Maven Yoga~VLOG!

Welcome to the very first Maven Yoga Vlog!

As we enter the season of celebrating holidays it is important to remember why we celebrate them in the first place.

Many of us seem to forget where the roots of these celebrations come from, which is religion, spirituality and the acknowledgment of a higher source or power.

For my very first Maven Yoga Pose I chose Sirsasana a.k.a. headstand.

To most people this looks like a rather advanced pose but the truth is that yogis of all levels, even the most beginners, can practice headstand-prep and still reap all of the benefits.

Sirasana is a sure way to stimulate the 7th Chakra, Sahashrara or the Crown Chakra. It is through this chakra that you connect to the higher source and merge into oneness with the universal life force.

Did I lose you? Keep reading…

Headstand-prep is also a great way to invert our energy during this stagnant time of year and to look at life from a different perspective.

It may be scary at first, but once you allow yourself to literally turn life on its head you will notice the benefits in your daily life (for example: noticing that you are approaching those holiday stressors in a different, more positive way).

Before attempting this pose please warm up and stretch your hamstrings and shoulders.

Please do not attempt if you have hypertension, any neck/cervical pain or vertigo.

To Enter:

Bring the base of your palm to the middle of your eyebrows and lay your palm and fingers over your forehead, like you’re gripping a basketball.

Feel where the tip of your middle finger hits the crown of your head and push down a little to remember that spot. That is where the top of your head will be placed on the ground.

Kneeling, come onto your forearms and place your hands on opposite elbows. Keeping your elbows at that distance, bring your hands forward and clasp the fingers, leaving the hands cupped. (This should look like an even triangle with the points being each elbow and the hands)

Bring the back of the head into the cup of the hands and rest the crown (the place your middle finger touched) gently on the floor.

Engage the shoulder and back, pressing the forearms into the floor to reduce the pressure in the head.

Tuck the toes under, lift the hips and lengthen the legs.

Gently walk your feet toward the head, keeping the shoulders and upper back engaged and pressing the forearms into the mat to decrease the pressure in the head and the spine.

Give your body time to adjust to this inverted position. Breathe deeply in and out through your nose.

Do not go further than you feel comfortable.

If something does not feel right, come out of it slowly and sit back into child’s pose.

NEVER, EVER KICK INTO HEADSTAND. EVER.

Eventually when you build the shoulder and core strength your hips will come over your shoulders, with your back straight and core engaged so that there is no pressure on the neck or spine.

From there you can play with bringing one knee into the chest, back down and then the other.

To exit, slowly lower your knees and come into child’s pose with your arms along your sides. Rest here for 8 breaths.

I’d love some feedback on your experience with headstand prep.

Did you give it a try? Did something surprise you? Have questions?

Send me an e-mail or show me your pic on Instagram or Facebook!

Hashtag #MavenYoga!

With Crown Chakra Love,

Your Maven

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What is Vata Season?

Doshas

Lately you have seen me bringing our attention to the change of weather and referring to it as Vata season.

A lot of you may be wondering what Vata season is and why it is so important for us to make the subtle changes in our diet and lifestyle in order to make the transition from summer to winter smooth.

According to Ayurveda, the science of life, there are three doshas:

  • Vata
  • Pitta
  • Kapha

Each of these doshas are predominant in each of our seasons. Pitta is the season of Summer where it is hot and we are driven. Kapha is the season of Spring, ruled by water and the earth, where everything seems to feel wet and heavy. Vata rules Fall and Winter where the winds change and everything becomes cool, dry, clear and moving.

In Ayurveda, we aim to keep our inward nature in balance with what is happening on the outside. In some cases we do this naturally like when the temperatures start to drop and we start to crave warmer foods.

But we are also sometimes drawn to the things that create Vata derangement or imbalance such as sugar and alcohol.

All body types are susceptible to Vata derangement during this time of year. Vata derangement symptoms include dry skin, restlessness, forgetfulness, constipation, arthritis, popping joints, anxiety, hight blood presure and depression. We often feel like we are running from here to there, losing the amount of time in the day and feeling the rise of unsteadiness.

To help soothe these symptoms and to decrease the Vata in our systems we should make the necessary diet and lifestyle changes.

Vata Pacifying Diet:

  • Eat plenty of cooked root vegetables and stews to help keep you grounded and your insides lubricated.
  • Eat less raw and uncooked foods. If you are eating a salad use plenty of healthy oils (Olive, sesame, hemp) and warming spices (garlic, tumeric, cayenne) instead of salad dressing.
  • Drink a lot of warming liquids such as tea (no caffeine) or simply sip on some warm water with lemon.
  • Enjoy foods that are sweet, sour and salty in taste and less of those which are bitter, astringent and pungent.

Although the Vata diet is an extremely important part, there are also several lifestyle changes you can incorporate to bring Vata back into balance.

Vata Lifestyle Recommendations:

  • Stay warm. Wear plenty of layers to keep your body temperature comfortable throughout the day. Also avoid drafts since we tend to be very sensitive to them at this time of year.
  • Invest in a humidifier to keep the air moist for your nasal passages. You may also purchase Nasya oil to apply daily.
  • Practice Abyanga self massage. This can be done using a cup of warm sesame oil (found in the health food stores beauty department) and massaging from your head down. It usually takes about 20 minutes. Then shower and climb into bed. If you cannot commit to a 20 minute massage alternatively you can massage your feet with warm sesame oil and cover them with socks then go to sleep. This is an extremely grounding ritual.
  • Practice grounding yoga practices such as malasana, childs pose and downward facing dog.
  • Meditate daily. Even if it is only taking a moment out of your day to focus on your breathing.
  • Get plenty of sleep. During Vata season we tend to push ourselves to the limit. Go to bed between 10 and 11–sleep at least 8 hours a night.
  • Create a schedule and routine for yourself–then stick to it! Everyday.

If you are interested in discovering your individual dosha John Douillard was my Ayurveda teacher at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and on his website you can take a Body Type Quiz plus many other great resources.

With Much Warming Love,

Your Maven

Food For Thought

wicked

“By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness”

-The Yoga Sutras By Patanjali

The Yoga Sutras are a reading requirement for my 200 hour certification and this one has been by far my favorite. Any moment that I feel anxiousness or irritability towards another human being this sutra comes to mind and bring me the tools I need to carry out the interaction.

Sometimes cultivating these emotions when our ego wants us to feel something else is hard. But in the long term shutting the ego down is what helps us live the life we want and deserve.

Be happy for those happy people instead of trying to bring them down.

Feel compassion for the unhappy and hope that they find happiness again.

Feel delight in the virtuous, they are a reflection of what you can achieve, they are the ones who give you the fire to achieve it.

And my personal favorite, disregard the wicked.

I invite you to write this down, keep it in your back pocket, and remember it when you encounter one of the four of these people.

No Regrets, Just Love + Almond Butter Fudge

Do you know that terrifying feeling that you get before you’re about to do something life-changing?

hands and heart

This happens to me anytime I am making a big decision. You know the feeling, when you’re so excited, yet so scared at the same time. This fear can make you miss out on some major opportunities in your life. All of a sudden this fear takes over and you find questions running through your mind that didn’t exist before like ‘Am I doing this for me?’, ‘Is this what I really want?’, ‘What happens if I fail?’, ‘There’s no way I can succeed!’.

…..the thoughts go on…..

These fear based thoughts reared all of their ugly heads at me this week as time crept closer to choosing my yoga teacher training. As I had said earlier, I had found the one. Then Monday morning came around and I woke up not so sure anymore. Immediately I tried to figure out where these thoughts were coming from; what was the root of this thinking? It dawned on me that the day before at the Wanderlust event Yoga In The City, a thought had crossed my mind that I had never heard before: “What is your purpose?” This was a pretty daunting question and I honestly didn’t know. This one thought must have opened a flood gate because I woke up the next morning completely unsure of myself and who I was.

Instead of being dragged down by these fear based thoughts I decided to change the pace and do as Gabby Bernstein has been teaching me to do when things like this happen which is to face the fear. Acknowledge this fear as not real and return to love. So, I told my boyfriend about my day and how I was feeling to put the spotlight on it. Then I started asking myself some serious questions about what I wanted my purpose to be, what kind of yoga teacher did I want to be, who do I want to be? I then went home, made some almond fudge (recipe below), rolled out my yoga mat and did some seriously sweaty flows. As I laid in savasana I asked what my purpose was. The answer that came gave me a sense of ease and I think it could bring comfort to anyone. This is what I wrote in my journal, word for word:

Your purpose is to love.

Just as you always have.

Love love love.

Don’t let go.

Even if people are scared of it.

Even if people judge it.

Keep loving, it’s the most beautiful thing you can give to the world.

Forget your worry, love is there

I know that this may seem out there, but this message made me realize that there are no mistakes in life. There are no right and wrong decisions because everything happens for a reason. With each action and experience you are learning something whether you are aware of it or not. If you don’t believe me look at a mistake or not so great time in your life. Now, what is something positive that you would not have today if that mistake or not so stellar time in your life didn’t happen? It could be that you gained such as: life experience, knowledge, a relationship, a physical object, anything! The smallest fluctuation could change your entire life. Would you risk all of the good that you have to change something from the past?

I wouldn’t.

Don’t regret anything, look back on your life with love. If you didn’t go through that rough patch in your life you wouldn’t be in that happy place you are today. Are you in that rough patch right now? Guess what. Smooth sailing is ahead. And you will be a far better sailor than you were before.

It’s these simple switches in the mind and of perspective that makes life less stressful and more fun. Being at peace with your past and future can also make you more grateful for the present.

With light and love,

Kathleen

Almond Butter Fudge

via Tara Stiles and Detoxinista

almond butter fudge

What you will need:

1 cup Almond Butter or Peanut Butter

*preferably organic

1/4 cup warm coconut oil

*place jar in warm water to liquify

1 + 1/2 tablespoons of Raw Honey

1/2 teaspoon of salt

Optional: Chocolate Chips

What you need to do:

Combine the almond butter, coconut oil, raw honey, and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir until the ingredients are well incorporated. Then add your chocolate chips.

For a container you have two options:

1. a glass casserole dish (the smaller the better)

2. a sandwich sized tupperware container.

I used two sandwich sized tupperware containers. Line the container with plastic wrap then pour in your mixture. Smooth out the mixture with a spoon or spatula and place in the freezer for 1 hour.

After the hour has passed you can remove your fudge from the dish or container by pulling it out by the plastic wrap. Then separate the fudge from the wrap. It’s not sticky because of the coconut oil so it should come right off.

Cut the fudge into squares and enjoy!

If you have leftovers be sure to store them in the freezer.

Daily Inspiration-Affirmations

Aim True Affirmation

What a powerful affirmation.

This one was made by my favorite yoga teacher, Kathryn Budig. She is the wonderful mind behind a Vinyasa flow called Aim True. Besides the amazing archery based sun salutations, the idea is that everyday you make an intention or affirmation to help you reach your goals. These intentions and affirmations help you keep your eye on the target and can help you stay true to what your heart and soul actually wants out of life.

I feel as though this affirmation can be used daily. To see things with loving eyes helps you to become less hurt when people cast judgment upon you or are rude to you. When you see things with loving eyes you are seeing the story behind the actions. This may be difficult at first but it is all a part of acting mindfully.

Acting to not react.

For example, when someone casts judgement upon you or says something purposely to hurt you. Simply remind yourself that this person is projecting onto you. It is them that feels this way about themselves. It is no secret that misery loves company. Don’t join them, don’t react. Somewhere in this persons life they are feeling a lack of love and usually that lack of love is coming from themselves.

Look inside,

breathe,

remind yourself why it isn’t true,

and send them the light and love that they are missing. 

The Importance of Personal Days

20130411-065600.jpg

After a frazzled and stressful Tuesday I decided to take a personal day on Wednesday. This sounded strange to some and I found myself internally defending why personal days are so important for our psyche.

In Existential psychology one personal need that they look at to be fulfilled is your ability to experience freedom. Do you have a balance between your organized schedule and your freedom? Most of us don’t. It reminds me of the extremes that I spoke about in my last article for Elephant Journal. We don’t know how to live in balanced harmony.

I know that it can be hard to call into work and tell them you need a personal day. You may feel like they will laugh in your face. So think about your situation. If you have something major going on in your life you would be showing yourself tremendous self love to say “you know what, I need a day to gather myself.” If you feel like a personal day can wait then cancel your plans on a Saturday or Sunday and let the day lead you. Do the things that you love. Read, sleep, visit family, exercise, spend time outside, have a delicious lunch. Make the day about you and your happiness. Personal days are meant to help re-charge our batteries.

I understand that this can be hard when you have children. But consider your options before you call it a loss. You could call in a babysitter for the day or make your kids a part of the personal day. Take them to the park with you, watch a movie together, play in the yard, or go out for a fun lunch. No schedule (besides family nap time :), all spontaneous.

A tight, rigorous schedule can cause order amid chaos but it can also become such a habit that whatever you do is scheduled and planned. When we do this we are projecting our need for control which causes the body stress. Our psyche needs some spontaneity, it excites your nervous system, in a good way. Even if its the little things. Saying no just once to the simplest act can be spontaneous enough. By doing this you are showing yourself support.

After my personal day yesterday I feel charged and more alive. And now I am ready to tackle the rest of the week and the rest of my semester.

What would you do on a personal day? How can you create personal moments throughout your day?

Tuesday Inspiration

Aim True Challenge

Unless someone can look into the core of your heart

And see the degree of your passion

Or look into the depths of your soul

And see the extent of your will

Then they have no business telling you what you can or cannot achieve

Because while they may know the odds

They don’t know you

Nor do they know the power of your angels

Aim True Yoga Challenge

Aim True to your dreams and what lies in your heart. Always.

Please ‘Like’ my photo (the one above:) on Pinterest for Kathryn Budig’s Aim True Yoga Challenge!

Love. Happiness. And Health. Always.