Weekend Warrior: Reclining Bound Angle Pose

On weekends I share a yoga pose related to the monthly theme. In June we’re focusing on mindfulness, so all of our yoga poses are meditative and grounding.

Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana) is a deeply restorative heart and hip opener. This pose produces a relaxing effect on the body and mind while stretching the groin, inner thighs and knees. You can use props to help find your comfortable expression. Start in Easy Seated Pose and place a bolster or pillows against the small of your back. Gently recline so that your spine is supported by the bolster/pillows. Allow your arms to fall to the sides of your body so that your shoulder blades move together, creating an opening through the heart center.

Bend the knees and bring the soles of the feet together to touch. Move the heels in closer towards the body for a more intense stretch. Move the heels farther out for less intensity. The hip stretch will intensify gradually as your body relaxes more from holding the stretch. Adjust as you need to feel comfortable.

You could also use a blanket or pillows to support your knees for a more restorative variation. Breathe deeply into any areas of tightness or tension and hold the pose for 1-5 minutes.



Links I Love: June 26th 2015

On Fridays I share a list of links that caught my attention over the past week. Some are related to the monthly theme – in June our focus is on mindfulness. Others I just think are helpful. Enjoy!

Mindfulness Challenge: Compassion

There’s more to yoga than just the physical poses (asanas). When I was learning to be a yoga teacher in India we spent time everyday studying yoga philosophy. And trust me when I say it has nothing to do with expensive pants or whether or not you can do a handstand. Yoga is a physical practice, but it’s also much more.

It’s a means to connect on a deeper level with yourself and others. The authentic practice of yoga is meant to help us recognize the sameness in all of us. It’s also meant to help us cultivate a deep love and compassion for ourself and others. It helps us to suspend judgement and expectation while accepting whatever presents itself in this moment. It’s not about comparison. No mirrors or fancy studio required.

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In one of our philosophy sessions we started talking about what to do when we didn’t like or get along with someone. Ultimately, my teacher said that as a yogi it’s our job to try to love everyone always. But on a practical level, if we couldn’t love (or even like) them, then at least we could start with having compassion for them. Realizing that they’re coming from their current level of understanding and perspective and we don’t have to agree with them. But we shouldn’t judge them. And know that eventually compassion will lead to acceptance.

A small shift to increase compassion: The next time you find yourself thinking about how you don’t like someone or judging them, instead say to yourself “I have compassion for ______.” Repeat it a few times if you need to. Take some deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.

2-Minute Tip: Release emotional tension from your physical body

This is a great tip I got from a yoga teacher friend of mine when I was having a tough time processing some strong emotions. I was hanging on to some bitterness and negativity that definitely wasn’t serving me. But I didn’t know how to let it go. It felt stuck somewhere deep in my physical body and I wasn’t sure how to deal with it. This was her suggestion.

Start in Mountain Pose with hands pressed together at heart center. Feel the length in your spine as the crown of your head moves up towards the ceiling. Roll the shoulder blades down your back and together. Press evenly into the balls and heels of both feet.

Take a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Use your exhale to carry any tension out of the body. Allow yourself to experience whatever feelings come up as your find the place in your physical body where you hold emotional distress. Maybe it manifests as a tightness in your back, chest or hips. Scan your awareness over your body.

Use your exhale to send that energy or tightness to the soles of your feet. Keep using the exhale and imagine you’re pushing the negative energy out through the bottoms of your feet all the way to the center of the Earth. Allow yourself to breathe deeper and feel lighter. Continue the exercise until you feel better.

Know that the energy can’t be destructive once it’s buried deep in the ground. Take a few more slow, deep breaths exhaling through the mouth and allow yourself to feel freed of whatever it was that was no longer serving you.

Mountain pose

Mind your own business + Weekly Mindfulness Goal

Others' Opinions Monday Mantra-01

Stop worrying about what you think other people think about you. First of all, you’re just speculating. Second of all, it’s a total waste of time and energy. Other people’s opinion of you in no way determines your innate value as a human being. Your opinion is ultimately the most important and the only one that matters.

You’ll never be happy trying to please everyone. So just focus on pleasing yourself. And forget about what other people think.

This week’s mindfulness goal: Spend at least 20 minutes each day in seated meditation. Feel free to break it into 2 x 10-minute mediations – maybe once in the morning and again in the evening.

Weekend Warrior: Supported Bridge Pose

On weekends I share a yoga pose related to the monthly theme. In June we’re focusing on mindfulness, so all of our poses are meditative and grounding.

Supported Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) provides a wonderful deep release for the low back and hip flexors. It’s probably my favorite way to use a yoga block during my personal practice.

Start laying on your back with knees bent and soles of your feet pressing into the floor. Make sure your yoga block is within reach. Walk your feet in as close as you can to your sit bones. Lift your hips toward the ceiling. Place a yoga block underneath your sacrum – the triangular bone at the base of your spine. The block could be used horizontally or vertically.

Relax and allow yourself to feel completely supported by the block. Adjust the block until you find a comfortable position and avoid placing it on your lower back. Close your eyes if you want to. Your arms can be beside your body with palms facing up, similar to savasana.

Supported bridge pose

Links I Love: June 19th 2015

On Fridays I share a list of links that caught my attention over the past week. Some are related to the monthly theme – in June our focus is on mindfulness. Others I just think are helpful. Enjoy!

  • 20 Signs It’s Time to Let Go & Move On | I Heart Intelligence – Letting go of what no longer serves you is pretty much the heart of practicing yoga. With this week’s new moon it’s a particularly good time to focus on new beginnings. Loved this advice. Think about how it may apply to you.
  • Watch + Learn: Sun Salutation | Yoga Journal – This Sunday marks the Summer Solstice and the start of summer! Celebrate the occasion with 108 Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar). Check out this video for instructions on how to practice this series of poses for all levels.
  • Healthy Eating Tips When You Have No Time | MindBodyGreen – Eating healthy doesn’t have to be a challenge. Just make a little time to prepare and you’re all set. These are helpful tips for taking some of the struggle out of preparing and eating healthy meals.
  • A Psychiatrist Who Survived the Holocaust Explains Why Meaningfulness Matters More Than Happiness | Business Insider – “Happy people get a lot of joy from receiving benefits from others while people leading meaningful lives get a lot of joy from giving to others.” An interesting read about the difference between feeling happy and feeling that you’ve found your life’s purpose and why it matters.
  • The Aspirational RSVP: Saying Yes When You Mean No | The New York Times – As someone who hosts and gets invited to lots of events, I’ve definitely noticed (and taken part in) this trend. An interesting commentary on intent in our social relationships and how technology makes it easier to diss our friends’ invites without feeling bad.
  • 7 Things To Remember When You’re Having A Bad Day | Spirit Science and Metaphysics – We all have the occasional bad day. Here are some good tips on dealing with it constructively and putting things back into perspective.

Mindfulness Challenge: Stop, drop and medtitate

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We’ve all had those moments when we feel totally flustered or stuck. Maybe you’ve just had an argument with someone or you’re panicking about an upcoming deadline. Often in these moments we feel so overwhelmed that we either explode or go into meltdown mode. Sometimes it feels like there’s just no other option.

It’s those times when it’s most important to take a timeout. I call it “emergency meditating”. Drop whatever you’re doing. Find a quiet place. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Use a mantra or the breath or any other meditation practice you like. Maybe set a timer for 5-10 minutes.

Taking a meditation break will help you think more clearly when addressing the situation, whatever it is. These meditation breaks are the single most effective productivity tool I use in my business and life. Hands down. Happy meditating!

Midweek Mindfulness: The power of practicing gratitude

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” -Melody Beattie

Practicing gratitude instantly makes our lives better without changing a single circumstance. So often we focus on what we don’t have. What we’re working towards. But we forget to appreciate ourselves and the process along the way. We don’t feel like we’ve reached our final goal, so we don’t see anything to celebrate.

Not true.

Taking the time to appreciate how far we’ve come makes the path to reaching our goals feel that much more fulfilling. Appreciating our current surroundings, circumstances, belongings, relationships, etc., helps us to recognize the abundance in our lives right this minute. It brings us into the present moment instead of fantasizing about “some day.” It also allows us to be happy right now instead of having to wait for some desired outcome that we may or may not achieve in the future.

A gratitude journal can be a useful tool. First thing in the morning and again before you go to bed, list a couple of things you’re grateful for. Make it a daily practice. Refer to your gratitude journal or mentally make a list when you’re feeling down or when you notice yourself dwelling on things you don’t have. This small shift of focusing on what you do have instead of what you don’t have is one the greatest changes you can make to increase happiness and fulfillment in your life.

2-Minute Tip: Meditating on a mantra

In my last couple Monday Mantra posts I’ve suggested mantras to use during seated meditation. What is a mantra? It’s a word or phrase you concentrate on to help focus your attention during meditation. This quick video shows you how to link the Sanskrit mantra So Hum with your breath, but you can replace it with any words you choose. Just pick something that resonates.