Planned Spontaneity

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Well.....hello.  We are settling into fall and getting comfortable with the change in schedule that a new season brings.  It always feels like summer will be laid back with lots of free time, doesn't it?  But that's never how it goes, and I should know better by now.  I'm grateful for the busyness that is summer for us, because it's a lot of fun stuff.  When autumn does roll around, however, I am usually ready for a schedule that is more defined.

Yoga is similar for me.  There's something to be said for coming to my mat and just letting the practice develop by "going with the flow" rather than planning sequences.  That is difficult for me.  I struggle with just letting things happen on the mat.  If I begin with a goal, it goes better for me.  For example, if I know that I'm going to focus on hips, then I can flow better.  I've got to have a plan in my spontaneity, and I'm literally rolling my eyes at myself as I write this, but it's true.  And, honestly, it's just fine that that's what I need for my practice to flow and to keep growing it.

When I do judge the way I approach my practice, that makes it harder to get to my mat and to stay there.  The I should be's and the Why don't I's can undermine our best efforts.  So, with my first post after a month and a half of getting lost in the rhythm of life (and liking it), I invite you to try with me to find your own flow, accept it for whatever it is, and.............just see where it takes you........you might find yourself on a wonderful new path.

And now, announced here first for my wonderful Sankulpa Yoga blog subscribers and readers.......

Yoga for Renewal Retreat

The Abbey Resort and Avani Spa

February 2-4, 2018

You guys!  It's my first retreat, and you are invited.  I will officially announce it later this week, but it's announced here first and open to anyone 21 or older, no matter your yoga experience (and definitely keep reading if you are an educator):

Included in Registration:  6 ALL Levels classes of different platforms (essential oils, restorative, vinyasa, vin, etc), 2 nights' lodging at the Abbey Resort, Friday dinner, Saturday/Sunday breakfasts, 15% off spa appointments on 2/2 or 2/4, and a special welcome bag of gifts.

If you are an educator looking to renew your license, you can also sign up for the Companion Course for this retreat through which you can earn a professional development graduate credit from Carthage College

Also Available for You to Do: take the free shuttle to Lake Geneva to shop or to attend their Winterfest events, sit by the bonfire at the Abbey (and maybe enjoy a s'more), book a spa service, hang out at the Avani Spa Atrium and Pool (adults only), hike, gather for evening social time, attend a dinner off-site with the group, and whatever else you'd like to do.  Too busy sounding?  Snuggle up by the fire with your book, sip a coffee on your own or wth a friend, take a quiet winter walk, heck..take a nap if you want to do that!  The point is, this weekend is for you to Relax, Restore, and Renew.

Registration Fee Information:

Double Occupancy $425 / Single Occupancy $550 - Add on the Companion Course for $100 (plus $10 admissions fee if you have never before taken a course from Carthage College)

Renewing opportunities for all.  :)  

Registration will open Monday, September 18.  Space is limited. 

If you register with payment in full and share knowledge of this retreat with a friend who also ends up registering and paying in full, you will receive a referral gift......and it's a good one! 

Please contact me directly or comment below with any questions you have.  (I hope you can join me!)

Road Trip!

We will be in Tennessee when this blog post reaches you.  Taking a road trip is always fun, and this one should be no different.  Everyone piles into the mini van (dog too), and we head out with snacks, knitting (me), and a sense of adventure for the whole family.  Solo road trips are fun too, especially if you are heading toward a fun event or fun people.

The only problem with this is..........figuring out how to maintain your yoga practice while on the road.  It is a challenge.  If flying instead of driving, taking a travel mat that folds into a suitcase is helpful.  Otherwise, lots of hotels have mats that guests can borrow or rent.

Then it's doing the yoga practice itself.  It would be fun to take a yoga class in a city you are visiting at a studio (and I'll let you know if I try that...would love to).  Otherwise, just free flow it.  Stretch and flow.  It might feel silly at first, but I'll bet it works out just fine.  The other option is to find a YouTube class that you like.  There are literally zillions.  It isn't the same as attending a class in person with a real live yoga instructor (like moi), but it has its advantages.  Two of my favorites on YouTube are Yoga with Adriene and Yoga by Candace.  If you try one of them, I'd love to know what you think.

I'll be thinking about you while I'm getting my yoga on in Tennessee and hoping that you are finding your practice too while I'm gone.

Peace,

Lori

 

A Little Yoga Sequence for Hip Comfort

There's a lot going on in the summertime.  Driving long distances for vacations, walks on sandy beaches, sitting on bleachers to watch games or concerts, and taking part in sports.  All of this stuff creates hip stress, if we don't give our hips some loving attention.  

Think about it.  Sitting keeps our hip flexors in the same position for an extended period of time.  Beach action means walking with a different gait on a somewhat unstable surface.  And becoming golfers and softball players or what have you after a more sedentary season of winter can surprise our hips into balking at all the sudden activity.

There's a way to do all these summertime grooving things, though.  Just stretch properly and build some strength.  And I'm talking to everyone.  If any of you have been following me long enough, you know I'm a hip flexor / psoas nerd.  This large muscle group can help us to feel comfort and peace or can cause us pain, stress, and anxiety.  A healthy psoas can be your best friend, and it's one of the secrets to a more easeful lifestyle.

Below is a little sequence with modifications for everyone interested in finding more comfort in their hip flexors.  I hope you enjoy.

Supine Psoas St-re-tchchchch - Hug in one knee and lengthen the other leg.  Flex both feet.  Relax your shoulders.  Now, reach the extended leg's foot toward an imaginary wall.  With each exhale, reach that leg a little longer.  This helps to gently stretch the psoas muscle on that side.  After 7-10 breaths here, inhale knees toward chest and exhale the opposite leg long to stretch the other side.

 

Gentle Sacrum Massage - Hug it in and make circles with your breath on the flat part of your low back, the sacrum.

Table Walk to Reverse Vinyasa - Come to tabletop pose and then walk your knees back.  Loop your shoulders so that your shoulder blades come toward each other on your back.  Send your elbows straight back as you exhale and lower your hips to the mat, then your belly, and then your heart space.  Once your forehead kisses the mat, inhale and reverse the flow back to table top.  Then exhale your hips back to balasana, child's pose.  Breath 7-10 breaths here.  (Uncomfortable?  Settle a blanket or cushion between your bum and your heels.)

Uttanasana / Ardha Uttansana Flow - My go to after sitting, before and after running, and when I just feel uncomfortable in general.  Give loving attention to the back of your hip flexors in order to ease the front. It's all connected....  So, exhale into forward fold (uttanasana).  Bend into your knees a bit, and send your belly toward your thighs.  Let your hands rest on the mat or your feet or a block (no dangling!) and let your head hang loose.  Now, inhale to send your thigh bones back and your hips.  Straighten into the legs and lift your upper body halfway.  Send your shoulders away from your ears and look forward.  Again, no dangling hands.  Support them onto your shins, thighs, or the floor.  Inhale and exhale as you  slow transition back and forth between these two standing poses.

Anjaneyasana -  From forward fold, step the left foot back and lower that knee to the mat.  Loop shoulders up and back and sent heart forward.  Exhale hips forward.  Play a bit here to see where the stretch feels right, but be gentle.  Before stepping forward to switch sides, take the next pose below.

Utthan Pristhasana - Taking a modified version of lizard pose, send the left hand to the inside of the left foot.  Walk the left foot toward the edge of the mat.  Stay here or lift your back knee off the mat.  Loop you shoulders back so that your heart leads the way.  Take 7-10 breaths here, or lower forearms to the floor (or a block) to deepen the stretch.  

Exhale knee back to the mat.  Walk left foot back in a bit, and move the left hand to the outside of the left foot. Inhale and step the back foot up to meet its mate.  Exhale to forward fold.  Inhale and root to rise (press feet into the mat) as you come to upward facing solute.  Exhale back to forward fold and take the other side for Anjaneyasana and Utthan Pristhasana.

Constructive Rest Pose - After second side, settle onto your back for a savasana variation.  This one is called CRP (pretty technical, right?)  It stands for Constructive Rest Pose.  Settle the sacrum onto the floor.  Place your feet parallel and slightly wider than your hips.  Send your knees straight up to the sky.  Nestle your shoulder blades beneath you and place your hands on your belly.  Breathe and rest for 5 minutes (or as long as you are able)

Wishing you peace and happy hips.

Namaste!

 

 

Hygge

Close your eyes and picture your perfect setting for peace, comfort, coziness, and ease.  The scene varies from person to person.  For many of us, the scenario includes people we love.  There might be warmth from the sun or a fireplace.  Certain food or drink might be involved.  

The Danes have this scenario down to a science.  They call it hygge.  Pronounced "hoo-gah",  many credit it as one of the big reasons that Denmark consistently rates among the happiest countries in the world.  I'm intrigued by the concept and am reading up on it in The Little Book of Hygge.  Its author Meik Wiking (also CEO of Copenhagen's Happiness Research Institute) refers to hygge as "the art of creating intimacy," "the absence of annoyance," and my personal favorite, "coziness of the soul."

That last one hits home for me, because it is exactly how I would describe the effects of a consistent personal yoga practice. People practice yoga for different reasons, and I practice for several reasons.  However, that coziness of the soul definition is the circumference around all of the reasons I practice.  

Yoga can make us feel more physically comfortable in our bodies.  I can sit, stand, and move with greater ease when I practice regularly.  I feel like my body is something powerful and a tool to help me accomplish my goals.

Yoga gives one a feeling of lightness.  It's not as if I walk around surrounded by rainbows and blooming flowers, but I find that regular yoga better enables me to access that little space inside where I cultivate peace and happiness during my practice whenever I need it.  I am less anxious and feel more joy with regular practice.  And funny about the lightness is that good lighting is one of the big pieces of hygge.  The Danes love their lighting and their candles.  I agree.  It's just a softer and prettier way to view the space around us.

I'm really working on maintaining a daily yoga practice.  So far, so good for the last three weeks or so.  Some days, rather than taking a yoga class (rare lately) or doing a home practice, yoga happens with my students in yoga classes.  Other days, it's a yoga-inspired running warm up.  Occasionally, I only take 5 minutes of sitting still and breathing mindfully.  It's all yoga, and it all counts toward the good stuff that yoga does for me.  

Pretty soon, a little yoga sequence will appear each week in this space with the blog.  I hope that it will bring you hygge and inspire a regular practice.  I am convinced that yoga can enrich every person's life.  I'm here to help you get started.

Peace and Light,

Lori

 

 

The Mental Game

I'm writing this from a hotel room in Naperville, Illinois with my daughter Delaney sleeping one bed over.  We are here for a softball tournament, and tomorrow holds a 5:30 a.m. wake up call.  I had planned to write about something else this week, but lately Delaney's softball and her brother Aidan's baseball experiences have led me in another direction for this blog post.

You may or may not know that in sports, the mental game is at least as important as the physical game.  The brain can be your biggest asset or your most potent adversary in sports. 

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Lately, they've both been struggling at the plate.  It happens to everyone on or off the field.  The s-l-u-m-p (we don't say the word out loud) began innocently enough with a couple bad games of striking out.  As the games of disappointing at-bats continued, other problems began to creep into both their games.  They were inside their heads with worry and stress over not hitting, and it spread like a virus to fielding.  The cause of the problem was letting the fact that they weren't hitting get to them....and fester with rumination.  It seemed that the harder they worked to correct the problem, the more it persisted.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Rome wasn't built in a day, and the s-l-u-m-p will not be corrected in one at bat for either of them.  At the advice of her coach, Delaney has been picturing positive outcomes before each at bat.  I've been walking Aidan through some guided positive visualization on the way to practices (He does this with a peanut butter sandwich in one hand sometimes.  I'm not sure if that helps or hurts the process).

The idea of visualizing positive outcomes is powerful.  I think the reason it works is because it knocks us out of the downward spiral of negative self talk......and negative language.

For example, instead of telling themselves, "Don't strike out," we encourage them each to say, "I will get a hit."   (Like I try to remember to tell myself, "I'm going to let it go," instead of, "I'm not going to get mad about that.")  Negative words bring about negative thoughts....no matter the context in which they are used.  Better to self talk in positive phrases.  

I feel like Delaney is really working on being mindful of the positives.  Aidan is going through the motions, but I'm confident he will get there.  That's the difference between being fourteen and just barely eleven years old.  They will both come out the other side of this, and Delaney is already seeing the light on the other side of it.  Hopefully, in the long run, they will be wiser for having gone through this challenge in that they realize the power of using positive thinking and self talk skills to help them out throughout their lives.  I hope I remember to do it more often too, because it works.


Update:  Last week's Try it for a Week post was a fun experiment.  I did cut way down on my scrolling on social media, but I caught myself doing it more often than I liked.  I noticed that I scrolled when I was tired.  I'm not sure what that means, other than that I am less likely to make good decisions when I'm not awake and alert.  I will continue to work on this one, because I noticed really being able to be more present.  How did your little experiment go?

Next up?  #yogaeverydamnday for 30-days.....and beyond

 

Try It for a Week

Happy Summer!  This past week saw the summer solstice and International Yoga Day.  Historically, summer solstice is seen by some as the coming of happiness.  This has to do with the seasonal coming out of darkness into the light.  I like that.  So, not only do I challenge you to do something this summer purely out of happiness, but I also challenge you to seek the happiness you crave.

One way to do this is to try new things.  What is something simple that you've wanted to try?  Reach your daily step goal?  Go to bed earlier?  Cook at home more often?  Allow yourself to dismiss minor irritations (or irritating people)?  It must be something.  

Take a look at this short TED talk below that I listened to last week.  The idea is making small changes to work toward sustainable habits.  Then, think about choosing something today that you want to commit to doing (or not doing) for the next seven days, starting today.  Maybe you try a 30 day challenge after that - or even starting with July 1.

For me, a big challenge is the ability to not get sucked into social media.  I might go onto Facebook to post a yoga class reminder.  Twenty minutes later, I'll find myself scrolling through the feed without ever having achievement my purpose of making that post.  This mindLESSness makes me irritated with myself.  It's a time suck.  I also am apt to find a comment that upsets me while I'm scrolling. 

So, in my ongoing attempt to be more mindFULL (pardon the intentional misspelling for the sake of impact, please), I commit to a "no scrolling" challenge for the next seven days.  I will have to go on social media to post for certain reasons, and there are people and groups with which I need to check in, but I will go directly to those pages on social media and not engage in mindLESS scrolling.  I'll let you know how it goes next week.  And, hey, let me know how your challenge goes too in the comments below.  If you want to share a 30 day challenge you plan to begin, I'd love to hear about it so that I can encourage you.  Who knows?  We might even start some good long term or lifelong habits this week to promote our happiness.

Please have yourself a week of kindness and peace.

Lori

 

image courtesy pixabay.com

No Way Around

Do you know what this is?  This, my friends, is a living metaphor.  The two-lane US highway outside my neighborhood has been completely torn up for construction.  This highway is the only route for us to get to civilization (ie:  grocery store, gas station, work, school, STARBUCKSFORCRYINGOUTLOUD)  Getting out of the neighborhood is not easy.  Sometimes getting back in is difficult.  Things seem to be behind schedule too.  <<sigh>>

On the day of this photo, I'd finally gotten out of the neighborhood to find myself stuck behind slow moving farm equipment.  However, like I always tell my kids, "Getting impatient and wanting farm equipment to move faster isn't helpful.  Remember that without farmers, there'd be no food."  So, I was ok with my situation.  However, seeing the orange cones that would have prevented a quick escape anyway just seemed too perfect a representation of life.  I could not resist a photo.  I was going so slowly that taking the picture while driving wasn't even remotely dangerous either.

So if a picture speaks a thousand works, then this one might say, "Slow down and don't pass.  Even if you could get around this obstacle, the road is too rough to go faster anyway."  (And that's only 22 words.)

How many times does your body or spirit tell you to slow your roll, take your time, think it through?   But then on the inside, you hear yourself saying, Let's go!  Hurry up!  Get out of my way!  Yep.  You're human.  That is going to happen.  But what if a rough road, orange cones, and slow farm equipment MADE you slow down.  What then?  Would you get irritated, or might you feel a little bit of relief in having the decision made for you?  (I pick the second one!) 

Author Iain Thomas said, "And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, 'This is important!  And this is important!  And this is important!  You need to worry about this!  And this!  And this!'  And each day, it's up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart, and say, 'No.  This is what's important.'"

Thank goodness for the season of construction and farm equipment on the country highways to help us remember that.  (She said honestly and without a trace of sarcasm)

If you'd like a little help slowing down, join us on Friday mornings at 8:00 am at the Pringle Nature Center for yoga.  This class is for all levels.  I'll modify for whoever comes to class.  The woods is our back drop and the birds are our sound track.  Preregister under the "yoga classes and workshops" tab.  I'd love to see you there.  <3  

(Happy Fathers' Day!)

Shape Shifting

I completely missed writing a blogpost last week!  When I realized my miss, I started to put something together a day late, but then I decided to just let things be.  What I did instead was reflect on the past year.  This blog is a year and a two weeks old.  It was born at the same time I was planning to begin Sankulpa Yoga and as I was finishing up my 6-months long yoga teacher training.

Last year brought other changes.  For one, my mom died after a long illness, and I spent my first Mothers' Day motherless.  That prompted me to spend a lot of time reflecting on my life and what I wanted to get out of it.  Yoga was a perfect teacher for that.  The continuous education of mindfulness in yoga is probably the biggest gift I've received over this past year.  I'm still learning, and I fail often, but I think I do a better job with stress and worrying than in the past.

Over the past year, I've worked on what I want Sankulpa Yoga to look like.  I've tried a few things that I ended up discarding, but that's a natural progression for growth, isn't it?  Slowly, a shape for Sankulpa Yoga is forming.   

We do this all the time in our lives too.  Every year that we live, our life shifts shape.  The shape changes over time, but it continues to form.  The beauty of getting older is seeing the shape your life has taken and loving it.  

But what if you don't love the shape of your life?  Well, you change it.  You take out the eraser and shave off the sides that don't fit you.  Then you let the shape reform.  Is it easy?  Few things that are worthwhile are easy.  We all know that.  But it is rewarding and life enriching.  Also, the process is yours and for you to decide.  What is the shape of your life?  What do you love about it?  What do you want to change?  What will your shape look like next?


Sankulpa Yoga's emerging shape:

  • Yoga for Athletes - training sessions available to teams 
  • Preschool Yoga - sessions at preschools and daycares for movement and mindfulness
  • Yoga in Schools - workshop for educators
  • Group and Private Yoga Classes (including community-based donation yoga)
  • Retreats and Half Day Workshops - Yoga, Reiki, and Essential Oils ....coming soon

photo courtesy pixabay.com

Mercury In Retrograde: A Good Time for Self Care

So, how has the last month gone for you?  Not so good?  I'm hear to tell you that you are not alone.  I mean, everything is relative, and one person's not so good month might be a lot better than someone else's not so good month, but.......the planetary alignment was not really treating anyone kindly.

Mercury was in retrograde from April 9 through May 3 this year.  

What does that mean?  Literally, it means that during that time, mercury, the planet that is nearest to our sun and that orbits it the fastest, appears to be moving backwards.  It's not really, but because of how earth's and mercury's orbits run in relation to each other, every once in awhile, mercury's speed seems to slow enough to make it look like it's moving in the opposite direction around the sun.  This is a real thing.  I read about it on Nasa's website.

The argument is whether or not mercury's retrograde phases effect our lives.  Scientific research says no, but it really seems otherwise.  I challenge you to look back on your life from April 9 through May 3.  As for me, I fell down the stairs, we had a variety of viruses run through the house, the dog randomly threw up a lot, we had an onslaught of carpenter ants in the kitchen, and a few other things that went wrong all in an amazing cluster of misfortune.  Nothing major, mind you, but it was irritating just the same.  

Whether mercury is in retrograde or not, it's important to take care of yourself.  Not only should you do this so that you can be better for the people around you, but do it for yourself and for yourself alone.  It's your life.  You deserve to get rid of the gunk and to savor the nice little moments that you create for yourself.  Yes, you do have time.  Please take 5-15 minutes a day this week to do something good for you.  Take more time if you can, but be religious about the 5-15 minute daily minimum.  And then continue doing that every week.  I guarantee that you will notice a change for the positive.

Yoga for Self Care

Ksepana Mudra to remove negativity:  Make sure your left thumb is on top of the right.  Take this mudra when you need to find positive thoughts, release negative experiences, and escape from depression or anxiety.  

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Child's Pose for feelings of safety:  (Balasana) You can try this with knees wide or closer together.  Arms can be reaching forward for a good armpit stretch, down along your side body, or whatever pose feels good for you.  Deep and even breathing will enhance the benefits of the pose.

Standing Half Forward Fold for grounding and balance:  (Ardha Uttanasana)  Press into the ground with all four corners of your feet, and use the strength of your legs to fold forward (exhale) and to stand straight (inhale).  

Supported Bridge Pose:  (Salamba Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) to reduce anxiety and for restorative purposes.  Feet are parallel and shoulder blades slightly tucked underneath the body.  Left your chin away from your chest, but keep the back of the neck long.  Place a block or cushion underneath the flat portion of your low back (the sacrum) and breath evenly in this pose for 5 mins or longer.

Supported Savasana:  Support your back, shoulders, neck, and head during savasana.  Let go of your thoughts and pay no mind to your thoughts as you restore here for 5-10 minutes.  Savasana is said to be the most important yoga pose.  

The next time mercury will be in retrograde is August 13 - September 5.  Practice your self care from now until then, and you will be ready!

 

photo of mercury courtesy pixabay.com

supported savasana is photobombed by Riley, our relatively lazy golden retriever

Restore and Renew

Restorative Yoga is something I've been studying up on recently.  If you aren't familiar, it involves using props to allow your body to reap the most benefit from each pose.  Restorative poses are held for at least five minutes and can be extremely relaxing.  Even though it might feel like your body is on a mini vacation while you do restorative yoga, it is a practice that is exceedingly good for you in body and in mind.  The following article lists 15 great reasons for trying restorative yoga:  Click HERE to read it.

Top on my list of reasons to practice restorative are these:  

  1. It helps to relieve stress.  Since stress can make you sick and depressed and block your ability to enjoy life, you could stop reading this list right now and get into one of the restorative poses below.  :)
  2. It can help you get a better night's sleep.  Hmmm, sleep better to feel better rested and to look better (or younger)?.....Yes, I'll take that.
  3. It can improve your ability to focus.  Or your child's ability to focus.  Or your partner's ability to focus.  You can all do this together. 

Who wants to give it a try?  

Here are just a few poses to try.  You will need a few simple props and to be dressed in comfortable clothes.  Begin with gentle stretches and twists so that when you do get into the poses, your body feels at ease.  Once in a pose, close your eyes, clear your mind (to the best of your ability without becoming irritated if you can't), breathe evenly and a little more deeply that usual, and just stay there for 5-10 minutes.  The longer length of time for holding the pose gives your body the chance to release, so that you can restore and find yourself feeling renewed.  These things take a bit of time, you know.  Finish off with savasana for 5-10 minutes too.  Let me know how this works for you!  And if you want more, read below for a special class I'm offering......

Gentle Backbend Over Blankets

Tri-fold a blanket and lie down with your spine along the length of it.  Place a small roll of blanket beneath your knees.  Slightly tuck your shoulder blades beneath you to open your heart.  Find your head in a position so that both the back of front of you neck is long.  Turn palms up and relax feet.


Supported Seated-Angle Pose

Set up a bolster or two stacked bed pillows with a tri-folded blanket.  Sit with this in front of you with one leg on either side of the bolster.  Inhale your spine long and relaxed.  Exhale and gently fold your upper body forward, bringing your elbows to the ground and your hands to the bolster, holding it lightly.  Bring your cheek to the blanket.  At your halfway point of holding this pose, inhale to lift your head and exhale as your turn it to the opposite side and rest the opposite cheek on the blanket.  Click on the photo to see the photo to the right for variations that might be comfortable.  (For example, I might put the blanket rolls beneath my knees even if I do not use a chair or other raised object).  **If your lower back feels too rounded, place a folded blanket beneath your seat.**


Reclining Twist with a Bolster (or a cushion or with blankets....whatever you've got....maybe a sleeping bag rolled up)  *Be sure to do this one in both directions.

Place a folded blanket over a bolster or two bed pillows.  Sit with your right hip close to the bolster.  Bend your knees toward you, with your right foot behind your left.  Lower yourself to the bolster, using your arms and elbows.  Inhale as you press your hands into the floor and lengthen your body.  Exhale as you lower yourself to the bolster resting your cheek on the blanket.  Rest elbows on the floor directly below the shoulders (adjust for comfort).  Repeat on your left side. 


Elevated Legs Up the Wall

Sit with one hip against the wall and your knees bent.  Turn so that your legs go up the wall and your back meets the floor.  Place a rolled blanket under the small of your back or supporting your sacrum (low, flat portion of your back) and buttocks.  Place a rolled blanket to support your neck and head.  Cactus your arms and slightly tuck your shoulder blades beneath you to open your heart.  Slightly raise your chin.


Simple Supported Backbend

Sit in front of your bolster or double blanket roll.  Bend knees and recline, using your elbows on your bolster in the process.  (Or lie down on your side and roll to your back).  Support your Neck with one hand as you reach the floor and adjust a rolled blanket comfortably under your neck.  Your seat and and shoulders should comfortably reach the floor.  Open your arms away from you and slightly roll your shoulder blades beneath you, raising your chin. 


Speaking of Restoring and Renewing....... I'm excited to tell you that my yogi friend Sally and I are working on offering workshops and retreats to help you do just that.  More news soon!


Upcoming Special Class:

Gentle Yoga and Essential Oils  -  Saturday, May 6  -  9:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.  -  @ Sankulpa Yoga's studio  

This class that combines gentle stretches, twists, and poses (some of them restorative) with the application of various essential oils.  During the class, you will also learn about the oils used.  There are a limited number of spaces available, so please register by clicking here and scrolling down to find this class.


If it's not too much bother, please type a comment below to say hello or click to "Like" so that I know you've stopped by to visit the blog.  Thanks, and have a renewing week.

Namaste,

Lori

 

 

Slowing to a Stop

Man, did I ever have big plans for this past week!  Fun, new yoga sequencing to practice for classes, a new Pre-School Yoga marketing campaign to kick off, and exploring a possible weekend retreat locale for the near future were all things marked in my planner.  Big and Fun and Busy!  I also had a blog post planned in honor of Spring and Easter and New Beginnings and Fresh Starts.  (Yes, with all of those capital letters too....)

That all came to a crashing halt last weekend.  I was skipping away down the stairs to tell Rob something when I slipped off the last one, fell hard onto the landing and caught my low back on the edge of a step.  The pain was instant and intense, and Rob had to help me get up off the floor. 

What ensued were days of being forced to S-T-O-P.  No bending down to pick up something off the floor, no reaching up to get something off a shelf.  I couldn't even lie down, let alone teach a yoga class!  Everything was very slow and very limited.  It drove me crazy for two whole days.  On the third day, I decided that there was nothing else to do but embrace the experience and give in to it.  I found the chair in my house that allowed me to sit down and stand up most easily and did started doing this:

If you know me, you know that yoga and running are my happy places.  They are my "get out the crabbiness," "time to think or not think," "being alone time" things that I love to do.  Obviously, that's out of the question for now....even as this post is published.  I know people who are battling real life long term stillness due to illness or injury, and I do not confuse my temporary injury to their journey.  

As I slowly heal, we are rescheduling the visit to the possible retreat site (It's gonna be beautiful!!), and I mailed my marketing materials to area pre-schools a couple of days later than planned.  I even revamped parts of the Sankulpa Yoga website and added online payment options.  Take a look at it!  The week was by no means a loss in progress!

It's been easier to do the every day things as the days go on.  I'm allowing myself time to mull over, ponder, and reschedule.  In the process, I am finding that this is truly the best Spring-New Beginning-Fresh Start that I've had the opportunity to experience in awhile.  There's something to be said for slowing to a stop for a little bit and being content with what develops.

Wishing you a week of something new and hopeful. 

XO,

Lori

Why Bother Being Kind?

What is kindness?  I always think of this little face when I think of this word:  Kindness. 

 

Merriam-Webster defines kindness as "the quality or state of being kind."  However, I used to be an English teacher.  That means I can't leave well enough alone, because no student of mine was ever allowed to define a word with a form of the word itself.  So.......Merriam-Webster defines the word KIND as "of a sympathetic or helpful nature."  (Meaning that I was dead on with my picture definition of Riley above....)

Now we're getting somewhere.

Kindness:  The quality or state of being sympathetic or helpful.

The dictionary didn't mention anything about being "nice"  or about treating people the way we'd like to be treated ourselves when defining KIND.  Interesting.  Let's break that down.  

Many of us don't treat ourselves very well.  We belittle ourselves (or we give other people the permission to belittle us).  We think badly about ourselves if we don't move fast enough, don't think smart enough, can't find our keys immediately, or gain a pound or five.  Many of us are constantly thinking about how we should be better at lots of things.  What kind of a Golden Rule is that?  I don't want many people to treat me the same way they treat themselves.  Do you?  

And even more intriguing, "nice" doesn't even mean what I have thought it did.  For all these years I've been using it as the vanilla sort of word to describe someone as mildly kind with the absence of being "mean."  When I looked up "nice," its definition ranged from "exacting precision" to "socially acceptable" with "pleasing" thrown into the definitions somewhere toward the end.  I must have been some English teacher if it's taken me until now to learn that.

So, KIND is all about putting oneself in another's shoes and being helpful.  That means we have to listen and observe in order to know how to truly treat someone with kindness.  Otherwise, how could we possibly even know what sort of kindness someone needs or desires from us?

Here's something I feel confident about:  Treating others with kindness begins with treating ourselves with kindness.  And to make matters tricky, I don't think that true kindness discriminates.  I have a sneaking suspicion that the universe means for us to be kind to everyone (even the people who we accuse of making us feel anger or frustration or fear.....so complicated!).  

Don't you find, though, that when you are being kind to yourself, it's easier to share the kindness with others?  It sort of just flows out.  Not to get all new-agey on you, but wouldn't it be great if we increased that flow of kindness amongst us?  The world really seems to need it from all angles, if you ask me.  More than usual, even.  Riley is doing her best to spread kindness, but she's just one dog in a big world.  She needs an army of kindness warriors to help.

If this resonates with you and you'd like to practice increasing the flow of kindness in your daily life, I have an exercise for you. It could help make a natural habit of being kind to yourself, thus paving the way for you to be in a good place to share kindness with other people and the world in general.  It only takes 5 minutes each day.  You can do it just about anywhere and any time you can spare 5 minutes in a row (cheat and do it for only 4 minutes if you must or do it for 15 or 20 minutes if you'd like).


Step 1:  Take a seat in a position that allows you comfort in your body. 

Step 2:  Lightly close your eyes and place your hands in either the Kashyapa Mudra** for balance and protection against negative energy

or in the Apana Mudra** for inner balance, patience, confidence, and grounding.

Step 3:  Breathe easily and evenly through your nose.  As you do this, allow your shoulders to relax.

Step 3:  Allow your thoughts to drift past you like clouds.  Attach your attention to none of them.  (This takes practice.  Be easy on yourself and keep trying without forcing it.).  Continue your peaceful and even breathing.

Step 4:  Gently come out of your meditation (Yep, you knew that's what we were doing, didn't you?!) by opening your eyes and releasing your mudra by bringing your hands to your heart space.  Make a promise to yourself to be KIND to yourself and to all other living beings today.


Sending you Peace and Kindness,

Lori

P.S.  And now the next time someone tells me to "Have a Nice Day!" my brain will instead process "Have a Socially Acceptable Day!"  Sigh.  The struggle is real.  

Magical Lands

Last week, I was fortunate enough to take a trip back to one of my favorite places on Earth.  And this time, I took my people with me to share the beauty and peace that I experienced there last time.  I love Costa Rica.  It's an easy place to be.  It's beautiful.  I've only encountered Costa Rican citizens who are kind and helpful to outsiders like us.  They respect the environment and take good care of preserving it.  In fact, Costa Rica has one of the most perfect eco-systems on earth in which humans are present.  They abolished the army in 1948 in order to avoid civil wars, and they refer to themselves as "The Happiest Country."   They just do it right, I think.   We learned a lot from listening to our guides and just by watching the animals that were literally everywhere.

And there's a beautiful surprise around almost every corner.......

Scarlet Macaws squawk at each other incessantly.  Moral:  Flashy squawkers are fun to watch, so if you make a spectacle of yourself, be sure to prepare for constant scrutiny.  (They also mate for life....and they act like a squawky couple who need a little bit of space once in awhile.)

If you find yourself upside down, just grab on and enjoy the view while you are there........

Eventually, you will turn things around.  Just take your time and put one paw in front of the other.....slowly like a three-toed sloth.  Moral:  We all figure it out....just at our own pace.

Capuchins are the cutest creatures and the most mischievous.  We learned that one should not be a bad guest by bringing a picnic in to the national park, because the monkeys might distract you and then steal your lunch and then mess up the eco-system with processed food-laced poop and litter. The hungry, well-behaved guests enjoyed watching the plight of the picnickers.  Moral:  When you visit someone else's personal space, show a little respect, damnit.

The big, loud, scary sounding ones are sometimes only acting blustery on the outside to cover up a gentle heart, like the howler monkey.  They woke us out of a sound sleep with the most frightening and loud calls (several times in several nights).  They also start to make their macho calls when they hear trucks or chainsaws or other loud noises in order to fake machismo for bravery.  But when we saw them outside our room the next morning, they were just little babies trying to get some sleep.  Moral:  Get to know someone and don't judge their actions before you know why they act the way they do.  

This week, I aim to hold close the experiences and the simple life lessons that played out in front of me, my husband, and my children in Costa Rica.  Simplicity and purity of spirit are going to be my themes for the week.  I wish for you the same.

Pura Vida,

Lori

Sattwa for Spring!

This year, I was lucky enough to be able to teach 2 yoga classes on the day of the actual Vernal Equinox.  The first day of spring has always held meaning for me.  It's the beginning of a fresh, new time of the year.  

In yoga, there are three gunas, aspects of nature.  Tamas is a time of inactivity or state of withdrawal.  We tend to do this in the winter time, right?  (Or wish we could, at least)  Rajas is reflected in a bustle of activity, bringing to mind summer.  What lies between these two seasons is spring.  Likewise, the guna Sattwa lies between Tamas and Rajas.

Sattwa is translated as a sense of balance.  In Nischala Joy Devi's The Secret Power of Yoga, she explains Sattwa as the perfect moment between night and day.  

May this spring bring you whatever sense of balance you seek.  

In your yoga practice, poses such as Warrior 3 and Tree Pose are excellent to practice as a means to find your balance.  Ground through the standing foot and reach through the heel of the lifted foot.  Play with the rest.  Try different hand and arm positions.  See what you need to do to find the balance.  And, most importantly, enjoy the process.

Have a beautiful week,

Lori

*The above photo is of my Clever Yoga Liquid Balance mat.  My place of balance.

Spring Happenings at Sankulpa Yoga

Spring, a new beginning every year.......With that usually comes a desire to move more, stretch our legs, find a way to find more energy.

Yoga might be your answer for that.

I am taking this week's blog post as an opportunity to share with you what Sankulpa Yoga offers to yogis of all experience levels and ages.  Next week's post will resume its normal yoga content. Thanks for indulging me this week (and maybe for helping to grow my business....please read further...)

Yoga Classes

I've had a small tribe follow me through the winter, and we have room for a couple more yogis in our Tuesday evening class at my cozy Sankulpa Yoga studio.  (See calendar for details.)

If morning yoga is more your jam, there's a nice Vinyasa Flow class that I can share with you on Monday mornings at Wildroots in Salem, WI.  (See calendar for details.)

And soon....when the weather permits.....I will go back to the Pringle Nature Center in Bristol, WI for one outdoor yoga class each week.  (Your input of a weekly day and time will help me to determine when to hold this class.)

Additionally, I've begun to sub classes at The Yoga Effect in Grayslake, IL, which I consider to be my home studio, because it is where I did my yoga teacher training.  I will post classes I sub on my Facebook page.

Pre School Mini Yogis

I've been teaching yoga to three year olds for the past four months or so at a lovely local preschool/daycare, and I'd love to add a couple more on a weekly basis.  If you know or work at a daycare or preschool that might like to add yoga to the mix, please reach out to me.  If your help ends up in an ongoing teaching gig for me, you will get a finder's cash reward.

Yoga for Athletes

Yoga for your or your child's athletic team is a great idea.  Yoga helps to build strength, avoid injury, improve balance, and cultivate focus.  I work with teams and individual athletes with their unique needs in mind.  If your help ends up in an ongoing training gig for me, you will get a finder's cash reward.

Yoga in Schools Workshop

Yoga in Schools Workshop for Teachers is ready to go!  I've taught it at Carthage College and am ready to take it to the schools.  I would la-la-love your help in getting the word out.  This workshop is designed as a half day training, but I can tailor it to meet the needs of your school to a short or longer length.  We cover mindfulness, breathing, and yoga movements to help students focus, find calm, be the boss of their bodies, and more.  THIS is the number one reason I trained to become a yoga teacher.  If your school would be interested to discuss having me provide this workshop, I would love to deliver for you.  If your help ends up in workshop for me, you will get a finder's cash reward.

Please refer to the website for all that Sankulpa Yoga offers.

Thank you for your continued support for following my blog.  Please feel free to comment below to further the conversation (and click to like!)

Peace and Light to You This Week,

Lori

Self-Study

I have not yet found a Hallmark card for Valentine's Day that reads a little something like this:

Roses are Red,
Violets are Blue,
I accept me for myself
And love myself too.

Valentine's Day has always about showing your love for someone else, right?  Or your "like like" for others....I have a teenager in the house, so I'm trying to figure out the different levels of liking someone.  It's complicated.  

The point is that none of that loving or like-liking can happen truly unless we..............yep, unless we love ourselves first.  

And honestly, it makes me so uncomfortable to say it.  Loving myself.  I guess that's because it sounds narcissistic and a little creepy.  But that's wrong.  It isn't either of those things.  It's healthy to love the person you are with all your flaws and scars and to be able to admit that you are pretty great in some ways too.  That's fortunate....and the opposite of creepy.  It's just that it's not something we go around yelling from the rooftops....and that's probably for the best.

So, how do we get to that point in our lives where we can see what our true nature is and are able to be comfortable with it?  The process is one of the five Niyamas of yoga, and it's called Swadhyaya.  Please don't ask me to pronounce it and sound like I throw around the term in Sanskrit every day, because I don't.  However, I can tell you what it translates to mean.  Swadhyaya is the sacred study of the Divine through sacred readings, spending time in nature, and introspection.  

Whoa, you might say.  The Divine?  I am not the Divine.  The Divine is way beyond me.  I am not worthy.

Well, actually you are.  In the study of yoga, we are all a little piece of the biggest picture of all in the universe.  That wholeness is the Divine.  Swadhyaya helps you discover how to ascend to your highest level of being.  That can be interpreted in many, many ways.  And that's for you to decide.  Maybe you see this a religious quest, or maybe you see it as relating to Maslow or one of the great philosophers.  Whatever you see in this is great.  Go with it.  Swadhyaya is much deeper than the gist of this post covers, but for the sake of keeping it light and on the fun side of things, I'm sharing just a little nugget of it.  

Swadhyaya discovery comes in many forms.  Introspection through meditation and journaling, is an example.  Hiking, biking, walking your dog, or going for runs with Mother Nature are some others.  Studying sacred scripture?  Traditional sacred texts are methods self discovery.  I add to that zillions of other books I've read by an enormous range of authors on a dizzying number to topics.  Almost every book I've read has taught me a little something about myself.  Many books have brought me thunderclaps of self-realization.  

Swadhyaya is a Process with a capital P.  It's ongoing, and it's a worthwhile journey for yourself too.  So, go get your Swadhyaya on this week, and send yourself a little Valentine's Day love.

XO,

Lori

Feel the Burn

Ah, Tapas.  It's the heat and fire of the path toward your best version of yourself. Third of the Niyamas (our individual evolution toward harmony), Tapas is where you dial it up a notch.  Practicing self-discipline in order to achieve a personal goal is a part of what Tapas is all about.  It's often full of discomfort and the heat of a challenge in the moment but leads us to a better place and a feeling of peace over time.  

When your self discipline butts heads with your desires, that's when the fire of Tapas heats up and goes into action.

image courtesy pixabay.com

image courtesy pixabay.com

Take for example quitting an unhealthy habit.  If you've ever quit smoking or drinking alcohol (or soda) or adopted a healthy diet, you know what I'm talking about.  The first days and weeks are often HELL.  Your body and mind resist the change, and you might be seen as a fire-breathing dragon by those nearest and dearest to you.  However, over time, if you stick with it, the constant heat of the challenge mellows as your body and mind accept the newer, better pattern that you've chosen.  In the end, you might even wonder how you ever had been a smoker or had lived with such such a terrible diet or drank whatever it was that you gave up.  

It is then that the heat of the Tapas subsides and takes you deeper into Santosha (contentment and peace).  The magic of it all is that you choose.  If you are like me, then you are a master in the art of justification.  One more chocolate?  I'll find a reason that it is warranted.  Half a glass more of wine?  Well.....of course!  But when I actually am honest with myself, then I need to recognize the beauty of the struggle and let it play out without giving in so easily.

What's your Tapas fire telling you?  Is it the struggle of getting out of bed and to the gym to achieve the peace of body and mind that you know is waiting for you at the end of the workout?  Is there a habit that you know will compromise your health eventually that you keep putting off quitting?  Maybe it's staying stuck in a situation that is making you miserable, but the thought of making the change is exhausting and frightening.  I don't know what yours is, but I do know that we all have something.

How about this:  You do you, and I'll do me.  And we will promise to reach out for help if we need someone to assist in keeping the fires in check.  Deal?  You've got this.  We are here for you.


Yoga for Tapas:

Feel the Burn at first.  Then Feel the Pride in noticing the burn being replaced with STRENGTH! Try this one daily (or as close to daily as you can manage.....) for two to three weeks.  I bet you will experience a noticeable change.  As always, if something hurts, then back off.  Begin in Tadasana, Mountain Pose.

1.  Forward Fold - Exhale Belly to Thighs

2.  Halfway Lift - Inhale long spine, thigh bones back, shoulders away from ears

3. Forward Fold - Exhale

4.  Step back into Downward Facing Dog for 10 complete breaths

5.  Come forward to Plank for 3 slow and complete breaths (Wrists directly underneath shoulders)

6.  Roll to Side Plank - Keeps hips lifted and stack the feet or lift the top leg.  Hold for 5 slow and complete breaths

7.  Come back to Plank  for 3 slow and complete breaths

8.  Roll to other Side Plank - See #6

7.  Back to Plank for 3 slow and complete breaths

8.  Push back into Downward Facing Dog for 10 complete breaths

9.  Step or Hop to Forward Fold - Exhale

10.  Rise to stand with a flat back - Tadasana

Repeat.

Repeat one more time.  Feel the Burn?  Savor your Strength (or the knowledge that strength will come)


Changes are happening at Sankulpa Yoga.  I'm releasing and taking in as I work to find the best fit for my evolving yoga lifestyle business.  I've suspended some classes that have been under represented in an attempt to make time for some other things.  I hated to let them go, but it was necessary.

Yoga and Aromatherapy Workshop - Coming in February.  90 minutes of yoga combined with essential oils, a little oil-to-go gift, and 15% off a Young Living Essential Oils Order.  Keep your eye on Facebook and this website for more details, but drop me a line if you are interested, and I'll make sure to give you first dibs to register.  

Yoga and Reiki Workshops and (eventually) Weekend Retreats - In the works now in collaboration with my fellow yoga teacher and friend Sally.  We are working on this and are really excited to share it soon!  Again, shout out if you want to be one of the first to be in the know.

Yoga in Schools Workshop:  The game is ON for marketing my Yoga in Schools Workshop to promote mindfulness and yoga practice in the classroom to give students a toolbox of coping and living skills.  If you or your school wants to know more, let me know, and I will share with you.

Pre-School Yoga - Looking to Grow:  Do you own or work at a pre-school?  I'm looking to expand my Pre-School Yoga program to a few more sites.  Please let me know if you would like to know more or if you have a good spot in mind for me. 

Yoga in the Park:  Spring will come!  When the weather is ready for us, we will return to taking our practice outdoors.  I'm planning one weeknight and possibly one morning Yoga in the Park classes beginning in May.

That's it for now.  Enjoy a week of sweet challenges.

Lori

Suck it up, Buttercup.

This weather.  Dark, dreary, damp.  I give it a D- for a Wisconsin winter.  Gross.  The snow has melted.  The sun has disappeared.  There's fog daily.  It rains and mists.  Ugh.  Cannot stand it.

But.

I can't do anything about that.  My griping won't change the weather; however, what my griping does accomplish is that it brings me down.  Complaining about the weather is a huge pet peeve of mine anyway.  All winter (in Wisconsin, remember), people complain about the cold.  About the snow.  About the ice.  Where do they think they live?  It's like people are surprised every year that winter came again.  

I love winter (the real winter with snow and cold and ice, not the current kind that we have).  The snow is sparkly.  If the weather is bad enough, we all get to stay home.  The cold air smells good.  There are many other weird little reasons that I love winter.  However, I have been known to complain about several days in a row of temperatures below -25 F.  My bad.

This (stupid) weather made me think about the second of the Niyamas.  The Niyamas are the five concepts that lead us toward harmony.  Together, they comprise the second of the eight faceted paths of yoga.  The second Niyama is Santosha.  It represents joy and contentment.  So, I am content with winter when there is a lot of snow along with cold, sunny days.  This year?  Not so much.  The trick with Santosha is that it challenges us to be content with what IS, not with what IS NOT.  (sigh)

So, how can I reach Santosha with this weather?  Well, I can run outside without slipping around.  My skin isn't as dry as it usually gets with normal winter air.  Driving isn't as dicey.  Does Santosha mean that I am now in love with the weather?  No, it does not.  However, it does mean that I can live with it and not be crabby about it.  The weather will change eventually too.  I can find contentment in that.  

My title doesn't really tell the story of Santosha.  This Niyama DOES NOT tell us to "suck it up," but that's usually what we do.  We grudgingly accept the current state of affairs.  We sort of find ourselves ok with things as they are.  Santosha isn't about trying to fool ourselves.  It asks us to truly find peace in accepting the current moment as it is, with all its possible not so shiny parts.

Now.  Let's not confuse Santosha with complacency.  Santosha is not an excuse to slack off or neglect or ignore.  We are still responsible for making an effort.  However, when things don't go the way we'd like, we don't get to throw a fit.  Maybe we sigh instead and accept some peace in the learning process and contentment for having tried.  Then we roll up our sleeves and get busy.

This is completely relevant with your yoga practice too.  Maybe you are frustrated because you can't seem to achieve a certain pose in the way you'd like.  You practice and practice, but you seem to be blocked.  That's when you remember Santosha.  Find peace in the process.  Let what you have achieved so far be good enough, and release the stress.  Funnily enough, that's when you will probably start to progress until one day, you realize you're there.  

Whatever you are working on, don't give up!  However, be gentle with yourself.  We are all a work in progress.  

 

Have a week of peace and contentment.

Lori

 

(Image courtesy of Pixabay.com)

A Little Break

Taking a little break this week from the blog post.  We are honoring an important holiday that coincides with a bittersweet anniversary here.

Dr. King was a man of action to make the world a safer and more peaceful world for everyone.  I'm going to hold my peeps close and work on something to recognize that.  

Peace to you, your family, and your community.

See you next week.  

Namaste,

-Lori

Happy Trails to You

During the fall and early winter (because winter has an early part, a later part, and a "where is spring?" part here in the upper midwest), we explored the Yamas of yoga in our weekly blog posts.  As a reminder, Patanjali, the yogi sage from a couple thousand years ago, taught them as five "constraints" that will reveal our true nature to ourselves.  The Yamas are sort of thought of as "do nots."  On that 8-faceted path of yoga, the Yamas come first, and Asana comes third (the poses and flows of yoga).  In between, comes the 2nd path......the Niyamas.

The Niyamas are constructive tools for cultivating happiness and confidence.  That is how Yoga International (.com) describes the Niyamas, and it was so perfect for our purposes here, that I chose to use their definition.  We all have daily opportunities to practice the Niyamas to benefit ourselves, those around us, and the world at large.  The trick is to recognize those opportunities and to act on them.  The Niyamas can really lead us on a "happy trail" if we pursue the five habits for daily living that they represent. 

The first of the Niyamas is Saucha, Sanskrit for cleanliness.  Saucha is a pretty big umbrella that involves cleanliness of body, spirit, and mind.  The idea is to work toward purity in our lives in order to be able to maintain a more tranquil state of meditation.  Even if you don't meditate, the peace and calm that Saucha promotes can benefit us all.  It has been said that Saucha is one of the primary aims of yoga.

I was thinking about Saucha the other day during a wonderful yoga class that I had the opportunity to take from my yoga teacher Mara Campbell.  As I rolled up my mat, I noticed that it wasn't as clean as it could be.  I've used it outdoors, and there were still some old stains from grass and soil.  Your yoga mat is your space.  It's like a rectangular-shaped sacred nest to grow, contemplate, and work things out.  Stepping on someone else's mat while it's unrolled for yoga practice is a personal invasion.  When your yoga mat is dirty, your practice can feel lacking.  In keeping with Saucha, I went home and gave my mat a good soak.  The fresh and clean quality of my yoga mat just makes me feel better about practicing on it.  

During college, I had to have a neat and clean dorm room or apartment before I could sit down to write a paper.  I had never heard of Saucha back then, but I knew that my mind felt cluttered if my space was cluttered.  It rings true.  My college apartments (and early professional life apartments) weren't what you would call beautiful.  They were old and dingy.  However, keeping them clean made them feel prettier and lighter to me.  As a result, while I was home, I felt more organized and just more at ease in general.  I felt like I was in my own little haven.

Besides keeping our personal and professional spaces neat and clean, another way to promote Saucha in our lives is by being kinder with our thoughts.  Thinking more along the lines of "the glass is half full" (rather than half empty) and promoting positive thoughts in our lives is practicing Saucha too.  I'll even go further and suggest that you try to go for the glass being more full and and containing a chocolate milkshake or something equally delicious.  There's a lightness in positive thinking that can encourage us to carry more joy and less emotional junk.  

Saucha encourages us to make mindful choices about what food we put into our bodies, what ideologies we choose to embrace, and how to spend our time.  As your body embraces Saucha, there is a benefit of greater health.  As the mind embraces Saucha, there is more clarity, peace, and happiness within us.

Here are a yoga pose and a mudra to help with your quest for Saucha:

This is the Lotus Mudra.  Aidan was kind enough to demonstrate it for us.  This mudra is intended to detoxify the body and mind.  Breathe mindfully with equally-lengthed inhales and exhales while you practice it.  You could easily do this mudra while practicing the pose below.

Legs up the wall is a great pose.  It helps us with our circulation, reduces swelling, aids in digestion, and is calming for the nervous system.  This pose offers the benefits of an inversion without turning yourself upside down.  Place a cushion underneath your sacrum (that flat part of your low back) to increase the health benefits and comfort level.  Delaney is demonstrating the pose as a mermaid.....so this variation can be called "Mermaid Tail Up the Wall."  Very intermediate level  :)  

I hope you enjoy a little contemplation on Saucha this week.  See you next week!

Namaste,
Lori