Letting Go of Labels…

As human beings, we’re exactly the same – energy / light in the container of the human body. Unfortunately, we all identify with our many layers of labels, and it prevents us from seeing each other as human beings. Thinking of ourselves as “white” “black” “gay” “straight” “Buddhist” “Christian” “woman” “man” – whatever the label… is an obstacle that prevents us and others from discovering the pure human being in us. Of course, labels are an important part of our ego self-identification, but the label is not the essence of who we are. We get wrapped up in the labels, the notions and images of what the label means, and we fail to recognize each other as simply human beings – energy / light / goodness. It’s all there, underneath the layers of labels that separate us or make us feel more important or different from another person. The practice of peeling away all the labels so that our humanness can be revealed is truly a practice for peace and understanding.

Inspired from reading Your True Home by Thich Nhat Hahn

Yoga Thins The Blood

Yoga thins the blood which can decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke, as they are often caused by blood clots. Twisting poses wring out venous blood from internal organs and allow oxygenated blood to flow in when the twist is released. Inverted poses encourage venous blood flow from the legs and pelvis back to the heart and then pumped through the lungs where it becomes freshly oxygenated. Yoga increases blood flow and levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells which allows for more oxygen to reach the body cells, enhancing their function.

If you practice hot yoga, it’s important to be well-hydrated – for a variety of reasons. One being: hot yoga will only thin the blood in hydrated individuals.  In dehydrated individuals, hot yoga increases blood viscosity, increases muscle fatigue and prevents muscle growth.

(sources: Timothy McCall, M.D and Wendy Shubin, Certified Yoga Therapist)

Listening, Silence, Presence…

A quiet place is a thinktank for the soul. Silence is an endangered species that we must preserve. Silence is not an absence of sound, it’s an absence of noise.

We create a lot of noise. As creatures among other creatures, what sounds of ours can become part of the greater soundscape – part of the silence? What is our message in the sounds that we create? Can we apply our own artistic sense, our own signature, our sense of timing, to the grand performance that creates a sense of place – a peaceful joyous welcoming home or workplace? Through our emmeshed sounds, the whole topography of the surrounding landscape can be revealed. Are our sounds creating noise or are they adding value to our place?

Listening is not about listening for sounds – listening is simply about listening to the place, and taking it all in. Being completely present. After deeply listening, we are all affected. We internalize whatever we have listened to. We live out whatever we listen to – through our later interactions with people. Can we hear the music of the place, of the land, and have it move and inspire us?

We are listening creatures, but our listening abilities are destroyed in noisy environments. In noisy environments, we are cut off from a level of intimacy with each other and we are less in touch. We are busy not listening to this, not seeing that, and we end up closing ourselves off to being fully present.

When we are in a relatively quiet place, we can hear all the information. Quiet places generally tend to be secure places, which calm us. No noise is being jammed into us. Quiet places allow us to open up and be receptive and truly listen. When we are truly listening, we may become changed by what we’ve heard. Real listening is about being vulnerable. A great way to practice real listening is to listen to nature, because we aren’t invested at all in what nature says to us. When we really listen to another person, we dare to risk listening to what they really are saying.

Inspired from listening to On Being w/ Krista Tippett – Gordon Hempton – Silence and the Presence of Everything

Stopping Thoughts…

We can naturally stop our thoughts if we focus our attention fully on our in-breath and our out-breath. After one or two minutes of practice, the quality of our breath will improve. Our breath will become deeper, slower, and more harmonious and peaceful, whether we are lying down, sitting, or walking. By practicing mindful breathing, we bring elements of harmony and peace into our bodies.

In a few breaths, our brain chemistry begins to alter – conscious breathwork helps loosen the grip of anxiety, depression, agitation, stress. Our breath helps create a bit of space to see things more clearly, peacefully. If meditation sounds too difficult, perhaps try breathwork.

(inspiration from “Your True Home” by Thich Nhat Hahn)

Focus on the Positive, Not the Negative…

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it. Life is a beauty, admire it. Life is a dream, realize it. Life is a challenge, meet it. Life is a duty, complete it. Life is a game, play it. Life is a promise, fulfill it. Life is sorrow, overcome it. Life is a song, sing it. Life is a struggle, accept it. Life is a tragedy, confront it. Life is an adventure, dare it. Life is luck, make it. Life is life, fight for it! – Mother Teresa

Asana as an expression of mantra…

Asana = action done with ease and attention.

What if we can change how we experience asana – and have it become an energetic expression of the mantra we are working with, rather than identifying with it as merely as it’s physical form? I’ve been working on my mat with “loving grace” – in every breath, every movement, every posture, I tap into this energy of what it feels like to be in this posture with loving grace. I ask myself what does a loving graceful breath, movement, posture feel like as I’m expressing it. This effort extends to my day – what do my daily routines look and feel like when I’m grounded in loving grace? Working with colleagues in loving grace. Having conversations with family and friends in loving grace. Running errands in loving grace. When I forget, or fall asleep, I wake myself back up and try again. Over time, with practice, we can transform ourselves and our whole experience (perspective) into something more productive for ourselves and our world.

Go Grow!

Yoga For Weight Loss…

I had a student last week ask me if yoga can help you lose weight. Well, sure, but maybe not in the typical way we look at weight loss.

Yoga asana burns some calories, builds muscle, calms the nervous system and helps us live in a rest/digest mode rather than fight/flight mode. But more important for weight loss, I believe yoga helps us look deeply and compassionately at ourselves and see patterns of behavior that are helpful and hurtful to us. 

As we grow in our practice, we naturally desire to take better care of ourselves. We make better choices about what we eat, what we think, what we consume (movies, books, news), who we hang out with, getting good sleep. If we have used food as an emotional or mental crutch, we start to make behavioral changes and begin to use food solely for fuel/medicine. When we are anxious or stressed or depressed or lonely or angry, rather than use food to stuff the emotions, we allow the emotions to move through us and out of us. Rather than over eating junk food, we take a walk, garden, meditate to alleviate our mental health issues.

Obviously, if someone has a deeply engrained pattern of overeating, this change takes a lot of time and effort – and much self-compassion along the ride.

So, yes, yoga helps with weight loss because it helps us slow down, live in the present moment, and connects us to the part of ourselves that has an insatiable desire to live and feel well! We feel our best when we are at an appropriate weight for our body and lifestyle. We feel well when we eat real food and build a diet that works for our individual constitution. 

Breathe In “Serve” Breathe Out “God”

This simple breathing meditation has been incredibly helpful for me and I thought it may be helpful to you, too!

Start becoming aware of your breath and create a slow, deep, even inhale and exhale from your nose. It may be a for a count of 4, 5, or 7 – we all have a different breath cycle, so make it your own deep even breath. As you inhale, meditate on “Serve”. As you exhale, meditate on “God”.

As I move through each moment of my day, I go back to this breathing meditation. When anxiety fills me, or my heart becomes heavy, or my mind starts it’s incessant chitter chatter, I go back to: Inhale Serve, Exhale God. Everything slows down. Crystal clarity returns. Worry resolves itself. Stress melts away. I step back into my true purpose – in each moment, Serve God.

Don’t Make Assumptions…

Inspired by Author Don Miguel Ruiz – The Four Agreements

We have the tendency to make assumptions about everything. The  problem with making assumptions is that we believe they are the truth. We could swear they are real. We make assumptions about what others are doing or thinking – we take it personally – then we blame them and react by sending emotional poison with our word. That is why whenever we make assumptions, we’re asking for problems. We make assumptions, we misunderstand, we take it personally, and we end up creating a whole big drama for nothing.

We create a lot of emotional poison just by making assumptions and taking it personally, because usually we start gossiping about our assumptions. Gossiping is often the way we communicate with each other – transferring poison to one another. Because we are afraid to ask for clarification, we make assumptions, and believe we are right about the assumptions, then we defend our assumptions and try to make someone else wrong.

We make assumptions that everyone sees life the way we do. We assume that others think the way we think, feel the way we feel, judge the way we judge, and abuse the way we abuse. This is the biggest assumption humans make. And this is why we have a fear of being ourselves around others.

The way to keep ourselves from making assumptions is to ask questions. Make sure the communication is clear. If you don’t understand, ask. Have the courage to ask questions until you are clear as you can be, and even then do not assume you know all there is to know about a given situation. Once you hear the answer, you will not have to make assumptions because you will know the truth.

This is difficult to do because we so often do exactly the opposite. We have all these habits and routines that we are not even aware of. Become aware of the habits and understanding the importance of not making assumptions is the first step. Understanding is not enough. What really makes the difference is action. Taking action over and over again strengthens your will, nurtures the seed, and establishes a solid foundation for the new habit to grow.

After many repetitions this new way of being will become second nature, and you will see how your word and your world will become a space of creation, giving, sharing, and loving.

Yoga Videos During Covid

Hello there – I posted a few yoga videos on my YouTube Channel.

I hope this helps yoga practitioners feel well and stay tethered to the peaceful place inside yourself regardless of what’s going on in the world.

With Peace, Love, Inner Light,

Amy