Another chant I learned a few years ago that still sticks with me is "Om Namah Shivaya Gurave," the Anusara Invocation, though I'm not an 'Anusara Yogi.' To me it's beautiful, and I love the meaning. Find the chant, translation and my version below.
You love yoga. You love the way it makes you feel, the way you see yourself through the practice, everything it stands for. Yoga means union; it helps us connect mind, body and spirit. Sometimes un-namable, it makes us FEEL things we never felt before. If you're like me, you want to practice every day, but life says otherwise. I'm a yoga teacher and I don't practice in the typical sense every day. Luckily yoga is so vast, there are thousands of things you can do to practice. These days, my intention is to get on my mat two to three times per week, but I practice every day in other ways. It may be five minutes of breathing, a twenty minute meditation or studying yogic philosophy. Sometimes it's an intentional walk in nature. Over the years, I've discovered many ways to incorporate the practice into every single day, without ever stepping onto my mat. Here are ten ways for you to get started, with audio included on a few:
Try this 8 step office yoga sequence whenever you need a break in your day. It's a great moving meditation to bring you back to center. If you'd rather listen to the practice (which I recommend), go here. SETTING THE TONE & INTENTION. Sit at your desk with feet flat on the floor. (If you're able to take your shoes off, spread your toes and evenly distribute your weight throughout your feet, that's great. If not, do your best with shoes on.) Ground your sit bones into your seat. Let your spine grow tall. Relax your shoulders away from your ears. Close your eyes if possible. Notice how you feel. SETTLING INTO THE BREATH. Begin to take long, slow conscious breaths, counting each inhale and each exhale, attempting to match their length. Continue breathing, slow, rhythmic breaths throughout your practice.
We get so busy living that we forget. We never stop. We uphold our importance. We don't see the big picture. We live as though this is the only day, as though this (fill in the blank) is all that matters. We take ourselves so seriously. If we can learn to stop, or at least slow down; widen our experience, recognize that we are a drop in the ocean, a piece of the puzzle instead of the whole puzzle, life will make a lot more sense.
I have a lump on the side of my breast. I discovered it three days ago, just after a boudoir shoot I did for my husband. I felt sexy, empowered, beautiful and strong, followed by every opposite emotion after discovering the lump. I have no idea what it is. Perhaps I have nothing to worry about; perhaps it will change my life. One rule of writing is to choose what you will say, how you will say it and how much to reveal. Writing for the self and writing for an audience are two entirely different things. Another rule of writing is to tell the truth.
We are all creators. We were born to create, and yet we forget. We go through the motions. We act as though our lives are not important, as though the choices we make don’t matter. But they do, very much so. I had a conversation with a new friend a few days ago. She’s a photographer and a gifted one at that. She spoke of her brother and her daughter — the artists that each one of them are, and in that conversation she almost diminished her own art, her giftedness in her art, as though drawing was superior to photography. It isn’t. In fact, no one thing is better than another from the soul’s perspective. Another gift she possesses is her ability to make others feel comfortable, confident and beautiful. She almost exclusively works with women, and in my opinion, doing so is a responsibility. I believe she feels that way too. Part of her purpose is empowerment and she does that job well. She certainly made me feel strong, beautiful and unique. That, too, is an art. My day with her could have gone any number of ways. Think about that. All of our days can go any number of ways. We make…
As I'm growing older I'm thinking a lot about aging and beauty. We are lucky to be living in a time of such body positivity. Countless social media accounts promote loving oneself exactly as-is, and in doing so, the message is becoming mainstream -- how different from television advertising days of my youth. I taught yoga for ten years, and during that time I promoted body positivity, giving thanks for our bodies, owning our strengths and limitations. And while it's what I taught, I didn't fully live it. We teach most what we need to learn. I had body dysmorphia (and maybe still do sometimes) and while I acted empowered, I didn't always believe in my own power. Sometimes I still look at other women and think, "why can't I look like that?" But those thoughts are destructive and I'm working my way through them.
Life flows. But sometimes it stops too. Sometimes we can visibly see and feel a before and an after. I feel this truth distinctly in my mom's passing. It feels as though naivete was the norm while she was alive, whereas darkness has settled into life since. It's not an every day darkness. For the most part I'm still in love with life; things just seem more real than they ever have been -- and yes, some days totally do suck. I also continue to gain a greater sense of myself, a self I don't always like. Life isn't as happy as it was before, and I can't seem to get back to that sense of me no matter how hard I try.
Nature Is. Pure being. Sheer essence. And the great human paradox is that we are too. It’s our minds that get in the way of things. The Buddha spent a lot of time in nature and recognized this great spiritual truth. I walk or hike almost every day. It clears me out. It creates in me a spaciousness unexplainable — most of the time. Intentionality is key. We create mindfulness by not letting ourselves get caught up — in ourselves. Embodiment is an elusive concept, kinda like love and yoga. You know it’s real but words don’t accurately describe it. A walk in nature takes the same tone. When I’m outside moving my body, a lifeforce grander than I acts on my being. I feel energized and alive in ways unexplainable. If only I could write and hike at the same time — the things that would come out! The concept of embodiment is a main staple of my life these days. I think about it a lot, and look for new ways to practice it. I am taking all I’m learning through EmbodiYoga teacher training and making it my own. So much deep knowledge. It’s amazing. One could go down a rabbit hole with the information and subtlety. I keep…
Did you know that all of your cells have ‘tone?’ Cellular tone is a documented, researched fact. When you were born, you grew out of one cell. That one cell became many ‘things.’ Each cell knows all of the other cells intimately and is constantly in communication with the whole. And yoga balances the tone in our bodies — through breath, movement and constant communication with the Earth. We have what is known as movement intelligence, and we grow it consciously through intention. What’s more, by using the body we program the mind.Kinda crazy, right? We live in a world that believes the mind controls all. It doesn’t. Quite the opposite, in fact. And let me share another well-kept secret (or possibly something you never thought about before): The nervous system only records. With our intentional movement, we inform the nervous system. We bring the body back into alignment through this movement, thereby repatterning our entire system. In the process, blank spaces and confusion often sets in. This is new information entering the system. This is EmbodiYoga! But there is more (lots more!) …. Cellular Breathing Cellular breathing begins in utero. Each cell of our body is expanding and contracting in vibratory movement. External respiration is a very…