Today’s blog features my latest discovery, YogaJournal.com’s office yoga program. It offers 15 videos featuring yoga poses that can help you release tension in your neck, shoulders, wrists, lower back, and hips. Sienna Smith, a certified teacher of Viniyoga and Anusara yoga, provides instructions for each video. Click here to get started with the office yoga program.
Have you visited YogaInternational.com? It’s filled with a variety of yoga resources. The site also offers a helpful guide for creating a home yoga practice that I think you might enjoy. The guide shares the four benefits for creating a home practice. They include self-knowledge, self-help, self-indulgence, an exponential growth. I totally agree!
When I started practicing yoga in my home in 1995 after I attended my first yoga class during an African American studies trip to Egypt, I hired a private yoga teacher to guide me through the asanas (poses). Her name was Gloria. She was a kind, firm, loving, and knowledgeable woman I met in my monthly meditation group. She showed me how to embrace yoga as my own healing balm for anxiety, stress relief, and tight hips, hamstrings, and legs that needed stretching after my long runs. She showed me how yoga when paired with meditation could help me focus my energy on my creative projects. She pushed me to try poses I was afraid of (at the time I was afraid of downward facing dog) in my home practice. She encouraged me to take my yoga practice outside and into my local park.
She also taught me how to create a five-minute practice that includes seven deep breaths in a seated pose followed by child’s pose. When I have more time, I add in a few rounds of sun salutations, cat/cow, lots of standing forward folds, cobra, plank, twists, squats, pigeon, and alternative nostril breathing.
Cyndi Lee’s OM in a Box was one of the first resources I used to deepen my home yoga practice.
Yoga Journal is another resource I use. What does your home practice include?
I have created many collages over the years to remind me to practice yoga daily. What do you use as a yoga reminder?
During my yoga teacher training at Flow Yoga Center in 2005 and 2006, I developed a series of yoga classes that emphasized the attributes of Hindu female deities better known as goddesses or archetypes and how they corresponded to the seven chakras (energy centers in the body). See a list of some of my favorites below (the meanings are based on my own interpretation and understanding).
Durga is the Hindu warrior goddess of determination, persistence, personal power, and will power who governs the third chakra.
Kundalini is the Hindu goddess of inner power who governs the first chakra (the first chakra is the seat of Kundalini energy).
Lakshimi is the Hindu goddess of material and spiritual prosperity who governs the first chakra (physical survival including material prosperity)
Radha is the Hindu goddess of love and governs the fourth chakra.
Sarasvati is the Hindu goddess of wisdom who governs the sixth chakra. She is also the Hindu Goddess of creativity and the arts who governs the second chakra.
Shakti is the Hindu goddess of divine feminine energy who governs the seventh chakra.
Vach is the Hindu goddess of communication and speech who governs the fifth chakra.
Earlier this year, I learned Sally Kempton, one of my favorite spiritual teachers and Yoga Journal’‘s columnists, had authored Awakening Shakti: The Transformative Power of the Goddesses of Yoga, a book that tells stories, offers meditations, and shares the wisdom of many of my favorite yoga goddesses. Click here to read a Yoga Journal interview with Kempton about her new book. After reading a review of the Awakening Shakti in Yoga Journal, I put it on my Amazon.com list of books to buy. Last month, I purchased it from Amazon.com and decided to add it to my stack of must read summer books (which I will begin reading on June 21, the first of day of summer a/k/a the Summer Solstice).
Last week, I glanced through Awakening Shakti to see what juicy wisdom and insights I could expect to receive. Here’s what I found. Kempton shares how the qualities of 11 yoga goddess archetypes can help people deepen their meditation and yoga practice and better understand themselves. She also shares her personal experiences with each yoga goddess archetype. I am excited about exploring each goddess archetype’s meditation exercises, invocation mantras, visualizations, and personal Gayatri mantra. I adore chanting the Gayatri mantra, one of the oldest and most powerful of Sanskrit mantras. It’s one of the first mantras I learned before entering yoga teacher training.
One of the things I loved about my yoga teacher training experience at Flow Yoga Center in 2005 and 2006 was the lessons on the five Yamas, the the moral, ethical and societal guidelines that Patanjali outlined in the Yoga Sutra for yoginis (female yoga practiioners) and yogis (male practitioners) to use in their yoga practice. They include:
Ahimsa – nonjudgment and kindness towards yourself and others.
Satya – truthfulness in how you feel and what you think, say, and do.
Asteya – believing and practicing abundance and not stealing.
Brahmacharya – using our spiritual, emotional, physical, and sexual energy wisely.
Aparigraha – accepting and being content with who we are and what we have and not practicing jealousy.
Click here to read a Yoga Journal about the Yamas. This month, I am focusing on Ahimsa.
Interviewing yoga teachers is one of the things I enjoy doing. It gives me a chance to learn more about their journey and practice. My yoga mentor Faith Hunter, founder of Faith Hunter Yoga and Embrace Yoga Studio, is always fun to chat with. Click here to listen to my 2010 interview with her. You will learn more about Faith and how she inspired me to teach yoga.
Last year, Black Enterprise interviewed Faith about being a yoga entrepreneur. I really appreciated her comments about treating yoga as a business. Her business philosophy is holistic and offers her studio and teachers an opportunity to serve others and earn income with open hearts.
Faith is an amazing writer and podcaster. She has written for Origin (“Sea of Uncertainty” and “For the LOVE of God”) and other publications. Her Faith Hunter All the Way Live Podcast offers free yoga classes. Click here to find a class to take. Her podcasts will rock your yoga world!
OM #YogaMonday OM!
PS: If you would like to read about my yoga journey, check out my memoir, That Which Awakens Me on Amazon.com. It is available on Kindle
Happy February! Happy Black History Month! Happy Heart Health Month! Happy Love Day/Month! Happy #YogaMonday!
It’s a lot of happy going on today! Why? I am very excited about sharing reflections and resources that celebrate my yoga passion, practice, and services as a yoga teacher on Mondays. This month, I’m sharing yoga reflections and resources that promote an open and healthy heart on my blog and social media platforms (search #YogaMonday on Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter for my yoga goodies).
Do you practice yoga?
What are your favorite poses?
How does yoga make you feel?
What kind of music do you like to listen to while practicing yoga?
One of the things I love to doin my personal yoga practice and in my sessions with clients is chant mantras. Mantras are words or phrases that create energy-based sounds when they are repeated over and over again during meditation and yoga. Devi Premal has a beautiful collection of mantras I use to open my heart. Her Love Is Space DVD is one of my favorites.
I fell in love with her rendition of Om Mani Padme Hum which means “Hail, the jewel in the lotus.” Click here to listen to it. I use the mantra to open my heart to the practice of compassion. I love to chant it before I do several rounds of cat and cow yoga poses (great heart openers). Yoga Journal has some great instructions on how to do the poses: cat pose and cow pose. Many of my clients enjoy using the online resources too.
Here are some of heart-related quotes I am using this month as reminders to keep an open heart and practice compassion as I move through my life.
“Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.” Oprah Winfrey
“A joyful heart is the inevitable result of a heart burning with love.” Mother Teresa
“Your heart is free, have the courage to follow it.” Braveheart
“Follow your heart, but be quiet for a while first. Ask questions, then feel the answer. Learn to trust your heart.” Author Unknown
Click here to read Renita Weems’ post with 21 quotes to open your heart on BeliefNet.
Did you know you could practice yoga with your hands? This kind of yoga is called mudras. They are hand gestures and seals that can help improve flexibility and coordination in your fingers and hands. When you use them with breathing exercises, they can stimulate an opening to your lungs and heart and open your joints and relieve tension in your head, neck, and shoulders. They can also help cultivate a specific state of mind during your yoga and meditation practice. I use them in my yoga practice and sessions with clients. The lotus mudra is one I use to open my heart.
Click here to watch my video on the lotus mudra. For more information, check out Yoga Journal’s article on mudras. Enjoy!
OM #YogaMonday OM!
PS: If you would like to read about my yoga journey, check out my memoir That Which Awakens Me on Amazon.com. It is available on Kindle