Mondays are all about yoga in my social media world (confession: every day is a yoga day in my real life world). Today, I am savoring the juicy feelings of gratitude I experienced while leading my workshop on Fierce Living from a Woman’s Creative Heart on August 22 at Embrace Yoga in Washington, DC.
The workshop gave me an opportunity to serve and share from my heart. It also blessed me with two creative yoga workshop participants, Krystal Tingle and Rhiannon Landesberg. Together, we practiced breathing exercises and our favorite yoga poses as we journaled and shared our reflections.
During the workshop, I wore my “Karma: Aham Prema” VIDA scarf I received the night before. It was a special moment because the scarf was created through my partnership with VIDA in May. We used my painting that appears on the cover of my yoga-inspired novel, “Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One” (Amazon) to make the design. It is a part of my VIDA Voices scarf collection which include three additional scarves that use artwork from my books, “That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetical Memoir of Self-Discovery” and “Digital Sisterhood: A Memoir of Fierce Living Online” (Amazon). Click here to learn more about my scarf collection.
Many thanks to Embrace Yoga and my yoga teacher Faith Hunter for blessing me with an opportunity to serve and share from my heart. Thank you Krystal and Rhiannon for attending the workshop.
ALIVE is #Yogaat50 Lesson 8. When I practice yoga, I slow down and reconnect with every part of my body, mind, spirit, and heart. Through my yoga practice, I enter the present moment and become fully ALIVE. What does yoga do for you?
FOCUS is #Yogaat50 Lesson 7. For 20 years, yoga has offered me an opportunity to focus my breath, gaze, spirit, and energy so that they move as one when I practice poses, meditation, and Reiki. When I leave my yoga mat and move into the world, it has given me breathing and stretching tools to navigate emotions, experiences and interactions with others. What has yoga helped you focused on?
OPPORTUNITY is #Yogaat50 Lesson 6. When I was studying to become a yoga teacher at Flow Yoga Center in 2005, I had a homework assignment that required a definition of yoga. Here’s the definition I created and continue to use in my yoga practice, classes, and workshops: YOGA is Your Opportunity to Graciously Accept yourself and life in the present moment. What is your definition of yoga? What opportunity has yoga offered you?
ONENESS is #Yogaat50 Lesson 5. Through practicing yoga, I have learned firsthand that I am connected to everyone and everything in the universe. Having this awareness of oneness reminds me to honor everyone and everything as I would myself. On days when I choose to ignore this awareness, I’m grateful my yoga practice brings me back to the truth of my being. That usually happens when I sit in child’s pose and give myself Reiki.
I spent the weekend at the WordPress Press Publish Conference in Portland, Oregon. During my talk on Blogging for Obama, I invited the audience to take a digital wellness moment that included several yoga deep breathing exercises. Much later in the day, I talked to someone about my “Yoga Everyday” approach to living and teaching yoga. It’s pretty simple. I help everyday people incorporate gentle and office yoga into everyday of their lives while often wearing everyday clothing.
#Yogaat50 Lesson 4 is EVERYDAY. My very first yoga teacher Gloria taught me that yoga begins with the breath in 1995. She also encouraged me to practice yoga EVERYDAY by breathing deeply and mindfully. She also encouraged me to add a yoga pose to my daily practice. I have followed her wisdom and continue to share it with my yoga, Reiki, and creativity coaching clients. What does your yoga practice look and feel like?
Reiki is a Japanese word that means “universal life energy.” It is a healing technique that is administered by “laying on hands” for energy cleansing, pain management, stress reduction, and relaxation. A Reiki practitioner uses her or his hands to help channel an individual’s life force energy (known as prana or chi) and is guided by Creator (Higher Spirit, Divine Power, or God). Creator’s wisdom knows exactly where to go and how to respond to restrictions in the flow of an individual’s life force energy. It can work directly in the unconscious parts of the body and mind. There are several Reiki hand positions. Click here to watch a video for Reiki self-treatment.
ENERGY is #Yogaat50 Lesson 3. For the past 10 years, I have used Reiki hand positions during my home yoga practice and when I teach students one-on-one. Reiki helps me experience and manage the flow of my prana when I am on and off the mat. Check out the photo collage above featuring some of my favorite Reiki hand positions. I always end my Reiki session by bowing, chanting OM, and saying Namaste. Have you received Reiki before? How was your experience? Have you used it in your yoga practice?
HEALING is #Yogaat50 Lesson 2. Last week, I added a series of Yin Yoga hip opener poses to my home practice. As I held them for five to six minutes, my mind quieted down and space was created for me to hear my inner voice. She revealed some fears I was hiding from and encouraged me to surrender and embrace them. I used each yoga session to follow her wisdom. After a few days, I started journaling about my fears and how I could face them head on. By the end of the week, I had shared them with my accountability partners and began to take baby steps to overcome them. I now realize that a healing had begun thanks to my yoga practice. Have you ever experienced any form of healing through yoga?
Today, I’m bringing #YogaMonday back to the blog with a five-week series entitled #Yogaat50 Lessons. Each week, I will share a lesson I learned through my yoga practice and service as a yoga teacher.
Here’s LESSON 1: Namaste helps me honor and celebrate my true identity and connection to others from the inside out. Guess where I took my first yoga class? Aboard a cruise down the Nile River during an African American studies trip with Kemetian scholar Tony Browder in 1995. I was 30 and interested in the deep breathing and stretching benefits of yoga for support with my running practice. When I returned home from my trip, I found a yoga teacher who provided one-on-one instruction in my home. Her name was Gloria. She taught me how to breathe deeply and do poses that eased the tension and tightness in my hamstrings, hips, legs, and lower back. She explained the meaning of Namaste and showed me how to chant it at the end of each session. Over the past 20 years, my home practice and service to others as a yoga teacher has deepened my understanding of Namaste. It has become a sacred self-care ritual that reminds me to to look within, accept, and celebrate my true identity as a spiritual being living a human experience with strengths and weaknesses. Saying Namaste also taught me to appreciate and value the true identity of everyone and everything in the universe, and our bond of oneness. What does saying Namaste mean to you?
Today I read an interview featuring Erykah Badu in Mantra Magazine. Erykah’s comments about her newfound love of yoga and mantras inspired me. Here’s what she said:
“I love yoga. I started taking yoga at a gym and I met the most wonderful instructor who teaches you in Sanskrit as well as in English. She repeats everything in Sanskrit. There’s something about the vibration of this language that really resonates with me and helps me to focus more on the breathing and not so much on the stretching.”
Her words made me think about some of my favorite mantras and how they have helped me strengthen my meditation, Reiki healing, and yoga practices. Click here to listen to Krishna Das chant OmNamah Shivaya which means “I bow to my inner self.” This sacred mantra helps me to surrender my ego to my highest self. It helps me live in the present moment. It opens my heart to Creator’s wisdom and blessings for my life.
Do you have any favorite mantras? How do they impact you?