Still Trying to Force Life?
It’s amazing how much energy we waste in life trying to force things to happen. Many of us, myself included, have spent years in delusion thinking that we posses some control over other people and over life.
When other people let us down or fall short of the impossible standards that we have set for them or for ourselves, we get thrown off center and become overwhelmed by emotions of anger, frustration, panic or fear that cause us to make decisions that are not in our best interest.
THE TRUTH IS WE CAN ONLY CONTROL WHAT GOES ON INSIDE OF US AND WE ARE ONLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE WAY WE ACT AND REACT
We have all heard that in someway before, I’m sure. I am not telling you anything you don’t know but it’s a lot easier said than done, I understand, I’m right here with you on this.
The key is to remain rooted in your center, learn ways in which to shield yourself from embodying the emotions and fears projected upon you by others and strengthen your inner intuitive voice so that you have an authentic guide for yourself as you move through life.
So how do we let go and cultivate a deeper sense of trust in ourselves and in life? Here is a simple Letting Go Of Control Meditation that I practice has had a profound effect on me:
1. Sit in a quiet, comfortable place with your spine long and connect to your breath.
2. Bring to your heart a situation/person in your life that you are trying to control by your thoughts, words or actions.
3. As you inhale, draw in love and compassion for yourself and/or the situation or person and as you exhale, feel what it may be like to release the control you are struggling to maintain over it/them.
4. Now, place your hands on your heart and feel any fears that are surfacing from the release. This part may be very challenging but the offering here is to really sit with the discomfort for several breaths until you truly feel you have released your grip.
5. Notice the fear that exists in your body without judgement and envision a white light pouring into the top of your head, purifying your body and washing away all of the fear like a river running right through you.
6. Open your eyes when you are ready and continue with your day. Each time you are faced with the situation/person and/or your desire to control, breathe in compassion and release and breathe out fear.
Overtime, you will realize that YOUR FREEDOM lies in letting go of all control and attachment to the illusion of making things happen or of controlling people. Letting go of this illusion is your gateway to inner peace. This is yoga.
Lastly, one piece of wisdom that my best friend constantly reminds me of is that everything has a force and when pushed, it will push back equally as hard. When we let go, we enable things to move toward us and generally they are the opportunities and people that align most with our higher selves rather than what/whom our minds think we should achieve/whom we should spend time with.
It is important to work hard toward your dreams, put in all the effort you can and then LET THINGS HAPPEN AS THEY WILL. When we try to force situations that are not meant to be, it only causes more suffering for ourselves in the long run. Let’s get free, shall we?
Mayurasana or the Peacock Pose
This is an advanced pose that aids digestion and stimulates the third chakra energy center that serves to strengthen self-confidence, self-esteem and inner power.
Beginners can start by standing on the knees and placing the palms face-down on the mat with arms at 90 degrees and elbows pressing into the abdomen. This may be uncomfortable at first but as you get familiar with it, you will learn to cultivate strength and lift from your core to maintain balance.
Me in my Lotus Flower on the cover of The Yoga Magazine
100 Reasons To Practice Yoga
For those of you who have a regular practice, chances are you can probably add a zillion things to this list on how yoga benefits you in your life.
For me, a daily yoga practice for many, many years has been foundational in my life. It has been my source of strength, taught me balance and discipline and has enabled me to cultivate my intuition and a deep, loving nurturing relationship with myself.
Those who have never tried yoga before, here are a hundred reasons why you may want to jump on the bandwagon.
1) Increase strength and tone
2) Increase flexibility, elasticity and agility
3) Develop a better relationship with the body
4) Reduce the effects of stress
5) Improve breathing (oxygen is an essential nutrient to the cells and for many body functions)
6) Feel more centered throughout the day
7) Realize your connection to Source, Source Energy, your Higher Self, Spirit, God, The Universe, Universal Energy, The Divine, The Infinite, The Infinite Field of Consciousness; whatever you choose to call it
8) Improve balance
9) Reduce pain and/or discomfort. Pain tolerance is much higher among those who practice yoga regularly. In addition to pain tolerance, some instances of chronic pain, such as back pain, are lessened or eliminated through yoga
10) Gain focus and concentration
11) Clear out old emotional baggage stored in the body
12) Access your own inner guidance system, wisdom and intuition
13) “Know Thyself”
14) Liberate happiness, joy and well-being
15) Express loving-kindness towards your self
16) Gain emotional balance and stability. Overall well-being improves with yoga practice. The combination of creating a strong mind-body connection, creating a healthy body, and focusing inward can all lead to improvement in your mood.
17) Improve the quality of sleep
18) Reduce or get off medications (personally I have seen some of my students get off of pills for depression and insomnia in a very short period of time)
19) Balance the hormones and glands
20) Heal injuries (if you practice correctly)
21) Reduce tension
22) Express yourself… each pose is like a work of art, a living sculpture, an opportunity for you to express your unique beauty
23) Open the channels of energy (meridians) and get the chi/prana flowing (in eastern medicine this is a state of health and wellness; disease begins in the energetic body in the form of obstruction and then moves into the physical)
24) Develop courage; learn how to do things you didn’t think you could do; expand your mind
25) Lower your blood pressure (if it’s too high). A consistent yoga practice decreases blood pressure through better circulation and oxygenation of the body.
26) Deepen your ability to be fully present for your life
27) Spiritual awakening; Enlightenment; Samadhi (bliss)
28) Improve your ability to sit comfortably for meditation and your ability to meditate
29) Establish a relationship with stillness (awake and alert, yet relaxed)
30) Prepare the ground and open the door to higher states of consciousness
31) Improve posture
32) Clean the window of the mind so that you can see things clearly
33) Cleanse, purify and detoxify the body
34) Discover a lightness of being
35) Alignment, integration and wholeness; oneness in body, mind and spirit
36) Improve the health and efficacy of all the organs. Yoga practice massages internal organs, thus improving the ability of the body to prevent disease. Additionally, an experienced yoga practitioner becomes better attuned to her body to know at first sign if something isn’t functioning properly, thereby allowing for quicker response to head off disease.
37) Gain an effortless ease; gracefulness and poise
38) Learn Discipline & Self-control. The controlled movements of yoga teach you how to translate that self-control to all aspects of your life.
39) Explore freedom
40) Surrender to something greater
41) Increase endurance and vigor
42) Learn how to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations
43) Reverse the effects of aging. Yoga stimulates the detoxification process within the body. Detoxification has been shown to delay aging, among many other health benefits.
44) Enhance weight loss efforts. Having a balanced metabolism results in maintaining a healthy weight and controlling hunger. Consistent yoga practice helps find the balance and creates a more efficient metabolism.
45) Elevate mood and outlook on life
46) Self empowerment; learn tools you can use to heal yourself
47) Develop a healthy spine… “You are only as young as your spine is flexible”
48) Gain core strength and a greater sense of ones power
49) Learn how to live well with an open heart
50) Beauty… with all of these benefits you can only become more beautiful in every way; a beauty that radiates from the inside out
51) Pulse rate. A slower pulse rate indicates that your heart is strong enough to pump more blood with fewer beats. Regularly practicing yoga provides a lower pulse rate
52) Circulation. Yoga improves blood circulation. By transporting nutrients and oxygen throughout your body, yoga practice provides healthier organs, skin, and brain
53) Cardiovascular endurance. A combination of lower heart rate and improved oxygenation to the body (both benefits of yoga) results in higher cardiovascular endurance
54) Immunity. Yoga practice has frequently been correlated with a stronger immune system
55) Body Awareness. Doing yoga will give you an increased awareness of your own body. You are often called upon to make small, subtle movements to improve your alignment. Over time, this will increase your level of comfort in your own body
56) Core strength. With a strong body core, you receive better posture and overall body strength.
57) Sexuality. Yoga can improve your sexuality through better control, more relaxation, and more self-confidence
58) Anxiety & Depression. Controlled breathing used in yoga reduces anxiety and depression, enabling the negative energy (tamas) to be released from the body
59) Self-acceptance. Focusing inward and realizing through your yoga practice that perfection is not the goal, self-acceptance begins to take over
60) Eliminates Feelings of Hostility. Most yogis report a huge reduction in the amount of hostility they feel as well as a sense of control when anger flares. This calm effect is likely from the relaxation and meditation that is incorporated in their yoga practice that leads to an overall calming of the nervous system. Less hostility means lower blood pressure and stress and a healthier approach to life
61) Concentration. Researchers have shown that as little as eight weeks of yoga practice can result in better concentration and more motivation
62) Memory. Improved blood circulation to the brain as well as the reduction in stress and improved focus results in a better memory
63) Attention. The attention required in yoga to maintain the structured breathing in conjunction with yoga poses sharpens the ability to keep a sharp focus on tasks
64) Social skills. In yoga, you learn the interconnectedness of all of life. Your yoga practice soon evolves from a personal journey to one connecting to to the community at large where your social skills improve along with your yoga practice
65) Lowers blood glucose levels
66) Lowers sodium levels
67) Lowers triglycerides
68) Increases red blood cells. Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen through the blood, and too few can result in anemia and low energy.
69) Increases vitamin C which helps to boost immunity, produce collagen, and is a powerful antioxidant
70) Kickstarts parasympathetic nervous system
71) Reduced oxygen consumption. Yoga consumes less oxygen than traditional exercise routines, thereby allowing the body to work more efficiently
72) Non-competitive. The introspective and self-building nature of yoga removes any need of competition in the exercise regimen. With the lack of competition, the yogi is free to work slowly to avoid any undue injury as well as promote a more balanced and stress-free workout
73) Improves eye-hand coordination and dexterity
74) Improves reaction time
75) Yoga improves endurance
76) Improves cardiovascular health, all of which lead to reducing your risk of heart disease.
77) Lowers levels of cortisol in the body helping to keep bones strong
78) Elevates brain gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels. Low GABA levels are associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s
79) Encourages insulin production in the pancreas, which can serve as an excellent preventative for type II diabetes.
80) Improves your grip strength and reduces risk of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
81) Reduces symptoms of asthma and asthma medication
82) Relieves and prevents arthritis
83) Reduces the number of migraines in chronic migraine sufferers
84) Yoga can straighten the curvature of the spine associated with scoliosis
85) Yoga relieves chronic bronchitis due to the fact that it does not elevate respiration, yet increase oxygen levels in the body
86) Heals and prevents sciatica pain
87) Reduces Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
88) Relieves constipation
89) Reduces allergy responses
90) Aids in the reduction of menopausal symptoms
91) Brings more awareness to how you feed and nourish your body
92) Helps to strengthen tendons, ligaments and deep muscle tissue
93) Strengthens our intuitive voice
94) Clears the chakra energy centers
95) Cultivates prana or life-force in the body
96) Increases conscious awareness of other living beings
97) Helps you overcome fears
98) Promotes forgiveness of yourself and others who have injured you
99) Pathway to self-love
100) Expands your electromagnetic field of energy
(adapted from sources: yogava.com & nursingdegree.net)
Zain’s ❤ LoveBowl ❤
My favourite post yoga snack made with Zain’s Granola, Zain’s Coconut Yogurt, almond butter, chia seeds, blueberries, raw honey, 1 scoop vegan protein powder (I use Sunwarrior Vanilla) and LOVE.
Yoga For Self-Confidence
Yoga has the power to unlock, heal and reveal your true inner strength and spirit back to you. For so many of us who have come to the doors of yoga unsure of what to expect, we found that the practice gave us the feeling of ‘coming home’ to ourselves. If we go deeper into Yogic studies and read The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the Bhagavad Gita, we learn that this is because yoga is innate, meaning it is already inside of us and through practice, it is just being revealed back to us.
Life, and this year in general, has caused many of our fears involving our self-worth and self-esteem that we may have pushed down to surface in the form of attracting relationships and circumstances into our lives that mirror us. In order to stay true to ourselves and not become uprooted with the intensity of what we are facing, it is critical to create inner space so that your intuitive guidance can be heard.
For those of us who have ever experienced self-doubt and who may not believe in the potential that we actually have or for those of us on the brink of a big opportunity, these yoga asanas will help to remind you of your inner strength and courage.
Start with my Honour Your Body Meditation, focusing more specifically on the third, Manipura Chakra located at the solar-plexus. The colour of this chakra is yellow and this is where your self-confidence is cultivated. As you meditate, envision the colour of this chakra getting brighter and deeper and shining out of the center of your body like a guiding light. Release any fears associated with judgement on yourself and judgement of others.
Here are some of my favourite poses to strengthen your self-confidence and trust your intuitive voice.
1. Headstand A (Sirsasana A) - **Note this is an advanced pose, beginners may remain in another inversion such as Downward Facing Dog OR Half Headstand which elicits the exact same effect**
Come down onto your knees with your elbow planted into the earth under your shoulders. Hug the biceps to create a framework for your hands and rest your hands in a loosely woven cup. Place the crown of your head - the soft part of your head - in the cup of your hands and rise to your feet, slowly walk your feet in toward your hips and when you feel ready lift your hips then knees above your shoulders whilst maintaining your bandhas.
Straighten your legs and hold for a minimum of 25 breaths. Feel the energy from the earth as it enters through your crown chakra and feel your body release all stress-responses as the parasympathetic nervous system engages.
2. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana) - Maintain the length in your arms, legs, torso and chest as you bend forward placing your hands in front of your feet on the mat. Bend your knees as much as you need to or place your hands on blocks.
Allow any pressure or emotion to release and as you take 10-15 breaths in this pose, really root down with your hands and feet, drawing up healing energy from the ground. Be still.
Take 10-20 breaths and breath deeply into your heart space. Feel your roots deep within the earth like a giant oak tree. Feel stable.
3. Warrior II Pose (Virabadhrasana II) - Stand with your feet about 31/2 - 41/2 feet apart with your front toes pointed straight and your back foot in at a 45 degree angle. Bend your front knee until your leg reaches a 90 degree angle and extend your arms. Lengthen your spine by tucking your tailbone in and down.
Breathe 20-25 breaths here, drawing energy and vitality from the earth. Feel strong, powerful, confident and beautiful. Shine out of your heart space.
4. Upward Facing Bow Pose (Urdva Dhanurasana) - Beginners may practice bridge pose.
Lie on your back with your knees stacked on top of your hips, feet planted into the earth, spine and neck long, palms by your ears pressing into the earth. As you inhale, slowly lift your hips and spine, pushing into your palms and rising to the top of your head.
Straighten your arms and lift into the pose breathing deeply into your solar plexus chakra located between your navel and diaphragm. Breathe here for 10-15 breaths and repeat 3-5 times taking a 1-2 breath rest.
This pose serves to clear blockages from within all of your chakras and especially your heart and solar-plexus, the place where self-worth is cultivated.
5. Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana) - *Note: This pose is for advanced practitioners only* if you do not have a regular yoga practice you can lie on your back and put your legs up in the air and breath here.
Lie on your back and elevate your legs bringing them over your head until your feet touch the floor or a block. Place your hands up your back, lift your spine and elevate your legs. With spine straight and chin away from your chest, breathe here.
Take 25-50 breaths in this pose. Inversions help to shift perception and rejuvenate the body as well as tonify and cleanse the endocrine system. You may also choose to place your feet to the floor after completing your breaths transitioning into Plough Pose (Halasana)
With regular practice of these yoga poses, you will notice yourself feeling much more confident and less bound by your fears.
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Now Do You Believe In The Power of Meditation?
The reality is, we live in a world where there is still a majority that require proof to substantiate what we feel to be true. When you sit in silence with your eyes closed and focus on your breath, I mean really bring your awareness to your inhale and exhale, even for a few moments, you will notice a serenity and feeling of connection that cannot be denied.
Scriptures have revealed to us thousands of years ago the importance of creating stillness and space within through meditation so that we may feel our way through life rather than ‘think’ our way through it and believe that we are actually in control. Control is an illusion. Meditation brings us to this realization rather abruptly and in essence, it gives us the gift of the present moment.
Meditation, in whatever form you practice it - sleeping in with your love, pushing your children on a swing, running, bathing, dancing or classical meditation - not only boosts your parasympathetic nervous system offering you countless physiological benefits but it calms the mind, heals the spirit and enables you to listen to what your higher self is trying to communicate with you.
For those of you who are new to meditation, I invite you to try a simple meditation today to connect with yourself:
1. You may stand or sit, put one hand on your heart and another on your belly.
2. Inhale and envision your breath as a white light purifying and healing your body.
3. Inhale energy, love, joy, respect, success anything that you desire and exhale, pain, sadness, anger, grief, fear, loneliness.
4. Repeat this for a few moments and when you are ready, open your eyes and just notice how you feel. You may receive messages in your conscious mind throughout the day or over the next couple of days. Be aware.
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