The practice of Gratitude

I was driving on the freeway one day during the height of a stressful period at work when I suddenly felt very dizzy. I quickly pulled the car over and sat on the side of the road. As I listened to the traffic buzzing by me, I felt completely empty and lost. I knew I wanted to leave my job, this was the direction I wanted to go, but a new life meant I would be making one tenth of my previous salary and had none of the perks that come with a powerful job. I had spent most of my life working and going from one vacation to the next, always looking for the next big thing to occupy my thoughts. Wanting was my typical state of mind, but I finally realized that what I wanted was to no longer want. 

 

We hear more and more about people letting go of stressful jobs, relationships, or other interests in order to seek a meaningful life through spiritual practices such as Yoga. It’s a big transition, and often people are not prepared for the realities of losing the identity they had previously known and walking away from titles, status and salaries. It can seem overwhelming and make you doubt your choice – some say they felt more lost and unsure transitioning then they did in the original gloom that initiated the desire for change. Beginning a daily practice of gratitude can help to relax and sooth you through the life-changer, moving you from a state of lack to one that is grounded in the understanding that the universe will provide exactly what you need to thrive in each moment.

Reflecting on what you have and what you enjoy about life (for example, good health, good friends, a place to live, a fulfilling spiritual practice) helps to shift focus towards what you have instead of what you want, opening up life and making it more smooth. When you resist what is in front of you and live in an ideal future or past, you are working against the flow where it is harder to manifest what you need. This resistance can look like frustration, anxiety or impatience

 Simple practices of gratitude

Gratitude changes everything. It can move you from a state of lack to one in which you understand that you have everything you need to thrive in this moment. It helps you see that the experience of life is a gift, one you can cherish each day.

How often do you appreciate what you have? We recommend doing it at least daily, but the more you express thanks for what you have been given, the more you will find to be thankful for. Here are three of our favorite practices:

  1. Begin and end your day with a statement of gratitude. Keep a gratitude journal near your bed that you add to each day. During those times when you need a reminder of what you have in life, take a look through the pages.
  2. Be grateful for your meals. Gratitude is good for digestion. Before each meal, spend a moment honoring all who brought you that food. The farmers, the cooks and mother nature have all done a lot to bring you this nourishment.
  3. Count out the simple things you have. A bed to sleep on, a meal, a friend to talk to — you’ll be surprised to see how much is available to you. When you express appreciation for the small things, you welcome greater abundance in your life.

Practice gratitude during the difficult times, as well as when life flows with ease. Being grateful doesn’t mean challenges go away, but having this perspective allows you to climb to a higher place and get a better view of what you’re going through. After all, challenges are gifts that help you let go of your lower ego and connect with your higher self.

Remember this: The universe never stops providing what you need to grow as spirit. Find appreciation for that alone and you’ll never run out of things to be thankful for.

Namaste x

Is Bikram Yoga The Cure For What Ails You?

Does your yoga practice help you deal with a physical disability or other health issue? Sharis’ does. She has a moderate hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). It can be very frustrating and physically exhausting. When the tinnitus really flares up, it can be quite debilitating, making it hard to think, and her balance can suffer. It can sometimes lead to feelings of vertigo or extreme dizziness.

Through out her struggle, she turned to the Bikram yoga practice for routine, for solace and for strength. Now, she recommends yoga and meditation to all her friends with an injury or ailment as a way to deal with the frustration, but also to give the body and mind the strength it needs to survive and thrive despite the challenges we face every day. I think this is the case for many people battling physical ailments and infirmities.

One of the things about Bikram yoga is that it is accessible to people of all physical abilities. I have been in classes with people who suffer from Lyme disease and Parkinson’s, people who are recovering from cancer, people who are recuperating from serious knee or back injuries, and students who are dealing with more invisible ailments such as depression or mental illness. In all cases, the yoga practice seems to provide a physical release along with a jolt of mental strength to tackle whatever challenges they have to face that particular day. For me, I know it helps me to blow off the steam of frustration or confusion, teaches me to persevere in the face of discomfort, and to find stillness and calm when things get tough.

Shari’s hearing loss was not something she talked about for many years – trying rather to hide it and ignore it. However, in the past year, she has “come out of her hearing loss closet” and become a hearing health advocate. Check out her blog –  Living With Hearing Loss, where she discusses the challenges and issues related to hearing loss and tinnitus. Her goal for the blog was to share her story in hopes of helping others to live more peacefully with their own hearing loss and tinnitus. She believes the Bikram yoga practice is in part responsible for giving her the personal strength and resilience to acknowledge her disability and to become comfortable in the face of this discomfort.

Readers, does your yoga practice help you cope with a physical or mental challenge?

5 Ways Yoga Transforms a Woman into a Goddess

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Deep down, we all feel that we are goddesses in our own way.

Sometimes we take breaks from our yoga practice –  change of city or job, getting married and next a baby, lots of things to adapt to – yet there is a sense of missing something. 

I believe that each of us carries the powers of Athena (Greek Goddess of reason, intelligent activity, arts and literature) and Rati (Hindu Goddess of love, lust and sensuality) locked away in all those beautifully strong and feminine parts of ourselves. Nowadays, we are so quick to forget this as we go through our lives, worrying about groceries, money and rushing to work and caring for others.

When we take the time to come to our mats, a lot can happen in those short moments of solitude and practice. Yoga is so much more than just the postures themselves. It is a powerful and subtle practice that can change our whole perspective on the world.

“When we feel pain, fear or discontent with our self, we feel separated from our self and from our own body, we feel disconnected. In yoga, we’re uncovering what exists inside of us and we learn to see that what’s there is already whole and complete.”

The identification with wholeness and completion that yoga heralds is not only a result of connection to breath and movement of the body, but it dates back to Vedic philosophy and the foundations of yoga. The ancient Sanskrit mantra “Sohum,” or “I am that,” is the affirmation that the individual self can identify with the essence of the universe. The yoga practice brings us closer to this notion and thereby rewires our own perceptions of fear: It’s about becoming aware of our patterns and reworking them.

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In Sanskrit the word yoga means “to yoke”, to join the small individual self with the divine Self. The premise being that each of us is already divine in our own right, having forgotten this through our identification with our body and individuality.

The more attached we become to our lives, our “can’s” and our “can’ts”, the easier it is forget that we are actually all divine beings capable of anything. For most of us, it is only in those rare moments when we really watch our breath or move into a pose that we thought we couldn’t do that we catch a glimpse of her, that goddess that resides within.

Over time those rare glimpses will become more frequent. Over time your yoga practice will make you into even more of a goddess than you ever thought possible.

Here are 5 ways that your yoga practice makes you into a goddess:

1. It creates confidence.

We all started out in the same point: a regular yoga mat, black leggings and an old T-shirt, wondering why we have to pose like a rabbit and why we are the only ones in the class confused when the teacher started speaking in the ‘Yoga language’.

That is where the beautiful journey usually begins…And over time as you start to feel more physical strength, flexibility and balance in the body, more clarity and determination in the mind, and more light and love in your heart… you realise you can take on the world and you’re more ready to try. Confidence continually builds from the inside out.

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2. It makes you more beautiful.

It’s one thing to look fabulous, but the real beauty comes from the inside, from your energy.

All yoga practices, whether they are based in asana (poses), pranayama (breath) or meditation, teach us something about ourselves. The practice is an avenue towards self-awareness, and true self-awareness is one of the most gorgeous things you can drape onto your body.

When we practice, we can tap into our feminine energies, our masculine energies and our divine light. We can listen to ourselves more fully and appreciate that there is beauty in even our most disliked “flaws” and imperfections.

3. It allows you to drop your labels.

The world has become very tough when it comes to labeling.

Society has no shortage of labels to put on us, and we carry the weight of those labels along with us each day. Just think about how many of these labels have been applied to you: sister, mother, wife, daughter, playful, stoic, selfish, caring, fat, skinny, weak, strong, sexy, tired, bitchy, confident, overactive, shy, cute, … we could go on for pages.

When we take the time to step on our mats, we allow ourselves to leave those labels at the door. We create a safe space for that time, and we tap into that part of ourselves that is divine and unchanging, the part of ourselves that is always beautiful, confident and capable no matter what the world is telling us.

4. It gives you that “glow”.  

Yes, sometimes that glow is most obviously felt as it drips off your chin in second set triangle, but that is not the glow I mean here. I am talking about that “wow” factor, that energy that precedes you as you walk into a room. It is that unidentifiable element that causes people to turn their heads, to smile at you or to listen more intently to what you have to say.

If you been to a great yoga class or been truly inspired by a great speaker, you know what I mean. It is that moment when you’re perfectly balanced and peaceful, ready for anything the world can throw at you. You are confident and beautifully full. At that moment you are unmovable and the goddess within shines forth a light that is intoxicating.

 

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5. It inspires you to sing, dance and move your body.

It has happened to all of us. You’re walking down the footpath, washing dishes or cooking and realize you’re humming. This is a continuation of the ‘energetic melody’ you created in the yoga class – the movement or transformation of dull energy to fresh, continuing to pulse through you.

These positive vibrations feel like joy and bliss in your body! Every goddess is joyful and enjoys immeasurable moments of bliss – sure Durga (Hindu Goddess of motherhood and creation) may find her joy in different ways than Aphrodite (Greek goddess of love, beauty and pleasure), but they live fully, embracing those parts of themselves that are the strongest and most awe-inspiring.

 

Keep up the practice. Trust in yourself and remember that each of those goddesses already resides within you too.

 

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namaste

 

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