body, I am now able to raise significantly higher to look behind myself. I wasn't fully extended upwards by a long shot, but I could feel my pelvis and ribcage jutting forward, begging to go further. And I will let them, with a little more practice and patience. "Quiet down ego. You'll take this one step at a time," I tell myself smiling in understanding,drenched in the sweat of my pleasant labors. Today's cell phone horoscope? "Sagittarius, unlike most people today, you will have your feet planted firmly on the ground."

Photo credits: Savit Keawtavee

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Moving Through Personal Challenges With 4 Simple Phrases

"If you want to solve a problem, no matter what kind of problem, work on yourself," says Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len. In a sense isn't that what a daily routine of yoga is all about? You learn from yourself and your mistakes, forgive yourself and begin anew. During today's yoga practice, I decided to implement Ho'oponopono. Ho'opono...What? Ho'oponopono is an ancient Hawaiian prayer that uses four of the most healing phrases a human being can ever utter. It is an exercise in deep humility, and it is a powerful lesson. The theory of  Ho'oponopono surmises that we attract whatever harms or wrongs come into our lives by not having been healed from within. For more understanding of the process of Ho'oponopono, please read this link to an interview with Dr.Ihaleakala Hew Len, a Ho'oponopono guru who has used this wonderful process to heal thousands of people all over the world! It's nothing short of miraculous and will give the rest of your day a huge burst of inspiration. An insightful and well-written book on the subject was co-authored by Dr.Ihaleakala Hew Len Ph.D, and self-improvement coach Joe Vitale called Zero Limits. It gives an in depth look at Ho'oponopono and how it can be used in everyday life. There is also an official website which discusses Ho'oponopono and lists dates to Dr. Len's workshops. In the meantime,the prayer of Ho'oponopono goes as follows or some variation thereof. "I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you." Whether or not you believe this to be the case doesn't matter and doesn't change the fact that these four phrases have great impact when spoken.They can calm the most angry or hopeless of situations, if said with honesty, sincerity, and humbleness. Think back to some of the most trying, stressful times in your life, or reflect on a person place or thing that makes you angry and repeat for 1-2 minutes this incredible mantra. You will notice that after a while you feel better just by saying the words to yourself while focusing on the matter. First start with someone or something you love deeply but have a problem with, and say the mantra, then progress to someone you don't dislike but don't know well. From there go on to someone you dislike, and then on to someone you hate. Just say to the person or issue at hand, "I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you." You may notice wonderful things happen around the subject you're dealing with, or it might simply cease to be important. Practice Ho'oponopono when you are faced with a challenge or obstacle and notice profound differences in your thinking towards the goal you are trying accomplish. Really be open-minded to whatever change you feel occurring within your mindset. Look for any shift in your thought pattern that will lead you to a more positive resolution and even if you feel resistance, take that path. This chant is all about letting go of ego and selfishness, and opening up to compassion and love. Make today about these 4 short sentences. Take a long grounding breath in and say "I'm sorry. Please Forgive me. Thank you. I love you."

Photo Credits: Scott Chan

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New Horizons And Beginnings...

The first day of my yoga challenge and the conscious effort to open my clogged or closed chakras has finally come, and the dawning of this particular sun has already taught me a valuable lesson. Humility. My cell phone's daily horoscope message sounded well into my first real yoga practice in a long time. When the little chiming sound alerted me, I didn't know it then but that text message held a thought that would reverberate though my hour-long session of twists and turns. Mr. Rodney Yee's wonderful DVD, Power Yoga: Total Body workout is a 65 minute routine that will strengthen and fortify both your endurance,form, and flexibility. I found it to be both soul-nourishing and difficult at the same time.The emphasis on breath-work and form is amazing. I must have been a little more then halfway through the DVD when my cell went off. Strangely enough Rodney was taking me through a series of poses to stretch out my lower back and hip region and prepare me for some more advanced positions, the toughest of which I could not fully complete. An asana, Mr. Yee calls the Forward Bow pose, also known as Urdhva Dhanurasana is a posture that I used to be able to fulfill, if not in the most graceful manner, at least with a reasonably correct form. Now months off slacking in my practice later I realized with a significant amount of bruised pride, what I have lost. I failed to cherish my practice daily and be grateful for the gift of my body. This led to losing hard-won goals and accomplishments I had gained within it. I came to see that by neglecting my daily yoga practice, I was being careless with my own body,and the part of my mind and soul that greatly benefited from it. I will endeavor to the best of my abilities not to make that mistake again. After my yoga practice was over I felt refreshed, more aligned in my posture and ready to face the day. I reached down to my bed to where my cell phone lay and checked my text message. It read "Sagittarius, communication is about more than talking and listening -- it's about understanding." That phrase struck a cord with my practice. As I move consciously and wordlessly  breathe through each asana, my body is talking to me. It's telling me things that teach me silent lessons each time a muscle is stretched and protests because of a physically trying position. It's speaking with every ache or pain or ahhhh... as a compressed area is released. It's saying 'even though you haven't been taking good care of this part of me, thank you for healing it. It's been a while so don't let your ego hurt me". My response? "I'll be back on that mat again at 6 am tomorrow morning OK."