Tag Archives: meditation

Healing with Forgiveness

Forgiveness brings peace. Without forgiveness, resentment will show up in your body and in your health. Forgiveness is one of the most powerful tools to healing your body and mind. Forgiveness repairs your heart and mind and allows you to move forward with freedom. Do it with sincerity, even if what happened hurt you very badly. You are only hurting yourself by not letting it go.

  • Find a comfortable seat, and focus your awareness onto your breath until it is smooth.
  • Invite the energy of a smile to be present on your face.
  • Next, bring your awareness to your heart, and visualize a beautiful flower or another object that has qualities that you love and have gratitude towards. Feel the fullness of your heart embodied with the flower or other object and ask your heart to forgive and let go.
  • Next, see a person that you have gratitude towards. Still in your meditation, visualize this person sitting in front of you and smiling at you.
  • From your heart center, feel the deep gratitude you have for this person and without words radiate this towards that person so he or she knows how you feel. See this person tear up, knowing he or she received your honesty.
  • From doing this, your heart will burst with gratitude and fill with love.
  • By doing this, your anger has been replaced with higher emotions of love and humility and this is what will allow you to heal and realize your peaceful state. This is a powerful tool that you can use anywhere at anytime and it only takes a few minutes.

Jesus said, “Forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

Making Time for You!

IMG_1041Are you on a digital devises the majority of the day?  Whether it be your smart phones, lap tops, or any other hand held devise, in addition the television, many of you are constantly submerged with electronic stimulus.  It is now, so important, to turn off, to make time for you to recharge your own battery and reconnect to what’s most important.

It use to be that living in the fast lane was something to be looked up to, something to work towards and meant you were successful.  The speed of life has gotten so fast that if you don’t slow down and take time for yourself to fill our own tank, overtime you will putter out.  In fact, more and more of you find that you have less and less time and are experiencing high stress levels that will in time contribute to health and mental shut downs.

Down time is so critical for your body and most importantly, your mind.  Unplugging from your smart phone and digital devises will help to recharge yourself.  When you are constantly on the go, you risk losing track of what’s important in your life.

Setting time aside daily to recuperate and to reconnect with yourself is important so that your available to listen to your intuition, your heart, notice when you are stressed so you can manage it and build your spiritual energy.  Do this by making time to be quiet and let the body and mind be still.  It’s essential that you make this time for yourself and not feel guilty for doing so.  When you do make this time for yourself, you will be able to respond to stressful situations, rather then react. You will have a shifted attitude that resonates in the world around you and you will be more productive and energized in harmony.  Making time for yourself is the ticket to knowing your truth and your true purpose in this lifetime.

Integration and Renewal Techniques
Smart Phone Rules (this applies for any digital devise):  Set a time, for before bed, to turn your phone to silent (or off) and not use it after this time.  Allow a few hours before bed to be stimulus free.   Just like you brush your teeth upon waking and before going to bed, make this habit.  Your overall health will thank you for it!

Yoga:  This ancient practice will help you to integrate your mind and your body and help you to feel connected to the deeper parts of your mind and spirit.

Meditation:  Take 5 minutes a day to sit in a comfortable position with your spine long and breathe deeply, watching your breath and witness your mind, bringing your attention back to your breath each time your mind turns to thought.  This help to turn off the monkey mind, allowing you to focus more.

Take Mini Breaks:  Take 5 minute breaks to stretch or read something inspirational, watch a bird outside your window or take some deep calming breaths.  This will nourish you from inside out.

Time to Eat:  Make time to sit down in a peaceful setting and enjoy and savor your meals.  Take time to give grace for the meal your about to eat.

Take the Dogs for a Walk:  Go out into nature, feel the sunshine, breathe the fresh air, move and enjoy your surroundings.  Play with your pets and enjoy the love they give to you unconditionally.

Make Time for your Friends and Family:  Never get so hurried that you never make time for these important relationships.  Make quality time, where you can be present, giving them your full attention with your spouse, children, parents, family and friends, allowing you to connect more intimately.

Slowing down and making time for yourself is essential, especially in this day and age.  In order for you to be healthy minded and physically and spiritually fit, you must make time to recharge and connect with the whats most important in your life.  When you do this, you will feel a sense of balance and feel connected to everyone around you.  You will feel restored and maintain a level of energy that will enhance your life!

 

Just Breathe…Your Life Will Change!

PranaYogaCenter-80The majority of people do not know how to breathe.   The description of diaphragmatic breathing is really not correct terminology, as the diaphragm only moves up and down and only by an inch at most. Create a daily awareness of your breath using the technique below and you will make huge shifts in your life!  Really, the ultimate goal is self realization.  Have no expectations, live life and develop clarity.   Be aware of your breath while your eating, drinking, working, reading, exercising, yoga, meditation etc…..In other words, “inform your body with your breath”.  The lower portion of the lungs is where most breathing occurs.  When you involve the upper portion of the lungs, now you are doing total breathing and the benefits to the body and mind will be great!

In the yoga practice, we commonly do a breathing called Ujjayi Breath. This breath is very important, as you witness your breath, your mind calms and your nervous system relaxes, and your body follows.  In Ujjayi breathing, bring your focus to the vocal chords and feel a slight narrowing of the glottis, the flap of tissue in the upper throat.  It’s here you will hear a soft sound in the back of the ears, like the ocean.  If you have a hard time feeling this breath, try to imagine you are breathing in and out of your ears.  Invite the energy of a smile across your face and relax the jaw and facial muscles.  Sip the air in slowly and steadily as if you had a narrow straw space through the throat.

Try the following exercise to gain experience with the Ujjayi breath. Find a comfortable sitting position.  This can be on the floor, elevated on a cushion or blanket or on a chair.  Where ever you choose, sit with a long spine, feeling inner spinal length with your roof of your mouth, aligned over the diaphragm, and diaphragm over the pelvic floor.  Relax your shoulders and allow the chest to expand.  Now, close your eyes and imagine an elevator moving from the bottom of your belly to the upper sternum, filling the entire lungs with your breath on inhale.  Take your time, not rushing so that you witness the breath fully and silent the body and mind to become receptive.  During your exhale be certain to observe the elevator descending and empty your lungs completely.  Check in with your exhale and try to empty your breath even more after you feel that you already have. Continue with your next inhale and do so for five minutes or 10 full rounds of breath, counting down from 10 and should you forget what number you are on, start again at 10.  If you get agitated in the process, do what you can before feeling this way. Stop before any agitation occurs.  Sometimes when one begins a breathing practice, it can be frustrating to breath deeply.  Commit to this practice daily and over time you will notice your awareness of your breath throughout your day in all that you do.  When you are feeling stressed or anxious you will have this tool, your breath, to bring you back to your true nature.  You will find that your awareness will be enhanced to all the beauty that surrounds you.  You will feel more alert, awakened to life in a fuller way, you will have a greater sensitivity.  Practicing this breath exercise will still the mind preparing it for meditation, so it will be a perfect time to sit silently in beautiful stillness.  The practice of this breath should also help with sleep and snoring.  Share this simple exercise with your family and friends so we can elevate together.  Namasté.

-Sharon Denton

 

 

Silent Sitting….aka Meditation

SD_127Meditation, also know as dhyana, one of the 8 limbs of yoga, is the practice of relaxed breath awareness.  Meditation lightens the emotional load, creating needed distance from gloomy thoughts allowing for emotional stability and an inner focus.

There are many misconceptions about meditation.  Meditation is not about not thinking at all, or stopping your thoughts. Rather, it’s identifying with the part of your mind that is doing the watching….the part of your mind that is observing everything that you say, everything you see, everything you do.  This part of the mind is the essential part of ourselves to begin to understand, as it is the part of the mind that will rescue us anytime we ask it to.  For example, any challenge that you are put into, if you bring your awareness back to the breath and come back to this place of observer then you will free yourself from any pain of suffering you may be experiencing.

During your silent sitting, just watch, and when thoughts do arise, as they will, just watch them come and go, come back to watching the breath.  You can sit any way you need to in order to have comfort in your seat.  That can be in a chair, on the floor, or on a prop like a cushion, yoga block or blanket.  Adjust your body to get as comfortable as you can, extending the spine in length.  Feel the roof of the mouth align over the diagram, over the pelvis and feel the sit bones press down into the earth as gravity is received, lightness is given upward.  This will allow for freedom along the channels in and along the spine.  I heard Amrit Desai say one time, that you “become an empty vessel for God to move in- purging, clearing, cleansing, and letting go.”

Just quieting the monkey mind is a spiritual act, in that we can start to glimpse deeper into our own true, loving, selfless natures.  The more glimpses we get, the more we can remember ‘that’ is who we are, ideally lessening our dramas, and ego games.

The most famous sutra that Master Patnjali wrote about is in his first book, verse two.  It says, ‘Chitta Vritti Nirodaha’, which explains the importance of learning to stop, to end (Nir) how the mind turns things around.  This verse is talking about the seeds within our minds that cause this constant churning of the mind.  The whole point is how do we stop our tendency to see things wrong all the time?  We make things what they are based on the seeds within our mind….the impressions that we have taken in, allow us to see what we are seeing, which may be different from other people or animals.  This knowledge that what we see is being projected from the seeds of our own mind, provides us a better understanding of why we label, judge, attach to something, etc.  Then we can purify and clear away any negative seeds thru visualization, and loving attention given to all of life thru kindness and compassion to ourselves and to everything.  There is a bigger picture to all of this, and when we connect to this dynamic understanding, the true gift of yoga is realized.  It takes some time for this to even make any sense at all….It’s all a part of the journey.  Go at it with steadiness and ease, and as Master Patabi Jois said “all is coming”.

The mind is often compared to a cup of dirty water. When it is shaken, the water is cloudy, but when it is still, the sand settles down to the bottom of the cup and the water is clear.  The practice of meditation is like letting the cup of water, your mind, be still.  Another way to look at it, is, to see the reflection of your thoughts, your mind, as a still picture of the reflection of the moon across the lakes surface.  As the Old Testament says, “As the sensual eyes close, the spiritual eyes open.”

Through the practice of meditation, one can begin to maintain a state of consciousness where feelings of being separate from the others, thoughts, and feelings, are removed and the oneness of all of life is known.  When you live from this perspective of peace, you can only create peace in your presence.

Namaste.

 

Led Full Primary…..Why?

DSC_0099Once a Week… Vinyasa has become a popular name to describe many yoga classes, as the meaning of it is the ‘careful linking of the breath to our movement’. In Ashtanga Yoga, especially those of you who practice the traditional Mysore Method, vinyasa goes a step further by teaching the various number of linked breaths to movements it takes, to move through your practice. Because of the difficult nature of remembering and mastering the various vinyasa, weekly, guided-group classes are taught, in which all vinyasa are verbally counted and all students follow along accordingly. Every Mysore student should practice one led class each week. As one participates in a led Half or Full Primary, it’s important not to push past or take more postures, if you are not practicing all of these postures already. Listen to your body and move together as a group as the count is given. Take modifications as you need and practice up to the posture that you normally take in the Mysore Class. Once you reach you last asana, sit and observe the others in class and join back in at back-bending. By observing other students, whom have been practicing the Full Primary, you will learn so much. Traditionally, Mysore students take led practice on Friday or Sunday. Commit to taking a weekly led class and you will discover new ways to approach your daily practice.  Full Primary is held on Sunday’s at 9:30-11am. 

 

21 Day Challenge

images-921 Day Challenge

It typically takes twenty-one days for an individual to begin a new habit or discipline, or to break an old habit. This challenge is meant to inspire you to practice for at least twenty-one days within this month. By doing so, you will experience the many benefits of a disciplined practice.

Pantañjali’s Yoga Sutras, book 1, verse 14, says “sa tu dīrgha-kāla-nairantarya-satkārāsevito ḍrḍha-bhūmiḥ” (“One becomes firmly established in practice only after attending to it for a long time, without interruption and with an attitude of devotion.”)
This sutra explains how the practice becomes firmly grounded when carried out for a long time without interruption and with earnest attention.

If you want something, you commit to it. Your practice must be steady, continuous, without gaps, without breaks. It must be done correctly with full attention, entire application of the mind, and with full faith. This establishes a firm foundation. Patience in your practice will allow your mind to be settled. You will uncover more clarity in what you do on and off your mat.

We need three qualities on this path: They are patience, devotion and faith. Guruji was fond of saying “dīrgha-kāla”. He would also add, “long time, you take practice”. This sutra lists several aspects, all of which must come together in order to develop a firm spiritual foundation.

dīrgha-kāla: prolonged period of time
nairantarya: uninterruptedly, continuously
satkāra: correct method, reverence
asvitaḥ: attended to, devoted, committed

There is often a tendency to start practice with enthusiasm and energy and then expect or desire immediate results. The pressures of everyday life get in the way and we succumb to human weaknesses. This is human nature; but we can approach the practice with a positive, disciplined demeanor and with an enthusiastic attitude to attend to the discoveries within. Changing the mind and the heart is one of the most difficult things we do. This commitment to the time we give to our personal practice must be given daily. Interruption is an obstacle that diminishes the motivation and the qualities we acquire. Engage in the practice with all of your being and offer up all that you receive.

A solid commitment to your practice will become the still, calm point in life’s storms.

Namaste, Sharon

 

Moon Days WHY?

IMG_5431The Ashtanga Yoga practice cultivates a wonderful awareness of our own bodies and of the rhythms of nature. Resting on the Moon Days is a way to honor one of nature’s most powerful cycles.  The human body is primarily composed of water (50% – 60% on average), the moon phases affect not only the tides of the oceans and seas, but the currents of our own bodies as well.

On the Full Moon, our energies are waxing to a peak, and it is easy to fall out of balance towards too much vigor.  The days preceding up to the Full Moon causes an increase in body fluids (internal tide), which generally increases our energy.  This is the time of the month for activity, but, also you will see tension, over anxious in ourselves and others.  It’s less promblematic to practice on the Full Moon then the New Moon.  Although with the excess energy present within ourselves, if practicing on a Full Moon, one must be very careful not to over do it and get injured.

On the New Moon, our energies are waning to their calmest, and we may find it difficult to rouse ourselves.  The new moon is also the time when we feel depleted and sometimes depressed and emotional.  It’s important not to do anything vigorous.  The days preceding up to the New Moon, our body fluids are decreased, causing more dryness in the joints and therefore a greater chance of injury.  The peak of the New Moon (Dark Moon) is the best time to start new ventures and setting goals/intentions.

Another reason to rest on the Moon Days is even simpler: Moon Days provide practitioners with rest. Mysore practice requires dedication and a lot of hard work, so it’s healthy to have a couple of free days every month when we sleep in, rest our bodies, and feel refreshed when we return to practice.

We likewise rest from Mysore practice on Saturdays, and women are encouraged to rest from classes on the first three days of their monthly cycle.  So, rest, your body and mind will be healthier for it.

 

Yoga and Religion

images-6Over the many years of practicing and teaching yoga, I have had this conversation with so many. I get asked “Does yoga go against my religion?”  I encourage you to surrender to the many gifts that yoga has to offer and then overtime you will experience for yourself the deepening of your relationship with God, due to your dedication to your yoga practice.   I truly believe that with a dedicated practice, establishing a firm foundation by having faith, patience and devotion, one may be healed. It’s through our daily practice that we begin to recognize the things that bind us. Attachments, addictions things that do not serve us, overtime, will be revealed. For me, and for many, this can only truly take place when one surrenders to God.

In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, an ancient text that is widely referred to in yoga classes today, clearly presents morale guide for yogis to follow and outlines the path towards enlightenment, union with the Divine. My personal practice has deepened my relationship with God, like no other opportunity in my life. My yoga practice gives me the daily opportunity to quiet my mind to look within to hear God’s wisdom and truth for my life. By surrendering to the practice, I have learned so many lessons that without faith in my higher power, I wouldn’t have continued with such dedication.

I have been practicing some kind of yoga since 1986. All of life’s trials and tribulations have scarred me in some way, even if I was unaware of how it may have hurt me. Energetically and or emotionally all our life’s experiences make an imprint in our being. It’s through this yoga that I was able to trust, to open to peel away the layers of emotional baggage and pain and allow myself to heal, in the process I have grown closer to God.

Students ask me about the chants and some of the texts that are referred to in yoga classes, and the simple answer is that these chants are to open us to the light within to help us clearly see the potential within that frees us from our mind and the constant monkey chatter that goes on. The texts are like manuals for life. What you may encounter along the way and how to move through and past. David Frawley says “Yoga should challenge our belief system in a positive way of creating more peace, understanding, discrimination, higher awareness and connecting us to a universal truth, rather then getting caught up in barriers and boundaries”.

Most importantly, yoga is for the individual. It’s about the practitioner and my responsibility as a yoga teacher is teaching tools that are useful for each student. The devotional aspect of the practice is essential and should chanting and reading from these yoga texts bring knowledge that can be applied to ones life to live a more fulfilled life with purpose, then I consider it useful in transformation. Intention is important as is prayer and including this in your practice will draw you closer to God. It’s because of my yoga practice that I’m receptive to hearing God and aligning with His will for my life.

God knows our heart…. There should be no fear. Remember we are created in the image of God, for the glory of God, and for the worship of God. I believe that practicing yoga is a spiritual discipline that will draw you closer to God, no matter what you faith may be. As Pattabhi Jois says, “There is only one drishti, that is God”.