Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Hall-OM-ween!

Hall-OM-weening all day with my two little bunnies. Hope you had a wonderful day!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Matrix Moment...


I'm waiting for a Matrix moment during my yoga or meditation. That thought occurred to me this morning while I was trying to meditate.
Remember that scene in the in The Matrix when all of a sudden Neo is "in"? He can see the code streaming down before him. His mind has expanded and can finally see The Matrix.
It would be nice to have something that dramatic happen, although that might be a little far-fetched. I do want something to happen though. Have you had a Matrix moment? I'd love to hear about it.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

For the rest of my life...


For the rest of my life there are two days that 
will never again trouble me.   The first day is yesterday with all its
blunders and tears, its follies and defeats.   
Yesterday has passed away beyond my control forever.
The other day is tomorrow with its pitfalls
and threats, its dangers and mystery.   
Until the sun rises again, I have no stake in tomorrow, 
for it is still unborn.   


With God's help and only one day to concentrate 
all my effort and energy on, this day, I can win!   
Only when I add the burden of those two 
frightening eternities, yesterday and tomorrow, 
am I in danger of faltering under the load.   
Never again! This is my day! This is my only day!   
Today is all there is!   Today is the rest of my life 
and I resolve to conduct myself through 
every waking hour in the following manner. . . .   


to heed the wise advice of Jesus and Confucius and Zoroaster 
and treat everyone I meet, friend or foe, stranger or family, 
as I would want them to treat me.
  to maintain a rein on my tongue and my temper, 
guarding against foolish moments of fault-finding and insults.


To greet all those I encounter with a smile instead of a frown, 
and a soft word of encouragement 
instead of disdain or even worse, silence.
  to be sympathetic and attentive to the sorrows 
and struggles of others, realizing that there are hidden 
woes in every life no matter how exalted or lowly.
  to make haste to be kind to all others, 
understanding that life is too short to be vengeful 
or malicious, too soon ended to be petty or unkind.


~Og Mandino, in The Return of the Ragpicker

Friday, October 28, 2011

Phew! My Yoga Mat Stinks...

Ah, yoga. Some mornings I just can't wait to get on my mat. I move myself into downward dog, stretching my arms out, pushing my legs into the earth and letting my head release down and... Oh My God! My yoga mat stinks!
I am a somewhat eco-friendly, green kind of girl and I've been using the same yoga mat for 10 years now. It's actually not a yoga mat at all, but a Pilates mat from Windsor Pilates. It's made of blue PVC and even after all of these years... it stinks! That lingering chemical odor just wont go away and I've decided it's time for a new yoga mat.
 I've been researching online for a few days now and it hasn't been very encouraging. Most of the inexpensive mats are still made of PVC. The eco-friendly mats are either not very durable or they are made of of rubber, which apparently really stinks.
After some close comparison and reading a few articles I have a winner. I will be placing my order for the Aurorae Northern Lights yoga mat in Purple (my oldest daughters favorite color).


Not only is this mat biodegradable and odor-free (according to all the reviews I read), but it's also a little longer than most standard mats- something that I really like since I frequently find myself stepping off of my mat. Considering it is the highest rated yoga mat on Amazon, and has a 4 1/2 star average, I know I wont be dissapointed. I've included a link to it below if you too have a stinky yoga mat and are looking to upgrade. Namaste!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I SUCK at Meditation...


Well, saying "I suck" might be a bit too harsh. I've only been at it daily for about 2 months now and I have gotten better at it, but it's certainly not something that comes easily to me. My mind is constantly chattering away about what I have to do, who I have to call, what I'm feeling anxious about today, the kids, what's for dinner, etc...". It's very hard for me just to sit and "be".



When I first started meditating I felt a tightness in my chest and a shortness of breath. Not relaxing! I hoped if I continued my practice that eventually this would subside. Thankfully, it did, but I'm not as far along with it as I had hoped.

I guess I have to cut myself a little slack as a Mom because my meditation is sometimes interrupted by a cute 13 month old, or a cute 3 year old- and many times, both at once. Frequently after I'm interrupted I'll say to myself  "I'll just meditate again later," but that almost never happens. It's hard enough to find the 10-20 minutes a day that I do dedicate to it.



I'm also conflicted about the details of my meditation. Should I sit back in a chair or sit cross-legged with a straight back? I flip-flop between the two. Sometimes I find it hard to maintain good posture for my entire meditation session.  It's not always easy to sit up straight for that long. I used to sit back on some pillows until I read that your spine needs to be straight for optimal energy movement throughout the body while meditating. Okay. Let's give that a shot.

Another conflict I have is whether to choose silent or guided meditation? I can punch up a guided meditation on my computer and really get lost in it and relax. I love those things! But... I feel like "true" meditation is done in silence, like monks and gurus have done for thousands of years.



I'm waiting for an "aha" moment in my meditation. I'm waiting for a conversation with God or a certain feeling or vision or something that lets me know that I am connecting to something greater than myself. I'm afraid if I'm listening to someone else talking me through my meditation I'll miss my message from God.

Some meditation teachers say to count, others say to repeat a mantra, some say to breathe a certain way while others stress not adjusting your normal breathing at all. It's all very conflicting and confusing.

From what I can gather it seems like the best thing to do is just to find the best way for you and practice, practice, practice AND don't forget to stay open to new ideas. Like just today for example, I found an article on meditation that stated "the only thing you should do differently with your breath is notice how it feels cold on the way in and warm on the way out. That really worked for me! I found it much easier to relax while concentrating on the temperature of my breath.

So, I'm getting better. I guess I don't "suck" at meditation as much as I used to. I'm still finding my way in my own practice though and learning what works for me.

I wish you peace in your own practice and hope you find the right path for you! Namaste.










Wednesday, October 26, 2011

FREE yoga? Yup...

If you practice yoga at home (like me), I have some great resources for you:

First off, check your "On Demand" function on your TV. My cable provider is Verizon and they have a wonderful array of yoga videos for your viewing pleasure. These are FREE! Each provider has their own menu and way of bringing up the videos, with Verizon I have to go to: "On Demand", then "Free", then "Home and Leisure", then "Exercise", and then I can view the selection of yoga videos under "Mag Rack" and "Fit TV". You can also search for the word "yoga" under your "On Demand" menu.

Also, there is a wonderful, wonderful website called Yoga Today. Each day they post a new full length yoga class on their site. You do have to pay for this service, but they do let you try it out for free. BUT... they have also posted many of their archived videos on youtube.com. Once you're on youtube, simply search for "Yoga Today" and you'll find a whole lot of amazing videos. If you find a teacher on Yoga Today that you think is great (I heart Sarah) you can also search for videos by their name (ie. yoga today sarah or yoga today neesha or yoga today adi).

If Kundalini yoga peaks your interest you can find some great videos on youtube as well. Just type in "kundalini yoga" and many videos will come up. I recommend the full length videos by yogayak. Just look for the lady in the white beanie cap with the brunette braids.

Happy FREE yoga to you!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Top 10 Reasons Mom's Need Meditation


10. "Honey, have you seen my ________ (sneakers, car keys, paperwork, blue t-shirt, proposal, tennis racket, green gloves, wallet, shaving cream, sheet music, etc...)?"

9. To make up for lack of sleep.

8. "Mommy, WHY can't I have candy for breakfast?"

7. Dora the Explorer swimming in the fishtank.

6. "Mommy my diaper didn't work!"

5. Letter home from school stating "Child has been exposed to (strep, measles, mumps, lice, swine flu, chicken pox, scabies, etc...)."

4. Clogged toilet from entire cast of Backyardigans "swimming" in there.

3. Facepainting with magic markers on little sisters face.

2. "NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO."

1. "Mommy. Mama. Ma. MOM. Mama. Maaaaaaaaa. Moooooommmmm. Mommy! MAMAMAMA. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mama? Mommy. Mommmmmmmeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Where I Was and Where I am Now (Part II)

Continued from yesterday...

I started practicing every day. I would use my DVD's too, but mainly I was looking to learn more so I started looking for videos on my TV's "On Demand" feature. I found A TON of yoga videos and happily tried a new one each day.

It was there that I stumbled onto a video from Maya Fiennes. It was a clip from her Detox and Destress DVD and I loved it. It was so different than any yoga I had ever tried before and I felt amazing after practicing. This was Kundalini yoga and it's quite different from other types of yoga. I felt almost silly at first doing the chanting and strange breathing, but the way I felt after doing these things far outweighed the strange glances I would get from my husband.

I felt relaxed, energized, peaceful and happy. I am unfortunately a nervous person. I always seem to dreading or fearing something. Kundalini yoga tells me that my nervousness is not something that is just a "part of me", it is an imbalance somewhere in the body. I like that. I REALLY like that. Who wants to walk around like a nervous wreck for the rest of their life? Not me.

I googled Maya Fiennes (if you haven't done this- do it. She's amazing) and looked for anything "Kundalini" that I could find. I found a lot, read a lot, and learned a lot but one thing I couldn't find was a teacher close to my house.

I hope to keep improving my own practice, with a focus on Kundalini and once my 1 year old is old enough for school to become certified myself as a Kundalini yoga teacher- even if I have to travel to do so.



Around the same time I started my daily yoga practice (this time around) I also started a daily meditation practice. I am much better at yoga. I truly have a difficult time meditating but know that I will get better at it if I stick with it. It's only been a daily thing for about 2 months now, and I only have about 15-20 minutes a day to devote to it. I can say that if I am at a level 8 on the stress meter, I can bring it down to a level 6 after  about 15 minutes of meditation. That's a start!

So that's my history in a nutshell. I hope you'll travel along with me on my path. I hope to learn a lot and make lots of new yogi friends. I'm ready for a big change in my life and think that yoga and meditation is the right path for me. Namaste.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Where I Was and Where I am Now...

Since this blog is only a few days old, I thought I should write about where I have come from in my practice of yoga and meditation. I want to be able to look back and see how my skills, thoughts and desires have changed as I progress...

Yoga. I bought my first yoga VHS (yes, VHS) about 18 years ago. It was Ali Mac Graw - Yoga Mind and Body. I fell instantly in love. The colors (which were the inspiration for this blog), the music, the asanas, I loved it all and couldn't get enough. I practiced as much as I could for as long as I could, but as a girl in her early twenties "partying" took precedence and it soon ended up on the shelf.


Throughout the next 18 years I continued to dabble in yoga. I would break out the Ali Mac Graw tape, or my Linda Arkin tape, or my Rodney Yee Tape and happily immerse myself in the wonderful poses they led me through. Eventually the VHS's turned to DVD's and I bought myself a 8 DVD yoga box set from Gaiam. I loved it. For about four months I practiced yoga every day. I felt better than I ever had before. My body felt strong and agile. I thought I would practice forever. But, eventually I turned away from it again. I can't remember the exact reason, most likely just "life" got in the way. I got married, moved my husband in with me and we started a new business. I did start practicing again when I was pregnant with my first daughter, Cassidy. But once again life got busy.

We moved to a new home, I was a new Mom and my new daughter was born with a Congenital Heart Defect. We spent the first year of her life making many, many trips to Children's Hospital Boston for surgeries and procedures. I see now that yoga would have been very beneficial to me during that time, but I was shell-shocked and never quite found the time to practice.


Once we finally got our Cassidy healthy, I became pregnant with my second daughter, Eden. I started yoga again and this time added some Pilates into the mix. After Eden was born I switched just to Pilates in an attempt to lose my baby weight faster. I remember telling my husband yoga was my "true love", but I wanted to get the weight off faster than yoga would allow.

I exercised every day trying a variety of methods to lose the weight: The treadmill, walks outside, Jillian Michaels and assorted other exercise nazi's on my TV, hand weights- you name it, I did it. I was eating better, drinking more water, more green tea and it all paid off! Within 10-11 months I had lost the baby weight.

Never had I had such discipline in my life. I needed it. I needed a strong body to lift babies and toddlers and car seats and stroller. Mom's need to be strong. I needed the energy that exercise gave me to keep up with my two little people and not lose myself. I felt strong. Yoga called me back. I realized if I I could finally combine my love of yoga with my new found discipline, I could finally have the practice I have always wanted...

TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW (PART 2)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Still Sick Today

Still feeling under the weather today. I was poking around youtube for yoga poses to help alleviate my cold symptoms and I found this instead. It says it's supposed to help you heal up from a cold or the flu. Does it work? I have no idea, but I do think the music is kinda cool...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Yoga and the Common Cold

I am sick today. Not super-horrible-feeling-like-total-garbage sick, but I have a pretty nasty head cold. I rolled out my yoga mat to practice and got as far as Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana) and... well... that was that. I just don't have it in me today.
I went onto youtube to see if I could find any great yoga videos like "How to use yoga to get rid of your cold RIGHT NOW!" but no such luck.
All I found was what I already knew, that when you're sick you need to rest and take it easy. You can do some simple restorative poses or just lay down on your mat and breathe. Mainly, you just need to relax.
But relaxing can be hard! Even when I'm sick I have a part of me that says "GET UP! You need to practice yoga today! You have to do it EVERY DAY. You have to get better at it NOW."

I'm ignoring that voice today. I understand that yoga is about meeting and accepting my body where it is right now. I don't have to have my heels touch the floor in Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). I don't have to have my head on my knees in Seated Forward Bend (Paschimothanasana), which is good because I can't do either of those things right now. But that's okay. We need to be gentle with ourselves and remind ourselves that it's not a competition. There's no time limit or grading system and the Yoga Police will not come arrest you if you can''t loosen up those hamstrings a little.
So today, I will relax as much as my two girls will let me. I will eat soup and drink tea and take a hot bath. I will accept that today might not be the best day to advance my "yoga body", but perhaps doing nothing will be just what I need to advance my "yoga mind".
.

I don't WANT to go to India...

It seems to me that every time I read a story about somebody's quest for self-enlightenment, they somehow, in some way, end up in India.
I don't want to go to India.
India is crowded. It's dusty. It's hot- and from what I've been told, a little smelly. The flight takes forever. The airfare's expensive. The food can make you ill and the roads are very bumpy.
Also... I don't want to live in an ashram. I don't want to shave my head. I don't want to chant all day long and spend 42 hours a week meditating. I don't have that kind of time. I don't want to wear orange robes and change my name to Assalakamala and fast for 2 weeks straight. Besides, I have two small children! I can't go away for that long.

I realize that this might be an unfair exaggeration of what India is like and it's very true that my distorted perception of India is from watching "Slumdog Millionaire" one too many times. I'm sure that parts of India can be quite beautiful and enchanting. I've heard some good things. But it's sooo far. And did I mention the dust?
My point is really this: Does one really have to travel to the far ends of the earth for enlightenment? Can't enlightenment be found while meditating on a rusty park bench in Cleveland? Can't it be waiting for you in the hiking trails that wind behind your Aunt Suzy's house in Lindenhurst? Isn't is possible that it's waiting for you in your own living room while sitting in Lotus pose in your favorite pair of gray sweats?

Perhaps there is something magical about India, but I want to find a connection to the Universe right here at home. I need to find a way to make enlightenment fit into my life the way it is right now. I don't want to wait for it. I don't wait until my children are grown or my husband can get enough vacation time or I can save up some money... I want to start my journey today. I want to feel more connected, more peaceful and I want to have an inner serenity. I want to change my life and make it better than it is right now. I want to feel that I'm on the right path for me. I want to know more about God than I know today.
Maybe one day I will travel to India. Perhaps I'll find that the food is delicious and that I look great in an orange robe. But until then, my life and my obligations are here. My home is my ashram, my kids are my little Guru's and I'll try to squeak in an hour of yoga and mediation every day. Can I find enlightenment like that? I don't know. But, it's my true hope that at the end of my journey I will be able to report not only that enlightenment exists for Yogi's in India, but that it exists even for busy Mom's at home, like me.