Breath of Life: Feel Better Now

15 Aug

left nostril breathingRight now, take a deep breath. Every good, yogic breath starts with an exhalation. So let the breath go from deep in your belly. This provides room for your inhalation. Once your exhalation is complete, inhale.

Once your inhalation is complete, exhale. Continue to breathe consciously. Notice in your body where the breath comes easily, where it is restricted. As you practice Long Deep Breathing, your focus on muscles of the abdomen, chest and shoulder areas begins to recede and the natural bellows like motion of the entire diaphragm is felt as one.

Yogis teach that the breath is the life of the mind. This means that the quality of our thoughts and emotional responses is determined by our breathing. Breath is our direct link to our spirit, mood, energy, and hopefulness.

A R E   Y O U   B R E A T H I N G ?

It is written in the yogic scriptures that a human is given a particular number of breaths in life. When we breathe long and deep, we extend our life, and when we breathe with a short, hyper, or shallow breath, we shorten our life.

INHALE

through the nose

Stomach Pushes Out

EXHALE

through the nose

Stomach Pulls In

LONG DEEP BREATHING

Either sitting in easy pose or corpse pose, relax your chest and shoulders.

Draw a long deep breath through your nose. Inhale, filling the abdomen, or even pushing it out. As the muscles of the abdomen draws down the diaphragm,

consciously move the air down into the lower area of the chest cavity. Feel the lungs filling in and through the chest. Imagine a big pitcher slowly filling with water. You are filling your lungs with air, starting at the bottom and slowly reaching the top.

Once the lungs are completely filled in this manner,

hold the breath lightly for a moment. Donít lock your neck or tense your body. Just suspend the breath. Then as you exhale, rather than contracting the chest, slowly allow the abdomen to shrink back, your abdomen will move in towards your spine. Contract the entire length of the diaphragm, from the upper chest to the abdomen, so that all the air is squeezed out.

 

Know breath, know life. No breath, no life.

Hills have valleys. Valleys have meadows.

09 Aug

Do you get stuck and wonder how you will ever get out of the rut? I do too. I’ve spent a lot of energy being depressed about my depression. But, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered that daily balance waxes and wanes, if you just let it.

Over the years, I’ve gathered infinite types of advice, resources, and ideas to help get me get out of the ruts of life.  I’m an expert at procrastination, but, I have learned to embrace it and get shit done.

Here’s a few gems of what I learned: Lazy begets lazy. Procrastination can be a virtue, until you no longer know who you are. That is why having a daily spiritual practice will help set you free of yourself and merge into your Self.

If any bad impressions or any bad habits enter into your mind, it is very difficult to remove them, but if you keep good company and stay in a positive environment and culture, then you can change your habits. Dance the Light at Winter Solstice celebration 2013
If any bad impressions or any bad habits enter into your mind, it is very difficult to remove them, but if you keep good company and stay in a positive environment and culture, then you can change your habits. Dance the Light at Winter Solstice celebration 2013

Get up. Move. Dance. Sing. Now is the time.

You are the one you have been waiting for.

those cramped airline seats can be a pain

06 Aug
stretch in the airport
stretch when you can

It’s so glamorous to think of flying off to some far away place, but getting there is not always glamorous. A long trip can easily make one’s body stiff and tense after hours of being couped up. Especially if you’re unlucky enough to be crammed in the middle of 6 other passengers.

I’m sure it looks good on paper, but our bodies are just NOT designed to be cramped into these ridiculous seating arrangements for hours.

But if you like to travel, or you travel a lot, it’s a must to find your own special way to convert this small little space into your own personal gym…without looking like a total freak.

It’s pretty easy to make your body happier just by small little shifts of your body in your seat every now and again. Yes, it’s really possible to stretch in that little cramped space! Practice being small and lithe, and I say that as a rather large woman. It works and you won’t tick off the person tightly squeezed next to you.

Try these little movements next time you’re in a cramped space.

NECK: gently tilt your head to one side until you feel a gentle stretch. Take a deep inhale and exhale as you tilt and hold on each side. Hold a few seconds before stretching to the other side.

SHOULDERS part 1: Slowly. Smoothly. Move your shoulders forward, rolling them up, then roll them backwards as you roll them back down. Do this three times in one direction. Switch directions.

SHOULDERS part 2: Bring your hands into the small of your back with palms facing out. Push your elbows back. Imagine your upper crust expanding across the hull of the plane, but don’t expand across the seats of your partners.

ANKLES: Lift one foot and circle your toes in one direction, and then the opposite direction.

BUTTOCKS: Squeeze your buttocks together hard. Hold. Take a deep inhale and exhale as you hold the squeeze. Release. Do this many times until your butt can’t sqeeze anymore.

And then, get up and walk. Don’t be afraid to get up and walk up and down the aisle. Walk to the toilet, even if you don’t use the toilet. You want to get circulation into your limbs. If the poor trapped gentleman (or woman) next acts annoyed…think positive. Remember, you’re inspiring them to get up and move too.

Kundalini Yoga Meditation to Change the Ego

03 Aug

Meditation to Change the Ego

Meditation to Change the Ego
Meditation to Change the Ego

Posture: Sit in Easy Pose, with a light jalandhar bandh. (Read how to apply this body lock after YB comments below.)

Eye Position: Fix the eyes on the knuckles of the thumbs. Narrow the eyelids.

Mudra: Keep the spine straight and the chest slightly lifted. Relax the arms down at the sides. Raise the hands in front of the center of the chest at the level of the heart. The palms face toward each other. Curl the fingers into a loose fist. Keep the thumbs extended and point them upwards. Bring the hands toward each other until the top segment of the thumbs touch along the side of the thumbs. The rest of the hands stay separated.

Breath Pattern:

Bring your concentration to the breath. Create a steady breath rhythm with the following ratio and pathway:

INHALE through the nose slowly. The length is about 8 seconds.
HOLD in the breath for about 8 seconds.
RELEASE the breath through the nose in 8 equal strokes.
HOLD the breath OUT for 8 seconds.

Once this pattern is set, you can gradually increase the time from 8 seconds to as long as you like. If you increase the time, keep the time equal in each section of the pranayam.

Time: Begin this practice gradually. Start with 3 minutes. Increase the time to 31 minutes by adding 3-5 minutes per week of practice.

To end: At the end of a session, inhale deeply, stretch the hands over the head, and open and close the fists several times. Relax the breath.

Comments from Yogi Bhajan:
This meditation has many effects. It can be used to combat tension and hypertension. It also creates a deep concentration and a detachment that allows you to observe your attachments. Once you identify your attachments, you can let them go by dis-identifying with them, or by giving the object of attachment to the Infinite, the Cosmos, or God.

Sometimes you will hear strong inner sounds such as drums, bells, whistles, etc. Part of this can be due to pressure adjustments in the skull and eardrums. if the sounds develop in deep meditation, it is a normal adjustment of the neurons in the cortex. This phenomenon will pass quickly and should not distract you from the primary focus and process of the meditation.

(This meditation was originally taught by Yogi Bhajan in July 1979)

JALANDHAR BANDH

Jalandhar Bandh (neck lock) is a basic lock applied during most pranayam (breath control) and meditation practice.

To apply the neck lock:
* Sit comfortably with a straight spine.
* Lift your chest and sternum upward.
* Stretch the back of your neck gently straight by pulling the chin in toward the back of the neck.
* Keep your head level and centered without tilting forward or to either side.
* Keep the muscles of your face, neck, and throat as relaxed as you can.

Rituals, Altars, Home

03 Aug

Everyone longs to belong, to connect with a higher source or purpose. Whether you long to connect to your higher self or higher powers and beings, one of the simplest ways to do this is by creating a daily ritual for yourself. You don’t have to do anything complicated. Just sit for a moment, meditate, do yoga, read inspirational books, or just take a walk. A daily ritual creates a doorway through which the higher can enter your life.

Financial Freedom

29 Aug

Darla-Hueske-moneyDo not let fear get in the way of making wise and prudent financial decisions that could have a positive impact on your future. Stay in touch with others who are supportive, caring and sensitive to your situation, and above all, don’t get overwhelmed. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, smile and remember: you control your own life.

Tighten your belt: stop spending and don’t live above your means.

Stash it away: put as much money as you can into your 401(k) and other retirement plans.

Hands off the house: stop yourself from tapping into your home equity for cash.

Cut the cord: stop helping your adult kids. Put money into your retirement fund first, and then the college fund.

Stay healthy: this generation of “after 50s” will most likely have to work many more years than we had expected, so we want to get and stay healthy.