Anahata

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Anahata is the Heart Chakra, and it is governed by the Air element. This is the centre of unconditional love, compassion, kindness, forgiveness. This chakra governs the circulatory system, respiratory system and thymus. Healing the heart chakra can help let go of negativity and fear. The predominant sense for this chakra is the sense of touch.

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This morning’s massage oil was warm Argan oil with pure rose essential oil. I used two pink rose quartz heart crystals to massage the warm oil, paying extra attention to the heart area. I lit up a rose and tuberose candle, and played soothing music in the background  (ila’s Heart of the Earth…yes, I have an obsession with ila spa…they have the most amazing products and rituals, and they are completely ethical, plus the founder, Denise Leicester, is a true inspiration). During the massage, I focused on gratitude and love for my body. You can also practice positive affirmations, like: “My heart is free of unnecessary burdens”, or “My spirit is as boundless and free as the air”, or anything else that may resonate with you.

Excerpt from ila’s Heart of the Earth

Yoga followed. Again, Shiva Rea’s Anahata Chakra vinyasa, which focused on breath and a lot of chest openers. The meditation focused on the heart-fire. (LOVE)
Pranayama (the breathing practice) for Anahata is inhalation, inhalation retention, viloma pranayama. This breathing practice is very simple, and can be done by almost anyone, sitting or lying down. My favorite way to practice this is lying down on my yoga mat, with a bolster under my knees, and two cotton pads soaked in rose water placed over my eyes. The breath goes like this: you inhale for 2-3 seconds, then you pause for 2-3 seconds (hold your breath, don’t exhale, don’t let the diaphragm loose), then you continue to inhale for 2-3 more seconds, then pause again for 2-3 seconds, then inhale for 2-3 more seconds, hold for 2-3 seconds…keep doing this until your lungs are full, and then fully exhale the whole breath out, slowly. Repeat this breath for 5-10 minutes.

After yoga, I had a relaxing candlelit bath, with ila’s pink himalayan salts (rose, sandalwood, jasmine). I applied a face mask on that I made myself. I used 1 tsp manuka honey, with a little bit of rose water and a couple of drops of rose and sandalwood essential oil. I placed 2 cotton pads soaked in rose water over my eyes and relaxed in bliss for 20 minutes. After the bath, I rinsed my mask off and gave myself a face massage. Then I applied ila’s aroma oil for glowing radiance on my pulse points.

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After reading Dr. Pratima Raichur’s Radiant Beauty book, I have been making my own face oil, using organic argan and rosehip oil, with pure rose and sandalwood essential oil. I always ALWAYS give myself a pressure point/marma massage with the oil…every day. No matter how tired I may be, this massage really makes my skin glow and my face looks radiant and completely awake. I described this here

In the evening, I complete my Anahata practice with a loving-kindness meditation, inhaling and exhaling through the heart, focusing on feelings of love and gratitude.

‘Beauty is not in the face. Beauty is a light in the heart” – Kahlil Gibran

PS: You will notice I use a lot of rose oil. According to Ayurveda, Rose and Sandalwood are very good at balancing Pitta dosha (fire nature), which is my predominant dosha.( I go to an Ayurvedic doctor- I LOVE everything about Ayurveda). Pitta skin has a lot of redness and sensitivity, as well as dehydration from too much internal heat. So for me, I use these oils in all my beauty products on a daily basis. It so happens that rose essential oil is also one of the best oils for balancing the heart chakra, as well as balancing hormones. Sandalwood essential oil is also used to balance hormones.

PPS: If you are going to follow any of these tips, please be mindful, and consult with a doctor first if you have any medical conditions.

The Shining Jewel – Manipura

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Fire. Transformation. Metabolism. Energy. Vitality. Joy. Vibrant. Happy. Self-esteem. Radiance.

Manipura chakra (located in the solar plexus region) means ‘shining jewel’ in Sanskrit. It is the body’s centre for our inner fire, ruled by the sun. It is the fire with which we transform and digest our food, emotions and relationships with the world around us. This is the center of radiant health and vitality, self-esteem, self-worth and power.
The body oil I used for my massage was ila’s Vital Energy oil, which is very stimulating, with Juniper, Geranium, lavender and lemongrass.
My yoga practice started with kapalabhati,, or breath of fire, to heat up the body and especially the abdominal area. It is a very energizing, stimulating and detoxifying breath, which brings a lot of heat as well as strengthens the abdominal area. My yoga practice was Shiva Rea’s solar Manipura Chakra vinyasa practice, which focuses on sun salutations, arm balances and core strengthening exercises. Seated forward bend and twists are also great for activating this chakra. The practice ends with a solar meditation gazing at a fire (the one on the screen, or a fireplace, or even a candle will work) and reflecting on its transformative power. Savasana was long, grounding and relaxing.

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After yoga, I made my own sugar scrub, using brown sugar, argan oil, and essential oils of lemongrass, lavender and geranium. I massaged my entire body with this stimulating, energizing scrub and then hopped in the shower. I always make my own body scrubs, because this way I can always change the scent depending on what I want to achieve, using pure essential oils (I have quite the collection). I prefer using sugar instead of salt in my scrubs, because salt is quite drying, whereas sugar is a humectant (attracts moisture). The combination of sugar and oil (you can use any base oil you want…almond, olive, coconut, jojoba, apricot..) leaves your skin really soft, and you don’t even really need to moisturize after.
To keep the internal fire going, I nourished my body with warming foods and spices…ginger, chai tea, warm, stewed apples with cinnamon for breakfast, hot veggie soup with warming spices for lunch….
Throughout the day, it is important to smile, laugh, and keep it light…avoiding over-stimulation.
It is also important to balance our internal fire with relaxation and grounding practices as well, so we don’t “burn out”. In the afternoon, I practiced 30 minutes of Yoga Nidra, which is the most healing and restful practice for me. I described this wonderful practice here.
“May you feel the power of life manifesting through you and rise up in the fullness of your strength, stamina and joy for life.” – (Quote from Shiva Rea’s Chakra Vinyasa course)

Swadisthana

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Swadistana Chakra. Water, fluidity, flexible, flow, pleasure, fun, contentment…’savouring the feeling’, enjoying the senses…touching different textures, listening to beautiful music, enjoying a beautiful nature scenery or some art, tasting different delicious foods . Balancing the second chakra is to connect with life’s flow, be happy, experience the pleasures life has to offer. The colour of this chakra is Orange.
The Essential guide to chakras offers many wonderful tips on balancing this chakra…from lifestyle tips, to yoga, to meditation. I also followed Shiva Rea’s Chakra Vinyasa course to complement my practice for today.
For my morning massage, I used warm Monoi oil, which is coconut oil with frangipani oil.
My yoga practice was fluid and playful, almost like a dance, honouring the water element. At the end of my yoga practice, I had a mineral bath. I love these Alkabath salts, because they use crushed agate, carneol, citrine, chrysoprase, onyx, rock crystal, sapphire and chalcedony, so it is packed with minerals! You could also use pink himalayan salt, which is also high in minerals. I also added pure essential oils of rose, jasmine and sandalwood. These are great to balance Swadistana. I lit up candles, played some soothing music, and had the most relaxing candlelit bath for 30 minutes. There is one tip I learned a long time ago that I find extremely relaxing. When I am having a bath, I submerge my whole body and head under water, except for my face.(I have a big tub 🙂 ) Since my ears are under water, all the sounds are muted, and all I can hear is my breath and a very faint sound of soft music. There is also a sense of floating and extra fluidity. There is just something so therapeutic for me to have my head in the water…the water enveloping my entire head feels so peaceful, so soothing… It is extremely relaxing!
After my bath, I massaged my skin with pure argan oil and applied ila’s aroma oil on, which has rose, tuberose and vetivert. Today is about getting pleasure through all the senses!
My meals today were delicious, full of flavour, lots of fruit and veggies. (think sweet and juicy:) )
Today is also the perfect day to go for a walk in nature, and to also enjoy art like this:


My meditation this evening will be following Shiva Rea ❤ Again, I always begin with alternate nostril breathing. The breathing practice for the second chakra is full abdominal breathing, followed by a flowing seated meditation, which feels almost like dance, and you begin to feel fluid, like water.

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Please consult with your doctor if you have any medical conditions and would like to try any of these practices.

Muladhara

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Today’s focus is Muladhara chakra (Root chakra). In the Essential guide to Chakras, they describe this as your foundation. To balance this chakra is to connect with the earth, feel comfortable in your own body, enhance stability in your life and get grounded.
In the mornings, I usually perform self-abhyanga (ayurvedic self-massage, using warm oil). Focusing on balancing the root chakra, I used grounding essential oils. I was inspired by ila’s chakra blessings (hopefully one day I will be able to experience them in one of their amazing spas)…  And with my ila Heart of the Earth CD playing in the background, I made my own massage oil, using grapeseed oil, vetivert, patchouli, and Embrace from Saje (which is a lovely blend of ginger, jasmine and patchouli). Of course getting massaged by someone else feels better, but even a self massage can do wonders for your wellbeing!:) It’s a form of self-love afterall. 🙂
With my body warmed up, I followed with an hour and a half of Shiva Rea’s Muladhara Solar yoga practice (from her Chakra vinyasa course) followed by meditation. (The chakra book also has meditations specific to each chakra). The yoga practice focuses on grounding asanas, as well as balancing ones. The practice ends with delicious hip opening forward bends, marinating in each pose for about 2 minutes. The rhythm is slow and steady, which feels like the Earth’s heartbeat. Savasana  is long and very grounding…a deep sense of sinking into the earth, rooting down, letting go…I burnt ila spa incense in the background, to add more grounding to my pratice. There are lots of youtube videos out there on yoga postures on each chakra. With root chakra, just think grounded, balance, stability, rooted into the earth, letting go…
Before bed, a foot massage is in order (I posted a short foot reflexology treatment you can do for yourself here , with the same oil blend I used this morning. Foot massages before sleep can be very relaxing and help you get a great night’s sleep.

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Right before bed, I practice alternate nostril breathing (which I described in a previous post here, and I actually practice The breathing practice for this chakra is deep and slow inhale through the nose and long exhale through the mouth (again, think letting go, a deep surrender to the Earth), followed by the meditation on Muladhara chakra described in the chakra book. This is where you use an image called a yantra that you gaze upon during your meditation, and focus your attention on the shape, colour symbols and sounds associated with the specific chakra. This maybe sounds a little complicated at first, but it really isn’t once you practice.

Again, be mindful of what works for you if you are going to try this, and consult with your doctor first if you have any medical conditions.

Hope you all have a beautiful, grounded, peaceful day!

Balancing the Chakras

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‘To live life is not merely to breathe, it is to act; it is to make use of our organs, senses, faculties, of all those parts of us which give us the feeling of existence.’ – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

There is a lot of theory behind chakras, but basically, the chakras are vibrational zones through which energy flows in our bodies. They each affect certain parts of our system and behaviour, and they are believed to be goverend by a specific colour, element, perception and sound.

In order for us to be healthy, we need to make sure all the chakras are in balance, so energy can flow smoothly through pur entire body. When there is an imbalance, our overall wellbeing is affected.

I do this a couple of times a year: I spend a whole week focusing on balancing the 7 main chakras, using yoga, meditation, massage, sound, and aromatherapy. There are spa and health retreats where they do this, but I find that even my mini at-home diy retreat helps me a lot.

There are many books and videos and articles on the chakras. One of mt favorite one, the one I follow during my practices, is ‘The Essential Guide to Chakras’ by Swami Saradananda. Each day, I will post the little practices I do to balance each chakra.

Please not: If you decide to follow along, keep in mind that if you have any medical condition or are pregnant, you need to consult with your doctor before trying anything I mention. Everybody is different, so be mindful of what works for you.

 

The Breeze At Dawn

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The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.

~Rumi

I have always loved this poem by Rumi. It is such a beautiful reminder that every day, every single moment of our life in fact is an opportunity for us to experience and learn new things with fresh eyes (beginner’s mind)… No preconceptions, no expectations, just experience, observe, learn…. Every. Moment. Every moment we can ask ourselves: What can I do next that will help me the most? That will nourish me the most? That will serve me the most?

In a world full of distractions, full of noise, full of chaos, it is so easy to go on auto-pilot. The human brain runs only on about 12 Watts of power. That is not much, so in order to conserve energy, the brain tries to take shortcuts, by forming and following patterns based on previous experiences. This can be very useful for basic survival, but by doing this, by going on auto-pilot, we also tend to miss out on a lot of wonderful things and experiences.

The good news is that if we practice present-moment awareness, if we tune into the moment with a beginner’s mind, with no preset expectations, we can get ourselves out of auto-pilot. Isn’t it amazing how we have the power to choose our experience of life in every single moment? Isn’t it wonderful how we can find some stillness amidst all the chaos just by tuning into our breath even for a short minute? From a state of awareness we can make more conscious decisions, and maybe more nourishing ones.

Of course, we all still fall back into auto-pilot from time to time, but the more we practice mindfulness, the less we will “go back to sleep”….the more aware and awake we are in life, in every moment.

The simplest tool, our anchor to the present moment, is our breath. Simple, yet so powerful!

Throughout the day, take a pause for 1 minute, and just count your breaths.

Breathe in. Breathe out. – One
Breathe in. Breathe out. – Two
Breathe in. Breathe out. – Three

It doesn’t matter how many breaths you fit in. It doesn’t matter how long your inhale or exhale was. The only thing you are noticing is how many breaths you took. You are not comparing to anything or anyone else, there is no expected limit. It is what it is in that moment.

So try it now. Set a timer for one minute….or 5 minutes, or 10 minutes. Count how many breaths you took. Do this whenever you get a chance to, in those times when you are waiting in line…How many breaths till you get to the till? Do this on the bus…how many breaths till you get to your stop? Do this on your walk home, or when you are taking a shower. All these moments can turn into such blissful moments and can change your whole day!

I hope you all have a blissful weekend!

PS: Image Source: Pinterest – Dawn of Gods by Giorgos Malamidis

Be the Altar, Not the Alternative

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In his book “Altar Your Space”, the author talks about a conversation he had with his spiritual teacher, Yogi Bhajan.
“Do you know the sacred secret of success in this lifetime?” asked Yogi Bhajan.
The author gave several answers, to which the teacher replied “Son, be the altar, not the alternative”.
What does this mean to you?
To the author, this means being, living, acting and projecting a point of neutrality and awareness, wholeness and transcendence, experiencing everything, appreciating it all, being connected with it all, without any attachments, without any specific point of view.
For me, being the altar means finding stillness and silence inside. Everything in this life comes and goes, everything has a beginning and an end. Life comes and goes,people come and go, thoughts come and go, moments come and go, the breath comes and goes…It feels like there is always motion, activity, noise, but deep down, we are stillness…we are just too distracted to notice it, too consumed by what goes on outside of us.
A great way to find that stillness inside is to watch your breath. You take a deep, full inhale, and then a slow, deep exhale. You watch the inhale…it has a beginning, a middle and an end…Then the exhale comes…it has a beginning, a middle and an end. But if you slow down and  pay attention, between all those inhales and exhales, there is a tiny little gap, a pause, a moment of silence and stillness, where nothing happens… To me, that stillness is the altar. A point that is neutral and balanced and aware. When you are there, it feels like you are standing still in time and space, and everything else is just moving past you. You watch it come and go, but you are still and there is peace and silence within you.
The more you practice meditation, the more you observe this still point, the more you will notice you can bring it with you in your daily life, and you begin to see things unfold with greater ease, harmony, and grace.
So today, try this meditation on your breath. Take full, deep inhales, then slow, deep exhales and watch where they begin and where they end. Keep breathing and slowing down, and eventually you will notice that gap, that empty space, where everything is still.
I wish you all peace and stillness!

Image Source: Pinterest

A good Night’s Sleep

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A good night’s sleep can do wonders for our health and wellbeing. During the day we are in a metabolic phase, when our cells require and burn energy. While we sleep, we go into an anabolic  state, where our bodies repair and rejuvenate. After a good night’s sleep, we wake up with more energy, a clearer mind and usually a better mood.
There are a few steps we can take in order to get a deeper, more restful sleep. I have read quite a few books and articles about this, and watched quite a few documentaries. Here are some things I have learned:

  • Spend as much time as possible in natural daylight during the day. Go for a little walk outside after lunch if possible, and soak up some sunshine and some fresh air.
  • Avoid over-stimulating the mind in the evening with caffeine and technology. If you must be on your phone or laptop, install a blue-light filter. This filters the blue light emitted by your screen after sunset and applies a pleasant soft red filter (think of the way it looks outside when the sun is setting). The filter intensity is gradually adjusted to the sun cycle based on your location.
  • Don’t overnap during the day. If you feel tired, try practicing yoga NIdra instead (I talked about this in a previous post), try meditating or do something relaxing . Afternoons are the time when physically we tend to hit an energy slump, but it is a great time to do something that rests the body but keeps the mind engaged. Things like reading a book or painting are great options.
  • Have an early, light dinner. This is because a big meal, or a meal too high in sugar will spike your blood sugar and boost your metabolism which will keep you up for longer.
  • Don’t perform any strenuous physical activities. Instead, a 20 minute walk outise after dinner or some gentle yoga or stretches, followed by breathing meditation will help the body and mind unwind after the day.
  • Create a relaxing bed-time ritual. Maybe turn off your phone or TV an hour before bed and read a book instead. Meditate. Write in your journal. Sip on some herbal tea like chamomile, hops, lavender or peppermint.
  • Have a 20-minute bath before bed. I once watched a documentary where they explained that it is the steep drop in our body temperature after a hot bath that puts us in a deeper sleep. With my two children who also love baths and only one bathtub in the house, I don’t get to have a bath as often as I would like to (every night), but when I do get the chance (once a week), I make it luxurious…candlelight, luxurious oils, soothing music, herbal tea, eye pads soaked in rose water, my favorite face mask…and finish with a really nice self-massage with body balm with rose, tuberose and vetivert or a body oil with jasmine and sandalwood and acupressure facial massage with my favorite rose face oil. So maybe it is not as often as I would like, but when I do get the time, I make sure it’s pure bliss
  • Your bedroom should be aired out, cool and dark. Using aromatherapy like lavender, basil and jasmine can help you relax even more. I put a few drops of lavender or jasmine on a handkerchief and place it in my pillowcase.
  • Try going to bed around the same time every evening….ideally at around 10-10:30 pm.
  • When you are in bed, use a relaxation technique to help the body relax. For me, I cover my eyes with a silk eye pillow, filled with flax, peppermint and lavender. I absolutely love the gentle coolness of the silk, the weight of the pillow gently helping relax tension around my eyes and the aromatherapy of lavender and peppermint. It even helps relieve tension when I get a headache. I used to use a silk eye mask, but I personally find the heaviness of the eye pillow much more relaxing. I can feel the tension of the muscles around my eyes just melt away. I also use the Intelligent Nutrients Destress Express elixir on my pressure points. It has peppermint, spearmint, ravintsara, cardamom, cinnamon, chamomile, lime, vanilla and red raspberry, and it is a personal favorite of mine, but you can use any other aromatherapy you may prefer. Lavender and jasmine are also known for their relaxing, sleep-inducing effects. I practice some deep breathing and then a full body relaxation or body scan. I usually fall asleep before I complete it.

Here is a really delicious dinner recipe I learned to make from the Neom Guide to Sleep book for a good night’s sleep:

 

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And here is a body scan – relaxation technique:

Begin by laying down and taking 10 slow, deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Feel your mind and body slow down and begin to unwind. Feel the tension start to release.

The next part is a visualization to help relax your body. As you inhale, you visualize a warm, healing bright light enveloping the part of the body you are focusing on. As you exhale, you release it. Feel that body part energized, healed and relaxed. I think of this almost like a very relaxing, healing massage with pure, white light.

Begin with moving your attention to your toes. As you inhale, visualize a warm, bright white light travelling through your toes. As you exhale, let this light energize, heal and relax your toes.

Move your attention to your ankles. As you inhale, visualize a warm, bright white light enveloping your ankles. As you exhale, feel this light energize, heal and relax your ankles.

Keep repeating this for the following body parts: middle of your calves, your knees, middle of your thighs, your sacrum, your hips, your pelvis, your navel, your heart, your lower back, your entire spine, vertebra by vertebra, your shoulders, your fingertips, your palms, your wrists, your forearms, your elbows,  your upper arms, your neck, your face: your chin, jaw, lips, tongue, throat, your nostrils, your cheeks, muscles around your eyes, eyes, eyelids, eyebrows, area between the eyebrows, forehead, temples, ears, the back of your head, the crown of your head.

Once the whole body is relaxed, focus on this healing energy enveloping your entire body. Feel your whole body fully relaxed and healed. Take 10 deep, slow breaths, in silence.

If you are not sleeping already, or if you are doing this in the afternoon, you can begin to wiggle your fingers and toes, rub your palms together and gently place them over your eyes. Then, slowly sit up, still with your eyes closed. When you are ready, open your eyes.

Top image found on Google images.

Mindful Breathing Practices…Continued

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Following the Breath by Thich Nhat Hanh

Breathing in, I calm my body.

Breathing out, I smile.

Dwelling in the present moment,

I know this is a wonderful moment!

Breathing in, I know I’m breathing in.

Breathing out, I know

as the in-breath grows deep,

the out-breath grows slow.

Breathing in makes me calm.

Breathing out brings me ease.

With the in-breath, I smile.

With the out breath, I release.

Breathing in, there is only the present moment.

Breathing out, it is a wonderful moment.

The way we breathe has a big impact on our life, on our health. When we breathe fully and mindfully, we bring more oxygen into our bodies, we relax a little bit more, we release tension, and we detoxify. Many people forget that last part. Our exhale plays a HUGE part in our natural, on-going detoxification. Our bodies detoxify constantly. We absorb what nourishes us, and we have all these amazing, intricate systems in our bodies that remove all the toxins…or at least store them away so they don’t cause us harm.

So if you are trying to detox, and you go on all these detox diets, all these detoxifying wraps and drink all these teas, all the minutes spent in the sauna…don’t forget to BREATHE. Breathe deeply. Breathe mindfully. Try practicing different ways of breathing. There are different mindful breathing techniques that can help in different situations. Here are a few that you mind find helpful: (Please note: If you are pregnant, or suffering from any medical conditions, consult with your doctor first. A few of the following practices are contra-indicated during pregnancy.)

  • The first breathing exercise I would recommend, especially if you are a beginner, is just counting the breath….counting the inhale, counting the exhale…then trying to make them equal…establishing a rhythm. The second part of this practice is to practice deep abdominal breathing, where when you inhale, you focus on your belly rising like a balloon. I went into greater detail on this on my previous post on Mindful Breathing.
  • 2- to -1 breathing. This is where the exhalation is twice as long as the inhalation. Here, when you inhale, try to get a really deep inhale, like I explained in Mindful Breathing. As you inhale, you first focus on expanding your belly, then your ribs moving outwards, then the collarbone lifting. This way will help you get a really full breath in, which will also help you have a longer exhale. When you exhale, try to exhale all the air out, slowly. To start, try inhaling for a count of 4, and exhaling for a count of 8. Try this for 10 minutes, maybe set a timer, and see how you feel afterwards. This type of breathing can be extremely relaxing, and is very useful to calm the mind.
  • When you are feeling anxious, upset, or can’t seem to focus, try alternate nostril breathing. To practice, place the index and middle fingers of your right hand on the spot between the eyebrows, and keep the pinkie and thumb on either sides of the nostrils. First, close the right nostril with your thumb and inhale for 4 counts through your left nostril. When your inhale is complete, pause, close your left nostril with your pinkie, and exhale through your right nostril, trying to make the exhale also 4 counts. At the end of the exhale, inhale through the right nostril, pause, close it with your thumb, and exhale through your left nostril. This completes one breath. Try to repeat this at least 3 times, or set a timer for 5-10 minutes. Always complete this breath by exhaling through the left nostril. This is a wonderful breathing exercise to balance the right and left hemispheres of the brain, and bring your mind back to balance.
  • bumble bee breath. This breath creates a vibration that can be especially beneficial when you are having issues with your sinuses or throat. To start, you inhale deeply, and on the exhale, you make a gentle humming sound (sounds like mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm).
  • So Hum breathing, also called “Ocean Breath’ in yoga, is especially useful when you are feeling angry or physically overheated. In this breathing exercise, the mouth remains closed the entire time, and you inhale and exhale through your nose. When you inhale, you pay attention to the sound your breath makes (“SO”) , and as you exhale, focus on the sound your breath makes (“HUM”). It almost sounds like ocean waves gently coming into the shore, then going back out. It is a very relaxing breath, very simple, and probably one of my favorites!
  • Ujjayi Breathing, or victorious breath. This is a great way to breathe while performing physical exercise. It is great for increasing stamina and bringing in lots of oxygen into the lungs. As you inhale and exhale through your nose, partially close the back of your throat (the glottis to be more specific). There are many youtube videos on this, if you are not too familiar with it and would like to give it a try.
  • When you are feeling lethargic and you need a little pick me up, a great practice is to inhale deeply through your nose, and then exhale fully through your mouth. Exhale completely, to the point where your abdomen draws in towards your spine, making sure all the air is pushed out of your lungs. Repeat 3-5 times.
  • When you need some energy in the morning, or if you want extra detoxification, try Breath of Fire. In this breathing exercise, you inhale through your nose, and then very rapidly, you push all the breath out by pushing the abdomen in and exhaling (rapidly) through your nose. This will create a vacuum effect and your next inhale will happen automatically. You create sort of a pumping movement with your abdomen, by inhaling and then rapidly exhaling through your nose. This breath creates a lot of heat in the abdominal region and leaves you energized. Women who are pregnant should not practice this.

One last breathing exercise, which I learned from Aveda (you can find it in the Aveda training manual, 2004), is Longevity Breathing. This will center you and energize you. Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, outside edges of the feet parallel, knees slightly flexed, arms relaxed by your sides. Try to stay very relaxed and make your inhalations and exhalations last exactly as long as the movement they accompany. I like to listen beautiful, uplifting music when I am practicing this:)

  • As you inhale, lift your arms up to the front, shoulder level. Imagine you are drawing Earth energy up through your feet, center and heart.
  • As you exhale, open your arms out to the sides
  • Inhale and press your arms overhead. Feel the energy going through your heart and being transmuted into love.
  • Exhale as you lower your arms to the side at shoulder level. Feel that you are sending this healing force out your hands to the planet and everyone and everything on it.
  • Inhale as your hands draw in to your face. The energy enters your body again.
  • Exhale and press down through your center. Ground the energy back into the Earth to be forever renewed. ❤

These are just a few mindful breathing practices that you may want to try. Of course, there are many, many others out there, but I hope this post can at least inspire you to add a little bit more mindful breathing into your day.

Breathing Meditation

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This week, I have been adding mindful breathing to my day. I have done all sorts of breathing practices in all my years of yoga: 1:1 ratio, 1:2 ratio,  breath retention, breath of fire, alternate nostril breathing, and many others. In my personal experience, those have been mostly helpful to me when I was already in “the zone”.

Focusing on your breath is a really easy tool for bringing you into the present moment. For my mindfulness practice, instead of setting an intention to practice any particular “type” of breathing, I began just noticing my breath. This is a great tip I learned from a mindfulness meditation kit I got from Emma Mills (she has the best simple guided mindful meditations and the most soothing voice). First, I would just count how long my inhale was, then, after a few breaths, I would count my exhale breath. Then, I try to see if I can make my inhale breath as long as my exhale breath, whether that means decreasing or increasing the length of one or the other. Again, it is about no effort, just being curious, just observing.

After I establish some sort of rhythm, I begin practicing deep belly breathing. This is a wonderful tip I picked up from a seminar on breath work I attended at the Vancouver Spa Show last year. When you inhale, you let your abdomen  expand like a balloon, then as you are still inhaling, you let the breath move up and feel your thoracic cavity expand outwards, and last, you feel the top of your lungs fill with oxygen as your collar bone moves up.  And then, you let it all out. It takes a little bit of practice, but my inhales got A LOT deeper since I learned how to guide my breath.

This mindful breathing meditation has been helping me so much! I love its simplicity. I have been practicing it many times throughout the day and it makes a big difference in my mood and energy levels. I find it very helpful right before my meals, to get myself in a very calm, mindful state before I sit down to eat. I have also added it in the evenings, before I do my daily body scan.

All these little mindful steps I have been adding to my days have made a big improvement in my life. I have more energy, I feel more at ease and in a better mood. I feel I somehow have more time in the day now, and I am noticing more and more wonderful things about my every day life. It really is about just stopping and smelling the roses:) !