meditation

Why I practice

private yoga instructor in Tampa

I have been practicing yoga for 18 years, and meditating for 8 years…I’ve gone in waves of being super diligent in my practice…to completely blowing it off. And, I can ABSOLUTELY tell when I’ve been blowing it off. It’s when I’m NOT practicing that I REALLY understand the reasons why I practice…because the benefits are present when I am being present, and practicing daily.

Here are 3 BIG reasons why I practice:

  1. Less anxiety. This is my absolute #1 reason for both meditation and yoga practice….but ESPECIALLY meditation. I suffered with anxiety for YEARS without even knowing it…until I started meditating. I realized that with a daily meditation practice, the anxiety that has been a constant in my life isn’t there in the way that it used to be. The constant buzz of nerves I felt in my belly (for YEARS without realizing it) goes away when I practice. I now can actually FEEL the anxiety coming on, and have the opportunity to respond to it in a different way…which has absolutely changed my life (I know, I KNOW…this sounds pretty dramatic, but it has been truly life altering!!)

  2. Greater strength. Another biggie. The physical strength that comes from my yoga practice isn’t even as important as the INNER STRENGTH that comes from both yoga and meditation. My practice leaves me feeling empowered.

  3. More self-compassion. So, with yoga I’ve learned over the years to be ok with falling out of tree pose, or my tumultuous relationship with shoulderstand. Truly, I’m ok with it…some days I nail the poses, and some days I don’t. With meditation, I’m ok with the monkey mind…and I can see when my super-judgmental thoughts creep in about it. The biggest benefits come from paying attention without judgement. I think this is why, when I’m not on the mat, or meditation bench, that I’ve gotten so much better with self-compassion.

Does any of this ring true for you? Why do you practice? I’d love to know! Leave your comments below!

finding balance.

balance, equinox, partner yoga

The spring equinox is Wednesday, March 20th….let me tell you…my hippy-people LOVE this stuff! If you go to a yoga class this week, chances are, you’ll hear something about the moon or the equinox.

So, what does this REALLY mean? Well, the equinox is a time when we have almost equal amounts of day and night, right?! Whether or not you believe in the energetic qualities of the different moon phases or seasons, I think it’s a GREAT time to reflect on balance.

You COULD consider grabbing a partner and doing some snazzy yoga-balance poses (like the pic above)…

I’d like to ask you: HOW are you finding balance in your life?…and ARE you finding balance in your life? I’m talking about the balance between DOING and BEING.

We can get so caught up in constantly DOING…that we miss out on the BEING part. I get it! We get super busy! How can you find balance, then? Here are some ideas:

  1. Self care. Take time to take care of YOU. In whatever way that may be.

  2. Get out in nature. If you think my people like moon phases…don’t get us started about EARTHING! Take your shoes off, and walk through the grass, or sand, or anywhere for that matter! Or go for a hike!

  3. Turn off your phone. Pay attention to what is going on around you. Truly be there for each experience you are having.

  4. Meditate. Even if for a few minutes. Take some time to pay attention to your breath.

What do you do to find some balance in your busy life? I’d love to hear them!!

lotus heart meditation

lotus_photo.jpg

I have used this meditation at the end of class for years. It's adapted from yogi, Shiva Rea's, Yoga Journal post, and I think it's a great way to help focus the mind internally. Here is a link to the original in Yoga Journal.

5-step Meditation Practice - Dwelling in the Lotus Heart.

Find a comfortable seated position. It can be in a chair, on the floor, on a yoga mat, with your back against the wall, or however you'd like for the amount of time you intend to sit. Setting a timer is a great idea...so you don't have to worry about the time. I love using the Insight Timer app. Rest your hands comfortably in your lap, elongate your spine, and soften your shoulders. Take a few deep breaths, and soften any tension in your body with your exhale.

  1. Begin by reading the following passage from the Upanishads: “Bright but hidden, the Self dwells in the heart. Everything that moves, breathes, opens, and closes lives in the Self-the source of love. Realize the Self hidden in the heart and cut asunder the knot of ignorance here and now.”—The Upanishads (Translated by Eknath Easwaran, Nilgiri Press, 1987)
  2. Bring your attention to your breath. With your next inhale, bring your awareness to the center of your chest. When you exhale, notice any sensations that you feel in your chest. As you keep breathing, continue to notice sensations in your chest...or...as yoga teachers like to refer to it: your "heart center". What does your heart center feel like? Heavy? Light, Warm? Whatever you sense there, just notice.
  3. Next, imagine a beautiful lotus flower in your heart center. Imagine it's petals opening with every inhalation. Stay with this image of the lotus in your heart. Let your awareness rest there.
  4. You can stay with this image of the lotus, or imagine your heart expanding and allow the feelings of love to come up. When other sensations, feelings, or thoughts come up...just notice that they are there, and watch them pass on by. Or, you can let each one rest on the petals of the lotus. Continue to allow your heart to expand with each inhale.
  5. Bring your hands to Anjali Mudra (prayer hands) at your heart, and complete your meditation with a moment of gratitude or reflection. You can bring your awareness to your heart at any time during the day...it will help you to bring forth feelings of love, which is often needed in our crazy swirl of life!