I love this time of year. Okay, so maybe I’m over winter by February, but the magic and celebratory nature of late December is special to me.
One of the things I enjoy the most is balancing the busy-ness of the holiday season by tuning in to nature’s wisdom.
Winter Solstice, otherwise known as Yule, is the longest night of the year. It invites us to turn inward, to embrace the nurturing, creative potential of darkness, and be grateful for all that has come before.
It also invites us to see the light renewed, as, from this point forward, the days will grow until we reach Summer Solstice once again.
On the cycles turn, asking us to flow with the ever changing weaving of life.
I offer you this meditation as one way to observe this potent time:
Often, when you focus on others and all the things that must be done, it can be challenging to take time to care for yourself. It’s easy to get lost in the busyness of this season, especially.
Spending time with people and being productive are great! But it’s vital to stay centered in yourself, too.
Here are some ideas to help:
1. Be present. The potency of who you are and what life is all exists in the current moment. Show up. Be here. Now. This is vital.
2. Focus on love. It has been said that there are only ever two choices: fear or love. Choose love. Every time.
3. Remember who you are. Yoga offers the perspective that all of life is intertwined, truly all is One. The energy that breathes you, that weaves the Universe, lives within you and experiences itself as you.
You are Divine. It is very human to forget this, so lovingly remind yourself as often as necessary. 🙂
As yoga reminds us, again and again, if in doubt, just breathe.
Take a few deep breaths, center into yourself, and bring the blessings of the moment to the forefront of your experience.
Today’s message is short and sweet, a simple reminder that your breath can be your best friend.
Yesterday I stepped outside and found myself absolutely engaged in the beauty of my breath. I’d been sitting at the computer for a while, probably slouched over, and wasn’t feeling particularly energetic or centered.
Yet, after only a couple of minutes of standing tall and letting my breath flow, there was a noticeable and welcome change in my entire body.
So, please consider this an invitation:
Sit tall, breathe deep.
If you can, go outside for some fresh air, and notice the difference it makes.
If you want to take it a step further, envision the way your lungs expand, gratefully moving in all directions as you inhale the life-force of prana.
As you exhale, feel how you can effortlessly invite your body to expel just a little bit more air, gently releasing toxins or any feelings that no longer serve you.
Each inhale is a chance to start fresh, to bring more peace and wellbeing.
Each exhale is an opportunity to relax, release.
Delicious, isn’t it?
Want to make it even better? Smile! Yep, that’s right. Feels good, doesn’t it?
In the quiet this morning, while breastfeeding my sleepy twin babies, the following meditation came to me.
Strange, perhaps, that I was sort of multitasking while meditating. However, breathing deeply and centering in can happen anywhere. It only takes a few minutes or even just a few breaths to connect to your divine truth.
First I’ll give you the mantra that came to me, then the meditation/visualization that came with it. You can use it as-is or make any alterations that feel right to you.
Using the mantra in repetition allows you to build the strength of the visualization.
I am one with God
I am a child of the Goddess
I am an expression of Divinity
I am Love
I am bathed in Light
(A note on God/Goddess: This mantra honors Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine, yet in the grand scheme of things, all is one. Again, work with what you believe and all is well.)
Sit comfortably in the best posture for you at this time.
Relax any unnecessary tension in your body.
Inwardly, allow the mantra and the accompanying visualizations to guide you to your natural state of harmony.
“I am one with God.”
Imagine as a golden beam of light comes from your divine self through your crown chakra into you. It purifies and balances your chakras, core, physical body and light body. You are now fully glowing in golden light.
“I am a child of the Goddess.”
With your intention see the grounding connection that extends from your root chakra into the very core of the earth. From there a brilliant blue ray of light rises through your entire core and reverberates in your being.
“I am an expression of Divinity.”
Feel the divine resonance of the golden light that surrounds you, and the beautiful blue light that dances within you. You are pure, grounded, and your awareness becomes clearer with each breath.
“I am Love.”
Feel a rose-white light emerge from within your heart. It grows to fill your entire body, and the blue light expands to surround you.
“I am bathed in Light.”
Breathe and feel every cell of your body sparkle with light.
Remember, you can alter this meditation and mantra so they are perfect for your own beliefs and preferences. The main thing is to align with your divine truth and feel yourself awash with light! Enjoy. 🙂
How does it feel to sit up tall and take a deep breath?
To me it feels so good! Amazing how refreshing it can be to simply create the space to b-r-e-a-t-h-e.
Whenever I feel overwhelmed or frustrated, if I check in I notice that my posture has collapsed and my breath is shallow. All it takes is a moment to mindfully re-align and connect with my breath.
It can make all the difference in the world.
Balancing poses in yoga can have a similar effect. Even tadasana (mountain pose) can work wonders if you give it a minute or two in the midst of a busy day. Another favorite is tree pose (vrksasana).
Really, anything positive that draws your complete attention to one focus in the present moment, especially when it blends body, mind and breath, can instantly bring a tremendous sense of balance to life.
Perhaps you’d like to take a moment right now to stand beautifully and breathe, or do a simple balancing pose, or take a walk and breathe some fresh air.
It’s helpful to remember that you have the power to create balance in your life at any moment. Even if it feels like you’re living in a whirlwind, you can take a breath and create calm within.
It is a fun and comprehensive guide to infuse your life with the magical balance of power, love and wisdom! Breathe new inspiration into your daily yoga practice of asana, pranayama, meditation and more!
P.S. All those in favor of tree pose in random places, say “aye!”
P.P.S. Here’s a recent pic of me and my boys at a magnificent tree near New Orleans. We’re enjoying the fresh air and the earth beneath our feet.
As I was taking savasana at the end of my yoga practice this morning, my mind wandered (as it does) to a curious place. I thought about the many ways the very young (and young at heart) behave and live, and how so many of the things they do can keep us healthy, happy and vibrant at any age.
So, here’s a list of ideas, inspired by children, to help you feel young:
Sleep as much as you want
When you’re awake, move constantly
Play whenever possible
Don’t wear shoes if you can help it
Go outside every day, as many times as you can
Eat dirt (or at least play in it, without your shoes on)
Cry when you feel like it
Let your emotions move (sure, you might be upset one moment, but it’s okay to giggle the next minute)
Eat good food (nourish yourself with the same care you would a precious baby)
Never stop discovering the world
Take pleasure in the simplest things
Delight in spending time with family and those you love
For most of us, it seems time has sped up and is flying by. I know it’s not just me, but when I think that my baby boys are nearly 8 months old, it’s astounding!
So how do we enjoy life, rather than feeling overwhelmed by too many tasks and too little time? Is it possible to befriend time, or at least not be bothered by the fact that it seems to be in such a hurry?
Here are some ideas:
Breathe. Yes, it is the most basic thing in life, and taking a few deep breathes (or even just one!) when you’re feeling overwhelmed can make all the difference. Also, when you find those moments of calm, being mindful of your breath at those times makes it even more reassuring and peaceful.
Slow down when you can. Meditation and yoga are great ways to do so, but even just allowing yourself to sit down in the midst of a busy day, eat a meal without doing anything else, or just close your eyes or take a 10 minute nap can give you the boost you need to keep going.
Don’t fight it. It never works to resist what is. Instead, see if you can find ways to celebrate the passing of time on a regular basis. Sunday family dinners, or special Saturday hikes perhaps?
Be present. People keep telling me to enjoy my babies while they’re little, that they grow so fast! I know this is true, and am doing my best to be present. This goes for all of us, though, because the more you’re present in the moment, the more enjoyment you receive and the clearer the memories will be once the moment has passed.
Encourage yourself. Be proud of yourself when you’ve accomplished something or had a productive day. Be just as proud of yourself if you take 10 minutes to do Legs Up the Wall pose, or give yourself permission to take a day off!
Let go of tasks that don’t serve you, asking yourself “Is this really important right now?”
Did I mention taking a deep breath? Oh yes, I did.
I hope that gives you some ideas, or simply a few reminders, of ways to flow with the current of time. In the big picture, often it is not the little things that we need to do that matter, but the quality of life overall. Let that be your focus, and maybe you will find yourself laughing next time you flip the calendar to a new month and wonder how it’s May already!
Because time seems to be racing for me personally, I’ve chosen not to offer any more classes in the foreseeable future. There is simply too much to do and two little babies to enjoy. 🙂
If you’re able to join me for the 2 hour mini-retreat I’m teaching this coming Sunday, it would be wonderful to see you there!
Quotes on Time:
“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” ~ Marthe Troly-Curtin
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrowhas not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
~ Mother Teresa
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
~ J.R.R. Tolkien
Reconnecting with yourself is what yoga is all about. Not just part of who you are, but the wholeness, the fullness of YOU.
In every day life, it’s easy to get caught up in your mind, tangled in thoughts of past and future, and often just scrambling to get by. Your sense of self can become cloudy or dulled by inside pressure and outside events.
Yoga offers a way to create clarity: to breathe away the inner “dust” on the mirror of the heart and remember your true, sparkling nature.
I don’t plan to teach another class until the fall (if then), so please come out and enjoy this chance to immerse yourself in the flow of your practice and the sound of my voice.
My theme for this Sunshine Sunday is “Into the Sanctuary of the Heart.” Here’s what you can expect:
I’ll lead you through an invigorating, active asana session that will help you get out of your head and into the moment. Though challenging, this portion of the class is still moderately paced and variations are offered for any skill level.
After some juicy hip openers and freeing chest openers, we’ll slow things down and I’ll invite you to follow your breath right into the center of yourself with a short but satisfying meditation.
We’ll finish with a deeply healing restorative session, allowing every system of your body, including your internal organs and nervous system, a chance to relax and receive nourishment on a profound level.
And, of course, I will sing to you in savasana.
The ultimate practice, of course, is to maintain a sense of presence in each moment.
And we can all do this, day by day, holding the intention to come back to the heart again and again, each time we get pulled too far into our heads.
Classes like the upcoming Sunshine Sunday help to restore that practice by creating a clear, powerful resonance with who you truly are. Not that it is ever lost, for YOU are always full and whole, it’s just a chance to remember that truth in such a way that the experience is enhanced in a beautiful and profound way.
There are many ways to ground yourself. One is to simply breathe deeply and feel yourself in the here and now, on this beautiful planet as the person you are.
Yoga, of course, is a great way to feel grounded, especially doing hip openers and restorative yoga (which you can do if you join me for my Sunshine Sunday class May 3rd.)
There are also energetic ways to ground yourself, such as envisioning a grounding cord of light connecting you to the core (what I like to think of as the star heart) of the earth.
But perhaps the most simple and enjoyable way is to take off your shoes and stand or walk on the nourishing surface of the Earth!
It feels so good to walk on the Earth with bare feet. On grass or sand, in moss or mud, in the shallows of the ocean or the rocky bed of a creek, having a direct connection with the natural world is a very good thing to do!
This morning I took a walk with my dog, and halfway through it decided to take off my shoes.
I finished the walk in my bare feet, and it gave me tremendous energy!
When I returned to where my friend and babies were hanging out, we took the socks off the boys and helped them stand with their skin touching the ground. When they were ready for a change, they laid on their bellies and played with fistfuls of grass, trying out the taste of grass and dirt. Yep, those are my country boys!
You know that being on the Earth in bare feet is good for you because it feels so good, but beyond that, there’s actually science to prove that grounding yourself by connecting to the Earth has health benefits galore. They call it Earthing, or grounding. I call it delicious!
The Earth offers us the energetic balance to the human body. Its effect is stronger than any antioxidant you can ingest. Perhaps that’s why gardeners feel so good when they have their hands in the earth, and why people who walk bare foot a lot tend to be of robust health.
In the Journal of Environmental and Public Health, researchers came to the following conclusion:
“Emerging evidence shows that contact with the Earth—whether being outside barefoot or indoors connected to grounded conductive systems—may be a simple, natural, and yet profoundly effective environmental strategy against chronic stress, ANS [autonomic nervous system] dysfunction, inflammation, pain, poor sleep, disturbed HRV [heart rate variability], hypercoagulable blood, and many common health disorders, including cardiovascular disease.
The research done to date supports the concept that grounding or earthing the human body may be an essential element in the health equation along with sunshine, clean air and water, nutritious food, and physical activity.”
Physically, walking bare foot helps to engage, strengthen and even massage the muscles and fascia of the feet. If your feet hurt from plantar fasciitis, or just from fatigue, it can give them some welcome therapy.
Being bare foot on the Earth also means you’re outside receiving the other benefits of fresh air and sunshine, plus hopefully some exercise, peace and relaxation. It is good for the soul as well as the physical body, so do take every opportunity you can to get grounded and enjoy!
Here’s a fun video from Sesame Street, for children young and not quite so young, encouraging just what I’ve been talking about here.