Saturday, December 31, 2011

Demystifying Kundalini yoga...

I don't want to demystify Kundalini yoga too much. For me, that exotic mystery that Kundalini yoga holds is part of what draws me to it. I like the white clothing and the music and unfamiliarity of it all. It's mystical.


I'm not sure I'm really qualified to be explaining Kundalini yoga in the first place, but bear with me and I'll try to give you my best explanation in my own words of what I have come to learn about this unique style of yoga.

As a New Yorker, therefore, a natural skeptic, I was little unsure about this unusual style of yoga when I first came across it. Hearing that it was thousands of years old- made it a little easier to swallow.  Knowing the proven benefits of all styles of yoga made it even easier to swallow. But... the chanting. Why the chanting?


Chanting is not something familiar to us Westerners. It feels like of strange and awkward- like being asked to sing a song out loud when you don't really know the words or the melody. Before I could get even "kind of" comfortable with chanting I needed to know the answer to the following questions...

Why do we chant/use mantras in Kundalini yoga? And why do we do it in Sanskrit?

There ARE answers to these questions! Answers that made sense to me. So here goes...

Mantra literally means "to vibrate the mind". Chanting is believed to stimulate the 84 reflex points located in the hard palate of the mouth. Stimulating these reflex points is believed to stimulate the hypothalmus gland (which is located in the brain and is responsible for our emotions and behaviors). Stimulating the hypolthalmus gland, in turn is believed to stimulate the pineal gland. The pineal gland (also located in the brain) regulates body temperature, appetite, digestion, circulation and sleep. Additionally, the hypothalamus gland controls metabolic activity and helps us maintain healthy fluid levels and properly metabolize fats and sugars. Stimulating the pineal gland is believed to make the glandular system secrete- and when it does it creates a relaxed feeling of bliss.



So, is there any scientific proof behind chanting?
There is- according to ISKON news:
"One of the biggest studies of its kind, presented to the American Heart Association last year (2009), found patients with coronary heart disease who practiced meditation and chanting had nearly 50 per cent lower rates of heart attack, stroke and death compared to non-meditating subjects.
Another study last year of students at Georgetown University found that chanting helped lower blood pressure after three months of regular practice."


Okay, so why do we chant in Sanskrit or Gurmukhi? Why not English or another language?

These languages have more vibrational qualities than other languages (like English) and these help stimulate the glands to open up your energy. Sanskrit and Gurmukhi are also used as a nod of respect for the origin of our yoga practice.


So, I hope that demystifies Kundalini yoga just enough for you to try it for yourself. If you feel calm, relaxed and peaceful when you're done, you might just want to try it out on a regular basis. Yogi Brent's video will be up on Monday. It will be a wonderful 11 minute first introduction into the chanting and breathing of Kundalini yoga.

Namaste and Happy New Year to you all!



Friday, December 30, 2011

What is Kundalini Yoga?...

If you've been reading this blog for a while, then you have undoubtedly heard me mention Kundalini yoga. Kundalini yoga is my yoga of choice. It makes me feel more relaxed and gives me more energy than any other form of yoga that I have tried.

In a few days I will be posting a video made specifically for the Finding My Way OM family from a real yogi (Yogi Brent) from Los Angeles. I'm really excited to bring this to you because I think he has an amazing teaching style and a kindness about him that just jumps off the screen. I know you're going to love him!

I want to give you a little history lesson on Kundalini before the video because for some of you who have never been exposed to Kundalini- it can seem well, kind of.. strange! Honestly, I do it and sometimes it feels kind of strange to me! But once you understand the reasoning behind some of the poses/breathing/chanting you'll feel better about it. And once you experience the energy you feel after practicing it you'll realize that it far outweighs any strange looks you'll get from your family while you're walking around holding onto your ankles (yes- that's a real pose).


I love the description of Kundalini yoga from The Awareness Center in Passadena, CA:

Kundalini yoga is considered the most comprehensive system of yoga as it combines meditation, prayer, asana (physical postures), and pranayama (breathing exercises). “Kundalini” literally means “the curl of the lock of hair of the beloved.” This poetic metaphor refers to the flow of energy and consciousness that exists within each of us, enabling us to merge with the Universal Self. Yoga, literally translated as “divine union”, happens when the individual and universal consciousness are merged. The Upanishads, the sacred scriptures of Hinduism that date back to the fifth century B.C., provided a written description of Kundalini, although the oral tradition dates back even further. For thousands of years, this sacred science and technology was veiled in secrecy, passed along in the oral tradition from master to chosen disciple."

"Kundalini Yoga was never taught publicly until Yogi Bhajan, Ph. D. challenged the age-old tradition of secrecy. In his compassionate wisdom, Yogi Bhajan brought Kundalini Yoga to the United States in 1969. Since then, it has spread all over the world. He wrote, “I am sharing these teachings to create a science of the total self…It is the birthright of every human being to be healthy, happy and holy.” The master of Kundalini Yoga, and head of the Sikh faith for the Western Hemisphere, Yogi Bhajan also founded 3HO (The Healthy, Happy, and Holy Organization), a worldwide non-profit foundation that offers classes in Kundalini Yoga, meditation, vegetarian nutrition, and healthy life choices."



Kundalini Yoga was designed for the householder: those who live in the world, who have families and jobs, and who want to balance the inner and outer world. Kundalini Yoga fits the busy lives that most of us lead. It is effective, efficient and easy. People who practice Kundalini Yoga say they can feel changes in the body and psyche within a few minutes, and experience even deeper changes through regular practice. Although it can be practiced religiously each day, yoga is not a religion. A more accurate description of yoga would be to say that it is an ancient science."

More about Kundalini tomorrow...




Thursday, December 29, 2011

Yoga Inspired Fashion...

Yoga is a way of life. Simple subtleties in your wardrobe can hint at your yoga lifestyle in a classy and elegant way.

You don't have to walk around with bare feet and your yoga mat slung over your shoulder to let others know you live a yoga lifestyle.

Wear yoga, live yoga, be yoga everyday. Today I bring to you some "OM Style", collections that I have put together that have a yoga inspired feeling to them. I hope you enjoy! (Click on a collection for a larger view).

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Check out our Fourth Giveaway!

Do you know what a mala is and what it represents? Malas, also called Tibetan Prayer Beads, are used as way to count repetitions of prayers, chants or devotions. Prayer beads are used by Buddhists, Catholics, Anglicans, Hindus, Sikh's and many other religions to keep the mind focused on the meditation at hand.



The number of beads differs between religions. Buddhists and Hindus use the Japa Mala which usually has 108 beads, or 27 which are counted four times. Many yogis use these mala to enhance their mindful awareness and sometimes as a fashion statement to show that they subscribe to the "yoga lifestyle".

Now that you're educated in malas I know that you will enjoy the beauty of them even more when you visit today's highlighted shop,  True Nature Yoga.

(Keep reading below to see giveaway details).


True Nature Yoga is owned and operated by Carol Somers, a Mom, Yoga instructor and Level II Usui Reiki practitioner. Carol makes beautiful malas as well as custom malas. She brings a creative and fun approach to her work as and creates many different styles of malas. You can find her work at her Etsy shop: www.truenatureyoga.etsy.com


Here is what Carol has to say about herself and her shop:

"I am mother to a 13 year old boy, working full time. Alongside my full time job, I have been teaching yoga and making malas part time since February 2010."

"Upon completion of our teacher training we were asked to make a congruent statement regarding what we were going to do next. The idea popped into my head that I was going to make malas. I had made a couple for my own use and really loved the sense of peace they brought me even while creating them."


"What started as a simple statement has turned into a passion. I love to explore new beads and new creations. Each one is special to me. Yoga and meditation have brought a true sense of peace and balance to my life that had been missing. I hope that my malas can bring a small bit of that to others."



"I have also become increasingly interested in holistic healing. I am certified Level II Usui Reiki practitioner and cleanse each mala upon completing them.

You can contact Carol at:
www.truenatureyoga.etsy.com
truenatureyoga108@gmail.com

And now... the Giveaway! 
Carol has generously donated a beautiful Hematite Mala bracelet. Hematite is believed to bring the wearer focus, concentration, willpower, reliability, courage, confidence, and optimism.




Mandatory Entry Requirements For All Giveaways:  

Simply do BOTH of the following 2 things:

1. • Follow me on Google Friend Connect (located on the right sidebar) OR

     • Follow me on Google+ (also located in right sidebar)

2. • Leave a comment on the Giveaway post with your primary email address and name (so I can contact you if you win) and tell me how you followed me.

You must complete the mandatory entry criteria or your entry will be disqualified and deemed null and void. Mandatory entry requirements will equal 1 contest(s)/giveaway(s) entry.


If you are already following us by GFC and/or Google+, then just leave a comment with your email and let us know that.

Bonus/Extra Contest/Giveaway Entry Opportunities (each worth 1 entry):

If you would like to earn extra entries into the contest/giveaway: please make sure to let me know that you have earned extra entries by submitting a separate comment with your email address, name and contact information for each extra entry you earn)



• Subscribe by email to FindingMyWayOM.com (located on the right sidebar)


• Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/FindingMyWayOM

• Like me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Finding-My-Way-OM


• Place a text link to FindingMyWayOM.com on your blog

• Post this giveaway on your blog with a link back to this giveaway post (comment with link to your post)

• Update your Facebook status to link back to this giveaway (comment with a link to your Facebook page)



WINNING, Duh.
This contest will end at 11:59pm on Saturday 12/31/11. Winner will be chosen at random by random.org or by 3rd party of FindingMyWayOm.com's choosing.


Rules and Legal Mumbo Jumbo
Contest(s)/Giveaway(s) open to Continental United States Residences Only unless otherwise specified in the contest(s)/giveaway(s) post.
Contest(s)/Giveaway(s) ship to Continental United States Addresses Only (No P.O. Boxes) unless otherwise specified in the giveaway post.
Entrant(s) Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.
No email address, name or contact information, equals no valid entry
Winners will be chosen randomly - Random.org or other 3rd Party.
Contest(s)/Giveaway(s) end at time specified in the giveaway post and all entries submitted after the contest/giveaway deadline will be null and void.
Winner(s) will be notified as soon as a winner is determined and will be emailed. As a result, the notified winner must respond within 48 hours of an email being sent by findingmywayom@verizon.net

All contest(s)/giveaway(s) are provided at the discretion of the 3rd party product/service provider(s) and may be discontinued at any time with no product or service being given away.
FindingMyWayOM.com is not responsible for any altering of these Rules and Conditions or giveaway(s) on or by other blogs and or websites.
No purchase is necessary.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lacey Calvert Interview...



Perhaps you have taken one of her yoga classes or maybe you were drawn in by her infectious smile on the Advil commercials. Either way- if you're a part of the yoga community, by now you have probably heard of Lacey Calvert. If you haven't... you are about to.

Lacey Calvert is the owner and operator of California Yoga Sport, a company that integrates yoga into the lives of athletes. Trained by CorePower Yoga in Yoga Sculpt, Power Yoga, Ryde, and Hot Power Fusion, Lacey now trains future yogis, leads bootcamps and teaches private TRX classes in her community.  Using all of her experience, Lacey has built her company upon customization of yoga sessions for each athletic sport.  Being an avid snowboarder, surfer and runner, her sessions target muscles athletes use while making each class fun, upbeat and full of laughs.  Based in San Francisco, CA, Lacey is someone who truly loves the outdoors, staying active and traveling the world.  



Her Advil commercials and print ads are an inspiration to all yoga-lovers, but I would like to claim Lacey as one of "the girls". In this day of fake boobs, fake tans, and silly-pursed-lipped-poses for the camera, Lacey Calvert is a refreshing display of a strong, genuine, healthy, athletic woman who is using her body as an instrument and not just an ornament. I'm glad to have women like Lacey around to show my two girls a positive example of what a woman can accomplish in the world when she is true to herself and her passion. She inspires me to follow my own heart and I hope she inspires you too.


Lacey was kind enough to grant me an interview. Here's what she had to say:
 

How did you find yoga and how long have you been practicing and teaching?  
At the age of 16, I was diagnosed with heart disease.  The doctor ordered me to find ways to control my heart rate and breathing, yet being an athlete my whole life, staying still was extremely difficult.  I tried all sorts of meditation, massage and yoga but it wasn't until I was 19 that I fell in love with yoga.  I started doing Power Yoga at CorePower Yoga, and knew it was the right fit.  I noticed my breathing becoming slower and my overall attitude and demeanor changing.  It made me find myself while still challenging my inner athlete.

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their yoga practice? 
There are so many types of yoga out in the world these days, so make sure to find the one that fits you.  Try to attend classes without judgement and do what feels good.  I always tell my new students that you can't do yoga wrong.  Just open your heart and let your body awareness grow and guide you.
 
What advice would you give to someone looking to be a yoga instructor?  
 If you have ever even thought about doing a training, do it.  I am a big believer of intuition and instinct, so you will know if its the right time in your life to do the training.  Enter training with an open intention.  Most of the time what you go into the training for is not what you get out of it.  Its truly a life changing experience and I am so lucky to be able to lead and watch people grow throughout this process.

I've heard that "luck" had a lot to do with you being an Advil spokesperson and appearing in their commercial and print ads. Can you explain how it came about? 
 I do feel pretty "lucky", or shall I say blessed in life right now.  I moved to San Francisco after something drew me back to the bay area in the middle of the night.  In that same day that I decided to move, I had a job, a place to live, and felt content on the decision.  About a week into moving, I walked out of the local grocery store in the Marina District and a lady approached me and asked if I would answer some questions.  I told her about what I did for a living and she asked me if I ever took pain relievers in my job.  I must have answered the right way, since a week later a production company called me and wanted to shoot an international commercial about my real life.  No acting, just me in the studio that I work at in the Bay Area.  That commercial turned into some great sponsorships and more commercials and print ads. 

I am a strong believer in the Law of Attraction and that we can bring the right opportunities to us with the right mindset. Do you feel like your "luck" with Advil was more than just "luck"?  

I look at it as not so much luck, but maybe I am doing something right in my life today.  The universe is truly listening to my goals and dreams and I know my hard work and dedication is allowing these amazing things to happen.  My parents raised me to always look at the positive.  I embrace each day with a smile and a challenge that will overall make me a better person.  I am proud to say that I have never had a "bad day" or a failure in my life.  I take each day as a day of growth and happiness, which sets you up for success.  So yes, I do think that this perspective on life has brought some great things into my life and hope to continue this until I am 106!
 

Where would you like yoga and your newfound celebrity from the Advil commercials to take you? What is the "dream" for Lacey Calvert?  
 I really don't feel like a celebrity, but am thankful for everything that this opportunity has given me.  My clientele is growing and I am able to do things that I would never thought that I could.  In the next few months I am traveling to teach yoga in various snow resorts, then hooking up with Oakley Women's at their Progression Sessions in Mammoth, CA and Loon, NH.  I am teaching yoga to women snowboard campers in the morning, then they will learn to increase their snowboard skills from professional women snowboarders.  It is a dream for me to be involved and I am really looking forward to doing this, and similar things in the future.  I am also working towards building a studio in San Francisco, that will highlight yoga triggered for athletic people.  But right now, in the present, my dream is to stay this happy.  To enjoy each day and make sure that what I am doing will benefit myself and others around me.  To me, that’s the idea of success.


To learn more about Lacey Calvert, please visit www.californiayogasport.com.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Heal Yourself for the Holidays...


"The world is a spa, a nature retreat, a wealth of healing resources. 
 Pour Epsom salts and essential oils your bath. 
Sit quietly by a tree or in a garden. 
Walk around the block in your neighborhood. 
Spend an afternoon in a nearby park or a day at the lake or beach. 
Throw stones into the river while you sit on the bank contemplating the eternal stream of life. 
Allow beautiful music to quietly imbue the stillness with healing 
instead of the pounding of your mind. 
Light a fire and awaken that darkened hearth 
to glowing flames and soothing warmth."

~Melody Beattie, Journey to the Heart

Thursday, December 22, 2011

And the Winner is...


The winner for our third Giveaway is Courtney M! 

Courtney wins a beautiful set of notecards from artist Corinna Luyken

Even if you didn't win, you can still check out Corinna's beautiful items at www.corinnaluyken.etsy.com

Thanks to all who entered. We have more giveaway's coming up- so stay tuned!

Sharing Yourself With Others...

Yesterday I posted my first video of myself on the blog. It was hard for me to do this. I have a difficult time watching myself on video. I tend to become overly critical of myself- the way I sound, the way I look, is my house clean enough in the background, etc... It made me feel kind of raw and exposed to be putting this out there for the world to see, but at the same time it felt good. It was kind of freeing.


I tend to internalize. I don't really open myself up to people very much, which is yet another reason this blog is very therapeutic for me. Not only am I opening myself up to one person, I've decided to go for it and open myself up to the world all at once!


I received a wonderful comment from one of our readers that made it all worth it: "Awesome Video, Traci! I think what you are doing is brave and exciting. You are doing great and inspiring work! xoxo." This really made me smile and reminded me of how important it is to share.


Sharing is something I'm working on with my four year old. She's such a great big sister to her one year old little sister, but recently we've been having issues with sharing toys. She doesn't want to share anything and my one year old is very "grabby". Let's be honest here, if I was reading a magazine and someone came and ripped it out of my hands- I would not be too happy to share! So I understand how she feels- and it's even harder when the "something" you need to share is yourself.


Just like a toy, it's much easier to clutch onto what we think and feel and keep it inside. It's safer to keep things to ourselves. But when we open up and share we make connections and friendships and learn more about ourselves. Sharing yourself is really like giving a gift to someone else- and when when they open up to you too, you have found something priceless.


At 39 years of age, I still have to remind myself to share! I found this wonderful video below (for kids of all ages) on Yoga Mint about sharing and I'm happy to share it with you today. Namaste.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A little bit of ME...

Today I bring to you... me! Here's a short video I did (it's my first ever) to introduce myself and the blog and let you know what's coming up next. I hope you enjoy it.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ajai Alai Mantra...


In Kundalini yoga, the mantra/meditation "Ajai Alai" is used to give you great strength to overcome any obstacle. It is supposed to lift you from depression and anger and is meant to be practiced whenever you need it.

The lyrics, written in Gurmukhi (the most common script for writing Punjabi, a language spoken by about 60 million people in India). They are a little difficult for us westerners to pronounce but I will include the spelling as well as the meanings.

If you watch the attached Ajai Alai video below, by artist Sat Purkh Kaur Khalsa from her album Queen Be, you will hear the beauty of the words and also (like me) find yourself humming this beautiful and catchy tune whether you want to or not!

 Ajai Alai
Ajai Alai - Invincible, Indestructible.
Abhai Abai - Fearless, Unchanging.
Abhoo Ajoo - Unformed, Unborn.
Anaas Akaas - Imperishable, Etheric
Aganj Abhanj - Unbreakable, Impenetrable.
Alakkh Abhakkh - Unseen, Unaffected.
Akaal Dy-aal - Undying, Merciful
Alaykh Abhaykh - Indescribable, Uncostumed.
Anaam Akaam - Nameless, Desireless.
Agaah Adhaah - Unfathomable, Incorruptible.
Anaathay Pramaathay - Unmastered, Destroyer.
Ajonee Amonee - Beyond birth, Beyond silence.
Na Raagay Na Rangay - Beyond love, Beyond color.
Na Roopay Na Raykhay - Beyond form, Beyond shape.
Akarmang Abharmang - Beyond karma, Beyond doubt.
Aganjay Alaykhay - Unconquerable, Indescribable.



Monday, December 19, 2011

Our Third Giveaway! Check it Out!

Another amazing artist, another amazing giveaway (keep reading below to see giveaway information)...

Today's showcase features the whimsical, beautiful art of Corinna Luyken.  Here is what Corinna has to say about her work...


"I find inspiration in nature, fashion, and the grace/whimsy of the human form."


"I also love to move (yoga, gymnastics, aikido, modern dance). In recent years I have been having so much fun with the yoga that it is showing up in many of my drawings. "



"I make original art, matted re-prints, greeting cards, calendars, and knit-hats. My cards are available in the US and Canada through Emery-Burton, and select designs are now available on needle-point canvas through Maggie Co."


 "A few of my paintings can be seen on the set of the Universal Pictures’ film, Baby Mama."


"A portion of the profits from all sales support peace, education, sustainability, and the environment".



 To see Corinna's Items for Sale go to: www.corinnaluyken.etsy.com
To see more of her portfolio visit: www.corinnaluyken.com

And now... the Giveaway! 

Corinna has generously donated a beautiful pack of 5 yoga-art cards and envelopes in a protective box. See what they look like here: http://www.etsy.com/listing/49162399/yoga-art-cards-variety-pack

Mandatory Entry Requirements For All Giveaways:  

Simply do BOTH of the following 2 things:

1. • Follow me on Google Friend Connect (located on the right sidebar) OR

     • Follow me on Google+ (also located in right sidebar)

2. • Leave a comment on the Giveaway post with your primary email address and name (so I can contact you if you win) and tell me how you followed me.

You must complete the mandatory entry criteria or your entry will be disqualified and deemed null and void. Mandatory entry requirements will equal 1 contest(s)/giveaway(s) entry.


If you are already following us by GFC and/or Google+, then just leave a comment with your email and let us know that.

Bonus/Extra Contest/Giveaway Entry Opportunities (each worth 1 entry):

If you would like to earn extra entries into the contest/giveaway: please make sure to let me know that you have earned extra entries by submitting a separate comment with your email address, name and contact information for each extra entry you earn)



• Subscribe by email to FindingMyWayOM.com (located on the right sidebar)


• Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/FindingMyWayOM

• Like me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Finding-My-Way-OM


• Place a text link to FindingMyWayOM.com on your blog

• Post this giveaway on your blog with a link back to this giveaway post (comment with link to your post)

• Update your Facebook status to link back to this giveaway (comment with a link to your Facebook page)



WINNING, Duh.
This contest will end at 11:59pm on Wednesday 12/21/11. Winner will be chosen at random by random.org or by 3rd party of FindingMyWayOm.com's choosing.


Rules and Legal Mumbo Jumbo
Contest(s)/Giveaway(s) open to Continental United States Residences Only unless otherwise specified in the contest(s)/giveaway(s) post.
Contest(s)/Giveaway(s) ship to Continental United States Addresses Only (No P.O. Boxes) unless otherwise specified in the giveaway post.
Entrant(s) Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.
No email address, name or contact information, equals no valid entry
Winners will be chosen randomly - Random.org or other 3rd Party.
Contest(s)/Giveaway(s) end at time specified in the giveaway post and all entries submitted after the contest/giveaway deadline will be null and void.
Winner(s) will be notified as soon as a winner is determined and will be emailed. As a result, the notified winner must respond within 48 hours of an email being sent by findingmywayom@verizon.net

All contest(s)/giveaway(s) are provided at the discretion of the 3rd party product/service provider(s) and may be discontinued at any time with no product or service being given away.
FindingMyWayOM.com is not responsible for any altering of these Rules and Conditions or giveaway(s) on or by other blogs and or websites.
No purchase is necessary.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

The OM Home...

Let the philosophies of yoga, the peace and the stillness of yoga encompass your whole self, your whole life, and even your whole home.

Today we bring to you pictures of the "OM Home". Spaces and items that relax, inspire and nurture. Enjoy!