The Yamas and Niyamas are the 10 ethical guidelines behind the practice of yoga. They encompass non-violence, truth, non-stealing, non-excess, non-possessiveness, purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study, and surrender.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about Asteya, the yama of non-stealing. In day-to-day life, we think of this as not stealing material possessions from stores or other people, however, there are many ways to steal and they don’t all encompass material goods.
As the seasons shift, our bodies cycle through an organic ebb and flow of change that serves to harmonize and create balance within us. These changes are usually influenced by the seasons themselves: hours of daylight, foods that are abundant at particular times of the year, weather patterns and seasonally inspired activities.
Although your body will adjust to these changes naturally, it never hurts to integrate some simple tweaks into your routine to aid in the transition and link yourself more intimately with the season that is upon you.
The other night, as I was driving home from teaching one of my weekly yoga classes, “Instant Karma” by the Beatles started to play on the radio. I’ve never really paid attention to the lyrics, as I’ve always enjoyed listening to the melody, but that night I was drawn to the chorus.
“Well, we all shine on, Like the moon and the stars and the sun, Yeah, we all shine on…
On and on and on, on and on…”
It got me thinking that we all need to shine. We all have unique traits and talents that set us apart from the rest of the world, yet most of us are too afraid to embrace these qualities because we are unaware of our own brilliance.
The season of new beginnings is upon us. With the arrival of spring, we shift from the hibernation of the winter months to an awakening of rebirth. Spring invites us to open back up, delight in warmer days and cultivate a spirit of aliveness.
As sunlight paves longer days, warm, damp spells have the potential to leave congestion and upper respiratory conditions in their wake. Spring is the time for releasing deep-seated emotions of sorrow and sadness. Support your body through this transition with the following recipe for balance as we embrace this upcoming season.
Fall is the season of transformation. We can see this all around us in nature: the leaves are falling, the air is changing and we are harvesting an entirely new crop of fruits and vegetables.
It is important that we change with the seasons — just as nature does — by adapting our daily habits, yoga practice and food choices.
Ironically, it is only through change that was can stay grounded during this shifting season.
Yoga saved my life.
Pretty grand statement, I know. And perhaps other people say that, too. I guess depending on where you are in life or what you happen to be going through, there are a lot of things that can save your life. A good book could do it, a sign from the universe or maybe even a strong martini. But when I say that yoga saved my life, I mean it truly came into my life during one of the darkest moments I had ever experienced and gave me back my desire to really live — fully and entirely.
A few years back, I found myself completely paralyzed with anxiety. I couldn’t go to work, drive my car or even leave my house without a potential panic attack. This anxiety made me angry. It made me resentful. But most of all, it made me an entirely different person. I became a shell of what I used to be. A lot of people thought I’d stay that way. Full disclosure: I thought I’d stay that way too.
I find color fascinating. The light frequencies we experience as color define our world in wondrous ways. Visualize an azure ocean, a verdant forest or a crimson sunset — these are all examples of color environments, which positively influence our emotions and restore our health.
As an interior designer, I know the power color has in defining a space and ‘creating a mood.’ We have all experienced that instant chill when entering
a ‘cold room,’ which has nothing to do with its temperature. Conversely, we automatically feel more relaxed and engaged in a warm-hued environment.
Think of a dining room painted a luscious burnt umber (dark red orange), such as Pantone’s color of 2012: Tangerine Tango.
I’m also mesmerized by the blue winter hues that abound right now and their accompanying reflections in snow — so dreamlike and otherworldly. This is the time of year we ‘go inside,’ both physically and figuratively. It is a wonderful time to do what the earth does: retreat deep within and cultivate inner renewal (hence, the perfect time for resolutions).
Unfortunately, it is also during these short days when many of us experience the ‘winter blues.’ Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is now recognized as a common
disorder, affecting some people severely. But there are ways, other than jetting off to a tropical island (which I also recommend), to make these cold days
Ever felt yourself going through the motions of a yoga pose without focus or purpose? I think most yogis who’ve been practicing for a while have this experience, at least sometimes.
Several years ago, I found myself rushing through the Sun Salutation, praying for the series to end so I could move on to asanas I enjoyed more. I hated the way the pose strained my wrist and left me breathless, and it seemed to take forever to get through five or six of them. But since appreciating whatever you’re doing is a key spiritual teaching, I knew I had to do something to change my perspective.
Sun Salutations are a perfect ritual with which to greet the day, using the rhythm of your heart and the song of your breath to conduct the body into being awake. The beauty of the salutations is that they require the entire physical body to be utilized. From the neutrality of mountain pose, to the inward turning of the deep standing forward bends, to the enlivening openness of the back bending, upward facing dog and the grounding, invigorating downward facing dog, the salutations draw our minds into the temple of the body.
They are FINALLY over! Don’t worry if you consumed too many calories this season. Holiday weight gain doesn’t stand a chance against my turbo-boosted Sun Salutations.
Adding core-toning work in the transitions between poses in the classic Sun Salutation series amps up the benefits of all the poses. I call these Core Salutations. When you follow this sequence, you’re doing twice the yoga in the same amount of time. It’s a calm centering practice that will burn off those sugar cookies and eggnog, fast.