Three ways to nurture yourself through change

In the yogic tradition, the fall months are known as "vata season," vata having the qualities of air and movement. It's a time of great transformation and introspection, but also a time when it's easy to feel overwhelmed and chaotic. This makes it all the more important to take the time to nurture and care for yourself.

How? Three things to consider:

1. Rest.  If your body and mind feel overwhelmed and exhausted, this is a great time to allot more time for rest. As it gets dark earlier, take a cue from nature: Turn off the electronics, take a nurturing yoga pose (my students know viparita karani is my all-time fave for this but there are many great restorative poses),  enjoy a hot bath with salts, and turn in earlier than usual.  I know, I know, you have so much to do. But taking the time to consciously relax can make you more efficient, boost your immunity, and even alter your genes (!?). Ask yourself what you need in order to restore and keep balanced each day. Give your body a voice and take the time to listen.

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2. Practice aromatherapy. I love my oil diffuser. It's amazing how potent the sense of smell can be. Some research suggests that smells directly influence the amygdala, or the emotional center of the brain. So aromatherapy can have powerful effects on how you feel mentally and emotionally. My favorites for fall? When I rise in the morning, it is still dark. So I like to wake up with a peppermint scrub, and I often burn grapefruit or tangerine oils. To simmer it down in the evening, I love burning cedarwood or palo santo incense as I listen to some soothing tunes. Both are grounding and both smell like your own personal campfire!

3. Practice oil massage. In traditional Ayurveda, the practice of oil massage is touted as a way to ground the body and mind. As with all things in this tradition, I encourage you to experiment for yourself and see what works for you. Personally, I find oil massage with sesame oil incredibly nurturing and grounding, especially during this time of the year. Here are some instructions on how to perform the massage.

Though it may be tempting to hit the snooze and miss your practice, consistent practice is really crucial during times of change and transformation. Make the time to show up on your mat and take care of yourself. See you at class, to twist out the old, open to the new, and restore and refresh.

As always, please feel free to contact me with questions, requests for class, and other comments.  


Midsummer Night's Dream: The Playlist

It's summertime! Time for a celebration! I created this playlist for the celebration of summer: practice, dance, eat fresh produce, get in the car and drive somewhere new, journal, swim, catch (and release!) fireflies, run through the sprinklers. Check out Moksha's new Eco-Retreat and Sanctuary Stonehouse Farm and sleep under the stars! And then dance some more. Practice contentment (santosha) and savor. Here are some tunes to help you party like it's 500 BCE. Enjoy!

 

Gayatri Mantra: I included one of my favorite versions of this stunning mantra. These words have been used for years to clear away obstacles and heal the body (including the subtle body). I chant it each morning to focus my attention and prepare for the day. It is used to begin yoga practice in many traditions. Read more about it.

Get the playlist on Spotify.

Everything to Endlessly Explore...

This spring was a time of great transformation in my life. And, OK, I'll admit it, transformation is not always easy. Some days it's about putting one foot in front of the other. Other days it's about savoring the sublime ecstasy of something brand new or unknown.

Music is really important to helping me navigate my internal world. I created this playlist to help me stay grounded and centered, even through change. Devotional music, for me, is not about praying to gods necessarily. Instead, the practice of listening carefully, using my voice, and repeating the mantra with focus becomes a meditation practice. On a deeper level, my experience is that mantra becomes a cleansing practice for my thoughts, replacing the old habitual ones with some freshness.

I'd like to share my experience and understanding of a few of the mantras sung here. (I am by no means a Sanskrit scholar and even scholars disagree on the exact interpretation of a given mantra, so consider the below "one interpretation.")

Om Mani Padme Hum  This mantra is said to be the favorite of the Dalai Lama. Literally, it means "the jewel is inside the lotus." When I studied with Suzanne Sterling this year, she shared the interpretation: "you already have what you need inside." The way I live with this one is in knowing that there is something wise, unchanging, and very alive within each of us. In yoga, this is known as atman . This mantra reminds me that I already have this wisdom within me to face what life presents. Often it's a matter of letting go of all the rest of the mental chatter so that this wisdom can be accessed. That's where my practice comes in.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu  Such a beautiful mantra. This one means "may all beings be happy and free." One of yoga's greatest tenents is that, though we feel separate from other things, we are actually all connected. The feeling of separation is one thing that leads to suffering. This is a really weighty concept that took a long time for me to get my head around. And often it was harder for me to wish happiness and freedom upon myself, as feelings of unworthiness would sometimes surface. That's why I love this mantra. When I am waiting in line, waiting for my tea to steep, waiting for the bus, I practice maitri (lovingkindness meditation) with this mantra. Each time I sing it, I bring to mind a face of someone I know who might need some extra happiness and freedom. I try to think of as many people as I can. And I wish this same sentiment to myself at the end of the practice. I use the practice and mantra for groups of people, too, such as the people of Boston or the victims of the tornadoes.

 Everything to endlessly explore  The title of this list has been my mantra for my yoga practice this season. It comes from a wonderful book by Mark Stephens on yoga sequencing. He writes, "In teaching yoga, we are very lucky when advanced students come to our classes. Rather than the acrobatically talented athlete with a flashy practice on display for all to admire or envy, the most seriously advanced yoga student is the one who shows up regularly in his or her practice with an attitude of beginner’s mind. Practicing each day as though it is the first time, the advanced student appreciates that there is always something new to learn when doing yoga. Unattached to the outcome of the practice, he or she is fully present to the experience of doing yoga as a process through which to learn more about oneself while remaining open to changing in conscious ways that bring about greater freedom and happiness in life. Approached in this way, the yoga path is endless; there is no final asana or experience one attains and then says, “I’m done,” or, “Now I’m a yoga master.” Given that there is nothing to master, but rather everything to endlessly explore, there is no such thing as a yoga master. "

I hope you enjoy these songs while you explore in whatever way calls to you:  a walk in the park, a pen and a journal, yoga practice, or an evening connecting with friends. 

 "Everything to Endlessly Explore" playlist on Spotify