Monday, September 14, 2009

SCHEDULE AND CONTACT INFO

Due to difficulties with the Total Health Yoga web site host, Stokia, the previous email and web site are no longer available. I realize this is a fraction of what was available on the site, but here is some of the most pertinent information:


Contact

TotalHealthYoga@wi.rr.com

414-708-5750


Private classes available in Menomonee Falls or where you live

$10 off for multiple 1-hour classes paid for at once

$65/hour at the Menomonee Falls Home Studio

$75-105/hour, based on distance from Home Studio, at your home or workplace

More than one person? Add $5/extra person

To schedule or ask questions, please call Kris at 414-708-5750 or email totalhealthyoga@wi.rr.com.


Group Schedule

Mondays 5:30-7:00 pm @ First Unitarian Milwaukee 414-273-5257
Tuesdays 5:30-7:00 pm @ Menomonee Falls Home Studio 414-708-5750
Wednesdays 9:00-10:30 am @ First Unitarian Milwaukee 414-273-5257

Please call the numbers above or Kris at Total Health Yoga (414-708-5750) to verify class schedule or for rate details. For the Tuesday night class you may also email totalhealthyoga@wi.rr.com.

Who is Total Health Yoga

Total Health Yoga is a small business owned and operated by Kris Kramer. Here's a short bio about myself:

I am a Certified Yoga Teacher from Deep Peace Yoga with Todd Norian in a Yoga Alliance approved program. Yoga entered my life around 1999, and I began teaching in 2002. Throughout my studies, many teachers have shared pieces of their knowledge with me. The ones that have really stuck out are Donna Farhi, Erich Schiffmann, John Friend, Rodney Yee, Doug Keller, Aadil Palkhavala, and Rod Stryker.

In 2008, I began to move towards the Viniyoga style which involves moving in and out of positions with the breath. Viniyoga has a very therapeutic nature about it and stresses the individual. As a matter of fact, most Viniyoga classes are done one-on-one. In group classes everyone is encouraged to listen to their body and adapt the poses to fit them--not the other way around.

I've had the privilege to work with Gary Kraftsow, founder of the American Viniyoga Institute, on a couple of occasions and have studied this style with literature by the Mohan's, Desikachar, and Kraftsow.

Aside from Yoga, my interests and studies involve other walks of life, such as Tai Chi, Native American Spirituality, and living a conscious and aware life. All of this is reflected in my teachings. As new knowledge comes my way, I share it in classes.

Testimonials and Class Descriptions

Available upon request.

Policies

Classes at First Unitarian: If, for any reason, a class is missed during a session, you may make up the class, at any location, within 8 weeks of the missed class. If you are unable to attend a make up class, you are welcome to bring a guest or “give” the missed class to someone else.

Classes at Home Studio: These classes run on a package system, which already has built in time to miss a class or more, depending on the package you select. If you miss and want to make it up, you are welcome to attend a class at First Unitarian within 10 weeks of the missed class.

Snow or Inclement Weather: If the weather is questionable, call 414-708-5750 to verify if a class has been cancelled. Class cancellations will be determined at least one hour prior to class start time.
Cancelled classes due to weather will NOT be re-scheduled and package passes will NOT be extended. They will be treated like any missed classes; see above procedures for options in this case.

Refunds: There are no refunds. If you are signed up for a session or package and simply cannot make the classes, you are allowed to transfer your session or package to someone else.

Love Much,

Kris

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

Asthma Help - Love the Exhale!

Every year it seems more people I know have asthma. I'm not sure if it's age, diet, environment, or something totally different.


Regardless there is a quick breathing technique that can be very helpful:

Inhale through the nostrils and take long slow exhales through the mouth with a straw. The inhales remain through the nose, but each exhale imagine a feather on the end of the straw and breath out so smoothly and slowly that this imaginary feather barely moves. Use the abdominals to gently lengthen the out breath. Then release the belly and let the inbreath come in naturally. Do this 10-12 times.

Many people diagnosed with asthma focus on the inhale which is the first mistake. An inhale has nowhere to go if a full exhale hasn't preceded it! So exhale deep and long first. This will also slow the heart rate and lower anxiety which easily aggravates an asthmatic condition.

Finally, when inhaling don't force it; just relax the belly and the breath will deepen as the exhales deepen.


By the way, this technique is wonderful for anyone looking to calm down and release tension.

Best of luck!

Kris

Monday, June 22, 2009

Taking a Break

To all of you that have checked in, commented, or followed this blog, thank you. Currently my life is taking on some transitions and I find transitioning easier when my energy is on where I am going and taking more time to clean up--literally, I'm talking the piles on the desk, at the bedside, and spewed about the kitchen counter. Between that, the kids being home for school break, and our wonderful--all too short--summer finally here, I find taking time to blog is like a task instead of a joy. Being someone that likes to limit tasks and increase joy, this blog will be inactive, at least for the time being.

If you're looking for an inspirational and authentic yoga blog there are many out there. Doug Keller at www.doyoga.com gets deep into the philosophy and is one of the kindest gentlest people I've ever met. Nadine Fawell at http://nadinefawell.net/blog-posts/ is filled with love, honesty, and really embodies (in my opinion) what the yogic path is about. There are other wonderful ones out there, these are just two with very different voices on similar paths.

My facebook (through extras@wi.rr.com) and my email are still up at least for now.

Thanks again and may I part with these words from Yogi Tea,

Travel light,
live light,
spread the light,
be the light.

Follow your own path, everyone elses is already taken,

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com

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

Monday, June 8, 2009

I CHOOSE LOVE

This is amazing! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMOMgQCRAqM


Choose Love,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/

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

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Spiritual Beings

My son, Jake, just posted the following on Facebook:

"Man and god are one and the same. Man need only strip away the illusion of god as we see him now and see the truth. Man is not god.......god is man. - Jake Kramer(to the best of my knowledge)"

He's 14.

Love Much,

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com

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

Monday, June 1, 2009

Master Yoda



Is Yoda a Yogi?

Okay, so he's short, green and has three toes--not your typical yogi. I've yet to see him doing trikonasana (triangle) or suyra namaskar (sun salutation). However, his wisdom is profound and universal.



So what is a yogi? Just because someone practices asanas (hatha yoga postures) or teaches a yoga class does that make them a yogi? Krishnamacharya (the father of most yoga practiced today) said, "Anyone who claimed to be a yogi, wasn't." (pg. 23 Yoga and the Living Tradition of Krishnamacharya) Even though this great master, who only allowed the title "Professor" to be bestowed upon him, may not have called himself a yogi, those around him would say he was. Looking to his son, T. K. V. Desikachar for a definition of yogi we find the following: "[A yogi is] someone adept at yoga." (pg. 242 The Heart of Yoga)

Pantanjali laid out a concise definition of yoga 2000 years ago in the Yoga Sutras. "Yoga is the restriction of the whirls of consciousness." (pg 215 The Yoga Tradition) So to be precise, perhaps no one alive today is truly a yogi. But Yoda does move entire ships with shear concentration and oneness with his surroundings. That's gotta count for something!

Additionally, notice some of the wise words that this sage brings us and the correlations to yoga wisdom:

"Try not. Do or do not, there is no try." (Simply "do your work in the peace of yoga, free from selfish desires, not moved by success or failure." pg 223 The Bhagavad Gita in Yoga Masters)

"Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” (Fear stems from thoughts of loss--loss of materials, relationships, respect, or life itself. To see that we are not our things, relationships, attitudes, or even our physical bodies is part of the self-actualization that yoga brings. When we know this, fear disappears.)

“Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealously. The shadow of greed, that is.” (We practice savasana -- corpse -- at the conclusion of almost every class to remind us that death is part of life. To bring us back to Source and temporarily release the physical body.)

“Named must your fear be before banish it you can.” (Svadhayaya, self-study, is one of the attitudes Pantanjali cites as part of the practice of yoga.)

"Energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship." (Samadhi--the highlight of meditation--is to merge with an object.)

"[Luke:] I can’t believe it. [Yoda:] That is why you fail." ("The mind controls the body." pg 44 Japanese Yoga)

"Feel the force!" ("We are one with the universe, we are therefore imbued with the energy of the universe..." pg 27 Japanese Yoga)


So what do you think? Is Yoda a yogi?



Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/

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

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Daily Words of Wisdom

Thanks to Heather Walton in California for typing all these words of wisdom from Yogi Tea bags. I took the liberty to omit two of them, due to word choices that didn't resonate with me. Several of the ones below touch my heart deeply, and my hope is that you, too, will gain from these reminders of who we are and how to live.

"The purpose of life is to enjoy every moment."

"Delight the world with compassion, kindness and grace."

"Laugh because that is your purpose in life."

"Happiness is every human beings birthright."

"Real happiness lies in that which never comes nor goes, but simply is."

"Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light."

"Bliss cannot be disturbed by gain or loss."

"Compassion has no limit. Kindness has no enemy."

"Appreciate yourself and honor your soul."

"Grace brings trust, appreciation, love and compassion."

"Love is where compassion prevails and kindness rules."

"An attitude of gratitude brings opportunities."

"Recognize that the other is you."

"Life is a flow of love; your participation is requested."

"Where there is love there is no question."

"The best way to life is to be, simply be."

"When you know that all is light, you are enlightened."

"Your head must bow to your heart."

"Your greatness is not what you have, it's what you give."

"Your greatest strength is love."

"Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything."

"All that is needed is surrender and gratitude."

"The soul is projection. Represent it."

"To be calm is the highest achievement of the self."

"There is nothing more precious than the self."

"The universe is the stage on which you dance, guided by your heart."

"There is no love without compassion."

Dare to Love When You Think You Cannot,

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com

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

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ashtanga Yoga - Jois leaves the world of form

Thanks to Nadine Fawell for bringing it my attention that Sri K Pattabhi Jois passed away on May 18, 2009 after gracing this earth for over 90 years.

Jois studied with Krishnamacharya, the father of most yogas today. Taking his own views on hatha yoga and using the knowledge he had acquired, Ashtanga Yoga was born.

Today Ashtanga Yoga is one of the most popular styles in America. While questing for a style that suited me over the last decade or so, Ashtanga was one of the paths I followed for a brief period. Although it did not speak to me personally, the impact Jois had on the world and thousands of people is commendable--his dedication and strength, admirable.

I know that my next practice--regardless of what style I choose--will be dedicated to this devoted and much loved man.

Namaste,

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com

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

Monday, May 11, 2009

Japanese Yoga


A friend and I have been emailing about the authenticity -- or lack thereof -- in many of the world famous yoga teachers today. I wonder if those that have fame and appear to have lost the true meaning of yoga and living a life of ahimsa (non-violence) began with inner peace and the challenges of being in such high demand threw them or if they never really "got it" to begin with.

The teachings found in Japanese Yoga by H. E. Davey align with what my heart tells me is true. This book crossed my path quite unexpectedly which makes it all the more divine.

A month or so ago, my son's Japanese class requested that I come in to teach them some yoga. After making sure they understood that Yoga was from India, and not Japan, I agreed. While investigating to see if there was any correlation between Japan and Yoga, the name Dr. Nakamura Tempu came up. He is known as "the father of yoga in Japan." Davey's book provides an interesting, if not fascinating, story of Dr. Nakamura's life.

I am only about a quarter of the way into the book, but so far it's very impressive and rings true to me. Here are a few excerpts that will give you an idea of the foundational mindset and attitude behind this style of yoga:

"I absolutely reject [the role of guru or spiritual authority]. To look to another for the truth is to miss the Way of the universe that's eternally right before our eyes. It's to attempt to see through the eyes of another person, and it is destined to result in delusion--the follower believes he's seen the truth, but he's only seen a reflection of the truth at best, and the leader believes he or she is doing something right because of the worshipful attitude of the followers." (pg 11)

"[We] are one with the universe, we are therefore imbued with the energy of the universe (ki in Japan, prana in India), and, as a result, we can learn directly from the universe itself." (pg. 27)

"[The] body acts as a reflection of the mind." (pg. 44)

The premise is that truth is only known when you experience it yourself. Davey continuously stresses the reader to perform the exercises repeatedly to see for yourself what is happening. The exercises I've used so far are about discovering for yourself the power of the mind in the body.

It's refreshing to find a teaching that truly guides the participant so that they may discover for themselves what is true instead of claiming it must be true because some yogi with a lot of experience or even an ancient text says so.

To finding your own inner guru,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/

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

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Is Ear Candling Safe?

Is ear candling safe? Being into complementary and alternative medicine, I decided to try ear candling. It felt odd and was fun in a strange "let's-do-something-different" kind of way, but I really wondered if all the crap left in the candle could possibly have come out of my ear. Reputable sources claimed great concern over this procedure and warned against doing it. On the other hand, folks working at the local health store said it helped them greatly over the years.
So I decided to run an experiment to uncover the truth regarding this practice. The nice clean glass below served as the inside of a nice clean ear.



Next I placed the ear candle over the cup and lit it--just as you would do over your own ear if you were so inclined to use ear candles. The first thing I noticed was a large amount of sooty smoke filling the glass (our ear for this experiment). When it was done here's how the glass looked (remember this is what could be left inside your ear canal.




To give you a better picture, here's a clean spoon.





Now here's the same spoon after scooping out the gunk from the bottom of the glass (this is the junk left in your ear after candling).



Additionally, ear candling proponents claim that the inside of the candle will suck up the wax from your ear thus cleaning it out. To "prove" this, you can cut the candle open and see all the supposed ear wax. Below is a photo of the ear wax that was sucked up.



Of course, the only problem with this is that wasn't even over an ear!! But rather a completely clean glass!
So take my advise and stay away from this detrimental hoax.

In good health,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/

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

Monday, April 27, 2009

Yoga is no laughing matter!! Or is it.... - Laughing Yoga




"My karma ran over my dogma.... "


"Some people talk about finding God, as if He or She could get lost."

"When two psychic friends met, one said: 'You are fine. How am I ?' "



(Jokes complements of http://www.swamij.com/jokes.htm.)



Reader's Digest reminds us in it's monthly column, "Laughter is the Best Medicine." This is not just a catching title; it's true!


Mayo Clinic sites various benefits of laughter such as stimulating the organs, increasing endorphins, relaxes the body while giving it a work out, increases circulation, aids with digestion, improves the immune system, and acts as a natural pain killer. Not to mention the fact that it's just plain fun!


In Hal Urban's book, Life's Greatest Lessons, he shares stories of how Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein used humor and play to break the tension of too much thinking. "[Edison not only maintained] hundreds of notebooks full of scientific equations, he filled several others with nothing buy jokes." As for Einstein, just take a look at the above photo and tell me this man didn't know how to have a good time.

So we all could use a good dose of laughter everyday, but what it that's just not happening? One suggestion is to do Laughing Yoga or go to the bookstore and find a comic book that really tickles you. (I've checked the web for joke sites, but found that the majority of them focused on slamming others.) Laughter Yoga offers a means to see if there is a Laughter Club near you. If not, think about starting one or at least rent some funny movies. One of my all time favorites is The Princess Bride.

Ho-Ho-Ho-Ha-Ha-Ha,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/

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

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What do Being Sick and Meditation have in common?

Dealing with my first cold in three years--ironically I came down with it at the tail end of a Florida vacation--I've noticed something odd about illness. Everything else seems to disappear. If someone has a fever, stuffy nose, or constant cough, there's little (if any) energy to think about anything or anyone else. The mind seems to crave relaxation and quiet. Personally I find a bath with my ears submerged while repeating inwardly, "I allow my mind to relax and be at peace," does wonders to relieve mental congestion.

Point is our typical thoughts disappear, at least mine do. Things that used to seem ever so important drop away as all inner resources are about healing. I realize this is only true for those that stay home from work to nourish themselves. I've been sick while caring for a baby and a toddler; let's just say that paints quite a different picture. But to stay in bed with some tea and allow your eyes to shut when they like and just to focus on the bodies needs is somehow meditative.

Now before you think I've gone off the deep end, let me explain. When we meditate, there is a hum or lightness to the body. The observer or witness takes over and thoughts are seen, but no longer control us. As meditation continues, a sense of calm inner peace soaks through us.

If we fight being ill, which I've done, the resistance builds and tension is felt everywhere. If we allow the illness to be there while focusing on nourishing the body and bringing it comfort, along with this acceptance is that same meditative detachment from the body, that same observation and peace.

Since I've been healthy for quite a while and love being in Florida, this particular illness baffles me. Being one that likes to learn from all of life's experiences, I look back on the vacation. I stretched my body every morning, skipped through Disney world (literally!), and enjoyed my mom's company. So, why get sick? Deepak Chopra advices we stop asking "why". Sound advice, yet I ask--slow learner I guess.

Thinking about it I realize that during the vacation, I didn't practice any hatha yoga or meditation. Days were packed and my mind and body were running on "excitement mode" for almost seven days straight. The adrenaline kept me moving and jumping; I felt like a kid again. This is all cool, but maybe, just maybe, my body and mind craved that down time. Peaceful time found during meditation and moving slowly with the breath. I was too busy having fun to even notice this lack of quiet--to busy loving the sun and warm temperatures--so my body decided it would force the time for stillness by getting sick.

I might not be correct in this reasoning, but just in case next time I'll just meditate!

Love Much,

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com

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

Thursday, April 9, 2009

What Is Success

What constitutes a successful life? Society, parents, peers, and perhaps even our own minds frequently use the term 'success' synonymously with financial wealth, living in upscale neighborhoods, driving expensive cars, and holding certain jobs. I believe this idea hinders us in the path of true success.


This brings us to the question, then what is success? When we are stuck in the thinking mind, it is helpful to first still this inner chatter and preconceived ideas through yoga, meditation, or even a walk in the woods. So to determine what success meant to me personally, I took a long savasana (deep relaxation) after a hatha yoga practice and cleared my mind. Then I pulled out a journal and just wrote whatever came to me regarding the subject of success. This technique is a great way to let your inspiration and insight come through on any topic.


The result of this free-form idea gathering combined with some word changes brought out the following in acronym:


Success
S - Silence
U - Unite
C - Creativity
C - Character
E - Excel
S - Solutions
S - Surrender


Silence: Take time to be in stillness and silence. This is were our inspiration and insights bubble up.


Unite: Unite your intentions and actions. First you must know what your intentions both globally, locally, long-term, and short-term are. Coming to a place of silence helps to set these intentions without ego getting in the way. Then observe your actions; do they align with your intentions?


Creativity: Don't be a cookie-cutout; be your own person with your own unique contributions to the world. Honor what works for you and remember that we each have an individual purpose or dharma. Be true to yourself and allow others to be true for themselves. (Yes, moms -- including myself -- this is really important for us to remember!)


Character: Act and live with character. Thomas Lickona has written a wonderful book -- if you can get past the preaching and strictness of it -- called Character Matters. Do you live, speak, think, and act with integrity, honesty, respect, honor, and gratitude? These words mean different things to different people. What do they mean to you? Do you find that you treat others with respect or honor, but not yourself?


Excel: Do your best. I hesitate to use the word "best" as you could do your "best" at work by never coming home. You could run a race and pass out from attempting to reach higher performance continuously. Sounds exhausting, right? Instead view "best" with the wise advice of the Chinese, "Do everything 70% of your maximum. Run 70% of your fastest. Eat 70% of what you can." The guideline isn't 30% or even 50%. So put forth effort without killing yourself or stressing out beyond your limits.


Solutions: Focus on solutions, not problems. It's wise to bring awareness to potential obstacles or challenges. But to stop there is where we may fail. To succeed, we must look at these issues and brainstorm for solutions. Free-form all ideas with wild abandon; you can always go back and remove ideas that you know won't work. But when we brainstorm in a a free format (no judgement) some pearls of insight just might surface.


Surrender: The Bhagavad Gita councils us to do our dharma (purpose) and then let the outcome go. When we act with integrity, awareness, and wisdom, that is enough. That is success. The result of our actions are none of our business. I've heard it said, "There's your business, other people's business, and God's business." The outcome of your actions pure of heart are God's business, not ours.


"Success is not so much what we have as it is what we are." ~ Jim Rohn


"Truth, self control, asceticism, generosity, non-injury, constancy in virtue — these are the means of success, not caste or family." ~ Mahabharata



Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/

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

Monday, March 30, 2009

Yoga at Home

"Have you ever unrolled your yoga mat with the best of intentions to flow from one yoga pose to another, only to find that no ideas come to mind? You sit on your blanket and stare blankly into outer space waiting for inspiration to strike, or you search through the recesses of your mind trying to recall what the group yoga class did yesterday. Do you hear yourself saying things like, “Let’s see what posture came after that forward fold?” “Okay mind, now would be a fine time to remember what we did in class yesterday?” Do you plan to practice between classes, but when you sit down and get ready to begin, nothing happens? Does your body just sit there waiting for your mind to tell it what to do?" ~ except from Creating Your Own Yoga Practice

The spring air has giving me the oomph needed to complete some past projects and toss others out. With this in mind, I created an electronic (pdf format) book called, Creating Your Own Yoga Practice. The birth of this idea came almost three years ago after attending a teacher workshop and discovered how few people had any knowledge of the importance of ordering yoga postures. Additionally, it never fails when a new class starts up that the next week a handful of people wonder what to do when they get home. Even those of us with years of experience may find it difficult to come up with a flow of postures that move the body in a wise fashion.

There are numerous theories and opinions regarding the topic of sequencing, Creating Your Own Yoga Practice, contains elements of Anusara, Iyengar, and Para Yoga, which are all quite similar.

If you're interested in seeing sample pages, click here and here. The cost is $10, and you may order by emailing me at Kris@TotalHealthYoga.com.

Love Much,

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com

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

Improving Mental Health - Maintaining Weight Loss - (or gain)

Last week's post was based on admiration of Dr. Dyer's quote of the day; today I'd like to share with you another new blog--new to me--that has a great post suggesting Top 10 Ways to Protect Your Mental Health.

The American Diabetes Association says, "Approximately 64% of American adults are overweight or obese...." We all know that if we eat right and exercise, our bodies will respond. In high school, my 5' 1" body reached over 145 pounds. I refused to step on the scale again until I knew I had lost some weight. By the end of college, I was down to 96 pounds and had the child-sized wedding dress to prove it!

My weight and food problems stemmed wide and far. They were rooted in deep childhood issues. It wasn't until I began to love and appreciate myself and Life that the weight reached a comfortable zone (~115-120) and I felt fit and healthy. The point is, my body responded with I changed on the inside. Sure exercise and consciously considering what when in my mouth were a big part of it, but the yo-yo shifts in weight stopped when the reason I took care of my body was because I appreciated it and myself and not because I wanted to look or even feel a certain way.

In summary, physical fitness and watching what we eat is great, but until we pay attention to our mental health, attitude, and mindset, our physical health will, at best, be temporary.

Love Much--take care of yourself because you're worth it!

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com

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

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Power of Intention

As many of you know, I admire Dr. Wayne Dyer and the wisdom he shares. Not that I agree with all of it, but overall his words resonate as Truth, and as Gandhi said,

"There is no God higher than Truth."

As usual, something Dr. Dyer wrote struck of chord of inner peace with me and thus I'm compelled to share it with you:

Practice the Power of Intention
"The power of intention is the power of love and receptivity. It asks nothing of anyone, it judges no one, and it encourages others to be free to be themselves. Remember:
You were intended out of love,
so you must be love in order to intend
."

If this speaks to you, feel free to check out his 'quote of the day' page, as this is where it came from.

Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/

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

Monday, March 23, 2009

Acid Reflux Relief - Gerd - Heartburn Relief

We do our best to let our yoga teacher's know what ailments we have, but sometimes it's hard to keep up! Recently a gal mentioned, in passing, that she'd had acid reflux for some time now. She didn't tie it to yoga or think that her practice could help or hurt this condition. Depending on how the practice is, it could do either.

Here are some basic suggestions to watch out for if you (or someone you know) is dealing with acid reflux, gerd, or heartburn during a yoga session:

* Wear loose comfortable clothing.
* When on the back (especially savasana) use blankets to keep the upper back and head higher than the belly.
* No strenuous backbends; deep stretching in the abs can bring on too much stimulation.
* Any activity that calms and sooths the belly region is helpful--this could be passive breathing, meditation, and gentle movements.
* Avoid active exhales; do not pull the belly in tightly.
* Gentle forward bends (with a passive relaxed exhale) can help to relax the abs.
* Gentle slow stretches of the abs or side body are fine--you may want to start slowly and stay in each position a breath or two even if in a group class we're moving in and out with each breath.
* Think "is my belly calm in this pose". If the answer is "yes", precede; if not, lessen the degree--that is, don't go into the pose so far.
* Feel free to use chairs to support you in standing forward bends of any kind to gently massage the belly without deeply compressing it. Also, you could widen your legs in forward bends to lessen compression while still getting the benefits.
* Do your best to avoid eating 2-3 hours prior to class; if you need something try something small (preferably fruit) 30-60 minutes prior to class.


Love Much,

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com

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

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mind Body Connection

What we think about directly affects our bodies.

A bold and new idea such as this would have earned you the label of "quack" thirty or forty years ago; yet today we accept this notion as common knowledge, or at least I thought so.

A dear friend of mine is about to return (after a long medical leave) to a job that she abhors. Every cell in her body screams to not go back; yet logic, the economy, and her husband encourage her to ignore the body's pleas and to return to a situation that goes against everything that feels right in her heart. Not surprisingly she has dealt with countless major health issues, including cancer, and metal issues. In interest of her privacy, I won't include the long list, but let's suffice it to say that the issues are not minor and I am concerned for her well-being and at times for her very life.

This woman is talented, intelligent, funny, kind, educated, generous, and a hard worker. She has much to offer the world including her true passion of spiritual growth and awareness. However re-entering into this particular job is draining her of the few reserves she has left; how could a husband demand she go back? If he loves her, then why would he risk her well-being?

Simple: He doesn't believe that the stress and unhappiness have anything to do with all of the diseases she has experienced in the last couple of years.

Let's see what Mayo Clinic has to say:
"Mind-body techniques strengthen the communication between your mind and your body. Complementary and alternative medicine practitioners say these two systems must be in harmony for you to stay healthy. Examples of mind-body connection techniques include:
Meditation, Yoga , Biofeedback, Prayer, Hypnosis, and Relaxation and art therapies, such as poetry, music and dance."

Neurobiologist, David Felten, at the University of Rochester comments:
"[Science has] provided irrefutable data showing [that our minds and bodies are connected.]"

Rita Effros, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and a member of the Jonsson Cancer Center, Molecular Biology Institute and UCLA AIDS Institute, describes the relationship between stress and the immune system:
"When the body is under stress, it boosts production of cortisol to support a 'fight or flight' response. If the hormone remains elevated in the bloodstream for long periods of time, though, it wears down the immune system."

So the question is can we feel good, or at least okay, with our lives? Do you enjoy your job, or at least not feel repulsed by it? Are you're relationships overall loving and nurturing? How do you view life--as welcoming and wonderful or frightening and tragic?

Is there a connection with how you view the world and live your life with your health? It takes raw honesty to admit that we might be our cause of illness, but evidence is strong enough to at least consider that maybe--just maybe--we all have the power to shift our attitude, thoughts, and/or surroundings to live a healthier and more meaningful life.

Additional sources of information may be found at:
http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/ART02741
http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2008/03.13/03-harrington.html
http://psychcentral.com/news/2008/07/02/genetic-study-supports-mindbody-connection/2540.html

Love Much,

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com

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

Monday, March 9, 2009

Presense - Living in the Now

Have you ever had unwanted thoughts creep in throughout the day? If there's a conflict that needs resolving or a life-altering decision to be made, does your mind replay possible scenarios over and over again?

Last week, I found my thoughts running a muck leaving me unable to enjoy being fully present with my friends and family. One of my goals is to live a conscious life and be fully in the moment at all times--hey, it's a goal. The question arose: how does one stay present when strong emotions or thoughts fill the mind and draw attention to another time and place?

Eckhart Tolle suggests three techniques to live in the now: breathing consciously, noticing the inner body, and asking what is my relationship with the present moment?

This final method worked wonderfully for me last week. Throughout the day, I'd question:

"What is my relationship with the present moment?"

This question alone, brings your attention to the now and you become the observer instead of being sucked into the mind's drama. The follow up question below really cinched it for me.

"Can I make space for this moment?"

You may interpret this query differently at different times. Can I accept the situation? Can I step back and allow my feelings to flow? Can I allow someone to be different than I think they ought to be? Can I see the bigger picture? Can I be present without identifying with any given role?

When we can make space for our emotions to exist, a fascinating thing happens; we become the witness and watch emotions rise and fall while maintaining a sense of peace and objectivity. By making space for the current moment and our habitual reactions to it, we can see how silly and repetitive some thoughts are. We can give sadness or anger the room it needs to run its course. Then we are free to move on without the stagnation and distraction of continuous thoughts bringing us out of the current moment.

So I ask: What's your relationship with the current moment? Can you make space for it?

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com

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

Friday, March 6, 2009

Setting Personal Boundaries

Laura (name changed) has mastered the art of setting and living with personal boundaries. In doing so she no longer needs blood pressure medication or her inhaler. I've known Laura for about four years and am inspired by her ability to use the lessons of yoga to change her life for the better on a daily basis. Following are three short anecdotes demonstrating her personal power. Hopefully, these stories will inspire more of us to realize the value of honoring thyself.


Laura's children are grown and have kids of their own. Her grandkids are quite young--below the age of five, I think. One set of grandkids lives on the west coast and the other on the east; whereas Laura resides in the midwest. Every year Laura and her husband would fly out to both coasts for Thanksgiving and Christmas. You may imagine the expense financially and time-wise of doing this. Finally this past year, Laura began to honor her own limits and spent Thanksgiving on one coast and Christmas on the other. Initially, the grandkids were upset at the change, but Laura stuck to her decision and used skype (or some such video abilities) to "be" with the kids on each coast. Already her life was simpler and, well, more sane.


Laura's high pressure job demands much of her time with last minute meetings and requests cropping up on a continuous basis. It also demands a lot of travel. Her blood pressure and breathing patterns reflected this stressful life. Over the past several months, she began to actually say, "No," to her boss. When told that "she had to fly out early for a meeting" the morning after returning from a trip, Laura simply told her boss that was not good for her body, but she would be happy to hold the meeting over the phone. Her boss was flustered, but ended up agreeing that the phone made more sense.


One final story about personal power and how one woman utilizes it in her daily life. Laura used to spend the majority of her weekends with her blind and single mother helping out with chores, reading to her, and just being together. When Laura stepped back and looked at her life and considered why it felt so off-balance and stressful, she realized that part of that was from spending so much of her out-of-work time caring for her mom. Now she spends about three hours most Sundays with her mom. Initially, her mom was upset by this shorter schedule and (from my view) tried to guilt-trip my friend into sticking with the old way. But Laura stuck to her guns, told her mother she loved her, and kept the new time limits. Within a few weeks, her mom had met other people and even began dating.


What I find so inspiring about this dear woman, is her ability to exhibit personal boundaries and power in all facets of her life. Just as importantly, she does it with a loving and compassionate heart. Never once did I sense her resisting a situation--not since she began working with her yoga breathing and mindset. Instead of fighting and struggling with potentially challenging situations, she thinks creatively and with love and calm in her heart. I believe that because her intentions are pure and honest, in the end everyone benefits.



May you release guilt,
honor yourself,
and
experience the personal freedom of setting boundaries,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/

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

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Wholeness

What is it to live a "whole life?" Gail Straub suggests in her book, The Rhythm of Compassion, to see balance as the inhale and exhale of every breath: "I've come to think of [the] relationship between soul and society much like following the in-breath and the out-breath, as in meditation practice. There's a natural time for the in-breath of caring for self and family, and a natural time for the out-breath of caring for the needs of the world. The challenge is to become skillful in following our rhythm--knowing when it's time to go inward and when to go out into the community." (Page1.)

Wholeness is found when we reflect and nourish within while balancing that with giving and taking action. A full life is all about balance, and yoga is a tool that can be utilized to find this state of harmony.

A yoga sequence can be customized around the ideas of balance or wholeness. Ideally any yoga class adheres to the guidelines of bringing equanimity and fullness to life, but a focus on twists uncovers imbalances rather quickly. Whereas a whole body practice, sarvanga sadhana, involves all parts of the body including the internal organs. The Viniyoga tradition advices such a complete sequence at least once every 20 days. I find this guideline useful in avoiding burn-out from spending so much time with the poses. It enables you to have a specific focus during the week, while still checking in with the entire system periodically. This is a wonderful way to catch something before it gets out of hand and to maintain the body as a whole.

The body and mind are inseparable. So this endeavor may appear on the surface as strictly physical; when in reality working with the body and the breath directly impacts the mind and thus our lives.

Love Much,

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com

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

Monday, February 23, 2009

Book Review of In Defense of Food


I devoured the book, In Defense of Food, with the zest of a desert dweller upon a new-found water source. Author, Michael Pollan, manages to intrigue, enlighten, and inform. Pollan manages to stay, for the most part, objective in relaying the state of food in America today. His witty, humorous, and deeply passionate personality shine in every page encouraging the reader to stay up till the wee hours of the morning to absorb this fascinating tale of history, health, and truth.
Pollan covers it all: why, where, when, how, and what of the food industry and its impacts on our health. He mentions organic versus chemicals; his approach is wonderfully fact-based and not a drop of preaching. Studies are cited. Names, places, and dates are given. Vegetarianism is mentioned a handful of times, but for those meat-lovers do not fear. Pollan also eats meat and stays away from directing anyone to eat or abstain from animal-eating. He does diplomatically point out the necessity of vitamin B12 and how amino acids interact and "play together" in the body. Something a non-meat eater might like to consider being that this is a challenge for some vegetarians.
With courage and integrity Pollan stands up for food in the face of politics, agriculture, food companies, and even nutritionists. Investigation takes center stage as the author plays sleuth to uncover and reveal links behind what claims to be food on grocery store shelves and disease. He questions how things are and offers suggestions on taking steps today to alter what goes in your mouth and to see that what you eat is actually food! Not only that, but Mr. Pollan writes about the process of eating, how much, with who, and where.
This is not a book with recipes and strict rules to adhere to. You will not find a food protocol to be followed blindly. Here you will find education, guidelines, and inspiration. You will be well-armed to make healthy and intelligent choices when buying, making, and eating food.
Eating is here to stay; if we follow Pollan's advise, real food will be too.

Enjoy and Bon App├ętit!

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/

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

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Spirituality and Aging - Concept of Yin and Yang


What does it mean to have balance in our lives? Is it possible to find balance while living in a fast-paced and goal-oriented society?

The Chinese describe balance with an elegant and simple shape, the yin yang symbol pictured above. The dark side represents masculine, active, and energetic qualities. While the white stands for the female, receptive, and calming attributes. These opposing energies are found all around us and within us.

Notice how the symbol demonstrates how nothing is all yang or all yin by including a small circle of white in the black area and visa versa. As yang or action grows, yin or reception lessens. They flow naturally and wonderfully together in harmony.

As the sun rises in the morning and finally reaches it's full height in the middle of the day, the energy of the earth warms and movement is encouraged as we get out of bed and take action. During the later part of the day and into sunset, the energy begins to calm and stillness is felt; this is the yin energy entering and coming into full force in the middle of the night.

Life itself begins with birth, a yang quality, and continues to strive, grow, and expand. Ideally, after reaching midlife, yin begins to take over and we slow down coming closer to and finally reaching death of the physical body. In America, the mass majority does not honor, and definitely not look forward to, the yin slowing of activity. Some of us fight it tooth and nail with face lifts, botox, and power yoga practices far into the later parts of life.

Humankind is part of nature. We're an animal like any other. Yet we attempt to fool ourselves into thinking that because we have the ability to reason and analyze that we can stop aging. Our so-called civilized culture can take a lesson from the past Native Americans who honored, even revered, their elders for their spiritual knowing and years of experience. Wisdom and insight comes with age only if we let it. If we continue to deny the natural cycle of life--yang to yin--then we miss out on one of the greatest gifts life has to offer. The gift of wisdom and knowing that comes with embracing our later years, is a gift America and much of our world is missing.



Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/

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

Monday, February 16, 2009

Where's your focus?

Dr. Wayne Dyer's web site just offered a "thought for the day" that I found simple, applicable, and useful. Hopefully you will too.

"I focus on what’s really important in life.
Quality rather than appearance . . .
ethics rather than rules . . .
integrity rather than domination . . .
knowledge rather than achievement . . .
serenity rather than acquisitions."
~ Dr. Dyer


Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/

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

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Don't Worry, BE Happy!

Mark Twain (complements of Wikipedia.com)



Mark Twain once wrote, "I’ve been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened." This profound and witty point is well taken. Others have shared the same sediment, such as Bobby McFerrin in his upbeat tune with a message, "Don't Worry, Be Happy!" And, "Worry is a prayer for what you don't want," says Kris Carr, author of Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips.
Now let's be careful with the word "happy." Happiness as the opposite of sadness is not what I'm talking about. That type of happiness is fleeting and ever changing. Don't worry, be happy is not about acting happy or pretending to feel happy; it's true inner contentment or bliss. The yoga sutras describe this in the yogic attitudes or niyamas as samtosa which best translates as a state of contentment. I would add a state of acceptance of what is. If we don't want was is to continue, that's cool; we can act and think in such a manner at to change it. But step one is a peaceful recognition of the present moment and state of affairs.
"Great," you might say, "but how do I get there?" Reaching a state of inner calm amongst potential chaos starts with understanding that real lasting joy has no opposite. As the Buddhists and Hindus describe, it is like the center of a wheel. Generic happiness, sadness, anger, enjoyment are on the outer edges of the spokes; whereas bliss, real happiness, samadhi, acceptance, and inner peace are at the center. All the emotions spin around on the periphery, but that tranquil knowing is at the core.
There are no words that fully describe this state; sure words can point to it or attempt to illustrate what pure unadulterated happiness is. But it's an experience that is beyond language and the thinking mind. Most of us have at least had glimpses of inner bliss. Musicians may sense this state of being while playing, an artist while creating, or an athlete while running. Nature is always in this truly present state. You may have felt it when watching the sunset or perhaps when standing in an open meadow filled with grasses and flowers swaying with the breeze. A moment when your thinking mind pauses; there is no analysis or labeling. There is simply being. This is true happiness. And what's awesome is that with practice you can connect to it at any time.
So stop worrying about tomorrow, or yesterday for that matter. And start being with those around you--no labeling and no thoughts of how things "ought to be different." Then you'll see what I mean; happiness--real happiness--cannot be bound by words; it's too limitless for that. And when you stand in the center of joy, you know--really know--that everything is okay just the way it is.


Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/

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

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Alzheimers Cures

Fascinating discovery concerning Alzheimers. Check out what Dr. Newport found: http://www.tampabay.com/news/aging/article879333.ece


Love Much,

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com

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

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Guru is YOU!

About a year and a half ago, I posted on the subject of gurus - http://totalhealthyoga.blogspot.com/2007/09/are-you-my-guru.html. Here again I'd like to share a few thoughts on the subject.

Contemporary spiritual leaders such as Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie, and Wayne Dyer claim to not want to be anyone's guru. Dyer points out that if something he says inspires you or guides you to a deeper knowing, it's not his doing. It's your readiness and openness that sheds more light. He takes no credit for any progress you make; nor does he take blame for your blocks.

In the past I thought that anyone who brought light and understanding where there used to be darkness or confusion was a guru, but I'm beginning to see that the only one that can truly dispel suffering and bring joy is each one of us for ourselves. As Jesus said, "The kingdom of Heaven is within."

There is a Zen saying: "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!" The idea here is that Buddha is not something or someone outside of you. Buddha can only be found within, so something outside of you must be an impostor.

Another wise man, Lama Surya Das wrote, "We can always learn from others, but finally each of us can only trust our own intuitive heart." This is important, especially as students of yoga. Even alignment that is perfect for one person, may not suit another. We each have to decide for ourselves what is best--what is true for us. This takes courage, discipline, and trust in who we are.

Finally, some words from Byron Katie, "You can't free yourself by finding a so-called 'enlightened' state outside your own mind. When you question what you believe, you eventually come to see you're the enlightenment you've been seeking." Like Dorthy in the Wizard of Oz, the answers are already within you. How cool is that?

Love Much,

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com

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

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Life Choices


Ever so often—more often than I’d like to admit—I’m reminded that “I’m not all that.” I’ve been on this spiritual journey as long as I can remember. There’ve been slips and stagnations—sometimes taking a decade or longer. But when I see the totality of how I viewed and participated in this thing we call Life ten, twenty, or thirty years ago, it becomes immediately obvious that I’ve grown spiritually and am a kinder and more understanding person.


Life no longer happens to me.

I am responsible for all events in my life.

There are lessons in each and ever one of them.

Even when it’s challenging to find gratitude, I find it.

Everything is okay.


I see my ego, most of the time, instead of being lost in it. Sometimes old habitual patterned responses based on fear, anger, or righteousness come storming out. And like a storm, the best thing to do is ride it out. However, these storms are getting shorter and less frequent. Sounds like a "good" thing to me. Yet there are time I feel temporarily out-of-control with a rant that just pours out of my mouth. This is quite humbling. Even as I've progressed along a spiritual path, vulnerable spots remain. Some of my "buttons" continue to trigger an automatic reaction.


A few months back at a training, students were asking the teacher numerous questions. There were questions that I had "already figured out and didn't want to waste my precious time with them." After all the opportunity to study with that particular teacher was a rare and valuable event. As my patience grew thin--masked with a calm exterior--I thought about how much "further along I was than these other people." During a break I shared this with Mike; telling him of my effort to be more tolerant of these less evolved (for lack of a better word) people. In his gentle manner Mike said, "Maybe you're not as far along as you thought." The simple fact that the classroom situation bothered me at all was very telling and humbling.


Yesterday I found my mouth exuding a mini-speech defending the idea that we all have a choice. Deep down I wanted acknowledgement for my own efforts to lead a fuller, happier, and more meaningful life. Anger reared its righteous head when someone said, "Life is just harder for other people." My list of struggles and obstacles swirled in my head. Like two burly men one-upping each other with scars from the fights they'd been in.


Typically I see Life as offering lessons and challenges to help us to grow as human beings. While ranting yesterday, I found my mind using words like struggles and obstacles. This is a habit from over ten years ago and rarely comes up anymore. But I was so sick of people making excuses for their Lives and complaining about how miserable they are. Then to point at me and say it's just easier, still brings out this immense ego that I thought was in better check. Awareness flew out the door and ego took over. One day later, I reflect on this conversation and realize that "I'm not all that." Humbled and knowing there is still so very much to learn.


Usually I would place these ideas in my private journal with pen and paper at my bedside, but something urged me to publicly blog these feelings instead. I'm not certain why, but would like to share with you that:


We all have lessons and challenges in Life; you are not alone.
You can complain about how tough yours are continue living that way.
Or you can take the lesson, say 'thank you', and move on.
It's a choice.

Your view of Life is a choice only you can make.
If you view Life as "out-to-get" you, you'll attract more obstacles and perhaps get stuck.
If you see Life as a friend, you'll attract lessons and flow through them faster.

You create your own Life.
When you say, "My Life is harder than yours," you are living in the past and allowing yourself to stay stuck and attract more suffering.
When you say, "My Life is what I make it," you release the past and start making choices today because you know these choices in thought, word, and deed determine your tomorrow.



How much do you want to suffer?
You can see Life as a struggle and fight it tooth and nail. As Tolle says, when you can't take the suffering anymore, you will change.
You can show gratitude now, live with conscious awareness, be completely honest about your own attachment, and take responsibility for everything that happens in your life--yes, everything.


Having a spiritual practice is essential for true happiness.
This practice can range from a daily silent walk in nature while admiring the beauty around you to studying and practicing the ideas from modern day spiritual leaders, such as Byron Katie.
Spirituality and religion are NOT the same thing.
Spirituality is a practice, not something you just read about.



My intention is that one day I'll be able to hear the complaints from anyone, regardless of their circumstances and how they might compare to mine, with an open and loving heart. That I can gently remind them Life is a Choice and then let it go.

Today I still feel steam rise when someone making a lot more money than I do whines to me about their financial situation--honestly I want to smack them upside the head!! Or when someone mourns over their tough childhood that was "better" than mine, I think "get over it already." So, I guess here's another lesson. One of those wonderful opportunities to grow spiritually. I might always want to smack 'em, but I'll willing to make a different choice.

"I'm not all that," I guess. But I'm willing to wake up every day and strive to live a richer, more understanding, and compassionate life. This will mean stop comparing my life to others when determining how much compassion I'm willing to give. Thanks for indulging me in this blog entry, as I honestly had no idea where it was going and now I feel as if the real lesson has just been uncovered.

Many Thanks,


Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/

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

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Healing -- What's in Your Healing Toolbox?

Thousands of years ago Glen, the caveman, was frustrated while attempting to open a coconut. In his anger he threw a heavy rock at it. To his utter amazement, the fruit cracked open! Soon Glen was the most popular caveman in the tribe. He discovered--through trial and error--that attaching the rock to the end of a sturdy stick made a useful tool. Eventually the tribe called this tool "hammer" and everyone had one. It was all the rage.


Over the next couple thousand years the hammer was adapted for another use--to pry items apart. This required a split curved wedge on one side of the hammer. The people were very satisfied and convinced that they would never need another tool. Until one day, Sam from the next village came to visit with the "pliers." Very impressed, the town's people included that pliers to their tools.


Eventually there were many types of pliers all specialized for various purposes and other tools were created.


Today one could spend a small fortune on carpentry tools. The toolbox has definitely grown.


Healing is a lot like our imaginary story of the hammer. We may discover a wonderful healing modality; for thousands that modality is yoga. This "tool" serves us well and may even prove useful for various issues. However to think that one healing modality is the most appropriate in all cases, is as silly as thinking the hammer is the only tool you need.


I've spent almost a decade questing for the Holy Grail of healing. Along this path many wonderful techniques have proven useful, but the best lessons of all are:
There is no Holy Grail of healing.
One size does not fit all.

Different techniques may or may not be useful to all of us and one time or another. It's key for each of us to be open minded and to be willing to try new ways--especially when previous systems aren't working any more. Here are some methods that you may find useful:

* Spending time in nature
* Yoga postures
* Energy medicine
* Pranayama
* Meditation / Prayer
* Affirmations
* Awareness
* Aromatherapy
* Steam baths
* Bubble baths
* Extras sleep
* Supplements
* Journaling / Reflecting
* Dancing
* Laughing / Being less serious
* Byron Katie's "the work"
* Diet / Food consciousness / Spices
* Acupuncture
* Visualization
* Transcendental Meditation
* "Learning from the heart: Lessons on living, loving, and listening" by Daniel Gottlieb
* "The Four Agreements"
* Slow food / Cooking
So, what's in your healing toolbox?


Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/

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

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pranayama - Breath

"Technically pranayama doesn't mean working with the breath," as a Swami Rama devotee, Nina, reminded me. Pranayama is a Sanskrit term meaning "to extend life force." Depending on how you break up the letters, it could mean "to control life force." I don't think we can completely control life force or Prana; however we can guide it or influence it.

Frequently this yogic technique is simply viewed as breath-work because the easiest means to work with life force is via the breath. As a basis for exploring the breath, it's important to have a foundational understanding of the four stages of breathing. They are as follows:

Inhale - When you emphasize the incoming breath in the chest and then some in the belly it has an energizing and expansive quality. If you mainly breath into the belly, it is calming and can even become depressive over time. On the other hand, only breathing into the chest can bring on anxious feelings and quicken the heart rate. Experiment with these different ways to inhale and find a balance of bringing it from the chest to the belly while stressing the chest and invigorating your body and mind.

Retention - Holding the breath after an inhale has a similar effect to the inhale itself. Use this technique with some caution; if there are any signs of lightheadedness or dizziness, then shorten the pauses or omit altogether. You may notice that when we are shocked, fearful, or horrified the body's tendency is to gasp air in and then hold it. This is NOT the feeling we're going for in pranayama. Instead look for a feeling of gentle expanse, giving the body time to absorb all the oxygen of that breath and for a soft stillness to be experienced.

Exhale - The most natural exhale is a passive one; the abdominals are relaxed and the diaphragm releases upward. This is the most tranquil method of breathing out. It fills the body and mind with surrender, calm, and acceptance. During an asana (posture) practice and for some pranayama techniques the abdominals engage while exhaling. When the abdominals progressively draw in and slightly up, the out breath becomes active and there is a grounding and stabilizing feeling.

Suspension - Pausing after the exhale and not hurrying on to the next in breath, accentuates the effects of the out breath. When this technique is used the body must rely solely on its inner resources. This is one of the reasons to practice hatha yoga; through the postures, focus, and breath-work, the prana storage within the body grows enabling longer suspension of breath and providing greater health and vitality. If your body experiences asthma conditions, it is advised to avoid long suspensions and focus more on the out breath. This is a pretty safe part of the breath; because if you really need to inhale, the body will do just that. According to Gary Kraftsow this phase of the breath cycle "can bring up repressed emotions [and memories].... That is why [he] likes to call this technique the 'open secret of pranayama.'" (Pg 114 Yoga for Transformation) A peaceful suspension of breath is one of the best ways to know the stillness that is always part of you, even when life seems chaotic.

Best of luck exploring!


Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com

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

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Happy New Year - Cultivating Gratitude

What better way to start the new year than by being grateful for the past year?

Here's my list of 100 things in 2008 that I'm grateful for:

1. Learning to be okay with the mystery.

2. Beginning to understand the power of visualization.

3. Reading books on prayer by Dr. Larry Dossey.

4. Taking the Oprah and Tolle online class about the New Earth.

5. Meeting three wonderful like-minded women.

6. Continuing to get together with these women almost every week to share ideas and what's happening in our lives.

7. Spending New Years with song, dance, friends, and wonderful laughter.

8. Healing in body, mind, and soul.

9. PBS and their fabulous spiritual specials.

10. The Soul Series by Oprah.

11. BJ turning 16 and really developing into an outstanding young man.

12. Jake turning 14 and bringing amazement (via card tricks) and laughter everywhere he goes.

13. My mom coming to visit for the best 5 days we've ever had together.

14. My mom telling me she was proud of me.

15. Becoming a bit wiser; understanding life a bit better. And being okay with what I don't understand.

16. Having a working computer.

17. Receiving the kindest and most sincere thank you notes from dozens of students.

18. Each and every student that crosses my path.

19. Each and every teacher that crosses my path.

20. Friends--old and new.

21. An updated vitamin regime.

22. Outpost natural foods and the organic locally grown food.

23. Penzeys and their awesome aromas.

24. Milk and Honey--locally owned, great staff, healthy products, and great source for info.

25. Hanging out at the Brookfield Farmer's market almost every Saturday this summer.

26. Pippin's long adorable yawns!

27. My partner Mike's devotion, support, understanding and love.

28. Stocks going on sale.

29. Gas prices dropping to $1.69--which I paid on Dec 30, 2008!

30. Knowing how to read.

31. Half Price Books and all the wonderful deals there.

32. Family vacation to Oregon.

33. Delicious restaurants--new and old.

34. Growing yoga business.

35. Living life with more integrity.

36. Being able to inspire others by sharing what I've come to know.

37. Baths in the middle of the day.

38. Impeccable immune system!

39. (Re-)discovering Viniyoga.

40. Having the courage and flexibility to try new paths.

41. Hanging out till Midnight with BJ, Jake, and Mike at Barnes and Noble for BJ to get a new book.

42. Mochas at Cup of Java.

43. Creating a plan for re-doing the living room.

44. Enhancing the right side of my brain.

45. Learning about plasticity of the brain--thank you science!

46. Getting my first Calphalon pans.

47. Being more present.

48. Books on CD.

49. Hearing Ram Dass on youtube.

50. Speaking from my heart and being accepted for it.

51. Slowing becoming less judging and at least realizing (usually) when I am judging.

52. Growing in awareness.

53. Seeing my part in "bad" things and not playing the victim; rather seeing every experience as a lesson--some tough and some easy.

54. Dar Williams and her insights.

55. Dr. Wayne Dyer sharing his wisdom with the world.

56. Eckhart Tolle and his unique explanation of "living in the now."

57. Libraries allowing us all to explore countless topics for free!

58. The internet and researching on it.

59. Creating a useful yoga newsletter that tends to get rave reviews.

60. Opening my heart to religions that I used to veer away from.

61. Walking outdoors.

62. Having an elliptical and actually using it a couple times a week when the weather is rough.

63. Finding a better "exercise" method for my body.

64. Powell books where I found half a dozen books on breathing all with different views.

65. Obama winning.

66. Caring about an election.

67. Some films from Spiritual Cinema; a thoughtful gift from my older sister.

68. Laughter!

69. Having the ability to train with great yogis--Gary Kraftsow and Aadil Palhivala.

70. Being loved and supported by so very many.

71. Having a working hot water heater and dry basement.

72. Opening up continuous group classes in the Home Studio.

73. Starting a meditation class.

74. Meeting new private and group students.

75. Seeing my father and his wife for the first time in about 6 years.

76. Getting along with my father!

77. Taking long walks along Lake Michigan.

78. Enjoying coffee outside at Altera by the Lake.

79. Realizing that feeling the sun on my skin is more valuable to me than overcast, yet warmer, days.

80. Discovering Agave, thanks to Trader's Joe, for sweetening while maintaining balance in the blood sugar.

81. Marcus Buckingham's suggestion of focusing on my strengths.

82. Also using his phrase, "How can I contribute today?" (Which feels better to me than "How can I serve?")

83. Learning the "AH" meditation technique from Dr. Dyer--very powerful.

84. Cooking with the whole family while sipping on red wine and enjoying Edith on the stereo.

85. BJ and Jake helping out so much with the snow!

86. Playing family games, like Cranium, by the fireplace.

87. Jammie days.

88. Letting Pippin run free in the park and watch his entire being flow with happiness.

89. The sound of birds on a winter's day.

90. Sitting on the deck and hearing the wind rustle the leaves in the nearby Maple.

91. Creating a new "Zen" space in our backyard with a swinging bench and flower pots.

92. Meeting Mike for lunch.

93. Netflix and the ease of movie watching at a reasonable fee.

94. Quality movies, like The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn.

95. Every moment that I feel aligned.

96. Every inspiration that feels like a small miracle.

97. Having such a close and open relationship with my children and partner.

98. Being alive another year.

99. All of my senses working.

100. With more frequency I see the Universe working with me, and this is the most beautiful of all--to experience connection with something bigger and feel its truth in my bones.

If I had one intention for 2009, it would be to experience this connection more often until one day it is simply a way of life.


Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/

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