Loving life with nature, beauty and yoga's wisdom.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bandhas and Mudras Magic Workshop at Ramapo College of New Jersey

Now that the holiday season has begun you may feel like it is time to catch up with tying together the loose ends of the year while not completely letting go of holiday cheer and moments of rest. Before December flies by and you're raising your glass to toast in the New Year consider making a little time this Friday evening Dec. 6 at Ramapo College of New Jersey for my Bandhas and Mudras Magic Workshop. Here we will learn and practice by way of using our bandhas and making mudras how yogis stay grounded, strong and extremely graceful during moments of difficulty, bliss and ease. 

Bandhas means locks in Sanskrit. More specifically it refers to the areas of our body we can contract to not let our energy spill out. Mudras means seals or hand gestures such as hands in prayer position or taking your thumb and pointer finger to touch. Making hand gestures while you practice yoga like working with the bandhas keeps your energy powerfully circulating within.

As we refine our yoga practice we employ the bandhas to magically lighten our step, take flight as we jump, take the weight out of hands and shoulders in downward facing dog and arm balances as well as to hold all poses. Using your bandhas also helps you to feel space in your lower back, power in your belly and length in your neck. Making mudras also has a special magic to them as each finger is associated with nature's elements, fire, air, ether, earth and water. When we join our fingers together with mudras our inner energy strengthens while we appear graceful as we connect to all that is around us.

This workshop is a physical yoga practice with moments of lectured teachings to deepen your understanding of the bandhas and mudras.

Friday   December 6th    6 pm   3 hours   @ www.ramapo.edu  Ramapo College in Mahwah, New Jersey

Room Q228, the Dance Studio in the Bradley Center

Exchange $35 for walk ins

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Who Says You Need Crystal to Enjoy Your Flowers?

Last spring my husband and I enjoyed a little antiquing in Hudson, New York. While sniffing out some treasures an elderly lady with tons of country chic style and zing to her words encouraged me to buy her aqua blue mason jars. She swore they were collectibles being that they are aqua colored and once I put my flowers in them I would have no need for my crystal vases.

I didn't buy them however about a month or so ago while washing out my pasta sauce jar for the recycling bin, I thought of my mason jar sales lady. I peeled and scraped off the label with hot soapy water and a spoon then stored it away. Having collected several I've put them to use along with other bottle shapes and created these pretty little flower Thanksgiving giveaways.

Flower arranging is a great way to connect to nature, yourself and the moment at hand. Some days it replaces my yoga practice as another version of a moving meditation. Who says practicing yoga and sitting on a meditation cushion is the only way to feel centered and connected?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Gray Skies and Burnt Orange Leaves

Sometimes figuring out what to wear is as easy as looking out into nature and seeing her color palette. This past Sunday it was gray skies and burnt orange leaves. This pose however, bound lotus/baddha padmasana isn't as easy to slip into.

About a decade ago I was a dedicated Ashtanga yoga student. I practiced six days a week with my teacher or alone. I never missed a 2 1/2 hour session and took off on moon days, meaning during a full and new moon as this is required if you are an ashtangi. Being a vigorous practice both physically and spiritually it helped me to burn some old and unwanted attachments out of me so I could make my way into a difficult pose like this. Over time I felt my ashtanga yoga practicing phase was over as I felt lighter, content and ready to initiate other changes in my life that wouldn't give me the time to practice like this.

My yoga practice evolved into a slow and strong Hatha based flow with long periods of grounding in meditative postures. This style was and still is well received by myself and students so I've stuck with this method of practicing and teaching.

Last June the days of carrying my snugly 2 1/2 year old on my hip added up to some sacral pain that then created a pinched nerve running down my right leg. This along with some emotional healing I've been working on with my second and root chakras made me focus much more on healing myself. Between several deep tissue massages and visiting a mechanical link specialist twice, who adjusted my bones and more, I also practiced plenty of deep seated hip openers and standing strengthening poses for months. Practicing this way reminded me of my Ashtanga practice because the primary series is lower body focused. GRATEFULLY, the result of my self work is I can sit in an Ashtanga difficult pose like this again and be pain free all day long.

Bound lotus pose/baddha padmasana, this pose does require a good amount of shoulder opening.

Yogic seal/yoga mudrasana, booties and earrings www.forever21.com

Yoga toe lock, nail polish www.mineralfusion.com pretty penny

Top and tights www.zara.com, poncho, bought in Ecuador, necklace and beads, NYC street vendor

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Divine Black Yoga Leggings

The days of wearing mostly black are back now that late Fall's cold and darkness has arrived. I've been wearing black leggings for decades and my requirements for the perfect yoga pair must crossover seamlessly into my everyday styling. Yoga pants with stripes, logos and funky hemlines don't work for me as I need to wear leggings that let me throw a top over it and shoes to match to carry me through my day's schedule that brings me out of the yoga world, then back into the studio and back out of it again to collect my kids and into the kitchen for dinner.

Gratefully I'm wearing www.carmenandersonny.etsy.com absolutely divine black yoga leggings. They are very black, the way I like them and don't fade after washing. They are silky soft, with the right amount of cling plus when you bend over they're not see through. This is an important yoga legging buying fact that often goes unnoticed by the consumer. Finally Carmen Anderson NY's lines are sleek and slimming as the waistband doesn't pinch and create unwanted rolls. You can wear these leggings all day and dress them up at night to pull together your divine dark half of the year look.

www.carmenandersonny.etsy.com is an all year lounge wear line. 9 tops and 4 bottoms. All designed to enhance your beauty. Made with natural knit jersey materials, primarily modal, some rayon and tencel. It is made 100% in NYC.

Urvdha ardha pada pachimottanasa, upward half lotus forward bend, cardigan sweater www.urbanoutfitters.com, earrings www.forever21.com, scarf, gifted from India, makeup www.onehundredpercentpure.com, nail polish www.mineralfusion.com

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Ayurveda Made Easy Fall/Winter Lifestyle Tips


Ayurveda, pronounced Ah-yur-vay-duh is a natural medicinal practice from Southern India. What makes Ayurveda different than most forms of Western medicine is that it treats our pain from the inside out. Meaning if you have a problem like a nagging cough, sinus headache or constipation, Ayurveda will address healing you as an individual person with unique traits instead of just treating the disease with medicine as band aids. You can expect an Ayurvedic practitioner to encourage you to upgrade your diet, sleep patterns, hygiene, exercise, social and work habits in order to heal. Being healthy is a lifestyle choice and practicing Ayurveda like yoga is a way of life.

Ayurveda is often referred to as yoga's sister science. It says that we like the birds, trees, rocks and everything in the universe are made up of different combinations of the elements, earth, water, fire and air. Ayurveda says there are 3 types of people and they're called doshas.

There's kapha, pronounced cough-ah dosha who is made up of a large dose of the earth element and some water. Late winter and early spring is kapha season. A kapha type is the friend you can call on that will always listen no matter what time of the night. They are a bit on the lazy side and could use a friend like you to encourage them to go for a walk around the lake on a regular basis as well as follow the rules at work and on the road for greater efficiency. Because the water element resides within their being they are likely to be congested more than most but the positive flip side to their embodiment of both earth and water elements is they have a grounded personality that can sing like no one else. Kapha's can benefit from moving a little quicker that is why a faster paced flow yoga class is good for them. Kapha dosha is associated with the energy of construction. Think of a baby green shoot of grass emerging from the earth.

Late spring and summer's type is pitta dosha. Pittas are made up of plenty of fire and a little water. A pitta person is always hot and carrying a bottle of water to quench their thirst. If they can, they will take a few showers a day because their skin is on the sweaty and oily side. Pittas enjoy ice cream on the coldest of winter days as well as get the job done fast. You want a pitta on your team as they can strategize like no other. However pittas need to practice finding the personal pause button in their perfectly planned out day. Doing so they can cultivate patience, emotional understanding of another's needs and not be the flame that burns out quickly. Meditation and a slow flow, not hot yoga practice is perfect for them. Pitta dosha is associated with the energy of growth and transformation. Think of a lush green leafed tree with branches that are expanding wide and high.

Finally there's vata dosha. It governs late fall and winter and is made up air. A vata person stands out in a crowd as their attention to personal style exhibits their overflowing creativity. You want a vata person on your design team. Be it interior styling to assisting you create your website. Vatas have ideas and plenty of them yet they have a tendency to start a new project before finishing the one they are currently working on. Scattered by nature they can use a little kapha grounding sit around and wait attitude as well as a bit of pitta's discipline. Although vata's love running around the track and biking long distances, they should stick to walking, practicing slow flow yoga and meditation. Since vatas shiver and shake in the market's freezer section during the hottest of summer days they could benefit from a little hot yoga during the coldest of winter days. Vata dosha is associated with the energy of movement. Think of a dry brown leaf floating in the air.

If you're wondering if you can be a combination of the 3 doshas, you can. Remember Ayurveda's  principle that we are each unique combinations of nature's elements. Also Ayurveda suggests that like increases like. Meaning if you are a kapha type or have a bit of kapha within, you embody plenty of earth and some water. Spring is your season and this is when you need to be extra careful in taking good care of yourself because the earth and water elements that are prevalent during spring will being doing their best to pull you down with them with feelings of laziness and congestion.

My suggestion in following my Fall/Winter Ayurveda Lifestyle Tips is if you are a vata or have some vata qualities you should work towards strictly following these tips for optimal health. If you're primarily a pitta or kapha type you will also benefit from following these lifestyle tips since we all live in a vata unbalancing society where everything is coming at us so quickly however your efforts can be more relaxed than a vata dosha.

Fall/Winter Ayurveda Lifestyle Tips:

Food- As dry chilly air and wind surrounds us, we head indoors and seek heat and grounding with comfort foods. Satisfy your cozy food cravings with healthy choices like oatmeal sprinkled with cinnamon in the morning, butternut squash, bean, vegetable or potato soups for lunch. Bean chili with a slice of hearty whole grain warm bread is cold weather satisfying as well as roasted potatoes, root vegetables and brussel sprouts drizzled with olive oil. Add some warming spicy curry to your food. Create your own or buy pre made versions. To satisfy your sweet tooth bake apples and pears sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg. Also having occasional sweet drinks like hot cocoa and hot apple cider will warm you up and lessen your enthusiasm for high calorie cakes and cookies.

Fats and oils- There was a time not too long ago in our Western nutritional history where consuming fats were considered a no no. This is so not true and fortunately shifting in the eyes and words of today's dietary gurus. Fats such as ghee (clarified butter), sesame oil, coconut oil, *flax seed oil and olive oil are wonderful to consume to lubricate your inner body and encourage toxins to move out of your body. When it is cold and dry outside constipation is a common digestive ailment. Drinking water always helps but oil is thicker than water and will move things out nicely as well as stabilize your mood.

 *Don't heat flax seed oil. Simply drizzle it on your vegetables, rice, pasta and quinoa.

Skin- Fall/Winter skin is dry, flakes, cracks and sometimes bleeds. Consuming good fats and oils helps in easing Fall/Winter skin ailments yet oiling up on the outside is absolutely necessary to do. Applying oils after bathing such as sesame, almond, grape seed and jojoba to your skin will nourish and balance it in addition to penetrate deep into your tissues. This will help keep your emotional, physical and mental energy balanced. Stay away from lotions as they are primarily made of water and alcohol, which are very drying.

Smell- The minute we smell something we come into the moment because our nose links up to our breath and we know that noticing our breath immediately connects our mind to our body. For this reason what we smell is important. So why not have a sweet smelling candle or incense burning as twilight sets in or how about a bottle of essential oil in your bag to apply to your wrists, back of your neck and third eye whenever you need a pick me up? Fall/Winter favorite scents are lavender, patchouli, wintergreen, spruce, cinnamon and orange. Adding a few drops of your favorite essential oil scent to your body oil makes it so much more blissful to apply.

Schedule- As we move towards ending the year and starting anew, an anxious frenzy of too much to do in preparation to celebrate the holidays ahead and wrap up the loose ends of the year can come over us making us not productive yet still being very busy. Having a schedule and adhering to it will remedy your ability to see your friends, get your work done, eat right, exercise and sleep at night.

When it comes to eating, your digestive body wants to eat three times a day. If you graze and have a little bit here and there throughout the day, you may end up eating more than you need plus have a digestive system that is overworked making you bloated, gassy and constipated. Schedule to eat three times a day and keep your snacks light. Try fruit and a handful of nuts or a little hummus on a few crackers.

Your body and mind need to sleep. Schedule it and be like Mother Nature this Fall/Winter season and rest. It is the dark half of the year so the lighting is on your side however at times the brisk whistling wind can keep you awake and moving. When the vata season kicks you off balance the air element within you needs to ground, become quiet and fall asleep. To heal a fast mind and insomnia try practicing seated forward bends and restorative yoga postures before bed. Legs up the wall is great.

Exercise- Since vatas are made up of air they love to fly. Aerial yoga, dancing, running and biking long distances is their style. Their love of movement is admirable yet vatas and those of you made up of a little vata need to slow it down especially during Fall/Winter when the cold, dry and windy air in the atmosphere is making you more scattered than ever. Walking, weight lifting, slow flow and restorative yoga, ballet, barre classes, Pilate's and meditation are all perfect for finding your Fall/Winter workout balance. Kaphas keep it going to a faster beat than you want for results and on the coldest of winter days everyone can try a hot yoga class. Pittas, don't get carried away and go everyday!