Sunday, December 28, 2014

Kerouac and Mindfulness

"I came to a point where I needed solitude and just stop the machine of thinking and enjoying what they call living.  I just wanted to lie in the grass and look at the clouds."

After reading those profound words by Jack Kerouac, it hit me why I really needed mindfulness and meditation in my life and I became so grateful that it came into my life when it did.  The machine of thinking, the daily grind, the intense stress of work, life, love, etc.,  the craziness of it all becomes almost too consuming at times and we tend to forget to stop for a second, hit the pause button on what's around us, and to enjoy the present moment.

The next time you get caught up in the ever-growing checklist and overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done, everything being asked of you, and everything going wrong, stop, hit pause, focus, enjoy the present.  My gorgeous mala beads help me stay focused and balanced in the chaos.  I'm equally glad that they came into my life when they did.  I find so much strength in the reminder they constantly give me.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Yamas: Ahimsa

Yoga isn't about the cute clothes and the "Ooooh, look at me, I can do a handstand!" pictures and show-off moments.  It's the union between body, mind, and spirit, and by using both breath and body, those who practice yoga are able to not only foster awareness of their bodies but also foster awareness of our connection to everything.  To everyone.

In my first Intro to Yoga course, I was given a great handout that outlines the eight limbs of yoga and, as I'm trying to grasp a better understanding of this practice, I've become fascinated in reading this handout, specifically the first limb: Yamas, or universal morality.

These yamas are broken down into five "wise characteristics" and rather than existing as a list of "thou shalt" and "thou shalt not", they tell us that our fundamental nature is to be compassionate, generous, honest, and peaceful.  Essentially, they tell us to just be a good person.  I'm going to tackle them all and make them my focus for the coming year, 2015: The Year of Me, as I'm calling it, but I'm most fascinated by the first yama of ahimsa.

Ahimsa, or compassion for all living things, literally means to not injure or show cruelty to any creature or any person in any way whatsoever.  But more than just anti-violence, as adapted in yoga, it means kindness, friendliness, and thoughtful consideration of other people and things.  It also has to do with our duties and responsibilities, and ahimsa implies that in every situation we should adopt a considerate attitude and do no harm.  Essentially, again, it tells us to just be a good person.

We all obviously struggle with this since we're selfishly flawed humans, but I find it such a frustration to see people so completely dedicated to the practice of yoga treat others with such dishonesty, cruelty, and thoughtless actions.  Perhaps that complete dedication they emit really is only the superficial look at my cute yoga clothes in my cool handstand pictures.  And perhaps my own struggle will be to treat those people with the kindness and "ahimsa" I wish they could embody.

Sigh.  I can do that.  I can let go.  I have to let go.  I want to.  It's time to embrace ahimsa and show compassion in both action and thought.

Namaste.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Does Mindfulness Meditation Training Help Adults With ADHD?


Though yoga and consequential mindfulness and meditation practices were initially introduced to me to help with my insomnia, I wanted to pursue practice to help with my adult ADHD.  Since my ADHD is a big contributing factor to my insomnia, I knew it would be worth looking in to.  Yes, I might have hobby ADHD and in an effort to not let yoga, mindfulness practice, and meditation turn into something I fall in love with and abandon, I wanted to fully embrace and understand as much as I could and turn this into more than a hobby.  I wanted this to be a treatment.

The more I embrace this, the more I see that becoming a personal truth and I have absolute certainty that this is something that will stick with me.

To reinforce the effectiveness of yoga, mindfulness, and meditation on ADHD, I've set out to study it and found the following article both helpful and informative:

As aware­ness of ADHD in adults increases, so do efforts to develop effec­tive treat­ments for adults that can com­ple­ment, or sub­sti­tute for, med­ica­tion. One promis­ing treat­ment is mind­ful­ness med­i­ta­tion train­ing. In mind­ful­ness train­ing, indi­vid­u­als learn to ori­ent their atten­tion pur­pose­fully towards the present moment and to approach their one’s expe­ri­ence with curios­ity, open­ness, and acceptance.
Mind­ful­ness med­i­ta­tion may be par­tic­u­larly well-suited to address ADHD in adults because it focuses on pro­mot­ing the reg­u­la­tion of atten­tion. Prior stud­ies also sug­gest that mind­ful­ness train­ing can enhance aspects of exec­u­tive func­tion­ing and may con­tribute to bet­ter emo­tion reg­u­la­tion, areas where many adults with ADHD struggle.
A study recently pub­lished online in the Jour­nal of Atten­tion Dis­or­ders, A pilot trial of mind­ful­ness med­i­ta­tion train­ing for ADHD in adult­hood: Impact on core symp­toms, exec­u­tive func­tion­ing and emo­tion dys­reg­u­la­tion, pro­vides the most rig­or­ous inves­ti­ga­tion to date of mind­ful­ness med­i­ta­tion train­ing for adults with ADHD.
Twenty-two adults with ADHD (aver­age age 38, 12 females) were ran­domly assigned to an 8-week group-based mind­ful­ness med­i­ta­tion train­ing pro­gram or a wait-list con­trol con­di­tion. This ran­dom assign­ment method­ol­ogy had not been uti­lized in ear­lier research on this approach and rep­re­sents an impor­tant strength of the study. Nearly all par­tic­i­pants were on ADHD med­ica­tion and con­tin­ued with their treat­ment dur­ing the study.
Mind­ful­ness Training
Each ses­sion last 2.5 hours and was sup­ple­mented with daily at-home prac­tice. Weekly ses­sions began with a brief open­ing med­i­ta­tion, fol­lowed by a dis­cus­sion of in-home prac­tice, intro­duc­tion of new exer­cises and prac­tice, a review of at-home prac­tice for the upcom­ing week, and a clos­ing med­i­ta­tion. As noted above, the over­all goal of mind­ful­ness train­ing is to help indi­vid­u­als learn to ori­ent their atten­tion pur­pose­fully towards the present moment and to approach their one’s expe­ri­ence with curios­ity, open­ness, and acceptance.
You can learn more about this approach, and read an inter­est­ing inter­view with the psy­chol­o­gist who devel­oped the pro­gram, here.
Mea­sures
To eval­u­ate the impact of mind­ful­ness train­ing, mul­ti­ple mea­sures were col­lected from inter­ven­tion and con­trol par­tic­i­pants before treat­ment began, dur­ing sev­eral days in the 8-week pro­gram, and imme­di­ately after treat­ment ended. These mea­sures are sum­ma­rized below.
Core ADHD symt­poms — Adults com­pleted an ADHD symp­tom rat­ing scale in which all 18 core symp­toms of ADHD were rated. They also rated the extent to which ADHD symp­toms were impair­ing their func­tion­ing in dif­fer­ent domains, e.g., work, rela­tion­ships, etc. Rat­ings of core symp­toms were also obtained from trained clin­i­cians who inter­viewed par­tic­i­pants before and after treatment.
Exec­u­tive func­tion­ing (EF) — Rat­ings of EF were col­lected using the Deficits in Exec­u­tive Func­tion­ing Scale (DEFS) and the Behav­ior Rat­ing Inven­tory of Exec­u­tive Func­tion­ing– Adult Ver­sion (BRIEF-A). Items on the DEFS and the BRIEF-A assess mul­ti­ple aspects of exec­u­tive func­tion­ing includ­ing self-management, self-organization, self-discipline, self-motivation, self-regulation of emo­tion, work­ing mem­ory, behav­ioral inhi­bi­tion, plan­ning skills, etc. As with core ADHD symp­toms, EF rat­ings were also obtained from clinicians.
Emo­tion Dys­reg­u­la­tion — Emo­tion dys­reg­u­la­tion was assessed via the Dif­fi­cul­ties in Emo­tion Reg­u­la­tion Scale (DERS), a 36-item scale that assesses how often var­i­ous types emo­tion­ally dys­reg­u­lated behav­ior occurs. A sec­ond scale — the Dis­tress Tol­er­ance Scale — was also admin­is­tered. These scales were com­pleted by par­tic­i­pants only.
Eco­log­i­cal Momen­tary Assess­ment (EMA) — A novel fea­ture of this study was the use of an expe­ri­ence sam­pling strat­egy in which hand-held com­put­ers were used to obtain adults’ratings of their ADHD symp­toms and EF dur­ing 2 days in the first and last week of the study. The com­puter was pro­grammed to beep at ran­dom inter­vals dur­ing these days; the beep prompted par­tic­i­pants to indi­cate their cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, affect, and to rate their level of ADHD and EF symp­toms. This tech­nique pro­vides a valu­able addi­tion to the typ­i­cal rat­ing scale data by obtain­ing repeated assess­ments of indi­vid­u­als in their nor­mal daily environment.
Lab­o­ra­tory assess­ments of EF — In addi­tion to the self– and clin­i­cian report mea­sures sum­ma­rized above, a num­ber of lab­o­ra­tory tasks were included to mea­sure dif­fer­ent aspects of EF. These included a com­put­er­ized test of atten­tion, an assess­ment of work­ing mem­ory, as well as sev­eral other objec­tive assessments.
Results
Core ADHD symp­toms — Com­pared to con­trol par­tic­i­pants, adults who received mind­ful­ness med­i­ta­tion train­ing reported sta­tis­ti­cally sig­nif­i­cant and clin­i­cally mean­ing­ful declines in core ADHD symp­toms, both inat­ten­tive symp­toms and hyperactive-impulsive symp­toms. Nearly 64% of adults receiv­ing treat­ment reported at least a 30% decline in inat­ten­tive and hyperactive-impulsive symp­toms com­pared to 0% in the con­trol group. Inter­ven­tion par­tic­i­pants also reported sig­nif­i­cant reduc­tions in the impair­ment caused by ADHD symp­toms. Rat­ings pro­vided by clin­i­cians were con­sis­tent with adults’ self-reports as were rat­ings obtained via the expe­ri­ence sam­pling method­ol­ogy described above.
Exec­u­tive Func­tion­ing — Adults receiv­ing mind­ful­ness treat­ment reported sig­nif­i­cant gains in mul­ti­ple EF domains rel­a­tive to con­trol par­tic­i­pants. These included gains in self-management, self-organization, and self-discipline. Clin­i­cians who inter­viewed inter­ven­tion and con­trol par­tic­i­pants reported sim­i­lar gains for the for­mer. How­ever, no treat­ment group dif­fer­ences were found for lab­o­ra­tory mea­sures of EF.
Emo­tion Dys­reg­u­la­tion — Inter­ven­tion par­tic­i­pants reported sig­nif­i­cant gains in their abil­ity to reg­u­late emo­tions and tol­er­ate dis­tress. The mag­ni­tude of group dif­fer­ences would be con­sid­ered large.
Fea­si­bil­ity and Sat­is­fac­tion — The mind­ful­ness treat­ment was fea­si­ble to imple­ment and highly accept­able to par­tic­i­pants. Inter­ven­tion adults attended nearly 90% of sched­uled ses­sions and the aver­age treat­ment sat­is­fac­tion rat­ing was 5.91 on a 7 point scale; this reflects a high degree of sat­is­fac­tion. Nearly all par­tic­i­pants felt con­fi­dent that they would con­tinue to use the tech­niques they had been taught.
Sum­mary and Implications
Results from this study sug­gest that mind­ful­ness med­i­ta­tion train­ing for adults with ADHD holds sig­nif­i­cant promise. Par­tic­i­pants attended nearly all ses­sions, were quite sat­is­fied with the treat­ment, and reported gains rel­a­tive to con­trol sub­jects on a vari­ety of mea­sures. This included core ADHD symp­toms, mul­ti­ple aspects of EF, and the abil­ity to reg­u­late affect and tol­er­ate dis­tress. These gains were echoed in rat­ings pro­vided by clin­i­cian interviewers.
The only mea­sures for which treat­ment related improve­ments were not evi­dent was lab­o­ra­tory assess­ments of exec­u­tive func­tion­ing. This may reflect the fact that lab­o­ra­tory assess­ments of EF do not accu­rately cap­ture the daily deficits in EF that adults with ADHD expe­ri­ence. Because most adults were tak­ing med­ica­tion dur­ing the study, there may also have been lim­ited room for improve­ment on these mea­sures. On the other hand, because these were the only ‘objec­tive’ mea­sures col­lected in the study, the null find­ings raise ques­tions as to whether the self– and clin­i­cian report data accu­rately reflects changes that actu­ally occurred.
Although these are promis­ing results, the study has sev­eral lim­i­ta­tions that are impor­tant to rec­og­nize. First, the sam­ple is rel­a­tively small and repli­cat­ing the find­ings with a larger sam­ple would be important.
Sec­ond, pos­i­tive find­ings were obtained only for self-report mea­sures and for rat­ings pro­vided by clin­i­cians who were aware of par­tic­i­pants’ sta­tus. This is akin to test­ing a new ADHD med­ica­tion when every­one rat­ing par­tic­i­pants is aware that they took med­ica­tion. The study would have been strength­ened had clin­i­cians been blind to treat­ment vs. con­trol sta­tus and if infor­ma­tion had also been obtained from par­tic­i­pants’ spouses or other adults who knew them well.
It should also be noted that the com­par­i­son group was adults in wait­list con­trol con­di­tion rather than an active con­trol con­di­tion. As a result, whether it was mind­ful­ness train­ing specif­i­cally that con­tributed to the appar­ent treat­ment gains, or sim­ply the extra atten­tion that treat­ment par­tic­i­pants received, can­not be deter­mined with any certainty.
While these lim­i­ta­tions will be impor­tant to address in future work, find­ings from this study add to a grow­ing lit­er­a­ture point­ing towards the ben­e­fits of mind­ful­ness train­ing for adults with ADHD. The results cer­tainly sup­port the value of con­duct­ing a larger, randomized-controlled trial that addresses the lim­i­ta­tions noted above. Hope­fully, results from such a study will be avail­able shortly.

David Rabiner Attention Research Update– Dr. David Rabiner is a child clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist and Direc­tor of Under­grad­u­ate Stud­ies in the Depart­ment of Psy­chol­ogy and Neu­ro­science at Duke Uni­ver­sity.  His research focuses on var­i­ous issues related to ADHD, the impact of atten­tion prob­lems on aca­d­e­mic achieve­ment, and atten­tion train­ing.  He also pub­lishes Atten­tion Research Update, a com­pli­men­tary online newslet­ter that helps par­ents, pro­fes­sion­als, and edu­ca­tors keep up with the lat­est research on ADHD.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Partner Yoga: The Bitter & The Sweet





Excerpted from Chapter One of Partner Yoga: Making Contact for Physical Emotional & Spiritual Growth by Cain Carroll and Lori Kimata ND
Welcome. We're excited you've joined us for this journey. We've created a practice that brings two people together through yoga and touch. The practice involves physical postures, conscious breathing, touch, intimacy, trust, communication and play. We call it Partner Yoga. Like yoga, Partner Yoga is more than just an exercise program you fit in here and there. The practice of Partner Yoga is not confined to the studio or the yoga mat. Rather, the practice is something that permeates every aspect of your life.
Partner Yoga creates the opportunity to be in an interdependent partnership. Unlike partner-assisted yoga, where one person is doing the yoga posture and another is assisting, Partner Yoga postures are mutually beneficial. For example, let's take a traditional yoga posture like Extended Triangle Pose, Utthita Trikonasana. You and your partner stand back to back both positioning yourselves in Triangle Pose, pressing your backs into each other and linking arms as you both move into the full posture. Together you have created a new posture which we call "Double Triangle." This produces a different feeling than doing the posture alone. Both of you are giving support and benefiting at the same time. You will also notice that if one of you leans too much, or not enough, both of you will topple over. Exploring the perfect balance between the two of you is half the fun. The playfulness arises from this dynamic nature of partnership.
In this book we present sixty Partner Yoga postures and three Partner Yoga Flows. Some postures challenge your balance, strength and flexibility, while others address trust and communication. Some feel so goofy you'll fall to the ground laughing, while others feel so deep they might make you cry. When you combine your efforts and connect through touch, something magical happens. As the Carl Jung once said, "Like any chemical reaction, when two things make contact, both are transformed."
Why Practice Partner Yoga?
Benefit One: Cultivating Touch
"Hands are the heart's landscape" - Pope John Paul II
Touch transforms. All Partner Yoga postures involve touch so we might as well start right here. If you're going to practice Partner Yoga, begin by looking at how comfortable you are with touching and being touched. Some of us are naturally more tactile or touch-oriented than others. This is usually due to a combination of how we were brought up, the culture we live in and our unique personality.
Lori: When I was in college doing my work in Psychology, I studied human behavior by doing funny fieldwork experiments. I would purposely touch people with my arm or leg while standing on the bus or in an elevator and watch how people became uncomfortable or apologetic, as if it were a bad thing and someone was at fault. Some people would even walk away. I noticed how uptight people were with touching. I cracked up when Cain told me he still does this in movie theaters and crowded elevators. It's no wonder we work so well together.
Touch is a touchy subject. As babies, this didn't seem to be so. Somebody was always grooming us or wiping our bottoms. Touch was a pretty obvious necessity. If we didn't get touched, we'd probably have grown up with a few extra problems, or perhaps for some of us, that might explain a few of our problems. Studies conclude that if an infant doesn't receive physical contact through touch, even if all other basic needs are met, that infant will suffer serious health problems.
Mary Carlson, a neurobiologist and associate professor of neuroscience in psychiatry has spent close to three decades studying the effect of touch on the developing brain. Carlson concludes that touch is crucial to the release of cortisol (an important adrenal hormone) and the regulation of our stress-response system. This influences our metabolism, immunity and neural functioning. Children who aren't touched exhibit serious social and behavioral problems like the lack of basic social emotions, as well as suppressed physical growth and impaired immune systems. Studies show they have trouble walking, balancing, holding crayons, voicing basic needs, and remembering words.
Dr. Ashley Montagu, in his ground breaking book Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin, claims that, "tactile needs don't change with aging. If anything they seem to increase." Babies and infants are certainly not the only ones who need to be touched. We ALL need to touch and be touched for optimum health and happiness. Think of how nourishing skin to skin contact feels.
Somewhere along the way, we became weary of touching one another for fear of social, legal or health repercussions. In the United States we have become more accustomed to connecting through machines than our skin. Our hi-tech world ties us together in many useful ways. With phones, e-mail and television we can link nearly every corner of the globe. Unfortunately, during the paving of these information super-highways good old human contact got left behind. Technology is limited in its ability to truly bring us closer. A simple handshake can often tell us more about a person than the internet or a telephone ever could.
Touch has also been misconstrued by the way our culture deals with sex. Around puberty most people start exploring their sexual nature. As young people get in touch with their sexual feelings they begin to feel connections between touch and sex. Larry Dawson, in his bookTouch Not Necessarily Sex describes how this relationship between touch and sex has become distorted in our culture. The uncertainty around the implications of touch make many people fearful. The result is a society that is intimacy deprived and sexually wounded. It seems we flip-flop between over-indulgent and sexually repressed without ever truly understanding our sexual nature. Movies, magazine articles, lectures and books have attempted to sum up this subject in myriad ways throughout the years. Yet, as a culture, we still know very little about human sexuality.
What we do know is that we are all sexual. Accepting this is the first step toward understanding our sexual nature. Partner Yoga is opportunity to look at your sexuality from a different angle. Maybe you're lying on your partner's back completely relaxed and suddenly a sexual thought or feeling arises. Partner Yoga gives you the opportunity to take a moment and simply observe what you are feeling and thinking. You don't have to repress these feelings or act on them, you can simply be with them, and in turn they will teach you more about yourself. If you jump up and run away or act immediately on these sexual feelings, you may miss a valuable opportunity. Partner Yoga is a playground for learning to embrace the various aspects of your self, including your sexuality.
If you're practicing Partner Yoga with a sexual partner, practice observing your feelings without acting on them right away. By making the conscious choice not to immediately act on your sexual inclinations you are giving yourself the opportunity to experience touch and sexuality in a unique way.
What would the world look like if people were more in touch with themselves and each other? How would it be different if we could let our guard down, relax and embrace each other as our true selves? This transformation on an individual level ultimately helps create a society that practices cooperation, tolerance and interdependence. If we want a more harmonious world, we have to begin by finding healthy ways of meeting our basic need for touch.
Benefit Two: Increasing Fitness
To stay healthy, we need to be touched. This is one spoke in the health and happiness wheel. Our health also depends on how fit we feel. Usually we associate fitness with physical fitness. In Partner Yoga we expand our concept of fitness to include physical, mental, emotional and spiritual fitness. Vibrant "total being health" is a fusion of all these aspects and more. It's different for everyone. Some of us are content with a walk around the block and a good book, while others need to do three hours of intense martial arts and write a software program to feel mildly challenged. The point is we all need to do something to stay at our optimum level of fitness.
Staying fit is a simple equation--all you have to do is do it. It sounds simple, although most of the time it's not that easy. Life is full of distractions. Do you ever talk yourself out of a workout because other "more important" things take precedent? How often have you quit exercising because you were bored, frustrated or just plain lazy? Staying fit takes focus and motivation. Having a fitness partner can be more fun and help you stay on track. You need to enjoy what you're doing or it won't last for long. Practicing partner postures for strength, stamina and flexibility (see Chapter 7) along with the Quick Flow and Power Flow (see Chapter 10) is a great way to meet your needs for fitness and fun.
Your level of physical fitness is a result of everything you do. Your job and lifestyle have as much of an influence on your physical fitness, as your designated work-out. Practicing Partner Yoga postures is a great way to support a healthy lifestyle. Breathing techniques increase your lung capacity and improve your circulation by working the diaphragm and back muscles. Holding physical postures develops strength and flexibility and increases the efficiency of your muscular system. Postures which involve bending and twisting irrigate the spine, and tonify the entire nervous system. Twists and bends also stimulate the abdominal organs and improve digestive health. Practicing yoga builds power without rigidity and creates a supple efficient body which performs well in a variety of activities. People who begin a regularly practice of Partner Yoga are often amazing at how much more energy they have. With a supple body and relaxed mind you are able to accomplish more by doing less. The key is to keep practicing with loving kindness, patience and a sense of humor.
Lori: I remember in high school when I started running track. In my first race I literally thought I was going to drop dead at the third corner of a 440 run. I had one more quarter of the track to go and I thought I was going to simply fall to the ground. I breathed deeply, slowed to a pace where my mind stopped panicking and somehow finished the race. By the end of the season I was running cross-country without too much problem. The ability of the human body to keep stretching to new fitness levels continues to amaze me.
Mental fitness is associated with your degree of clarity, focus and intelligence. All of these aspects depend largely on how peaceful your mind is. In Partner Yoga "peaceful mind" is the umbrella under which all other aspects of mental health fall. Practicing Partner Yoga means using the entire practice--the postures, the breath, the partnership--to bring the mind into a calm state of focus. Developing mental fitness is about training the mind to suspend, from time to time, the constant bombardment of thoughts. Have you ever sat for a moment to observe what goes on in your head? For many people that can be pretty scary. With thousands of conflicting thoughts and worries all yelling at the same time, it can be like a war zone in there. In Partner Yoga, you practice focusing the mind--on your breathing, balance and alignment--as a means of training the mind to find peace amid the chaos.
As J. Krishnamurti once said, "When the mind is still, tranquil, not seeking any answer or solution, even, neither resisting nor avoiding, it is only then that there can be regeneration, because then the mind is capable of perceiving what is true and it is the truth that liberates, not our effort to be free." We practice "peaceful mind" in Partner Yoga with gentle patience rather than force. We cannot make our minds peaceful. We can only open to our truth and allow the mind to let go of extraneous thoughts that often distract us from finding our peace.
People often tell us they simply can't meditate or hold postures because they can't shut off their minds. That is what practice is for! Like anything, creating a peaceful mind takes patience and consistency. In Partner Yoga you and your partner help each other relax and focus as you move through postures. If you allow your mind to wander you might lose your balance or even hurt your partner. Being accountable to another person is a great motivating force. The key is to work as a team and support each other in this process.
Mental fitness overlaps naturally with fitness on an emotional level. Emotional fitness starts with becoming more aware of what you are feeling. Your degree of emotional fitness depends on your ability to recognize, acknowledge and fully experience each feeling. Sometimes it's more convenient to avoid feelings, yet eventually they catch up with you. When you don't let yourself fully experience feelings, they become stuck and eventually weigh you down. Over time, these unexpressed feelings adversely affect your body, mind and spirit.
Practicing Partner Yoga can bring up a wide array of feelings. When you depend on your partner for support in a lifting or leaning posture, for example, you naturally have to trust, and to some degree, surrender. This can bring up all kinds of unexpressed feelings. Once again you have stumbled upon a precious opportunity for growth. If you run, fear's got a hold on you. If you stay, you uncover valuable truths about yourself. In a safe arena where you feel accepted and supported you can relax and let your feelings flow naturally. This emotional "opening" can help you feel lighter and more content.
Ultimately, as you increase your physical, mental and emotional fitness, your spirit is happier. You've moved your body, relaxed your mind and opened your heart. Now you can listen to your inner voice with greater clarity. Partner Yoga gives you a quiet space to hear that whispering voice inside tell you exactly what you need to feel happy and whole.
Benefit Three: Having Fun
"What we play is life." - Louis Armstrong
Partner Yoga is meant to be playful and fun. Approach everything you do in Partner Yoga with a sense of humor and creativity. If you notice you aren't having fun anymore, take a moment to breathe, lighten up and ask yourself a few questions: Why am I taking this so seriously? Am I struggling to get a posture just right? Am I worried about being good enough? Am I trying to impress my partner? Sometimes we place so much importance on being "good" at things we forget to enjoy them.
In Partner Yoga it's not how well you do a pose, it's how much you enjoy the pose. Let's say you're moving into a seated pose and you're not able to stretch as far as you wanted to. You are disappointed and uncomfortable. You're not having fun. Here's where those "new eyes" come in. If you really want to, you can turn pain into growth, fear into courage, and resistance into acceptance. When you approach yourself with curiosity and compassion, rather than berating yourselves for not being good enough, you beget a new way of being. You begin to laugh at your shortcomings and smile at your insecurities. Life becomes less serious, and there is an inherent playfulness in everything you do.
Watching children is a simple reminder of what it means to be playful and free. They have a sense of fascination and presence in whatever they do. For many children life is one big playground. As adults, our worries and responsibilities tend to weigh us down. If the playful child in us gets pushed aside it affects our well-being.
Health comes with lightness and joy. Norman Cousins, in his best seller Anatomy of an Illness, describes how the amazing power of laughter helped to heal his own life threatening disease. Suffering from a serious illness and finding no success in the hospital, he decided there had to be a better way. Leaving the hospital, he checked into a hotel room where he pampered himself with funny re-runs of Candid Camera and The Marx Brothers. Laughter turned out to be a potent medicine. Mr. Cousins regained his health and went on to write and lecture about how emotions affect body chemistry, and the importance of humor and lightness in our every day life. As you practice Partner Yoga make having fun your priority. Laugh often and allow yourself to get a little goofy. Become skilled at the art of being silly and spontaneous.
Benefit Four: Relaxing
"Practice not-doing, and everything will fall into place." - Tao Te Ching
Many people come to Partner Yoga for contact, fitness or fun. Other people come just to chill. Either way, we'd prefer Partner Yoga doesn't end up as another item on your "to-do" list. Most of you already have more than enough to "do." In fact, our culture places so much importance on what we do, that we are starting to become a race of human "doings" instead of human beings. Partner Yoga is about learning to relax and just be. For example, if you are practicing a posture and you become uncomfortable, explore the discomfort and find a new way to breathe into the posture to release the tension. Take your time. Rushing to do postures is like speeding to a massage appointment then running off to the next activity, you hardly get to taste the sweetness of what you're experiencing. If you catch yourself thinking of relaxation as something that has to be done, you're missing the point. Relaxation is a state of being.
For many of us, stress and tension are such a normal part of our lives we sometimes aren't even aware they're there. It's only when we find our shoulders up to our ears that we realize we're holding a little tension. As you practice Partner Yoga take some time to look at how you are managing the stresses in your life. Having stress is usually not the problem. Stress is simply another experience, although many of us could benefit from eliminating a few unnecessary stressors. In most cases it's how we manage the stress that causes the problem. It's just like food. Food isn't bad. How we manage the food is usually what gets us into trouble. If we take in an adequate amount to nourish us at a nice pace, we feel wonderful. If we stuff ourselves in a hurry we usually end up with a stomachache. The causes of our "tension aches" are similar and not always as obvious.
Remember to help your partner stay aware of how they hold tension. Sometimes they may not even realize their shoulders are up to their ears. A little reminder can be useful. Two good indicators of tension are the shoulders and the hands. As you practice partner postures stay relaxed in these areas. It may seem like gripping your partner's hand in certain postures makes the posture more secure. Most of the time that's not the case. With practice you realize that holding your partner's hand in a firm yet relaxed way is much more effective.
Benefit Five: Strengthening Relationships
Cain: I was in the middle of working on this section about relationships when a friend asked me to be in his wedding in California. On the way back to Hawaii, I got stuck for seven hours at the international airport and decided to change this unfortunate turn of events into a field study on relationships. I wandered through the airport asking people of diverse ages and ethnicities to share their recipes for a successful relationship. Although their accents and skin colors varied greatly, people's responses were surprisingly similar. Every person I asked mentioned communication as one of the main ingredients of a good relationship.
Our conversations are a reflection of our everyday experience and the events of our time. Maybe that's why people are always talking about relationships and the weather; the two are timeless topics that affect every aspect of our lives. Think for a moment about the vast matrix of relationships that make up your environment. The most obvious ones are friends, family and co-workers. How about pets, plants, your home, the weather and the planet you live on? How do you relate to yourself?
Actually the last question is the one we are most interested in. So how do you relate to yourself? How do you communicate with yourself? Are you kind? Are you tactful? Do you accept yourself? Do you respect yourself? Do you trust yourself? Do you enjoy you own company? Do you like yourself? Do you love yourself? It may seem silly to answer these questions, yet the responses will unveil the foundation upon which all of your other relationships are built. There are no right answers and nobody is waiting for a response. So take a little time to digest these questions. Respond to yourself honestly, without regard for how you "should" feel or what your response "ought^ to be.
The fact is, in our busy lifestyles we don't take much time to cultivate a relationship with our selves. When we do, we usually feel more grounded and centered. In our relationships with other people, however, we are required to fill so many roles--teachers, students, parents, lovers, professionals--that it's easy to get pulled off center. In dance or martial arts you learn to move from your center with out being pulled off it. Your center is the source of your balance, power and truth. To abandon your center in dance or martial arts is virtually a sin. In our daily relationships the same principle applies. In relationships "moving from your center" means having a deeper understanding of who you are; it means first establishing honest relationships within yourself and then sharing that person with others. Of course, being real with ourselves can be kind of scary at times. There are always those parts of ourselves we would rather not see, let alone share with others. So we become masters of illusion. With shades of truth we paint a personality we can accept and in turn present to the world. Some of us have created such a masterpiece that even we cannot remember who we really are.
Building a strong center begins with acceptance of the real you, the whole you; even the parts you don't like. If you can approach this relationship with yourself with a sense of intrigue, humor and compassion, all of your other relationships will follow suit. There are no magic methods or short cuts. J. Krishnamurti puts it best when he writes, "There is no path to truth. Truth must be discovered, but there is no formula for its discovery. What is formulated is not true. You must set out on the uncharted sea, and the uncharted sea is yourself."
Most of you will choose to practice Partner Yoga with someone you already have a relationship with. That person may be your friend, your lover or your child. The physical contact, communication and mutual support required to practice Partner Yoga can certainly strengthen that relationship. Take a gym partner or fitness buddy for example. As you help each other with alignment, balance and concentration, you are building trust and serving as mirrors for each other. Each of you learns more about yourself with the help of your buddy.
Partner Yoga uses the same buddy system that has been around for ages. Tested through time, we know the buddy system works. Looking out for each other, finding safety in pairs, and watching your partner's back are familiar concepts to most of us. As kids we were taught to hold hands when crossing the street and to always travel with a buddy. As we get older, many activities use this same concept. Scuba diving, weight lifting and rock climbing, for example, use the buddy system for safety and support. Partner Yoga postures are similar in many ways. If you notice your partner is stepping way out of alignment in a posture, you can encourage them back. You are physically supporting your partner in certain postures, and literally looking out for them. There might be times when your partner is not paying attention and could injure themselves. As a good buddy you could gently call their attention back or suggest that you take a break to re-group. Partner postures remind us of how important it is to have a buddy and what it really means to be one.
If you have chosen to practice Partner Yoga with your child you are bound to have some fun and get to know each other in a whole new way. Children sometimes have idealized concepts of their parents: parents are always right, they are always strong, and parents know everything. Of course we all know none of these claims are true (although parents may not want to hear that). If you practice Partner Yoga with your child make him or her feel like your equal, your buddy, your partner. Approach the activity with an added element of honesty and vulnerability and your relationship will certainly deepen.
If you practice Partner Yoga with your lover, you have a great opportunity to further your intimacy. Listen to the sound of each other's breath and synchronize your breathing patterns. Together move slowly through poses with grace and sensitivity. Stay acutely aware of each other's physical structure and alignment. Practice trusting each other to the extent that you feel almost uncomfortable. And occasionally, with mindful courage, attempt a pose or variation that takes you both to your edge.
The Territory is Yours to Discover
This opening chapter has been an overview of the purpose and benefits of Partner Yoga. We discussed the importance of touch as a basic human need. We looked at a holistic perspective of fitness that includes physical as well as mental, emotional and spiritual fitness. We shared some ideas on fun and the value of humor. We reminded you to relax, and then we reminded you again. And finally, we came to a discussion of relationships and self-discovery.
Though the process of our own exploration of Partner Yoga, and the experience of co-authoring this book, we have confronted these issues together, as friends and co-authors. To be honest, it was not easy and we did not always agree. Yet we stayed committed to finding ways of making it work. Along the road there were no footsteps to follow and no magic solutions. The answers came when we spent less time grasping outside of ourselves, and more time looking within. Each day of our lives we are confronted with this challenge. Both of us require frequent reminding of where to turn with our needs and questions. Daily, sometimes by the hour, we continue to direct each other inward. As you embark upon your own experience in Partner Yoga we ask that you do what feels true for you. We ask that you honestly communicate with your partner. And most importantly we ask you take the experience inward, and remind your partner to do the same.


When I initially found the following chapter on partner yoga, I became so excited to share it on the blog as I had fallen in love with the concept.  Though my experience in partner yoga/acro yoga is limited, the importance of the connection, trust, communication, and intimacy found in it resonated on an extremely deep level.

I've "sat" on this entry for quite some time in a personal debate on whether or not to share it, given the nature of my experiences.  As the time has passed, and as I've contemplated whether or not to hit "PUBLISH", I've become extremely saddened to see this passion of mine become only a momentary "thing".  My "partner" betrayed and broke the trust we had developed and sorely needed in order to practice, and that longing to experience this beautiful form of play has completely left me. Time has passed, but I'm increasingly empty because of this.  This speaks to the strength of the bond that can be formed.

I do not think that I have the strength of body, mind, spirit, and heart to pursue this.  At least not any time soon.  Who knows.  But at the slight chance that you have stumbled on this entry and are considering partner yoga, please know that it can be an absolutely beautiful practice and I wish you the best in your pursuit of it.  I will look back at my time in this practice as both bitter and sweet.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Apana Vayu - Guided Breathing Exercise for Grounding

I was maybe only grounded once or twice a child.  It's probably why I like being grounded and centered now as an adult....I've always craved feeling settled.  This video definitely helps me focus and I find myself doing meditative breathing to keep me grounded, calm, or to help refocus me even at my desk.

Mala Collective has become a great source for me to understand different intentions and adding beautiful beads to my collection, but I love their videos on their YouTube channel and blog posts. That's where I found this!

Namaste.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Mantra 101 – Releasing and Letting Go Of A Mantra


video and article from malacollective.com


With the new year around the corner, you may be re-evaluating what you want for yourself in the new year. You may be wanting to change up your mantra. When do you know it's it is time to release a mantra? We're going to look at how to let it go in favor of taking on a new mantra to support you in your next chapter of life.

WHEN A MANTRA NEEDS TO CHANGE
After using a particular mantra for some time, you may begin to see some changes present themselves in your life.
Perhaps you find yourself more calm. Or maybe you have cultivated a greater sense of self, have made the shifts you have been focusing on or landed the new job, loving relationships, etc.
So if you have benefitted from a mantra nad are ready to seeing something new shift and change, how do we let go of what worked ad move onto something new?

RELEASE
Letting go of a mantra does not mean letting go of the changes it has created in your life. In actuality, it means the exact opposite.
Releasing a mantra is about acknowledging the path that you have been on and what it has taken to create that changes in your life that you have. Our being able to recognize our own growth and appreciate the effort that goes into work on ourselves is the key to taking our own personal upgrade.
It is in truly accepting our shifted awareness that we can then see where our next opportunity or desire for growth lies.

Getting to know ourselves from the outside in is a true gift – and one that keeps giving.

WRITE YOUR COMMITMENTS

A practice that can support knowing when the time is right to release a certain mantra is through journaling.

The act of writing your reflections and looking at thoughts, patterns and where you find yourself in life is a strong way to be in acknowledgement of what shifts have taken place or are in the process of taking place.

Start each journal entry with a question. Try something you can track over time.
  • Ask: What do I need today?
  • Where am I seeing myself grow? 
  • What am I seeing differently?
Keep track of what you see and as you see old patterns fall away, you’ll know you’re prime for a new chapter, new intention and new mantra.

A PRACTICE AND PROCESS

Our journey to grow and shift ourselves is an ongoing one. By tuning into what we know to be true and elevating our awareness of what we are looking to shift, we can access our highest self. And yes, it’s an ongoing journey, and one with many ups, downs, twists and turns.

It’s the journey that makes the process so sweet.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Take A Little Time || Give A Little Time


There are some days where I feel like I'm finally seeing things, people, experiences, and the world through the eyes I should have always had, the eyes God gave me.  Unfortunately, my humanness has left me susceptible to selfishness and made me prone to follow the Generation Now and Generation Gimme Gimme path that leads to that selfishness and lack of self awareness and compassion.  I'm making every effort to make those bad, unaware, selfish days fewer and fewer, and days like today more abundant.

So what happened today?  Well, I felt it when I woke up.  I knew that something was going to be different because I told myself to make a conscious decision to be mindful, to be present, to be happy, and to ooze positivity.  I made that decision while lying in bed, gradually turning up the "volume" on my Himalayan pink salt lamp, gradually waking up my senses, and I said that once my feet hit the floor, I would be nothing but that "good" energy for myself and anyone who needed it.

Crazy.  I got ready in record time and to work way earlier than I have over the last few dragging weeks.  After getting my office settled, I jetted off to an appointment with my Nephrologist.  Some pressing kidney issues have been somewhat of a challenge for me these last six months and today was a big appointment to see if things were better or worse.  After a minor surgery, major lifestyle changes, and a conviction that things would be fine and my body would fix itself, today was the day I'd find out how my health had progressed.

I'm no stranger to waiting rooms.  I usually grab a magazine, watch whatever is on the TV, or play on my phone.  I intentionally distract myself.  But today was distraction-free.  I sat there, present, and observant.  And I was so glad that I was because there were people who needed me and there were people that I needed in that waiting room.

Two sisters covered nearly head to toe in Boise State clothing, entered the clinic.  While one checked in for her appointment, the other sat near me and we struck up a conversation about the location of the TV in the clinic.  Then we fell silent.  When the other sister finished checking in and sat down with us, the conversation picked back up and we talked about everything from our fur babies, children, favorite college football teams (obviously they love Boise State), the drive they endured for their appointment, and ultimately the reason why we were in the liver and kidney transplant clinic.

They asked me, first, so I told my story, first.  They both exuded so much thoughtfulness, kindness, and compassion for my health concerns.  I asked the sister who was the patient who she was there to see.  Since I am both patient and employee at the hospital we're at, I'm quite familiar with the doctors and I assured her that she was in exceptional hands.  Her response to that comment broke my heart.  "I just hope they think I qualify. I only have a year.  Maybe two."

She went on to tell me that her first fight with cancer was back in 1994, with only a 30% chance of living.  She told me that though she didnt' lose her hair through 52 weeks of tough chemo, she did gain 60 pounds.  Years later when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she gained another 60 lbs, but fought harder because she knew her life wasn't meant to be over.  But now, after hearing that she has a year, maybe two, she wants to defy those odds as well.

It was a knee-jerk reaction.  My eyes teared up.  I told her that I would pray for her and my hand instinctively drifted towards my mala.  We barely had a minute to talk after that before my name was called and I had to go back for my appointment, but I could not leave without wrapping my arms around this complete stranger who is fighting a battle I'll never understand.  Hopefully, I'll never understand.  It was not an empty embrace or an awkward one.  We both needed it.  I could tell.  She held on, tightly.  Her sister reached out and tore one arm away from the embrace and held my hand.

The exchange of the energy between the three of us, connected, was powerful and it didn't just impact us.  When we finally let go and I opened my eyes, every single eye in the clinic was on us.  I knew they had heard every word between us, too.  The room isn't that big!  I'll probably never see these women again, but I will think of them, often.  

Mindfulness isn't some difficult concept.  It's not a practice that you need a mentor in or piles of books about.  Yes, it's a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique, but it's also being conscious or aware.  It's that simple.  I like seeing out of these eyes.

I knew today would be different.

Namaste.

Mala Collective + Lululemon



"This is the beginning of a beautiful relationship." The beautiful mala bead necklaces that I've come to love, respect, and utilize in my own practice will hopefully find their way into the hearts and practices of others. Mala Collective necklaces are now available through Lululemon!

Namaste.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

More Than One Way To Skin A Crow

I can't even begin to tell you how awesome the internet is.  Thank you, Al Gore.

Okay, but seriously, there are so many great resources out there to help you with your practice and I am definitely a fan of Jennifer DeCurtins (peanutbutterrunner.com) and her videos, Instagram feed, blog, etc.  Check her out and don't be afraid to try a variation if it helps!  You don't have to master a pose.  You just have to master your self.

Namaste.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Mantra 101 - How To Choose A Mantra

video and article from malacollective.com

Looking for more insight on how to choose a mantra that can best support you in your meditation practice and life? Look no further -  we have you covered!

Tradition and Mantra

In ancient times, mantras were handed down to the student from the teacher.

This is, in effect, a practice that is still part of a guru/teacher and student relationship.

The handing down of a mantra to a student by a teacher is a practice rooted in the teacher’s deep understanding of where the student is and what it is whey are work in in their life.

The beauty of mantra is that it being handed down is not a necessity; we have the ability and power to choose that which we wish to cultivate more of for ourselves.

It simply requires a little reflection and intention setting.

Setting Your Intention

Choosing the correct mantra for yourself requires an understanding of that which you would like to create, shift or let go of in your life.

Setting an intention for yourself will give you the roadmap for where to look for the words that will create your mantra. Perhaps you hear yourself in complaint about something in life. Let’s use, for example, being caught up in things not happening fast enough.

When you can identify where you see an opportunity to move through something, you can from there look to choose a mantra to support the shift you wish to make.

Finding The Words

With your intention in mind, you can begin to explore words that work for you.

Whether you're looking for positivity, health, happiness, self love, or if you simply want to find balance, you can land on a word, or a string of words to help manifest your intention.

Some Sample Words

To help get the wheel turning, here are some of our favorite modern day mantras:
To cultivate endurance or strength: "This too shall pass."
For love: "I am love.” 
For being present: "Be here, now."
And for empowerment: "I possess endless potential"

Traditional Samples

You can also choose to use an ancient mantra, spoken or thought in Sanskrit. Some of our favorite traditional mantra are as follows:

You can use ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ which translates to “I honor the divinity within myself” to help with self confidence.

Or to cultivate abundance into your life, try ‘Om Hreem Shreem Hara Hara Swaaha ’

There are countless other traditional mantra that range in length and depth that can support in bringing your intentions and desires to life.

We hope you learned more about mantras and perhaps found one that was fitting for you!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Take A Little Time || Give A Little Time


If you've just now discovered this blog, this online journal of mine,  you may not have read the post about how I found my mala and how it found me.  You can read it ::here::

My mala was blessed specifically for this purpose:  

"I am resilient.  I am fearless in following my dreams -- listening to my heart and intuition.  And when the universe provides an ebb and flow in my rhythm, I know that they are not barriers but merely guides.  So I bounce back with grace and continue on my journey."

I've truly tried to embody and mindfully focus on my intention to be resilient.  Like everyone else, my life is full of challenges, struggles, heartbreak, and the inevitable wonderful JOY!  Like everyone else, I need a reminder to ride out the storms and keep pushing on.  My reminder sits comfortably on my left wrist and buoys me up when I need it the most.

As I've let those words resonate in my mind and heart and become my focus when I need some, I've learned an incredibly valuable lesson:  I'm not the only one who needs my intention. 

Trying to project my intention has not been easy.  Trying to see who might need a little extra reminder to be fearless through those ebbs and flows didn't hit me like other moments of clarity. Nothing really "clicked" on how I could share.  But then, one day, it did.  And it was obvious.

I was sitting in my car, enjoying some classic rock and warmth before heading out into the grey winds of the Utah foothills by my work.  As I looked around, I saw others hustling to get to their offices and out of the cold, and I fixated on the row of RVs parked in front of me.  I work at a hospital.  We have an RV lot for patients and their families to set up residence for long-term treatments for a multitude of ailments, specifically cancers.  Some of the RVs sit there for months on end.  They plant flowers and veggies, decorate for the holidays, take their dogs for walks, and in the mornings, a van comes to pick them up to shuttle them off to treatments.  I rarely ever see a happy face among the residents of "RV Row".

The last few mornings I've seen who I presume to be a husband/wife team say their goodbyes as she gets in the van.  She climbs to the middle of the van and looks longingly out the side window.  I can't help but wonder if she's looking for how life used to be, or looking forward to how it will be once this trial is removed from her.  I can't help but pray for her.  As she leaves, he hunkers down in a folding lawn chair positioned outside the front of the RV.  He doesn't position himself to the west to look over the valley, to see the views.  No, he positions himself and his chair directly facing the position in which the van will return.  It's chilly out, so he's snugly wrapped in a coat and hat.  He says nothing to nobody.  He doesn't read or play on his phone.  He sits there.  He waits.  What must be going through his mind as she drives away.

I've started to smile at him as I walk by, even though he never looks up to meet my gaze.  Yesterday I wished him a good morning in passing.  His head moved upwards in my direction.  Nothing more. This morning, I bee-lined it straight at him and his RV.  This time he reciprocated the greeting.  And he smiled.

Can you imagine how resilient this man must be trying to be?  How strong must he want to be for her while going through both of their ebbs and flows.  It makes me want to be resilient for him, for her, for others.

We can be resilient and strong for others and not by any great means or efforts.  Just be.  Just be nice.  Just be there.  Just be aware.  Just be mindful of others and their own struggles.  Remember that as you are going through your own ebbs and flows, others are, too.  Don't you dare even think or say that "someone else has it worse".  Our struggles are ours and nobody can determine how hard or easy they must be.  What you should dare even think or say is that you will be that source of grace and strength for others, even if it's something as small as a morning greeting after a possibly sad parting. I can promise you one thing: as you become a source of strength for someone else, you'll find your own.

Namaste.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Acro Yoga: Mind & Body Control

I am constantly amazed by the things that the human body can do.  Before I began my own journey into losing weight and getting healthy, I never would have dreamed of doing anything close to this.

I would have been too afraid that I weighed too much to be supported and spun around.
I would have been too afraid that I wouldn't have the strength of mind or body to support myself.
I would have been too afraid to have someone touching my insecure body.
I would have been too afraid.
Period.

I actually was a bit afraid the first time that I tried acro.  I'd only finally reached my goal weight about a month earlier, but my mind was still fixated on being 50 pounds heavier and my former insecurities.  So when he approached me and asked if I had ever tried acro before and I agreed to let him fly me, my confidence immediately retreated.

He wants me to do what?  He wants to put his feet where?  Wait, his hand is holding what on me? Oh my gosh, I must be crushing him.  Is he sweating?  Am I too heavy?

Hey, wait, this isn't all that bad.  He doesn't seem to be straining too much to hold me.  Huh, he just flipped me around like I was nothing.  Yeah, his arms and legs aren't shaking.  I think I'm good. Yeah, I'm totally fine.  Stop thinking.  Just enjoy this.




Weeks later, I confessed these insecurities to him and the baffled look on his face is one that I will always remember. I recommitted myself to see myself through others' eyes.

Again, I am constantly amazed by the things that the human body can do, especially once we quiet the mind.  Remember that the image that you see in the mirror is only a skewed reflection of what and who you truly are.  Quiet the words and voices in your mind that tell you that you can't, shouldn't, won't, and all of the other similar negative comments.  You can.  You should.  You will.

Namasté.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Mantra 101 - What Is A Mantra?

video and article from malacollective.com

Let's uncover and bring some insight into a mantra. An age old tradition in many eastern cultures, mantras have much significance in meditation practice. What’s great is they are also easily accessible for anyone to use, any time.
Let’s start with the basics of what a mantra is.
Simply put, a mantra is word, sound, or phrase repeated to aid in your concentration while meditating.

Lots of people are curious about the origin of mantra. With their origin in the Vedic times by Hindus in India, earliest mantra use dates back to over 3000 years ago.

Today, mantras are found in use across various schools in Hinduism, Buddhism and beyond.

Notable Mantra
Some of the oldest mantra recorded and most notable ones in use today are the Gayatri Mantra, Pavamana Mantra and Shanti mantra.

Each mantra is universally used and, although a specific interpretation is accepted by different cultures, each possesses its own unique intent and invocation.

For example, the Gayatri mantra is said to fill your life with happiness after using it regularly, firmly establishing it in the mind and carrying out the work that is ordained for you.

The Pavamana mantra is a purifying mantra that gives us access to realizing our intentions, and Shanti Mantras are all about calling in peace.

Present Day Use

While traditional mantra is written and thought or spoken in Sanskrit—an ancient Indian language—mantra today has many sounds and words.

A mantra can be as simple as the word 'love,’.

It can be something you are thankful for or something you are looking to cultivate more of.

You can also meditate on an affirmation, such as 'I accept myself.'

It can also be a phrase such as 'om shanti, shanti, shanti' which represents all encompassing peace.

We hope this article helped you understand mantras and maybe even offered up a mantra to try!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things: Yogi Gift Giving



I'm not saying that you have to get me all of these for Christmas, but I wouldn't hate you for it if you did!

Whether you're shopping for me or another yogi in your life, the following items would be great stuffed in a stocking or wrapped under a tree:

Clockwise:  Gecko Explorer Pocket Bralette Pocket Crop Leggings Free People Mixed Texture Wideband Goddess Ribbed Leggings No Limits Stretching Strap Gaiam Yoga Brick
Yummi Yogi Cookie Cutters