Archive for December, 2010

Yoga for the New Year! Resolutions, Intensions, Creating a Practice Habit

December 29, 2010

The New Year is the perfect time for introspection; it’s a time to evaluate or lives and set goals for the coming year.

Perhaps it is finally time to start an early morning practice, or a 15-minute evening meditation.  Examine your life and set some intentions.

In Yoga an INTENTION is not a goal for the future.  An INTENTION is focused in the present moment.

A goal may be “I want to loose weight”
But your INTENTION maybe “I am eating healthy”

What are you looking for in your life?
Weight Loss? Wealth?  Stress Relief? Patience? Forgiveness?  Compassion?

Set your intention in the positive present.

I love myself
I am eating healthy
I have an abundance of wealth
I am relaxed
I have endless patience
I forgive___________________
I am a compassionate person

Remind yourself of your intention constantly.

Resolving to begin a new Practice habit?

Determine reasons why you want to develop a Practice (or anything else)
Health?  Flexibility?  Stress Relief? Blood Pressure?….

Just Begin!  This is so important; most people spend a lot of time getting the right clothes, music, equipment, ect the entire process becomes overwhelming.  The most important thing is to just begin!

Set a routine and to stick to it. (Research suggests it take 14 – 28 days to form a habit)

Remind yourself of your intention constantly, both on the Yoga mat and off.

Make if fun, find music you enjoy, practice with friends, or take a class.

Celebrate your victories!
Did you stick to your plan for a week?  YAY! You!, Are you able to touch your toes?  Hold an Asana longer? Congratulate yourself for doing your best.

Pick a Challenging Asana and perfect it in 2011

Try some Mood Improving INVERSIONS!

Learn about New Year Traditions for Love and Luck HERE!

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Try some mood lifting, headache relieving, alertness and focus improving Inversions…

December 29, 2010

Shoulder Stand – Sarvangasana

Build up to Shoulder stand with Legs Up the Wall, or a wall supported Shoulder stand:  Begin with your legs up the wall, your bottom should be very close to the wall.  Bend your knees and bring your feet onto the wall.  Press your feet into the wall and lift your bottom from the floor.  Bring your hands to your upper back.  Try lifting first one leg, then the other off of the wall. Lay on your back with your arms resting on the floor over your head.  Roll Backwards, lifting your hips off the floor.  Bring your hands to your upper back and straighten your legs.  Slowly begin to lift your feet off of the floor, work your hands closer to the mat to straighten your pose.  There should be no neck pain.  When you are ready to come out of Shoulder Stand, carefully, lower your feet to the floor over your head and unroll.

Forearm Stand*– Pincha Mayurasana (Bent Arm Balance, Feathered Peacock)

Try Dolphin to build up arm and shoulder strength, then move your dolphin pose to the wall, and try to kick your legs up (head remains off the floor).  Kicking up takes practice, stick with it and you’ll achieve a Forearm stand in no time!

Handstand* – Adho Mukha Vrksasana

Build up some arm strength with a supported handstand.  Try coming into Down Dog with your heels at the wall.  Then, begin to walk your feet up the wall, eventually into a handstand with your toes on the wall.  When you are ready, turn your Down Dog around so that your hands and back of the head are near the wall.  Practice kicking your legs up (Head stays off the floor).

Headstand* – Shirshasana

Build up strength in Tripod.  When you are ready to begin headstand, try to come to a Forearm Down Dog, heels to the wall.  Walk your feet up the wall.  When you are ready turn your Forearm Down Dog around, hands near the wall, try to kick your legs up.  Be careful; try not to put your weight on your head.  You should be able to slide a credit card between your head and the floor.

*Try to remain in your inversion for 3-5 minutes. Rest in Child’s Pose when you come down from your inversion.

Not quite ready for head, hand or arms stands?

Try Down Dog, Dolphin, Tripod, Legs up the Wall, Rag Doll, Standing Split, or any pose where your head is lower than your heart.


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Celebrating the New Year with Traditions to Bring Love and Luck!

December 28, 2010

Celebrating the New Year dates back to Babylon around 2000BC (4,000 years ago).  The Babylonian New year began with the First New Moon after the Vernal Equinox, a time of planting and rebirth.  Jan. 1 has no real astronomical or agricultural meaning.  In 46BC, Julius Caesar established January 1 as New Year’s Day.  This day was dedicated to Janus the god of gates, doors and beginnings.  Janus (who January was named for) had two faces, one looking forward and one looking back.

Cultures all over the world celebrate the New Year with diverse traditions and superstitions.

Here are a few of my favorites….

  • Sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ at Midnight**
  • Pay off Bills/Debt before the first of the year (no debt in the new year)
  • Wear new clothes on Jan. 1 (so you will get more new garments in the coming year)
  • Fill your Cabinets with food before 1/1. (Never be hungry in the new year)
  • Place money in every wallet (for prosperity)
  • A tall dark haired man should be the first visitor to your home (lucky)
  • Christmas Tree bonfires (purge the old) -Netherlands
  • Ring bells 108 times (chase away troubles)-Japan
  • Make loud noises at midnight (drive away evil spirits)
  • Do some work on 1/1 (brings success)
  • Eat 12 grapes at midnight (12 months of happiness)-Spain
  • Midnight Kiss (good relationships)

In Greece, New Year’s Day is also the Feast of Saint Basil. At midnight on New Year’s Eve, St. Basil fills children’s shoes with gifts

Foods that bring luck when eaten on New Year’s Day

  • Black-Eyed Peas*
  • Cabbage
  • Pork
  • Rice
  • Circular Food like a doughnut (symbolizes coming full circle)

*Black-Eyed Peas Recipe

  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 3 C chopped onions
  • 4 chopped garlic cloves
  • 15 oz vegetable stock
  • 4 C dry black-eyed peas
  • 5 C water (use more if needed)
  • 2 15oz cans whole tomatoes
  • 3 T. tomato paste
  • 2 T. dark brown sugar

Heat oil in a large pot (high heat)
Sauté onions and garlic until the onions are translucent
Add remaining ingredients
Bring to a boil.
Turn the heat to low and simmer for 2 hours or until the peas are tender. (Add water if necessary)
Salt & Pepper to taste

**Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup of kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!

And there’s a hand my trusty fiere,
And gie’s a hand o thine,
And we’ll tak a right guid-willie waught,
For auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup of kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!

Related Post – Yoga pose for New Year’s Day – Gate Pose

Find more Good Luck Rituals Around the World HERE

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Here Comes the Sun….Yoga for Lengthening Days, Sun Salutation

December 22, 2010

The Winter Solstice has pasted and finally the days are getting longer.

What better way to celebrate the increasing daylight, than with Sun Salutations?

Try this Salute to the Sun Facing East, the location of the rising sun, a symbol of the dawn of consciousness.

Sun Salutation A

Posture: Surya-namaskar A
Pronunciation: soor-yee-ah-nahma-skar

Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

Inhale, arms up

Exhale, fold forward

Inhale, look up-flat back

Ex, Plank; Slowly lower down (Chaturanga Dandasana)

In, Up Dog (Upward Facing Dog)

Ex, Down Dog: 5 Breaths (Downward Facing Dog)

In, Feet to hands; Look up-flat back.

Ex, fold forward

In, Reverse Swan dive up to standing

See an Animated Gif of Sun Salutation A HERE

Sun Salutation B

Posture: Surya-namaskar B
Pronunciation: soor-yee-ah-nahma-skar

Mountain Pose. Tadasana

IN- Chair Pose – Utkatasana

EX Forward Bend – Uttanasana

IN- Look Up, Flat Back

EX-Plank. Four Limbed Staff Pose – Chaturanga Dandasana

IN- Upward Facing Dog – Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

EX-. Downward Facing Dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana

IN- Right Foot Forward Warrior I – Virabhadrasana I

EX- Plank Four Limbed Staff Pose – Chaturanga Dandasana

IN- Upward Facing Dog – Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

EX- Downward Facing Dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana5 breaths

IN- Left Foot Forward Warrior I – Virabhadrasana I

EX- Plank Four Limbed Staff Pose – Chaturanga Dandasana

IN- Upward Facing Dog – Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

EX-Downward Facing Dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana

Step, feet to hands, Standing Forward Bend – Uttanasana

IN-Awkward Chair Pose – Utkatasana

EX-Samasthiti (Tadasana)

Repeat beginning with left foot forward in Warrior I

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Welcome to Winter! The Winter Solstice, Artimis & Yoga

December 21, 2010

Welcome to Winter!

The Winter Solstice is today, Celebrate with your Yoga Practice!

Artemis is the Goddess of the Moon!

Honor her and the longest night of the year with Moon Salutations and Bow & Archer Asanas.

The moon is associated with the divine feminine.  In ancient societies Women’s cycles were linked to the phases of the moon.

Artemis is the Goddess of the Hunt and is symbolized with a Crescent Moon.  The daughter of Zeus and Leto, Aretmis did not associate with men, or allow them to rule her. (YAY!  Ancient Feminism!).  Artemis’ bow is symbolic of both the Crescent Moon & of self-esteem.

Artemis is the Patroness to singers, protector of young girls, mistress of magic, sorcery, enchantment, psychic power, women’s fertility, purification, sports, good weather for travelers, woodlands, the hunt, mental healing, wild animals, mountains, woodland medicines, healing.

Some of her Totem   Animals are the:  dog, hawk, quail, horse, cats, wolf, antelope, bear, bull, deer, goat, bee and the UNICORN.

So for our Winter Solstice Yoga Practice, We will begin with

A few minutes of seated meditation, and centering.
Set an affirmation or an intention for your practice.  I like:

Personal peace, one by one,
Grows into

A peaceful world home for everyone.
(the above affirmation for peace was found HERE)

When you are ready to begin…
Do a few warm up poses:


Rainbow Side Stretch

Down Dog, Walking the Dog


Thread the Needle Twist

Child’s Pose to

A Squat

Rag Doll

Mountain Pose
Recenter, Take a Few Slow Deep Breaths.  Repeat your affirmation or an intention….

Personal peace, one by one,
Grows into

A peaceful world home for everyone.

We will begin the most active part of our practice with a  few
Chandra Namaskar (Moon Salutations)

We will move into some Balance Poses, Try
½ Moon Balance
Revolved ½ Moon Balance
½ Moon Balance Variation:
Bend your raised leg behind you and reach back to hold your foot with your same hand (1/2 moon Bow Variation)

Repeat Balance Poses on both Sides.

To Balance the Feminine Moon Poses, we will move into a Warrior Poses (Masculine)

Begin in Warrior 1
Then open torso and arms into Archer Pose Warrior: Begin with legs and torso in Warrior I.  With the right leg forward, bring both arms up to shoulder height, parallel to the floor, and over the bend right leg.  Slowly begin to pull the left arm back (as if pulling an arrow back on a bow).  As your left arm pulls across the chest, open the left shoulder and hip into a Warrior II position.  Left elbow remains bent and the forearm is parallel to the floor.  Drishti is out over the right arm. (Repeat with the Left leg forward)

Do the beginning part of Sun Salutation to

Plank Pose

Lower to Belly

Bow Pose

Child’s Pose

Come to a Seated Cobbler’s Pose

Shooting Bow Posehold Big toes with your Peace Fingers (Index & Middle Fingers).  Bring your left leg into your chest (Knee is bent).  Begin to extend your Right leg to your full expression of the pose.  Straighten Back, Dristi is over your Right toes.  Repeat on the opposite side.

Cobblers Pose

Swish legs from side to side to release the intense hip stretch
Gently roll onto your back

Upward Bow Pose (Wheel)
Hug Knees into your chest and roll from side to side.

Rotated Stomach Posture

Repeat your affirmation here:

Personal peace, one by one,
Grows into

A peaceful world home for everyone.


I sing of Artemis, whose shafts are of gold, who cheers on the hounds, the pure maiden, shooter of stags, who delights in archery…..Over the shadowy hills and windy
peaks she draws her golden bow, rejoicing in the chase, and sends out grievous   shafts…..when she is satisfied and has cheered her heart, this huntress who delights  in arrows slackens her supple bow and goes to the great house of her dear brother   Phoebus Apollo, to the rich land of Delphi, there to order the lovely Muses and Graces.  – Homer

Winter Solstice Ritual

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Dharana-teaching the mind to focus on one point or image (prepares us for Dhyana)

December 15, 2010

Dharana-teaching the mind to focus on one point or image

Immovable concentration of the mind is the underlying principle of Dharana. The essential idea is to hold the concentration or focus of attention in one direction. The mind needs to be stilled in order to achieve this state of complete absorption.  The goal is to still the mind, gently pushing away superfluous thoughts by fixing your mind on some object such as a candle flame, a flower, or a mantra. In dharana, concentration is effortless. You know the mind is concentrating when there is no sense of time passing.

  • Shotra    — ears
  • Chakshu — eyes
  • Grahna    — nose
  • Jivha — tongue
  • Tvak — skin

Shotra    — ears

Mantra is a sound, syllable, word or group of words that are considered capable of creating transformation

Example – to say the word om:

Take a deep breath in; as you release it say the oooooooooooooooo until the air is about 3/4 released then say the mmmmmm.

Chakshu — eyes

Visualization: you can visualize a beach, or a flower or the OM symbol or to concentrate on the point between the eyebrows, the Ajna Chakra or the third eye.

Grahna — nose

Pranayama: Focus on your breath

Example Sheetali:  Sit comfortably. Draw out the tongue and roll it up from the sides to form a tube like opening. Slowly suck the air through it and fill the lungs completely. After full inhalation withdraw the tongue and close the mouth. Then slowly exhale through the nose. Repeat.

Learn More Pranayama HERE

Jivha — tongue

Taste: Focus on eating a piece of fruit

Example – Close your eyes and see if you can smell the fruit. Lick your lips and rub the fruit over your lips. How does it feel? Now lick your lips. Can you taste the trace flavor of the fruit? Hold the it in your mouth, and roll it around. How does it feel in your mouth? As you chew, notice the immediate change in the intensity of the flavor. Slowly chew  while resisting the urge to swallow. Sit a little taller and notice if posture affects your appreciation for the fruit. Breathe deep. Does breathing help you enjoy the taste? Relax your face and smile. Notice how smiling improves the taste of fruit.

Tvak — skin

Touch: Walking Meditation

Example – Be mindful while walking, make each step a gesture, move in a state of grace. Walk with slow, small, deliberate, balanced, graceful foot steps. Then, when both the breath & walking have slipped into a regular pattern, become aware of the number of footsteps per breath (2, 3 or 4 steps per inhalation and 2, 3 or 4 steps per exhalation). When you have discovered your natural rhythm, lock into it, so that the rhythm of the walking sets the rhythm for the breath like a metronome.

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Pratyahara- Drawing senses inward (prepares us for dharana)

December 3, 2010

Pratyahara is the withdrawal or control of senses. It is most commonly known for sensory inhibition.  This occurs during meditation, pranayama or asana wherein you are so focused and immersed on your Yoga, Meditation or Breathing Pose that you become unaware of outside situations. Your focus becomes inward and you are no longer distracted by outside events.

Pranayama is derived from two Sanskrit words: prati and ahara, where prati means away or against and ahara meaning food, or anything taken into ourselves. So, Pratyahara literally means “to withdraw oneself from that which nourishes the senses.”

You can induce Pratyahara by reducing physical stimuli, and concentrating on one sense.

  • Shotra    — ears
  • Chakshu — eyes
  • Grahna    — nose
  • Jivha — tongue
  • Tvak — skin

Shotra    — ears

Sit in a dark room and listen to the sounds out side the room.  Concentrate.  Begin to separate the sounds.  Notice the cars driving by, the sound of the birds in the trees, a mother calling her child.

Chakshu — eyes

Close your ears with ear plugs and take time to look at a familiar object.  Notice, the color, the shape, the length, the with.  Notice everything about the objuct.

Grahna    — nose

Use essential oils or a sented candle.  Sit in a dark quiet room.  Close your eyes and concentrate on the sent of the candle.  How does it make you feel?  What memories doe the smell invoke?

Jivha — tongue

Eat slowly in a dark , quiet room.  How does the food taste?  Does it taste differently than when you can see the food.  Does it tase differently when your only focus is the food?

Tvak — skin

Sit in a quiet dark room.  Hold a familiar object in your hands.  See it with your touch.  How does your object feel?  Is it cold or warm?  Smooth or sharp?

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