daring greatly

what does it mean to be vulnerable? to really allow yourself to be seen, exactly as you are? how does one find the courage to speak their truth?

I write to you from a changed perspective on life. This is coming from someone who has spent the last 8 years of her life in one relationship after the next, with the idea that I needed someone else in order to be whole. To validate me. I believed I needed to give myself away in order to find happiness, rather than giving said happiness to myself.

Life is constantly shifting. Each breath, each breeze, each blink. Nothing ever stays the same. That is just the nature of the world

The last few months have been painful. And yes, they were also amazing and filled with joy and love, but underneath the smiles and the laughter, there was a silent ache; a longing in my deepest intuition which was desperately trying to reach out to me, to which I constantly rejected and ignored. Large shifts have taken place recently, which has inspired these words to you all.

Stop hiding yourself and denying your valid emotions to please anyone else, or to try and fit yourself into anyone's mold. You are better than that. You deserve happiness and love and light in every single day. Stop stifling yourself, your magic, your bliss. Stop looking to be saved. Stop tossing aside your voice, and belittling your beliefs. 

You are enough. 

Know that within each of us, is a God or Goddess. Allow yourself to awaken to the possibility that you are already complete, regardless of any external situation, relationship or lack thereof. Make the commitment to yourself to seek higher truth. Transcend ego, and break open the shell around your heart. Let yourself be heard, with no regard to the reaction of others. Do it for you. Life is short, and each day is far too precious to be wasted on sadness. Discover your divinity. Embrace your unique talents and share them with the world. 

Do not e v e r let anyone tell you who you are, or what you are capable of. 

Be free. 

Drishti & Balance

The practice of drishti, or vision (also translates to point of view, intelligence/wisdom), is a gazing technique that develops concentration. Perhaps you have heard a teacher casually tell you to 'find your drishti' in the midst of a class with no further explanation... well, let me explain.

We humans are predominantly visual creatures. Where our eyes are directed, our attention follows. The visual world can be addicting, over-stimulating, and ultimately distractive. We get caught up in the outer appearances of things, instead of keeping awareness inward. How often do you find yourself going through the motions of the poses in a yoga class while your eyes wander around the room - glancing at the girl's leggings in front of you, or at the guy who is growling and definitely not ujjayi breathing - instead of tuning into your own body and breathe? To counteract these habits, we must learn to take back control and focus the attention. One way to effectively do this is through implementing the technique of drishti in your yoga practice. Through the practice of drishti, you can cultivate a deeper level of concentration, find steadier balance, and limit your intake of external stimuli so as to manage your mind instead of letting your mind manage you.

In Yoga, there are 9 fixed points of gaze you can take, traditionally, one prescribed for each pose. Lets break them down. 

  1. Thumb, or Angusthamadhye, as used in Upward Salute in the sun salutations.
  2. Tip of the Nose, or Nasagre, as in upward facing dog.
  3. Hand, or Hastagre, as practiced in many poses such as Trikonasana, triangle pose, or Utthita Parsvokanasana, extended side angle, where the hand directs the energetic reach.
  4.  Sideways to the right and to the left, or Parsva drishti. This gazing point is slightly more ambiguous than the others, but is used mainly in twisting postures, such as Ardha Matsyendrasana, or Half Lord of the Fishes pose.
  5. (See above)
  6. Upward, or Urdhva drishti. This drishti as well as Parsva drishti ask you to gaze more into infinity rather than a specific part of your body. This can be practiced in Warrior 1, or Chair Pose.
  7. Navel, or Nabhichakra. The navel is considered the center of power in the body, and focus is brought here in poses such as Downward Facing Dog.
  8. Toes, or Padayoragre, as in Seated Forward Fold, or Utthita Padangusthasana.
  9. The Third Eye, or Brumadhye. Here, eyes are halfway or even fully closed gazing toward the space between the eyebrows. This can be practiced in Purvotanasana, reverse plank, or in any meditation. 
  10. INNER DRISHTI - this is my bonus add on, but my most favorite. Closing the eyes in any asana is almost forcing your attention inward, and allows us to become aware of how we are excessively expending our energy outwards, rather than replenishing from within.

In every asana, there is a prescribed drishti which is intended to assist in concentration, aid movement, and help orient the energetic body in the right direction. Drishti is more than what 'the eye can see,' but rather a technique which can be used to look inward, and become aware of how our brains only let us see what we want to see - a projection of our limited thoughts, if that is what we continue to allow. Never force your gaze, in a way that strains the eyes, body or mind, instead use it as a tool to see the divine in every movement, every breath, every thing. 

Some poses in which you can practice and master your drishti are in any balancing poses such as Tree, Eagle, Warrior 3 or Half Moon Pose. Play around with the difference of focusing your gaze on a fixed point, to moving it around, to even closing your eyes. Observe the differences that arise, without attachment or judgement. By beginning to fix your gaze on an unmoving point, you shall assume the characteristics of steadiness, stable and balanced.

*** See if there are any other areas in your life in which you can practice your drishti .Perhaps you can apply this intense focus to goals you would like to achieve. Let me know if you notice any changes. 

xo - M

How To : Camel

As you may have noticed, I LOVE backbends! However, they didn't always love me. (sad face)

But with a lot of practice, and even more patience, my body began to open up in ways I could never have even imagined for myself (happy face!!!) 

Camel, or Ustrasana, is a great backbend, that has so many options and modifications, so that you can begin to deepen your backbends no matter what level you are at. Follow along...

   Begin with the knees hip distance apart. Hands to the low back, gaze forward. OPTION : Toes can be tucked. PROPS : you can use a block between your knees to help keep thighs engaged. 

 

Begin with the knees hip distance apart. Hands to the low back, gaze forward. OPTION : Toes can be tucked. PROPS : you can use a block between your knees to help keep thighs engaged. 

   Focus on finding more of a LIFT from your sternum rather than just leaning back and thrusting the hips forward. OPTION : STAY HERE IF THIS FEELS GOOD!!! Maybe play with dropping the head back slowly, or closing the eyes.

 

Focus on finding more of a LIFT from your sternum rather than just leaning back and thrusting the hips forward. OPTION : STAY HERE IF THIS FEELS GOOD!!! Maybe play with dropping the head back slowly, or closing the eyes.

   Maybe you go a little further and drop one hand back to your heel, alternating arms, keeping the low back long, and the core engaged. OPTION : Tuck the toes under so the heels are lifted for a little extra height. 

 

Maybe you go a little further and drop one hand back to your heel, alternating arms, keeping the low back long, and the core engaged. OPTION : Tuck the toes under so the heels are lifted for a little extra height. 

   Maybe... just maybe... BOTH hands reach for the feet! Focus on breathing evenly, and not closing up the throat. Heart lifts higher and higher as the head reaches back. Yummy

 

Maybe... just maybe... BOTH hands reach for the feet! Focus on breathing evenly, and not closing up the throat. Heart lifts higher and higher as the head reaches back. Yummy

   Last but not least... SMILE!!! 

 

Last but not least... SMILE!!! 

Holidaze

Stuffed on stuffing? Here are a few moves to help you feel gravy after that 2nd... Or 3rd serving of holiday ham.

Start lying on your back in corpse pose (which should feel really nice after all of Santa's cookies). Allow your body to completely relax, from your toes up to through the crown of your head. 

image.jpg

 

Whenever you feel ready, and feel free to take your time, draw both knees into your chest, open your arms out to the side, palms face up, take an inhale, and let your knees drop over to one side as you exhale, coming into a supine twist. Inhale to bring your knees back to center and exhale to twist over to the other side. Twisting helps to aid digestion which might need a little boost after a food induced coma. 

image.jpg

Bring your knees back to center and grab the backs of your thighs. Use a little momentum to roll back and forth along your spine until you come all the way up to seated. Cross your legs, lift your spine up tall and reach your arms overhead as you inhale deeply. On your exhale hinge forward at your hips and fold over your crossed legs. Let your neck relax here. As you inhale sit back up, place your hands in front of you and rock forward into a tabletop position. 

image.jpg

Set your hands up so they're stacked directly under your shoulders, and your knees under your hips. As you inhale, tilt your tailbone up as you shift your gaze up towards the ceiling stretching your belly. As you exhale curl your tailbone down, press the ground away as you look in towards that beautiful belly button. Repeat this cat/cow stretch moving with your breathe for however many rounds feels good. 

image.jpg
image.jpg

When you are ready, curl your toes under, straighten your legs and lift your hips up towards the sky for downward facing dog. Feel free to wiggle a little here, but then straighten your arms keeping your shoulders away from your ears and pressing your whole palm down. 

image.jpg

Lift your right leg up on an inhale, and as you exhale, step your foot closer to your right hand. Set your left knee down. Walk both hands up to your right knee and once you've found balance, inhale to reach your arms overhead. Bring your hands together in front of your heart, and as you exhale twist, trying to hook your left elbow on the outside of your right thigh. Breathe deeply here. Set both hands down around your right foot and step back to downdog. Repeat on the left side, taking the same amount of time as you did on the right. 

image.jpg

From downdog, walk your hands towards your feet, until you're hanging in a forward fold. Grab hold of your opposite elbows, and let your head hang heavy. Try swaying from side to side. Release your elbows, and separate your feet about as wide as the your mat, turning your toes slightly outward. Bend your knees until you are in a squat position. Bring your hands to your heart on the insides of your knees pressing your knees apart with your elbows and pushing your knees back into your elbows, creating a little resistance. Keep your belly button reaching towards your spine to engage your core and try to hold for a few steady breaths. Release onto your bum. Straighten your legs out in front of you, reach your arms forward, and as slow as possible keeping your chest lifted, lower all the way onto your back.

Lying on your back, bring your right ankle over your left knee. Reach your right arm through the triangle that you've created, either grabbing the back of the left thigh or the front of the left shin. Keep your right foot flexed, and your right knee reaching away from you, targeting a stretch in the outer right hip. Release and switch sides. 

image.jpg

After stretching both hips, hug your knees into your chest, wrapping your arms tightly around your legs. As you inhale bring your forehead up to meet your knees holding your breath and squeezing everything from your toes to your legs to your arms to your nose. On a deep exhale out though your mouth release everything completely, and find yourself right back where you started, but hopefully feeling a little bit lighter than before. Rest in savasana for as long as you like, saying bye bye to those holiday belly blues.