3 Unique Ways to Do Yoga

I believe that yoga is a very gentle, personally powerful, and spiritual thing to take part in. Traditional yoga which dates back before 500 BCE was of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines from Hinduism and Buddhism. When done in traditional ways with focus on breath within the poses, as well as holding difficult positions, combined with meditation at the end can give you an overall sense of bliss.

Much of modern yoga has eliminated some sacred rituals that take place within a true yogic practice and maybe you’ve taken a class at the gym only to feel that something was missing. Or maybe you don’t know what you are missing by practicing yoga in it’s full form. Either way, there is something to be said about using yoga as a way to go within yourself, know yourself, and heal yourself.

Over the 20 years I have had a home yoga practice I’ve learned just a handful of challenging poses, and I mostly stick with my sun salutation sequences that seem to maintain fitness in my entire body quite well. I have learned to adapt this routine by holding poses longer, deepening them or adding some simple new things to the flow. I have no desire at this time to do headstands or curl up into a pretzel. There is tremendous discipline in that though and I honor those that choose to practice this way, but I love the daily simple maintenance from my yoga practice. Over the years I’ve added my own flavor to my fitness routine that has keep it simple, yet given me some unique creative expression.

I attribute my deep sense of mind/body awareness to my yoga practice. Yoga teaches us to focus on our breath while we hold each pose. By doing this we can feel when our muscles loosen up just enough so we can sink further into the pose. This relaxing of muscles has taught me to listen to my body and to work with it, and it has been especially helpful during my three plus years of a Lyme disease journey.

There are 3 unique ways you can use your yoga practice to get further in touch with not only your body, but your spirit as well.

1. Don’t Try to Control Your Thoughts

Yoga is very meditative, right? So it stands to reason that you would want to quiet your mind. There is a lot of value to having a quiet mind but it is one of the things many people struggle the most with. I have done many a yoga session where my mind just races constantly no matter how much I try to quiet it. While going through poses and stretching your body, act as an observer to your thoughts. Let them all play out. If you’ve had a bad day and you’re angry at your boss, let all those thoughts come through you and out of you as you stretch your muscles. Don’t hang onto any one of them for too long, don’t obsess and by all means don’t judge any of it. Let your thoughts come and go, come and go, come and go. Keep stretching while using your breath and holding poses, but let your mind run. Once you feel sufficiently empty of your worries and your body is loose and relaxed from exercise, then lay down in Corpse pose to float for a few minutes. Relish in the peaceful river that your mind now may be, then sit up in Lotus or Half Lotus to give gratitude up to the powers that be, and set your intentions for the day.

I have worked out many problems on my yoga mat, I have found forgiveness for myself and others there, as well as receiving many answers about my life. I have done angry yoga before and judged myself for not doing it “right” but once I realized that by the end of my workout I wasn’t feeling angry anymore, I figured that this was  perfectly okay.

2. Incorporate Intuitive Movement

First I’d like to say that any time you veer away from specific exercises that you do so very carefully. If you have injuries or are out of shape then take things slowly and LISTEN to your body. There is a difference between moving in a way that is good for your body and moving in ways that put your joints and ligaments at risk.

Turn on some tunes and then use some basic yoga poses to slowly move, sway and dance in. For instance, I flow into and out of Warrior I and Warrior II with the music so it is more of a dance. Once your body connects to the music you may find, with some practice, that your body will tell you where it feels good to go. I often use my sore muscles as a way to direct me into movements that I can feel will stretch them or make them stronger. Consider faster music beats to bump and bounce to while you stretch and love your Earthly vessel.  Movement like this can turn into something very primal and cathartic if you let it.

3. Unity Meditation

This quick meditation will send out vibrations of gratitude and love as you focus on cherishing all the wonderful energy around you while sharing your own light with Heaven and Earth. At the end of your session while you sit in Lotus pose, take all those wonderfully powerful and relaxed feelings you now have and get them moving. Start by taking your arms out to your sides and “scooping” up all the wonderful things in the world while moving your arms up to “scoop” out all the blessings from Heaven/Space/Creation and bring them down into Prayer pose with your hands together at your heart space. Do this twice more while focusing on feeling all the good things that Heaven and Earth have to offer as being something inside of you that you can carry into your day. Then do the reverse. Start with your hands at your heart in Prayer pose and take all of your gifts, abilities and wonderful attributes and give them up to Heaven in gratitude while you reach for the sky. Bring your arms down, imagine sharing all of these things about yourself with the World to finish with your hands again at your heart. Make sure your arms are out as straight as can be and that you feel energy coming out of your fingertips. Do this twice more so you’ve done each exercise three times a piece, then “Namaste,” and close your practice.

Consider using your own creativity to adapt exercises and add some fun to your yoga movement.

Yoga

4 Powerful Things to Learn From Illness

As I created a family and built a life with my husband of ten years I never expected to be faced with illness so young. I had cleaned up my diet immensely and also got rid of most toxic chemicals in my home, I did yoga consistently and was flourishing. However, my immune system had other plans for me. Once infected by Lyme disease with a tick in my leg, my whole life shifted. I am truly blessed to have the support I needed to go through the healing process, which I’m still in, and luckily my body didn’t degrade as badly as many I have read about who deal with Lyme. During this journey I have met many beautiful people who also deal with physical illness.

It doesn’t matter what physical ailments you are currently experiencing, one thing is pretty much universal – it sucks. But does it have to all the time? Even when one is generally a positive person, the toll that it takes on the mind and spirit when the body is sick is tremendous. Social activities are limited or ceased, time with children is lessened since healing time takes precedence, families often break up over illness, jobs are lost, hobbies are forgotten, and even your physical appearance can tank.

I’ve struggled just as much as the next person with the changes that have happened in my life over the last three years, but I’ve learned so many things through the process as I’ve gone within to search for meaning. I mean, why is this a part of my experience? What are things I need to learn? How is this serving my life; what are the silver linings?

I invite you to consider the following things as you deal with your physical ailments to find some level of peace. I encourage you to explore the effect that emotions have on your physical health and how they can make you sick. Spend some quiet time with yourself or God and be open to the messages you receive about why you might be experiencing what you are.

1. There is Always Healing Support Available

Many people feel they hit dead ends with doctors and practitioners. Thousands of dollars are often spent while looking for someone to help with your health and wellness. I feel that I have a good doctor, research smarts of my own, and wicked intuition but I’ve still spent upwards of $15,000 in my healing journey. When one form of care doesn’t work anymore and all you are doing is maintaining a certain quality, or non-quality of life, then there is always something else you can do to find more healing. Cures? Maybe, maybe not. But there are many different types of holistic, conventional, and energy healers out there to make your journey easier. It does take time, money, and patience to weed through them and decide what is right for you, but don’t give up. The more research you do into how your body works, what it needs, what it is lacking, and what systems need to heal, then the more educated you are on your body AS A WHOLE and the more you can find to help it out.

2. Allow Your Priorities to Shift

There can be lots of anger, resentment, and disappointment wrapped up in being sick when you are missing out on things you used to enjoy. One of the biggest struggles for me was that I couldn’t do my treatments, or rest, AND clean my house most times. A clean house makes me feel organized, complete, and open, whereas a messy one does the opposite. It took about a year but I finally learned that my health and time with my kids were now my priorities. I only had so much energy in my “account” every day and I had to be careful how I spent it. I’ve spent many hours of reading and coloring time with my kids and that is what they will remember of me, not how clean my house was.

As you spend more time caring for yourself, learn to delegate. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! This is hard one for many, but asking for help does not mean you are weak, it means you are human and we ALL need help from time to time. Call upon friends, family, neighbors, and church groups to name a few. Ask your immediate family to be sensitive to the shift in priorities and ask them to pick up a little extra slack when needed.

3. Don’t Stop Living

A friend on Facebook one day commented on one of my posts and she told me that she has never known anyone to work as hard at living so fully while being physically ill. This was fantastic for me to hear. You see, on days I struggle with nausea, weakness, headaches or sensory issues, to name a few, I have been known to be all dressed up out dancing, singing karaoke, going to the park with my family, date nights with my husband, Halloween parties, and more. Granted, some of those times I’m more quiet and sit down more, or I might leave early, but I’m there; I’m there enjoying my life. Be it my stubborn nature or something else, but I simply refused to let this illness keep me from living my life. I have already made sacrifices to account for the healing I need, but it wasn’t going to ruin my fun! I have often had people ask me if I wasn’t pushing myself too hard, or why I do what I do while feeling so crappy. So, for my friend to acknowledge that I was working hard to maintain a quality of life that I liked, it validated me.

Our mental state about our health, or the lack thereof, makes or breaks us. I know that if I allow the dark days to overtake me, I’ll sink into a depression of epic proportions. Not only will this make my body more ill, but it can be really hard to get out of once there. We are all allowed bad days, just don’t unpack and stay there.

Listen to your body, but don’t let it dictate everything. Dealing with symptoms while at a party or a luncheon is not ideal but it is possible. To be honest, I find that when I’m living my life like this, I often get a relief from the symptoms because I’m distracted!

4. Find Your Silver Linings

There are always blessings in even the worst of traumas, we simply must be open to looking for them. Perhaps you never would have met your new best friend if you hadn’t been sick and at that doctors appointment or support group. Maybe you never would have learned about how the body works and how to care for it as well, maybe you never would have known the satisfaction that comes from educating others about disease. A few silver linings of mine include having had more empathy for my mother when she was hit with lymphoma, I am able to relate with a girlfriend who is quite sick when others have accused her of it all being in her head, I wouldn’t have had the many enlightening conversations with family and friends about the importance of gut health, how magnesium and vitamin D deficiencies make us really sick, or how to eat high vibrational healing foods, I have learned to slow down and quit being so busy being busy.

We might all prefer to be completely healed, some of us may reach that goal, and others of us might live our lives out while maintaining as best we can. However, there is a lot power in embracing the situation and working with it instead of against it.