Tag Archives: meditation

Days 28 & 29: Birthday Treat from Childhood

Hi all!

The last two days have been filled with preparations and celebrations for my awesome little(r) sister Katie. Every year I try to bake something a little extra special for the occasion. In the past there have been mint chocolate chip cupcakes, cookie dough cupcakes and (a not-so-successful attempt at) marshmallow-stuffed chocolate chip cookies. This year I was leaning toward another attempt at marshmallow goodness when I came across this ring ding recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

Now, I don’t know about you guys, but ring dings were a pretty big deal for Katie and I when we were growing up. I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to recreate the delicious treat. It was quite a process, and I admit I need some work injecting icing into cake, but the result was pretty tasty.

Mmm mmm good.

Mmm mmm good.

Today my mom and aunt were coming into town for a birthday lunch with Katie, which meant some cleaning had to be done. However, I was able I get in some yoga time between baking and dusting.

Last night I opted to do a gratitude meditation before bed, thinking of everyone and everything I am thankful for in my life, and when I was done I sat and repeated a mantra of “Grateful” for a few minutes. This I the first time I’ve done this before bed and I have to say, it was a great way to end the day and clear the mind before getting into bed.

This morning I did my own personal practice, which included a flow of sun salutations and hip and hamstring stretches. Basically whatever I felt my body needed. I finished up with a little handstand practice and then I was ready to start my day.

Now it’s time to continue the birthday celebration! It’s hard to believe tomorrow is day 30. Time flies!

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Filed under Food, Goals, Meditation, Practice, Recipes, Yoga, Yoga Snax

Days 22-24: Almost there!

Hey yogis!

As you could tell in my last post, my time in Harrisburg was full of cooking and Christmas decorations–but I did manage to get my yoga in there thanks to Just Plain Yoga over in Camp Hill. I also taught a quick class of Sun Salutations to the man friend who had a sore lower back. **Quick Tip: Sore lower back is often a sign of tight hamstrings, so gentle forward folds, seated folds, or supine (on your back) hamstring stretches with a strap can do wonders!**

After running around the last few days, I woke up this morning with a cold…not so fun, but it’s also my body’s way of telling me to slow down. I’m glad it is happening now so I can have the chance to take better care of myself this holiday season (my mother can probably tell you the number of Christmases I woke up sick as a kid). So today’s practice will be something gentle and restorative–my bolster will definitely be involved.

An extra motivation for kicking this cold is the workshop I am going to on Saturday! Since handstand has been one of my goal poses, I signed up for another inversion workshop, this time at The Yoga Room (thanks to my wonderful roommate who alerted me it was filling up fast, I snagged one of the last spots!). Rumor is he has some crazy core work in store for us–I can’t wait! Until then, time to load up on Vitamin C.

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Filed under Goals, inversions, Non-Judgement, Practice, Yoga

Day 8: A Mindful Meditation

It has been a fun few days in Philly!  Between the amazing food, beautiful weather and getting to see old friends, I couldn’t have asked for a better trip.  That said, we’ve been going non-stop, so when it came time for the man-friend to go to work yesterday, it suddenly hit me that I was exhausted.  Usually I look forward to getting on my mat for some “me time,” but yesterday even that seemed like too much of an effort.  As I’ve said before, the practice of yoga is about tuning in and understanding what your body needs.  Yesterday afternoon, I knew what my body really needed was a nap.

Of course, napping in the middle of the day can end up throwing you off, especially this time of year when it gets dark out so early.  When I woke up yesterday I was pretty groggy, and since I was meeting an old friend for dinner, I really needed to wake up.  I decided a short meditation would do just the trick.  I set myself up on the bed with a lot of pillows for support so that I wasn’t distracted by any physical discomfort in my body, set my phone alarm for 10 minutes, then closed my eyes and began some deep ujaii breath and repeated my so hum mantra (I discussed meditation techniques more in depth back in this post).  When the alarm went off, I felt more centered and calm and I was ready to catch up with an old friend over delicious food!

Today I’m hoping to try out a yoga studio in the area.  But first, it’s time for some touristy action at Independence Hall.  Have a great day everyone!

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Filed under Meditation, Uncategorized

This Present Is For You

One of the goals of yoga is to be present, to live in the moment, rather than constantly planning for the future or thinking about the past.  However, this can be extremely difficult, especially in our world today; there is so much happening around us at any given time, things to do, errands to run and people to take care of, guilt to feel about that thing you said yesterday, and of course we have to plan for our future….But in between all of these thoughts and actions, we are still living in THIS moment.  And in THIS moment there are so many things to notice and be grateful for, both big and small.  That is what yoga is about–taking the time to stop and appreciate those things that are happening right now.  It can be big things like the fact that you’re alive, or that an impending storm blew out to sea, or seemingly little things, such as beautiful flowers growing outside your door, or the fact that your favorite ice cream is on sale.  These are the moments that add richness to our lives, but they’re also the moments that can be so easily overlooked as we plan for the future or dwell in the past.

Yoga teaches us that the only way to be able to fully live in the present is to maintain a constant practice of awareness, which yoga asana (poses) and meditation help us to do.  That is why, after watching this Ted Talk, I committed to spending time on my yoga mat every day in August.  While I already have a regular asana practice, I admit that my meditation practice has been very inconsistent.  I am still fairly new to the practice, and some days it can be pretty frustrating.  There is just so much going on in that brain of mine, where the heck is the off switch??  But the hope is that during these 30 days I will create a ritual that will continue through the fall and beyond. 

Luckily, there are many kinds of meditation to fit people’s varying styles and needs.  There is visual meditation, in which you fix your gaze on a certain point, like the flame of a candle, and focus completely on that.  There is Metta meditation, in which you send thoughts of loving kindness to yourself, your family and friends, groups in need, and even people you don’t like.  Even physical yoga asana can be a moving meditation when the breath and movements are fully connected and the mind is focused.  However, the style of meditation that I find works for me at the moment is mantra meditation, where you repeat a mantra over and over, connecting it to your breath.  The mantra can be anything that means something to you and helps you focus the mind on a singular point during your meditation.

The mantra I’ve chosen to use in my meditation is “So Hum,” which translates to “I am that” or “That I am.” (Maybe this is why I loved the book “Green Eggs and Ham” so much as a kid.)  I find that it works really well with the breath, inhaling on “so” and exhaling on “hum.”  It can be repeated aloud, but I say it in my head.  This mantra has been really helpful to me in my meditation practice.  When my thoughts begin to wander, I can acknowledge them and return to So Hum.  Like this morning for example, my mind looked something like this: “So…hum…so…hum…this feels great, I should blog about meditation later…oh wait, you’re  thinking….so….hum…”  And so on.  The mantra gives me something other than a desperate hope for enlightenment to focus on while I’m meditating.

If you’ve never tried meditation before (or you have and you were too frustrated and gave up) I highly recommend you give it a shot.  As I said, there are numerous different ways that you can do it, and you may have to try out a few styles before you find the one that works for you.  And even that could change over time.  So be patient with yourself, and just take five minutes out of your day (or perhaps even one minute) to start.  Notice how that feels, and slowly start to add a minute or two each day.  You may even find that the benefits reaped from your meditation will flow into other aspects of your life.  At the very least, it will give you a chance to stop and enjoy the moment.

I’ll leave you with a quote from the Dalai Lama.  When asked what surprised him most about humanity, he replied, “Man.  Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.  Then he sacrifices his money to recuperate his health.  And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future.  He lives as if he is never going to die, and then he dies having never really lived.”

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