Yoga Sleep & Deep Resolutions
Yoga nidra means yoga sleep and, woah - is this a powerful and effective practice. Pictured is my teacher Rod Stryker's version of this practice of deep relaxation.
Yoga nidra is sleep with a sense of consciousness. I've certainly passed out and snored my way through yoga nidra practices, for sure, but this is best practiced with out falling asleep. 30 minutes of yoga nidra is like getting 2 hours of sleep, and, believe me, I use yoga nidra instead of napping often to not only deeply rest, but to work on my sankalpa, my resolution.
So, how do you practice this magical relaxation practice and what's up with the resolution hub bub, you may wonder? Well, practicing is easy peasy - you lay on your back, hit the play button on your preferred media player and give your self permission to relax. I even bought an acupuncture-style pad to practice yoga nidra on to get some extra mojo going. By mojo, I mean prana - life force, chi, breathe, energy. You know...get your mojo rising! (I don't recommend using the bed of nails pad like I am unless you're used to doing yoga nidra often. You can relax so deeply that your body may feel uncomfortable on the pad, defeating the purpose of yoga nidra.)
The sankalpa, the resolution, is a super important part of this practice. When you're in the process of deeply relaxing, you cultivate the feeling of gratitude and in this fertile soil, plant the seed of your sankalpa or focused intention. This is a positive goal towards your health and well being that you want to achieve in the next 6 months. For example, three years ago, my previous sankalpa was to attract 10 students to every yoga class. I was still anxious about teaching to as many people as I could so I would have better job security, more income, and feel like I was getting the yoga message really out there.
The sankalpa eventually worked to where the classes where I had lower attendance (the 7AM gym classes) started to be populated by the coolest group of yogis around and there are often 10 or more students in these classes. Another great result was that by seeding my sankalpa while deeply relaxing, the anxiety I had around it started to fade. Sure, it's fun to have a full class but this is not as important to me. I'm now more focused on teaching a better quality class to any number of students. The sankalpa and yoga nidra worked for me in many great ways.
Yoga nidra, yoga nidra, yoga nidra. Do this as often as you can, at least twice a week, to deeply relax, set and fulfill your sankulpa, and to replenish your vitality.
Help A Yogi Out!
If you have three minutes, can you please take this short SURVEY about a new yoga class I want to start in Chicago? many thanks, friends!
Grounding in Times of Transition
I've been teaching mula bandha, the root lock, in yoga classes this week. I'm teaching this because I want to encourage grounding during times of stress. It's good to be able to root down (like the Beastie Boys song!) when emotions and life are unstable.
My grandmother passed away last Saturday and I chose not to go to her funeral. I feel sad for not seeing my extended family in this time of loss and celebration of her life, but I'm rooted in my decision not to go. I bonded with my halmonee (Korean for grandmother) last Christmas and it was really sweet being a part of her life. I feel fortunate to have known her. She escaped from North Korea before the Korean war with a family of children and elders. She survived five wars with compassion, kindness and unshakable faith in God.
So, I ground myself as she lifts up. I root as she ascends. And I'm better able to reach up and out in my life by grounding myself, as well. Thanks for the wonderful inspiration, halmonee, and thanks for the great genes you gave me! I can't wait to see you again, soon.
New Digs, Try This on for SIZE
So, I'm done done done working with the Three MInute Egg yoga products, for now (duh duh DUH dramatic music heard here). We sold eggs at the NYC Yoga Journal Conference (see the last blog entry) and at the Midwest Yoga Conference in Illinois.
I met some fabulous, fabulous people, like the good folks at Juil Shoes (WONDERFUL product), a guy who already has a yoga website class directory that I'm trying to build now (eek!) and other neat yoga freaks and lovelies.
At the Midwest Yoga Conference, I finally got to study with Dr. Indu Arora. I've been interested in studying with her for years after reading her articles in Yoga Chicago and find her to be an authentic yogini who is the Real Deal. I took a mudra workshop with her and a beauty workshop, where she talked about the 8 types of beauty in the forms of Laksmhi, who is the utmost beauty incarnate. Of course, the emphasis is on the beauty of the inside, the type of confident spiritual beauty that keeps us young, vibrant and elegantly effortless.
Who wouldn't want this kind of effervescent beauty emanating from their pores from the inside? I sure do and need to get puh-lenty of rest right now after weeks of yoga-market-mayhem and after hanging out with the Three Minute Eggman, Jason, who has been painfully sick with a cold.
So, off I go right now (that's right, Mia, get OFF the computer) to make an herbal face mask with Dr. Arora's herbal powder mixed with organic milk, lay on my new Yoga Powermat with 600+ plastic spikes on it and do a yoga nidra deep relaxation with my teacher, Rod Stryker's recording.
The ONLY way I can sustain and thrive with my busy lifestyle is to PRACTICE and take care of myself. Off I go.
My Favorite People
Lauren Toolin, Sue Neufeld, Katy Park in the background & I are ParaYogis, here at the NYC Yoga Journal Conference.
NYC was a blast. A tiring and lovely blast. Working with the Three Minute Egg yoga prop was better and easier than ever. We had fantastic help this year with rock stars Sean, Katy and Josie. Our commanding officer, Jason, was in great spirits, despite his chest cold.
I studied with my yoga teacher Rod Stryker and Lauren Toolin and Sue Nuefeld were assisting him. I was surrounded by wonderful yoga teachers, people who dedicate their lives to practicing and teaching authentic yoga. Wisdom, inspiration and joy emanate from these peoples' pores. They glow with vitality, warmth and authenticity. I don't know if I'd use those words to describe any ol' group of human beings or even yogis. ParaYoga people are special. This approach to yoga works. It really does. It changes people for the better and brings out the absolute best in them.
NYC was all the more great because I spent time with this sangha, this community of yoga people whom I adore, respect and want to be around all the time. Bonus: we filmed a promo video for my teacher's book, The Four Desires! I can't wait to read this book and see the video that Lauren organized.
I'm looking forward to working with commanding officer, Three Minute Egg Jason, this weekend at the Midwest Yoga Conference, but -straight up- it won't be as fun as NYC because my main sangha of ParaYoga peeps won't be there. Yes, it's all yoga, it's all love. But the special love was last weekend and I'm so happy to have tapped into that.
NYC! Here come the yogis...uh-oh!
The Yoga Journal Conference in NYC is upon us. I leave tonight for the Big Apple to visit family and work at the Three MInute Egg booth in the marketplace.
I'll for sure see my ParaYoga friends (woohoo!) and my teacher, Rod Stryker (WOOHOO!), but this will be a very loooong weekend. It's 10 hours of talking to people and demonstrating this clever yoga product. I love doing this job - it's my 5th time in three years working with Jason from Egg central - but, like any other trade show I've worked (over 40), people are CHALLENGING.
People in general can be demanding and high maintenance. Often, yoga people are also demanding and high maintenance, but are more passive aggressive about it since we're yoga people who are trying our best to be "balanced". Ugh. I do my best to be direct, compassionate and friendly. I'm super high maintenance sometimes and when I realize it, try to reel myself in. Maybe these anxious, needy yoga people who are curious about the Egg are also about to ground themselves and calm down.
We're all on the path, we're all journeying our way towards the best we can be. So, off I go to NYC to celebrate all of us on the path to enlightenment at this yoga conference, one foam Egg at a time.
Mother's Day is everyday.
I think that if you're going to honor your mother, you should do it every day, not just on a hallmark holiday. And why does conventionally honoring your mother have to be a commercial event? Why spend money on your mom when she'd much rather prefer you honor her every day of your lives by honoring yourself, first.
At least I'd like to think that moms would want that over a pearl necklace or a plate of fancy food.
The divine mother in all of us is Ma, according to yoga traditions. Ma is definitely the kind of mother that expects you to exalt yourself in order to honor Her. Truly, the only way to take care of someone else, especially your mother, is to take care of yourself, first. Ma needs each of us to do this in order for her to shine through.
This divine light inside of all us, whose origin is Ma, can only shine though if we're doing the best we can to honor ourselves. I come from a Korean household where self sacrifice was encouraged...and this was destructive. I see this self sacrifice "for" someone else's benefit as deep fear to own yourself and be the best you can be in order for others to be the best that they can be.
Sigh. This idea of nurturing an offspring or raising anything (pets, plants, etc) (etc?) is complicated. Where does serving yourself to serve others begin and end? Of course I have to mother my kitty and porch garden. But I make sure to meditate daily in order to keep my inner garden flourishing. Happy Mother's Day to me and you, every day.
Ouch. Being honest can totally suck - it's uncomfortable, it can hurt other's feelings, it can seem easier to let unhealthy situations perpetuate rather than go through the pain of telling the truth. Let's call this last process the "truch", as in truth + ouch.
In the most awesome book, Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna is a warrior with big troubles. He's supposed to go to war and fight his cousins and uncles. He's so upset about this decision that he calls God to help him and down comes God in the form of Krishna. He asks how he can live his truth because he feels so terrible about killing his family.
Krishna explains to Arjuna that he must fight this war because it's part of his dharma, his life's ultimate purpose that will serve himself and the world to it's highest causes. So, even war can be just, but only when this war fulfills dharma, the path to living in one's highest service. It's a fascinating concept to consider, and one that I believe in.
I'm at the point of my life where I want to embrace everyone and everything that will help me fulfill my dharma, or, at the minimum, I want to do what's fun. When I'm exalted, I can celebrate people and life to their fullest. We can all live this way if we follow our dharma.
I'm reprioritizing what's important to me and will make my decisions based on what feeeeels RIGHT. This may mean hurting other's feelings and I feel awful about causing that. But, like me, those people need to follow their dharma, too, and we're all responsible for our own emotions and actions. Embrace the "truch" when we need to and let's gre
I remember watching the Little Rascals show on TV and sometimes the little brats had to drink castor oil. They always grimaced and made faces when they had to drink it. I never knew what castor oil did. I thought the kids were being punished for being bratty by being forced to down this golden elixir.
Decades later, I'm doing my first castor oil cleanse. Per the suggestion of my Ayurvedic doctor from the Ayurvedic Institute, I took 2 tablespoons of castor oil in a cup of warm ginger tea. It didn't taste bad at all and the results are...productive!
Cleansing the digestive tract is recommended by many health practitioners, including Ayurvedic ones. Ayurveda is the sister science to yoga and is the science of self healing, as yoga is the science of self knowledge.
Drinking castor oil sure is cleaning my digestive tract and I hope to take advantage of this seasonal cleanse with the right intention. Cleaning my innards isn't just to have a healthy gut, it's also to symbolically clean my dusty mind, my rusty soul, my lethargic habits. The beginning of May is a great time to begin a new! Starting with a clean gut.
(In addition to practice and balance, yoga people also talk about their poop all the time. It's natural!)
Balancing. Why oh why must I?
Photo by the luscious Jim Newberry
Here I am in warrior III, a classic balancing pose. Like I wrote yesterday, yoga people always talk about practice. We also always talk about balance. Even when I teach, I emphasis the importance of balancing our energy level, our minds, our bodies, all of that good stuff we have going on.
As a yoga teacher, I feel extra obliged to balance myself as much as I can if I"m going to be an example of balance to the students in class. I try to balance my life and it's a challenge.
I enjoy drinking wine. Is this a balancing if I ride my bike more to burn off those extra calories? Is it a balancing if I only have 2 instead of 3 glasses or if I meditate longer? The good news that is also difficult is that balance doesn't work this way. Balance is not retributive where an eye is for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
Balance is constantly shifting. The only way for me to discover my balance is by experiencing the results of my actions constantly. If i have an extra bit of cheese with dinner and wake up feeling bloated the next morning, then I didn't balance my meal the night before.
The tougher aspect of balance is experiencing the esoteric results. How bright is my inner light, my tejas, when I act a certain way? How bright is my spirit when I make certain choices? How does perpetuating old habits that feel comfortable ultimately bring out the best in me? Or not?
Balancing on one foot is greasy easy peasy compared to balancing my inner life. If only enlightenment were easy as holding a fancy yoga pose on one foot for a long time. Actually, thank goodness it's not. Real results need truly difficult work.
Mia Park is a ParaYoga teacher in Chicago, IL, specializing in teaching Basic Yoga for Advanced Misfits, as well as teaching people how to cut through the junk to shine on.