Thursday, June 30, 2011

Speak No Evil, Tweet No Evil

I recently read an interesting story about Michael Stusser, who is a humor columnist from Seattle. He makes his living ranting about just about everything. When he realized that his sarcastic columnist personality was creeping into his personal life and turning him ugly he decided to do something about it. At first he simply tried to 'speak no evil.' He attempted to remove all trash talk, mud-slinging, rude riffing, and taunting Tweets from his everyday life for one month. This approach of simply "being more positive" just wasn't going to cut it for him. He was too far gone and needed some professional help. Enter his yoga instructor . . .

To read Michael's fascinating story of self transformation, please click here.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

One Minute Meditation

I can't believe it's taken me this long into my life to discover the benefits of meditation. I feel as though I'm on a crusade now to spread the word about the amazing benefits of it. Being a yogi that has tried meditation in the past, I know all the common hurdles that many people face. Sitting in crossed-legged position can be uncomfortable or even painful, finding the time to set aside is always a challenge, and most of all, clearing the mind for more than a nano-second may seem impossible. The best thing I can suggest is to start small. Try sitting on a chair rather than on the floor, with your feet flat on the ground, your spine erect, and your hands placed comfortably on your thighs (either palms up or down). At the very beginning start off with a goal of sitting for just one minute. Maybe this video will help:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

Clarity and Energy From Meditation

It has been just about one month since I began my Isha yoga routine every day. This is a 20 minute meditation practice called Shambavi Mahamudra and I learned it at an Inner Engineering retreat in Atlanta in May. My experience at the live event wasn't particularly good. It involved an awful lot of hours of sitting on the floor and, although I was prepared with a meditation cushion, I was still not ready for that many agonizing hours of fidgeting on the floor. My entire body hurt and getting through the meditation practice was nearly impossible for me. Not only was I in all sorts of various pain, but there was so much distraction. Many of the meditation veterans seemed to be having out of body experiences and although that is great for them, it was very hard for the rookies to try to keep their minds focused. It was just a lot to take in and experience in a short amount of time. I have to say, my outlook wasn't all that positive and I might have even felt a little hopeless. I even had fearful thoughts that I simple wouldn't be able to find an extra 20 minutes during the day to devote to this. But I was committed to at least trying.

One of the biggest hurdles to doing this meditation was the fact that it must be done on an empty stomach. For me this was a problem because I am constantly snacking on something. I may not eat large quantities of food, but I do eat often. This meant that my only real time to devote to this meditation practice was first thing in the morning, which also posed a problem because of my early work day schedule. As it is, I could barely drag myself out of the house by 6:30 am. My heart was sinking, but I was committed to at least giving this a try. I had already invested a good chunk of time and money into this Inner Engineering and I just HAD to give it a go.

And so I did. Sadhguru said that the first 30 days would be the hardest and those would take the biggest commitment. I figured all 30 days would be torture, but I was pleasantly surprised. The first week was rough. Getting up at 5:30 was a struggle and my knees and hips were screaming after just 10 of the 20 minutes. But I persisted.

It was some time during my second week that my hips started to loosen up. I found that I could sit for the whole 20 minutes without focusing so much attention on the discomfort. Pretty soon I didn't feel a thing and could sit there effortlessly. The bad part is that once I cleared my mind of the pain, it left room for various other thoughts to pop up. But I didn't give up.

By the third week I noticed longer stretches of a thoughtless mind. Not only that, but I noticed it was getting easier and easier to get out of bed in the morning. I would awake before my alarm consistently and almost anxiously await the time to run into my new 'meditation room.' What started as a chore was quickly turning into something that I looked forward to. I was stunned.

Here I am 4 weeks into my new routine and I am consistently waking up hours before my alarm. I wake up every single morning wide awake and ready to spring out of bed. It seems that my body only requires 5 hours of sleep these days. Prior to starting this meditation I was almost always tired. I blamed it on everything from the lack of sunshine, to allergy problems, to post Lyme disease issues. There was always some reason for me to be exhausted. But today I am full of energy almost always. I can't remember the last time I complained that I was tired. I'm pretty sure I can throw away my alarm clock. And the best and most exciting development is the clearing of my mind. It used to be that I couldn't go 20 seconds without 100 thoughts flooding into my mind. Now I can sit for 20 whole minutes and think about nothing. If I had the chance to place a bet on whether or not I would EVER be able to achieve that through meditation I would have certainly bet against myself. I still can't believe this has happened to me. It's a miracle. I have never felt better! Meditation works. If you are a doubter, you have to do yourself a favor and just give it a try.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Did you know your nostrils play a key role in balancing your brain? According to yogic science (and recent medical studies), your nostrils switch dominance every 2 ½ hours so that your brain and body stay balanced during a 24-hour cycle. At any time, one nostril is dominant. The energy channels (nadis) in your right nostril stimulate your sympathetic nervous system, while the nadis in your left nostril stimulate the para-sympathetic nervous system.

Creating balance in your sympathetic and para-sympathetic nervous systems can help you avoid high blood pressure and anxiety, as well as depression and hypothyroidism (not to mention brain fog!). The wisdom of the body keeps your nostrils switching and you can do yoga to reset your breathing. Do 3 minutes of alternate nostril breathing (nadi sodhana) to feel blissfully balanced in your body and brain. By breathing through your left nostril (to calm yourself) or your right nostril (to energize) you will experience the power of your nose!

I do 4 minutes of this alternate nostril breathing every day. It's the start of my 20 minute meditation and it's wonderful. Without this start to my meditation I could never clear my mind, but this really helps. When I first started this I found it to be challenging to slow down my breath. I felt like I just couldn't get enough air through one nostril, but it only took one week of practice before my breathe naturally settled down so that I can effortlessly breath nice and slow, while feeling completely satisfied by the amount of air entering and exiting my body. Give it a try today!

Recommended Read: The Little Book of Yoga Breathing: Pranayama Made Easy. . . by Scott Shaw

Monday, June 06, 2011

Great Deal on Oxygen Magazine

Would you like a one year subscription to Oxygen Magazine for just $5.39? What a bargain for this great magazine! This deal is valid for brand new subscriptions, as well as renewals. All you need to do is click on the link below to be taken to the place where you can purchase the subscription. But here's the catch . . . this deal is only valid today, June 6th. Don't miss it. Just click on the link below.

Click here for the Oxygen Magazine Deal of the Day