The Opposite of Insecurity & How to Get More of It   

       Psst… Here’s a spiritual secret: Infinity is the opposite of Insecurity.

What do I mean by that? Simply that, by elevating yourself, being of service, and focusing on the big picture you can go a long way toward diffusing your insecurity.

Insecurity is Normal.

Hey, you’re just a human. You’ll make mistakes, especially when trying something new. It is true failure happens sometimes, as does embarrassment and shame. So you’re not crazy for feeling insecure, and a certain amount of it is normal. But…

Insecurity is also a Tragedy. And a Selfish One That.

Have you ever met someone who was really smart, talented, with a great sense of humor and so much to give, but they were their own worst enemy? All dreams and no action, totally stuck?

This unfortunate and perfectly nice person was probably held prisoner by their own thoughts. Thoughts like: “What will they think of me?” “What if I screw this up?” “I’m sure someone else can do it better than me…”  “I bet I’ll make someone mad & they’ll say something mean about me.” “I’m not good enough.”

Oh Lordy… Look at all those “me”s and “I”s! The cruelest part of insecurity is that a lot of people who really want to make the world a better place & express their gifts and creativity DON’T because of this misplaced focus on themselves. If you are a do-gooder type let this be the final motivation to vanquish your insecurity. Don’t let your insecurity selfishly keep you from sharing your gifts!

We’re at an all-hands-on-deck moment of time right now. There are crises at every level from school board to planet. There is so much work to be done.

You were born for a reason, and there are gifts only YOU can give: your unique combination of talents, personality, experience and context. The Universe is begging, just begging for you to give your gifts. And trust me, giving them will make you happier too.

(BTW, this connection to infinity is what yoga is all about. Yoga means “yoke,” as in, you’re trying to connect, or yoke, your finite self to your infinite self. The result is less personal suffering and the opportunity to live a life of Divine service and happiness.)

Don’t worry if it sounds impossible, it is actually pretty easy.

The Insecurity Crisis Kit

The next time your insecurity is getting in the way of something you really know you should do, try this:

1. Take a few breaths and be with the insecurity. Feel the truth of what these thoughts say. Remember these thoughts wouldn’t be so compelling if there wasn’t some truth to them (buried under the fear and catastrophizing)!
Use these truths to inspire you to be humble, but remember Right Action isn’t about you personally, so don’t let personal fears derail it.

2. From this feeling of humility connect to something bigger than yourself.  If you’re religious you can connect to God, if you’re spiritual to the flow and mystery of the Universe, if you’re neither to the awe-inspiring vastness of the universe and science and time.

3. From this elevated space turn your attention back to the situation. Bow in service to the situation. You’re wanting to do this thing that scares you for a reason. What is that reason? Who are you helping and what is the highest outcome of the situation? Focus on that. Make a prayer or intention that this highest outcome will come to past and then ACT.

The yogic test for Right Action is this: Are you uplifting yourself? Are you uplifting others? If you can answer “yes” to both you won’t go too far off the rails. 

Remember, Wether it “works,” & how people react: not your problem. You’re human, you’re small, and the big picture is the Divine’s responsibility.  Don’t even TRY to control outcome. Just show up and do your best.

I can personally say this works. It brings an almost instant feeling of inner relief.  If I ever have to speak in public, I do this first so I can make it through with only minor heart palpitations.

I’ll give you another example from my own journey. 

I’m an introvert, and when I started my practice I was literally AFRAID of new clients. I would think things like: “Will they be nice to me?” “What if they don’t like me or what I do?” Etc.

Trust me, this is a horrible train of thought when you’re trying to motivate yourself to market your business!

What really helped me turn this nervousness around was to consciously replace these me-oriented thoughts with something focused on my potential new clients and **how I could help them.**

I’d mentally say something like, “God, please help me find the clients who can really benefit from what I offer”, or if I was nervous right before a massage, I’d take a few deep breaths and think, “Please let this massage be exactly what this person needs today.”**

When you’re Humble and in Service, you can be incredibly powerful.

In yoga we say, “you have to bow to command.” When your ego bows to your Soul, Divine power flows through you. At it’s highest, this is a merger of your finite self with Infinite direction. It’s something we see in great saints and healers throughout time. Hearts are changed, mountains moved.

But you don’t have to be a saint, you can use this technique on a mini level to add more sacredness, healing, and happiness to your life.

I hope you do.

Take care,
Sara

**I have to give credit to Heart of Business and Mark Silver. They taught me this technique as part of their heart centered business coaching program. I’m incredibly grateful. And the fact that it fit so well with yogic teachings, how cool!

Daily Meditation: When the going gets yucky.

Oh yeah, when it comes to daily meditation, there’s something I should warn you about…

     One of the metaphors Yogi Bhajan would use to explain meditation was “taking out the trash.” It is not always pleasant to take out the trash, but you do it because you don’t want to be up to your eyeballs in garbage.

     When you’re doing a 40 day meditation, especially one that is working on something that is alive for you, you are releasing some garbage from your subconscious mind. Unpleasant aromas are common.

For a few days you may feel the opposite of how you are wanting the meditation to make you feel. This is normal, you’re just experiencing some of the negative emotions related to what you’re trying to heal.

I do a LOT of 40 day meditations. There are two times when I noticed this phenomena particularly. The first was when I did a self love meditation for 40 days (this was the one my teacher gave me when I was looking for a partner). For a few days I felt anything but self loving. I was annoyed and puzzled until I realized it was part of the progress of the 40 day meditation. It wasn’t an unmanageable amount of self loathing, and it cleared.

The second was a meditation for compassion I did earlier last year. There was a period where I was thinking a LOT of judgmental thoughts about people!!  Having this come up during my compassion meditation almost made me laugh, until I realized, “Huh, being judgmental really effectively blocks my compassion for a person…” I also realized there was an element of self protection in being judgmental, and that compassion takes a lot of courage and vulnerability.

So if you having some emotions come up, and you’re wondering if your meditation isn’t working, hang in there. Trust the structure of the meditation and the practice hold you. Let the emotions clear, and wave goodbye to them on their way out.  Any emotions that arise should feel well within your ability to handle.

I should note that if you have a trauma history, or heavy stuff from childhood, the emotions you’re clearing may be more intense.  Please get support from a counselor, even if you have to reach out to someone you worked with in the past, or find a new person. Make it as easy as for yourself as you can by getting the help you need. 

So you want to Meditate every day?

Tips for starting and maintaining a Daily Practice

      There are a few tricks of the trade to make it easier to actually make the shift to daily meditation. A primary one in the Kundalini Yoga tradition is to pick a single meditation to do everyday for 40 days. Here are four steps to becoming a every day meditator:

      1. Actually make the commitment. 
      Pause for a moment and take a little inventory of your mind. Are your thoughts like “Wow, a 40 day meditation, that’s a new adventure! I’ll make space for it by doing X, Y, Z….” Or more like “hmm… 40 day meditation. We’ll see how that goes… I’m not good at commitments like this. Plus I’m really busy, gonna be traveling, etc.” 
       Do you feel the difference in energy? In the first the decision is made, “I’m doing this every day for 40 days.” In the second the decision is still kind of open: “Will I ACTUALLY do this every day for 40 days??” 
       The second kind of thinking is very dangerous to commitments! It means you’re gonna have an inner debate every day on if you’ll do your meditation or not, instead of just getting up and doing or it finding a way to fit it in. 
        I promise you, you have time to meditate for 15 minutes every day.  If you have to run out to the car or shut the office door on your lunch break that’s fine. If you do it in the meditation/chapel room of an airport, that’s fine. If your spouse or kids overhear you chanting early in the morning or late at night, that’s fine. In fact they’ll benefit from the sacred sound current of the mantra too, though they may not realize it!

      2. 40 days is important.
      40 days is what the yogis say is the minimum time needed to change a habit. By committing to do a 40 day meditation you’re laying the groundwork for creating the habit of daily meditation. 
       In the next 40 days you get ONE mulligan or oopsie: a day your forget to do your practice. If you skip more than one you have to start over, counting from day #1 again!
       So stick with it. Train yourself to have the discipline to do a 40 day meditation. 

    3. Create a habit forming structure

You’re trying to form a routine here. Think: same time, same place.  If you can meditate right after you wake up or right before bed or piggy back it onto some other daily routine, that helps. Having your own special meditation zone helps too, even if it is just a little corner in your bedroom with a blanket and a cushion. There are a few more practical tips in the blog post: “Help I’m to ADD to meditate.” Tips related to time of day, head covering, etc.

    4. Make it Meaningful: Use external and internal motivations.
 
     There’s a benefit to having a meditation assigned to you as part of class because it adds external motivators (a. and b.), and you can always add option c. on your own. Meditation is easier to sick with if:
             a. the meditation was assigned to you by a teacher
             b. you’re doing this as part of a group
             c. you have the support of a partner
             I highly recommend finding a meditation partner as further motivation. There are several ways it can work. You can meet in person to meditate as many days a week as you can manage. You can text each other each day to check in & say “I’ve already meditated this AM,” or “I’m meditation after work at X time.” 
             Basically you’re trying to out smart yourself by forcing yourself to plan ahead to accommodate your practice AND creating additional accountability by speaking your plan to another person.

       Internal Motivation

       In my experience REALLY wanting what the meditation is supposed to help you with is a big motivator. My first 40 day meditation was around my career (I hated my job at the time) and the second about finding a partner (I felt like I’d been single for-ev-er…). So, I was pretty darn motivated!

        I invite you to bring a more personal meaning to your practice of by connecting to what the meditation you’re doing is FOR and making a direct link to some healing or guidance you need in you life. 

Turning your Election Day Worries into Prayers:

A wise teacher once told me if you are tired of worrying, turn your worries into prayers.

Here’s my election day prayer: 

     “May all this collective anger and panic be a catharsis. May it strip away illusion & denial, and let us see other people’s pain & feel compassion.

Most of all, may every voter not cast their ballot until they feel hope for the future in their hearts, love of country in their hearts, and a sincere desire to heal themselves, their community & the nation in their hearts.

May the candidate who wins feel the love with which they were chosen & have the strength and compassion to deliver.”

     Ok but does it work?

Well, we’ll see on election day, but on a personal level, turning worries into prayers totally works. It gives you an immediate shift toward more lightness and comfort. And when your mind is freed from the worry cycle you’re more able to problem solve creatively and see opportunities.

So, go ahead and try it along with me:

1. Think of something that worries you. Hold it in your heart.

2. Now turn those negative, worry thoughts positive: What do you actually WANT to have happen? What is the most positive, healing outcome for you and everyone involved in the situation?

Lock on to it, feel it in your bones. Notice how different it is to open this tiny crack in the doorway of hope, and to glimpse all the positive possibilities of life.

3. Turning it over to something larger than yourself. This is the prayer part. If prayer is a word that doesn’t work for you, think of it and an intention you’re turning over to the universe.

A lot of the things we worry about are things we don’t have much control over as an individual (otherwise we would have acted and nipped that worry in the bud!), so you need to give that responsibility back where it belongs: the Infinite.

Otherwise you’re giving little old you a burden you can never put down. You put it down by making that worry into a intention, a blessing or a prayer and then letting it go.

4. Do it all again.

Because, Wait. What? You still have more worries? That can’t be…

When I was first taught this about 10 years ago I felt immediate resistance. For one thing I was a little suspicious about the prayer thing, but mostly it was, “Ugh, If I did that I’d have to be praying (or intentioning) ALL THE TIME!”

Now I think, “Wow, if only I can remember to do this every time a worry comes up, I’d be thinking blessed thoughts about life ALL THE TIME. How great!”

My sincere prayer for you my clients, students and email lurkers is that you can transform you mind from a storehouse of worries to factory of blessings for every tough situation and troubled person in your life.

Take care,
Sara/Swaran

Yoga: Funny Weird or Funny Ha Ha?

Why I REALLY do Yoga

     Flexibility,
stress relief,
core strength,
better balance,
mental focus,
raising your energy,
connecting to your infinite soul,
blah, blah, blah…

All of those are great reasons to do yoga, but they don’t actually capture why most everyone does yoga (including me). I do yoga because it’s FUN and it makes me feel better. It’s that simple.

Yoga and meditation are a selfish act: they’re like a breath of fresh air through your body and your mind. Wow! But they also benefit everyone around you. Lets face it, it is just so much easier to be nice when you’re happy and relaxed…

Funny Weird or Funny Ha Ha? 

You might be wondering how EXACTLY yoga is fun. I once had a student describe Kundalini Yoga as “half navy seal training, half kindergarden.” I had to laugh because this was so accurate… In class we might go from a pose that’s crazy physical (leg lifts, squats, plank pose) to something crazy ridiculous (rolling around on the floor, walking on elbows and knees, pretending to snore).

This unexpected combination is actually what makes it so much fun. It’s like you’re systematically releasing rigidity in the body and the mind. First off, what an incredible variety of physical movements! Second and mentally speaking, those “navy seal” exercises help you accept it’s ok not to do everything perfectly & the “kindergarden” exercises help you embrace the silliness of life and let go of some self-consciousness.

Let me give you an example. When I first started taking yoga classes, I hated dancing in public. (No Ginger Rogers here…) So when I was first asked to dance as part of a yoga class, I know I gave my teacher a glare… But he just laughed and said “everyone’s eyes are closed, go wild!.” We danced for long enough for me to get past this initial inhibition (and rebelliousness!), and I realized people dance because it feels good, not because they’re trying to look good. I’d logically assumed the latter because I was the one watching and not dancing myself!

Hard, silly and safe all at once.

Sometimes as the class transitions from one exercise to the next I’ll say, “If you liked that one, you’re going to LOVE this one.” I’ll hear some chuckles and mock groans and see smiles. They know something challenging (or ridiculous) is coming. But they also feel the lightness and safety of the class.

There’s no push to be perfect, graceful as a swan, or strong as steel. Each student does their best for the next few minutes and feels the rush of bringing what resources they DO have to the challenge of the moment.

This is why I have a special place in my heart for Kundalini Yoga and the Yoga Journey in particular. They offer the right combination of safety and challenge, earnest yearning for self improvement and a humble, humorous embrace of the absurd.

Most importantly Kundalini Yoga really brings you back into your body and lets you rest in the present.  In this state all of the positivity of life just takes a step closer: you’re uplifted, comforted and ready for what’s next.

If it sounds like I’m singing your tune, check out the The Fall Yoga Journey

Class officially starts Sept. 12, but time is running out to register in time for the New Yogi Orientation class on on Sept 6. If you’re not ready yet, don’t worry! I will be offering another Yoga Journey in January. In the mean time, I recommend you give one of the Kundalini Yoga Drop in Classes a spin. The next is Sat. Sept. 10th at 10 am.

Take Care,
Sara/Swaran (Swaran is my spiritual name, and the name I teach under)

I want to do yoga and meditation, but…

I’m too: stiff, heavy, uncoordinated, self conscious, etc., etc., etc.

You’d be surprised how often I hear something like that. It breaks my heart. I blame pictures like this:

What a beautiful image! Oh wait… I forgot this is actually a Yoga Deterrent Device.

Pictures like this have driven many an averagely shaped–and averagely flexible–beginner away from yoga. And they are EVERYWHERE. Let me show you what it actually looks like when people do yoga and meditate:

Wait while I look.

Looking.

Still looking…

Ok, this is the best I came up with and it’s not ideal (it doesn’t show the rest of her body: she’s probably siting on a cushion to make sitting crosslegged on the floor more comfortable):

Yup, here we have an average person, doing something a that’s little weird but not superhuman. That’s yoga class in a nutshell.

Yoga is for Everyone

If you want to do yoga, there is a way to make it work for your body and your mind. Despite that first picture I shared, yoga is a VERY big tent with room for all sorts of ages, bodies, and attention spans.

Still Not Sure if you can physically do Kundalini Yoga?

OK, you got me… I don’t teach restorative yoga or yoga therapy, so there is a baseline physical ability needed for my classes. However, it will comfort you to know that some of my happiest and most enthusiastic students are 60+, and some of them can’t sit cross legged on the floor!

Here’s some basic guidelines: if you can go up and down stairs, get in and out of a car, and get down onto the floor and up again by yourself (even if you feel TOTALLY ungraceful while doing this or need steady yourself with the wall), you can do Kundalini yoga.

I have to tell you that Kundalini Yoga is designed to physically challenge EVERYONE, but it is also weirdly forgiving. I promise that you don’t have to be pretzel-bendy or have the balance of a ninja to get a LOT of benefit.

I’ve noticed that the hard Kundalini Yoga exercises tend to ask you to do something pretty simple: like lift your arm up to 60 degrees or lift your leg 6 inches off the floor, but then asks you to keep doing this for 2 or 3 minutes. Wow! Now something really simple becomes really challenging!

So, what happens if you can’t keep your arm or leg up for that long? You put it down. No wrathful bolt of lightning strikes you. You just rest for a few seconds and get back at it if you can. As long as you’re authentically engaged in doing the posture the best you can, you will get the benefit and build your body up from wherever you are.

What if I can’t sit still, or I’ve been too ADD to meditate successfully before?

I’ve found the pace of Kundalini yoga to be well suited to folks who are a little restless, and have had many ADD students say it helps them to focus. If you’ve had trouble meditating, know there are TONS of different kinds of meditations, and that Kundalini Yoga meditations tend to be easier to stay focused on. I go into a lot more depth about that in the blog: “Help! I’m too ADD to meditate!”

This sounds great, but I’m STILL not sure I can do this…

Some people are really nervous to try yoga for the first time (or again after a negative experience). I understand. If you need a little more support, I’d like to suggest taking a few 1 hour individual yoga lessons with me. Individual lessons are $60. You’ll get to learn without feeling self conscious about having other people there, and I can give you individually tailored modifications to all the basic Kundalini yoga exercises so you can step into group classes with confidence.

Individual lessons might also be a better idea if you have some health issues that get in the way of your committing to a group class right now but you want experience the benefits of regular yoga and meditation.

But sometimes it’s more fun with a friend.

I also offer private lessons for two! Both you and your friend pay $40 a lesson. A little more economical and a lot more fun. Plus you get a built in yoga buddy.

So if you want to go from a beginner to a confident yogi with all the tools she needs to have a daily practice of yoga and meditation, check out The Fall Yoga JourneyIt’s designed just for you.

Take Care,
Swaran (Sara)

Yoga to the Rescue!

 Announcing… The Fall Yoga Journey

       This small-group, committed class is for people who are in a time of transition and who long for rejuvenation, reinvention, and to make more space for themselves in their life. 

I know from personal experience that yoga and meditation are incredible tools to guide and steady you in a time of transition.

Let me tell you a story…

Right after college I moved to Boston, temped, and eventually got a job as an executive assistant in a big-time university. It was a job with great pay and benefits, but it was also this weird combination of stressful and dead boring. I kept wanting to crawl under my desk.

So I looked for a new job, and found one: similar job, but at a smaller, more friendly, artsy and creative school. Making progress! Except… At the end of the first day I couldn’t stop myself from crying: I was still just ordering office supplies, updating databases, keeping calendars.

I knew this job wasn’t right for me and looking around at the other jobs in the school, they looked pretty similar.  The next 45 years of my work life yawned before me like this:

A dark, desolate sea floor just after it’s been bottom trawled. It felt like such a waste.

I have to admit, some of the adults in my life weren’t exactly compassionate about my situation. They said things like, “That’s what work is like. There’s a reason they pay you to do it!” And it is true I was so paralyzed by my fear of failure and so ignorant of how to move forward that it probably look like I was dodging the realities and responsibilities of adulthood.

But the real core of the problem was that I wanted MORE from work and MORE responsibility:  I wanted my work to express the best of my heart, personality and talents. Most of all I wanted my work to matter and to make the world a better place. I wanted to feel this in my bones every day.

Yoga to the Rescue

Now, at that time I was fortunate that my Kundalini yoga teacher had just started teaching and sometimes I was the only student in class. One of those days, I tearfully poured out all of the frustration and hopelessness about my career. He thought about it and the following week gave me Karani Kriya to practice every day for 40 days. The written comments for the meditation said, “this mediation solves the problem of how to make a lucrative livelihood and satisfy your soul.”

Ding, ding, ding! Exactly what was needed. And don’t you know, while I was doing this meditation every day, the thought that I could be massage therapist started to whisper in my mind. (cue Twilight Zone music…)

In the, ahem, ten-odd years between then and now, I’ve use my daily practice and 40-day meditations specifically to help me dissolve the many layers of fear and confusion that stood between where I was then and where I am now: gainfully employed doing something I love. My work life still feels like a miracle, even though I well remember being up to my elbows in the mess, beauty, pain and glory of the journey all those years.

So if you’re like I was, feel that deep ache to be doing something more, please check out the full description of the Yoga Journey and see if sounds like the right thing to help you get from here to there.

The Fall Yoga Journey

Take Care,
Sara

Are you living your life like a Chia Pet?

Are you living your life like a Chia Pet?

      You’re days are jam-packed, and you’re running in a thousand different directions. Life is exciting, but it’s also exhausting. It’s been too long since you’ve rested and spent time just being you.
You also have a sneaking suspicion that this way of living is not sustainable. That just like the chia pet after 3 weeks of green, growing glory you’ll go from…

This:


to This:

Ouch! That’s a hard lesson from a chia pet…

Who knew this cheery 90s fad was really a modern memento mori?

But let’s get serious…

Sometimes when I talk to clients, I can tell they think of taking care of themselves as a chore and a burden: just another thing to add to the list. But this is chia pet thinking! It comes from a reflexive thought that you can–and should–do more, more, more.

The truth is taking care of yourself is not one more thing to do. It is just a BETTER WAY to spend some of your time.

You do a lot of awesome, fun, important things. You also do a lot of unimportant, redundant, weirdly-useless-habitual things. The core message is this: your life is literally created by how you spend the minutes and hours of your day.

The Lesson of the Bonsai Tree

This tree was a seedling in 1625. (Whoa!) And sheltered by the wall of its nursery, it survived the atomic bomb blast in Hiroshima in 1945. Now it lives in the National Arboretum in Washington, DC.

This tree’s longevity and beauty come from daily care and attention to how the plant’s energy is spent. Every curve of its branches, every pine needle, is there to fit the overall vision of the tree.

Finding time to exercise, relax, meditate, and heal may feel overwhelming but really it is an act of liberation. It’s a chance to reshape your life: to drop things that drain you and add activities that feed your soul and build your baseline happiness.

When you’re finally off the treadmill of overwhelm, when you’re finally rested, you may find yourself really inspired about shaping your life. You’ll look at your life with loving creativity of a bonsai trainer. You’ll prune HERE so there’s more energy to go THERE. You’ll be part of a dynamic dance where you shape each today to create a beautiful tomorrow.

That is my since prayer for you and all of my clients.

Take Care,
Sara

Do you want more support in finding time to relax and turn inward?

Stay tuned for the September Four Month Yoga Journey! This fall the theme for the Journey will be revitalization and reinvention.

If you join the journey you’ll be committing to an hour and half every week to really relax and be you. In keeping with the theme each student will be asked to bring with them into this space a part of their life that needs positive change.

The sacred space of the class community will support each student as they travel on this inward journey over four months. I’ll be sharing the details of the class in the new few weeks.

Two Simple Yoga Breaths for Sleep

    What I love about yoga and meditation is that it’s both lofty and etheric, and practical and down to earth. The overarching goal of yoga is to strengthen your connection to your soul so you can live in a way that uplifts yourself and others in every moment. …Pretty heady stuff!

But yoga and mediation is also super practical. It gives you tons of techniques to help you with everyday problems you have NOW. Like anger you don’t know what to do with, feeling totally love lorn (that’s whole another column… One I have personal experience with!), or having trouble falling asleep.

So today I’m going to share:

Two Simple Yoga Breaths for Sleep

1. Alternate Nostril Breathing for Perspective and Emotional Balance.

I recommend doing this for 5 to 15 minutes right before bed. It will help you let go of the cares of the day, and if you’re able to do 10 minutes every night you’ll notice a powerful effect on your stress level over time.

Here’s what you do:
a. Sit cross legged either on a pillow on the floor or on a pillow folded in half on your bed. Wear a sweater or wrap yourself in a blanket so you don’t get cold. It’s easier to concentrate if your head is covered by a scarf or bandana.
b. Try to sit with your spine nice an straight, chest out, chin slightly tucked in, shoulders relaxed. Your eyes are closed. If you bring your attention to the third eye point (center of the forehead between the eyebrows) that will also help keep you focused. Left hand is resting on left knee, touch index finger to thumb.
c. Bring your right hand up to your nose and use your right thumb to gently close off the right nostril.
d. Take a long deep inhale through the left nostril.
e. Use one of the other fingers on your right hand to close off the left nostril.
f. Exhale slowly and completely through the right nostril.
g. Continue for 5 to 15 minutes. Check in periodically to make sure your head is in line with your spine. It’s easy to bring your head to your hand rather than staying straight and brining your hand to you nose!
For a complete description of this breath click here.


Inhale.

Exhale.

Ok, if that seems like too much work. There’s an even easier option. Think:

Count Beats, not Sheep!

2.   The One Minute Breath is an amazing technique to release worry so you can be calm enough to sleep. You can even do it as you lie there in bed (although the official way to do it is sitting crosslegged as described above).

With the One Minute Breath, is just as it sounds, you breath one breath a minute. (That’s the ideal anyway!) A long slow inhale for 20 seconds, 20 seconds with the breath held in gently, and a 20 second long, slow exhale.

Now, this is probably something you’ll need to work up to! Start with 8 seconds for inhale, hold, and exhale. If you can work up to 12 to 15 seconds per segment you’re doing REALLY well and will totally feel the effects. Remember, when you hold the breath in, stay relaxed. No straining. If you’re straining, reduce the time.

    Tips and tricks.

You’ll be able to breath more deeply if you inhale into your belly first and then imaging that breath filling the ribs and finally the upper chest. When you exhale reverse the motion and end by squeezing the last bit of breath out by drawing you belly to your spine. This will help you take an even deep breath next time.

For more on the One Minute Breath click here.

Please let me know how you make out with either of these breaths!

Take care,

Swaran/Sara

Is Massage Possible for the Touch Challenged?

As a massage therapist sometimes I hear people say things like, “My friend tells me I should get massage …but I don’t like to be touched.”  I don’t grill them, but sometimes they follow this statement with something like:  “Besides I’m more comfortable caring for others, I don’t like the idea of someone pampering me.”

It makes me really sad when I hear this.

Why?

Well, sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words:  

As you can see by the relaxed, happy faces of these creatures, safe, non-sexual touch is a mammalian birthright! It’s part of how we receive care and feel connected. It’s wired into our DNA and part of the glue that creates social bonds.

Remember that receiving is just as important to creating connection as giving. If you’re someone who always has to be giving, massage may be a good way to strengthen your receiving muscle. It’s a weird thing, but having the vulnerability to let others care for you occasionally is key to creating deep, lasting bonds.

I want to acknowledge that some people have really good reasons for feeling leery of touch. Have real compassion for yourself if this applies to you. Hurtful touch can cause a deep wound.

However, if you’re at the right part of your journey, reclaiming touch as a safe, soothing experience can be incredibly healing and fruitful.

How to reclaim touch for the touch challenged:

1. Let your hugger friends hug you.

We all know them: the huggers. If they haven’t already stopped hugging you because you turned into a statue that last time they tried, let them hug you. These are people you like anyway, so it’s a good place to start. You can even initiate by slowly moving toward them with your arms raised slightly. This is the friendly penguin method.

They’ll be glad you’re back on the list of friends they can hug.

2. Get extra cuddle time with your pets.

Shamelessly savor it. If you have a cat with a salty personality this may take some serious finesse, but it’s well worth the effort. Purrs are healing magic.

3. Use a weighted blanket.

Let’s be honest, it’s not socially mainstream to ask people for hugs, particularly if you’re a guy. Using a weighted blanket will get you the nervous system-soothing effects of a hug with out the social risk.

Grandpa’s Garden Body Shawls and Perfect Wraps are great for this. I usually start the night with a Body Shawl under my back to take care of a few sore muscles and then pull it onto my chest when it’s not hot anymore …just because it feels so comforting.

4. Try massage and start small.

Let your massage therapist know you’re wanting to ease into this. Start with just a half hour. You can ask her to stick to areas that feel safer to you: i.e. back only, feet or hands.

A good massage therapist is also happy to work over clothes if that’s what you need. They want you to be able to relax, feel safe and have less pain in your body. If you’re not getting that vibe, find somebody else.

I’d love to hear your reactions to this article. Are you a little touch challenged? Did you grow up in a family where hugs happened on special occasions: graduations, Christmas, before and after air travel (Like I did)?

Take care,

Sara/Swaram

Offerings:
Beginners Yoga Mini-Session

This December – Mondays at 4 pm
Great for teachers and shift workers!

Are you sore and stressed and want bring more physical health and emotional balance to you life? 

This three class mini-session of Kundalini Yoga and Meditation is perfect if you want to give the many benefits of yoga and meditation a try. Or perhaps it’s been a while since you’ve done yoga and want to ease back into it!

This is a small group class, only 3 to 6 students. Small group classes offer a safe and cosy enviroment where you’ll have individual attention, plus the supportive community of fellow yogis.

Class held on 3 consecutive Mondays: Dec. 7, 14, and 21.
Cost is a $60. Each class is 90 minutes long, with tea and a little social time after.
Yoga mats and props are provided, but you are welcome to bring you own if you have one.

    Check out the Facebook event page for more info. Call me if you have questions or to formally register: 713-0638 (email is ok too!). 
If there’s enough interest, I’ll offer a Monday at 4 pm option for the Four Month Yoga Journey starting in January.

Finally, a find from the internet:

THIS guy.

I just couldn’t leave him out.

He looks like he’s about to make a REALLY interesting powerpoint presentation.I