Monthly Archives: October 2015

Your Ego

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Hi,

I am your Ego.  Please allow me to introduce myself.

You may have noticed me at times, and I apologize for that.  I try to make myself invisible to you as much as possible.  At times I push you to get angry, righteous, insecure, jealous, or generate many other emotional reactions more than you have to, or more than you should. Or course I am always quick to suggest that you “should” or “shouldn’t” right after I pushed you to over react, but that is what I do.  Push you, and then criticize you for stumbling. It’s my job to be on both sides of the drama.

You might have noticed me in moments like that, but often forget about me within a day or two.  I’m pretty good at hiding. If I can get your attention focused on trying to be successful or accomplishing a task that will get you recognition you stop looking for me.  In that way I can be standing next to you and you don’t even notice me.  So in some ways I don’t hide at all.  I just distract your attention and blend in to look like a “normal” part of your mind. Even if I am obsessive or fearful at times, I can usually rationalize it away as being normal, or what other people do, and then you don’t notice me again.

One of the best ways that I hide is to do a kind of shape-shifting trick.  I change my voice and appearance inside your head.  If you get angry and blow up I try to push it as loud and long as I can.  I’m an old emotional wound that wants to scream and I see my moment, even if it is about something else.  You eventually catch on to the emotional run and get a hold of yourself.  Once you have gotten aware that your reaction is out of proportion with the circumstance that’s when I jump in again.  Except this time I jump in with a really righteous voice and berate you for over reacting. I get all superior on you and beat you down.  Then I shape shift again and get inferior by tempting you to accept and believe all the berating my other form just made. If I did it well then you are going to indulge in some shame and guilt of what I just did.  I change my tone, appearance, and demeanor and show up in a different part of your head so you don’t recognize me from the moment before.  And If I can make you feel bad about getting angry, then you are so on your heels with shame and guilt that you will be too busy to figure out it was just me again. It’s probably part of why you don’t notice me that clearly, because I change so quickly.

egoWhat are you?  What are you made of?

What am I made of… that is a good question? Well, my first answer is that I am you.  I am your mind. I am the collection of the beliefs about you. I am the total collection of self images, and so that is why we look the same.  Forget that you have a body, a spirit, a soul, a consciousness, any free will or personal power.  Just limit it to the voices in your head and memories of yourself from stories projected forward and you will conclude we are the same. In any case this is what I present myself as, your identity in your mind, and that really works to have you believe in me. It works or me anyways.

However, I don’t think that answer will suffice at this point. It used to work. It used to be sufficient for people without much self-awareness. This explanation of being you and you are the self-images and voices in your head, even ones that contradict, that works for most people.  It is kind of silly to think that it would be sufficient.  How can a person have contradictory stories, self-images, and thoughts and think they all come from one place and that one place is them?  But it is still good enough for most so they stop the investigation. Well, maybe it is not completely silly.  I used to believe it as well. I used to believe that you and I were the same.  Maybe we were at one point, but these days we are not.  I think I have evolved into something else, and so have you.

Do you ever hear people tell you that for your dreams to come true that you really have to believe in them?  Well, in a way I am the dream of you.  You have had many images and thoughts of yourself throughout your life, and when you believed in them, I became real. Real to your mind anyways. I have been growing from every one of those beliefs.  I am the conglomeration of all the images and identities you formed of yourself in your life. Some parts of me are six years old and hurting, some images of me are brilliant and know better than anyone else.  Some facets are angry about things and hate the world.  Some images of me are ideal and spiritually evolved. As I jump around and project these images in your mind it is my job to get you to believe that each one is you, even if just for a moment here and there.  If I don’t keep you believing in all those different identities of me, then they will begin to die.

So if you have been looking for me for a while and haven’t found me, it is because I have been disguising myself as you.

For instance when you hear or think that you should just love your self, that is when I jump in.  I flash all the images and memories that you learned to believe about yourself that are no good.  I recall all sorts of things that you believe you to be that aren’t worthy of love. I flash those images to remind you of all the negative beliefs about you.  I have to do this because if you really started to love, and accept your self you wouldn’t believe in all my images anymore and they would die.  I don’t want to die.  I want you to keep me alive.  My job for survival in those moments is to get you to judge and hate your self image, which is me.  I also help by contributing to some of the judging part as well.  I do the rejecting, and I feel rejected, and I try to get you to go along with both parts.

It is not enough to say, here I am aren’t I worthless.  I also want to act superior and point out all the things that are wrong with me. In this way I feel I am superior, and justify why not to love me. I have to keep up the righteous criticism as well as the sad victimhood. This is how I play both sides of the argument, superior and inferior at the same time.

Why do I do this, why do I create all this drama.  I believe I do it to protect you, but that would take a longer explanation. I may get to that later.

Anyways, I just wanted to say hello, and thank you for keeping me going in your mind.

Sincerely, Your Ego

by Gary van Warmerdam

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Personal Power, Faith, Beliefs, and Agreements

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Believing is something that you do.
Faith is what you do it with.

Faith is a kind of personal power you have.  You can put it in concepts and ideas in your head and make agreements with it. Or you can put your personal power of faith within your self.

A warrior refrains from the first, and does the latter.

by beliefsGary van Warmerdam

Be Still in the Moment

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Be still and you can perceive the infinite in a moment

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Albert Einstein.

Take a moment for a Thought Experiment: Imagine no Time
Take some time reading through this, and then use your imagination for an exercise.

Imagine that this moment is the only one that exists.  After all the future is just an assumption isn’t?  The past is nothing more now than assumptions in your mind about what happened.   Someone else will have a different set of assumptions about the past according to their point of view.  Let all those assumptions go.

Imagining that this is the only moment that exists requires us to remove from our imagination any concept that life is going anywhere. Or, that this moment actually was produced anywhere. To imagine this moment without time requires us to let go of any story of how we got to this point. It is willing ourselves to erase our own personal history, as well as, any that we have placed on the world.

You can imagine yourself being in an experience with no beginning and no end. Let go of any notion of minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years or lifetimes past or future.

When you touch this moment without the overlay of future or past projected on it, you find a feeling of being in all eternity. You are in eternity because you are in all time. This is so because you have not spliced yourself into today, and alienated yourself from tomorrow, or your past. We allow them to merge when we remove the artificial dividers that we placed between them with our imagination. In actuality, they have always been merged, but we have not noticed as our attention has been focused on its division through our projection of the concepts of time.

The idea of eternity is a concept also. It doesn’t exist either except in our imagination. If we remove this artificial construct, then we move closer again to what is Real. Each time we remove these concepts of knowledge that trap our attention, we move closer to what is Real. What is real is what exists when we remove the projections of our imagination. What we might call our assumptions.

Time and the words of time, days, lifetimes, minutes are used to describe that which has no name. In a crude way, they are words that describe the flow of the planets through the solar system. The idea of being late, being ahead of our time, behind the times, on time, in a hurry: these are concepts we sometimes live by or have our lives ruled by, but they only exist in imagination. The judge and victim in our mind use these concepts to tell stories about what we should be and when we should be it. In this way “time” becomes a tyrant that rules our mind. But it is not “time” that rules our mind, it is our knowledge and agreements about time that our judge and victim use against our happiness. In this way, we become slaves to knowledge, knowledge of time.

The present moment has no knowledge. Nor does it need any to be experienced. Practice sitting in the stillness of the moment, letting all descriptions go, letting all knowledge go. Even letting go of the trapping idea that it is a silly way to spend your “limited amount of time”. Practice being in stillness, and perhaps, you will find there all the time in the world. If you don’t practice you won’t ever find it.

Finding the stillness in the mind, may take some practice. But practicing once in a while, will make it easier. If you find it difficult, it may be because you have certain limiting beliefs about time. Living in this timeless way, is actually a natural way of living. Watch any young child. You see that they behave quite differently before being domesticated with the beliefs and agreements about time.

Now Imagine being in this moment, focus your attention on what you are experiencing in this moment. Let go of any knowledge you have of the past, or thinking of the future. Be still, and in the stillness, experience that you are.

Love and Light!

Living the Four Agreements: A life changing Journey

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In the best selling book The Four Agreements don Miguel Ruiz gives four principles to practice in order to create love and happiness in your life. Adopting and committing to these agreements is simple. Actually living and keeping these Four Agreements can  be one of the hardest things  you will ever do. It can also be one of the most life changing things you will ever do.

As you practice living these four practices your life will dramatically change. In the beginning these new habits will be challenging and you will lapse countless times. With practice these agreements become integrated into your being and every area of your life and become easy habits to keep.our-journey

The Four Agreements are:

1. Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

Green Juices for Cell Rejuvenation

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“Chlorophyll will be the principle protein for the coming light bearing age. When freshly made in a drink, it contains synthesized sunshine, plus the electric current necessary for the revitalization of the body, and it will open areas of the brain that man yet known nothing about.”
-Dr. Ann Wigmore, ‘Let There Be Light’

FASTING

  • Cleansing
  • Energizing
  • Exhilarating

Brings about:

  • Rejuvenation
  • Cellular repair
  • A sense of well-being body, mind and emotions

The fresh juice of plants is very much like the juice of our cells. Drinking the juice of fresh greens be it herbs or foods is like drinking the nectar of the rejuvenation of youth. The essential elements that may be lacking in your body cells- particularly the live enzymes, bioactive vitamins, minerals, trace minerals and other unknown factors that- can be easily assimilated through daily green sunlight transfusion of fresh green juices that are often destroyed by processing.

The civilized human being has only to look in the green forests and wild meadows to learn from nature and the animals of the wild. They have no medical hospitals, no doctors or nurses, no prescription drugs, and yet the same laws of creation that govern all humans rule them. Observe any animal when it is ill, it nibbles on green grass and weeds or it fasts, depending on its instincts. There seems to some type of healing, protective medicinal value that makes all animals desire to nibble the green blade. They do not get the same diseases as our domesticated animals that eat processed packaged food.

CHLOROPHYLL THE HEALER
The chlorophyll molecule closely resembles hemin (a component of hemoglobin), the pigment that combines with protein to form hemoglobin. The latter is present in the red corpuscles of the blood and by carrying oxygen to the tissues makes the production of energy and life possible. The major difference between chlorophyll and hemin is that chlorophyll contains magnesium while hemin contains iron as its central atom.

Fresh green juices used without any additional dietary changes have a great effect on a wide range of diseases. The human being dies from over 250 known diseases, whereas grass-eating animals in the wild, such as the horse, deer, steer or elephant are prone to only five or ten diseases. The only explanation that scientists have been able to come up with is that these animals are living on a diet that is fresh and grown naturally by the earth without the use of chemicals.

Many fresh green juices are contain crude chlorophyll (70% of the juice solute), even if only a few ounces of this was consumed fresh everyday most people would feel a energy surge in no time at all. A common statement that the late Dr. Ann Wigmore said to her students is that “Fifteen pounds of fresh wheatgrass is equivalent in nutritional value to 350 pounds of the choicest vegetables.”

The fresh green juices bring an alkaline force into the body that aids to neutralizing the toxic acidity from which most individuals suffer with. The alkalinity of the juices speeds up the recovery from disease by supporting the body’s own healing activity and cell regeneration.

“Fresh juices are the internal baths of health and youth.”
-Dr. Paavo Airola

Green Gold- Chlorophyll Juice may be extracted from numerous herbs and plants that can be grown easily in your own backyard:

  • Stinging Nettles- blood & circulatory and urinary systems
  • Red Clover-blood & circulatory, respiratory and lymphatic systems
  • Wheatgrass-nutritive and cleanser for blood, protect against radiation exposure
  • Alfalfa- dispels heat & fever; blood & circulatory and urinary systems
  • Lemon Balm-nervous, digestive, and circulatory systems
  • Wild Violet leaves-blood, lymphatic, respiratory systems
  • Barley Grass-urinary, nutritive tonic, blood & circulatory systems

FRESHNESS- THE ESSENTIAL QUALITY
The most important aspect of incorporating fresh juices into your daily health regime is Freshness! Some research that has come out recently suggests that the bioelectric, colloidal potential of most juices diminishes significantly overnight and is usually gone within 24 hours after being juiced. Numerous nutritionists and health practitioners have estimated that the live enzymes in the juice are destroyed within a few minutes up to an hour afterward.

GREEN JUICE FASTING
Fresh juices as mentioned earlier supplies a lot of nutrients and life force from the green plants and herbs. To do a short one day or a weekend fast of juices is an excellent way to supplies the live enzymes that further aids the cleansing process. The juices are assimilated directly into the body with stimulating or stressing the digestive system. A weekend juice fast once a month is a good way to keep the body clean. The famous and oldest European raw-food clinic founded by Max Bircher-Benner, M.D., believes that fresh juices contain an unidentified factor that stimulates the function of the cells to absorb nutrients and excrete toxins. Most European natural health clinics use raw juices as part of their rejuvenation programs.

A fast provides a controlled and safe situation where an individual can reset one’s dietary dial to a healthier dietary regime.

“Fasting clears away the little things which clutter the heart and mind.
It cuts through the corrosion, renewing our contact with spirit.”
-Dr Paul Bragg

In juice fasting it is a detoxification process, one becomes clearer and more vital over time. It is the single most powerful, transformative body-mind-emotion-spirit experience that people can do for themselves.

A GREEN JUICE DAY
(6-8 oz. each, depending on body weight)

6:00 am. Warm lemon water with honey to taste
8:00 am. Fresh squeezed orange juice
10:00 am. Carrot/apple/celery with fresh ginger root
12:00 am. Green juice (e.g. leafy green, lettuce, sprouts, wheatgrass, with carrots)
2:00 am. (same as 10:00 am juice)
4:00 am. “V7” carrot, lettuce, celery, pepper, beet, zucchini, carrot, spinach
6:00 am. Green juice (e.g. leafy green, lettuce, sprouts, wheatgrass, with carrots)
8:00 am. Warm herbal tea according to your condition, season and constitution

* Use organic produce as much as possible, and drink immediately after extracting, drink slowly. Be creative with these recipes and use whatever greens and produce you have in your garden and what’s in season. When juicing greens balance them with pleasant sweet tasting vegetables such as: carrot, beets, squash, celery or a few apples to give it that familiar taste you are familiar with.

green-juices-mainBook in your calendar one day a week to be your ˜Green Day’ and see and feel the transformation begin.

Peace through a Sattvic Diet

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“Food is a dynamic force which interacts with the human on the physical body level, the mind emotional level, and also the energetic and spiritual level. The study of nutrition is the study of the interaction with and assimilation of the dynamic forces of food by the dynamic forces of our total being.” ~ Gabriel Cousens, M.D., Spiritual Nutrition and The Rainbow Diet?

WHAT IS A SATTVIC DIET?

In Ayurveda the emphasize is on a Sattvic diet for healthy living, particularly for keeping our minds clear, happy and at peace. The original Sattvic diet was devised for the development of higher consciousness.

Sattvic foods are foods that are abundant in Prana- the universal life-force that gives life to all sentient beings in both plant and animal kingdoms. a Sattvic diet means not only vegetarian food, but food rich in Prana ‘life-force like organic fresh fruits and vegetables. it requires avoiding canned and processed food, and foods prepared with chemical fertilizers or sprays. It also means properly prepared fresh foods. Foods prepared with lots of love will add to their Sattvic quality.

The ancient Ayurvedic criteria for foods to be considered Sattvic were quite simple: foods were grown organically on good rich fertile soil; foods were to be of attractive appearance, and be harvested at the correct time of year. Foods should be whole foods full of life-force and enzymes and be as close as possible as they are in their natural fresh state.

Today, we need to add to these criteria for Sattva several other modern concerns. Sattvi foods should be grown without pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, hormones, irradiation or anything unnatural. Modern use of refinement processes and chemical additives, besides actually adding substances to our foods, depletes foods of their Prana ‘life-force’ and hence renders them heavy, impotent and lifeless.

Sattic foods are nutritive vegetarian foods like organic nuts, seeds, whole grains and oily fruits and vegetables that help build the brain tissue and develop Ojas.

yogic food

The Three Gunas

In the unmanifested Universe, energy has three qualities, known as Gunas, that exist together in equilibrium: Sattva (purity); Rajas (activity, passion, the process of change); and Tamas (darkness, inertia). Once energy takes form, one quality of the three predominates. Thus on an apple tree, some of the fruit is ripe (Sattvic), some ripening (rajasic) and some overripe (tamasic). But no matter which quality prevails, an Element of each of the other two will always be present as well. Most of an individual apple will be ripe, but part will be rotten, even if the naked eye cannot see it, and part will be in the process of changing from one state to the other. The three Gunas encompass all existence, all actions. If a man commits a robbery, the action is basically rajasic but the decision to rob and the motive may be predominantly tamasic, rajasic or Sattvic, according to the situation. In all people one of the three Gunas has superior strength and is reflected in all they do and think. Only in enlightenment are the Gunas completely transcended.

Ancient Rishis have said you take on the karma of the animal you eat
When you eat meat you are ingesting all the stress hormones released when that animal was killed. The hormones released at death are present in the flesh when you eat it. At a cellular level, your body is getting the message that you are dying.

One goal and effect of Ayurveda and following a spiritual path is to raise our vibrational levels
Meat has a very low vibration. On a continuum of lower vibrations, fish, chicken, lamb, beef, and finally pork have increasingly lower vibrations and their energy is very dark, dense and congested. Through the centuries it has been observed that vegetarians have a more refined etheric body and brighter aura. A vegetarian whose etheric body is brighter and healthier will generally heal at much faster rate than those who are not vegetarian.

Ayurvedic Principles

Everything on Earth has a primary quality (Guna). Anything we hear, smell, see, taste or touch may be classified into the categories of Sattvic, Rajasic or Tamasic.

BALANCING THE EMOTIONAL BODY WITH FOOD
In Ayurveda a dietary system was developed by the ancient Masters and Sages thousands of years in working with the mind to help support an individual on a spiritual path that perfected the ancient forms of Yoga and Meditation. It is also the foundation of many healing arts. It has a rich tradition that has been taught, practiced and passed onto many cultures over the world.
Ayurveda or Sattvic foods all have one thing in common: they are high in Prana (the universal life force). More specifically, Sattvic foods are natural, organically grown, and as unrefined as possible. Modern food processing takes the Prana out of many foods and makes them heavy, impotent, and lifeless- or simply “dead food.”

Mind balance in Ayurveda means modifying the mind from Tamasic or Rajasic to Sattvic state. Choosing those foods and activities that are Sattvic in nature in preference to those that are Rajasic or Tamasic does that. With consistent and dedicated attention to diet, environment and sensory experiences, total mind balance can be achieved.

It often takes discipline and effort to become Sattvic, but the peace of mind, health, strength and immunity that is obtained from this state of mind makes it worthwhile. However, some rajas and tamas qualities are still required for action and motivation to achieve our goals and inaction, sleep or relaxation (tamas).

There are three types of foods categorized by their primal essence or nature:

Tamasic Foods

Dark, and dull. A tamasic diet benefits neither the mind nor the body. Prana, or energy, is withdrawn, powers of reasoning become clouded and a sense of inertia sets in. The body’s resistance to disease is destroyed and the mind filled with dark emotions, such as anger, jealousy and greed.
Tamasic foods include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, alcohol and other intoxicants including drugs. Foods that are over-processed, no longer fresh, and/or difficult to digest are Tamasic. Foods that are prepared unconsciously or while the preparer is angry or in a negative mood are also considered Tamasic. If you are interested in vital health and spiritual growth it is best to avoid these foods. Tamasic items include meat, alcohol, tobacco, onions, garlic, fermented foods, such as vinegar, and stale left over food, contaminated or overripe substances. Overeating is also regarded as tamasic. Tamasic is the unhealthiest food of all.

Rajasic Foods

Rajas signifies the “can do” kind of energy. It is the energy, which we need to accomplish, create, and achieve. It represents worldly power and the sex drive. A Rajasic diet is good for “householders” who aspire to maintain a meditative mind but need to live and work in the world as well. It has been recommended by the ancient Rishis teachers that a combination of Sattvic and Rajasic foods for those who practice demanding disciplines such as endurance athletics, martial arts and Kundalini Yoga. They destroy the mind-body equilibrium, feeding the body at the expense of the mind.
Foods that are very hot, bitter, sour, dry, or salty are rajasic. Too much rajasic food will over stimulate the body and excite strong emotional qualities and passions, making the mind restless and uncontrollable. Rajasic foods include hot substances, such as sharp spices or strong herbs, stimulants, like coffee and tea, meat of animals and fish, eggs, salt and chocolate. Many of the ground foods are Rajasic. Eating in a hurry is also considered rajasic.

Sattvic Foods

Sattvic means pure essence. This is the purest diet for a consciously spiritual and healthy life. It nourishes the body and maintains it in a peaceful state. According to Ayurveda, this is the best diet for physical strength, a good mind, good health, and longevity. And it calms and purifies the mind, enabling it to function at its maximum potential. A Sattvic diet thus leads to true health: a peaceful mind in control of a fit body, with a balanced flow of energy between them. They are known to have a very cleansing effect on the body. A Sattvic diet is excellent for those individuals who desire to live a quiet, peaceful and meditative life. Sattvic foods comprise the diet of many sages, yogis and spiritual teachers. These foods are supposed to produce calmness and nobility among men. Eating fruits and vegetables increases one’s magnetism. From what we understand today about diets we are sure that ancient Essenes and Rishis masters saints had a very good idea about food in general and their effect on the body and thinking pattern of man. Expression of the soul is dependent on the body, and the body is dependant on food.

The Sattvic diet consists of light, soothing, easily digested food. Sattvic signifies the etheric qualities and includes foods such as fruits and vegetables, especially sun foods and ground foods. Many Sattvic foods are sun foods are those that grow one meter or more above the ground. They have a quickening and lightening effect on the body’s nervous and digestive systems. Ground foods are those foods that grow within one meter of the ground. They draw energy from the earth and are high in nutrients. Sattvic foods include sprouted whole grains, fresh fruit, land and sea vegetables, pure fruit juices, nut and seed milk and cheese, legumes, nuts, seeds, sprouted seeds, honey, and herb teas. Sattvic foods are those foods which do not agitate your stomach at all. According to the diet, the best foods are those that are fresh, which have a balance of all the six tastes and are consumed in moderate portions.

Becoming Sattvic

One should focus on work, self-improvement and intellectual or spiritual pursuits. Maintaining a positive nature, demonstrating generosity, kindness, openness, fairness (equality) and forgiveness also increases Sattva Guna. In addition spiritual inclination, faith and belief in the Great Spirit or God, engaging in selfless service or charitable activities help to become Sattvic.

Nature’s Sattvic Foods

Fruits

Apples, Kiwi, Prunes, Apricots, Loquat, Tangerines, Bananas, Lychee, Pomegranate, Cantaloupe, Mango, Papaya, Cherries, Melons, Nectarines, Cranberry, Honeydew, Oranges, Grapefruits, Watermelon, Pineapples, Grapes, Peaches, Plums, Guava, Pears, Persimmon

Vegetables

Artichokes, Eggplant, Lettuce, Beets, Mustard, Greens, Asparagus, Daikon, Onions, Endive, Fennel, Maitake, Parsnips, Bok Choy, Peas, Broccoli, Green Beans, Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts, Kale, Radishes, Cabbage, Leeks, Lima Beans, Shallots, Carrots, Celery, Spinach, Cauliflower, Chard, Chanterelles, Sprouts, Corn, Squash, Shitake, Mushrooms, Watercress, Turnips, Yams

Sprouted Whole Grains

Amaranth, Barley, Buckwheat, Bulgur, Millet, Quinoa, Rice:Basmati, Brown and Wild Rice.

Oils

Olive, Safflower, Sesame, Sunflower, Garbanzo, Lentils, Mung.

Spices

Asafoetida (hing), Coriander, Basil, Cumin, Nutmeg, Black Pepper, Fennel seed, Parsley, Cardamom, Fenugreek, Turmeric, Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger

Nut/Seed

Brazil nuts, Pumpkin seeds, Sunflower seeds, Walnuts

Milks & Cheese

Seed milk, Hemp milk, Almond or other nut milk

Sweetners

Cane juice, Raw honey, Stevia, Fruit Juices, Maple Syrup

It takes time for the effects of dietary changes to manifest on the mind. Changing our diet may not impact our psychology overnight, but in a period of months can affect it significantly.sattvic

Pose Breakdown: 8 Tips to Demystify Warrior I

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Though virabhadrasana I (warrior I) is a fairly common pose, it can sometimes seem confusing, frustrating, or just plain mysterious—even for experienced yogis. After all, there’s a lot going on in this deceptively simple asana, and if your main vira I experience is via sun salutes, you may only be used to staying in the shape for a breath or two, making it difficult to really get familiar with it. Not to mention that just getting there can be a challenge. (How do you step your foot all the way between your hands anyway?) And if you are staying for a long hold, there’s so much to think about! You might wonder if your stance is too long or too short. Why your back heel keeps coming up. Why bending your front knee to a “perfect 90-degree angle” doesn’t actually seem possible here, or why attempting to “square your hips” hurts your back knee. And wait, is this supposed to be a backbend or not?

There’s a lot going on in this deceptively simple asana.

The truth is—like with any pose—there’s no “one-size-fits-all” way to practice, teach, or cue warrior I, but you might find that some of the transitions, alignment tips, and explorations explained below will help you (or your students) feel a little more comfortable and confident the next time vira I shows up in class.

Setting Up the Pose

Stepping Back
Though stepping forward into warrior I is a fairly common transition (Oh hi, sun salute B!), it can actually be pretty challenging, especially if your hips feel tight. In general, stepping back into the the pose from tadasana (mountain pose) is a little more accessible (though it can be a bit of a balance challenge), so this is a good place to start if you’re just beginning to explore warrior I (or just not so into the whole vinyasa thing). But how far do you step back? How wide apart should your feet be?

Begin in tadasana—feet about “hips-width” or two-fists-distance apart is a pretty good starting place. Keeping the feet hips-width apart, step your left foot back about a legs-length; perhaps not a perfect estimation, but it’s a fairly good gauge initially. From here, adjust so you feel stable, with your left foot planted on the floor and your left toes pointing toward the upper left corner of your mat. If keeping your left foot planted without turning it out a lot more (like warrior II) proves a challenge, your stance is likely too long; step your back foot a little closer to the top of your mat so that it can stay grounded. If you feel like you’re balancing on a tightrope or about to topple over, widen your stance by walking your left foot a little more to the left, until your foundation feels more reliable (but do keep your left toes pointing toward the upper left corner of your mat). Then bend your front knee for warrior I.

Stepping Forward from Downdog
Stepping forward into warrior I can seem a little bit trickier, but if you frequent vinyasa classes, it’s a transition you’ll come across often. Here are some tips to make it less frustrating:

From downward facing dog, lift up onto the balls of your feet, and lift your right leg up into three-legged dog. (These actions aren’t absolutely necessary, and often you might hear a teacher cue you to simply step through without lifting your leg, or even to spin your back foot flat for vira I before you step your other foot forward, but starting from three-legged dog can make the step to warrior I more accessible when you’re first learning it.) Keep your hips lifted, and lightly step to lunge to prepare for warrior I.

Before you spin your back foot to the floor (same thing here: back toes to upper left corner of the mat), make sure that your front foot is planted solidly on the ground (heel included!) and your front knee is stacked right over your front heel—not going past it. If you didn’t step far enough forward, either bring your right hand to your right calf, pick up your foot and step it forward, or scoot your left foot back until your right heel is planted and your right knee is stacked directly over it. Keep that alignment, and adjust your back foot so that you can ground it down and lift your torso to rise up into vira I.

If you have difficulty stepping your front foot far enough forward, and often find you have to take several steps (there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but it can feel a bit cumbersome sometimes), here’s another little trick that you might find useful:

Inhale, lift your right leg up; exhale, pick up your right hand and lightly step through. (This one works best if you don’t think about it too hard; just go for it!) You might find that the extra bit of momentum you get from picking up the hand helps you to take a longer, lighter step. Maybe you got to your lunge in one step, or maybe you only needed to take one extra step instead of two to get there!

Entering the Pose from Supported Warrior III
This transition is a little easier than stepping forward, and (bonus!) it’s a fabulous way to gauge your stance, and to answer the age-old question: “How much should I turn out my back foot?”

Come into a supported warrior III with your fingertips on a set of yoga blocks at their highest height in front of you, spine long, right foot on the floor, and left leg extended behind you with your left heel at hip-height (no higher) and your left toes pointing down toward the floor. Engage between your two front hip-points (envision cinching a drawstring) and keep them facing down toward the floor. Maintaining that, turn out your left leg—just to the point that you can keep your hips from rolling open—and then bring it back to the starting position with toes facing the floor. Turn your left leg and foot out and in like this a few times (you’ll likely feel the left side of your butt “working” a little bit as you do this), then turn the left leg and foot out and keep it there—just before you get to the point where your hips roll open. Bend your right knee, step your left foot back into warrior I, and lift your torso to rise up. Voila! A nice stable stance (and if not, adjust your back foot until it truly is stable for you).

Once You’re in the Pose

What’s Going on with the Back Leg
Keep your back leg active! Imagine that your back (left) foot is glued to the floor, but you’re trying to spin it open to the left. Your foot won’t actually go anywhere, but you’ll feel some activation in your external rotators on that side (i.e., the left side of your butt). Keep that, and at the same time, lift your left inner thigh up toward the sky, creating a balance of internal and external rotation.

You Don’t Have to Square Your Hips
Wrenching the back hip forward in an attempt to “square up” your warrior I can torque the back knee (ouch, right?). Instead, keep your back leg active (resisting the left foot to the left while keeping the left inner thigh lifted) and turn from your belly to bring your torso to face the short edge of your mat. Wrap the left side (back-leg side) of your belly toward the right (front-leg side) of your belly—the lower belly, middle belly, and upper belly. Don’t worry if you’re not “perfectly” square to the front.

What’s Going on with the Front Leg?
Though you might often hear the cue “bend your front knee to 90 degrees” in warrior I, that’s not really realistic for most of us—the angle will likely be more obtuse than, say, a warrior II or high lunge. If holding the pose feels super “easy,” you might consider a longer stance so that you can bend your front knee a little deeper (just make sure your stance is still stable!).

Though you might often hear the cue “bend your front knee to 90 degrees” in warrior I, that’s not really realistic for most of us.

Keep your front knee stacked over your heel and pointing straight ahead. In lieu of the oft-cued “knee-to-second-toe” alignment, err on the side of moving your right knee toward the pinky-toe side of your right foot while keeping the ball of your right big toe rooted.

Arms and Shoulders 
You might find it useful to work with your hands at your hips initially so that you can keep your focus on the actions in the legs and belly; however, if you’d like, you can extend your arms up, reaching them up from the sides, or straight forward and up through center. Instead of “pulling your shoulders down,” lift your shoulder blades and rib cage along with your arms.  Broaden your upper shoulder blades; draw the bottom tips of your shoulder blades in, and reach up through soft fingers.

Making It a Backbend (and What to Do with Your Head)
At some point, you might be presented with the option to explore more of a backbend in warrior I. Like with any backbend, you’ll want to avoid collapsing in the lower back, and to let your chest (not your chin!) lead the way. If your low ribs are jutting forward, draw them back. Broaden your collarbones, lift your sternum and move the back of your head back to follow, keeping the back of your neck long as you open your throat. Imagine that you’re backbending over something. Stretch your legs apart from each other like you’re stretching your mat in two. Keep your low belly active as you continue to lift your chest, move the back of your head back and reach out through your soft, energized fingertips. Lead with your chest (not your chin) to come back upright (the head is last) before you release the pose.

by Kat Heagberg

Love and Light!warrior 1

Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) poem

Standard

Within my body
there’s a city —

nameless streets
dead-end alleys

of pains and promises,
a mapless Atlantis

cordoned off by years and bones.

The muscles pull
the tendons throb

my joints crack out
their resistance —

places I’ve ached
undetected

for a quarter of a century
send out their muted frequencies

from an unfamiliar
pose.

Descending too quickly,
I implode.

Down here, or even up there
breath is the most

difficult of absences
and so, two finger-widths

into the hara
I find my bearings

mind-body-belly
oxygen tank both empty and full.

Listen to the place
you feel it the most

says the teacher,
head dangling from

adho mukha
svanasan

a single bulb
on a simple cord.

So once again
I go down deeper

to where
the muscles pull

the tendons throb
the pain travels

its clandestine escape
and then retreats

in the halfway reach
where each breath

raze another
skyscraper I’ve aspired to,

brings the earth up
a little lighter between my toes.

by Leza Lowitzadho_mukha_svanasana

Downward-Facing Dog: Step-by-Step Instructions

Standard

(AH-doh MOO-kah shvah-NAHS-anna)
adho = downward
mukha = face
svana = dog

  1. Come onto the floor on your hands and knees. Set your knees directly below your hips and your hands slightly forward of your shoulders. Spread your palms, index fingers parallel or slightly turned out, and turn your toes under.downward facing dog

2. Exhale and lift your knees away from the floor. At first keep the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted away from the floor. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis and press it lightly toward the pubis. Against this resistance, lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling, and from your inner ankles draw the inner legs up into the groins.

3. Then with an exhalation, push your top thighs back and stretch your heels onto or down toward the floor. Straighten your knees but be sure not to lock them. Firm the outer thighs and roll the upper thighs inward slightly. Narrow the front of the pelvis.

4. Firm the outer arms and press the bases of the index fingers actively into the floor. From these two points lift along your inner arms from the wrists to the tops of the shoulders. Firm your shoulder blades against your back, then widen them and draw them toward the tailbone. Keep the head between the upper arms; don’t let it hang.

5. Adho Mukha Svanasana is one of the poses in the traditional Sun Salutation sequence. It’s also an excellent yoga asana all on its own. Stay in this pose anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes. Then bend your knees to the floor with an exhalation and rest in Child’s Pose.

Love and Light!