Mindful Monday: It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye

Good Mindful Monday morning, friends!

“Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.”

This has been my mantra this summer, as I prepare to say farewell to my soon-to-be college-bound son. He is a “rising” freshman as I’ve been told they are now referred to.

I’ve been holding on to the preciousness and sanctity of each blessed breath and moment.

And letting go of all of the thoughts of how I could have been a better mom.

I’ve been learning to hang on dearly to memories of all of the laughter and fun and lightness.

To release all of the disappointments and hurts that inevitably happen within a family and a personal relationship.

And to grasp the nuggets of wisdom that result in learning the tough lessons of life.

To hang on to the significance of each “last” before he leaves. Last weekend. Last family dinner. Last Sunday lunch. Last night before he embarks on his new adventure.

And to leave behind the expectations and “shouldas” and “couldas.”

To embrace with gratitude this gift of motherhood.

And to acknowledge that this entire journey has always been about preparing to let go.

To continue to trust in the brilliance of life’s plans.

To relinquish the thought that I ever really had much control over any of it.

To accept in my heart that we all did our best.

And to surrender to the belief that this is exactly how it should unfold.

This morning, I found a brand new park to sit in and write today’s post. It seemed fitting to write my last Mindful Monday before my heart and soul is ripped out and transplanted to another city and state. (Not dramatic at all!)

As I sit on a bench with all the sounds of nature enveloping me, one of these birds flew directly towards me then looped around and flew away! So symbolic. I was completely engrossed in watching the flight. As an afterthought I snapped this picture of that bird with one of his bird friends.

While I am well aware that I’m not the only mother in the history of the world to experience this deep, bittersweet sense of loss; I am definitely feeling connected to every human soul who has, for whatever reason, ever had to say a tough, gut wrenching, totally scary and absolutely necessary farewell.

So when the time comes, I pray for the strength to be able to turn around and paddle away, knowing I’ve done all I can and trusting he will be surrounded with love, support and guidance always.

Wellness Wednesday: protecting your energy

Happy Wellness Wednesday, friends!

Life presents itself with challenges we experience on a daily basis. The everyday sensory input we experience can sometimes become too great that our ability to filter thoughts, emotions and sensations diminishes. We may get down on our self that we are, “too sensitive” when in reality we are far from it. In reality, we are perceptive, empathetic and intuitive with insight that we can offer to those around us. Before we criticize our self and our sensitivity, we must remember we were never taught in school how to protect our own energy from the diversity that pulsates around us constantly.

We can reassure that it not unusual to become drained by the various stimuli we experience. We each emit an energy that can influence others but we decide how we may adapt or respond to such potency. There are some of us that can properly manage this by innate instinct, however, some of us may resort to defense mechanisms as well. Discovering what brings us inner ease becomes an important step in maintaining our unique balance.

There are a multitude of ways to protect our peace. It becomes a sacred practice when we discover our technique. This technique creates a layer so we can consciously regulate and preserve our being despite the external circumstances conducting around us. We find this layer becomes beneficial in times we have become immersed in potent energy too quickly. However, it is important we remind ourselves to avoid isolating ourselves to what we perceive as positive. The energy of laughter, smiles and genuine joy is something we may want to keep around.

 

Namaste!

Angie

 

 

Mindful Monday: Annamaya Kosha

Greetings, mindful ones! Happy Monday.

We are moving into our more deeper and subtler practice of yoga. It’s such an interesting and exciting journey, isn’t it?

The more we start to learn and discover, our realization is that we have just scratched the surface of this deep and ancient practice.

Today we go into more depth of the outermost kosha: the Annamaya. Kosha translates to sheaths or different bodies that cover our true nature/Self. In our ancient texts, “Maya” means illusion. So these sheaths or covers are illusions, skewing our awareness of ultimate self.

An example of maya is if you are looking in the darkness and can just make out the shape of a man standing outside. You are convinced there is a person there because you can see it. Actually, it was the just post of the old fence.

This outer sheath is the literally the body layer—muscles, bones, skin, organs. Anna means food, which is what sustains this level. Asana keeps this kosha healthy and can be used to treat problems that arise in the body.

We exercise this outermost aspect of ourselves, take care of it, nurture it, so that we can both enjoy our external lives and go inward without it being an obstacle during meditation time. In meditation, we become aware of Annamaya kosha, explore it, and then go inward, to and through the other koshas.

When life is out of balance, we must identify the kosha that is troubled and take on practices to help it come back into harmony with the others. Exploring and integrating each layer brings us closer to a state of bliss.

The Koshas can be imagined as nesting dolls. Each sheath or doll covers the innermost doll which is Atman or Self.

Wellness Wednesdays: Intimacy in Touch

Happy Wellness Wednesday, friends!

This past weekend our lovely teacher, Heather, hosted her thai massage workshop. Thai massage was always something I fell interested in learning but always strayed away from as these workshops tend to take place around Valentine’s day where intimate relationships among two people, specifically significant others, are a primary focus.

While the physical touch of massage and romantic intimacy do go hand in hand, it is not limited to only our significant others. Physical touch offers a platonic intimacy we can share with those round us and it becomes vitally important in healing as a whole. A hug, high five, a rub on the back can go a long way.

Small intimate moments of time spent with others are diminished today as we have transitioned from face to face conversations to screens. We may become so absorbed by our mental and emotion being that we forget the sense of being physically present is a factor in the healing process.

Physical touch allows us to access a part of ourselves that longs for a sense of unity with the world around us. We often view  massage as a luxury but it traditionally was an ancient form of healing that allows us to open our energetic pathways allowing us to understand this cycle concept of giving and receiving.


Receiving is a concept many of struggle to practice. We are taught at a young age to constantly be generous and give but we were never properly taught how to graciously receive. If anything a gift is often the source in which embarrassment and feelings of unworthiness unearth.

If we view a gift given in the sense of obligation, the energy shifts from something that shares to something that drains.
A gift given is a gift within itself.
We can share sincere appreciation and gratitude for another’s mindful effort. This cycle of giving and receiving nurtures and benefits all who are involved.

Namaste!
Angie

Mindful Monday: Koshas

Good morning dearest mindful ones!

We have covered the eight limbed path of yoga in depth over the past several months. We learned how a complete yoga practice encompasses mind, body and spirit.

We then went on to the chakras, our energy wheels, to make the energetic connection of mind, body and spirit.

With this foundation of knowledge, we move onto the koshas and see where the chakras fit in to a higher perspective of this human experience.

The koshas give us a complete roadmap for the expression of consciousness in physical form. Developed thousands of years ago by the master swamis, rishis and sages of ancient Hindu culture and high thought, the koshas help us to understand the varied and unique aspects of consciousness that give rise to the human experience. The koshas encompass the mind, the body and the spiritual aspects of consciousness manifested in physical form.

Through our yoga practice, we are developing an understanding of health and the chakras. Learning to work with the koshas is the next logical step on the path of greater integration and operation of the mind, body and spirit triad on a practical and metaphysical level.

Koshas are literally translated to sheaths or layers of the body. Often these sheaths are understood as separate bodies. There are five koshas, which we will delve into a bit more deeply over the next five weeks.

Have a great week, mindful ones!

February 2020 Pose of the Month: Utthita Tadasana or Five Pointed Star Pose

Happy February, oh dearest ones!

Do you want to feel like a superstar? Then this pose is for you!

Five pointed star pose or utthita tadasana is a heart opening and very grounding asana.

The five pointed star yoga pose facilitates deep breathing, improves posture and encourages joy. And when we do it in a squad, we feel both confident and connected to the earth and one another.

Here’s how:

1. From a standing position, step your feet out wide with feet either parallel or toes pointing slightly outward.

2. Extend your arms out wide at shoulder-height or slightly higher with your palms facing forward. Your feet and wrists should be about the same distance apart; adjust your stance if needed.

3. Drive down through your heels and straighten your legs fully, but do not lock or hyperextend your knees. Ground your feet firmly into the earth, pressing evenly across all four corners of both feet.

4. Draw the tops of your thighs up and back, engaging the quadriceps. Tuck in your tailbone slightly, but don’t round your lower back. Lift the back of your thighs, but release your buttocks.

5. Bring your pelvis to its neutral position. Do not let your front hip bones point down or up. Instead, point them straight forward. Draw your belly in slightly.

6. As you inhale, elongate through your torso. Exhale and release your shoulder blades away from your head, toward the back of your waist.

7. Spread your fingers and reach out energetically through your fingertips as you broaden across your collarbones. 

8. Press your shoulder blades toward the back ribs, but don’t squeeze them together. Keep your arms straight, fingers extended, and triceps firm. Allow your inner arms to rotate slightly outward.

9. Lengthen your neck. Your ears, shoulders, and hips should all be in one line.

10. Keep your breath smooth and even. With each exhalation, feel your body elongating in all directions: Up, down, left, right, forward, and backward. Softly gaze forward toward the horizon.

This is one of those poses you can do whenever you need a boost of energy or a shot of confidence!

Wellness Wednesday: Pleasures in Presence

Happy Wellness Wednesday, friends!

At some point we become so engrossed in our work environment that we isolate ourselves unintentionally to the people we experience pleasurable connections with. When we recognize this we may take the step back to reevaluate and incorporate these beings of light back into our daily life to remind ourself of the wholesome it brings us to have those we love in our inner circle.

When we socialize with people we care about we can experience pleasure from their presence. We create an atmosphere of comfort that allows us to feel a sense of gratitude and security when we are with people that truly see us. Listening to those we bring into our inner circle more than expressing our concerns of daily life may be the therapy we need in order to remember the joys of sharing our life with others.

Despite how simple it is to lose the effort it takes to maintain relationships, we realize the effort we make can be a great way to nurture our mental and emotional well being. We are reminded, whether these people stay or float in and out of our inner circle, we always have support of all levels. The various depths of support gives us the opportunity to be more confident in taking the positive risks in our life to initiate growth all while we enjoy the simple pleasure of presence.

Namaste!

Angie

Wellness Wednesday: Teachings From The Sunshine

Happy Wellness Wednesday, sunshines!

“The sun is a daily reminder that we too can rise again from the darkness, that we too can shine our own light”

-S. Anja

This week we have finally experienced sunshine after 11 days!

It’s easy to not recognize how much we benefit from something we may perceive so small. The continuous gloom we became engulfed by causes us to briefly lose sight of the light ahead. We become more irritable, depressed, lonely and moody. The warmth we receive from the sun not only soothes our physical body with our daily dose of vitamin D, but it helps to brighten our thought processes. The sun is a friendly reminder that despite the appearances and cirumstances, it is still remains shining despite our tendency to lose sight of it’s radiance.

When we remind ourselves that somewhere not too far away the light is shining, we can reassure ourself it is only a matter of time before it exposes itself yet again if we maintain patience. While our days may feel still, we can aknowledge on a bigger scale that the universe is in constant motion and so are we.

Our patience provides us the ability to observe and soften our barriers when time is ready to present itself in harmony with our internal energy. But when patience is not our mechanism, we can rely on our teachings from the sun to continue to find light in the smallest of cracks even in the midst of it’s most gloomiest phase.

Despite the cycles of gloom and light, we are reminded our light is never extinguished. Our light is something that is carried within us at all times despite all possible external circumstances. It may take time for us to truly believe we have this light, and that is okay. This light is what connects us to the most precious people we know and shows us proof that the light we seek will always be available internally whether we feel its radiance or not.

Namaste!

Angie

Mindful Monday: Meditation

Happy Monday, dearest mindful ones!

This week’s topic is one near and dear to my heart: meditation.

Did you know that the reason we practice our physical poses is to prepare mind and body to sit easily in meditation?

Yes! So interesting, right? Our asanas allow us to develop more awareness of reality; they discipline our mind and body for stillness; we learn not to react to sensations in the body; we learn to calm mind and body when the urge to run away is overpowering; we become mindful of how our thoughts can be mastered.

Physically, asanas prepare the body, especially hips and spine, to endure staying seated and upright without distractions from physical discomfort. Poses also identify and flush out energetic and muscular stress, tension and resistance. The physical practice paves the way for pranyama, breath awareness, which deepens the focus and slows the mind.

So the ideal opportunity to meditate is directly following asana and pranayama practice.

So what is meditation, exactly? Meditation is a habitual practice of training your mind to focus, redirect and eventually to still your thoughts altogether. Like all things worthwhile in life: it is hard work and it requires discipline and accountability.

“But I don’t have time!” This is not even an original excuse. We make time in our lives for things we prioritize. Wake up five minutes earlier. Cut into your social media time. Take just five minutes at the end of your day.

There are numerous studies and entire books, blogs and documentaries devoted to all of the benefits of a meditation practice. Here are some of the quick and dirty major benefits:

1. Stress release

2. Anxiety reduction

3. Increases focus

4. Decreases blood pressure

5. Promotes better sleep

Just like any new habit/discipline, start out slow and steady!

1. Try to get to yoga class a little early so you can sit and practice mindfulness! You’ll notice a definite shift in your vinyasa practice. This is exactly why we hold quiet space before and after classes.

2. Stay just a few minutes after class to sit quietly. If you’re on a tight timeline, forgo savasana for a seated meditation.

3. Wake up five minutes early and just sit (or lie in bed!) and notice sensations in your body and begin your day with a positive and clear mindset.

4. Take a few minutes right before bed to practice mindfulness. You can sit and observe or you can even do legs up the wall as you release your day and prepare for deep, healing sleep!

5. You can even practice mindfulness when you’re standing in line or sitting in traffic in your car! Or performing daily rituals and repetitive, habitual tasks, e.g.: vacuuming, doing dishes, cleaning bathtub.

Set yourself up for success. Have some short term goals and discipline yourself to stick to them! Not only will you get all the benefits of mindfulness practice, but you’ll get a boost to your self-esteem knowing you are supporting the development of your best and highest self.

Have a great, mindful week, dearest ones! I’d love to hear how your mindfulness practice is developing!

Wellness Wednesday: Wishful Thinking

Happy Wellness Wednesday, friends!

In last week’s post I talked about endings paving the path to new beginnings. While this realization is comforting, there is a transition that we experience. This transition can be a dramatic energy shift to our well beings whether we perceive it as positive or negative and it is something we must cope with in order to stay grounded in the midst of such change. To do so we must maintain optimistic outlooks.

In times of transition it may be easy for us to negatively think of our thoughts as delicate components that enter and leave our minds. These thoughts, however, are what shape and drive our lives towards contentment or dissatisfaction. We decide which thoughts we attach to and this can have a keen effect on our ability to acknowledge growing opportunities, view our talents and outcomes of the personal goals we set.

When we decide to hold onto the thoughts that productively serve us, we hold a space to celebrate the achievements we desire to accomplish. We then feel a sense of confident control over the challenges of transition because we do not perceive the challenges as drastic due to our wishful thinking. Now this does not mean we avoid obstacles, but instead we prioritize the thoughts that enhances our security. Luckily we have all we need within already to cultivate personal contentment. When we decide to tap into this mindset, we will see our desires can realistically be grasped.

Namaste!

Angie

Mindful Monday: Crown Chakra

The Crown Chakra or Sahasrara has no element or thought association and its colors are WHITE and DEEP VIOLET.

Mantra: “I know” or “Aum/Om”

The Sahasrara is located at the crown or top of the head or slightly above the head.

It provides access to higher states of consciousness as we open to what is beyond our personal preoccupations and visions. The function of the crown chakra is driven by consciousness and gets us in touch with the universal.

When your crown chakra is open and balanced, you experience unity and the selfless realization that everything is connected at a fundamental level. The energy of this chakra allows us to experience mystical oneness with everyone and everything in nature.

There is no intellectual knowing at the level of seventh chakra, but there is serenity, joy, and deep peace about life.

You have a sense of knowing that there is a deeper meaning of life and that there is an order that underlies all of existence.

When it is blocked, you may experience feelings of isolation, a sense of alienation or disconnection from life, and a lack of empathy. You lack inspiration, connection to your creativity and may feel you have no purpose in life.

It is the result of being conditioned to believe that we are separate and isolated beings who are defined by the ego, which is fundamental to almost all human beings.

When it is overstimulated, one may be obsessed with spirituality and have a “god complex,” crave attention and sympathy, lack empathy, seem spacey or ungrounded.

To open this chakra, try headstand, rabbit pose (sasangasana) or fish pose. Meditation and pranayama are also very helpful.

Be divine, my dear yogis!