At some point in your yoga practice, you’ve probably been asked to set an intention or San Culpa. Setting an intention is a wonderful way to start your practice, your day, or any new beginning, but in doing so it’s always good to step back and ask why you’re doing it. What is intention? What does intention mean to me?
Everyone has a story about why they took their first yoga class and why they keep coming back. Most involve a desire to slow down, release tension, or recover from an injury. Mine is no different.
I took my first step onto the mat to learn how to let go of tension before it turned into an ulcer, as my lifestyle at that time was very fast-paced and stressful. Little did I know that in taking my first step on the mat, I would not only learn how to tune into my breath and strengthen my body, I would learn that I had the power to transform my life by gaining a clearer understanding of the mind-body connection.
A yoga teacher’s suggestion to invert has the power to illicit a range of emotions from students: bewilderment, fear, anxiety, aversion, rejection, excitement, butterflies — you fill in the blank.
Purposely turning ourselves upside-down is contrary to our physical nature, and yet the benefits of upending ourselves are many. Just as yoga gently encourages us to move away from any unconscious habitual patterns, the invitation to invert is simply another way to shake things up, step out of a rut.
Many of us long for a life of happiness and peace, but we don’t believe we can have it. The great paradox is that our lack of faith in love and miracles is what blocks us from receiving love and miracles.
If we want to live a miraculous life, we must raise the volume on the loving voice within us and turn down the volume on our fear.
This is the time of year when people are often either excited to celebrate the holidays or they are feeling a sense of dread about what might be coming during this sometimes stressful season. But the one thing that we all have in common is that we want to be happy.
As I was thinking about happiness, it came to me that a key to happiness involves circulation. By that I mean that true happiness comes from giving and receiving. The kind of sharing that involves the heart and the willingness to share without any expectations.
I was reminded this weekend, whilst walking through town, about the magic of staying open. Two strangers openly greeted me with big smiles, and I am ashamed to say I was consciously taken aback. But once I acknowledged it was me they were smiling at, I responded by grinning with appreciation at them (possibly scaring them, apols about that!).
See, after I moved here, I often found myself talking (or rather, trying to talk) to strangers in the street, or at bus stops, or as I queued to pay for groceries. Despite my best efforts, the funny looks I often received in return took their toll, as I assumed they were a negative reaction towards my behavior. This eventually led to me becoming more shy and reserved, and less likely to try to connect with those I met.
It’s raining. The tears are streaming from my glass panes and I cannot see clearly. I knew there was a forecast for difficult conditions, but I wasn’t expecting this downpour.
It’s not the unpredictable that I don’t like. Give me sun, snow, rain or wind, and I can stand tall and adjust my layers accordingly. Any element that surprises me is just another opportunity to show strength, perseverance and flexibility.
Valentine’s Day and American Heart Month may be over, but I’m still thinking a whole lot about hearts. Around the time others were opening up heart-shaped boxes and eating heart-shaped chocolates, my husband’s heart was being examined and analyzed by a team of heart specialists.
Contrary to the deluge of advertisements, magazine articles and greeting cards floating around right now, not everyone looks forward to Valentine’s Day. Lots of people can’t stand it. Hate it, even. (I know; I used to be one of them until I got engaged on Feb. 14th five years ago.) It can seem like just another excuse to spend money and an opportunity to wish your love life were somehow different.
If you detest this time of year or just aren’t looking forward to this particular V-Day, try these simple ways to shortcut through the schmaltz and societal pressure and go straight to what this high-pressure holiday is really all about. Not flowers, chocolates or over-priced dinner reservations, but love. May one or some or all of these activities help you transform Valentine’s Day into an opportunity to recharge your love batteries.
What does it take to manifest the love of your life?
I’ve heard from first-time brides (at 49 and older!), from busy entrepreneurs whose 80-hour-a-week work schedules left little time for romance, and from divorcees and widowers who were convinced that the opportunity for true love had long passed them by. Whether these soulmate success stories come from Russia, Ireland, Spain, South Korea, Nova Scotia, Poland, Iran, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Norway or the good ’ole U.S. of A., I can always spot the common theme woven throughout them: Those who have successfully manifested their soulmates did so by finding a healthy balance between intending and allowing; between doing and being.