Hold The Pose Blog

As B.K.S Iyengar says, the real yoga begins when you want to leave the pose. Holding the pose in yoga and life means that we have to stay the course, even when we feel uncomfortable. As we stay the course we connect with the truth within, we dissolve the veils that hide our sat nam or our truth identified. We find out who we really are beyond fear, judgement or hatred. We learn that we are expressions of love, and that miracles occur naturally as expressions of love; we are the love, we are the miracle. 

 

To detox or not to detox? What you may not know about Juice cleansing.

Is your Juice cleanse harming you?

Feeling toxic? Naturally, your thoughts may turn to a detox or cleanse, after all everyone is talking about detoxing these days. Celebrities are doing it, your yoga studio is offering it, and you have heard countless health guru’s talk about it. So you think “why not, it can’t hurt, can it?”

There is a lot of hype behind juice cleansing.

With so much coverage online and in the media, juice cleanses are reaching mythical status as the cure all for the modern world. Yes, some people will have miraculous results with a juice cleanse, but for some people it can end up doing more harm then good. As an acupuncturist, I tend to agree with Chinese Medicine’s view on detoxing and cleansing which is: It is not right for everyone. Are you someone who has less then optimal digestion? A juice cleanse can tax the digestive fire, and harm, instead of heal digestion.

There is one time of year that is optimal for cleansing.

According to Chinese medicine springtime is when the body is receptive to cleansing. The qi of springtime is when the energy is moving up and out of the body, and that is when it is optimal to cleanse the body. When we cleanse during the colder months, it can be taxing on our digestive system, and may lead to chronic issues. That's why it's called "spring cleaning!"

We are designed to eat seasonally, live seasonally and function seasonally.

There is a reason why you have more energy in the summer, and why you want to spend that extra time in bed on a cold winter morning. The body has an intelligent biorhythm that is far wiser then we can even imagine.

What is the environment your newly detoxed body will be living in?

So you have cleansed the good cleanse and detoxed all of those toxins out…now what? Will you return to the same behaviors you were doing before? If that is the case, you now take a slightly weakened system and overload it with the same toxins that it was dealing with before. In the best-case scenario, this essentially cancels out any of the good you did by detoxing, and in the worst-case scenario, it sends the body into distress. This can potentially lead to things like a cold, digestive problems or fatigue.

Many of the toxins we deal with are not even in our food and water. The leading culprits of toxins in our bodies may be from the products we put on our skin and into our washing machines, the household cleaners we use and hiden chemicals in our environment. If we bring awarness to what is in our environment, it can go a long way to cleaning toxins from our life and body.

Cleanse programs were traditionally overseen by a health practitioner.

There are times when your body may flat out reject a cleanse or detox program, and you may experience uncomfortable side effects. The trick is to know when to keep moving forward and when to stop. However, we tend to be a culture of moving forward at any cost, even if it is harming us. Without the help of an experienced professional we could be causing more harm then good and not even know it.

Your body detoxes naturally ever second of ever day.

Unless you have a disease that limits your body’s naturally capacity to get rid of toxins, your body is working for you all the time to get rid of waste and other harmful substances in your body.

A far superior way to help the body, is to look at these 3 main areas of health:

Sleep

Digestion

Emotional Well-being

Before you jump to a cleanse, evaluate these 3 areas of your life and see where you can support the body to create a more optimal environment. The body will naturally do everything you need to stay healthy if given the right environment.

Try taking an approach of detoxing for the long run with these 8 steps:

1. Eat as healthy diet as you can manage, while constantly working towards a better diet, therefore a better state of health.

 

2. Exercise! Get your groove on, zen-out, H.I.T the gym. The only way we can reach an optimal state of health is with some form of exercise in our lives.

3. Practice forgiveness to ease emotional tension and stress.

4. Deeply listen to the signals of the body and honor each message your body tells you.

5. Do that thing you keep saying you should be doing. Ie…I should be getting more sleep, I should be doing yoga, I should be drinking more water. Chances are this is your body’s message to you on how to improve your health.

6. Change as many of your products as you can to fragrance free and as natural as possible, without man-made chemicals.

7. Get out in nature.

8. And if you still can’t live without the thought of detoxing, try a coffee enema 1x a month or a few times per year. It is a sure fire way to jump-start the liver and rid the body of accumulated toxins.

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10 secrets to meditation you wish someone would tell you.

 

I can't believe I am saying this, but I have had a daily yoga and mediation practice for over a year now. The benefits I have seen have been phenomenal, but it wasn't always love from the first sit. I had to figure some stuff out in order to truly receive all of the benefits of meditation. Below I'll spill my "secrets" to a better meditation practice.

1. You can sit in a chair to meditate.

There are a lot of potentially uncomfortable meditation positions out there that people who are inflexible, or dealing with an injury, simply cannot do.  So if you cannot find your “zen” while in lotus position, begin your meditation practice in a chair, sitting in bed, or even lying down. If you wish to sit with a straight back for meditation, practice for small periods every day to build up your back strength.

2. A meditation cushion makes sitting for long periods of time much easier.

If you are ready to try one of those pretzel like meditation positions, consider investing in a good meditation pillow. Here is why: if you sit cross- legged for more then 20 minutes your feet will fall asleep. A meditation cushion allows you to sit for a much longer time without going numb, and it helps your hips be in the right position to support your low back. (They should be level with your knees, not higher or lower.)

Try this mediation cushion on amazon

Worried that you can’t sit still for more then a few minutes? When you are first starting out, give yourself permission to move and reposition. If your feet fall asleep uncross and re-cross your legs until you can sit comfortably again. 

 

3. Meditation isn’t something you “do” it’s something that happens.

Set up the conditions for meditation to happen versus trying to actively “do” meditation.  Physical asana is a great way to set the stage for meditation to be possible. Take your yoga to the next level buy doing a meditation after asana and savasana. For example, try incorporating 3-11 minutes of alternate nostril breathing after your next savasana.

4.  Still can’t stomach the idea of sitting still? There are many different types of meditation to try, including chanting and pranayama.

I started my meditation practice primarily with active meditations like chanting and pranayama with different mudras and arm movements. Eventually I started to add periods of stillness at the very end of my practice, and then I was able to "allow" a meditative state to unfold. 

Want to try an active meditation? Try 3 minutes of "Ego Eradicator"  And yes, this meditation will deliver results!

5. The monkey-puppy dog mind will never go away, it isn’t supposed to.

Yup, I said monkey-puppy dog mind. Ever watch a puppy go berserk with boundless energy?  Or a monkey swing from tree to tree? That is what the inside of our mind can be like on a daily basis. When we sit down to meditate, it becomes much more noticeable, and we can find ourselves drowning in a sea of thoughts that feel like a puppy chasing it's tail.

The first part to allowing a meditative state to happen is understanding that the goal is not to “stop” the monkey-puppy, but to accept it fully and move below, or beyond, the level of the mind into the level of pure consciousness, where peace and stillness are more easily accessed. 

6. Use a meditation “anchor” like breath, a chant, or a mantra to find calm.

Each time you find yourself swinging from tree to tree or chasing your tail in your monkey-puppy dog mind, bring yourself back to the moment with an anchor. A mantra, chant, or breath technique works to constantly remind you to come back to center.  Practice your anchor without judgment of the mind activity, but with acceptance and compassion of what is. The goal is to return to center again and again, and witness what unfolds.

7. Meet yourself exactly where you are in the moment.

Part of being “successful” with meditation is practicing non-judgment and acceptance. The fastest way to block a meditative state is to judge yourself for not “doing it right” or “getting there fast enough.”  Don't compare yourself to others or an ideal of what you think meditation should be, but meet yourself exactly as you are in this moment. Use a phrase like:

“I am willing to accept myself exactly as I am in this moment.”

8. Once you reach a meditative state, you’ll know it and feel it.

If you are still wondering if “you are doing it right” keep practicing. For me, when meditation happens it feels almost like the deepest of deep sleep, I loose all track of time and space and I no longer notice what is going on around me. Everyone will feel the meditative state differently, so instead of comparing yourself or judging yourself, just keep at it and you WILL find what it feels like for you.

9. A daily practice is the fastest way to progress.

Create a space that is just for meditation, and when you sit down every day on your meditation cushion, or chair, the space starts to hold the energetic vibration of your intention to meditate. It becomes easier and easier to sit to meditate each day, and soon it becomes like brushing your teeth, or eating breakfast.  

Try a commitment of 3 minutes of meditation for 40 days and then track your results. Write down how you feel at the starting point, on day 20, and then on day 40. By tracking your results you may be surprised at what unfolds.

10. Start with 3 minutes and work your way up.

Even 3 minutes a day of meditation will be beneficial. Be really honest with yourself and commit to what is truly accessible for you, and work from there. If 3 minutes is all you have time for, then start with 3 minutes.

Too many times we set ourselves up for failure when we bite off more then we can chew, or digest. Like when we start a new diet and get really exuberant and motivated, but 2 days later completely fall off the wagon.  Do what is “do-able” in the moment. After all, the whole purpose of meditation is to be-here-now.

Work up to longer times of meditation and receive the benefits.

  • 3 minutes of meditation stabilizes the blood and promotes circulation.

  • 11 minutes shifts the nerves and influences the pituitary glad (the master gland in the brain that is in charge of hormones) and the glandular system (the system important for immunity)

  • 22 minutes balances the positive, negative and neutral mind as they begin to work together.  

  • 31 minutes affects the aura, or energy that surrounds the body, and all the internal elements of the body.

  • 62 minutes influences the subconscious mind so that it can be shifted (scientists estimate that 95% of our behavior is based in unconscious habits.) At this level you will start to see radical shifts happen.

What secrets to meditation have you discovered? Please share what you have learned that has helped you to a better meditation practice in the comments below.

 

 

Lets face it...sometimes savasana sucks.

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Why I used to hate savasana.

 That's right I'll admit it...I used to hate savasana.  I have been practicing yoga for more then 10 years and I have to say for almost all of those 10 years I suffered my way through savasana. I would seethe with jealousy as my classmates would lay blissful next to me, snoring, drifting into sleep or deep relaxation. I could never relax fully and I hated every minute of savasana. 

What is savasana anyways?

Savasana or corpse pose is the last pose of a yoga class meant to integrate in all of the sweat, work and yoga you have done throughout a practice.  The whole purpose and focus of savasana is relaxation, but what happens when you can't relax?

How can relaxing be hard?

I would come into savasana and spend the 3-5 minutes wondering: Am I doing this right? Is my right shoulder higher then my left? Did my neighbor just fall asleep? Who is snoring? How does the person fall asleep so quickly? What do I have to do today? Did I write that email I was supposed to? Did I turn my phone on silent- I really hope I turned my phone on silent. And on and on I would go, spinning myself into a serious state of non-relaxation, and those 3-5 short minutes would be agonizing. 

I was cheating myself.

About 3 years ago my yoga practice moved from the studio into my home and I had a private teacher come to my house to teach me yoga. She would leave me to savasana at the end of the class, set a timer and tell me to stay for 10mins or more. Of course after she left I would get up a few minutes later thinking I'd gotten away with my own private joke- ha ha the joke was really on me.

Finally finding peace.

These days I am able to spend more then 10 minutes in savasana, and while I never fall asleep or find myself snoring, I have figured out how to be in savasana in peace.  

How you ask? Well, these days I always use an eye pillow, and I learned from a teacher that if you place a blanket over your thighs and belly it helps you relax more. I also learned that a 3-5 minute savasana is too short for me personally to be able to drop into a relaxation state. It takes at least 10 minutes for my mind to shut off. These days I practice mostly at home so I can give myself the time to really drop in and find the peace. But on those days when I am practicing at a studio or festival I use yoga nidra (or yogic sleep) techniques to help me relax faster. 

Tell me your savasana horror story.

Do you hate savasana as much as I did but are too embarrassed to admit it? Share in the comments below what you have done to make peace with savasana?