Thursday, January 31, 2008

Obama For President of the USA

Anyone who knows me knows that I avoid political comments unless asked. So, after 43 years of life, this is a first for me.



Most of our votes, here in the US, are a selection of the lesser of two evils. 2008 has the potential to be a unique and promising year. Thus I am compelled to voice my political viewpoint without being asked.



After watching Obama's Ebenezer speech, I was left impressed. His call for unity of all people makes a lot of sense. Unlike many speeches, Obama did NOT criticize other candidates. I think he really hit the nail on the head when he spoke of a moral deficit and an empathy deficit in our country. In my own life and in those around me, I see a need to look at the underlying causes of physical or superficial issues. I believe this is true in our country as well. Until we have a mindset as a nation that is not based in fear or strong egos, I do not believe we will be a positive force in the world.



The notion of looking at the root--emotional root--of our nation's mistakes and bullying attitude makes perfect sense to me if we are up for real positive change.



This is only the beginning, but an area that I've never heard a politician address before. To then do some real work and shift the policies and current course of our country (diminishing privacy and personal rights, questionable wars, out-and-out lies concerning presidential decisions) is in order.



Obama has been a civil rights attorney on the south side of Chicago standing up for the less fortunate. He's a man that understands the needs of the people--he's been working to help them his whole career.


As for the war in Iraq, check the record. Hillary voted to allow Bush to pursue this endeavor.



After researching both Democratic candidates, there's positive and negative on both sides. It's tough to filter through what's fact and what's fiction. But in the end, Obama seems like the best choice.



Here are some reasons Mike (my partner) is supporting Obama:



- He has a history of helping diverse groups find common cause.


- His policy ideas seem to be based on morals earned through personal experience, not from campaign focus groups.



- Of all the candidates, Obama as president could do the most towards repairing America's image around the world.




Additionally, Obama works from the bottom-up, not top-down. Clinton is does the opposite. Check out this article from the Washington Post.

Also, check out the Wall Street Journal article where Clinton now wants FL and MI to count--after agreeing five months earlier that they wouldn't. Hum, do you suppose her winning in those states has anything to do with it? Where's the consistency and standing by your word in that? Perhaps, Obama has also turned back on his word, but I've been researching and haven't found it yet. It's just possible we have what may be a stand-up guy running for president!

Clinton said (see Washington Post article above), "I know how Washington Republicans think, how they operate and how to beat them." This doesn't sound like unity to me, and is a divided country what we really need?


Love Much,

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

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

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Emotions - An opportunity to learn

Years ago I decided to stop shoving "negative" emotions out of the way and instead exploring why they came up. This change in direction has made a huge difference in my life, mostly by encouraging me to take personal responsibility for my feelings instead of blaming others.

This not only makes me feel better, but I'm sure my partner and kids appreciate it!

In the recent past, I've run across a number of thoughts that agree with this path of emotion exploration. The most structured method is offered by Byron Katie called The Work. Basically you start by writing out what has pissed you off (or upset you or frustrated you, etc.). Then you ask four questions:

1. Is it true?
2. Is it really true?
3. How do you react when you believe this thought?
4. Who would you be without this thought?

Katie's web site is very helpful. Additionally, she's written a number of books, my favorite being Loving What Is. The questions appear "too simple". Yet, reading more about her ideas shows you how to delve in deeper to see what's really going on. Yogis -- used to the idea of quieting the ego and mind -- will find an easier time hearing the inner voice that offers honest and true answers to the four questions.

Gary Zukav also promotes the importance of learning from your emotions. In Soul to Soul, he says:

"The painful experiences that you encounter, such as resentment, anger, and vengefulness, are the parts of your personality that your soul desires to heal. They are the parts of your personality that are not aligned with your soul. Your soul wants to create harmony, sharing, cooperation, and reverence for Life.... Your painful experiences are signposts that point directly to parts of your personality that need healing.... learn about yourself from your experiences and change yourself rather than continue to have the same painful experiences again and again. That is spiritual growth." (page 224)

Even Ester Hicks (Abraham) stresses the value of being honest regarding your feelings. She speaks of "feeling good" all the time, but not by denying your current state; rather by finding ways to transform yourself to a place of joy.

I believe Byron Katie's work and emotion exploration is one of many ways to do this.

Love Much,

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

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

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Anatomy of the Spirit

I realize this book has been out since 1996, but am still inspired to offer a few comments regarding it's usefulness and wisdom.



The first time I began reading Anatomy of the Spirit, by Dr. Caroline Myss, I got 20 or so pages in and decided she was a nut job. I quickly put the book back on the Barnes and Noble shelf for fear that some of her nuttiness would rub off on me.



Years later, I saw it at a used book store, Half Price Books, and felt compelled to buy it. On the way home, I stopped in a coffee shop and began to read. This time the ideas didn't seem so far fetched or crazy. A matter of fact, a tear rolled down my cheek as I read the Introduction. Something inside told me this book would change my life.



If you are opened minded, or already have an alternative mindset, it's a great read. Caroline talks about the seven chakras or energy centers of the body. She directly relates each center to historical ideas of various religions. Her knowledge, after studying religion, is vast. She, also, works with medical doctor, Norm Shealy, and relays interesting stories about their cases.



What I've really enjoyed about this book is the reference aspect. Over the past five years, I have used the table on pages 96-101 to help get to the root of various issues or feelings.



This table lists the following: Chakra (energy center), related organs, probable mental or emotional issues, and physical dysfunctions.



When I'm feeling off in any area, this chart pinpoints the associated chakra. From there I go to the self-examination questions at the end of that chakras chapter. Usually that's enough to provide an insight regarding what's going on. Sometimes I need to re-read the chapter.

If I'm just feeling "off", but can't put my finger on a physical dysfunction or mental issue, then I scan my body. It's really pretty simple. I lie in bed (usually in the morning just before rising or during savasana after a Yoga practice) and rest my awareness for a few moments at each energy center. They all vibrate differently. If any area feels numb or blocked, I go to the chapter for that energy center. Like clockwork, I've discovered issues that need addressing.



I believe using Anatomy of the Spirit in this fashion has prevented problems having to show up in my gross physical body. If you catch a disturbance in the subtle stages, it can prevent them from ever showing up in the physical body.



Overall, well worth every penny I paid for it. Thanks, Dr. Myss!



Love Much,

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

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

Friday, January 25, 2008

Oral Hygiene Care


Look closely and take your time. Can you guess what this is?

Wrong! Try again.

Still not sure? Well, technically it's a cheese knife sitting on my kitchen counter. However, it hasn't been used for cheese in years.

Its usual home is my bathroom drawer, and I use it religiously every morning to clean my tongue. At first it was gross and I wasn't sure I could scrap off all that crap that formed in my mouth while I innocently slept through the night.

But the alternative--leaving it there to be swallowed back down or worse yet rubbed onto my honey's tongue (your welcome for the visual)--was far worse than scraping it out and washing it down the sink.

I first heard about tongue scraping in an Ayurvedic text. The idea is that ama--icky stuff that your body is eliminating--rises to your tongues surface. To aid in the removal of this goo, you have to clean it off. Using a tooth brush sounds good on paper, but I have found there is still a lot left over. I've never had the balls to clean my tongue prior to brushing. Trust me, it's gross enough to do after brushing.

An added benefit to tongue scraping is fresher breath--which my 13 year old thanks me for!

Finally, why the cheese knife? Pretty simple really, the shape is perfect. It has a diagonal end somehow the shape of it makes the cleaning process thorough and easy. I've tried using a "professional" scraper that took two hands--they make better ones now. How is needing two hands convenient? It was awfully difficult to see past my hands and into my mouth! Also, a spoon can work; the shape is nowhere as useful as my precious cheese knife though. The spoon just didn't clean off as much goo.

Now before you go into your kitchen and grab a serrated sharp knife and wonder why there's blood all over the bathroom floor..... my wonderful "knife" is for soft cheese and is firm, but not sharp.

Enjoy the wonderful world of hygiene!


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

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

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Moment of Truth

Tonight yet another reality television program launches into millions of peoples living rooms--if they choose to watch.

This one is called Moment of Truth and quite honestly I don't see why anyone could condone such a program. When did watching people ruin their lives and create sorrow for themselves and others become entertainment? I purposefully am not including a link to info on this "show" as they do not need more people checking it out.

However, I'm compelled to question the premise of it. People will come on and be hooked up to a lie detector and have to answer 21 questions honestly. Prior to the filming, the contestants' backgrounds are delved into. Family, co-workers, neighbors, and friends are investigated in attempt to find "juicy" questions to ask.

The questions (if answered honestly) cause pain and discomfort to people. For example, an obese woman asks if "obese people disgust you?" Remember, if it's asked that means that according to the pre-show research, the answer would be yes. To look at your spouse and say whether-or-not you sometimes think about being with someone else. The list goes on and on.

On the radio (WKLH - Milwaukee) this morning, I heard that this show was banned from a country after a woman confessed to hiring a hit man to take out her husband and still took home $25,000!

In Yoga the sutras site the importance of honesty (satha). However, they also (and before satha is mentioned) say to be kind (ahimsa).

I am a very honest person and am pretty strict about it while raising my children. But to use honesty as an excuse to humiliate and treat someone with such cruelty is ridiculous.

This is not entertainment! Airing this program promotes the human race moving in a backwards direction. So many people are learning to open their hearts and take responsibility for their lives. Why doesn't that make the television? Public TV does their best and offers wisdom of leaders such as Wayne Dyer or Christian Northrup.

It saddens me that watching people air their pain and bring it upon others is what sells commercial time. My hope is that one day soon, the public will cry out for programs that bring more love and compassion into their hearts. Not sorrow and grief.

Love Much,

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

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

Monday, January 21, 2008

Zukav - Soul to Soul Review


Over the last couple of weeks, I've been thoroughly enjoying Gary Zukav's book, Soul to Soul. His words are wise and very accessible to the average Jo. It's a collection of one to three page short stories.

These anecdotes describe what at first seem like "every day" occurrences. The beauty comes about through Gary's heart-felt interpretations of these events.

He definitely walks the talk; he finds the sacred in every moment and every breath of each day.

One of my favorite stories, and I have several, begins on page 82. Zukav tells of when he was a young Green Beret in Hong Kong. At one point, with an attitude of pride and self-centeredness, he puts out his burning cigarette on the sidewalk of the city. Moments later an elderly gentleman comes up gently taps Mr. Zukav on the shoulder.

Without saying a word, this older man holds out the butt to return it to its owner, smiling kindly the whole time. Gary thanks the man and puts the butt in his pocket.

In Soul to Soul more detail is given; the heart of the words refer to the widmon of this elderly man. He offered the trash without judgement or harshness.

Littering has been a peeve of mine, but I usually just pick up after someone--not teaching them anything. The only option that I've seen, until now, is to get angry and try to "make" someone pick up their garbage. This awakened man shares a third and wise option: To show someone another way through compassion and an open heart.

I highly recommend this fabulous book of wisdom and profound insights.

Love Much,

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

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

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Pregnancy Yoga - How do I continue my practice?

After reading Tips on Getting Pregnant, I'm sure you've now wondering how to practice while carrying a baby. Okay, maybe it didn't work that fast, but stranger things have happened--unless your a man!

Here are some beneficial postures:
Cat/Table - Skip arching the spine down towards the floor.
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle or Goddess)
Squats - Omit during the last few weeks of pregnancy.
Pelvic floor lifts - Lifting on the inhales and relaxing on the exhales.
Alternate nostril breathing (no retentions)

These ones are fine to do as well:
Virabhadrasana I & II (Warrior I & II)
Trikonasana (Triangle)
Balasana (Child) with support for the upper body
Gomukhasana (Cow)
Savasana (Corpse) - Lie on your left side with a pillow between your legs.
Ujjayi breathing

Be very careful with the following:
Twists - Do 70% of what you normally can do; twisting from the upper back and shoulders rather than the belly.
Supine (lying on your back) asanas - Use blankets to create a wedge until a comfortable position is reached and your torso is close to a 45 degree angle.

Avoid these:
Full Inversions
Breath retention
Bellows breathing
Prone (laying on your belly) asanas, such as cobra or locust; This really depends on how large you get. Use common sense. Ask your teacher for modifications.
Intense twists
Strong abdominal work, such as navasana (full boat)

Check out http://www.healthandyoga.com/html/preg.html for further suggestions and breathing divided into trimesters.


And for those wondering: NO I'M NOT PREGNANT, NOR DO I WANT TO BE! Been there, done that, and working on releasing my children not having more. With that said, best of luck to all you mother and fathers to be.

Love Much,

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

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

Monday, January 14, 2008

Terminal illness

Question: I've been ill for a couple of weeks now and also have been dealing with some emotional news that I think may be hindering my recovery. A dear friend of mine is dying from cancer. I am having a really hard time dealing with this on many levels...what do I do for her and her family, how do I explain this to my kids (5 & 8) who are friends with her kids (3 & 5). How do I keep myself from being consumed by grief and anger? Do you have some suggestions for practices that may help me to better grasp the challenges I am facing?

Suggestions: Wow, you do have a lot happening in your life!

First, your health. Let's lower your stress with some gentle breathing and meditation. Find a comfortable position. That might mean laying in a warm bath. Whatever works for you. Bring awareness to your exhales--no forcing or even deep abdominal work. Picture each exhale like a breeze blowing in the tropics causing the palm leaves to gently sway. Over time, you may allow the exhales to last a bit longer, but keep it very restful, as if you are laying on a hammock on a summer's day.

Once you feel peaceful and restful, you can add one of these affirmations:

"I freely take in Divine ideas that are filled with the breath and the intelligence of Life. This is a new moment."
"I lovingly release the past. They are free and I am free. All is well in my heart now."

Say this through out the day, as well. Even look in the mirror and say it with conviction--with feeling and faith.

Now for your friend. I empathize with the desire to help in some way, but know that that's not always possible. Oriah (Mountain Dreamer) says, "Sometimes we can only keep our heart high for another." To be there without pity, but to be there with an open heart and lifted spirit.

You might want to check out books by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross . I have found her insights and viewpoints invaluable when dealing with grief.

If your friend is open to healing avenues, you might bring her Hay's Cancer CD . I don't know anyone first hand, but have heard some amazing testimonials from using Louise Hays work with healing from cancer. In general Louise Hay says, "All cancer stems from held resentment." (An excellent reason for us all to let go of the past.)

As for the children, Dr. Kubler-Ross's site offers various suggestions. She was a big advocate of NOT keeping children in the dark and encouraging them to express themselves through drawings. I agree with the idea of keeping the children involved. With that said, many psychotherapists say to wait until the death is near.

In the end, you have to use your best judgment. I'd stay tuned in and aware of how much they seem to be picking up on--most likely it's more than you think. This is why I agree with Dr Ross and would open communication. It's a lot better (in my opinion) to allow kids to express than to be left with fear that something is happening that Mom won't even talk about. Again, it really depends on how close your kids are to her family.

Ah, grief and anger. First, allow yourself to feel. I'd highly recommend having your husband take the kids out of the house and spend some time sobbing, screaming, throwing pillows, punching the bed, and so on. Don't hold back. These are strong and volatile emotions, they will express themselves. How is your choice: either letting them out on a pillow, displaced anger at a loved one, or your own health problems. I'd go for the pillow.

Also, anger at "God" and your friend are very likely and an openly expressed letter or talking too might be in order-even if the letter is never sent. I'm not saying chew your friend out, but to express frustration in private and allow anger at her for getting sick, can be very releasing. Again, NO JUDGMENT--take time to let yourself feel.

After releasing--and odds are this will have to be done a number of times--follow up with

"I forgive you. I forgive me. All is well."

(Check out my previous class post regarding grief.) Do this affirmation after each release (pillow punching time). If you can find no other time, yell in your car.

"All is well," can be a hard pill to swallow--but consider that there is a purpose and that these events are taking place for a reason.

Finally, here is a poem that I really enjoy:

What Is Dying?

I am standing on the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch her until at length she is a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says, 'There! She's gone!' Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side, and she is just as able to bear her load of living weight to her destined harbor.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says, 'There! She's gone!' There are other voices ready to take up the glad shout, 'There she comes!'
~ Charles H. Brent
I hope you find some peace.
Love Much,

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

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

Friday, January 11, 2008

Tips on Getting Pregnant

*No this is not me! Photo compliments of wikipedia, as digital cameras didn't exist when I was pregnant (maybe they did, but you get a feel for more age--I mean wisdom!).*

Question: I have been trying to get pregnant and was curious if there were any yoga poses that could help?

Response: Yoga is known to relax us and too much stress can make getting pregnant tough. Dr. Timothy McCall talks at this here: http://www.babycenter.com/400_can-yoga-help-me-get-pregnant_506701_1000.bc.

Another helpful site is http://www.gettingpregnant.co.uk/fertility_yoga.html which lists a few poses as helpful.

Most importantly, I think, is to relax into the poses and NOT stress yourself out over having a baby. Instead use this time (especially with legs on wall pose) to visualize having a baby or being pregnant. Use all five senses. If it's getting pregnant (and not just having a baby, which could include adoption) you might imagine the sounds, smells, tastes, feel, and sight of you carrying a child in your womb. Perhaps even caress your belly with gratitude that you have a baby growing inside of you.

The keys are:
1. Visualize
2. Extend gratitude as if you are pregnant now
3. Express love for this soon to be born child

Watch out for negative feelings and do NOT focus on the lack of not having a child yet. In my opinion, these steps while resting in one of the three yoga postures (legs on wall, goddess/cobbler, and/or bridge) would be worth a try for at least a month.

Finally, if you pray or attend a church (or something similar) that offers prayer requests, then use this too--but remember to focus on the having of a baby or being pregnant or giving birth to a healthy child. I've heard of a couple of folks conceiving through prayer.


Love Much,

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

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

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Setting New Years Resolutions - Out With The Old

Do you ever find at this time of year that it's difficult to find space for all the new presents that came during December? If you have young children, you might know just what I mean.

In order to make space for the new, we have to let go of the old. If you want a new TV, you'll have to give away the old one. Only so many boxes or trinkets will fit or will have a chance to be enjoyed. The old ones, move on to new homes. There is always a flow. A coming in and going out.

Our minds are the same way. To allow new ideas or attitudes into our lives, we first release or let go of old labels and thought patterns.



The art of Feng Shui tells us to clean out our closets when we are stuck and what we desire is not flowing into our life. I take this two ways. One, go through the bedroom closet and get rid of stuff that in longer being used. Salvation Army is one of many great places to take donations. Old love letters, might be better suited for a bonfire. Two, check out the mind. What cob webs and old thought patterns are hanging around in there? Still wishing for life to be different? Still wanting to be 20 again? Time to get rid of these thoughts as well. (Suddenly the daunting task of house cleaning seems pretty easy!)

What thought patterns do you hold onto? Are the helping or hindering your life? Is it time to clean inside and out?





Let go of the old, so that the new may come in.





Love Much,

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

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

Monday, January 7, 2008

Appeciation Certificates

I appreciate:
for:

From:
dated:

Please present to Margret B for your appreciation gift

Over the weekend, I took a stack of books on how to knit to my partner's office. He had a lot of work to do, and we still wanted to hang out together, especially since during the week I work most nights and he works during the day.

On one of my many trips to the coffee pot (decaf, mind you!), I noticed a display with a bunch of Appreciation cards in it. Basically, they looked like the beginning of this post.

How very cool, that a national architectural and engineering firm, HGA, really encourages their employees to think about what they appreciate in their co-workers, but to take the time to let them know.

How often do we do that in our own lives? When was the last time you told someone how much you appreciate them? Not just in passing, but sat down, looked them in the eye, held their hands gently, and tell them how precious it is to have them in your life?


Love Much,

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

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

Friday, January 4, 2008

Bran Muffin Recipe


Ask and thou shalt receive!


Sounds like I'm not the only one that could use a pipe cleaning. So, in the interest of releasing the old (literally!) and allowing in the fresh and new, here's the Bran Muffins recipe complements of The Tassajara Bread Book (posted about earlier).


Bran Muffins by Ed Brown


1 1/2 cups unprocessed wheat bran

1/2 cup boiling water

1 1/4 cups unbleached white or whole wheat flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup butter (I used ghee)

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup molasses (I used blackstrap molasses--gotta love that iron)

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

3/4 cup raisins (I omitted this because my partner is not fond of them; I know, I know. I should check on these things before becoming involved with someone.)


[Makes 12 medium-to-large branny muffins. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.]


Combine 1/2 cup of the bran with the boiling water and let it steep.

Combine the remaining bran with the rest of the dry ingredients.

In a separate bowl cream the butter and sugar, then blend in the molasses and eggs.

Mix the steeped bran in with the buttermilk.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter--sugar mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour and mixing briefly after each addition.

Let the batter stand in the refrigerator for 12 hours. Spoon into greased muffin tins and bake in a 400 degree oven for 18-25 minutes.

The batter will keep refrigerated up to 3 weeks.


Notice that the batter sits for 12 hours or more before you bake it. If you're like me and quickly skim (if at all) the directions, you may miss this--thus, I've bolded it. I've planned entire meals around a main dish that as I'm cooking I realize--oops, skimmed this one too fast and it'll take hours longer than I thought. Not fun.


With that said, try these out, they just might be worth the wait.


Love Much,

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

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

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Poetic Cookbook


The Tassajara Bread Book has been part of my library for at least ten years. Upon first purchasing this gem with its gently textured cover and hand drawn sketches, I fell in love with the poetry that Edward Espe Brown, the author, offered in the opening of this cookbook.

His words, insights, and even the recipes themselves carry with them a humbleness and gratitude towards cooking, food, and life.

I'm amazed to say that only last week did I actually used one of the recipes (page 100, Bran Muffins) and it was scrumptious--not to mention helpful in getting things flowing (if you know what I mean!).

I intend to use many more recipes in the upcoming months. Next on the list is Corn Muffins (still on page 100--I figure why mess with a good thing).


Love Much,

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

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