Happy Yoga Monday! — My Home Yoga Practice

yogainternationalHappy Yoga Monday!

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!

yogame2

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.

yoga-me-malcolmxparkShe 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.

Photo Credit: Cyndi Lee
Photo Credit: Cyndi Lee

Cyndi Lee’s OM in a Box was one of the first resources I used to deepen my home yoga practice.

Photo Credit: Yoga Journal
Photo Credit: Yoga Journal

Yoga Journal is another resource I use. What does your home practice include?

yogacollage

I have created many collages over the years to remind me to practice yoga daily. What do you use as a yoga reminder?

Happy Yoga Monday! – Have you ever read Tathaatsu Magazine?

Photo Credit: www.tathaastumag.com
Photo Credit: http://www.tathaastumag.com

Happy Yoga Monday!

Reading yoga-inspired magazines is one of the ways I deepen my yoga practice and teaching skills. Tathaatsu Magazine is a personal favorite. The word Tathaatsu means “So Be It.”

Photo Credit: www.tathaastumag.com
Photo Credit: http://www.tathaastumag.com

I like the magazine because it is filled with information on Ayurveda, feng shui, healthy food, holistic living, mantras, meditation, spirituality, travel, wellness, and yoga. Tathaatsu’s web site is filled with great resources too. Make sure you visit it this week!

What magazines do you read to deepen your yoga practice?

Happy Yoga Monday – Read Yoga-Inspired Poem About Present Moment Acceptance

Happy Yoga Monday!

For me, yoga begins and ends with the breath. When I breathe in and out consciously, I come into the present moment. That’s the place where everything is happening. It’s the now space I strive to be in 24/7/365. Today, I want to share a poem I wrote about breathing and being in the present moment. Enjoy!

yogame3

Present Moment Acceptance from That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery

All I can be is here right now.
Present. Standing still in mountain pose. Grounding myself in Mother Earth.
Knowing that all the stuff that clamors for my attention is just stuff.
That’s it … just stuff that can be paused for a moment with a deep breath.
So I breathe freely and release through my mouth.

HAH
HAH
HAH
HAH
HAH
HAH
HAH

My deep breathing slows down.
I return to normal breath.
The air comes in and out of my nose.
My shoulders relax.
My neck settles into a softness it has not always known.
My chest area feels more open.
My core supports me with additional strength, giving way to a lengthened spine.
I remember the mantra and say it quietly.

All I can be is here right now.

It rearranges itself.
I follow its lead and repeat it in its new order.

Right here now is where I am.

Right here now is where I am.
Right here now is where I am.

Where I am is holding all my stuff that continues to clamor for my attention despite my long deep breaths.
The mantra reappears.

All I can be is here right now.

It establishes a call and response.
I call.


Happy Yoga Monday – Read A Yoga-Inspired Poem About Writing and Yoga

Happy Yoga Monday!

My yoga practice has helped me focus my creative energy and anchored me during my writing process for several books over the past 16 years.  I have even wrote poetry about the connection between two of my favorite practices. See my poem below.

yogame2

Yoga and Writing from That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery 

#1

When I practice yoga, my ego disappears.
I merge into the Infinite.
We become one.
One Love.
One Creation.
One Vessel.
Messages pass through me.
They become stories, essays, poems, truisms, quotes, prayers, affirmations, letters, e-mail messages, blog posts, and journal entries.

#2

I inhale and raise my hands above my head, pressing the palms of my hands together.
My gaze is focused on my thumbs.
My head is balanced on my shoulders.
My shoulders are rolled back.
My heart shines forth.
My spine is long and strong.
My belly is soft but tucked in.
My arms hang gracefully with splayed fingers.
My legs support my core as my feet ground themselves to Mother Earth.
In this space, I breathe in and out five times.
On my next inhalation, I come into a forward fold.
The blood rushes down from my head.
I get a buzz.
It feels like nirvana.
I take a deep breath and raise myself up one vertebrae at a time.
As I exhale, my arms find comfort by my side.
I stand in place for several moments, feeling the benefits of my short practice.
The next moment encourages me to inhale and bring my hands into prayer against my heart.
I close my practice chanting seven Oms.
Om in my spirit.
Om in my heart.
Om in my breath.
Om in my mind.
Om in my body.
Om in my thoughts.
Om in my writing.

mewriter

I have also taken yoga and writing workshops taught by my yoga teachers, Yael Flusberg and Kimberly Wilson. Their workshops offered me a chance to explore how different yoga poses and breathing exercises can stretch and energize my body, open my heart to new ideas, quiet my mind and clear emotional space so I can hear my inner wisdom, and focus my energy to meet deadlines for writing projects. They also gave me an opportunity to complete writing exercises after doing yoga poses and to share my reflections with a supportive community of fellow yoga students and writers.

Do you use yoga to support your creative work? How has it helped?

Have you ever taken a yoga and writing workshop? What did you learn?

gailsher

If you are looking for yoga and writing resources, check out the list below.

Happy Yoga Monday – Read A Yoga-Inspired Poem About Kundalini Energy

Happy Yoga Monday!

Lately, I have been reading my yoga-inspired poetry. Here’s one of my favorite poems. Enjoy!

yogame

Kundalini from That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery

Her vital energy rises like a coiled serpent up my spine through my body’s seven energy centers.

She sends

Muladhara red light to my root in my spine to support my survival.

Svadhisthana orange light to my sacral in my womb, abdomen, lower back, and hips to enhance my joy, healing capacity, creativity, sexuality, and financial abundance.

Manipura yellow light to my solar plexus to strengthen my sense of self, purpose, will power, determination, and courage.

Anahata pink and green light to my heart to increase my ability to love unconditionally, forgive, and empathize.

Visshudha turquoise light to my throat to purify my communication so it reflects the truth and is expressed with integrity.

Ajna indigo light to my third eye in the middle of my forehead to help me perceive my intuition and follow divine wisdom.

Sahasrara violet light to my crown in my head to transform my consciousness.

The vibrational pattern of her energy movement leaves me in a state of ecstasy.

Sweet sensations permeate the core of my being.

I am the beneficiary of her elixir of immortality.

She has come to awaken me.

So I may know the truth of my being.

The truth that I am a temple of the Divine.

She is Shaktipat.

Descent of Grace.

Aadhya Shakti.

Power of the Divine.

I humbly bow to her with the deepest gratitude.

I chant OM Kundalini OM until the silence of my breath communes with her infinite presence within.

Happy Yoga Monday – Yoga Wisdom Quotes & Yoga-Inspired Poem About Yoga & Meditation

Happy Yoga Monday!

Here’s some yoga wisdom from some of my favorite yoginis and a yoga-inspired poem from my OM soul and heart! Enjoy!

Yoga Wisdom from Some of My Favorite Yoginis:

“I did not come to yoga to stretch. I came to live.” Maya Breuer, African American yoga teacher and entrepreneur“

“Yoga is the uniting of consciousness in the heart.” Nischala Joy Devi, American yoga teacher and author

“Yoga serves as my catalyst, my core, that place I turn to when my world is spinning.”  Kimberly Wilson, American yoga teacher, author, activist, entrepreneur, and designer

Ananda at the London Buddhist Meditation Centre, 2007
Ananda at the London Buddhist Meditation Centre, 2007

My Yoga Poem:

yoga and meditation in the morning (from That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery)

morning comes.

with it a host of thoughts begging for attention.

i take a deep breath and release them into open space.

they magically file themselves away in my cerebral
portfolio.

how sweet they are to make room for my meditation and yoga practice.

i wink and wave a quick goodbye.

they wink back and remind me they never ever say goodbye.

i return the wink with a grateful smile for having been granted a reprieve from
their chatter.

one thought escapes and attaches itself to my conscience.

she dances meringue style through my meditation.

i try to detach.

she dances harder.

i relax and allow her some space.

she quiets down.

i breathe in and out allowing my breath to travel out of my mouth.

she hears me breathing a series of audible “hahs” and joins me.

we merge and marry ourselves in the moment.

me and my thoughts exit stage left into a slow style salsa step.

our beat is harmony.

together we float into the morning silence making way for yoga to begin.

Happy Yoga Monday!

Photo Credit: Associated Press
Photo Credit: Associated Press

Happy Yoga Monday!

This morning, I dedicated my yoga practice to the spirit of Trayvon Martin, his parents and family, and everyone impacted by the recent Florida jury’s decision that found George Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder and of manslaughter in the 2012 death of Martin. I used Ahimsa, a Sanskrit word that means nonviolence, as my mantra during my meditation. It helped me quiet some of my anger and disappointment about the not guilty decision.

Photo Credit: http://blog.meditazionetrascendentale.it
Photo Credit: http://blog.meditazionetrascendentale.it

While I was eating breakfast, I noticed my anger and disappointment began to rise as I thought about Zimmerman being released from jail. That’s when I decided to use Ahimsa as my mantra this week (and as long as it takes) to stay focused on practicing nonviolence, kindness, and compassion towards all living things. I started thinking about ways I could honor Trayvon’s life and promote nonviolence.

Master Yoga Teacher Yirser Ra Hotep - Photo Credit: www.yogaskills.com
Master Yoga Teacher Yirser Ra Hotep – Photo Credit: http://www.yogaskills.com

Using my blog to share my thoughts was the first idea I came up with. And then more ideas about what I should share followed. Before I knew it, I had written a blog post that promotes Ahimsa and highlights the innovative yoga therapy programs created by Yirser Ra Hotep, a master yoga instructor of Kemetic Yoga and the founder of the YogaSkills Method, for pre-school children, school-age children, and teens who are predominately African American.

Photo Credit: KemeticYoga.com
Photo Credit: KemeticYoga.com

Kemetic Yoga is the ancient Egyptian yoga system that focuses on physical movements combined with controlled deep breathing and meditation. Click here to read about the history of Kemetic Yoga. Watch Hotep’s YouTube Channel for more information. See my profile of Hotep below.

Photo Credit: YogaSkills.com
Photo Credit: YogaSkills.com

During my yoga teacher training at Flow Yoga Center in 2005, I wrote a report about Kemetic Yoga. My report included a discussion of Hotep’s YogaSkills Method. A few years later, I had a chance to take Hotep’s class at The Bellydancers of Color Association Conference held at The Inn and Conference Center located on the campus of University of Maryland’s University College. His class brought me back to the first yoga class I took during an African American study group tour of Egypt in 1995. As I moved through the poses, I noticed I was practicing yoga at a slower and more methodical pace. I discovered I had more patience with my mind and body throughout the class. After the class, I felt more focused.

Photo Credit: www.yogaskills.com
Photo Credit: http://www.yogaskills.com

I think yoga is a great way for people to manage their emotions and take care of their bodies. I also think Hotep’s YogaSkills Method is a great way for African American children, teens, and young adults to strengthen themselves, manage stress, create wellness, and practice self-control. To learn more about Hotep’s YogaSkills Method, visit his website. You can purchase his DVDs online. You can also visit the Kemetic Yoga web site to find a Kemetic yoga teacher to study with in major cities.

Happy Yoga Monday! 7/8

Photo Credit: PoetryofYoga.com
Photo Credit: PoetryofYoga.com

Happy Yoga Monday!

This morning, I started my day with a juicy yoga practice, a cup of lemon ginger tea, a bowl of oat bran, and The Poetry of Yoga, an anthology of contemporary yoga-inspired poetry by writers from 19 countries. My yoga teacher Yael Flusberg gave me a copy of The Poetry of Yoga as a summer solstice gift. It was edited and organized by HawaH, an amazing D.C.-based yoga teacher, author, spoken word poet, musician, educator, community organizer, and co-founder of One Common Unity, I discovered while attending a spoken word poetry event at Mocha Hut on U Street in 2005.

The Poetry of Yoga is my OM breakfast treat this month. It is filled with beautiful yoga reflections written by some of my favorite yoga teachers including Yael, HawaH, Faith Hunter, and Helina Metaferia. It also features by writers who have touched my soul such as Margaux Delotte-Bennett, Binahkaye Joy, Beandrea July, and Larry Yang. Today, I fell in love with the yoga-inspired words of Ali Rahn as I read her poem, “Faith.”

Faith by Ali Rahn

Totally

from which

my breath

originates

does my

trust

remain

Rahn’s words floated from my soul to my heart and reminded me each time I take a deep breath and allow myself to stay in the present moment, I am in a state of grace where faith lives. Now that’s a great yoga state of being to carry with me all week!

What yoga-inspired writing have you read this year?

How does the writing make you feel?

Photo Credit: PoetryofYoga.com
Photo Credit: PoetryofYoga.com

If you are looking for yoga-inspired summer reading, be sure to check out The Yoga of Poetry, Volume 1 and Volume 2.

Enjoy your day!

OM #YogaMonday OM!

Photo Credit: "OM" drawing by Ananda Leeke
Photo Credit: “OM” drawing by Ananda Leeke
 

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

My debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One features a main character who works as a yoga teacher in Washington, D.C. Click here to visit the Love’s Troubadours’ Pinterest board which contains some great information about the novel. You can purchase it on Amazon.com.

Happy Yoga Monday! 7/1

Happy Yoga Monday!

Listening to sacred music during my yoga practice is one of my favorite things to do. I adore the music of Sista Shree, a yoga teacher and mantra singer who has created a unique rhythm that blends a mélange of Soul, Blues, Jazz, Funk and Gospel music with the beautiful vibrations of ancient Sanskrit mantras. She also has a band based in New York City called Hanuman. Click here to watch a video of her singing at Jivamukti Yoga Center in New York City in 2012.

Photo Credit: http://sistashree.com
Photo Credit: http://sistashree.com

I first discovered Sista Shree’s music during my yoga teacher training at Flow Yoga Center in 2005. Karen Harris, one of my friends who agreed to let me student teach her during my training, gave me copies of Sista Shree’s CDs: “Asatoma” and “Sacred Sound”. We would use them during our yoga sessions. Sista Shree’s music was filled with soulful energy. It had us chanting and dancing in between poses. I still love listening to her music.

Photo Credit: http://sistashree.com
Photo Credit: http://sistashree.com

In 2008, I interviewed her about her yoga practice, music, and commitment to green living on my radio show Go Green Sangha Radio. Click here to listen to the show (includes other guests).

Photo Credit: http://sistashree.com
Photo Credit: http://sistashree.com

To learn more about Sista Shree, visit her web site. Be sure to follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook. You can buy her music on CDBaby.com.

Photo Credit: http://sistashree.com
Photo Credit: http://sistashree.com

Enjoy your day!

OM #YogaMonday OM!

Photo Credit: "OM" drawing by Ananda Leeke
Photo Credit: “OM” drawing by Ananda Leeke
Photo Credit: “OM” drawing by Ananda Leeke

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

My debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One features a main character who works as a yoga teacher in Washington, D.C. Click here to visit the Love’s Troubadours’ Pinterest board which contains some great information about the novel. You can purchase it on Amazon.com.

Happy Yoga Monday! 6/24

Photo Credit: Mantra: Sacred Words of Power by Thomas Ashley-Farrand Publisher: Sounds True, Incorporated (December 2004)
Photo Credit: Mantra: Sacred Words of Power by Thomas Ashley-Farrand
Publisher: Sounds True, Incorporated (December 2004)

Happy Yoga Monday!

One of the juiciest parts of my yoga practice is my mantra chanting. Mantra is a sacred word, phrase or sound that is repeated during meditation to deepen your spiritual and/or yoga practice, and transform your spiritual consciousness.

Ganesh
Ganesh

The first mantra I learned and began using was “Om Gum Ganapataye Namaha.” I was introduced to it during a lay leadership training led by Reverend Beverly Biddle at Unity of Washington, D.C. in 2002. During the training, I learned the mantra can help remove obstacles from your life and resolve  problems and difficulties. I also learned it was associated with Ganesh, the Hindu elephant deity who removed obstacles. Click here to watch Deva Premal chant the mantra.

chakrasbook

shaktimantras

healingmantrasbook

After the training, I began using the mantra and reading about other mantras. my favorite mantra books are written by Thomas Ashley-Farrand (a/k/a Namadeva Acharya). They include Chakra Mantras: Liberate Your Spiritual Genius Through Chanting, Shakti Mantras: Tapping into the Great Goddess Energy Within, and Healing Mantras: Using Sound Affirmations for Personal Power, Creativity, and Healing.

Do you chant mantras? What are your favorites?

Enjoy your day!

OM #YogaMonday OM!

Photo Credit: "OM" drawing by Ananda Leeke
Photo Credit: “OM” drawing by Ananda Leeke

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

My debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One features a main character who works as a yoga teacher in Washington, D.C. Click here to visit the Love’s Troubadours’ Pinterest board which contains some great information about the novel. You can purchase it on Amazon.com.