6 Steps to Begin a Meditation Practice (and why do it)

November 2, 2018 | Yoga Philosophy

Have you heard that you should meditate? There are many potential benefits from meditating like reducing your stress, clearing your mind, feeling less tired, getting happier, etc. Interested, but not sure what this meditation stuff is?The practice of meditation is simple. Find a place to sit or lie down, close your eyes, and focus your attention on one thing (like your breath or sensations or visual aid). Actually practicing meditation is not so easy.Some folks get caught in the “I don’t have time for this” barrier. It feels like you’re doing nothing and there are SO MANY things to do! Some folks sit still and just fall asleep – so you get a nice nap, but no enlightenment.Some people try meditating and get frustrated with the constant chatter of their mind. They feel that they are not good at meditating, so why waste the time.Some people can set aside time … Continued

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Expect Obstacles!

October 4, 2018 | Yoga Philosophy

Yoga philosophy is based on the idea of evolution toward mental clarity and reduced suffering. Patanjali described in the Yoga Sutras methods for achieving this goal. Three consecutive sutras (1.30-1.32) describe potential obstacles along the path and how to overcome them.1.30 vyadhi styana samshaya pramada alasya avirati bhranti-darshana alabdha-bhumikatva anavasthitatva chitta vikshepa te antarayahDistractions arise (disease; dullness; doubt; carelessness; laziness; craving; distorted perspective; inability to know the true meaning and purpose of one’s practice; and inability to remain grounded) as obstacles naturally encountered on the path of evolution and self-awareness.1.31 duhkha daurmanasya angam-ejayatva shvasa prashvasah vikshepa sahabhuvaAs a result of encountering the obstacles listed in the previous sutra, four consequences arise: 1) duhkha = mental or physical pain, 2) daumanasya = sadness or dejection, 3) angam-ejayatva = shakiness or restlessness, and 4) shvasa/prashvasah = irregularities in the inhalation/exhalation.1.32 tat pratisedha artham eka tattva abhyasahTo prevent or deal with these nine … Continued

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Autumn, the Season of Falling Energy

October 1, 2018 | Five Element Acupuncture

This is the time of year when energy in nature and the universe move downward or inward, in a sense.  Energy is “falling.”  All things in nature approach their completion in the Fall.  It is time to release what is no longer needed.The Metal Element and the Lung & Large IntestineIn Chinese philosophy, the seasons relate to the Five Elements that are found in Nature.  Autumn is the Element of Metal (Winter is Water, Spring is Wood, Summer is Fire and Late Summer is Earth).  The Metal Element is related to the color white, the sound of weeping and the smell of rotten.This season of “taking in and letting go” reflects the organs of the Lung and the Large Intestine. The Lungs breathe energy in from the heavens (takes in energy), while the Large Intestine releases it (lets go).  “Taking in and letting go” signifies the energy of the Fall … Continued

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Sthira & Sukha: Stability & Ease

August 31, 2018 | Yoga Philosophy

In the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, sutra 2.46 is “sthira-sukham asanam”. This sutra is commonly understood as “yoga postures should be stable, and the body be at ease.” This understanding focuses the practice of yoga postures and movements.  Aiming for steadiness and ease when practicing yoga movement is a valuable concept, but there is a deeper meaning.Patanjali used the sutras to describe a path toward developing samadhi, cultivating mental focus and clarity. In this perspective, this sutra would referr to the quality of a practitioner’s meditation pose or seated posture. The practice of asana leads to an ease in the body and allows for extended time in physical stillness to shift the practice to concerns of the mind.Yoga postures should be stable, and the body be at ease – sutra 2.46A more literal translation of the sutra could be “in yoga, we should resolutely abide in a good space.” Sthira etymologically … Continued

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Learning to Breathe

May 11, 2018 | Yoga Philosophy

Pranayama is the yogic practice of breath control. This Sanskrit term is made up of two smaller words; prana and ayama. The term prana refers to the subtle energy that pervades all things. Ayama translated as “to stretch” or to expand. The practice of controlling breath allows us to expand breath capacity and manage subtle energies.Pranayama is also the fourth limb in Patanjali’s 8-Fold path as described in the Yoga Sutras. According to the sutra 2.50 (bahya abhyantara stambha vrittih desha kala sankhyabhih paridrishtah dirgha sukshmah):“Pranayama has three aspects of external or outward flow (exhalation), internal or inward flow (inhalation), and the third, which is the absence of both during the transition between them, and is known as fixedness, retention, or suspension. These are regulated by place, time, and number, with breath becoming slow and subtle.” – translation from SwamiJ.comThe mechanics of breath involve the process of pulling in oxygen … Continued

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Sitting with Discomfort

March 26, 2018 | Yoga

Not everything we do in yoga class is comfortable.That’s a little weird, maybe, since the goal of yoga is to open the body up so that people can be comfortable while they sit still to meditate. But getting comfortable with discomfort is part of the value of a yoga practice.Being comfortable with discomfort allows us to sit with uncomfortable situations peacefully. This means we can be there for a friend who is grieving without having to change anything.  No amount of good energy or intention will bring a beloved back from death, for example, and the urge to make everything comfortable again often causes harm. It’s where unhelpful platitudes like “God wouldn’t have put you through this if he didn’t know you could handle it” or “This was meant to be” come from – the idea that we need to make things better for a grieving person.Be Comfortable with Being UncomfortableWe … Continued

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Relaxation 101: A Blog for Busy People

March 23, 2018 | Naturopathic Medicine

How busy are you?  Are you too busy to realize how busy you really are?  Take this quick quiz: Do you eat in the car or at your desk? Do you forget to eat or skip meals altogether?Do you take your supplements/medicine with you because you are too busy to take them in the morning?Do you think of your hair and your make-up as a waste of time? Do you bring a change of clothes with you for the variety of different activities you do?Do you online shop because going to the store is too time consuming? Do you start work before going in to work? Do you continue working after going home? Many adults will answer yes to the majority of these questions.  We are often busy with good things: busy at work, busy at home, busy with kids, busy with social lives and family obligations.  Being busy isn’t wrong in itself, but it can … Continued

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Yoga & Chronic Illness

March 8, 2018 | Yoga

The Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are widely regarded as the authoritative text on yoga. These “threads” (translates from Sanskrit for sutra) of wisdom offer guidelines for living a meaningful and peaceful life.  Recently Sutra 2.16 has been on my mind:“Pain that has not yet come is avoidable” (in Sanskrit “Heyam Duhkham Anagatam”).  By practicing yoga with meditation, postures, breathing exercises, we are practicing a form of preventive medicine for our minds. I had already been addicted to yoga by the time I discovered this sutra, but if I had not discovered yoga, this sutra would have drawn me to it.  I had this realization that I actually had control over my thoughts, and in this busy world we live in, anything we can do to help calm the mind and prevent future stress, pain, anxiety is worth looking at. Since most chronic illnesses are due to stress, we know that our bodies can … Continued

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