Sounds hard but you know you want to try it. Maybe you feel you NEED to try it. Sugar is considered by some to be one of the worst health concerns of our time. It is blamed for causing fatty liver, insulin resistance, cancer, obesity, high cholesterol, candida, and on and on, not to mention that it's highly addictive.
If you are one of the many addicted to sugar then lets try this seven day sugar fast and see how you feel. Keep in mind, with any addiction, when we stop having it our body needs time to adjust. Keep up the sugar fast even if you feel sluggish, irritable, and wanting a quick fix in a hungry moment. Plan ahead and be prepared with healthy, sugar-free snacks and meals. Try to avoid tempting situations.
Share your experience in the comments below
Most likely been instructed by your yoga teacher to set an intention at the beginning of your class. Do you use that opportunity to the fullest? Do you even know what to "intend"? As important as intention-setting is for our practice, it is often is overlooked as the powerful tool for change that it can be for your practice and daily life. Here's a way to take advantage of mindful intention-setting for a richer experience and deeper level of awareness through yoga.
Setting an intention at the beginning of the practice is mindfully holding awareness of an aspect of your personality or trait that you would like to develop more fully which you believe will draw you closer to your truest nature; essentially benefiting the world by being more closely aligned with your true purpose.
Before we begin the physical practice, we know and trust that we are going to link all aspects of our being, mind, body, and spirit. We trust that as we go through our practice we will notice times that our intention can be called to mind to amplify this aspect of our self that we have chosen to highlight, and we trust that as we work through our practice doing positive things for our body. This goodness will seep into, and infuse, every aspect of our self with wellbeing. And we can use that positive vibration to stoke the fire of our heart's intention off the mat. The goodness of our practice on the mat spills into all aspects of our life off the mat, helping us to be more aware and purposeful in our daily life.
Think about this. What special gifts have you been given that you take for granted or put away on the back shelf of your heart? What is going on in your life that has caused you to close down certain aspects of the true you which you are not allowing to fully express? What do you need to heal to be a more compassionate person who recognizes the true interconnectedness of all of us? These are the deeper things that you want to reach for. What in you do you want to become more pronounced that will help the world be a better place by being your truly intended You!
The amazing thing about yoga is that what you experience on the mat typically becomes a metaphor for the "real world" after practice. You've heard it said but have you discovered the synchronicity that occurs? Like when your instructor teaches a theme in class and mentions the energetic effects of the poses. For example, she announces a back-bending, heart-opening theme and within days your are confronted with a situation where you will need to respond in a more compassionate way in order to change a relationship that has been difficult? So, too, with your private intentions. You'll see the synchronicities with that as well.
When you hold an intention, of your design, in your heart, refer to it in your practice -especially for several weeks of classes- you will see situations that will allow for growth in you regarding the quality that you intended to come forth. Holding onto your intention into your day-to-day activities creates an energetic shift that will create positive change for you.
Practicing yoga is an opportunity to create significant change; physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. You are in your practice an hour or so each time, why not use intentions to get even deeper benefits that incorporates all that this beautiful practice has to offer.
Sometimes the hardest thing about establishing a regular seated meditation practice is the simple act of getting started. Carving out 5, 10, or maybe 20 minutes to sit in stillness meets with many objections in the mind. "I'll do it later" or "I don't really have the time right now" are common thoughts that prevent us from establishing a routine. Often its the settling in in the first few minutes that feels like the obstacle. The first few days are great, you did it, and then...you don't really notice anything different. The same old life is there. The same emotions come up. No life-change is perceived. The "gifts" that people talk about aren't evident. Motivation wanes.
We come to our meditation with so much on our mind. The busyness of the day we have scheduled, hoping the kids don't wake up any moment, or feeling really drained or depleted. Sitting down and doing 'nothing' doesn't mean we can turn off the outside world. It's not a wasted practice if our mind has raced throughout the moments that we intended to calm us and did nothing but spend seemingly useless time stewing about the day ahead until the timer went off. Sitting and devoting your time to yourself and your internal world is never unproductive.
Often we need to sit through a few sessions of "discharging junk" before we can get into a really deep place in our mediation. Honor those sessions. There may be many. The sweeping out is actually really productive. Don't label each session. Don't judge each session. Just sit. The benefits will come in time. Some you may not notice until someone mentions to you that you seem more calm lately. Some are more apparent to you but others won't notice, like feeling more connected to others. Your internal life begins to reveal itself and it feel really, really good.
The fruits of mediation are slow to reveal, but they will come. They will magnify. And the day will come that you cannot go a day without going within. You'll feel like you are missing something if you don't keep your date with yourself. Keep with it.
Try my free five minute guided meditation starter to get you in the proper space for your meditation session. This will help you get relaxed, settled, and ready to reap the many benefits of your practice.
Click HERE to go to the free download section and start your mediation practice today.
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Coach VanSyoc was an intense, caring, basketball coach with a booming voice. Many years ago I played offensive point on his 9th grade basketball team. (Remember when 6 on 6 girls' basketball was a thing?) Admittedly I wasn't a great player. I tended to get overwhelmed with tough defense and let emotional distress hinder my game.
One game in particular that I wanted to do well. My brother was home from college and came to watch me play. It was intense with the largest crowd I'd ever encountered, and it felt as if they were right there next to me screaming, clapping and chanting for the other team. I was intimidated and doing poorly. Probably the worst I'd ever played. After many, many missed shots and turnovers I heard my coach yell directly at me, above the noisy crowd, "Just RE-LAX ALREADY!!!" Now how on earth was I going to do THAT?! The energy of the gym, the stimulus of the crowd and my nerves and emotions overwhelmed me.
I was derailed because my energy was flying all over. The stimulation and pressure caused a major shift in my energy vibration. My friend, on the other hand, held her energy in and didn't take on any extra energy of any situation if it didn't serve her. She played on the A Team. No wonder! She had a natural ability that many of us don't. She knew how to keep her energy within and not get derailed.
That's a huge skill! That is the secret power in maintaining your composure in chaos. Keep your energy and don't take in more than what serves you. As easy as that sounds it is actually quite difficult for most of us. Do you get derailed easily or in situations where you know, if only you could keep your composure you'd perform much better?
If you're like me we have to train ourselves to maintain equanimity in these tense situations. Fortunately it can be done but it takes practice.
Here are a four ways to keep your energy and not lose your composure in emotionally tough situations.
1. Know your triggers. Keep a journal of these difficult events to get an idea of the tough situations that often cause you to lose your grip and deplete your energy sources. Is it confrontations? Public speaking? Short deadline multi-tasking? The most important part of making a change is defining what the actual problem is without muddying up the waters. Know the trigger situations specifically.
2. Practice the breathing technique that will help you maintain a state of calm. When you learn this breath technique, and practice regularly during calmer times of the day, it will become your most useful tool to create instant cool and grounding when the heat turns up. The secret to calming the body? LENGTHEN the EXHALE compared to the inhale. It's that simple. . When you're tense your breath becomes shorter and choppier. The inhale and exhale feel like short bursts of air in and out. This is stress breathing. You can reverse the stress breathing and it's tense response in the body. When you lengthen the exhale, you activate the parasympathetic nervous system which is the calming side of the nervous system.
3. Practice Mindfulness. Train yourself to focus all of your attention and awareness on the present moment. As you become aware of sensations, thoughts and feelings, you simply acknowledge them and them let them go without becoming attached to the awareness of that sensation, thought, or feeling. Practice mindfulness for five minutes each day, gradually working up to longer periods of sitting in stillness. Stay present in the moment and simply observe the workings and movements of the mind, riding out anything that comes to your awareness. Training yourself to stay in the present moment is helpful during times of chaos. First, you know this sensation will pass. Second, when you become aware of your trigger causing you to become anxious you can employ your calm breathing technique. These tools work together to help you keep your composure and feel more confident in the situation.
4. Practice Yoga Nidra to enhance relaxation, intensify your intentions, and heal deep pain that can lead to triggers. This guided meditation practice is more than just training your body and mind to relax, which is a useful on it's own, but it can also be a profound tool for manifesting your deepest desires for maintaining composure. During the practice of Yoga Nidra, you are asked to create a "sankalpa" or intention that you keep in your mind during your deeply relaxing guided meditation. When you are in the deepest level of mental and physical relaxation you are in a highly suggestable, self-hypnotic state which allows you to eliminate blocks that keep you from reaching your goals. Your 'sankalpa" can be directly related to your triggers. For example, if your trigger is public speaking, your sankalpa could be "I am able to courageously express my knowledge to large groups of people." Or, my desire to express my wisdom and understanding outweighs any concerns about my ability to speak to others." "I am becoming a more dynamic speaker; more and more able to express myself in front of others."
As you can see, these skills require some practice but the payoff is worth the minimal time to learn these effective techniques. The life-enhancing added benefits of short meditation, mindfulness, and breathing every day include improved brain function, increased immunity, increased levels of happiness and feelings of connection with others.
We all have those days or even stretches of being burned out, feeling as if our life is on autopilot and we're trying to hang on in order to make it through the day. There are a few small steps to help us shift that feeling of being behind rather than proactive about living our life more fully and with intention and help us feel more deeply connected to others, our world and ourselves. Add these easy strategies to your day and raise your vibration, energy, focus, and happiness level.
Every morning, first thing, write down ten things for which you are grateful. Think of things that fill your heart with happiness such as your family, the rockstar parking spot you found, your comfy shoes, anything that truly makes you thankful to have, big or small.
Every evening before bed, write down five intentions or goals for the next day. These should be attainable and beneficial such as arriving to work 10 minutes earlier to feel ahead of the game and prepared once the work day starts, or drink 8 glasses of water. You get the idea. Have it in writing and refer to it often. Just meeting these goals each day is a huge factor in boosting confidence.
Get out in Nature:
Walk barefoot in the lawn, sit near a fountain, take a walk in the park. Notice the sounds of nature, the smells, the feeling of the breeze. Use as many senses as you can. This activity instantly connects the body and spirit and feeds the soul.
Meditate/Pray/Sit in Silence:
At least once daily spend time alone to do NOTHING except be with yourself and spirit in an intentional way. It's easy to carve even a few minutes of your day to watch the breath, listen to your higher power, be still. Its so refreshing and satisfying. This is a definite vibration lifter!
Try these small, easy steps a meaningful try for seven days and let me know how these change your week.
Prana: 1. air 2. aliveness Yama: to restrain Ayama: to lengthen
Pranayama: 1. to restrain or increase the flow of air, 2. to restrain or increase the flow of aliveness
(from "Pranayama: a Path to Healing and Freedom" by Allison Gemmel Laframboise with Yoganand Michael Carroll)
Many yogis believe that the most important part of a yoga practice is proper breathing. I have to agree. Intentional breathing practice - pranayama- is one of the most effective ways to move prana (life force energy) through the body. After years of trying to perfect a forearm balance or go deeper into a challenging backbend, the one thing that I always come back to as a source of well-being, inspiration and learning, is my breathing. It has become the most satisfying part of my practice...some days it's my only yoga practice!
To those of you who love their yoga workout with lots of hard poses and a puddle of sweat on your mat this may feel like "non-yoga" to take it easy and just breath. Maybe even a waste of time. But the importance of breath awareness in yoga class can't be overstated and practicing correctly with intention is a must for anyone who wants better health and well-being overall.
The following practice is called Dirgha Pranayama or the Full Yogic Breath. It can be practiced safely anytime and is relaxing, calms the mind and body and allow the mind and body to connect energetically. This is the basic yoga breathing technique that you will want to become comfortable with before moving on to other pranayama forms. Practice Dirgha Breathing daily and notice the difference!
Start your breathing practice sitting comfortably in a chair or lying down on the floor on your back. Breath deeply without forcing the breath, and feel the belly expand and contract with the inhale and exhale. Practice that several times and then continue breathing into the belly and into the side ribs, letting them expand fully. Practice that for several rounds before you move to Full Yoga Breathing.
For the Full Yogic Breath, (Dirgha Breath) continue to fill the belly, side ribs and also the chest as fully as you can without force, but a full, continuous, inhale. Smooth, complete exhale. Make sure you mindfully isolate all three parts; belly, ribs, chest, and allow each area to expand as you inhale in one continuous flow of breath. Hold the breath for a few seconds and then slowly release the breath. Try to exhale slowly and evenly. without rushing to expel the breath. Push every bit of breath out at the end of the exhale. Repeat about 10 times. Spend a few moments observing the body.
Yoga and meditation teacher since 2003, I love discovering and sharing information about natural health and the mind-body-spirit connection through yoga and mindfulness. Join me and be changed for good!