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Yogini Tales: The bird & the rainbow

The bird met the current of wind
And kept on flapping
Though he didn’t advance an inch
He hovered there long enough
Above my head
That I looked up and saw the rainbow

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Thank you is a mantra

November is such an awesome month. It’s the month that gratitude gets its moment center stage. Unfortunately for many, November’s moment gets used as the bridge to the excitement that is December. I cannot deny that December is pretty monumentally rad, too, but come on… let’s allow November its moment. It could be the opening act that you end up enjoying more than the main act you came to see. Give it chance by embracing an attitude of gratitude. I found this to be a perfect starting point. Thank you!

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Daily reminder

“Self-esteem is at the core of healing. Because of the connectedness of mind and body, our sense of self-esteem is our cells’ sense of self-esteem. This is because, according to Ayurveda, every cell is a center of intelligence and awareness. Every cell carries the sense of self for its own survival. It is the sense of self in the cell that maintains the size and shape of the cell. Self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-respect promote cellular intelligence, which is necessary for proper cell function and immunity.”

~Dr. Vasant Lad, from The Complete Book of Ayurveda Home Remedies

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Daily reminder

“The more you depend upon conditions outside yourself for happiness, the less happiness you will experience.”

~Paramahansa Yogananda

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You are how you eat

I wake up in the morning and affirm, “Today, I practice Ahimsa.” That’s a great start, but it loses its power if I don’t continue to affirm my commitment in every moment of the day (ie, be committed!). One of my most consistent detours from Ahimsa is poor eating habits. I wake, I vow to practice non-violence and allow myself to grow to my fullest potential… and then I head for the nearest drive-thru. Detour!

Thankfully, being aware of this is the first step in changing it. Every time I eat, I receive a gift of nourishment that the earth has offered. I have the opportunity to accept it and treat myself well. Wow! That is no small thing, yet I sometimes eat an entire meal plus seconds without realizing what I am doing.

Many factors contribute to the quality of nourishment I receive- not just whether or not it came from a drive-thru. Were the ingredients responsibly obtained? Was my food prepared with love? What is my state of being as I eat it? From an Ayurvedic point of view, how we eat is just as important as what we eat. Stress, sadness, distractedness, gratitude, joy- these emotions all produce changes in our bodies that impact their ability to assimilate food.

I mentioned the other day that I had a wonderful lesson in mindfulness when I was unable to use my dominant right hand. Generally, I can shovel an entire meal into my mouth while watching a movie, checking my Blackberry, and having a conversation… and I miss the whole experience of eating. When I had to use my left hand, each bite became a blessing when it made it to my mouth.

This new experience of mindful eating sent ripples into every aspect of sitting down to a meal. I only chose foods that were worth the effort it would take to eat them. I prepared them with love and attention. I sat down to a table that honored the experience (no TV, no BB). I blessed the food and everyone who had had a hand it getting it to my table. And then I ate… very, very slowly.

As I’m bringing my full attention to what I take in again, I aim to create that same sacred space around mealtimes. When the meal becomes a ceremony, it is difficult to “eat anything that you can’t bless” (as one of my teachers puts it). Try it out for a day and see how different it can feel to do something as basic as eating. If you want a real eye-opener, try doing it with the other hand. 😉

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Daily reminder

“The house is a metaphor to explain that there is a vibration in each moment, each moment is like a house, and a house is like a moment. In each moment that we live there is an opportunity to change ourselves in some way. We shatter what we were in the past, so that in the new moment we can remake ourselves. In a day’s time, we go through many different moments, many different opportunities to remake ourselves and therefore evolve.”

~Joseph Rael, from Being and Vibration

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Time change… time for change

Happy Sunday, yoga lovers! Isn’t today a wonderful day to practice opening your heart? Learn more about the anahata chakra here. Namaste!

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Daily reminder

“Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else.”

~Judy Garland

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Read this… slowly

The universe has an amazing way of providing me with every lesson I need. But often, the noise of my own wheels turning keeps me from paying attention. Thank goodness that the cosmic professor is not one to throw her hands up easily. (You’re her favorite student, by the way. You. Are.)

In the Summer of 2010, I was on a hot streak with my reading list. I had been praying for guidance and I was led to three books that changed my life [Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth, and Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the Bhagavad Gita]. I was tremendously inspired. I saw creation though new eyes (or perhaps a single eye), yet I hadn’t given myself a chance to sit with what I was learning and absorb it.

So, she sat back and looked at my effort and said, “I’m very proud of you. You’ve been working very hard. You’re doing well on your homework and tests, but I still get the feeling that you’re not fully getting it. Try this.”

I skinned my knee nearly to the bone, and I couldn’t bend it. I had almost zero range of motion in my right shoulder. All the things I do in a day that I take for granted suddenly required great attention- if I could do them at all. Talk about humbling… I couldn’t walk. I could only shuffle and limp. I’m right-handed. I had to do everything one-handed with my left hand. Still, I stayed committed to meditating and practicing (the most gentle) yoga every day. In fact, almost everything but that had stopped.

In the stillness, I could hear the message loud and clear, “Slow down! You don’t have to rush. Everything you need is right here, right now.” I had to bring my full attention to the present moment… and it was awesome. It required such presence and inspired such gratitude and humility that every action became a ceremony. I had read that this moment is not just a bridge to some point in the future. Finally, I understood the power of that on every level of my being.

To learn the lessons I needed to learn about healing, I had to have it broken down like that. I had to experience that time of healing my physical body so that that energy could begin to ripple into other areas. As I’m focusing on Ahimsa now, I’m reminded that growth does not require ‘go, go, go.’ Sometimes it requires just the opposite.

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Daily reminder

“My beloved child, break your heart no longer.
Each time you judge yourself, you break your own heart,
You stop feeding on the love which is the wellspring of your vitality.
The time has come. Your time. To live. To celebrate,
and to see the goodness that you are.
Do not fight the dark. Just turn on the light.
Let go, and breathe into the goodness that you are.”

~Swami Kripalvananda

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