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!