Monday, December 31, 2007

You Can Heal Your Life - It's No Secret!


The extended version has two CD's. The first CD is a sequence of clips from various leaders in "higher consciousness", such as Dr. Wayne Dyer and Dr. Christiane Northrup. Visuals and music is used to bring more meaning behind the words and really touch your heart. For example, when Dr. Northrup is talking about the chemical changes in your body when you experience an event that triggers love and softness, there is a woman with a cuddly bunny at her cheek. As she strokes the rabbit, both of their eyes are closed. Just watching this enables the viewer to experience what Dr. Northrup is talking about.
The second CD contains the full interviews with ten or so of these leaders. I found the editing and direction of the CD to be top notch. I have already watched it three times.
Even though the message is similar (but not the exact same) to The Secret, I much prefer Louise Hay's movie. It lacks the "hype" that The Secret has, and that makes it all the better!


Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.totalhealthyogaclasses.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Enjoy Nature



Photo taken today in my backyard.

Note: Those "blobs" above the trees are not from a dirty camera lens--those are snowflakes!

Happy New Year,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.totalhealthyogaclasses.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Start Living Now!

For the last 7 years (since my divorce) I've had a questing feeling that is always present in some form. With the New Year just around the corner, I am touched my Colin Hay's song, Waiting for My Real Life to Begin.

WAITING FOR MY REAL LIFE TO BEGIN
Written by: Colin Hay / Thom Mooney

Any minute now, my ship is coming in
I'll keep checking the horizon
I'll stand on the bow, feel the waves come crashing
Come crashing down down down, on me

And you say, be still my love
Open up your heart
Let the light shine in
But don't you understand
I already have a plan
I'm waiting for my real life to begin

When I awoke today, suddenly nothing happened
But in my dreams, I slew the dragon
And down this beaten path, and up this cobbled lane
I'm walking in my old footsteps, once again

And you say, just be here now
Forget about the past, your mask is wearing thin
Let me throw one more dice
I know that I can win
I'm waiting for my real life to begin

Any minute now, my ship is coming in
I’ll keep checking the horizon
And I'll check my machine, there's sure to be that call
It's gonna happen soon, soon, soon
It's just that times are lean

And you say, be still my love
Open up your heart, let the light shine in
Don't you understand I already have a plan
I'm waiting for my real life to begin


It's time. My real life begins now. If you, like me, have been waiting. Let's make 2008 the start of a new and fabulous life!

Love Much,

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com
www.TotalHealthYogaClasses.Blogspot.com

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Holiday Poem

Time to turn off our computers and TV's.
Time to put down our work and our worries.
Time to quiet our angers and put aside our differences.
Time to be with another,
To join hands and hearts,
To break bread together and unite our voices in song.
Time to be with family and loved ones,
To say 'thank you' and remember the good times,
To love unconditionally and forgive the past.
Happy Holidays, Everyone.

Love,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.totalhealthyogaclasses.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Attachment and Love

The other day I posted something about our personal environment, such as in the home or workplace. In the post I confessed an attachment for our new kitchen.



Having practiced Buddhism a few years back, I'm well aware of the idea of attachment being a negative quality and the cause of much suffering. I mentioned this in Yoga class earlier this week and a wonderful student, MH, dropped my a note regarding attachment and enjoying life.



"I think you should enjoy and savor your new kitchen in a big way! Those things are fun and part of living this life with joy. I understand Buddhist attachment, but I have my own definition of attachment and it doesn't exclude emotion, or a few things I want to remain 'attached' to for awhile even if those things are not in my best interest."



I loved what she had to say! Sometimes I confuse really loving or enjoying someone or something as being "too" attached. As a mom, that's where I choose to remain attached. Maybe the real negative of attachment is when you believe that your true happiness only comes from these people or things. I know isn't true. So, yes, I will enjoy every moment in my new kitchen; thanks to this lovely lady for reminding me that there are many levels of attachment.

To further bring home the difference between attachment and loving your surroundings -- here's a comment that Laura left on the original post:

"Kris, I LOVE your new kitchen and I personally think it is wonderful that you love it too. Kiss that floor, baby! Detachment doesn't mean not loving and fully enjoying and embracing life and all that it has to offer (including the creature comforts of material things), it just means not to let them BE your happiness. Just let them feed it. Good for you!"


Thanks for ladies for the new viewpoint!
Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.totalhealthyogaclasses.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Viewpoints

My friend, MP, and I had lunch earlier this week. Our relationship started almost 7 years ago when MP joined a Yoga class that I was teaching. Then she added restorative, meditation, and private lessons with me.


Now we mostly see each other socially every few months (her work schedule is crazy).


Over lunch, MP shared with me, "There are several things you said back when I was taking Yoga that have really stuck with me. One of them is when you said to question whether-or-not something will really matter 20 years from now."

I remembered this was something I used to say to the kids frequently when they began bickering as younger children. I'd ask, "Will this matter next week? Will it matter when you're an adult?" As they got older, the question became, "Will it matter 20 years from now? Will it matter on your death bed?"

If the answer is "no" (and it usually is), then stop worrying about it. As Richard Carlson said "Don't sweat the small stuff."

The other day, MP missed a couple of meetings due to a mix up. Instead of getting anxious and uptight, she exhaled and asked, "Will this matter 20 years from now?" The answer was "no." She told me that this little exercise of putting things into perspective is all it took for her to remain calm and cool.


Thanks, MP, for the reminder. Funny how a slight change of view can change everything.



Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.totalhealthyogaclasses.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Home Environment






(The first three pictures above are the "old" kitchen, and the last three are the "new".)


Is it wrong to love your kitchen and want to kiss it? If so, then I'm guilty as charged!


For over 10 years, I've wanted a different kitchen floor. This Fall, we finally did it. The whole project became a bit of an ordeal. To get the new floor we had to install a new dishwasher and sliding glass door. It seems that our old dishwasher had metal brackets all the way to the floor and it starting a slow leak just before the new floor plan. (Much nicer than just after the wood laminate was put in!)


The previous sliding glass door was commercial grade and actually slid on top of the vinyl. Not really a great idea, especially for wood.


Originally the kitchen's colors were black and white. This is something my previous husband really liked. Not so much my taste, but in any marriage you make compromises. So to add some color, we painted the walls red (yes, red!), got a new kitchen light (my partner, Mike, thought the old fixture looked like a space ship), and purchased my first wooden kitchen table!


All said, the project cost about $6,000 and took almost six months.


Now when I enter the kitchen (even though I'd still like to change the black and white cabinets and counter tops), I feel a sense of comfort. And, yes, I have lied down and kissed the floor.


I realize attachment is not a positive, and in Buddhism it's touted as the reason for all suffering. In Yoga, we practice letting go every class during savasana/corpse.


However, I simply LOVE our new kitchen!


This reminds me of something a wise friend once asked. At the time, I was working as an engineer from home and feeling unsatisfied with it. However, the money was great, and it allowed me to stay home with my boys. Sarah, my friend, asked, "What does your work space look like?"


I stared blankly at her.


"Do you light candles? Incense? Is there artwork that you love?"


"Well, no." I still wasn't sure what this had to do with my job.


"Then go home and set up a new space. Get some pictures that you like and set a ritual that is meaningful to you. Do this each time you begin your work day."


Honestly, I had no idea what an impact this would have on me. I went to IKEA and purchased two very colorful pieces of art. I put up some fun trinkets people had given me -- a bobble head turtle, gumby, and a dancing elephant statue. Every morning I lit a candle, even though it was day time and enjoyed some incense. And you know what? I felt better.


My mind was calmer and more focused. My muscles relaxed a bit as I worked.


The point is, our environment really matters! Fill your home with things you love, maybe even kiss a newly painted wall or hug your comfy couch!


Who knows, maybe falling in love with a kitchen isn't so crazy after all.


Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.totalhealthyogaclasses.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Yoga Sticky Mats

Thanks to Jade Harmony Yoga Mats for forwarding this list of recycling suggestions for your old Yoga mat. The list originated from Jolene Bennis Dimitroff of Yoga Tree in San Francisco.


1. Donate to homeless shelters as sleeping pads.
2. Use as a seat liner for the back seat in the car while taking your dog to the vet or groomer.
3. Place under an area rug for no-slip gripping.
4. Drop off your old mat at an animal rescue group. Most of these places need soft, durable mats,rugs, towels, & blankets to line crates.
5. Use an old mat in the garage or shop to keep from slipping on the workbench while using power tools on them.
6. Line kitchen shelves to prevent glasses from slipping and scratching.
7. Cut the mat into squares and use them as "bases" while playing baseball with the kids.Easy to carry and easy to clean!
8. Use to kneel on in the garden to protect your knees!
9. Use as kitchen drawer liners.
10. Cut it up to make a mouse pad.
11. Use it on the beach instead of a towel.
12. Use as grip pads to open jars.
13. Cut to size and use as foot pads for the bottom of furniture that is on a wood or ceramic floor. Glue on pieces with a non-toxic adhesive.
14. Place it under your sleeping bag as a sleeping pad while camping.
15. Make covers for sharp corners like in a parking garage or school.
16. No more messy packing peanuts! Old yoga mats get a new life as a protector of valuables while moving or shipping.
17. Make children's toys: cut holes and create masks, hats, costumes and props; cut into shapes and letters for tub and pool toys.
18. Cut and put down in front of the kitty litter box to stop the litter.
19. Plug up drafty places, windows,doors, & under window air conditioners, and save energy!
20. Great for those hard bleachers when watching sporting events.
21. Makes a great liner under houseplants, you can even cut it to fit each plant!
22. Donate to nursing homes so that residents do not slip while getting in and out of bed.
23. Place between your surfboard & car to protect both from abrasion.
24. Lay it over the dashboard and steering wheel to keep the sun out!
25. Keep in the car for those spur of the moment picnics, keeping groceries from sliding around in the trunk, or for a myriad of other uses limited only to your imagination!

Love Much,

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com
www.TotalHealthYogaClasses.Blogspot.com

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Emotional Blocks






After writing the post on Spirituality and Money, I realized that in my head I have resolved any conflict between the two. However, in my heart there was still a block. Somewhere deep inside, I still linked money to greed.

In order to help remove this idea and feel in my heart what I believe in my head (that money simple makes you more of who you already are--be it greedy or generous), I created the poster above. (Apologies for any difficulty in seeing it.)

In the center of the poster is "$$$$$$ Money $$$$$$$". Arrows point from money to all the things that money represent to me. For example, there are places that I support financially with donations, there is education, travel, a serene house, medical care, great food, and more.

The idea is to remember that money is by itself worthless. It's what money can buy or do for you that's important. Everything that I do -- purchasing organic food, driving to a friends house, or taking a Yoga workshop -- all cost money. This poster is a reminder that desiring money isn't a greedy thing. It is a means to make so many wonderful things in my life possible.

I placed this poster beneath my alter where I practice Yoga last week. I don't consciously think about it. Rather I allow my vision and the energy behind the meaning of the artwork to fill me as I practice.

I've done this type of thing in the past to remove stubborn blocks. Through Yoga and the awareness it brings, I am able to discover my blocks and then work with them.

If you find a block that just doesn't want to go away, you might wish to try this idea. Create a poster or some type of art--something creative--and place it in a spot that is sacred or important to you. Meditate here. Pray here. After a month, see how you feel, and don't be surprised if your view has shifted.




Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.totalhealthyogaclasses.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Open Heart


Over the weekend, Mike (my partner) and I went to see Lars and the Real Girl. It's listed as a comedy, and it is. Yet, I cried buckets at this bittersweet tale.

I won't give anything away regarding the movie, but going in you already know (or will find out within the first 5 minutes) that the story is about this fellow Lars who orders a human sized doll to be his girlfriend. He's not trying to be funny. She is very real to him. That's all I'll say about the movie's plot, other than that it's definitely worth seeing.

As most original movies do, this story triggered some interesting conversation on the drive home. Mike wondered aloud, "How many folks are like Lars? How many people are that socially withdrawn?"

"I imagine there's a lot more than we might think." I responded. "Not necessarily to the degree that Lars is. I mean everyone doesn't run around ordering dolls to be their friend and think they're real. But on some level I think most of us can relate to Lars in some way."

As we talked further, I was reminded of Yoga Teacher Training with Todd Norian a couple of years ago. There were almost 40 strangers in that space. We came together for three 9 day periods to learn, experience, and share. We ate together, studied together, practiced together, chanted together, and even shared rooms. With Todd's loving guidance and the 9 days of being on top of a mountain with nowhere else to go--and minimal cell phone accessibility--we grew very close. Masks came off and hearts were opened. On the final day, there was not a dry eye in the place. I felt connected and in love with each and every one of these souls. It was an amazing experience.

Just yesterday I was reading in IAYT Yoga Therapy in Practice an article Lynnet Tirabassi called Yoga of the Heart. The piece was about her training with Nischala Joy Devi for using Yoga to help Cardiac and Cancer patients. Aside from being a great synopsis and inspiring me to seek out more about Devi's work, Lynnet talked about the closeness that grew between the 35 participants. On their final day of the workshop, they chanted, "All I ask of you is forever to remember me as loving you." She says that by the end "all heart lights were radiating."

Why is this so unusual? Why don't we connect like this on a daily basis with everyone we meet?

Is it human nature to protect ourselves--physically and emotionally? Is it that protective shield we carry that prevents us from knowing and sharing our heart, our spirit, and our soul?

Perhaps a soul mate is someone that helps you to put down that shield and allows you to experience that beauty that you already are.



Meditate on the heart for the next week and see if you feel, think, and act a little more compassionately and lovingly to yourself and those around you. Next week or next month (after really focusing on my heart center), I'll post or leave a comment regarding my experience, and would love to hear about your experiences as well!


Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.totalhealthyogaclasses.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Cure for Hiccups

Last year, a student gave me a few pages from the newspaper because there was an article about Yoga or Meditation in it. The article was fine, but what really interested me was on the other side of the page.

There was an article about a new devise that you could purchase (for a high price) to stop hiccups. The devise stimulated the vagus nerve and thus stopped the hiccups. The writer went on to discuss how the vagus nerve was related to hiccups.

Being a Yogi and frequent hiccup sufferer, I found this fascinating. The Throat lock or Jalandhara bandha in Yoga has many purposes. One of them is to stimulate the vagus nerve.

So, I put one and one together and tried Jalandhara bandha the next time I got the hiccups. It worked! I used to get the hiccups at least every other day and sometimes it would last for over 30 minutes. No fun at all. I had tried all kinds of crazy stuff, but none of it worked.

Finally, something that works! For over a year now I've only had two cases where my hiccups lasted more than a minute, and even then they disappeared within a few minutes.

If you suffer from hiccups, stimulate your wondrous vagus nerve with Jalandhara bandha. Here's how:

1. Take a comfortable seat with a long straight spine.
2. Exhale as you gently drop your chin towards your chest. The back of the neck will become long. Be careful to NOT drop the whole head forward which can strain the neck muscles.
3. Inhale as you fill the chest with air and allow the sternum (heart center) to rise up towards the chin. The shoulder blades soften down the back as the chest stays lifted.
4. Hold this position and continue to breath.

I find that it only takes a few breaths and the hiccups are gone. If you try this, please let me know how it goes.

Good luck!

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com
www.TotalHealthYogaClasses.Blogspot.com

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Inspirations

What inspires you?

A couple of days ago, I was hanging out with my son, BJ. He was listening to Les Miserables. He had read the book for English and really enjoyed the soundtrack.

Out of the blue, he commented, "I find this music really inspiring." As much as I love a good musical, I am not as inspired by this particular one as say Man of La Mancha.

My other son, Jake, is inspired by sports films. I, on the other hand, by just about any film based on a true story.

It's pretty neat that so many different things in the world can inspire us. And just like a difference in what foods we like or music we listen to, inspiration comes to each of us in various ways.

I think it's important to find what inspires you and "get" some of it every day--or at least once a week.

Here are a few things that you might just find inspiring to be your best:

Spiritual books

Great films

Music

Spending time with someone you admire--not just love, admire

Cooking a delicious meal--or just eating it!

Poetry (Rumi is a goodie)

Yoga

Meditation

Aerobic fitness

Documentaries about amazing people

Chicken Soup books

Gardening (so amazing how those tiny seeds grow into wondrous plants!)

Completing a task

Write a thank you note to a friend for just being them

Spend some time in nature--the sunrise/sunset or really stopping to look at a tree or mountain can do wonders.

Read www.GoodNewsNetwork.org

Volunteer

Perform at least 3 random acts of kindness

Try something new


Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.totalhealthyogaclasses.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Silence is Golden

A while back, Om Bites posted something about daily rituals. The post was inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat Pray Love, who by the way will be on Oprah for her second time tomorrow (Dec 4, 2007).

Elizabeth talks about the importance of silence. At one point she's in an elevator with a television in it! How far do we have to go? For a while, grocery stores had TV's, restaurants have them, cars have them, and now even elevators! Are we afraid of what we might find in the silence?

“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls.” - Mother Teresa

“Silences make the real conversations between friends. Not the saying but the never needing to say is what counts.” - Margaret Lee Runbeck

“There are times when silence has the loudest voice” - Leroy Brownlow

“Silence is a source of great strength.” - Lao Tzu

"Experience teaches us that silence terrifies people the most." - Bob Dylan

"This silence, this moment, every moment, if it's genuinely inside you, brings what you need. There's nothing to believe. Only when I stopped believing in myself did I come into this beauty. Sit quietly, and listen for a voice that will say, 'Be more silent.' Die and be quiet. Quietness is the surest sign that you've died. Your old life was a frantic running from silence. Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking. Live in silence." - Rumi

Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.totalhealthyogaclasses.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Personal Responsibility

A story about three friends
(based off of a real story with altered names and places)


Altera by the Lake was bustling with the lunch crowd. The clattering of dishes and warm aromas filled the room. I sat down with my two dear friends, Kim and Christine.



The coffee felt rich going down my throat. I was thankful for putting in that extra creamer.



We had just come from our Yoga class, and Kim was still thinking about it.



"I really don't like the partner poses. I mean my partner was fine and all, but it's really hard for me to do that kind of stuff."



"What do you mean?" I asked.



"It brings back too many bad memories of when I was a kid. Every time in gym class that we had to be picked for teams, I was always the last one chosen. It really hurt. So in Yoga when we have to partner up, I feel nauseous inside and fear that no one will pick me."



I was dumbfounded. Kim was a grown woman and well liked by the people in the class. We had partnered up a number of times and she was always with someone.



Christine chimed in, "Yeah, I know what you mean. At work, my boss is so overbearing and no one really likes me there. I get into arguments all the time and have been told that I'm 'difficult to work with.' It's not my fault. I'm an only child and my parents never showed me any love. It's made it difficult for me to be nice to others. I can't even show love to my own children, but after the way I was brought up, what can you expect?"



I couldn't believe my ears! Christine was almost 60 years old! These poor women were ready to take their injuries all the way to the grave.



I asked Kim, "How about using the partner work in Yoga as a time to heal from the past? The people there really care about you."



"It's too painful. I can't do it," she replied.



I shared with Christine my own childhood stories, and how I had learned from them and this made the healing possible. She said she tried to heal, but just wasn't strong enough. (Thinking about it now, I realize she won't be "strong enough" until she decides to take back her power and stop giving it to the past and to other people.)



Over and over, I listened to these women re-affirm, "No one likes me." "I just can't." "It's too hard." "It's so easy for other people." "My childhood was too painful." "It's just who I am." "It's not my fault."



This really got me thinking.



Why do so many of us live in the past and hold tightly onto our wounds?

Why is the notion of healing so hard?


When we take FULL responsibility for who we are there is no one to blame. As long as we continue to blame someone or something else, then how can we be expected to heal? It's not our fault; it's beyond our control.


This is the safe way out. We can go on and one about how we'd love to "be" a better or happier person, but the truth is it's just so much easier to stay where we are. So, we devise (albeit subconsciously) a reason we can't move on.


It's impossible to take responsibility for our lives. Because if we do, then the blame-game is over. That's right, if we took responsibility for who we are, then we'd actually have to DO something and BE someone. No more living in the past and feeling sorry about how there's nothing we can do.


Bull shit! There's always something we can do. Just so many of us don't really want to get off our butts and do it.


Taking full responsibility for our lives is tough. If we fail, there is no one to blame but us! Now that's scary.


But here's the cool part. By taking full responsibility for ourselves, WE have the power to be as happy and successful as we want.


See what I'm saying? Without the risk, there is no glory.


So, what's it going to be? Live the rest of your life crying about the past or take your life back and start living it today?



Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.totalhealthyogaclasses.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Vitamin Supplement - Should you or shouldn't you take vitamins?


Over this past weekend, Mike and I went to donate blood. My iron count was 1% too low, so I sat in the waiting area while Mike did his sharing of bodily fluids--in a good way.


The most recent Readers Digest was on the table (pictured above). The blaring title, The Vitamin Hoax, immediately caught my eye. Let me just say that I take enough pills everyday to warrant a friendly family joke about it. Yes, they are all vitamins, minerals, or healing herbs.


I read the RD article and was amazed to find a number of vitamins that I take on the "avoid" list.


Being that I've been totally healthy for almost 1.5 years now (aside from muscular strain here and there), and used to get sinus problems 3-5 times a year, I'm very hesitant to bail on my beloved vitamins and herbs.


Dr. Weil says that there are conflicting views and that every few years there's a "vitamin scare." You can read about it on his web site.


In the end, I'm going to stick with my regimen. The idea for this pill-popping was given to me by a friend. Her suggestion was to create a list of past illnesses--starting as far back as you can remember. Then go to Prescription for Nutritional Healing and see what vitamins they suggest taking for each of these illnesses.


In the end you have a chart over time showing what might be missing from your diet.


What's interesting is, when I did this, I began to notice a pattern of common minerals or vitamins that appeared to be lacking based on the conditions that I had had. I devised a supplement program based on these findings and the recommendations in Nutritional Healing. This was about a year ago, and I haven't looked back since. Well, until the RD article.


I thank RD for printing an article that caused me to look further into the wisdom (or lack thereof) of what I'm doing. For now, it sounds like the best path. So, I'll stick with it (sorry, RD).


Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.totalhealthyogaclasses.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Sacred Space

Zena Moon (Carla Blazek) recently entered a post about creating a personal space. She addresses the space not just of the physical, but of the emotional and mental as well.

When I think of a personal space, I think of somewhere that is safe and "at home." A sacred place where I can completely be myself without judgement.

Just last night, I was reading The Circle, by Laura Day. Chapter 3 talks about having a ritual. She suggests creating a sacred space for that ritual, and I realized that the most sacred space is within.

With this is mind, here's the comment that I left on Zena Moon's post:

I love what you said about sacred spaces. Just yesterday I was reading about creating a special place. As I sat, I closed my eyes and paused from the reading. I let out a surrendering sigh, and felt my sacred space deep within me. As I softly opened my eyes, I came to realize that my sacred space is not just where I have an alter or a special room in my home. It is in my heart and stays with me always.

With that said, it wasn't always that way for me. There were years (over a decade) when I only felt safe in my (now former) husband's arms. Then for a while there seemed nowhere that was "home." Then only with my kids. Then only with kids or meditating. Then in nature. Then when teaching. The list went on and on.

After years of meditating and the experience of coming back to Source again and again with the help of Yoga, I finally can rest inside. Maybe not all of the time, but even a glimpse of true inner peace is enough to bring me back to meditation and Yoga over and over.

Love Much,

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com
www.TotalHealthYogaClasses.Blogspot.com

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Little Things


It's the moments -- not the big events -- that count the most. Years ago I saw an interview of a child who's mother had died of cancer. The mom knew she was dying for years and had the time to really prepare her children (as much as one is able to prepare for such a thing).


When asked what positive memories stood out the most for her, the little girl did not reply, "Disney World" or any of their other fun vacations. She quietly said it was "eating cereal with my mom." She went on to say how sometimes at night, if she couldn't sleep, she and her mom would sneak into the kitchen for a bowl of cereal. This private time just being together is what the child remembered best and with fondness.


It's the little things. It's the moments of every day. So, when you think about gratitude, especially at this time of year, remember the little things.

My little thing this morning was opening up a new fun box of tissues. Call me crazy, but these brightly colored boxes of tissues (pictured above), make me smile!


Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.totalhealthyogaclasses.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Stuffed Mushrooms Recipe

This recipe is one of the best Stuffed Mushroom recipes I've ever had. It's compliments of Barbara Swain's book, Cookery for 1 or 2. It was my very first cookbook, and even 50+ (literally) cookbooks later, I still love this book. It's been duck taped together and the pages are falling out. I've had this book for over two decades, and it shows!

I truly hope you enjoy them as much as I do. (Green is my own comments.)

Stuffed Mushrooms (I always double, triple, or quadruple this recipe.)
8-10 (~1/4 pound) fresh medium-sized mushrooms (White shrooms are best.)
1 T butter (I use just enough olive oil, canola oil, or ghee to saute.)
1 T minced shallots or 2 T minced onion (I must say, shallots are WAY tastier.)
1/4 t Worcestershire sauce (One of my favorite tastes, I'm generous on measuring this.)
1/4 c soft breadcrumbs, lightly packed (No need to store buy. Just finely tear/crumble up some old bread.)
1/4 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese, lightly packed (Feta works well, too.)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 T water (This has made them too runny for me. So, I never use it.)

Preheat 350 degree (175 Celsius) oven. Quickly wash mushrooms and drain on a paper towel. Pull stems from shooms and finely chop. Melt butter in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add chopped mushroom stems and shallot or onion. Saute until tender and translucent. Stir in Worcestershire sauce (yummy!), soft breadcrumbs, cheese, salt and pepper. Salt (I pepper instead) the insides of the shroom caps and fill with sauteed mixture, mounding over the top. At this point, they may be refrigerated up to 24 hours. Before serving, put 2 T of water in a shallow dish (I don't add the water) and arrange the stuffed shrooms in the dish. Bake about 20 min's. Serve hot.
Enjoy!!!!!

Love Much,

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com
www.TotalHealthYogaClasses.Blogspot.com

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Another Great Reason to Eat Chocolate!

Want to indulge without guilt? Check out

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16354380.



Eat some chocolate, help the planet!



Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.totalhealthyogaclasses.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Yoga Music

I was reading the other day that certain instruments are particularly calming to the nervous system. The harp and piano were two of the ones mentioned. I would add to that classical guitar and harmonium (used commonly in kirtan).

At the same time Rod Stryker and many other Yogis frown on the use of music in class. Yoga is about coming within and pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses).

So, when you practice do you play music? How about in a group class--do you think music is a help or hindrance?

Personally, I've gone both ways (regarding music that is). I love the serenity that music can bring, at the same time it can distract people from paying attention to their alignment and body. In general, musicians seem to be more distracted.

I'd love to hear your opinion and what your preference is.
In the meantime, here are some of my favorite peaceful CD's:

Usually used with Yoga practice (lately all my practices have been silent, but if I was to have music, one of these would most likely be there)

Inner Dance
Divine Bliss
Rasa Devotion
Theta Meditation System
Laura Day's Dynamic Intuition (disc 2)

Music I like to chill to with perhaps a glass of red wine

The Most Relaxing Guitar Album in the World ... Ever! (I swear, that's what it's called!!)

Anything at all by Edith Piaf (If past lives are real, then I'm sure I knew her or something extremely emotional/important happened while listening to her beautiful voice.)

Ben Kammin (I have 7tunes&3songs and a promo CD). So, this guy is GREAT!! Local guy (to Milwaukee). He stopped playing for a number of years, and actually I thought he still wasn't playing. Seems that there was a very nasty break up and his heart was truly broken (back then I as in the "loop" of his friends). He sold ALL his equipment--guitars everything (according to my sources--his friends). We were all very bummed about this. Then at a party that we were both at he actually played for my son, Jake--Iron Man on acoustic guitar. I was so very honored, as was young Jake. But that was it. He put the instrument down and headed off to Spain. I always felt that the world was missing out on the phenomenal talent this young man was blessed with. I'm thrilled to see (as of this posting!), he is playing again. After this post, I'll definitely be checking out his future shows. Some of you bloggers hold a special place in my heart; if you are in Milwaukee (I know most of you seem to be in Australia!!) let me know and we'll catch a show.

Chocolate Genius Inc - Black Yankee Rock

Uplifting

India Arie - Acoustic Soul

One of my favorite musicians of all time!

Louis Armstrong

Seems as if I've strayed from Yoga music, but it's all healing to the heart.

Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.totalhealthyogaclasses.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Spirituality - Money - Can they be mixed?

Picture a very spiritual being. What do you see? Are they in robes, perhaps carrying an empty bowl? Do they live in an ashram? Are they kind and understanding? Are they at peace with themselves and the world around them? Do they exhibit ethical and admirable traits? Do they take the time to care for others?


Now visualize a financially wealthy person. What does he/she look like? Are they surrounded by glitz and glitter? Are the self-absorbed? Do the act superficially? Do they look down at others? Do they have a "what's in it for me" mentality? Are they ethical? Do they take time to look out for others?


I grew up with the belief that money = snotty, mean, self-absorbed. We all had to look out for ourselves, and money was a key to be successful. Heck, it was the definition of success. As long as what you did was legal, money came first. Somewhere this idea got stuck in me. Intellectually, I don't buy it, but deep inside I wonder.


I want to take this time to thank Fred Frailey, the editor of Kiplinger Personal Finance magazine, for helping to dispel this myth.


A few years ago, I received this magazine as a gift from my father. To my surprise I actually liked it! As much as I love having money and fret about my absurdly low salary over the past few years, reading about money has always been a struggle for me. Ironically, I love numbers and minored in math. Yet, educating myself on investing had always been a chore for me. I did it because I had to. Like cleaning the bathtub--just something that needs to be done.

Reading Kiplinger and Mr. Frailey's editorials, I am always impressed by the ethics and high standards they uphold. (Something I did NOT expect from a financial magazine.) There is something pure and honest about the articles and editorials. I've grown to actually enjoy reading it, and appreciate all the tips and advise to help my retirement and current life.


I was particularly impressed just this past week when I emailed Kiplingers regarding their "Green Issue." You see, the October issue focused on how to invest wisely in the current environment. The magazine, and Mr. Frailey, were very careful to keep the politics out of it. This is a money magazine and not a political one. I appreciated how they managed to look at wise investments, especially in companies geared to handle global warming, regardless of one's political standing. The authors specifically spelled out that it didn't matter whether-or-not you believed in global warming. Financially what mattered was what most people thought and how companies would respond to that. New laws, especially in CA were sited, and how this will impact the finances of various companies.

Well, last week I checked out the Kiplinger web site and found a number of angry readers calling the magazine "left wing Democrat B.S." I was confused as they were so careful to keep politics out of the picture. One guy even proudly stated that he tossed the magazine in "to the city landfill. (And no, it did not go in the recycling bin.)"

Aside from the fact that this guy acted like a total jerk--even if you don't believe in global warming, why not recycle? It sure as heck can't hurt!

Anyway, I emailed the magazine just to say how much I had appreciated the articles and insights they offered--while staying neutral politically (which is good for me, since I err on the left and the editor is to the right). I mentioned that I was inspired to invest directly into the stock market for the first time in my life from this very issue.

Barely 24 hours passed and the editor, Fred Frailey, emailed me back. He said that he had received literally 100's of emails regarding this issue (and yet he managed to email me back personally!). He, also, provided some financial advise and wanted to be sure I first got to know the stock market via mutual funds and suggested Vanguard no load funds.

Now I've been with Vanguard for over 20 years, but he didn't know that. What struck me, was that he took the personal time to thank me and make sure I was investing wisely. That's what I call going the extra mile. This man (obviously very interested in money and doing well for himself) showed consideration, caring, understanding, and kindness.

It touched my heart to see someone so involved with the making of money show such thoughtfulness to a stranger. Hummmmm, maybe spirituality and money can mix.




Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.totalhealthyogaclasses.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Choosing Happiness

Happiness is a choice.

One of the wisest things that my former husband ever said to me was,

"Only you can make you happy."
We were in college at the time, and I was upset--most likely someone had called me fat or I thought someone was laughing at me. Interesting how 20+ years later, the paranoia has subsided. Wow, does that mean I'm actually growing up? Or just realizing that he was right:

True happiness comes from within.
Dr. Joe Vitale, from The Secret, has a recent post listing "10 ways to get happy." He offers 10 suggestions to bring you out of a slump or momentary set back, such as being with your pet, dancing to music (one of my favorites!), giving to someone else, set an intention, say 'thank you', watch a movie, have some comfort food, detach, and smile.
I do believe that accepting and experiencing your current feelings is very important, but have had times of "stuckness" or self-pity or doubt about almost everything. That's when it's time to give yourself a nudge towards happiness, or in some cases a good hard push.
Here's my own list of happiness tips:
1. Take a walk.
2. Engage in a Hatha Yoga practice with a nice long savasana at the end.
3. Pranayama or Yogic breathing techniques to enhance life force--pay particular attention to the less dominant nostril and where the breath is in the nostrils.
4. Follow the Asanas and Pranayama with Meditation.
5. Journal at least 10 things that you are grateful for. Then maintain the feeling of gratitude as you write what you're ready to embrace--such as "I fully embrace joy and true happiness."
6. Hug someone.
7. Make *whoopie*.
8. Take a candlelit bath.
9. Dance with reckless abandon in your living room--not to some sappy love song, but to something uplifting like 3 Little Birds.
10. Pray with faith and trust.
and of course.... Love Much,

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com
www.TotalHealthYogaClasses.Blogspot.com

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Eucalyptus Oil

Inspired by Everyday Yogini's comment regarding my last post on healthy gums and tea tree oil, I'd like to share another essential oil tip.

Whenever I feel a tickle in my throat, I use eucalyptus oil by sprinkling a few drops on my pillow just before going to bed. Eucalyptus can burn the skin and you definitely don't want to get it in your eyes. So, I'm careful to sprinkle just to the far sides of my pillow and allow it to soak in while I keep my head centered. By the time I'm rolling around and moving my head, the oil has soaked in and only the fresh fragrance is left.

This is one of the "tricks" that has kept me in keen health and with clear sinuses for over a year and a half now--which for me is a huge improvement!

Enjoy great health,

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com
www.TotalHealthYogaClasses.Blogspot.com

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Healthy Gums


Gum disease runs in my family. During my second pregnancy my gums bled so bad they would just start bleeding in the middle of the day.

Flossing didn't help and my dentist implied this was just something I had to live with and would most likely loss my teeth early in life. I was only in my low 30's when this news came in.

Being interested in Yoga, I read a lot of Ayurvedic info and ran across the importance of caring for your gums as a sign of overall decent health. One source said to rub tea tree oil on the gums every day for dental hygiene care.

So, for the past 5 or so years I've been using a gum stimulator and tea tree oil every morning. I put just a few drops of tea tree on the stimulator. Then after brushing my teeth, I stimulate between every tooth -- front and back. This takes less than a minute. I let it sit on my gums/teeth for about 60 seconds while I wash my face. Then rinse.

To be honest my dentist--who I no longer go to--didn't think this was such a great idea. I'm guessing that he had never heard of tea tree oil. All I know is that my gums have not bled in 5 years and at age 43 they are healthier than in my late 20's!

So, listen to what makes sense to you. Doctors are great, but in the end you are the best judge for what works for you.


Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.totalhealthyogaclasses.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Total Health - Is Yoga Enough To Stay Healthy

In the last week, I've begun broadening the scope of this blog. My original intention was to tie every post to Yoga in some way--be it asana, breathing, meditation, or philosophy. Perhaps if I search hard enough everything can be tied to Yoga, but that's not always simple to do.

Several weeks ago I read a quote from a well-known Yogi (apologies for not recalling who it was). He (or maybe she) said,

"Yoga is about wellness."

This got me thinking.... a lot! There was a woman I knew that had double knee surgery. This knee injury occurred after a dedicated meditation practice in full lotus. When her knees began hurting during this practice, her teacher (moors the pity) told her to stay seated and breath through it. She would sit for over an hour at a time.

Okay, I've done this. "Breathing through it." But my method is to take 3 breaths and release wherever I can or re-adjust. If the pain or discomfort isn't gone within those few breaths, then it's time to COME OUT! This seems like a no-brainer. However, in the name of spiritual enlightenment, this lady (and I'm guessing many other folks) stayed in full lotus with pain. Now even a simply cross-legged position is out of the question for her.

Is this wellness? Is reaching spiritual awareness and knowing worth trashing your body? On the other hand, is physical fitness more important than prayer or meditation?

In my opinion, Total Health or Wellness is finding a balance between all parts that are You. That's the body, the mind, and the spirit.

Yoga addresses all of these areas very well, which is what I find so cool about it. However, does it address them all fully? I think some of us can get away with just Yoga and find complete health in all areas of our life.

However, many of us can use a little something more. With this in mind, the scope of this blog will shift to anything that seems to fit the bill of wholeness. Anything that helps to live healthy and find wellness. My focus is still Yoga, but in my own life (as the years are passing by) I find that Yoga is not enough for my complete wellness. It has been enough for years and years, but I'm 43 now and my lovely body is crying out for a shift. One thing that Yoga has taught me again and again is to

Respect and listen to your body, mind, and spirit!

So, I hope you will enjoy and find some interesting ideas in the posts to come.

Love Much,

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com
www.TotalHealthYogaClasses.Blogspot.com

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Friday, November 2, 2007

How much are you worth?


Worth (w├╗rth) noun
The quality that renders something desirable, useful, or valuable

How much are you worth? In daily life, one's worth appears to be measured in dollars. I don't mean to sound cynical, but it's true.

Last year I asked for a raise at a facility that I was teaching at. Even though my hours of training had over doubled since I began teaching there and my hours of experience teaching over tripled, the response was that, "You may think you're worth it, I may think you're worth it, but the market does not."

It was that simple. People were happy to spend $65 (in the area I live in) for a massage -- sometimes every week. But these same people wouldn't commit to a weekly Yoga class for $10. Some might say it's because Yoga is not worth it. If what I do for a living is teach Yoga, then am I less worthy? Are all teachers (such as elementary teachers) worth less than doctors or lawyers?

One thing that I have found over and over again in the most confident of people: A lack of self-worth.

Perhaps it's due to the fact that everything was a value on it. You go to the store and one brand of ice cream is more money than another. Is the more expensive one "better"? When you set out to purchase a car; as the quality goes up typically the price tag does as well.

So, when you select a career and the pay (price tag) is lower, it only seems natural to feel less worthy. Right?

Sure you can justify in your mind that what you are doing is worthy, but there's something bigger going on. It's a general guideline of our society that money = worth. When the money you make falls short, have you as a person fallen short? I don't think so.

This is where we need to bring awareness to the picture. Know that:

Money does NOT always = Worth

As soon as you realize that your price tag (how much money you make) does NOT determine your worth, maybe--just maybe--we'll all start feeling a bit more worthy. And who knows, when you feel worthy, you just might see more coming your way.


Love Much,

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com
www.TotalHealthYogaClasses.Blogspot.com

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

80% Grey

Randy Pausch, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, is dying of pancreatic cancer. By now you may have seen his final speech that he gave to his students. If not, you can see the original talk at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5700431505846055184 or the 10-minute version at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0aO64aKqek.

I don't recall if he said this as part of his speech or in an interview, but at some point he said, "The world is 10% black, 10% white, and 80% grey. What really matters is the 80%. This is what we can change." How we look at things and what we do with our lives is the 80%.

This was particularly interesting to me, as I've been wrestling with how does the Law of Attraction (as defined in the Secret and by folks such as Joe Vitale) come into play when someone has a positive outlook and truly enjoys life--then this person gets terminally ill. I've been questioning:

1. Are we dealt a hand of cards and all we can do is play them out the best we can?

2. Or do we select what cards we desire?

Option 2 is the Law of Attraction. Option 1 is making the best of what we're given.

After hearing Professor Pausch speak, I'm beginning to think that neither option is correct. Perhaps it's a third option:

3. You're dealt a hand--some cards you must keep, some you can let go, and you may select some new ones.

Cards such as your height, eye color, genetic disease or great health are frequently cards that simply are given to you. No choices. "It is what it is," as Roger Eischens used to say. The cards you can let go could include anger, impatience, judgment, or something else that you choose to change about yourself. Finally, there are the cards you attract. This is where the Law of Attraction comes into play.

I most definitely don't have it all "figured out" by am now thinking that 10 % of life just sucks. No two ways about it. I can sit here all day and say tragedy happens for a reason. Even if I believe it, it still sucks. 10 % is wonderful. Somethings are so joyous that you'd have to be a real fuddy-duddy to find the negative side. Now for the 80%--this is what we can all work with. Attitude, determination, love, and hope can choice to turn that 80% into what we'd like to see more of in our lives and in the world.

Maybe I'm wrong and we truly attract everything (option 2) or shit just happens without any impact on our parts (option 1), but I doubt it.

Your thoughts on this matter (as always) are much appreciated.

Love Much,

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com
www.TotalHealthYogaClasses.Blogspot.com

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Whats Love Got To Do With It?


Jake (my son) walks in the door from babysitting down the street. I call out, "You are going to love your mama!"

"Why? Are we having pizza?", he asks.

I laugh, "Do I need to make pizza for you to love me?"

"Well........" Jake grins mischievously. Ah, my sarcastic humor has rubbed off on him.

Yes, we happened to be having pizza, and every time we do Jake touts his affection for me. If I make lasagna, he grudgingly comes to the table. Pizza results in extras hugs.

Now this is all in good fun, but it got me thinking.

What is love?
Why do we love?
How can we love better?

I've heard psychotherapist say "love is a verb, not a noun." That love is something we do. I know that when I act in a loving manner, my heart softens and I begin to feel more love. That is, it's not always the feeling that comes first.

For example, if I'm really angry at someone, I attempt to speak with a soft face and carefully selected words. In my attempt to get my point across without yelling or putting the other person on the defensive, I begin to see their side. They don't have to say a word, it's the softness in my own face and words that begin to open my heart to find more empathy and understanding.

With that said, I still yell--just not as often. When in the heat of the moment and anger or self-pity takes over, I feel disconnected from love. This is why I believe love is so important!

Love brings connection to our Self and others.

Oriah Mountain Dreamer speaks a lot on the subject of "loving better." Here is her famous poem, The Invitation. For me, these words describe real love:

The Invitation - by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it. I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore be trustworthy. I want to know if you can see beauty even when it is not pretty everyday, and if you can source your life on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon.
It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for the children.

It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.


Love Much--whatever that might mean for you,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.totalhealthyogaclasses.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Stress Management - Reduce Stress


Have you heard about the Stress Eraser? Its cost is a whopping $300. It's a biofeedback device that monitors your pulse and tells you when to breath.


Save your money and do the following instead:

Sit or lie in a comfortable position.
Gently close your eyes.
Notice your breath for the next 6 or so breaths. No manipulation, judgement, or change. Simply notice it.

Now guide the breath to a 1:1 ratio--so that the inhales and exhales are of the same length. Only do this as long as there is no strain. It may feel a bit "odd", but still comfortable.
Take about 6 1:1 breaths.

Next slowly add one or more counts to each breath. That is, maintain the 1:1 ratio, but slow the breath some. Do this gradually, and only as long as you feel comfortable--NO strain at all. Continue to breath at this longer/slower 1:1 for another 6 breaths.

Finally begin to lengthen your exhales until you are at a 1:2 ratio (the exhales are twice as long as the inhales). As always, only do this as long as there is NO strain and a level of comfort still exists.
Use the calming 1:2 ratio for 12 breaths.

Allow a natural breath to flow in and out--no counting or attempted ratios. Softly open your eyes.



Enjoy the peace and stress removal that the breath can bring!

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.totalhealthyogaclasses.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Just for fun - Laughing Yoga

Need a laugh? Check out this link!




Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.totalhealthyogaclasses.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Pranayama - Solutions to Healthy Breathing


Donna Farhi is a soft spoken, yet strong woman. (See post about strength.) I'm a sucker for a New Zealand accent, and she's got one! It's a pleasure to work with Ms Farhi in person. However, there's a lot to be said about reading any of her many books.

Her Breathing Book is wonderful. After reading Iyengar's Light on Pranayama, The Breathing Book felt like a breath of fresh are.

Pranayama is definitely a disciplined activity offering great rewards when practiced with dedicated awareness and honesty. However, the over-zealous (yes, I admit I can fall into this category) may perform advanced pranayama techniques before they're ready. This is where Farhi's book comes into play.

Donna doesn't talk about pranayama. A matter of fact it's only referred to twice. Once in a listing for supplies to aid in breathing exercises, and the other time on page 9. She says,

"On a deeper level, highly controlled breathing practices such as those employed in yogic pranayama can backfire because they can act to repress the underlying psychological fears and issues that are driving poor breathing habits in the first place."
So as useful as pranayama can be, it is imperative to first understand your breath and explore more organically. By that, I mean to work with less control and more softness prior to a stricter discipline, such as pranayama. That way, you'll know if you are pushing too hard. Learn what relaxed and full breathing is, so you know when you are deviating from it. Make sense?
If you've practiced Yoga, you'll notice that this book doesn't read like other Yoga books. The exercises are not necessarily "Yoga moves." Regardless of whether-or-not Yoga is a part of your life, this book is invaluable in learning how to breath.

Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.totalhealthyogaclasses.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Self Confindence - Ego

In interest of doing more aerobics (see post), I periodically "jump around" while watching Oprah. Yesterday there was a woman and her husband on. This lady has managed to get her family over $100,000 in debt. Her husband's job pays $100,000/year--so, this kind of debt was no easy feat. Oprah asked her why she spends so much and the woman admitted she was being extremely selfish. I'm thinking to myself, "Duh. Of course, this is selfish. Your kids have no health insurance, you stay at home getting your nails done and shopping, while your husband struggles to make ends meet."


Later in the show, Suzi Orman came on. Being that I haven't watched much Oprah for literally years, it was interesting to see Suzi for the first time in a long time. She has gotten even more certain and "deadly" honest.


The thing that struck me the most was when Suzi made an insistent point that this woman was NOT selfish. "You are selfless. Not selfish." Suzi looked out at the audience and said something along the lines of, "Do not sit in judgement of this woman. Don't one of you judge her. You all do it. Yes, this case is extreme, but we all do the same thing in our own ways."


Hard to say, since I was "jumping around", but I think I blushed. Caught in the act of judging another and believing I was somehow better. I like to think that I don't judge, but I do. I was not only labeling the behavior as poor. I hate to admit it, but I felt superior to this lady. Now it was my turn to feel a bit shameful.


Suzi went on to say that this constant buying of things was because she had no idea who she was. In her quest to really feel comfortable with herself, she kept looking outside to "stuff". When that stuff didn't work, she'd get more. Always searching for herself and happiness. Any Yogi would tell her, you'll never find yourself or true happiness outside. You must look within.


In this light, I felt compassion instead of contempt for a mother that so blatantly put herself before her children and spouse. Suzi provided advise about getting rid of the debt--a tough love approach. I'd like to add to that a Yoga class with a knowledgeable teacher would really help her find fulfillment on a deeper level.


"Coincidentally," this ties into something that Yogi Roger Eischens used to say, "It's easy to get along with people that have big egos. It's the people with no egos that are difficult." Ego is knowing yourself and feeling confident. It's those that are searching and "selfless" that try to prove themselves all the time. Those who are sure of their own being, have nothing to prove.



Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.totalhealthyogaclasses.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Benefits of Yoga - Found in the Grand Canyon

Looking back over time, I ran across some musings from years ago. Some I now disagree with and others still ring true. Following is an article I wrote in 2003:

TAPAS IN THE GRAND CANYON

After a grueling 9 hour hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, with a 23 pound pack on my 5’1” body, Bright Angel Campground didn’t look so bright. My trapezius ached, my quadriceps quivered and my feet felt as if I had been walking across hot coals. This life-long dream, of staying at the bottom of this wondrous place, was definitely NOT what I had expected.

Sure the views were truly spectacular. The sun cast eerie and mysterious shadows at every turn. The sounds of the creek rushing over rocks to empty into the Colorado River filled the air. Only 10% of the population can see the Milky Way in the night sky. We were part of that 10% while camping at the bottom of the canyon.

But tell all this to my throbbing body. Every muscle tingled. Walking on flat ground brought on moans of agony. I thought I was in shape. I thought I was the “rugged, outdoorsy type,” as my partner, Mike, would say. This should have been a breeze. What was wrong with me? Instead of awe, happiness and joy, I felt disappointment, sadness and shame. And we had only come down the canyon. In 2 days, it was going to be time for the 10 mile ascent! The park rangers say to estimate the climb up to be twice as long as coming down. Let’s see that’s…18 hours! What was wrong with me? I’m only 39. I hike all the time. Why was I not fit enough, not strong enough? Disappointment filled every cell in my body. This is when I turned to yoga.

Many times students have expressed disappointment with their practice—they say they lack the strength for chaturanga (yoga push-up), the balance for garudasana (one-legged eagle balance), the flexibility for halasana (plow), or the discipline for meditation. At this moment of despair at the bottom of the canyon—dreading the imminent climb—my own words that I’ve told students again and again came to me. Words passed down from yogi to yogi over the years, “Start where you are today. Do not judge yourself. Don’t start from where you were yesterday or where you think you should be. Start where you are today. Accept yourself today.” As Donna Farhi, famous yogini from New Zealand, said at a recent visit to Chicago, “See what is. Embrace it.” Don’t get caught in these feelings, but accept them until they are ready to leave.

When we started the long climb back to the rim two days later, I began to feel the fear and welcomed it in. I didn’t grasp onto it nor push it away. I simply allowed it to reside in me. Thanks to Donna Farhi for this fabulous insight. After accepting—no longer struggling and fighting—these “negative” emotions, I was able to go beyond them. This is where sukha (contentment; joy), sthira (balance), and tapas (heat; enthusiasm) came into play.

Sukha—how could I find joy and pleasure in this experience? By accepting myself and my fear of returning to the top. Sthira—how could I find grounding and balance? With every step, my new focus shifted from pains in my muscles to placement of my feet. Before our ascent, I asked Mike what he thought about as he walked. I was expecting something like, “getting to the top,” “a good movie,” “a warm shower,” you know—something distracting to make the aches less noticeable. Unexpectedly, he wisely said, “I think about walking, where to place my next step.” As many great spiritually enlightened beings have said, “When I eat, I think about eating. When I sit, I think about sitting. When I walk, I think about walking.” So simple, and yet so profound. Tapas—how could I find enthusiasm while feeling so weak? By focusing on each step, one at a time. Not by dreaming of the end, not by fretting over the time. Simply by taking one step at a time. While I walk, I’ll think about walking.

In the end, with sukha, sthira, tapas and a lot of water, we made it to the top in only 6 hours—3 hours less than it took to get down. I felt physically exhausted, yet strong and vital. Yoga, Donna Farhi, Mike and the Grandest of all Canyons helped me to find an inner strength that I didn’t even know I had. It just goes to show, a little tapas can go a long way!

Love Much,

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com
www.TotalHealthYogaClasses.Blogspot.com

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