All posts tagged: mindfulness

Beautiful and Sensual

I have been using essential oils in my practice and for self-care for many years.  It all started when I participated in some classes and workshops taught by Amy Galper and Schuyler Grant around yoga, acupressure, and aromatherapy about sixteen or so years ago. A couple weeks ago, I received an offer from Utama Spice.  They very generously sent me a complimentary nebulizing essential oil diffuser with a bottle of their own Cajeput essential oil in exchange for my honest review of their products on my blog.  How could I say no?  Also, I very much appreciated the genuinely personal communication I received from Utama.  I made it clear that I would only write a completely honest review and they were in agreement with the conditions I presented to them.  As soon as I opened the package from Utama, I knew I was in for a treat.  The Danau Satu diffuser came in the most tasteful packaging with a floral decoration.  As soon as I pulled it out of the box I was amazed at …

Attitude of Gratitude? Not so much.

While we all know that cultivating an attitude of gratitude is a part of living our most joyful life, how can we authentically do this when we are less than grateful?  Feeling ashamed or guilty about the “real” nature of our feelings, or pretending to be thankful for what we would have very much preferred to say “NO thank you” to in our lives gets in the way of happiness and creativity.  What if your heart is broken?  What if you are in terrible pain without relief in sight?  What if you have received terrifying news that has changed your life in an even more awful way?  Even with all the joyful self-help gurus and happy, shiny, advanced yogi specialists beaming at you from their glossy magazines promising peace and abundance for all your expressions of gratitude, and even as much as you wish to crawl into their tie-dyed yoga pants and bask in the bliss of all that they proclaim and stand for, the truth is that when your life is going to Hades in a …

No Time to Meditate

I know.  You don’t have time to meditate.  I don’t have time to meditate either.  No one has time to meditate and yet we all have all the time we are ever going to have.  We strive for peace, beauty and happiness, but our hours, days, weeks and then years seem to slip away and we are just as behind on our “to do” lists as we ever were.  While we are busy, it seems we are making things happen, being productive and that we are with purpose.  Resting and calming are considered luxuries that we simply can’t afford. Our failure to rest makes us prone to panic, anxiety and depression.  Our unhappiness creates mental chaos and we find that even small decisions are hard to make with clarity.  Our sleep is elusive and of poor quality and we can’t remember our last dream.  Our health is “ok”, but we suffer headaches, digestive problems, chronic low back ache, exhaustion and most of the time we can function, but it always feels like just getting by. …

The Spirit of Imagination

I love working with visualizations.  Personally, I have recently been exploring the imagery of mermaids, unicorns, fairies and the bodhisatva Kuan Yin.  In playful ways, thinking about the energies of these magical and powerful beings and looking at the imagery that humanity has developed around these ideas.  I recently took an absolutely delicious yoga class with Brooke Smokelin here in Pittsburgh where she guided us through a considerable amount of stretching and opening in the feet and ankles.  She suggested in the class that we simply don’t play enough, aren’t curious enough about what we can do and what our bodies can experience.  I felt like this was in alignment with my recent play with visualization and magical beasts and beings and deities. Imagination is an important element of working with the power of mind to heal and inspire.  Yet, sometimes it can be so hard as adults to really let go and visualize the magic fully because we get all caught up in what is real vs. imaginary.  We fear that if we really let …

What Does Matrika Mean?

What does ‘Matrika’ Mean? What’s In a Name? There are many different styles of yoga and new traditions are being created each and every day. If you are new to yoga, all of the different names for yoga classes, different studios and teachers can seem confusing at worst and unclear at best. If you have practiced yoga for some time, you may only be familiar with one style or perhaps you have a teacher or studio that you loved in a different city and can’t seem to find what you are looking for. As we grow in our practice and as the circumstances of our lifestyle and our bodily realities shift and change, our yoga practice changes. Therefore, the best advice that I would give anyone is to be open to new styles and new teachers and trying new things—-you never know when you might find the perfect fit for where you are right now. If you take a yoga class that you don’t like or with a teacher you weren’t particularly fond of, try …

Stress Free Stress Reduction

At the Duke University Center for Integrative Medicine, an 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program costs $454.  At Yoga Matrika, Kirsi Jansa is offering a beautiful meditation-based stress reduction program called Healing Relaxation in the Tara Rokpa Style and the 6-week tuition is $150.  [ Flyer] While I recognize that even $150 is a singificant investment for most of us “normal” people and, even more challenging may be finding 2-hours free on a Saturday afternoon to make it happen, the reality is that this is an investment of $150 that can change your life.  This program is priced competitively in comparison with other programs of similar quality and is open to everyone—-absolutely no experience is required.  This is not a religious practice and we are very respectful of all religious and spiritual practices and orientations.  If anything, a program like this is likely to deepen your commitment to your current spiritual practice. How do yoga and meditation help reduce stress?  There are a lot of different answers to this question, but one of the most basic …

Meditation in Motion

Read more on the benefits of meditation. Read more on how regular meditation can impact your genetic expression. Read here on basic instructions for mindfulness meditation. Meditation in Motion: 4-class Series Mondays 6:00-7:30 pm, 3/14 through 4/4 Facilitated by: Sharon Rudyk Cost for 4-class series: $65 (Online Registration HERE) Research indicates that the benefits of mindful breathing, gentle physical movements and a variety of techniques including visualization and meditation are powerful tools for health and healing. From reversing heart disease to changing the expression of your genes, a regular meditation practice has a significant impact on your quality of life. In this small group series, we will specifically explore a variety of meditation techniques that can be used by anyone regardless of your previous experience with yoga or meditation. We will do some physical movements, but these types of movements are very natural and can be accomplished by any adult regardless of your physical shape or abilities (they can even be done while sitting in a chair!). Relieve stress, relax the body and learn quick …

Football, Swimsuits and the Yoga of Feminism

As I teach two prenatal yoga classes every week, I have the honor and joy of watching incredibly strong women embody the true spirit of Warrior poses.  I can actually see the energy rising up through the soles of their feet and into their core to support the amazing act of creation they carry within them.  There is a courage, a dignity and strength of force there that is palpable in the room.  It is, for me, an experience and one that brings me, each class, into a new appreciation for the beauty and strength that is woman. The energy of these movements is the embodiment of grace.  Grace representing the fact that each one of these women has opened their hearts to the potential for immense joy and immeasurable loss and grief.  No words are required.  Through movement and intention, the expression of strength and grace is clear and concise. Last weekend, I was able to catch the very end of the playoff game between the Steelers and the Ravens.  While I can’t say …

What is Restorative Yoga?

Restorative yoga is a practice that brings the energy of the body into balance, releases deeply held tension and calms the nervous system.  In this yoga practice, there are gentle movements, breathing exercises and physical poses that are held for five-minutes or longer with the support of blankets, pillows and other props.  These longer held poses allow the body to release into the pose with support so there is no physical strain or effort.  In this way, the practitioner receives the full benefit of the pose without creating any additional stress in the body or on the nervous system. This type of practice is counter-intuitive to adults who have come to think that more effort, more work, more sweat and more pain means more and better results.  One of the greatest challenges of restorative yoga is accepting the fact that doing less brings the most significant transformation in the body and mind.  This is not a gentle, wimpy or easy practice!  Restorative yoga is a gentle unfolding of the damage we do to our bodies …

The McRib is Back

Nestled in between some of the most idiotic political advertisements I have ever seen was a clean and simple advertising campaign from the Mc family of restaurants announcing the “great news” that the McRib was back.  Seriously?  Did anyone miss the McRib?  Obviously, someone did. For me, the idiotic campaigns of both politicians and this questionably edible treat are both a clear sign that it is time for everyone to do more yoga.  Doing yoga provides us with a clear connection to our deepest intelligence and relieves us of fear and anxiety about the future.  Over time, grounding ourselves in the present moment, with a deep connection to what is most true for ourselves and to our universal nature through breath and mindful movement prevents us from attachment to the forms of suffering that are implicated in these advertisements. These advertisements indicate to me that these politicians and corporations are appealing to an un-centered population, one that is filled with desires, angers and fears that they can not even name.  Or, perhaps, even more dangerous, …

Cabin Fever & Yoga in Pittsburgh

There was one very brave student at tonight’s class.  She was new to Yoga Matrika and was curious about what the class title, Mindful Yoga, really meant.  I prattled on about Vajra Yoga and not making a distinction between asana practice and meditation and how we create a moving meditation through our practice……….but during our practice together, I started to question the whole thing entirely.  You see, that’s the problem with having an answer to everything—-you miss opportunities for reaching a greater understanding.  In this case, I was incredibly inspired by the clarity of this student’s practice and she taught me a lot about mindfulness.  So, thank you dear student, and hope you come back soon! What I realised is that what I don’t know about mindfulness is a lot.  While there are so very many things that I hope that my Mindful Flow classes mean, the real mindfulness is in the interpretation.  I asked my student to choose an intention for her practice and to anchor that intention with awareness of the breath or …