Monday, July 23, 2012

10 Yoga Tips to Stay Cool this Summer

As Mother Earth continues Her summer for just a couple more months, here are a few Ayurveduc suggestions on how to remain cool during the warmest time of year. Remember, if everything is reflective, than the rising external heat is reflective of the rising internal heat. Follow these 10 simple yoga tips on how to stay cool this summer and keep the inner fire at bay.

10 Yoga Tips to Stay Cool

1. Encourage yourself to surrender more deeply in your asana practice; allow more time for each asana, creating a deeper, calmer inner atmosphere. This approach to asana helps cool the inner fire.

2. Perform all asana in a way that is non-competitive, nurturing and enjoyable. Try to practice either early morning or early evening when the temperature begins to cool. Even though you will probably practice in a climate controlled environment, for increased energetic benefits it is highly suggested to practice outside, in the cooler hours of day.

3. Emphasize a cooling breath by making your exhalation longer than inhalation. After you exhale all the air out, retain the breath as a powerful effect to focus the mind and stabilize the agni, or fire. The retention should be just a few seconds or less.

4. Increase your meditation practice as it is known to have a cooling, calming effect on the mind.

5. Eat cooling, sweet, bitter and astringent foods (coconut, cucumber, watermelon, all the fresh fruit in season, steamed greens, multicolored salads, watercress, endives, mung beans, basmati rice, etc) and avoid spicy and fried foods.

6. Add cilantro, cucumber, or mint to your water for a refreshing beverage that will cool you down.

7. Enjoy rose, sandalwood, jasmine or lavender essential oils to relax (and cool) the senses. Wonderful cooling summer tip... Add a few drops of rose essential oil to a clean spray bottle filled with purified water. Store in the fridge to keep cool. Spritz a few times directly on the face, neck, arms and body for an instant sense of feeling refreshed and cool.

8. Using coconut oil, give yourself a full body massage. Wait 20-30 minutes in meditation, then rinse off in a cool to warm shower. Avoid hot water as this increases heat.

9. Wear light colored clothing, loose cotton, linen, natural fibers etc (ex. white, blue, green) so air can circulate between your clothes and your skin. Natural fibers are also beneficial in allowing the prana, or energy, to circulate and flow too.

10. Spend time in nature; swim, hike, camp, retreat and enjoy the moonlight.

Stay cool and enjoy all that this beautiful season has to offer you!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

5 Tips to a Slower Paced Life

Modern society is running at a pace few are able to sustain. It's as if our own bodies are now vibrating at speeds similar to jet planes, bullet trains and even our own 80mph automobiles. Life is speeding by like the passing trees and buildings on our daily commutes.

Do you take time to notice the details instead of only seeing a blur? Are you feeling fulfilled in your life?

These are certainly two very tough questions that can initiate an honest view of your pace today.

But how can one begin to step out of this rat-race and begin to mosey, or slow down?

Here are 5 Tips to a Slower Paced Life

1. Choose to walk, bicycle or take the bus instead of driving. One way to greet the world around you is to slow down. If you are going down the street (within a mile or so), choose to take slower forms of transportation. Have you ever noticed how many "hello's" greet you on the sidewalk, than on the freeway? This will give you more time to appreciate all that surrounds you. If you are traveling further than a few miles hop on the local bus where you can simply sit down and enjoy the ride and scenery.

2. Go for a stroll in nature. Walking in a forest is a sure-fire way to remind you just how small you are and yet, how you are a part of the whole. Also, if you consciously observe the pace of nature you can be sweetly reminded of how to sway with the breezes of life, work as a whole organism and revert to the simplicity of life.

3. Simply Sit. All too often we think that our lives are so busy that we cannot take the time to sit down and be still. This is an all-too-often play of the ego. You do have time. You are able to sit and be still. So... simply do it. Sit down, breathe and embrace the Life that is within, and around, you.

4. Add your Self to your to-do list. By adding yourself to your daily to-do list, you can more easily carve out time to spend with your Self (spirit) as well as your family / friends. Remember, what appears soooo important is just that... an appearance. You set the priority. Dedicate time for Self-reflection, Self-communion and Self-expression. You are worth it!

5. Take moments throughout the day for conscious breathing. Conscious breathing is the easiest and quickest way to slow down; plus its only need is that you remember to practice it. A simple suggestion is to make a few sticky notes and post them in random places within your life... on the computer, the refrigerator, in your bathroom, and even in your car. The more places you can be reminded, the better.

Take the Wine out of Yoga

Om Namah Sivaya Beloved Aspirants,

Happy day to you! A new concept in the yoga community has recently made its way into my consciousness... actually leaving me a little perplexed as to how it came to fruition. For nearly two decades I have witnessed the ancient Yoga traditions slowly lose their richness due to our western culture and lifestyle. I'm not commenting on whether this is a good or bad thing, these days I'm remaining more neutral about such occurrences, remembering to embrace it all; especially since it's all the Divine Shakti anyways.  :)

However, this new yoga craze is deeply calling me to stand up and voice my opinion. Studios across America are adding wine to their event calendars.

My first reaction was "Really?" (with a big eye-roll), but then I decided that I could approach this in a more balanced way... by presenting facts from the Yoga perspective regarding alcohol, allowing each yogin to decide for herself / himself.

After sitting in contemplation about this concept, here are some of the reasons I invite you to reconsider having wine in yoga studios:

1. Alcohol itself is a depressant, this we have known for decades regardless of the recent studies stating that wine has potential health benefits. Many things have potential benefits that may not be good for the psyche. Consuming meat is one of those examples. This is one of the reasons yogis choose to eat a plant-based diet; to honor the practice of ahimsa, or non-violence on the physical, mental and emotional levels of the psyche.

2. Yoga increases and elevates consciousness. Wine veils and masks consciousness. This we know when we've had too much wine and can't remember the night before or when we think we are clear or have a grand idea when in fact it is quite the opposite.

3. Alcohol, from a Yoga perspective, is considered tamasic. Tamoguna, another name for tamas, is  the veiling power that lies within nature. A few of its qualities are: ignorance (can't see Divine Spirit within), darkness, inertia, intoxication, destructiveness, carelessness, negativity, heaviness, etc.

4. Yoga studios are known to uplift and heal people. Alcohol is known to bring people down.

Now, am I saying that you should avoid alcohol under all conditions?  No.
I believe the choice is yours and should be made without any inner or outer judgements.

However, I am saying this...

We have an abundance of opportunities to access alcohol; home consumption, restaurants, movies, bars, social gatherings, etc. So, why do we have to bring it into our sacred Yoga spaces? We all know one of the main benefits of our Yoga practice is an increase of Sattva guna, or purity. If this is the case, why do double work? Why increase sattva by practicing yogasana then immediately cultivate tamas by partaking in a wine-down, or happy hour gathering at the studio?

Don't we have enough distractions in our lives that veil our consciousness? Isn't it hard enough to not only "wake up" but to remain awake moment after moment?

This is my plea and prayer.

"I pray we keep our Yoga studios sattvic and sacred, continuing to cultivate a safe place for us to retreat from the rajas and tamas of life. May we welcome the beauty of sobriety and greet its powerful shakti with an open heart and open mind. May we maintain a higher vibration in our yoga spaces, helping to illumine our own Divine Nature. And may we choose to leave the wine out of our Yoga studios, allowing the sacred space to reflect the self-discipline necessary to consciously evolve and annihilate the Ego, illuminating the Divine Self."

Om and Pranams,