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: My Winter Solstice Weekend

Photo Credit: http://hdwallpapersfan.blogspot.com/2013/04/winter-solstice-pictures.html
Photo Credit: http://hdwallpapersfan.blogspot.com/2013/04/winter-solstice-pictures.html

Happy Yoga Monday!

The Winter Solstice is the first day of winter which happens when the sun reaches its most southerly declination of -23.5 degrees or the North Pole is tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun. It is the shortest day of the year. It is also one of my favorite times a year because it reminds me to SLOW DOWN for rest and relaxation, and TURN INWARD for reflection with more yoga, meditation, mantra chanting, journaling, walks in nature, collage making, and reading.

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

In preparation for this year’s Winter Solstice, I planned a weekend of yoga and meditation that started with a wonderful yin yoga and yoga nidra workshop taught by my yoga teacher, Danielle Polen at Tranquil Space on December 20. Danielle’s class was exactly what I needed to open my heart to the Winter Solstice season.
Photo Credit: www.wisdom-books.com/ProductPic.asp?PID=16675
Photo Credit: http://www.wisdom-books.com/ProductPic.asp?PID=16675

On Saturday afternoon, I attended the monthly Buddhist meditation circle for my People of Color Sangha. It felt really good to sit for 30 minutes in silence with my Buddhist sisters and brothers. After the sit, we listened to a dharma talk on the emotions that occur during the holiday season given by our meditation teacher, La Sarmiento. We also shared our thoughts with each other in a mindful discussion.

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

On Sunday morning, I listened to a Winter Solstice sermon on stillness given by Reverend Rob Hardies at my church, All Souls Unitarian. Rob’s sermon reminded me how important it is to take time out to be quiet. Later that day, I treated myself to a restorative yoga class at Embrace Yoga Studio.

How did you celebrate the Winter Solstice?

Happy Yoga Monday: My Best Yoga Moments in 2013

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Ananda & her yoga teacher Danielle Polen

Happy Yoga Monday!

On Saturday, I attended my yoga teacher, Danielle Polen’s yin/yang yoga class at Tranquil Space yoga studio. During the yoga class, Danielle encouraged me and my fellow classmates to set an intention for the holiday season. My holiday intention revealed itself as a six-word memoir during a child’s pose: surrender – joy – gratitude – patience – love – abundance. By the end of class, my six-word memoir intention had become my 2014 life intention.

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Ananda & Julia Coney

After class, I shared my intention with my yoga digital sister, Julia Coney (@juliaconey on Twitter). I also thanked her for referring me to The Way of the Happy Woman by Sara Avant Stover. This year, Stover’s book helped me deepen my commitment to self care and my home yoga practice.

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While I was at Tranquil Space, I had a chance to learn more about my fellow Fabulous Women Business Owner DC member June’s new skincare line, lilikoi living living. It is lovely and makes for a wonderful holiday gift.

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Ananda at Tranquil Space

As I was walking home from Tranquil Space, I realized my best yoga moments in 2013 occurred while I was practicing yin yoga at home and with my Tranquil Space community in Danielle’s classes. What a yoga blessing!

What are your 2013 best yoga moments?

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PS: If you are in DC and looking for yoga-inspired holiday gifts, stop by Tranquil Space.

Happy Yoga Monday: Yoga in Winter

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Happy December and Happy Yoga Month!

December is my birthday month. It offers me a chance to reflect and give thanks for the blessings and lessons I have learned during the past year. Yoga is one of my greatest blessings.

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December also offers me a chance to prepare for yoga in winter. This year, I am reading the winter yoga sections of Sara Avant Stover’s The Way of the Happy Woman to create my home practice. 

This week, my morning and evening yoga practices are filled with some of the new poses I have discovered in Stover’s book. My iPad is set to Pandora.com’s Wah! Station. The music is OM groovy OM! It slows me down and allows me to feel the beauty of my spirit, heart, body and mind as I move in and out of each pose. It reminds me to be kind and gentle with myself. What a great way to bring yoga into my world during the holiday season!

What’s happening in your yoga world this holiday season?

Happy Yoga Monday: Yoga As Transformation

Photo Credit: Smithsonian Museum's Yoga: The Art of Transformation
Photo Credit: Smithsonian Museum’s Yoga: The Art of Transformation

Happy Yoga Monday!

This month, I am participating in the 21 Day Meditation series led by Oprah Winifrey and Deepak Chopra. Today’s meditation focused on getting in touch with my heart’s desires. One of my heart’s desires is to deepen my connection and understanding of yoga. So I am headed to the Smithsonian Museum’s Sackler Gallery to see the Yoga: The Art of Transformation exhibition. I am really excited to see the groundbreaking exhibit. It is the world’s first exhibition on yoga. I will write about my visit next week.

How does yoga transform your life?

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.

Happy Yoga Monday – Yoga and Alice Coltrane’s Music

Photo Credit: AliceColtrane.org
Photo Credit: AliceColtrane.org

Happy Yoga Monday!

Today, I am remembering the beauty and power of Swamini Turiyasangitananda a/k/a Alice Coltrane and her music. In 2006, I had a chance to see Alice perform live at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, New Jersey. That evening was and remains a high point in my life. Words cannot begin to describe the beauty of what I witnessed. You had to be there.

Photo Credit: Alice Coltrane.org
Photo Credit: Alice Coltrane.org

Right now I am listening to her Astral Meditations CD. Track 10 entitled “Peace On Earth” is playing. It is a composition that was originally written and recorded by Alice’s beloved, John Coltrane in 1966. See the album — John Coltrane: Infinity.

Photo Credit: JohnColtrane.com
Photo Credit: JohnColtrane.com

There is a point in the composition where Alice’s divine talent as a harpist is prominently featured. My ears tingle as they hear her gracefully weave a golden thread through the entire composition. It connects all of the instruments and musicians as one. Together, they create a musical quilt of peace for humanity to enjoy. Their creative collaboration also reminds me that we can accept and honor humanity’s beautiful quilt of cultural diversity when we choose to practice peace.

The wonderful thing about peace is that it gives birth to ahimsa, a Sanskrit word that means nonviolence. In yoga, ahimsa represents the first of five yamas (satya – truthfulness, asteya – non stealing, brahmacharya – relating to another with unconditional love and integrity, and aparigraha – non-clinging/grasping). Yamas are ethical guidelines or levels of awareness that one aspires to achieve. They apply to our actions, words, and thoughts.

Through the principle of ahimsa, we are called to refrain from causing pain or harm to any living being through our thoughts, words, and actions. When we choose our thoughts, words, and actions carefully so that they do not harm others, we are creating peace. When we are peaceful and nonviolent, we are at ease. We are more relaxed.

Instead of becoming angry at ourselves and others because of the differences we share, we can use that ease to create understanding and tolerance. With understanding and tolerance, we create sacred space for the acceptance and appreciation of our cultural and individual differences. As we come to accept and appreciate the beauty of what makes us different, we can also accept and appreciate the love that connects us as one.

Happy Yoga Monday – Laughter Yoga

Happy Yoga Monday!

Every culture in the world appreciates and understands laughter. It is part of the universal human vocabulary. It also helps us stay healthy by enriching the blood with ample supplies of oxygen. In addition, laughter helps to remove the negative effects of stress and boosts our immune systems. Other benefits of laughter include:

• controlling high blood pressure and heart disease

• increasing stamina through increased oxygen supply

• alleviating pain and giving a sense of well being by releasing endorphins

• serving as an effective antidote for depression, anxiety and psychosomatic disorders (laughter boosts the production of serotonin, a natural anti-depressant)

• massaging the digestive tract and enhancing blood supply to the liver, spleen, pancreas, kidneys and adrenal glands

• ensuring a good night sleep and reducing snoring because laughter is very good for the muscles of the soft palate and throat

Photo Credit: www.laughteryoga.org
Photo Credit: http://www.laughteryoga.org

Dr. Madan Kataria, founder of Laughter Yoga, discovered that anyone can laugh for fifteen to twenty minutes without depending upon a sense of humor or comedy. As a result, he designed a blend of playful, empowering laughter, gentle breathing, stretching, rhythmic clapping and chanting exercises to help release tension. Through his work, Dr. Kararia discovered that laughter yoga is a great way to distance yourself from anger, stress, fear, limitations, and anxiety.

Have you ever tried Laughter Yoga?