Tag: meditation

Your Complete Guide for How to Start to Meditate: Practical Ideas and Encouragement for your Meditation Practice. This post gives detailed tips on how to start to meditate, including benefits, inspiration, what to focus on, how to sit, when to meditate and more #meditation #meditate #starttomeditate

Your Complete Guide for How to Start to Meditate: Practical Ideas and Encouragement for your Meditation Practice

It can be overwhelming to think about sitting down to clear your mind, but the very point of meditation is to let your mind take a break from all that thinking!  With a little preparation, I think you’ll find meditation a relaxing and important part of your day.  Here are some practical tips that may help you start to meditate.

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Benefits

Regular meditation Your Complete Guide for How to Start to Meditate: Practical Ideas and Encouragement for your Meditation Practice. This post gives detailed tips on how to start to meditate, including benefits, inspiration, what to focus on, how to sit, when to meditate and more #meditation #meditate #starttomeditatehelps with the immune system, lowering your blood pressure and reducing stress levels.  Your brain pattern changes with a consistent meditation practice.  After just a few weeks practicing 20 or 30 minutes a day, you can improve your cognitive functioning, self-awareness and empathy, along with other aspects of your humanity. (Source: In Search of Buddha’s Daughters: The Hidden Lives and Fearless Work of Buddhist Nuns)

 

When to Meditate

Probably the most important thing about starting your practice is finding a reliable time when you can realistically make the time to sit every day.  A sporadic schedule makes things difficult.  The easiest way to form a new habit is to tag your new task on to an existing responsibility you take on every day– like you could meditate every day before breakfast or you could meditate every night after you brush your teeth.  You will always have that original responsibility to remind you to meditate.  It takes 21-28 days to make a new habit so until meditation is one of your habits, it may help to attach it to an existing one.

 

Preparation

It’s also very important to set the stage for yourself.  You need a Ideas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation spacecomfortable clean environment that can become sacred for you.  You want a spot that’s as distraction-free as possible.  It helps if you have the time and space to make a meditation space– use a meditation cushion, candles, meaningful images, etc.  Click the image to the right to see more about creating your own yoga and meditation space.

Take a moment before you begin to set your body up for the practice as well.  Maybe take a couple of easy stretches.  Maybe bow to each direction, acknowledging the universal presence around you.  Definitely take a couple of calming breaths.  – allow yourself to slowly succumb to the mood of meditation.

You’ll definitely want a timer to start.  That way you won’t have to keep peeping through one creased eye to glance at the clock.  Start simple; I recommend 10 minutes.

 

 

Posture

It’s Don't Just Do Something Tank is a reminder of mindfulness and being present. #yogatank #yogatop #mindfulnesstank #mindfulness #meditationtanktypical to be seated on a small pillow during meditation.  If you elevate your hips above your legs it can help to keep your legs from falling asleep.  It’s ok if you want to set up next to a wall and use it to support your back.  It’s also ok if you prefer to sit in a chair.  It’s even ok if you want to lay down (though this is a potential sleep danger).  You can even stand to meditate or take a slow walking meditation.  There isn’t a right way; whatever position suits you best in the moment is the best one.  Meditation is about your mind not the shape you set your body in.  The only goal is to find a position that keeps you comfortable so you can give yourself the best possible chance at staying focused.

 

Inspiration

It’s super hard to sit down and just clear all of the thoughts out of your mind.  Many people find it easier instead of give the mind one specific thought or mood to focus on.  Here are some ideas.

  • Follow your breath- watch it go in and out of your body, feel it coming through your nose and going down into your lungs and your belly, feel each molecule coming back up through your body and exiting your nose again.  Try not to control your breath, but observe it.
  • Look for the spaces between your breath at the top of the inhale and exhale- focus on that eternal space.
  • Imagine a light at your heart center or your third eye.  Focus on watching it grow with each inhale and spread with each exhale.  Watch the light glow.
  • If you’re struggling with thoughts, let a cloud come and carry each one away in turn.  Watch the beautiful sky.
  • Also, you can attach your inhale and exhale to a phrase.
    • in (on your inhale) and out (on your exhale) that being the universal energy, everything at once
    • so hum- I am that- or that I am if you accidentally flip the phrase around
    • Thich Nhat Hanh style
      • calm/ease
      • smile/release
      • deep/slow
  • Alternatively these phrases can be attached to each bead of a mala necklace
  • Also, you can meditate on a poem, idea or feeling

My two favorite books for ideas to guide meditation are Moments of Mindfulness (right) and Meditation for the Love of It (left).  They were influential in creating my practice.

 

Challenges

All of these thoughts and suggestions are for giving you a good chance at making it work.  I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, especially at first.  Expect that at some point you’re going to wonder how long it’s been, or you’ll notice something about your position is becoming uncomfortable or you’ll start to make a to-do list or you’ll remember something very important and feel compelled to go do it immediately.  It’s normal.  All of it and more.  Some days will be easier than others, even for experienced practitioners.  The key is not to be upset at yourself- to acknowledge the thought or the pain or the idea and let it pass.  You can meditate with a notebook beside you to jot ideas down if you struggle too much at letting them go.

 

 

After your Meditation

Amazonite and Rudraksha Mala Necklace- 108 Hand-knotted beadsBefore you rush off to your next task, Malas: choosing one, activating it, and using your mala for meditation and manifestationtake a moment to thank yourself for the gift you’ve given yourself.  Even if it was not your most successfully quiet-minded practice, it’s still a wonderful way to honor yourself.  Also, you can dedicate your practice- choose someone you know and love, a deity, eternal oneness, someone in need, a worldwide issue, whatever you like and send the good vibes of your meditation off to that cause.

Another really beneficial thing to do after meditation is to take a moment to journal about your experience.  It helps to see how far you’ve come and solidify your experience.

However you choose to seal off your practice, re-enter this world slowly and carefully.  You may be in a dreamy state and it make take worldly awareness a moment to return to you.

 

Continuing On

When you get to a point where the timer surprises you or after a few weeks, try increasing the length of your meditation.

Look for new ideas and inspirations for your meditative focus.  Try out new positions, try meditating outside, try everything!  See what works for you and what doesn’t and remember it may be different tomorrow.

Whatever you do,

Continue offering yourself the gift of meditation.

 

Your Complete Guide for How to Start to Meditate: Practical Ideas and Encouragement for your Meditation Practice. This post gives detailed tips on how to start to meditate, including benefits, inspiration, what to focus on, how to sit, when to meditate and more #meditation #meditate #starttomeditate

Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo | Adi Mantra Meaning, Uses and Meditation #sanskritmantra #mantra #adimantra #meditation

Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo mantra

Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo | Adi Mantra Meaning, Uses and Meditation #sanskritmantra #mantra #adimantra #meditation

Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo (also called the adi mantra) is a beautiful, deeply moving mantra.  It’s is often chanted at the beginning of a practice, especially in Kundalini Yoga .  It’s a great way to center yourself and tune in to your subtle body and focus your mind.  It allows us to connect with self-knowledge and the divine.

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Meaning

This mantra asks you to believe in your own internal wisdom; to trust and listen to your inner guidance.  It states that you are your own best teacher and you must trust yourself and your own wisdom.  Another rendition of the translation says “I bow to the Divine Wisdom within myself.”   The mantra also recognizes that everything is one and also means “I bow to the All-That-Is.”

Translation Break-Down

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Ong means subtle divine wisdom or infinite energy; all-that-is

Namo means I reverently bow/greet/salute

Guru means teacher– giver of wisdom

Gu means darkness

Ru means light

Guru means the one who brings you from dark to light

Dev means divine

Namo means I reverently bow/greet/salute

How to use the mantra

Amazonite and Rudraksha Mala Necklace- 108 Hand-knotted beads
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To chant the mantra, sit in easy pose (sukhasana)- cross legged, but with both ankles on the floor.  Bring your palms to touch in anjali mudra (prayer) with your thumbs touching your sternum.  This pose creates a nice base for concentrating on bringing the mantra in.

Typically, Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo is chanted at least three times for past, present, future.  Alternatively, it can be used as a meditation, attaching the mantra to each breath.  Or a mala can be used– moving one bead for each repetition of the mantra.

 

 

 

Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo | Adi Mantra Meaning, Uses and Meditation #sanskritmantra #mantra #adimantra #meditation

Third Eye Chakra (brow chakra, ajna chakra): meditation, mantra, mudra, balancing, asana, and more! #chakras #thirdeyechakra

Third Eye Chakra | Ajna Chakra | Balance, Meditation, Mantra, Mudra, and More

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Third Eye Chakra (brow chakra, ajna chakra): meditation, mantra, mudra, balancing, asana, and more! #chakras #thirdeyechakraThe Third Eye Chakra is called the Ajna chakra in Sanskrit.  It is located between your two eyebrows, slightly above them on your forehead, so it is also sometimes called the brow chakra.  It is responsible for seeing within the self and in the outer world.  This manifests as imagination, insight, foresight, openness, perception, and motivating creativity.  It’s one of the more spiritual rather than physical chakras.

This chakra helps align the concept of “I” or the individual with the whole or the consciousness.  This means this chakra helps you see the interconnectedness of everything and feel free from the self, as part of the whole.

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Imbalance

An under-active third eye chakra leads to a feeling of monotony- like you’re stuck in routine.  This scenario leads to a lack of clarity and perspective.  It can also lead to rejecting spirituality.

An over-active third eye chakra can lead to living in a sort of fantasy– a loss-of-touch with reality.


Balancing Techniques


Third Eye Chakra (brow chakra, ajna chakra): meditation, mantra, mudra, balancing, asana, and more! #chakras #thirdeyechakra

Let your creative spirit soar!  Visualize, dream, but don’t completely lose sight of the ground.  Let your mind rest from daily ponderings and wonderings with meditation or a walk in nature, especially under the moon.  Follow your intuition.  Trust it and yourself.

Mudra

Try the Kaleshwar mudra.  With your middle fingers straight, press their finger tips together.  Bring the finger tips of the thumbs together too.  Bend all of the other fingers so that they can touch at the second knuckle.

Mantra

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The mantra associated with the third eye chakra is a classic: aum (or om).  This is the sound of the universe.

Affirmations in English include

  • I trust my intuition
  • I care for my spirit
  • I am connected
  • I am open to inspiration
  • I love myself
  • I see

Asana

Poses where your third eye is pointed toward the Earth like balasana (happy baby), half forward fold (ardha uttanasana), dolphin (ardha pincha mayurasana) and downward dog (adho mukha svanasana) can help.  Other strong poses assosciated with the third eye chakra include shoulder stand (salamba sarvangasana) and hero pose (virasana).

Indigo-Blue-Purple

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The third eye chakra is associated with a indigo or dark blue and sometimes blue-purple.  You can harness the energy of this chakra by surrounding yourself with this color- in your clothes and your home.   Also meditating on the color can help.  Try to focus your energy into your third eye and imagine an indigo ball of energy at your third eye.  Eating foods that are this color can help too like blueberries and blackberries, plums, eggplant and beets.  Gems that help this chakra include lapis lazuli, amethyst, azurite, moonstone and clear crystal quartz.  Rosemary, juniper and sandalwood aromatherapy also benefits the third eye chakra.

The third eye chakra is crucial to trusting and believing in yourself.  Intuition and creativity thrive when this chakra is open and balanced.

Third Eye Chakra (brow chakra, ajna chakra): meditation, mantra, mudra, balancing, asana, and more! #chakras #thirdeyechakra

Lotus for the Throat Chakra; read more about balancing, meaning, meditation and mantra

Throat chakra: meanings, meditation, balancing, mantras and mudra

Lotus for the Throat Chakra; read more about balancing, meaning, meditation and mantraThe Throat Chakra (or Vishuddha Chakra in Sanskrit) is located primarily in the neck, but also encompasses the shoulders, jaw, mouth, and thyroid.  It is the first of the more spiritual chakras, following the Heart Chakra.  The Heart Chakra is a mix between spiritual and physical chakras, with the definitively physical chakras below the heart chakra and the spiritual chakras above.

The throat chakra is associated with sky blue or turquoise-blue and the element of ether or space.  The throat chakra is responsible for sound and expression through sound.  This chakra is also correlated with all kinds of communication.  It can also be associated with finding your purpose and embracing your individuality. Location of the Throat Chakra; read more about balancing, meaning, meditation and mantra It is also related to creativity and turning ideas into reality.  The sacral chakra, which is responsible for creativity and emotion, is closely linked to this function of the throat chakra.  The throat chakra helps us express emotions and creative ideas.  It also helps us express truth, both in terms of finding our truest feelings and finding the strength to share them.  The throat chakra is sensitive to misinformation or unkind words.  Negativity and lies can quickly disrupt the balance of the chakra.

Imbalance of the Throat Chakra

A blocked throat chakra can lead to feelings of uncertainty, or an inability to find your truth.  It can also cause you to be unable to express that truth if you have found it.  A clear, open throat chakra allows you to comfortably and confidently share your feelings, thoughts and ideas.  A blocked throat chakra can manifest itself physically as a sore throat, head ache, tooth ache, neck pain or thyroid problems.  A blocked throat chakra can also manifest emotionally as shyness, fear, lack of creativity, inability to express yourself, or social anxiety.  On the other hand, excessive throat chakra openness can lead you to become overly dominant or manipulative.

Some of the techniques below can help restore balance to the throat chakra.

MudraMudra for the Throat Chakra; read more about balancing, meaning, meditation and mantra

As you prepare to meditate, chant or sing, try this throat chakra mudra.  Interlace your fingers so that the tips come inside the palms.  Connect the tips of the thumbs, reaching slightly up to round the shape of the hands.  Place your connected mudra in your lap, find a comfortable upright seat and then add mantra, meditation or another technique of your choice.

Mantra

To open the throat chakra, try to bij mantra or seed mantra sound, “ham.”  You can chant it aloud or internally.

If you prefer English, you can try the affirmation, “I speak.”  If you have something specific you want to say, thinking about the words or mood you wish to invoke can also help.

 

Other ways to engage your throat chakra

The 8 Limbs of Yoga Tree and Chakras Poster beautifully displays the 8 limbs of yoga, which tell yogis how dig deeper into all of the aspects of yoga.
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Singing, crying, chanting, laughing, and talking can also help your throat chakra release blockages and open again.  Allow your throat freedom- release and take on these actions fully– laugh with your whole heart, sing with all of the air and volume you can muster, or weep sob and moan.  It’s only for you.

Also, pranayama like Ujjayi breath can help your throat chakra.

Meditations

Image a blue light in your throat.  Slowly allow that light to emanate out from your throat.  Allow the light to open your airways and your mind.  Allow it to heal you and soothe you.

Alternatively you can imagine releasing your negative feelings on your exhales during a meditation.  Allow yourself to fully feel your feelings, observe them and release them.  Allow yourself to move past feelings that don’t serve you.  Reunite with your truth and your confidence.

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Asana

Asanas that stretch the neck are best for the throat chakra, like gently rolling the neck, camel, shoulder stand and fish pose.

Sky Blue

All things blue are helpful for this chakra.  For foods, try blueberries, blue corn or blue-ish sweet potatoes.

Gems include saphires, aquamarine, turquoise, lapis lazuli and blue topaz.

Also, try wearing blue to encourage throat chakra energy.

All About the Throat Chakra: Meditation, Mantra, Mudra, Meaning, and Balancing

The throat chakra is a crucial spiritual force.  Confident self-expression, creativity, and self-understanding are all critical functions of the throat chakra and great reasons to give your throat chakra some extra attention and love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ideas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation space

Creating a Yoga and Meditation Space

Ideas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation spaceOne key to establishing a great home yoga practice is having a good place for it.  You need to create a spot that feels comfortable, personal and enjoyable.  It’s your practice and your space so it should feel like you and be representative of your yoga interests and needs.  However, there are a few things that every yoga space needs, whether you have a whole yoga shala (room/studio) or only a corner.  To try to get to the essentials of your yoga space, think about all 5 senses so you can set the mood for your practice.  I have brainstormed some ideas and examples below to help inspire you with creating or perfecting your space.

Ideas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation spaceSight

  • Decorate the walls!  Mantras, resources and diagrams you’re learning from or just things you think are pretty are all great visuals to add to your space.
  • Gods or goddesses that you believe in, wish to invoke, or are drawn to (there’s probably a reason you like that one!) are a great addition to your sacred space
  • Plants help make the space soothing and cozy.  They are great for de-stressing and purifying the air.
  • Find a way to store your props, resources and other things you might want that feels put together to you.  You don’t want clutter but you also don’t want to have to go fetch things.  Make it easy to get to everything you might need.
  • Nice light helps make the space warm and homey.

Sound

  • Music can energize and invigorate you or calm and soothe you.  Find your favorite songs for your practice or your different practices
  • Instruments can be a fun addition to your practice- like a bell, chimes or a singing bowl– something you can play along to mantras with or meditate with or to mark the beginning and end of your practice
  • Singing along to mantra can also be a fun part of a spiritual practice

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SmellIdeas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation space

Smell can really help set the mood for your practice.  Aromatherapy can also energize or calm you.  Try candles, incense, and essential oils to help choose your mood.

Touch

  • Make sure you have ample space to move.  Some yoga poses stretch a bit past the mat.  Try to find enough space so you won’t be hitting a wall or furniture when you reach out
  • Be sure you have a good mat (or a few mats if you like to yoga with friends). Think about what features are important to you, like non-slip material or thick support.
  • Cozy props are the best!  Consider what props would best support your practice, such as
    • bolster
    • strap
    • eye pillowIdeas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation space
    • pillows
    • yoga blanket
    • malas
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  • Comfy yoga clothes are a must.  You want to feel free to move in any way that calls to you.  Make sure you won’t have to be distracted by any discomfort.  (Check out our Yoga Shop for some great yoga pants, tops and accessories!)
This beautiful mantra, "Lokah Samastah Sukino Bhavantu" is on one side of the mug, and its English translation is on the other: "May All Beings Be Happy and Free." Perfect for a cozy cup of tea or coffee. ($15-20)
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Taste

Something to sip, like teas or infused water, are nice for before and after yoga.  It’s also important to have plenty of water to stay hydrated during your session.

Your yoga space should be a spot that you feel drawn toward, a place where you want to be- just like your yoga practice.  Add whatever additional touches you feel you may need to make it absolutely yours.

 

 


Ideas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation space

What to look for in a yoga class to find your favorite teacher, style OR become a better instructor

Yoga Teacher’s Eye: what a yoga instructor can learn at a yoga class

Things to think about in a yoga class to find your favorite class or style OR learn to be a better instructorThings to observe in a yoga class

Here are a few concepts you can keep an eye out for in class if you are learning about teaching yoga.  These aspects can also help you find your favorite teacher or style of yoga if you are trying different classes.

  • style– along with the style of yoga, how does this instructor interpret it?  e.g. Is it classic vinyasa or a little slower?  Is it heavy on lunges? Do they hold the poses for a long time or flow freely between asanas?  Did they bring in a few poses from another style of yoga?
  • personality– how does the teacher add their own flair to the class? What attributes do they bring to the class that make it different from another class in the same style of yoga?
  • voice– what is the quality of the instructor’s voice?  e.g. Are they loud enough? Is their voice gentle and soothing?  Is it firm and encouraging? Does it inspire you to add energy to your poses?
  • cues– how does the instructor describe the poses and transitions?  Does it give you a new way of thinking about the pose?  Is there an alignment tip you hadn’t heard before?  Is it clear what you need to do?
  • sequencing– how do the poses flow together?  Is there a connection between poses you hadn’t thought of before? Was the class leading to one particular pose?  Were there groups of types of poses (like standing then arm balances then abs?)
  • theme– how does the instructor bring it all together?  Did the class focus on one aspect of alignment? A concept, like propping vs. collapsing vs. yielding?  Was the class devoted to the idea of peace, balance, femininity? Or one of the Hindu gods? A full moon?
  • reflection– the last thing to think about is how the class affected you.  Did you like the style? Would you prefer to do things another way if it were your class?  What did you learn?  What take-aways can you find- about yoga, any of these concepts or yourself?

Putting it all into action- my experience at a retreat

A couple of weekends ago, 2 gal-pal yoginis and I headed down to the beach for a yoga retreat and some rest and relaxation in the sun.  Since I haven’t been to a yoga class in a couple of months, I was excited to listen and learn and of course move.  I practice and teach regularly, but it’s so nice to also receive some instruction and improve my own poses and practice.

What to look for in a yoga class to find your favorite teacher, style OR become a better instructorI think since yoga teacher training, though, I will likely never see a class in the same way.  I am forever filing away phrases for cues and noting things down about transitions and a teachers’ style and personality.  In ytt, our instructor warned us about this, saying, “you will never be the same again, but that’s probably a good thing.”

At the retreat, one of the most interesting things for me was the structure of the classes.  The teachers spent probably 75% of class in standing postures.  Especially in the early morning, that was hard for me.  I’m not exactly lazy, but I’ve never been the most energetic person either.  Also, it doesn’t go with the style yoga I’ve learned and embraced.  I know many people enjoy this active yang style of yoga, but I learned during that weekend that my style is a little calmer.

I think yoga is a sort of spectrum.  There are yogis who are there for the workout and yogis who are there for the spiritual practice and yogis who want some combination of the two.  The names of the yoga practices can help identify that sort of balance that a teacher offers or a practioner desires but there’s such a range within each style, so in a way the only way to know about any given class or style is to try it.

Something else I noticed at the retreat was the use of voice.  The main instructor had a very strong voice with clear, deliberate cues.  She was firm and energetic, like her class.  She used great imagery to describe the way the poses could be gracefully transitioned and practiced.

What to look for in a yoga class to find your favorite teacher, style OR become a better instructorThe instructor gave supportive guidance in the arm balance workshop- talking with each yogi individually about their struggles with gravity, strength, balance and fear.  She showed some humility in inversions as she modeled a pose that wasn’t her strongest, still giving valuable tips and demos.  I also noticed how incredibly important it is to be personable off of the mat with each of the students.  I admired these qualities in instructors.

At the retreat, we had early morning meditations.  The instructor encouraged us not to speak before mediation in the morning, which I really liked.  It made the practice more serene and organic. I noticed in the meditation, she didn’t give direction for our thoughts.  Some styles of meditation try for a mind completely free of thoughts, in which case no instruction is needed.  I found out I prefer a meditation where the mind is focused on one train of thought, like the breath or a mantra.  It is easier for me, but it also lends itself to a practice that feels more meaningful to me.

It’s interesting how seeing a style that was quite different from mine reinforced my understanding of my preferences and my yoga style.  I had a great time and learned a lot, but much of it was about myself and my yoga.

“Yoga is not about touching your toes, it’s about what you learn on the way down.” -Judith Hansen Lasater


Anahata Heart Chakra: balancing, meditations, mudras, mantras and more

Heart Chakra: meanings, meditation, balancing mantras and mudra

Anahata Heart Chakra: balancing, meditations, mudras, mantras and moreThe Heart Chakra (or Anahata Chakra in Sanskrit) is located in the center of your chest, level with your physical heart.  It is the middle of the 7 chakras, with more physical chakras below and more spiritual chakras above.  It is associated with the color green and the element of air.  The heart chakra is responsible for love, warmth, compassion, generosity, forgiveness, kindness and joy.  This chakra utilizes love as a healing force, also bringing unity to your body, mind and spirit.  It can help us to identify our personal truths.

Balance

A balanced anahata chakra promotes feelings of empathy and understanding, compassion and respect– both toward others and towards the self.  Also, a balanced heart chakra helps you feel connected to life.

An imbalanced heart chakra can lead to feelings of grief, possibly hanging onto old losses or emotional pains.  Fear and ignorance reign over love.  Imbalance can also manifest physically.  Because the heart chakra is associated with air and located in the chest, pain and illnesses can form in the lungs, chest and heart.

An overly open heart chakra can lead to excessive expectations of others socially or romantically.

MantraHridaya Mudra for the heart chakra, as well as meditation and ideas for balancing

To open the heart chakra, try to bij mantra or seed mantra sound, “Yam.”  You can chant it aloud or internally.

If you prefer English, you can embody an affirmation, “I am open to love” or “All love resides within me.”

Mudra

To access this chakra, try the Hridaya mudra.  Place the tip of the index finger at the root of the thumb.  Then bring the tips of the middle and ring fingers to meet the thumb.  Keep your pinkie straight. With both hands in the mudra, place them on your knees facing upward.  You can practice this mudra for up to 30 minutes, while focusing on the chest and heart chakra.  The middle and ring fingers are related to the energy channels (nadis) of the heart.  Closing the circuit with the thumb helps release pent-up emotions from the heart.

Meditations

Find a comfortable seat.  Take a couple of deep breaths to center yourself.  Meditation for balancing the heart chakra as well as other ideas for balancing the anahata chakraThen imagine the world sending you love.  Breath in that love on your inhalation, bringing love to your heart center.  On an exhalation, send that love around your body, letting it spread to every corner of your being, filling you with love.

If your heart chakra is already overly open, you can envision the opposite, pulling love from every corner of your being on your inhalation and on your exhalation, sending it out into the world, sharing it with those who need it most.  If you choose this version remember a candle doesn’t burn out if another candle is lit from it- you can share the love from every bit of your being without losing the love you need for a balanced anahata chakra.

As an alternative meditation, imagine a green light glowing in your heart center.  Let the light ebb and flow- follow it, however it may change, glow or grow.  Focus on it.

Asana

Heart-opening asanas help to open the heart chakra as well.  These are poses like camel, bow, dancer and cow-face pose.

GreenLocation of the Anahata chakra as well as balancing, meditations, mantras and mudras

Green foods like spinach, lettuce, kale, lime, and mint can help harness the energies of this chakra.

Green gems like emerald and jade are good for this chakra.

Finding greenery in plants and out in nature can also be a helpful cure for the heart chakra.

The Shanti (Peace) Women's Yoga Tank Top is a colorful reminder of the sanskrit mantra meaning peace
Also, check out our shop!

The heart chakra is one of the most important chakras.  Love is so needed in our world, as are compassion and forgiveness.  Also on an individual level, this chakra is the centerpiece that connects the spiritual and physical.  A balanced anahata chakra is essential for your self and your interactions with the world.

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All about the Heart Chakra: mantra, meditation, mudra, asana, meanings, and balancing

Choose happiness; ideas, meditations and book recommendations for being happier moment to moment

Choosing Happiness as a Lifestyle

Choose happiness; ideas, meditations and book recommendations for being happier moment to momentI’ve been thinking a lot lately about happiness and choices that we make; how these things affect our demeanor, our mood, our opinion of the world, the way we interact with others and the way that they see us, and perhaps most importantly, how we see ourselves.  I think many of us can benefit from choosing happiness.

My friend Kelly just visited and I always feel like she’s bubbling over with positivity and fun and I think she actually sees me the same.  I sometimes forget to be that person though.  Seeing her was like the seven years we’ve been apart were the blink of an eye.  We went right back to our old joyous selves, only a little older and saner.  We still broke some rules and laughed more than we talked.  My world feels brighter when she’s in it.  Certain special other people also transform me in this way.  But it got me thinking- why aren’t I always this person?  Do I wait for someone to coax it out of me?  Can’t I choose it for myself more often?

Click through to see it on Amazon. Just so you know, this post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click through and purchase something I will receive a commission. I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t love it!

I’m reading a book called Everyday Joy, about choosing to see life as the biggest, best party anyone was every invited to, which is a pretty big fantastic idea, overflowing with fun.  But shouldn’t life be like that?  Isn’t it fun?  “In each and every moment, you have the ability to choose to enjoy yourself or not.”  Always, you can opt to be happy and joyful.  Sometimes, it feels like external factors like a long line or internal factors like a headache are in control, but in reality, it’s always you.  You can let something or someone get you down or you can choose not to let the interaction ruin your day, hour, or even minute.  You can observe rather than absorb the negativity.  It’s a choice.  It may take some practice not to let the moment crawl back into your mind later if you choose to ignore it now.  But what good does it really do to revisit the negative and unpleasant?  Why not choose to move on to this moment?  And enjoy it?

One of Thich Nhat Hanh’s famous meditations is “Present Moment, Wonderful Moment.”  Inhale the world exactly as it is right now and exhale your appreciation back out into it.  Simple.  Beautiful.

You can practice this same concept in your waking life as well- appreciating and showing gratitude for the beautiful and joyous in the world.

I’ve heard time and again that people are happiest when they are present in the moment– not doing one thing and thinking of another.

The other influential book I’m reading now is The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga.  I’m still on the introduction about Yin and Yang.  Yin is dark, passive, slow, female, night.  Yang is light, active, fast, male, day.  These descriptions seem so concrete and easy to identify.  However, every moment is relative- like the shadow of the sun moves slowly as the Earth rotates, changing what is dark and what is light.  Although yin and yang are opposites, they always contain a bit of each other.  Even in a fast-paced vinyasa class, you may still find a yin-style slowness and calm in your breath or mind.  Even in a sad or difficult moment, you can find some small joy if you look.  Even in a happy moment, there may be some small pain or hardship.  It’s all a matter of perspective and choosing to place your dao- your balance, your center- on the happy side.

Personally, I know I need more practice- more mental awareness of choosing to be happy, rather than continuing with my norm.  I want to honor the joy in myself and allow it to come out more.  In an effort to start to train my mind to find the happiness, I want to give it a head start for where we (my mind and I) can likely find joy and embrace it.  Starting with where it comes easily may help me remember to look when it’s harder.

  • laughing with my kindergarten students- they are hilarious!  I love them (even when they’re naughty)
  • talking or joking with my man
  • exploring this magical world, like different temples in town (even with the stares I get)
  • dancing and singing, especially to mantras
  • girl time with friends
  • giving in to certain impulses- grabbing a chocolate or smiling at a stranger
  • feeling the wind rush by on my motorbike
  • watching the sunset and/or the birds (even when it’s smoggy)
  • asking questions (even when it’s hard)- I enjoy digging a bit deeper sometimes
  • savoring each bite or sip
  • waiting and watching the world do what it does wherever I may be (even in line when I’m starting to get impatient)

You can try this too.

For a meditation, start with thinking about something that makes you happy.  Think of the details of that thing, person or situation.  Feel it fully.  Then go deep into the happiness it brings you, dwell on it.  Be so intensely taken by the happiness that you become it.  Let go of the impetus that brought you to this happiness and just be happy, be happiness.

Choosing happiness in each and every moment may be a difficult undertaking at first, but with practice and awareness, it can be done.  This world can be so beautiful and joyous if we choose it.


Moments of Mindfulness; great book recommendation for meditations Thich Nhat Hanh

Moments of Mindfulness: Must-Have Meditation Book by Thich Nhat Hanh

I have a couple of books by Thich Nhat Hanh, but Moments of Mindfulness is my favorite.  It’s a set of 52 meditations, with the idea of having a new meditation to contemplate each week for a year.  Letting the words resonate within you for a full week leaves lots of room for insight and new understanding of the words and how they may apply to your life.  I’m going to share one of my favorite meditations from this book here

A flower
does not have to
do anything
to be of service,
it only has to be a flower.
That is enough.
A human being,
a true human being,
is enough
to make the whole world
rejoice

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The book also starts with a beautiful introduction on mindfulness; the true meaning and value of mindfulness, different ways to apply mindfulness to different aspects of your life, and miracles of mindfulness.  One of my favorite parts of the introduction is a breathing exercise.  I like to use parts of it in the warm-up for my yoga class, reminding yogis to relax and focus on their breathe and being present.

The book also has a nice spacious layout with soothing circular art accompanying each meditation.  It’s a nice size to hold too.

It’s a lovely little book!

Rooftop Yoga Scene in Mandalay Myanmar by Katia Yoga

Rooftop Yoga Class in Mandalay

Donation-based yoga starting November 20!

Tuesdays at 5 on the roof of Ayeyarwaddy School’s teachers’ building.

Yoga classes include

  • pranayama (breath-work)
  • meditation
  • asanas

Bring your own mat if possible; I only have two spares.  Also bring some form of ID to get onto the compound.

*I left Mandalay at the end of May so this class is no longer available*

 

 

[Just so you know, this post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click through and purchase something I will receive a commission. I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t love it!]