She let go.

Aufsteigender LuftballonI thought this would be appropriate for the upcoming holiday season. It’s a wonderful poem by Rev. Safire Rose:

She Let Go

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of the fear.  She let go of the judgments.  She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.  She let go of the committee of indecision within her.  She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on how to let go  She didn’t search the scriptures. She just let go.  She let go of all of the memories that held her back.  She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.  She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go. She didn’t journal about it. She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer. She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope. She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go. She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter. She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. She didn’t call the prayer line. She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.

No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing. Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be. A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

by Rev. Safire Rose

Demystifying the Gayatri Mantra.

 

Have you ever heard this mantra by Deva Premal & Miten in a yoga class? I loved Deva’s voice before I even knew the meaning of the mantra. The following is what I’ve learned about the Gayatri Mantra…thought I’d share it with you!

What it looks like (in ĐevaNāgarī script):

भूर्भुवः स्वः
तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यं
भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि
धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात्

…and, this is what it looks like sounded out:

om bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ  (Om Bhoor Bhoova Swa-Ha)
tát savitúr váreṇ(i)yaṃ  (Tat Sa-Vidoor Va-rain-yam)
bhárgo devásya dhīmahi  (Bhaargo They-Vas-Ya Dee-Mahi)
dhíyo yó naḥ prachodáyāt  (Thee-Yo Yo-Na-Ha, Pra-Cho-Da-Yaat)  

Where it’s from:

The Gayatri Mantra is a very sacred verse from the Rig Veda, believed to have been written somewhere between 1800-1500 BCE.. The Rig Veda is part of a larger collection, the Vedas, a collection of poems and verses that are divided up into 10 books. Each poem in the Rig Veda is dedicated to a deity, and the Gayitri Mantra is for the sun-deity Savitr.

What it means:

There are SO many translations… probably as many translations as there are translators, from the literal to the more interpretative.

THIS interpretation by Douglas Brooks is my favorite:

The eternal, earth, air, heaven
That glory, that resplendence of the sun
May we contemplate the brilliance of that light
May the sun inspire our minds.

It’s really quite beautiful…in my humble opinion. I don’t think you necessarily need to be Hindu to appreciate it. The beauty and brilliance of the sun and it’s light can be contemplated by anyone, no matter what their religion.

How to recite it:

If the Gayatri resonates with you, take 30 minutes, find a comfortable seat, unwind that mala that you’ve been wearing wrapped around your wrist for a fashion statement, and recite the Gayatri 108 times (use your mala to count..that’s what it’s for, silly!)…see how you feel afterward!

Bonus: Try the Gayatri with mudras (hand gestures)!

New study: yoga helps symptoms of depression

Yoga Class in Urban Yoga StudioA new study out of Boston University Medical Center found that yoga can be a beneficial supplement or alternative to prescription medications for major depressive disorder.

If you practice yoga, you probably already know this, right?!! But it’s great to be backed up by a scientific study!

The study used Iyengar yoga for the study (my personal fave…yay!), as well as ujjayi breathing (it’s sometimes called “Darth Vader breath”, or “ocean breath”). Here is a great tutorial for ujjayi.

So, here’s the study in a nutshell…Two groups were studied for 12 weeks, a high-dose group (3 90-min. classes a week plus 4 30-min home practice sessions) and a low-dose group (2 90-min. classes a week plus 3 30-min home practice sessions). The study found that yoga and breathing practices showed a significant reduction in symptoms in both groups…with the high-dose group showing slightly better results.

If you have major depressive disorder, or are feeling depressed, speak with your doctor about integrating a yoga practice into your life. Science shows, it will make a difference!

Journal reference (click the link to read the study in all it’s scientific glory):

  1. Chris C. Streeter, Patricia L. Gerbarg, Theodore H. Whitfield, Liz Owen, Jennifer Johnston, Marisa M. Silveri, Marysia Gensler, Carol L. Faulkner, Cathy Mann, Mary Wixted, Anne Marie Hernon, Maren B. Nyer, E. Richard P. Brown, John E. Jensen. Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder with Iyengar Yoga and Coherent Breathing: A Randomized Controlled Dosing Study. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2017; DOI: 10.1089/acm.2016.0140

5 yoga poses to help calm the RAGE hormones during menopause.

middle age woman doing yoga meditation

Menopause can be brutal. I’m speaking from experience. Recently, one of my girlfriends asked me if I know any yoga she can practice that will help ease her estrogen-deficient-rages that she goes in while in the throes of menopause.

I’m not a big fan of prescribing certain poses for certain conditions…BUT, the poses listed below are gentle, easy for the yoga newbie, and will hopefully get you to START somewhere. They do have specific benefits for menopause, too…don’t get me wrong. I’ve just learned that with yoga, I feel a sense of calm and focus after a practice. I feel more mindful and less reactive and I sleep better no matter WHAT poses are part of my daily practice.

There are different symptoms of menopause, from the ubiquitous hot-flashes to mood swings to brain-fogs and insomnia. It all makes sense…our hormones fluctuate like crazy during menopause…and hormones influence all of those things in our body. GAH!!

Click the links to see how to do the poses if you aren’t familiar…and make SURE to consult your doctor before you practice yoga…I don’t want anyone getting hurt on my watch!

  1. Legs up the wall pose (Viparita Karani). This is one of my all-time favorites. You can practice this with or with out the support of a bolster. It’s great for insomnia, anxiety, pms, tired & achy feet, and is said to help reverse the aging process! I’m beginning to sound like an infomercial…
  2. Reclined Bound-Angle pose (Supta Baddha Konasana). This pose is great for times when you are just feeling generally down…or are stressed out. It is good for your abdominal organs…including ovaries and for your circulation.
  3. Bridge pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana). This is said to calm your mind, reduce anxiety and reduce mild depression. Oh the list goes on and on…
  4. Head-to-knee pose (Janu Sirsasana). This pose calms the nervous system (remember those rage hormones we first talked about?!).  It’s quieting, calming, and great for insomnia. I especially like the restorative version of it…especially for those who can’t quite reach their foot…did I mention that it’s calming?
  5. Belly Breathing (Adham Pranayama). Ok…it’s not necessarily a yoga “pose”…but I think that practicing breathing techniques is one of the most effective things you can do to calm your mind, and the Belly Breath is a great place to start! Those RAGE HORMONES?? THIS is the one to do whenever they come on!

Yoga Chair DIY

IMG_7030Yoga chairs can be an expensive investment! So, instead of buying yoga chairs for $70 each, I followed a tutorial on YouTube, and transformed ordinary folding chairs into backless yoga chairs that Iyengar himself would be proud of.

Here’s what you will need:

  1. Folding chairs. I used these…they are really sturdy, and come in beige, silver or black!
  2. Gloves. I didn’t have leather gloves like the man in the video, but used some thick gardening gloves.
  3. Pliers or vice grips. Amazon sells all sorts of them here or here.
  4. Large screwdriver. It needs to be super-sturdy…you will use this the most to pry the backs off.
  5. File or Dremel. My husband had a Dremel with an attachment that sands metal…so I saved a TON of time/arm strength using it! If you don’t have one, this kind of file should work.
  6. Athletic tape or spray paint. I opted for athletic tape…thought the grip would be nice to have around the top of the chair. And, it is SO humid here in Florida, that I thought it might take WEEKS to dry.

Here’s what to do!: 

Use your pliers or vice grips, grab the lower edge of the chair back, and pull it away and back from the tube. Do this on both sides.step 1This takes a bit of strength!!

Next, using your screwdriver, wedge it between the tube and the chair back. Rock the screwdriver back and forth until you see the light of day… IMG_7004IMG_7006Make sure to have a vacuum handy…there is a lot of paint chipping off!

Keep wedging and wiggling your screwdriver in, and then all around the edge of the chair back…you will hear loud “POPS” when the welds break. IMG_7008some are MUCH easier to remove than others! I may or may not have cussed all the way through the chair below:IMG_7009

Once you take off the backs, there are super-sharp parts all along the tube (where the tube was welded to the back) that need to be filed down.
IMG_7011My husband was nice enough to do some of the sanding for me…(lots of sparks!!). If you have long hair like I do…PULL IT INTO A PONYTAIL if you Dremel. Be safe people. Oh, and this is DEFINITELY an outside job.

Once the backs have been sanded and feel smooth to the touch, then take your athletic tape, and wrap it around the tube in the back.IMG_7021Once again…my husband was SUPER helpful! It’s a little tricky to keep the tape smooth around the corners…but it’s stretchy, so it wasn’t TOO bad…my husband is WAY more of a perfectionist about these things…so he was the best one for the job!

Voilà! My yoga chair is ready for use!IMG_7023all iIMG_7029All in a neat little stack in my studio..ready to use!!

Let me know if you have any questions!