A writing prompt

I-am

The writing prompt was “I am __________”

Tell me what you think, then tell me who you are………

I am_________Too many things to just pick one.

I am __________depending on my mood….

I am ___________ depending on who I am with….

I am _____________ because I refuse to be put in a box….

I am trusting and trustworthy. I am a healer, a seeker a teacher.

I am a woman, I am a little girl, I am 16, 37, 55 I am ancient.

I am loved and Loving.

I am kindness and I am expecting kindness in return, I don’t always receive it.

I am ok with that.

I am just beginning and I am endless….

I am __________ because that is how you see me.

I am ok with that too.

I am a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a foe.

I am________ because I am not done yet.

~c

Tell me who you are….I am waiting to find out.

Om Shanti!

Your Passion for Life or “What I learned at 14,000 feet”

“Don’t worry about what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive and do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~Howard Thurman

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This year I received one of the best Christmas presents that I have ever gotten, my Hubby bought me a gift certificate to Chattanooga Skydiving, Yep an opportunity to Skydive…to jump out of a plane, at 14,000 feet. Oh let me tell you I have always wanted to do it..always! It’s is just one of those things I kept putting off, usually for very practical reason, every time I would get an extra $200 I would think of a bill I should pay or debt I could pay down, or one of the kids (or me) needed tires. So, on the back burner it went, along with the tattoos I have always wanted and that cruise I have never taken. But my wonderful Daughter in law got the same gift certificate from my son, so off we went the day after Christmas and holy crap it was amazing. The anticipation of the event might have been the best part, or the flight up to 14,000 ft or the thrill of exiting a plane at that altitude doing 70 mph, or maybe it was the 60 sec of free fall, or the view as you slowly descend after pulling the ripcord…oh the view! It took my breath away. Ok I don’t know what the best part was, but I can tell you it was the best thing I did in 2014.
It thrilled me, it messed up my hair, and it put a smile on my face that I still can’t get rid of…..
But what it really did was remind me that I am alive. Really alive.
And sometimes we need that reminder. We get caught up in the mundane, the ordinary, the routines of life and we forget to live (with a capital ‘L‘). Too many years of doing that and you forget your passion, your purpose and the reasons why you love life.
So how do you revive your passion, what do you need to do to get your groove back? Well you don’t have to jump from moving plane, (but seriously you should try it)
Here are a few tips to jump (get it, jump…..) start your passion,
Slow down
When we slow down, we are able hear our inner dialogue. Slowing down might mean do yoga, taking a long walk in nature or practicing mediation. It might also mean stopping everything so you can do the one thing you have always wanted to do. Yes even free-falling at 100 mph can be a kind of slowing down.
Change your story
You know the one you tell yourself, about who you are or think you are. If we can understand our self-limiting stories, the ones that foster a negative idea about ourselves, then we can begin to eliminate them by writing new ones. Tell yourself the good things about you and when you do that from a place of confidence you can start to map out strategies for living your best life.
Cultivate that confidence
If we are continually telling ourselves we can’t, then we will never believe we can. There is always a chance you may fail, but if you don’t have the confidence to try you will never know.
Own your uniqueness
Viva la Difference! We are all here for a reason and we are all unique, we have talents, and wisdom born from our struggles, strength and skills we have learned. We all have something to offer.
Look for the patterns
Recognizing the recurring themes in our lives helps us to create a pattern for us to either follow or change. What themes or lessons seem to constantly surface in your life? What are you drawn to again and again? What areas of life seem to be full of discomfort and pain? What areas are full of joy and light?
Write
Don’t worry about writing something for someone else to read, just get your thoughts and ideas on paper. Write without an agenda, write without editing and write without judgments. You might be surprised what comes out & up. You just might find yourself writing about the next chapter in your life.
Do something fun  (like jump out of a plane)
Too often we get wrapped up in the to-do lists instead of what is most important. What do you love to do? What makes you smile? If money were limitless, what would you be doing today?
Do it now
It’s easy to tell ourselves that’s we’ll ‘do that ‘ when we have more experience, more money, or more time, but the truth is, that will never happen. Life is short, do put off till tomorrow what you can do today. I’m not saying break the bank or go into debt to live your passion, but perhaps you can identify & start saving so you can do it soon.
De-clutter your life
All the “stuff” in our lives overwhelms us and paralyzes us from taking action. We have no idea where to start or what to do first. So quite often, we do nothing. And thus everything stays the same. Clearing the clutter of your life is important work. It forces you to take an honest look at yourself and your life to see how you have strayed from the path of becoming the person you want to be.
An abundance of things and unnecessary physical clutter drains us of energy we could put toward living a creative, passionate life. Instead of constantly reorganizing things, cleaning and repairing we could be experiencing and creating something that is deeply fulfilling, fun, and important.
… Oh in case you were thinking ‘she just said that about skydiving to make a point well here is the video to prove I did it!!  And yes it was cold… hence the earmuffs and about 4 layers of clothing.

 

Om Shanti

Cheryl

Nothing to do with Yoga….well everything is a little yogi-like

Great article and all I have to say is…

Well DUH!……. Children learn how to use their bodies by USING THEM! Why in the name of all that is holy do we think it is ok to imprison kids behind desks all day long. I raised 3 boys (+1) the biggest argument I had with teachers who wanted to have all of them tested (none of them were and they are all fine thank you very much!) was why don’t they have more time to play. It is through play that children learn healthy interaction with others, through play we learn leadership skills ( and ‘follower’ skills equally as important), through play we make our bodies fit & healthy enough to take on the shit that adulthood throws at us.   I chose to homeschool my 3 boys for about 2 years and it was amazing and I wished I could have done it longer (got divorced ect ect ). My middle son would take his books, climb the tree in the front yard and do his reading assignments.  And we took chalk and did math on the sidewalk. We would go to the parks and museums. We were very active and I still made sure they all had a ‘recess’ even my teenager. Bring back recess! Dear God bring back their childhood! Bring back play it is as necessary to their growth as breathing….and folks I can preach about breathin’, yes I can!

Parents set a time everyday for a controlled Blackout…turn off all electronics and kick their sweet, darling little butts outside.

OK my rant for the day is over Now go play in the Yard! And go read the article that prompted my rant.

Om Shanti!

Cheryl

WHY CHILDREN FIDGET

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What is meditation to you?

A dear friend is just beginning her Yoga journey and she asked a question about meditation. She wondered if listening to music could be meditation. It’s a great question. Don’t we all wondered at the beginning of our journey how the hell we are ever going to be able to ‘sit here’ in meditation. The mind wanders away, off to ‘God knows where’ and you can actually feel your eyes looking around (even with closed eye lids) and you desperately want to tap your fingers or wiggle your toes, it’s all you can think about! OK maybe that was me, but you get my point. Meditation is hard! But I also believe that it doesn’t have to be that way.

Meditation comes in many forms.

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We always picture it as a guru sitting in lotus, fingers in a mudra, being completely still and totally quiet – Well that’s one way.

Dance (asana practice) is meditative, singing (mantra), breathing (pranayama), walking a labyrinth. All can have meditation like results – You have to ask yourself “what is meditation”. Meditation is the practice of ‘stilling’ the mind, allowing the mind a deep, quiet space where nothing distracts us. Meditation is about relaxing, but relaxing so that you can hear what is being said; To you, from within you. Pretty powerful stuff.

Swami Rama says….” In meditation, the mind is clear, relaxed, and inwardly focused. When you meditate, you are fully awake and alert, but your mind is not focused on the external world or on the events taking place around you. Meditation requires an inner state that is still and one-pointed so that the mind becomes silent. When the mind is silent and no longer distracts you, meditation deepens.”……. I believe that we can be ‘doing’ and still be in a meditative practice. If we are singing, dancing, ect ect and that is our single focus, the only focus of our mind, is it not then an inward focus? Are we not fully engaged and alert to that one thing we are doing, not focused on the outside world? Well then that is a kind of meditation. And in our world we find it very difficult to completely quiet the mind, at least when we are beginning a meditation practice. So these other ways to practice meditation are a good beginning, the beginning of learning to cultivate stillness.

What is meditation to you?

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Om Shanti

 

Cheryl

5 Poses to Do Every Day

Sthira Sukham Asanam     Patanjali  Yoga Sutra 2.46  

5 Poses to do Every Day!

Oh come on, it wont take you that long.
I know it’s hard to schedule 90 minutes in your day for a yoga class, trust me I know! But we all have 10 minutes for a few yogic things to do at home and remember your home practice doesn’t have to be a complicated 90 min Hot class.

Just roll out your mat & spend a few minute’s in each pose listed, focus on your breathing, on being comfortable in the pose & remember try to feel a sense of freedom in the pose. Don’t get caught up in how it looks, but instead bring your awareness to how it feels. The important thing is to move and articulate the spine in all directions allowing for energy movement and to help with back pain & stiffness. Remember our teaching of Sthira (stability) & Sukha (ease, freedom). Take time in each pose to notice where is the balance between being grounded and stable (Sthira) and being free, physically and mentally?

1st pose is Mountain (Tadasana) –Mountain pose is about taking the time to ‘come to your mat’, in the physical sense as well as a mental & emotional sense. Stand in Mountain pose and turn your attention in. Start to make a connection with your breath and just focus on the quality of your breathing. Tadasana is about rooting and grounding your practice with your intention for coming to the mat. This is the time to reflect on your body (how do you feel, how much energy do you have & what does your body need). Draw energy up from the ground into your feet (Sthira), feel that relaxed energy filling your core body (Sukha). Take 5 breaths.

2nd Pose Forward Fold – Forward Fold from an anatomical perspective is about folding from the hips, stretching your hamstrings and lengthening your low back. It’s always a good thing to relax your back body, but your mind and emotions benefit too. A forward Fold relaxes the mind, soothes the central nervous system and calms the senses. While in your Forward Fold look for the Sukha & the Sthira. Where do you find stability and freedom?

3rd is modified crescent lunge – Why modified instead of full crescent lunge? Because most of us will be doing this sequence either first thing in the morning or right after we get home from work, so we are dealing with cold, tight hip flexors. Although if you want to do the full version all the same principles apply. Raise your arms only after you have drawn up the front body, being careful not to thrust the ribs forward, but rolling the body up one vertebra at a time. Play with shifting the Sthira between the Left foot in front and the Right knee behind, find a balance between those 2 points of contact with the mat. The Sukha in the pose might be in maintaining a calm easiness in the arms overhead, so relax those shoulders. Repeat on the other side.

4th is Twists seated or supine – If you aren’t comfortable (sukha) in seated twists please lay on your back for supine twists. Sitting in Sukhasana (simple crossed legged position) Inhale drawing the arms over head lengthening the body then rotate to the right and bring the arms down. Stay for 5 breaths and come to the center and repeat on the other side. It really is that simple. If laying on your back, draw your knees over your body on the inhale then exhale as you lower them to the right, keeping the left shoulder on the mat. Then repeat on the other side.

5 is Sphinx or Cobra  – Spinal extension (back bend) is an important thing to do every day. Most of us are desk jockeys or at least we sit a lot, so it is necessary to length out the front body. Maybe start with baby cobra and move with your breath. Inhale as you lift up (Sukha) and exhale as you lower down. Keep the hips, legs and feet connected to the mat (Sthira).

6 is savasana –  Yep, Savasana. Taking the time for stillness, even just a few minutes, each day is the most important thing we can do for ourselves. Corpse pose requires a stillness of mind as well as your body. It gives your body a chance to return to normal, helping you to reap the benefits of your practice. Corpse pose is the bridge between your practice time and the rest of your life. Take the time to cross that bridge and take the calm, restorative, energetic properties of your practice into the rest of your life.

 

Om Shanti

~C

Asana Practice

“The Asana should be effortless. There should be no effort not only in the body but also in the mind. Absolute ease of relaxation is the sign of perfected Asana. The student should be in a most natural condition in which he is not conscious even of his breathing.”

Swami Krishnananda

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Yoga Asana.

What is it really? This Asana we do. Do we really know what it is, what it means to practice asana?

Obviously Yoga asana are the poses, the physical movements of yoga. What we all recognize as Yoga. Although Yoga Asana is only one part of yoga, one limb of a very diverse tree.

Pantajali, the author of the Yoga Sutras, didn’t say much about the Asana practice only a few things and that has led some to believe that it isn’t a very important part of yoga, or that it is less important than the other limbs. But it is all part of the same process. When we incorporate all the limbs of yoga into our practice, then we begin to cultivate more spiritual awareness.

In the sutras Pantajali  wrote of Asana;

2.46  Sthira Sukham Asanam

  • sthira (Steer-a)  / steady, stable, grounded
  • sukha (Sue-kahm) /With Ease, Spacious
  • asana (As-ana) / posture or pose (also means “to sit”)

Within this simple statement Patanjali provides the perfect guideline for asana practice: sthira sukham asanam or one should be steady and comfortable in asanas. To be more specific, sthira means stability & grounded while alert & active. And sukha means with ease or without suffering.

When we practice asana we are often taught where to feel the pose or how to feel the pose and if we are feeling the pose we must be doing to correctly…perfectly.

Unfortunately that isn’t really it…. It isn’t really about a right or wrong way to do a pose and it is never about perfection. That’s the western way of viewing an asana practice. That we should mimic the pose that our teacher does.  It’s like we exist outside the pose waiting for someone to tell us what to feel while we are inside the pose. That isn’t asana. But where does asana come from and why do we practice it.

Asana means ‘seat’ or ‘pose’ and it first appears in the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita (between 800 BCE-500 BCE). Both of these texts asana as meaning a ‘seat’ for meditation and rituals. And In the Yoga Sutras (about 300 CE), we find only three Sutras about asana. And it’s obvious that Patanjali views asana as a preparation for meditation.

Then around 500 CE Hatha Yoga comes on the scene and uses posture (asana) to promote a strong body and good health. The idea being that the body is a temple of the Divine and we must do our best to keep it healthy. Within the last 200 years we saw the development of asana as the main focus of almost all Western yoga practice. In his book, “Yoga Body-The Origins of Modern Posture Practice,” Mark Singleton looks at the history of asana and explains that most of the tradition of modern yoga is from the 19th and 20th centuries in India as a result of the influence of colonial British physical fitness and the rise of Indian nationalism.

Judith Hanson Lasater says “We stay with the practice of yoga asana because it is a powerful non-verbal expression of the sacred. And practicing and living the sacred part of life is often sadly lacking for many people in the West today.  The expression of this sacredness has to do with the nature of asana practice itself. No matter how many times one has practiced a certain asana, when it is practiced now it is absolutely new.”

“A powerful non-verbal expression of the sacred” The first time I read that I was like YES! That’s it! Asana has always been for me a meditative practice. Erich Schiffmann’s famous book ‘Moving into Stillness” is a wonderful book and I love it. But for me it has been more about ‘Moving with stillness’ and yes that sounds like an oxymoron I know, how can you be still if you are moving, but the stillness is on the inside. When I am moving in asana, my mind can’t be anywhere else, it has to be still, focused and quiet. And the stillness can be the pose itself. Being able to hold a pose in that steady, comfortable state gives you the opportunity to observe the feelings that come up. Do you feel anxious or uncomfortable and why.

So in our modern practice we try to combine both the ancient & the modern ideas of asana, of being
steady and Comfortable. This is the principle of balance. We seek to harmonize strength and steadiness with comfort and ease.

When we are doing asana remember the yamas & niyamas. Consider Ahimsa (do no harm), I talk about this all the time in classes. Never move into physical pain or practice asana in a way that disturbs our mind or spirit. If you are doing something that physically hurts are you honoring that expression of the scared?
Practicing asana from a place of Satya (truth) means being honest about where we are in the pose and why. Rather than thinking about how it should look, we need to discover our own yoga, not the yoga coming from the teacher or from other students or from the cover of a magazine.
We should practice asana with tapas (heat and intensity), svadhyaya (study of the Self) and Isvara pranidhanani (devotion). These are the concepts help us to forge our asana practice in the way that you would forge steel, to become strong and resilient.

So in our asana practice, it’s important to focus not just on what our body is doing, but on how we’re doing it. Come into the pose(s) and hold them long enough to become steady and use the feeling of comfort as a guide and know that steadiness (sthira) and comfort (sukha) have more value that moving so fast that you become lost in the routine and your goal is to simply  finish X number of poses.

Also watch your breath. Observe it. It can be the best indicator of how you are feeling in a pose. It too should be Sthira, and Sukha. Using the Ujjayi breath is calming to the mind and can provide focus, helping to create that calm, steady state that is meditation.

Scan your body for any tension, holding a pose doesn’t and shouldn’t create tension, such as clenched jaws and scrunched toes. Try to achieve that state of relaxation with alertness and if we are straining and gritting our teeth through a yoga class, there is no ease.

I could write all day about asana and still not speak so eloquently about the subject as Mr. Iyengar does in one small paragraph.

“The body is the temple of the soul. It can truly become so if it is kept healthy, clean and pure through the practice of asana. Asanas act as the bridges to unite the body with the mind and the mind with the soul.
“Patanjali says that when an asana is correctly performed, the dualities between body and mind, mind and soul, have to vanish. This is known as repose in the pose, reflection in action. When the asanas are performed in this way, the body cells, which have their own memories and intelligence are kept healthy. When the health of the cells is maintained through the precise practice of asanas, the physiological body becomes healthy and the mind is brought closer to the soul. This is the effect of the asanas. They should be performed in such a way as to lead the mind from attachment to the body towards the light of the soul so that the practitioner can dwell in the abode of the soul.”

B.K.S. Iyengar

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Om Shanti

 

Cheryl

Because breathing matters

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The conversation this morning went something like this…..

My Client: “But the problem is when I slow my breath down the movement gets slower too”

Me: “Hows that a problem?”

Client: “Well, it’s not really yoga if I go too slow. I am supposed to move fast to get anywhere, right?”

Me: “Where are you trying to go? What are you trying to achieve?” Yoga can be so slow you don’t move at all, that is more restorative, Yoga can be fast paced, jumping, hoping, one breath/one movement. And it looks like its moving fast right? But it only looks like that on the outside, Yoga no matter how fast it looks on the outside  should still feel slow on the inside. If you move too fast, no matter what you’re doing, you can create tension in the body, clenched jaws, tight tummy’s, fingers clutching at the mat and that all becomes tense breathing. So even if your yoga is fast paced, keep the breath smooth and easy, then on the inside you can become very still, even while moving.
Thats Yoga!

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Inspiration

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You inspired me

You moved me, love, action, purpose

You showed me the way

~c~

What is inspiration? It’s the feeling that right now, right here is perfect, that right here right now your creative spark is on fire and you know if you stop that flame will go out. Inspiration is the juice that feeds that flame.  Inspiration lifts your spirit, it changes your state of mind so that you see clearly and know that all things are possible.

Sometimes inspiration comes without effort; we find it looking at the faces of our children or our beloved. You stumble on it in unexpected places, a friend’s Facebook page, watching an old movie or having a deep conversation with someone you just met.

Sometimes you have to go out and find it. You have to seek inspiration; you have to call it into being.  Inspiration is found in the sweat from hard work. More often than not seeking inspiration is the hard work.

Finding or seeking inspiration means that you have come to a place where your head and heart are aligned and that not only do you know there is an abundance of life to find, you know where to look.

How do you cultivate inspiration?

You need to step out of your own way. Stop blocking your intuition with negative thoughts and replace them with Positive actions. Know in your heart that you have something to contribute, you may not know what form that contribution will take but know you have a purpose. Allow that flow of energy, that divine energy, to not only move through you, but to simply move you. Stop trying to force things to happen and surrender to that divine energy and experience the creative juice that is inspiration.

Live purposefully!

Give yourself permission to Live on Purpose. Inspiration will follow.

So tell me what inspires you? How do you inspire others?

What moves you to do what you do? To live the life youR live. To be who you are?

First say to yourself what you would be;

and then do what you have to do.

Epictetus

 Om Shanti

Cheryl

Taking Chances

Taking chances always pays off, maybe not in the way you might expect or even wanted. But taking changes and leaps of faith means you have looked fear in the eye and giggled a little. It means you chose not to let fear make choices for you. It doesn’t matter what the payoff is, the results is you are stronger.
Go ahead, deep breath in, sigh it out, Now Jump!

~c~

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Om Shanti

Cheryl