Friday, October 28, 2011

Finding Balance in Poses--in Life

So much of what yoga is, is developing awareness of our body, mind, and spirit. Figuring out how to do that can feel overwhelming and daunting--especially when you feel stuck.

I find myself questioning everything--at times ad nauseum. "Why am I feeling this way?" "Why won't my body cooperate when my mind can do these beautiful asanas with ease?" "When will I ever get rid of my chronic pain?"

These questions are like a hamster running on its exercise wheel. He moves fast, but gets nowhere. I pray for balance in my life with my kids, with work and play, with my husband, and finding time for myself. But what I think I need to pray for more is for acceptance of where I am at right now. I want everything fixed and I get frustrated when pain takes over. So lately I've devoted myself to these things:

1. Finish reading Rod Stryker's book The Four Desires: Creating a Life of Purpose, Happiness, Prosperity, and Freedom and completing all the activities in there
2. Continue going to Svaroopa yoga classes each month (2+ more each month)
3. Accept where my pain level is at each day: manage it through yoga, meditation, and Yes, medication
4. Be gentle with myself

I know that my perspective will change. And I need to enjoy the flow.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Trouble Posting to the Blog?

I've had a couple of people say that they've tried to post to the blog, but can't seem to figure it out. Here's a tutorial:
  • First, click on the link of the post you want to comment on (You'll see these listed on the right of your screen.)
  • Then go to the end of that posting and you will see a text box.  Type your comment in there.
  • If you have a "Google Acct", sign in. If not, you can type your name at the end of the message, or just leave it off. It can be anonymous.
  • So either choose anonymous or sign in...then type in the string of letters you see for verification purposes.
  • It will then send me a notification that someone wants have their comment posted to the blog.
  • I will then publish it. 
  • If you have any questions, contact me on Twitter:!/Youthful_Yogini

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Thanks to my pal, YogaChickie on Twitter, I was able to do a backbend. She mentioned that I needed to place blocks against a wall so that my hands would be elevated. It took a few tries, but I was eventually able to push myself into a backbend. Yea!!! Now this backbend was not pretty, it was actually quite abstract! I had to turn my hands so that the heel of my hands faced my ears. Having my fingers pointing toward my shoulders what a bit too intense, so I adapted the pose a bit.

Now that I know I can do it, I will play with the pose and see if I can stay up longer than 2 seconds! I hope to build my arm and back muscles so that this pose looks effortless. But now that I know I can do this, I know I will achieve the beautiful backbend my mind's eye sees me do all the time. Namaste!

The Most Healing Sound

I was reminded last Saturday of the Ujjayi Breath (or victory breath) at my Svaroopa yoga class. I had learned this type of breathing about three years ago, and have only occasionally practiced it. Because of what I've relearned, I am going to employ this method of breathing a few times a day. Our bodies and minds recognize this breath as a healing breath--actually the most healing sound there is. It's that important!

Ujjayi breathing is a way of breathing that calms the nervous system, helps to relax your mind, and also can help you sleep better. The easiest way I have found to make this work is to slightly point my chin down toward my chest:  this opens the airway as well as constricts the flow at the same time. Your breath should be the same length on the inhale as with the exhale. If you notice a subtle snoring sound, you're on the right track. This can be done at any time, but be careful not to use this method of breathing if you are in a difficult pose. You should be relaxed to allow the air to flow freely through the airways.

Another way to practice this breath is to clear your throat. When you do this, notice the muscles that you used to clear your throat. Continue clearing your throat (epiglottis is working) so that the sound eminated from you is a sound only you can hear. Keep the epiglottis engaged as you continue to breathe in and out slowly. Notice all the subtle changes in your body when you practice this.

I know for me, this has been wonderful. I tend to panic when I feel my pain has worsened. If I can remember to practice this ujjayi breath, I can lessen the pain and remain calm.

I posted a few links that give a much better explanation than I can. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Excellent Liver Cleanser

For about 2 years, I've drank this concoction every morning: 1 Tbls Organic extra virgin olive oil, 1 Tbls Organic lemon juice, and 6-8 ounces of Organic grape juice. Mix it all together and drink. It tastes delicious and it a great detoxer. Because of the medicines I take to control my chronic pain, I want to be sure that my liver is as healthy as it can be. (If you can't afford the organic, that's OK, it still works as a good detox drink. When I'm feeling a little bit rich, I splurge on the organic.)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pain Management

Learning to accept my pain rather than being frightened of it is a real challenge for me. Since adolescence, I have dealt with chronic pain. It has morphed over the years, at times becoming better, and more often than not, becoming worse.  I have been to more doctors and alternative therapies to try and deal with this problem than I care to admit. (See previous post on Putting Faith in Others).

In 2010, I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. The test results indicated that I had a previous exposure (based on CDC criteria), but currently do not have Lyme disease (also based on CDC criteria). However, I had seen a doctor who specialized in diagnosis and treatment of Lyme Disease who told me that there is a population (an epidemic, actually) that suffer from chronic pain due to CHRONIC Lyme Disease. He put me on a month’s worth of strong antibiotics along with a supplement called Artemisia that dealt with babesia, a protozoan parasite that infects the blood—many patients with Lyme, he said, have co-infections and babesia is a common infection that goes along with Lyme. Both pills made me very sick, irritable, and even in more pain than I had had previously.

Finally, I went to an infectious disease physician who told me that I do NOT have chronic Lyme and should stop treatment immediately. I was so grateful to stop this treatment, but have often wondered: which doctor is correct? I still have chronic pain, but somehow I’m not treating the underlying source.

I’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, muscle pain, about four years ago. But my biggest worry is WHAT’S CAUSING THIS?  This is where I need to accept where I’m at, use my meditation and my yoga as my medical treatment. I always feel better after my meditation and yoga, but unfortunately at this point it has not completely cured my pain.

I am working on trying my best to manage my pain through meds and my yoga practice. What I want to be able to do is to accept and embrace my pain as a teaching tool—what can I learn from this. Some days it seems I master this; however, today is not one of them. The weather hasn’t helped much either today. So today my intention is to just breathe and acknowledge my pain, then let it go. Just for today.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Re-Learning a Back Bend!

On Twitter, one of my pals is guiding me through backbends. At 45, I'm learning how to become Youthful again. I'm trying to see things through the lens of a child. Instead of being scared of backbend, which unfortunately I am, I am going to learn to accept where I'm at at this moment.

So, my friend, @YogaChickie on Twitter, had this to say about starting: Do sphynx, salabasana, bhekasana, dhanurasana and ustrasana, in that order..every single day for a week. (For examples of these poses, you can go to and click on poses.) She also stressed the importance of warming up with sun salutations and lunges to prepare every part of my back for this asana.

I will follow her "prescription" for the week and let everyone know of my progress. If you have any helpful hints, I'd love to hear them! Either post here or find me on twitter @Youthful_Yogini!  Namaste!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dharma Code

I just began Rod Stryker's book, The Four Desires. I decided to blog about one aspect in the book that struck me: Dharma Code. From my understanding at this point, this is fulfilling your soul's desires by living each day in a way that makes positive choices to fulfill your life's work.

OK, so I haven't started the exercises defined in the book yet--I'm only in part 2 of the book--but here's what my gut and heart have told me (again, I've not started the exercises--just what I believe at this point): my heart has always been happiest when I acknowledge others' accomplishments and help them to be the best they can be.

I love seeing people succeed at whatever they set their minds to. I believe that if we give unselfishly to others without holding back, we benefit the most. For example, one of the sign language interpreters I work with signs with such feeling and clarity. She and I were working with a student one day and the student and she were talking about using Skype. Her clarity and visual accessibility to this technology (which I have never experienced) made me feel as if I actually had seen this. I commented on how beautifully she interpreted that, and the happiness and relaxation that came over her being was so profound, it made me want to laugh and cry at the same time. I believe I benefitted more than she from that experience because I got to see Spirit at work that day.

So at this point, I believe my Dharma Code is to see the beauty in everyone (especially those individuals I have the most difficulty with). If I am unable to express that to the other person because I feel my ego will be in jeopardy, I will do my best to gently push my ego aside and let that person know how I feel.

Happy Sunday!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Yoga Nidra

In the November 2011 issue of Yoga Journal is an article about Yoga Nidra. It is a profound-restorative practice of yoga that promotes deep relaxation while being wakeful at the same time.

Three years ago I was introduced to Yoga Nidra by my friend, Hansa. The practice at first seemed like guided relaxation, but after the initial practice of Yoga Nidra I felt more alive and at peace in my body than I ever had before. It almost felt as if I were walking on a cloud. There was so much space between my joints and muscles that I felt so very light.

As with anything, I had forgotten about the practice of Yoga Nidra until YJ arrived at my home. I remembered the blissful, grounded feeling I had experienced while doing this.

One of the interesting effects of Yoga Nidra while doing it, was  that I saw images behind my eyelids. One image was of a crocodile moving slowly with its mouth open. I later asked Hansa about that. She said in her experience crocodiles/alligators represent strength. Odd, I thought, since I felt so relaxed--but the strength, I believe, was coming from determination and groundedness.

My goal for this month is to practice Yoga Nidra at least twice. More if I can carve out some extra time in the evenings. Namaste.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What My Feelings Can Tell Me

Since I've been more willing to experience my feelings and not freak out about them, it seems that they surface and I feel a bit annoyed, but not upset.

Yesterday as I was doing gardening, my heart wasn't in it. I kept lecturing myself by saying, "you can choose to act miserable or to be happy--it's your choice!" Well I chose miserable. Couldn't help it; I tried to make myself feel abundant, happy, at peace with myself, but it wasn't happenin'.

I guess where I'm at now is just acceptance. For so long I have really blocked out my feelings and didn't allow them to surface as much, so this is just probably all the gunk that is getting unstuck. But, I AM up for the challenge. I know in order to become healthier, I have to go through the difficult emotions that show up in my life.

Yoga continues to allow me to be gentle with myself and accept myself and my emotions for what they are. I'm definitely experiencing a steep learning curve! Today I'm not living up to the "youthful" in Youthful Yogini...maybe tomorrow!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Mind, Body, and Spirit: A Glimpse

Ever have those moments when everything is going perfectly? You get every green light on the way to work, your favorite songs from your i-pod keep coming up, your car is running perfectly? Well that happened to me on my way to work this morning. So this was my opportunity to shine a light on this and remember what this "mind-body-spirit" feels like.

I guided my mind to all parts of my body. First I noticed my back: I was very comfortably seated in my car and felt no stress or strain. My hands were loosely placed on the steering wheel, my breathing was relaxed and rhythmic, and I put judgement on it: This is what it feels like to be lined up AND this makes me happy. So immediately I said, "Happy, thank you, more please! (See previous post about this.) My mind was happy and I had no worries. My spirit felt like it was dancing! I did nothing to "plan" this, it just happened.

I know that I will not always feel this way. I also know that I should not put a judgement on it; rather I should just observe, give thanks, and move on. But I felt like I wanted to bottle this feeling and save it for later. I'm still in a good place today, but I'm doing my best to not be disappointed when this leaves. I WILL, however, remember what this feels like and use my yoga practice to try to tap into this on a daily basis. Life is good!


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Energy Blocks

Every time I listen to Krista Tippet's interview with Seane Corn, I either hear something new or get a deeper understanding of Seane's message.

One thing that really surprised me the first time I heard the interview was that Seane believes (as do many others) that we are addicted to our tension. What?! I couldn't believe that the first time I heard it, because my tension has always been an annoyance and has cost me lots of money to learn to relax!

However, after my 1st Svaroopa yoga session, I experienced deep sadness the day after. I started to understand what Sean was trying to say. The tension I had had a purpose: it held in my emotions, or kept my emotions so hidden from my conscious mind that I didn't have to deal with them.

By relaxing my muscles and letting go of the tension, I was able to witness what that tension had held in. From my limited understanding at this point, tension is sometimes easier to deal with than the raw emotions that surface unexpectedly.

After I was able to recognize that, I was able to release the sadness and continue to be mindful of what my tension is trying to hide. I'll do my best not to be afraid to confront my emotions and be more gentle with myself.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Svaroopa Yoga: The Magic Four

I have been so blessed to have been introduced to my new teachers of Svaroopa Yoga as well as all the benefits I've received from the practice...and it's only been since Saturday!!!

I have been doing what's called the Magic Four of Svaroopa Yoga. The asanas appear to be very simple (and in some respects they are), but they are truly profound. Today, when doing the Magic Four in my bedroom, I was amazed at how easily my muscles sank into relaxation. It was like they were saying, "Well it's about time!"

All I can say right now is THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU Universe for putting Svaroopa Yoga into my path.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Svaroopa Yoga: The Day After

Today started out slowly: I got up, had my coffee, the boys played, I made them breakfast, then it seemed a slow sadness was doing its best to creep into my body, mind, and spirit. At first I was really afraid of this: We were celebrating my mother-in-law's birthday today, and the place was going to be packed with relatives. My parents were invited as well. (BTW, my parents and my in-laws get along wonderfully--what a gift that is.)
It was very difficult for me to be happy, and I started questioning everything: what was this sadness about, where's the origin of this, what do I need to do to feel get the idea.

But then I remembered something Sean Corne said in an interview with Krista Tippett. I'm paraphrasing here: Krista asked Sean about the sadness yogis and yoginis experience when they've done yoga for a while--a sadness you can't put your finger on. Sean's response was that yoga invites us to take the scab off the wound and experience our sadness. Yoga releases so much tension held in the body, mind, and spirit, that we need to honor the sadness when it appears.

When I realized this, I stopped fighting. Svaroopa opened me up quite a bit. I'm sore, but I'm witnessing the sadness that was released in the muscles. Now instead of getting angry and anxious, I'm being gentle with myself.

My mom said to me later this evening that I seemed kind of down in the dumps. I told her that yeah, I was, but I knew it would pass.

Right now, my husband is waiting for me to finish this blog so I can enjoy a few episodes of "In treatment" before bed. The irony is not lost on me!

I will embrace this and except it, and know that in order to change and get better, I have to go through this and not fight it. Namaste.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Svaroopa Yoga

I had one of the most relaxing yoga sessions this morning. It's Hatha yoga in the Svaroopa style. I was the only student in attendance with TWO teachers. I felt pampered, enlightened, and completely blissed out! What a fantastic 2 hours it was this morning.

The point of Svaroopa yoga is to release not only surface tension, but deeply-held tension into the muscle tissues, and organs. I can only imagine what years of this style of yoga could do for me!

I am committed to attending this yoga class at least twice a month. Coupled with my morning yoga practice, I'm sure I'll become more aware of tension held within my body and becoming more mindful. Namaste!