Sunday, February 24, 2008

cleaning house

Our bodies are our own sacred spaces in which we experience life in this world. We experience life through our bodies. When our bodies cease to exist, so does our earthly existance--this of course, is a common sense idea, yet one I believe we frequently take for granted. If not, we would all be treating our body like the spiritual housing it is. Our bodies house our spirit while on earth--perhaps by focusing on this thought we will make treating our bodies with care and honor a top priority.

And, as we know, our bodies and minds are intricately connected. This excerpt from A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle describes how our bodies can naturally fill up with toxic energy from our thoughts:

"Although the body is very intelligent, it cannot tell the difference between an actual situation and a thought. It reacts to every thought as if it were a reality. It doesn't know it is just a thought. To the body, a worrisome, fearful thought means 'I am in danger,' and it responds accordingly, even though you may be lying in a warm and comfortable bed at night. The heart beats faster, muscles contract, breathing becomes rapid. There is a build up of energy, but since the danger is only a mental fiction, the energy has no outlet. Part of it is fed back to the mind and generates even more anxious thought. The rest of the energy turns toxic and interferes with the harmonious functioning of the body." pg. 134

This is why it is so important, first, to practice surrendering worries and anxiety, and second, to make sure we are finding ways to release this toxic energy stored up in our bodies. If we don't, it continues to build up in the body and can lead to illness and disease.

Here are some ways you can do some spiritual house cleaning:

*get massages
*practice yoga
*have sex
*practice deep breathing

All these activities will help clean the body of all the stress, tension, and negative stuff stored up in it. It is necessary and essential. Honor your body--clean house regularly.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

monk with sweaty palms

Here's another A New Earth excerpt:

"Kasan, a Zen teacher and monk, was to officiate at a funeral of a famous nobleman. As he stood there waiting for the governor of the province and other lords and ladies to arrive, he noticed that the palms of his hands were sweaty.

The next day he called his disciples together and confessed he was not ready to be a true teacher. He explained to them that he still lacked the sameness of bearing before all human beings, whether beggar or king. He was sill unable to look through social roles and conceptual identities and see the sameness of being in every human. He then left and became the pupil of another master. He returned to his former disciples eight years later, enlightened."

Interesting concept, huh? To be able to, "look through social roles and conceptual identities and see the sameness of being in every human." pgs. 94-95

...the sameness of being in every human

...the sameness of being in every human.


Friday, February 22, 2008

yoga by fire

Tonight I turned off all the lights, lit a few candles, turned on some chill music, and practiced yoga by the fireplace. It felt incredibly yummy. I highly recommend it.
I also spent some time this evening reading A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. This is the Oprah book club book I've mentioned in an earlier post. Still really loving the book. Your yoga thought for the day comes from A New Earth:

"Give up defining yourself--to yourself or to others. You won't die. You will come to life. And don't be concerned with how others define you. When they define you, they are limiting themselves, so it's their problem. Whenever you interact with people, don't be there primarily as a function or a role, but as a field of conscious Presence." pg. 109

Thursday, February 21, 2008

snow days and puppy love

It's always a nice treat to wake up and find out that you have the day lounge around home, drink coffee, read, sit by the fire, watch a movie, do yoga, take an afternoon nap and chill. While I'm more than ready for spring to arrive, I will definitely appreciate and enjoy this snow day!

It's also nice to spend a little extra time with the pups. Meet Ziggy, our cockapoo on the left, and Olivia, our miniature schnauzer on the right. Our dogs have a really sweet life, overall. They have a little doggy condo in our house where they spend their days while we're at work. They have a nice, big, fenced-in backyard where they can run wild and play. When the weather is nice, they get walked regularly. They have 2 cats to occassionally harass and chase. There is always an available toy or ball to play with and rawhides to chew. They get to frequent the local dog park regularly. There are definitely times when the pups can try our patience--especially Ziggy; however, overall they bring a great deal of energy, love, and life to our home.

Animals can really teach us so much about life--if we really observe and pay attention to them. It's also interesting how many yoga poses animals do naturally. Here is little Zoey watching one of my yoga videos. Pretty cute, huh?
Your yoga thought today is one of my all-time favorites!:
"I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it." --Maya Angelou

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Symptoms of Inner Peace
(Here's something to think about. Not sure where it came from--if an author is listed, I always site him or her.)

  • A tendency to think and act spontaneaously rather than on fears based on past experience

  • An unmistakable ability to enjoy the moment

  • A loss of interest in judging other people

  • A loss of interest in judging self

  • A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others

  • An inability to worry

  • Frequent overwhelming episodes of appreciation

  • Frequent acts of smiling

  • An increasing tendency to let things happen rather than to make them happen

  • An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it

Peace be with you.


Monday, February 18, 2008

in the body, out of the mind

I am currently reading A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. Sound familiar? Yes, this is the current Oprah book club selection. When Oprah first started her book club, I read a few of her book choices, and as much as a admire Oprah, I quickly realized we have vastly different taste in books. So, I haven't read any of her book choices for years now. However, her newest book club choice, A New Earth, is one I knew I would appreciate. It isn't her traditional fiction choice, but is a non-fiction spiritual guide...just the type of book I find myself drawn to.

I'm posting an excerpt of the book today that focuses on body awareness. For all you yogis out there, this is an integral part of yoga practice: The shedding of the ego (or unconciousness) and the present moment being experienced through becoming aware of the aliveness of our bodies.


Although body-identification is one of the most basic forms of ego, the good news is that it is also the one that you can most easily go beyond. This is done not by trying to convince yourself that you are not your body, but by shifting your attention from the external form of your body and from thoughts about your body--beautiful, ugly, strong, weak, too fat, too thin--to the feeling of aliveness inside it. No matter what your body's appearance is on the outer level, beyond the outer form it is an intensely alive energy field.

If you are not familiar with 'inner body' awareness, close your eyes for a moment and find out if there is life inside your hands. Don't ask your mind. It will say, 'I can't feel anything.' Probably it will also say, 'Give me something more interesting to think about.' So instead of asking your mind, go to the hands directly. By this I mean become aware of the subtle feeling of aliveness inside them. It is there. You just have to go there with your attention to notice it. You may get a slight tingling sensation at first, then a felling or energy or aliveness. If you hold your attention in your hands for a while, the sense of aliveness will intensify. Some people whon't even have to close their eyes. They will be able to feel their 'inner hands' at the same time as they read this. Then go to your feet, keep your attention there for a minute or so, and begin to feel your hands and feet at the same time. Then incorporate other parts of the body--legs, arms, abdomen, chest, and so on--into that feeling until you are aware of the inner body as a global sense of aliveness.

What I call the 'inner body' isn't really the body anymore but life energy, the bridge between form and formlessness. Make it a habit to feel the inner body as often as you can. After a while, you won't need to close your eyes anymore to feel it. For example, see if you can feel the inner body whenever you listen to someone. It almost seems like a paradox: When you are in touch with the inner body, you are not identified with your body anymore, nor are you identified with your mind. This is to say, you are no longer identified with form but moving away from form-identification toward formlessness, which we may also call Being. It is your essence identity. Body awareness not only anchors you in the present moment, it is a doorway out of the prison that is the ego. It also strengthens the immune system and the body's ability to heal itself." (pgs. 52-53)

Very cool, huh? Today, try to experience your daily interactions through your body rather than your mind. This is the only way to truly be out of ego (unconciousness) and in the present moment (all that actually exists).

Just try it. Try practicing being what we were created to be--a spirit-filled, humanbeing rather than a numb, disconnected humandoing.

Have a joyfilled, fully alive, and present day.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

less worry, more love

Yoga thought for the day:

"One who sees all living beings as spiritual sparks, in quality one with the Divine, becomes a true knower of things. Such a person no longer experiences illusion or anxiety."
--Mantra Seven from Isha Upanisha

This quotation makes me think of another idea (although I cannot remember where I read it, so I won't be able to cite the source). Essentially, the idea is that when we are experiencing anxiety or worrying, we are as far away from God (or the Devine, or Allah, or Spirit, or whatever you personally believe in) as we can be. I come from a family of worriers (at least on my Mom's side--sorry, Family, if you're reading this, but you know it's true), and a few things have helped me lessen my tendency to worry and then experience anxiety:

1. Practicing Yoga (I bet you guessed this one) and yoga philosopy.

2. Believing that 95% of what we worry about NEVER happens (I think this one came from Dr.

3. Trusting that the 5% that might happen is ok because I am strong enough to deal with it--
with the love and support of family and friends and the strength within me from God.

4. And finally, this idea that when we are worrying we are as far away from God as we can be.
We have let our ego and human brain take over our spirit, soul, and faith.

On another note, in the spirit of Valentine's Day (although I don't buy into this holiday much--What's with loving each other and expressing it on this one particular day of the year? Shouldn't this be more of a daily activity?), I'm going to share a modified metta (love) meditation or loving-kindness meditation. Essentially, the idea is to focus on an important person in your life, close your eyes, visualize them, and let your mind focus on these 4 phrases:

May you be free from danger.
May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you live with ease.

Kind of nice, huh? Eventually, in metta meditation, you're supposed to focus on someone you don't particularly like, close your eyes, visualize them, and let your mind rest on the above phrases. In the spirit of Valentine's Day, we can just start with those we love, though...

Finally, I wanted to share what "Namaste" means for those of you who may not be familiar with the word since I always end my blogs entries with it. Namaste is the Sanskrit word used to end most yoga classes, and loosely translated means: The Divinity within me bows to, recognizes, and honors the Divinity within you. With that being said,

May you be free from danger.
May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you live with ease.


Saturday, February 9, 2008

feeling juicy on a sunny day

While I've always appreciated the wonderful feeling in my body after exercise, there truly is no comparison with how my body feels after doing a yoga class. The closest feeling that I've found is how I feel after getting a Swedish massage--which I don't do nearly as often as I'd like. What is even better is the fact that not only is my body all warm and juicy after yoga, but my mind is also cleared out (at least momentarily) of all the clutter I tend to accumulate.

I often wonder how the world would be if everyone was doing yoga...

Here's the yoga thought for the day: (It comes from my Yogi brand tea that I'm drinking right now. If you haven't tried Yogi brand tea, you should check it out. Green tea is especially good for you, loaded with antioxidants. I've cut back my caffeine intake, so I get the decaf green tea. Not only do I love the tea, but each packet has a little saying on it!)

"Act selfless, you will be infinite."


Wednesday, February 6, 2008


I am a firm believer we are creators of our lives (in conjunction with a higher power). Sometimes consciously, sometimes not, we attract many of our life experiences. While at home in bed sick today, I was pondering these ideas, and a memory came to me that I had not thought about in a very long time.

During my late teen years, when I started exercising a bit compulsively and was very, very fit, I purchased a Yoga video instructed by Bryan Kest. Now, Bryan's Power Yoga series had 3 levels, and I naively thought that because I was fit, Power Yoga would be a piece of cake, so I reached without hesitation for Level 3. Who needs Levels 1 and 2? Not me. When I got home, I popped the tape into our VCR and began. Well, it wasn't long before I was watching the video, rather than particpating, and I was laughing hysterically because there was no way my body was going to be able to do much of what I was watching. Needless to say, the video sat unused in my tv cabinet, and I sold it a few years later in a garage sale.

While in my moments of laughter, I know I never thought that someday I would attend a Power Yoga workshop with Bryan Kest instructing and participate in over 10 hours of Power Yoga in a 48 hour time span. While in my moments of laughter, I know I never thought I would eventually find yoga to be one of my passions in life. While in my moments of laughter, I know I never thought I would someday become a yoga instructor.

On the surface, one might think my journey to becoming a yoga instructor almost came about by default. I had already been teaching group exerise classes for almost 5 years and yoga was finally becoming incredibly popular on the coasts with celebrities such as Madonna swearing by it. I was teaching step and abs classes at a local gym, and thought, why not start teaching yoga? I obviously hadn't been traumatized by my experience with Bryan Kest's video years earlier. And, with the popularity yoga was gaining on the coasts, it was eventually going to make it to the mid-west, so I figured I better start learning. I spent almost a year in self-study reading everything I could get my hands on about yoga. And, I began practicing yoga regularly. I purchased another yoga video, not quite as advanced as Kest's Level 3, and worked my way through it. Then, I bought Kest's Level 1 video. Then, Level 2. Then, Level 3. I recently purchased the 3 Level series on DVD since I enjoy them to this day. After a year of study and practice, I approached the fitness manager about starting to teach a yoga class. She was all for it, and the rest, we can say is history.

When I think about becoming a yoga instructor, it wasn't something I ever consciously had a deep longing or desire for. As my story shows, my first experience with yoga was less than positive. However, what I did long for and feel passionately about, and continue to long for today, is to be able to use my creative talents and strengths as a teacher to positively impact the lives of other people. I have found no better way to do this than through teaching yoga. When I began becoming interested in yoga, I never realized that it would be one way I would manifest a life aligned with my one of my deepest longings. It is truly awesome how the universe can send opportunities to help us manifest and fulfill our deepest desires--many times in a way much bigger and better than we could have ever imagined or planned.

I am so grateful I was open to the opportunity.


Sunday, February 3, 2008

four agreements

Don Miguel Ruiz's book, The Four Agreements, is a must read in my mind. Although it's been years since I read the book, I keep the following posted on my refrigerator as a reminder of The Four Agreements. Here they are:

1. Be impeccable with your word.
  • Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don't take anything personally.

  • Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don't make assumptions.

  • Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstanding, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always do your best.

  • Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

(from The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz)