Wednesday, April 27, 2016

"Pie in the Sky" Yogini: Dissolve your Samskaras

In Eastern meditative traditions, there exists a word called samskara, which roughly translates to mean “impression.” From the meditative perspective, every event we have in our lives leaves an invisible, indelible impression on our psyche. As we age, more and more impressions are accumulated. These samskaras are almost like patches of crystallization where there was once free flow of energy. This is why people sometimes seem like they’re becoming hard, dry, and constricted as they age. Their impressions are catching up to them, and they are losing the suppleness and juiciness of their younger and less rigid selves.
Fortunately, meditation teaches us that this process can be reversed.
Sit silently, take a few deep breaths, and redirect your focus inside. Notice the subtleties of how you’re breathing; notice what you’re feeling. After some moments in stillness, you will likely begin to feel places of pain, holding, or stagnation. It may or may not be associated with a physical location in the body; it can be more vague and decentralized. Gently, bring your awareness into that area of restriction and then take a deep breath into it and invite your prana (or life-force associated with the breath) to break it down. And then do that over and over. Breathe into the tightness and ask it to let go.

~Mary Jane

Monday, April 18, 2016

"Pie in the Sky" Yogini: Whoops - I fall too!

Let's face it, just because I am a yoga teacher doesn't mean I don't fall on my face. I'm no different than any other yogi. Some days my practice feel spot on and others days...Well, let's just say I can't stand when the earth moves beneath my feet.
There are more poses I can’t do, than there are ones I can—I know what I know, and that’s that.
What I do know—I teach. Even though I may wobble and fall, I know what it feels like in it.
I also know what it feels like to lose it…and to find it…and to lose it again.
It’s the failures, the mistakes and the whoops that give me the authority to teach. I don’t have to know it all, I just have to know what I do know intimately.

Mary Jane

Friday, April 15, 2016

"Pie in the Sky" Yogini: Create a Sacred Space!

It’s pretty incredible how our environment affects us. But I think most of us do feel better when our house or office is clean and organized.
This is particularly true for where we choose to not only spend our time working, but doing nothing. That is to say meditating. Everywhere I have lived, no matter how little space I had, I set aside a space specifically for meditation. Bare in mind, the best portent for meditation is the northeast. When we set a a specific area for quietude, it reminds us not only to meditate, but it inspires us to create a safe place of peace in an often chaotic world.
Perhaps the main reason to create a sacred space is that it trains our mind to go into a new state when we enter our meditation room. It helps to break us out of our daily patterns. Studies show that over 90 percent of what we do each day is unconscious. The good news is that taking just 15 minutes a day to practice being more conscious can make a huge difference in our lives.

So how do you get started?
1. Find the area in your environment where you can set up your meditation cushion. If you are lucky enough to have an entire room, good for you. However, even the smallest of areas will do.
2. Add fire and earth elements: These are perfect elements for harmony especially in the northeast direction for the entire home or the northeast direction within a room. So what constitutes fire and earth elements? For the purpose of meditation, I would stick with candles and incense (fire), and perhaps a spiritual image. For earth elements, I would stick with your favorite stones, especially ones that are know to ground such as black tourmaline or Brazilian quartz.
3. Now, just DO IT! Make the effort to take time out of your busy day and sit quietly. You'll be amazed how productive you can be when your mind gets quiet!

~Mary Jane

Thursday, April 14, 2016

"Pie in the Sky" Yogini: Warrior 1

Warrior 1 can be a very challenging pose as so much is happening in the body. Build from the foundation (feet up), is how I like to instruct my yogis. Feel as though your heels (front and back) are trying to move toward each other, this will effectively activate the inner thighs or hug muscle to bone so there is room to organically grow in the pose.

The tricky part about this pose is keeping the hips square. I like to have my yogis continue to build upon the foundation by setting their hands on their sacrum to make sure the hips are in alignment - this will require the hip associated with the front leg to move back and the hip associated with the back leg to move forward. Hug to the mid-line, engage the pelvic floor and get long on the side body. At the same time, soften the front rib cage and externally rotate the upper arm bones so the shoulder blades meet at thoracic spine. Let the heart space widen and lift the energy through spreading fingers. This will allow you to plug back in to the back   of the heart.

~Mary Jane


Monday, April 11, 2016

"Pie in the Sky" Yogini - Spring Blessings!

Spring Blessings!

Let us welcome the energy of spring with open arms. This is a time of renewal and rebirth. It is a time to de-clutter our hearts, home and life. This month in particular is the sign of the Dragon - a mystical, fiery and  enthusiastic nature that calls us to be free among the clouds. Be grateful to go outside in the fresh air and plant the seeds for new beginnings. Kapha is heavy from the winter months so be sure to include plenty of sun salutations combined with seated forward folds, back bends and twists in your practice! 

~Mary Jane

Friday, April 8, 2016

"Pie in the Sky" Yogini - Great Article on Life Junk!

This is a great article I read on Elephant Journal by Lori Streator. It is worth the read! For convenience I copied it to my blog page. Enjoy!

6 tips to gain clarity for Spring and clean out our “Life Junk”

Take Inventory
Are we truly grateful for all we have or constantly in search of more “stuff?” Gratitude is one of the greatest ways to feel joy, satisfaction and abundance in life.
Cleaner Mindset
Checking in with our thoughts every hour for a day or so and jotting down any noticeable patterns can reveal a lot. Is there a pattern of negative or self-limiting beliefs? We have inner convos with ourselves constantly, and they can make or break us. When we start to notice (and focus!) on our thoughts, we’re able to reframe them with affirmations and other techniques.
Clearing out the negative head trash is the first step to reprogramming the way we think.
Cleaner Diet
Zapped of energy by 3pm? Feeling sluggish on Sundays because all weekend was spent vegging out in front of the TV and plowing through carb-laden food? Bloated and uncomfortable after meals? These are all signs that bodies could benefit from healthier, more nutritious habits. Try drinking more water or eating smaller meals more frequently. Probiotics can also help regulate gut flora and have a big impact on how we feel physically and emotionally.
Instead of getting lost in a bag of candy or chips, schedule activities that are fun and enjoyable.
Cleaner workouts.
I’m a big fan of working smarter not harder. It’s something I teach my clients, because when we learn to get the most bang for our buck, it can be an absolute game-changer! Incorporating circuits and interval training can help blast more fat and calories. For those newer to working out or strapped for time, scheduling a few full-body workouts each week can feel less intimidating and stressful than thinking we have to get in an hour workout six days a week.
And don’t forget about the fun stuff—instead of immediately thinking about how much we hate exercising, we can  list physical activities we enjoy and build around those; when we like what we’re doing, it’s a near-guarantee that we’ll actually do it.
Cleaner social media.
When we find ourselves scrolling through Facebook and getting sucked in to the drama of everyone else’s lives, it might be time to detox the feed. It’s okay to support and empathize with friends but there’s no need to see a stream of complaints every time we log in. A quick clean out for this is to turn off notifications for people who are notorious for venting and follow more people who provide inspiration and positivity.
Same thing with Instagram, other social media channels and emails; if it isn’t beneficial most of the time, there’s no reason to stay subscribed or continue following. (Hint: we should also pay attention to how much we complain and vent. Leading with motivation, positivity and love is much more inspiring and encouraging.)
Clean up old habits.  
We all have “bad” habits. The excuses and other things we use to distract ourselves from being productive. Ah-hem…Candy Crush or virtual games anyone?
I’m not saying to sell the iPad or stop relaxing with a favorite TV show; I’m suggesting to take note of how we’re spending our time and being honest with ourselves when we’re using these things as a way to get out of what we should be doing.
This is something I’ve experienced personally and see many of my clients struggle with.
If we’re constantly feeling like we never reach our goals, maybe it’s time to explore the root of why that keeps happening. How we do one thing is how we do everything, so pay attention to daily habits and recognize where making a shift might be helpful in the long run.
If you haven’t read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I recommend it. Kondo provides a fresh perspective on tidiness and amazing ways to clean up the physical “stuff.” The cool part is that we can take it one step further and generalize her “Does it bring me joy” philosophy to the rest of our lives.
Now is the perfect time to start clearing space and making improvements in our lives.
If something isn’t adding to your life it may be time to clean it out.

Hope you enjoyed this article as much as I did!

Mary Jane

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

"Pie in the Sky" Yogini: What is the Meaning of 108 Sun Salutations?

A japa mala or mala is an eastern rosary with 108 beads. The mala is used both in Hinduism and Buddhism for counting mantras, chants or prayers. 108 has been a sacred number for a long time, and this number is explained in many different ways. Here are a few explanations:

  • Indian/Buddhist thought states that the outer universe is mirrored in the inner man. He is the microcosm and the objective universe is the macrocosm. The number 108 represents the distance between the devotee and the God within.
  • The chain of 108 links is held together by 107 joints, the number of marmas, or weak spots, in the body according to the Ayurvedic way.
  • The 108 sacred meridians points on the human body in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
  • The 108 Karanas of dance, with 108 movements.
  • The Chinese, very aware of the esoteric and the use of this same symbolism employed it also in their various systems, Taoist and Buddhist. The Yang style form with 108 moves is an example.
  • The 108 stations a candidate had to go through to leave the temple, the 108 steps through danger and death, which also signifies the level of the spiritual adept who must overcome on the spiritual planes the 108 intermediate regions of danger and trial.
  • The distance between the earth and sun = 108 times the diameter of the sun.
  • Distance between the earth and the moon = 108 times the moon's diameter
  • The diameter of the sun = 108 times the diameter of the earth.

Lastly and most importantly, the beads represent, in a simple yet powerful way, the ideas of karma and reincarnation--a rarely disclosed fact. The thread that the beads are strung upon symbolizes the Sutratma, the Spirit or Thread Soul. This is the reincarnating Ego, our true Self, that dons a new garment, a new personality for each lifetime. Each bead strung on the thread is one of those lives that has served its purpose in the evolution of the Higher Self, our God within. We are supposed to join with that inner divinity by building a bridge, called Antahkarana, through meditation and other disciplines......this
is enlightenment.
Mary Jane

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