Happy Yoga Monday: Listen to Podcast about the Power of Shakti in Yin Yoga

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Happy Yoga Monday!

Have you ever had several days of yoga aha moments? 

What did you learn?

Over the past three days, I had a series of yoga aha moments about the power of Shakti energy in my yin yoga practice and studies and my work with yoga clients. Cluck on the link to listen to today’s podcast to learn more abput yoga aha moments (9 minutes).
http://soundcloud.com/ananda-leeke/listen-to-yoga-teacher-ananda

PS: Check out the message below.
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Happy Yoga Monday: Honoring Female Yoga Teachers During National Women’s History Month

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Happy Yoga Monday! Happy March! Happy National Women’s History Month!

The power of Shakti, the feminine creative life force that keeps me going (known as chi or prana), continues to inspire my yoga practice and studies. While chanting the Shakti mantra MA (means mother) during my morning yoga practice, I felt a deep sense of gratitude for my female yoga teachers. So I decided to dedicate my yoga practice and Yoga Monday blog series to honoring my “yogini sheroes.” Click on the link to hear today’s podcast about my first yoga teacher, Gloria – http://voicebo.com/iTpreo.

Who are your yogini sheroes?

Happy Yoga Monday: My Yoga Study Buddy Partnership

My Yoga Collage #1inspired by my study of Shakti energy and Kundalini yoga practice
My Yoga Collage #1inspired by my study of Shakti energy and Kundalini yoga practice

Happy Yoga Monday!

Have you ever had a yoga study buddy to create more accountability and support in your yoga practice?

This month I realized I needed to create a yoga study buddy partnership to help ground my current study of the power of Shakti energy and Kundalini yoga in my home yoga practice. So I reached out to Benjamin, one of my best friends and fellow Kundalini yoga practitioners, via Skype to discuss my idea. Our conversation revealed that we are both on a journey to understand Shakti, chakras, Kundalini yoga, and living from our hearts. Since he lives in London and I live in D.C., we decided to use email for quick check-ins and information sharing (videos, web links, articles, music etc.). We also chose to schedule one or two Skype calls per month to discuss what we have been learning and noticing in our yoga practice and life.

My Yoga Collage #2 inspired by my study of Shakti energy and Kundalini yoga
My Yoga Collage #2 inspired by my study of Shakti energy and Kundalini yoga

As a result of my yoga study buddy partnership with Benjamin, I have been creating collages that illustrate how I feel about the power of Shakti in my yoga practice and life.

Photo Credit: Maya Fiennes
Photo Credit: Maya Fiennes

I’ve started watching YouTube videos that Benjamin sent me via email that feature Maya Fiennes, an international Kundalini yoga teacher. This week, I am using Fiennes’ root chakra and sacral chakra videos to enhance my morning practice.

Ananda with her yoga and chakra inspired art
Ananda with her yoga and chakra inspired art

Having Benjamin as my yoga study buddy has created more accountability in developing inspiring content for my weekly Yoga Monday blog and podcast. Click here to listen to today’s podcast which includes three yoga wisdom quotes, my poem about yoga and writing, and reflections on the power of Shakti in my yoga practice and life. OM Enjoy OM!

PS: Yoga and Reiki healing touch sessions are great ways to energize your spirit, heart, mind, and body for the Spring season. If you are in the DC area and are seeking to develop or strengthen a kind and gentle yoga practice for your daily life, reach out to me at kiamshaleeke@yahoo.com. I have several slots opening up for my Spring yoga one-on-one sessions. I also have several slots opening for my Reiki healing touch sessions. Click here to learn more about my yoga and Reiki services.

Happy Yoga Monday: Afternoon Yoga & Shakti Mantra Chanting

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Happy Yoga Monday!

Today’s podcast gives you an inside view into my afternoon yoga session that included mala beads and a Shakti mantra. Click on the link to listen (3 minutes).
http://voicebo.com/6mGAnv

What mantras do you like to chant during your yoga practice?

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If you are in the DC/MD/VA area and would like to experience kind and gentle yoga or a Reiki healing touch session, contact me at kiamshaleeke@yahoo.com to schedule a phone consultation about your yoga/Reiki needs and my fees.

Happy #YogaMonday: My Yoga Focus for February

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Happy #YogaMonday!

What are you focusing on during your yoga practice this month?

My February yoga focus is on developing a deeper understanding of the inner Shakti energy (chi, prana or creative life force or power inside you and all things in the universe) that opens the door to meditation and spiritual evolution. Click on the link to listen to today’s podcast (5 minutes) that shares how the February issue of Yoga Journal sparked my focus. http://voicebo.com/xnZQBR

Happy Yoga Monday: My Final Visit to the Smithsonian’s Yoga: Art of Transformation Exhibition

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Happy Yoga Monday!

During the weekend, I made one last visit to the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery’s “Yoga: The Art of Transformation” exhibition. My first visit was in October. “Yoga: The Art of Transformation” represents the world’s first exhibition of yogic art. It includes more than 120 works, from the 3rd century to the early 20th century, that celebrate the essence of yoga and its diverse history through temple sculptures, devotional icons, illustrated manuscripts, court paintings, photographs, books, and films borrowed from twenty-five museums and private collections  in India, Europe, and the United States.

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When I walked through the Sackler Gallery’s doors, I was greeted by two yoga practitioners who were practicing yoga on their mats and sharing their yoga wisdom and insights with visitors.

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I love this pose. It reminds me of the Balasana squat pose, one of my favorites.

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I was in total awe of this yogi’s ability to focus in the midst of a large crowd.

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Right before I left the exhibition, I posed for a photo and signed up for a free raffle of a bag of yoga goodies from Whole Foods. Today, I received an email indicating that I won the bag of goodies. Hooray! I will pick it up this week and share a photo of it on next week’s blog.

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I spent a lot of time checking out sculptures of yoginis. See photos above and below.

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One of the highlights of my museum visit was meeting the exhibition’s chief curator,  Debra Diamond. I told her how much I enjoyed seeing the yogini sculptures and paintings.

FYI: The exhibition closed on Sunday, January 26.

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Happy Yoga Monday: Creating Digital Wellness with Yoga for Computer Users

Photo Credit: http://dam.londonpubliclibrary.ca/book/export/html/152
Photo Credit: http://dam.londonpubliclibrary.ca/book/export/html/152

Happy Yoga Monday!

This month, I am infusing Digital Wellness moments into my yoga practice. Just in case you wanted you know, I define Digital Wellness as “a gift you give yourself to help manage your time online with mindful self-care practices. Mindful self-care practices encourage you to slow down, become aware of how you spend your time online, and identify and take small steps towards having a healthier digital life. Examples include breathing exercises, journaling, massage, meditation, physical movement (walking, running, yoga, and aerobic classes), rest (naps and a good night’s sleep), setting time boundaries, and using time management tools (HootSuite, TweetDeck, and an editorial calendar) to schedule your blog and social media posts” (excerpt from my new book, Digital Sisterhood: A Memoir of Fierce Living Online). Click here for tips on creating a Digital Wellness plan.

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Sandy Blaine’s Yoga for Computer Users is a guiding force in my daily yoga practice. Blaine’s book offers illustrated yoga poses and breathing and relaxation techniques that can help you take better care of your neck, shoulders, wrists, and hands. The beautiful thing about the poses and breathing and relaxation techniques is that they can be done at home or in the office. I love the book because it gives you lifestyle suggestions and mindfulness practices that encourage you to unplug from your digital life, make more time for joy in your daily schedule, learn to alternate your mouse hand, and more!

Are you using any yoga poses to take care of yourself while you are online?

Have you created a Digital Wellness plan? What does it include?

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Visit Amazon.com to learn more about Digital Sisterhood. It is available for purchase on Kindle and as a paperback and hardback book.

Happy Yoga Monday: Yoga, Me & 2014

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Happy Yoga Monday!

Today, while I was reading the latest issue of Yoga Journal, I started thinking about a phrase that appears on the magazine cover: “Tap Into Yoga’s Power.” This phrase took me back to 1995, the year I started practicing yoga. Memories of my first yoga teacher, Gloria teaching me how to breathe mindfully through each yoga asana especially child’s pose, pigeon, downward facing dog, and forward fold, made me smile. Other memories flooded my mind and reminded me of how powerful yoga has been in helping me manage anger, change, conflict, death, disappointment, fear, grief,  sadness, stress, and writer’s block over the past 20 years.

20 years of yoga in my life … can you believe it? It went so fast and yet made a powerful difference in my life. This year, I plan to use this blog to share reflections about my 20 year yoga journey and where it is taking me in 2014 …. Bhakti Yoga, Integral Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Yin Yoga, writing yoga poetry about turning 50 and a new novel featuring a cast of yoga students and teachers who live, love, and practice yoga in DC, and making yoga art. So get ready for some OM fun!

How is yoga guiding, inspiring, and supporting you in 2014?

Happy Yoga Monday: Reflections on My 2013 Yoga Practice

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Happy Yoga Monday!

Today marks the last Yoga Monday of 2013. In honor of this auspicious occassion, I thought I would share how my Yoga Monday blogging practice impacted my life on and off my yoga mat this year. Blogging about yoga each week helped me stay grounded like a tree rooted in the earth (see my Christmas tree pose photo above) to my home yoga practice and goal of taking more workshops and classes.
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I was able to take several vinyasa and restorative yoga classes at Embrace Yoga Studio that opened up my heart to my creativity in the spring and helped me digest changes in my life at the end of the year.
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Through my weekly yin yoga class taught by Danielle Polen at Tranquil Space, I was able to face my fears about finishing my Digital Sisterhood book, become clear about the next phase of my career as a digital communications professional, and begin the process of atonement and forgiveness with several people. I also became a member of a supportive yoga community at Tranquil Space and received lots of positive energy and encouragement, hugs, and kind words while writing my Digital Sisterhood book.

This summer, I took a yoga and wine workshop just for fun, a yoga and writing workshop to overcome a funky case of writer’s block, and a winter solstice yin yoga workshop to celebrate the end of a very full year.
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Blogging each week inspired me to read Yoga Journal each month and check out other yoga magazines. This year, I became a huge fan of Origin and Mantra. The articles encouraged me to open my heart to a bigger yoga life that included reading yoga-inspired poetry, creating a yoga station on Pandora.com via my iPad, and attending concerts featuring some of my favorite yoga mantra chanters, musicians, and vocalists like Snatam Kaur, Krishna Das, and Deva Premal and Mitren.
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When I started dreaming about taking Kundalini yoga classes at the Yoga House during the summer months, I allowed procrastination to stop me from signing up. So I wrote a blog about Kundalini yoga and publicly announced my intention to take classes. My public announcement created accountability. And now I am happy to say my love affair with Kundalini yoga is in full swing. It is following me into 2014.

What did you gain and learn from your yoga practice in 2013?

Thanks for joining me on my Yoga Monday journey this year. See you in 2014!

Happy Yoga Monday – What is the highlight of your yoga practice?

Happy Yoga Monday!

What is the highlight of your yoga practice?

Ananda practicing yoga in Jamaica, 2011
Ananda practicing yoga in Jamaica, 2011

The highlight of my practice is being kind and gentle with myself and taking my practice off of the mat and into my daily life (doing Tadasana at work while I am seated or breathing deeply as a mindfulness reminder when I am doing email).

Yoga has given me an arsenal of tools that help me handle stress better. Here are some of my stress relief tools.

1) Taking a lot of time to center myself with pranayama exercises (three-part breath,  alternate nostril breathing, and humming).

2) Cleansing my chakras with sound vibration through  mantra chanting as I give myself reiki healing touch.

3) Yin poses that help me massage my connective tissue.

4) Learning sacred mantras (Gayatri Mantra) to close my practice and chanting a sea of OMs.

5) Saying Namaste and bowing at the end of my practice.