Tag Archives: becoming the best you

Vow To Show Up, Share, Notice…

The yoga sutras tell us that if we want to be successful at yoga, our practice must be steady and consistent, performed over time and done with love. In this way, we foster steadiness in our lives and thoughts.

The bodhisattva is an enthusiastic spiritual practitioner who devotes their life to service and awakening. They do this for the good of themselves, and even more so for the love of all beings.

Vow to show up…pay little attention to any worries about when to practice, what technique, what length of time. The most important thing is to arrive, set our intention to bring our practice to life.

Vow to share…harness the goodness we cultivate and offer it to the world. Through sharing, we ensure this stays alive in our collective hearts and minds.

Vow to notice…our practice is a tool for unearthing and tethering ourselves to the qualities of peace, faith, love, and patience. These benefits show up unannounced when we least expect them and when we most need them. Realize, embrace, notice this gift.

Take our seat, be at ease.

Thank ourselves for taking the time to show up and practice.

Whatever we commit to, wherever we put our energy, will flourish.

Like any relationship, be it yoga practice, a marriage, a business, if it is to grow, there has to be a commitment.

Bring our hands to our heart.

Bow our head in appreciation of these commitments we make to ourselves and others.

I am the bodhisattva of my life, a noble and awakened heart.

I vow to show up.

I vow to share.

I vow to notice.

May this practice fall like a snowflake into the hearts and minds of those in need.

– Author and Yoga Teacher, Gabrielle Harris

Focused Vision, Focused Life…

In yoga, the Sanskrit word drshti (drishtee) is seeing, or inner vision. It also refers to the act of gazing at a focal point. Practicing drshti can be as simple as choosing a spot on the wall to look at to help maintain our balance in a yoga pose. Eventually this external gazing turns into gazing inward, perhaps concentrating on our intuition or heart center. To focus means to steady ourselves, to direct our attention, to concentrate.

Concentration is a limb of yoga (Dharana). It’s just as important as practicing asana/postures. Without concentration, we cannot meditate, and we lose out on the first goal of yoga, which is to steady the chitter chatter of our minds.

To concentrate, we reduce the distractions that surround us. Through drshti, we temporarily narrow the scope of our vision. We temporarily put on blinders so that we can have a deeper experience with one thing rather than a broad experience of many things.

In yoga asana class, discipline yourself to keep your drshti gaze, no matter what posture you are in or how you are moving to / through them. Be aware of the room and other practitioners, yet narrow your focus, keep your eyes still and relaxed, gazing at one spot. Work to also keep your body still between postures and during postures. Lessen your fidgeting – for yourself, and also for other practitioners. Yogis work to limit our negative impacts on others – our movements, our words, our actions. Be rigorous, self-disciplined, and compassionate with yourself.

In this way, we begin to direct not just our attention, but also our lives. The more we practice concentrating and paying attention, the easier it becomes. We learn we can sharpen into focus, and then go back out broad with our level of awareness. We become very efficient, because our minds stay still while we perform the task at hand. We begin to tether ourselves to this deep well of peace within us, no matter how hectic things are around us.

Intuition Is Soul Guidance…

Intuition is soul guidance, appearing naturally in man during those instants when his mind is calm. Nearly everyone has had the experience of an inexplicable correct “hunch” or has transferred his thoughts effectively to another person.

The human mind, free from the static of restlessness, can perform through its antenna of intuition all the functions of complicated radio mechanisms – sending and receiving thoughts and tuning out undesirable ones. As the power of a radio depends on the amount of electrical current it can utilize, so the human radio is energized according to the power of will possessed by each individual.

All thoughts vibrate eternally in the cosmos. By deep concentration, a master is able to detect the thoughts of any mind, living or dead. Thoughts are universally and not individually rooted; a truth cannot be created, but only perceived. The erroneous thoughts of man results from imperfections in his discernment. The goal of yoga science is to calm the mind, so that without distortion, it may mirror the divine vision in the universe. – Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda

Soul guidance, intuition, is achieved through a calm mind. Calm mind is achieved through distancing ourselves from the chitter chatter of our minds. In yoga, we learn 95% of our thoughts are misperceptions – why on earth would we rely on our thoughts for our answers, especially when intuition is accessible to us? To tap into intuition, the mind is still, no waves. We need extreme discipline of the mind, and our actions, to tether ourselves to our intuition. Is our society, in all of our petty grievances, truly mirroring the divine vision in the universe? What can we do individually to allow the pendulum to swing towards, rather than away from, this divine vision? Take ownership and responsibility for our minds, meditate, practice pranayama and asana, limit our intake of unnecessary or unproductive information and conversations, maintain a Drishti gaze, practice staying in the present moment as if we are training for an iron man, compassionately yet firmly, directing the mind back each time it wanders.

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

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

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.

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

The Best Way To Get Yourself Out Of A Negative Emotional Loop…

Inspired from an article by Eric Barker and neuroscience researcher Alex Korb

What am I grateful for

 

 

 

 

Sometimes we get into these “moods” and it feels like our whole being has a desire to stay stuck in a negative emotion. We know we aren’t being our best versions of ourself, but can’t seem to shift back into positivity, peace, and calm.

The best thing to ask yourself:

What am I grateful for?

Gratitude affects your brain at the biological level. Gratitude boosts the neurotransmitter dopamine.

The benefits of gratitude start with the dopamine system, because feeling grateful activates the brain stem region that produces dopamine. Additionally, gratitude toward others increases activity in social dopamine circuits, which makes social interactions more enjoyable…

Gratitude boosts the neurotransmitter serotonin.

One powerful effect of gratitude is that it can boost serotonin. Trying to think of things you are grateful for forces you to focus on the positive aspects of your life. This simple act increases serotonin production in the anterior cingulate cortex.

Sometimes life gets really messy and negative and it’s hard to find one thing to be grateful for – and guess what, it doesn’t matter – it’s the slowing down to think about gratitude.

It’s not finding gratitude that matters most; it’s remembering to look in the first place. Remembering to be grateful is a form of emotional intelligence. One study found that it actually affected neuron density in both the ventromedial and lateral prefrontal cortex. These density changes suggest that as emotional intelligence increases, the neurons in these areas become more efficient. With higher emotional intelligence, it simply takes less effort to be grateful.

Gratitude is a ripple effect – it helps you feel happier and, if you express gratitute to other people in your life, it extends into those relationships.