I was teaching a group of busy executives the morning before their conference last week and the first group came into the room set aside for meditation tentative, but excited to try something new. All participants were brand new to meditation and one asked “so are we going to sit crossed legged this whole time and hum OM?” This is a very common question and often many folks think this is the only way to mediate. While this is certainly one way to meditate there is literally an infinite amount of ways to enjoy this ancient practice.
You don’t need to be a monk in order to reap the numerous medical, physical and emotional benefits of meditation. In fact you can close your office door at work for 10 minutes a day and start down the magnificent journey of increased awareness, focus, happiness and relaxation right now.
My favorite definition of meditation is from Levey, J. & Levey, M.’s book Mindfulness, Mediation and Mind Fitness. They define mediation as “Classically referring to a broad spectrum of methods, disciplines, and practices for training our minds and reducing our neurotic tendencies and misconceptions while cultivating or strengthening our capacity for living with great wisdom, compassion, patience, balance, mastery of attention and other virtuous qualities of mind.”
Let’s now debunk some common myths around meditation!
Your breath can be used as a powerful tool to anchor you into the present moment. Focusing on your breathing can also be used to take your attention away from a stressful moment, fearful thought or anxious event. Bringing your awareness to your breath has the ability to calm the mind, center the body and alleviate your stress.
Enjoy this breath meditation first thing in the morning to start your day off right, as a relaxing break throughout the day or at night to help the body decompress and prepare for sleep.
Catching ~ Feelings
If you follow me or AYP, you probably have seen a post about me catching my heels for the first time.
One of my favorite things about practicing the same sequence six days a week is the obvious progress and the relationship you develop with the poses. Through these experiences you take a closer look into how your body and your mind react.
The first time I tried to catch my heels from my drop back was scary. I had to trust my body and my teacher in a way that I had not done yet. For some reason when you are upside down, your brain doesn’t work or think the same way.
Joining an Ashtanga yoga class for the first time can be a bit intimidating. Especially so, if you choose to start with a Mysore session. Here’s what it was like for me, my first time at Ashtanga Yoga Phoenix, and why I'm hooked! Along with some tips on what to expect during your first visit.
Hopefully, I am not alone in my love for Ashtanga. I really do adore it and I know it has changed my life in so many ways. Each year, on Febrary 23rd, I celebrate my ashtangaversary. It is, of course, the anniversary of my first ashtanga class. Thanks to Facebook, I have a short record of my 6 years of ashtanga and today I thought I'd share a bit of my journey.
The Popliteus Muscle and its Role in Yoga Postures and Movement
Concerns your relationship with the outer world.
When I first decided to commit to mysore a few months ago, as an academic, naturally rather than going to practice, I got my hands on a book and started reading. I came across the 8 limbs of Yoga and I want to talk a bit about the first one, Yama (ethics).
So….Thanksgiving happened. Thanksgiving is pretty much the definition of healthy…ish…. Well, maybe more like unhealthy ish? I literally had pancakes for breakfast 3 days in a row….some with cheesecake on top (ya...cheesecake...I have no shame)…..some with chocolate chips….not to mention the butter laden deliciousness that was Thanksgiving dinner and the leftovers from said dinner. Needless to say, I think we all need to get back on the healthy wagon…for this week anyway. Here’s my plan for the week:
Many years ago, I was a swimmer, I swam in high school for my team and I really enjoyed it, but I wasn’t all that good. I didn’t quite get that competitive swimming was different than recreational swimming when I first joined the team, but nonetheless, I did my best. My best was not awesome. For anyone in the know, my breast stroke time was as fast as my freestyle (this might be good if either of my times were fast, but I had an average breast stroke time and a horrible freestyle time). My coach wanted to help me get better at my freestyle technique, so he videotaped me swimming (no easy feat in the early 90s) and it was rough. I was all over the place and really awkwardly uneven. My coach had been trying to convince me that I should breathe every 3 strokes in an attempt to even out my stroke, my haphazard movement, but it wasn’t until I saw that video that I knew I needed to do something to change how I went about swimming freestyle. When I started to breath every 3 strokes, it felt really uncomfortable, but the next time I was videotaped, by stroke looked a million times better than it did before. By breathing every 3 strokes, my body had evened itself out and I had a better balance as I swam.
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