Wednesday Theme: Heart & Soul

My Wednesday Theme is Heart & Soul.

Often referred to as Humpday, Wednesday is considered the day in which we must surmount in order to make it to the weekend.  In an attempt to brighten the reputation of Wednesdays, I use this day as an opportunity to check in and assess if what I am feeling, thinking and doing is aligned with the intention I set at the beginning of the week.

Another reason for the Wednesday Theme of Heart & Soul is Wednesday’s parallel position as the fourth day of the week to the heart as the fourth chakra.

This is the day that I try to refocus and restore my energy back to where I want it to be and reemphasize my self-care practices. I have done this deliberately because my days tend to pass quickly and I find it easy to be pulled off centre and sucked into the busyness of the week. I am trying to use Wednesdays as a day to reclaim my week.

Reconnecting with what is important to me and to the people around me is a huge aspect of this Wednesday Theme. I try to be extra patient with myself and others especially because I can feel my energy waning slightly by this point in the week. Before I used to become critical of myself if I was off track, which tended to block my energy and stunt my workflow. Now I allow myself to be more spacious and dreamy. This has dramatically improved my sense of self, allowing me to feel more inspired and solution oriented. This has also increased my productivity and given me more courage to take action steps, regardless of how small, toward my goals.

 

Heart & Soul Chakras

I love these Universe has your Back cards by Gabby Bernstein & Micaela Ezra.

Chakras are energy centres located along the spine that have specific physiological, psychological and emotional functions.

The Heart Chakra, known as Anahata in Sanskrit, is responsible for love, self-love, compassion, understanding, and forgiveness. It is also responsible for the physical heart, circulation, and respiration. Anahata is about what gives us life, and what gives us love. Being mindful of this and releasing the thoughts, actions, and people that take away from our life and drain our energy is hugely liberating for the heart and soul. (See Letting Go Exercise below)

I also believe our Wednesday Theme is linked to the Crown Chakra (Sahasrara), which is about our connection to each other and to Spirit or the divine. It is our sense of belonging, value, and purpose. This keeps us on track.

Author Gabrielle Bernstein‘s books have given me much food for thought. She discusses how being critical and judgemental of ourselves and others causes us to feel separate and alone. When things go stray in my mind or in my day, I think about Bernstein’s prayer and affirmation about fear:  “I recognize that I have chosen fear, and I choose again. I choose Love.”

About Love

TaI recently read two fantastic books on love: Love by Leo Buscaglia and The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  Buscaglia summarizes the best ways in which to enrich the heart and soul is through acts of love. He writes:  “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

Chapman further discusses expressions of love by distinguishing five different “love languages”:  Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, and Gift Giving. He says that people tend to feel most loved when they receive love in their primary love language.  (Take the 5 Love Language test to find out what your love language is.)

Ok, back to our Wednesday Theme…

 

Wednesday Theme Heart & Soul Questions:

  • How can I restore my energy, focus, and inspiration today?
  • What am I curious about?  What do I want to explore?
  • Going deeper (for the courageous hearts)… Who was I before my heart was broken?
  • What can I forgive and let go of?
  • How can I serve others and how can I show my love and gratitude?
  • How can I put more heart into what I am doing today?

 

Wednesday Theme Heart & Soul Actions:

  • Reconnect with your intention for the week;
  • Review your affirmations or write out new ones (See Affirmations to Create the Best Day Every Day)
  • Take time for deep breathing and oxygenate your body and mind. This can be done through breathing exercises (pranayama) and/or through cardiovascular exercise;
  • Practice self-care today, especially if you weren’t able to prioritize it earlier in the week. Examples: yoga before everyone else wakes up (Access my 20 mins Yoga Basics video); go on a solo date to a coffee shop, restaurant or to the spa; get a massage or osteopathic treatment; do the self-massage practice; take a bath; relax;
  • Work on the Heart Chakra and also on the Crown Chakra (See Chakra Balancing);
  • Express gratitude. Say thank you, send a card to someone, give someone else credit and be complementary;
  • Connect to people more. Listen with your full attention, love, smile, and look into people’s eyes;
  • Daydream in your favourite café or hygge corner at home and journal (See 20 Life-Changing Questions & How to Create a Hygge Corner by Blogger Deanna Piercy)
  • Read or listen to something that uplifts your spirit and opens your heart (See 10 Great Personal Development Books)
  • Do the Letting Go exercise to release stress and pent-up emotions: Write out everything that is going on (good, bad, happy or sad) and then burn the paper. This really works!
  • Catch up on sleep so you have more energy for the rest of the week. Try to get to bed before 11pm.

Do you have any other suggestions for a Wednesday Theme? Or perhaps any other ideas on how to reconnect with your heart and soul? If yes, please post your ideas below!

{Feature photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash}

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Stress Management with Pranayama & Three-Part-Breathing

Pranayama is the practice of learning how to breathe consciously and increasing our vital energy. Regardless of life’s ups and downs, the breath is always with us and is our most tangible connection to the present moment.

Nevertheless, it is surprising how little emphasis is placed on breathing throughout our daily routines. It’s the same tune we’ve heard before: We wake up. We run out the door. We work all day, barely stopping for a lunch break or a deep breath. We multitask all day and then run errands after work. We have dinner perhaps while watching TV or being on our phones, and then we go to bed only to do the exact same thing the following day.

Running around all day, living and breathing on autopilot, isn’t optimal for our physical and psychological well-being and yet most of us do this often, self-included.

Some statistics about stress

  • According to Health Canada, more than 70% of Canadians feel stressed on a regular basis.
  • Statistics Canada reported that more than 30% of adults between the ages of 25 and 54 claim that most days were quite a bit or extremely stressful.
  • Women were 1.5 times more likely than males to report that most days were quite a bit or extremely stressful.
  • Interestingly, the proportion of residents who reported that their days were ‘quite a bit’ or ‘extremely’ stressful was higher than the national average in Quebec (26.2%).

The impact of these findings by Statistics Canada indicated that high levels of daily stress resulted in a lower rate of life satisfaction.

Physically the body responds to stress with a “fight or flight” response, explains Barbara A. Brehm in her book Stress Management: Increasing Your Stress Resistance. The heart beats faster and harder, blood pressure rises and breathing becomes more shallow and rapid. Over time, countless studies, including several conducted by Stat. Can., have shown that chronic stress can lead to serious health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis and rheumatism, migraines chronic bronchitis and stomach or intestinal ulcers.

How to manage stress with pranayama

Practicing proper breathing techniques is perhaps the simplest way to help the body cope during strenuous times while allowing the mind to relax and focus on the task at hand. Yogis say, “When the breath wanders, the mind is unsteady, but when the breath is still, so is the mind still.”

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Pranayama is about increasing life force. In his classic book Light on Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar’s wrote: “Prana is the breath of life of all beings in the universe. They are born through and live by it, and when they die their individual dissolves into the cosmic breath.”

The yogic practice of breath work is called pranayama, which also means to control vital energy. There are three types of breathing: clavicular (shallow), intercostal (middle), and diaphragmatic (deep).

Clavicular Breathing: Air enters the body by raising the collarbone and shoulders. This method of respiration is the least efficient since it only involves the upper part of the lungs. When we are stressed or anxious, we often revert to this type of rapid, shallow breathing. (Studies show that more women breathe this way, as women react to a higher range of stressors than men.)

Intercostal Breathing: Often referred to as ‘athletic breathing,’ the intercostal form of respiration fills the middle region of the lungs by lifting the ribs and expanding the thoracic cage or chest wall. When combined with diaphragmatic breathing, the body is properly oxygenated.

Diaphragmatic Breathing: This type of breathing is categorized by the swelling of the abdominal region, as the diaphragm subsides on the inhalation and the base of the lungs fill with air. The rhythmic lowering of the diaphragm produces a constant, gentle massage of the abdominal area and helps the organs function correctly. (Most men breathe this way.)

Dirga pranayama or threepart breath

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The most energy efficient method of breathing incorporates all three types of breathing— diaphragmatic, intercostal, and clavicular. In yoga, it is important to breathe in and out through the nose, because the air that enters and exits the body nasally is warmer and more filtered than through the mouth.

As you inhale –
1- Lower and flatten the dome-shaped diaphragm – ‘breathe’ into your belly’
2- Expand the rib cage;
3- Raise the upper part of the thorax and collarbone.

As you exhale – 
1- Lower the collarbone and upper thorax area;
2- Deflate the rib cage;
3- Gently contract the abdominals and squeeze out any residual air left in the lungs.

TIP: Focus on the exhalation
Most people believe that, in the act of respiration, one must give precedence to drawing in the breath. However, unless we first exhale the breath completely, it is impossible to inhale correctly. At the end of the exhalation, the abdominal muscles should contract to help empty the lungs of impure air.

Pranayama is also an excellent segway into meditation as it calms the mind and has myriad benefits.

 

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Letting Go during Difficult times

Letting go of heavy emotions, blame, grudges and past hurt is good for the heart and soul.

This is a huge focus of my cleanse/detox plans and my 30 Day Healthy Living program. Letting go frees your energy and liberates the mind for better decision making and conscious actions. It is also good for channeling anxiety and high vata.

Given the current state the world is in, there couldn’t be a better time for this.

Still letting go is hard, especially when our emotions feel justified and important.

A beautiful piece on the website TinyBuddha sums this up perfectly:  “When we have a deep emotional attachment to an event or circumstance in our life and we’re being asked to let it go, it can often feel like we’re being asked to move on and forget about the past, person, or event that we’re deeply connected to.”

Letting go is not about ignoring a problem or becoming apathetic. Far from it. It is about acknowledging and embracing our emotions and digesting them in a way that is constructive, healthy and action-oriented.

Letting go allows our energy to flow like a river, softening and dissolving even the hardest things blocking our path.

Learning the importance of letting go

Instead of enjoying this moment on the beach with Koji, my thoughts, energy and emotions were completely fixated on what was happening in the news.

Instead of enjoying this moment on the beach with Koji, my thoughts, energy, and emotions were completely fixated on what was happening in the news.

Recently, I had to relearn how important it is to let go. I have been deeply affected by the recent news of migrant children arriving at the Mexican-US border being mistreated, separated from their families and traumatized. I literally made myself sick. Yet, I felt tremendously helpless.

All these feelings were consuming my heart and head while I was in Cape Cod spending quality time with Koji and my friend who I hadn’t seen in years. I simply could not reconcile my feelings and thus, two days in, I got a terrible migraine. My emotions were preventing me from both being present on the beach enjoying my time with my kid and friend. In parallel, my distress was also blocking me from taking concrete actions that could help children separated from parents by U.S. border officials.

Heavy emotions are paralyzing.  Being consumed by terrible events, feeling the weight of the world on our shoulders, replaying arguments, blaming or criticizing others, and judging ourselves and others harshly when things don’t work out is not helpful to any situation and leads to illness.

A letting go exercise to free your energy

Like many people, whenever I get stuck in a cyclone of fear and worry, I get overwhelmed and don’t know what to do. This writing exercise is incredibly helpful in the process of letting go. It gives us the space to express, channel and release heavy emotions, thoughts, worries, and fears that are clouding our mind and prevent us from living life to our fullest potential.

This exercise may be uncomfortable at first as it requires us to acknowledge all the things that are unsaid that weigh heavy in your mind and heart and all the things we tend to ignore and hide, perhaps even from ourselves.

You will see how freeing this work can be especially when done regularly. I promise you will feel lighter and better afterward. (Maybe not right away but definitely a few hours or a day later.)

You will need:

  • A quiet corner and time to write in peace;
  • You will need scrap paper and pen or pencil (not a journal);
  • A timer;
  • A safe place to burn paper – best either in a fireplace or outside.
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Letting go helps us address the issues with courage and gives us strength and energy to make clear decisions and take action.

How to:

  1. Set a timer for at least 15 mins;
  2. Start writing by answering the question, “What’s up?” or “What’s bothering me?”
  3. Let emotions surface;
  4. Write non-stop and clear out everything that swirling around in your head on the paper.
  5. You don’t need to write in complete sentences or with proper grammar;
  6. Don’t censor yourself:  You can even swear, scribble and/or draw pictures;
  7. Push yourself to write more than you are comfortable;
  8. When you are done, pause and reread the paper, letting all the emotions you’ve been holding come to the surface;
  9. Breathe deeply;
  10. Then in a safe place, burn the paper as a symbolic release;
  11. If you can’t burn the paper safely, tear it up in tiny pieces and flush it down the toilet;
  12. You may even want to say the following affirmation as you burn or shred the paper:  “The past is over. Today I begin a new life.”
  13. Take some time to relax after and fill your mind and heart with thoughts & feelings that uplift you;
  14. This letting-go exercise really works for releasing stresses and worries, but be patient. It may take a few hours or up to 24 hours to feel better, lighter;
  15. Do this exercise every day for three days straight during a cleanse, once a week for emotional maintenance and/or as often as needed.

NOTE: If after 24 hours, you feel worse, you may have uncovered something deeper. Therefore, I recommend a counseling or talk therapy session with an accredited counselor or psychologist. (I can refer to someone if you aren’t sure who to speak to. Contact us)

Ways to Relax & Recharge

Once you have completed the letting go exercise above, rest, relax and recharge.  Take a bath with salt and soothing essential oils, read a spiritually uplifting book, drink a hot cup over herbal tea, massage warm almond oil into your skin and crown of head (good for the nervous system), play calming music, meditate, go to bed early and/or do any other self-nourishing activity.

Prayers and words of affirmation are also very powerful. Surround yourself in light and send light and love to those who are suffering. I begin and end each of my practices with this prayer:  “I ask that this practice not only be of benefit to me but in some magical way, may this practice be of benefit to all beings everywhere.”

 

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Activism: Protecting Migrant Children

The recent news of migrant children arriving at the Mexican-US border being separated from their families, mistreated and traumatized has affected many of us. I have quite literally made myself sick over this. I can’t sleep and I am deeply troubled by the images of screaming children and inconsolable parents separated by inhumane legislation and bureaucratic indifference.

I have always a calling towards activism and serving others particularly when it involves children. However, since becoming a mother and witnessing first hand the innocence, non-conditional love and vulnerability of babies and children, this calling to serve is deafening.

This said, I don’t like to publically take sides politically, as I know this is triggering for people and leads to division. And other than to offer my prayers and send light, I don’t often speak out about world affairs. But things are changing. I cannot stay silent any longer, especially on this issue since migrant children, the victims of this cruel separation act, are unable to speak for nor protect themselves.

Migrant Children arriving at the US – Mexican Border

Together Rising, a non-profit organization that provides legal assistance for migrant children separated from their parents, reported that historically, the United States treated illegal immigration violations as civil — rather than criminal — offenses. This meant that children were not typically torn away from their parents. However, this spring the US government announced a “zero-tolerance” policy – subjecting “100% of illegal southwest border crossings” to criminal prosecution – even for asylum seekers. Together Rising further explains that this means these border crossers are now “ensnared in the criminal system, their children are immediately ripped out of their arms without explanation, and parents and babies are sent to different detention centers – often hundreds of miles away from each other.”

On June 19, CBC reported:  Trump administration officials have been sending babies and other young children forcibly separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border to at least three “tender age” shelters in south Texas, The Associated Press has learned […] Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the Rio Grande Valley shelters described playrooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis. (see full article)

Although President Trump has reversed his position on June 20, halting his administration’s policy of separating children from their parents when they are detained illegally crossing the U.S. border (see CBC report), there is so much more work to be done. Thousands of children need to be reunited with their parents and many of them have already been deported. (See this Washington Post article about a father who has been deported to El Salvador without his child.) As well, there are concerns as to how to best protect migrant children from human traffickers and drug cartels.

Overcoming feelings of helplessness and sadness

I know this is a complex issue, yet I cannot understand as first world nations, we are not doing more to protect these migrant children, their families and other refugees seeking asylum both in the US and elsewhere. I am filled with sadness, anger, and feelings of overwhelming helplessness.

It is tempting to become apathetic and ignore the news and enjoy rainbows and butterflies in my bubble, but I made a vow that I would not ignore the struggles of the world just to keep myself happy. I believe that we are all connected. One person’s suffering is, in some small way, all of our sufferings.

Still, after having nightmares for three nights and giving myself a migraine, I realized that I must do my best to let go of this heaviness. Carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders is not helpful to anyone. My emotions were getting the best of me. They were preventing me both from being present with own child and family this week, and from taking concrete action to help this cause.

Be sad, but be at peace

To take solace from the heaviness of the news, I was following the great spiritual teachers like Marianne Williamson and Bréne Brown. Here are some examples of their wisdom and below are some resources for how to help.

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Ways to take action and organizations that support migrant children

  • Amnesty International is a non-profit human rights organization offering suggestions for how we can take action;
  • Florence Project is a non-profit legal service organization providing free legal services to men, women, and unaccompanied children in immigration custody in Arizona;
  • Kids in Need of Defence is a non-profit organization that protects unaccompanied children who enter the US immigration system alone. They ensure that no child appears in court without an attorney;
  • Together Rising is helping to provide legal assistance for migrant children separated from their parents and are currently detained in Arizona;
  • Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) is the largest immigration nonprofit in Texas offering free and low-cost legal services to immigrant children and families;
  • Click here to view Bréne Brown’s recommendations of how to help migrant families and children;
  • Global News offers suggestions for how Canadians can help – click here for the article;
  • Author and spiritual teacher, Danielle Laporte has also published ways to support migrant children and their families – click here;
  • See a list of legitimate organizations to donate to that are working tirelessly on this issue and more.

Send light & pray + other ways to be of service

My affirmations: “Be peaceful and kind to all living beings.”

Prayer, light-work and affirmative words are also very powerful. Below is the prayer I posted on Facebook when the news broke. You are welcome to share this prayer as well as this article with as many people as possible.  And please share your suggestions with me if you know of other ways my community and I can be of service.

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Daily Theming to Enhance Joy & Wellbeing

In an effort to enhance wellbeing and augment joy, I started to my implement daily theming into my 30 Day Healthy Living Program and into my own life. A year later, I am truly amazed at the effect this has had on my overall sense of fulfillment.

Disclosure

 Let's be honest, travel days are stressful. Because of these challenging moments, I set my creativity in motion and came up with a system for daily routines & daily theming no matter where we are in the world.

Let’s be honest, travel days are stressful. Because of these challenging moments, I set my creativity in motion and came up with a system for daily routines & daily theming no matter where we are in the world.

Being organized hasn’t come naturally to me. I am an entrepreneur working from home and from the road (read: no boss & no structure). I have always been resistant to any kind of routine and planning is still somewhat foreign to me.

These are the times when I want to yell at my husband or son, vent my grievances on social media and/or cry in the bathroom. To be truthful, I occasionally do this (especially the yelling, blaming and crying parts), but things are shifting.

Now that I am a parent and a spouse, I am increasingly aware that my time and my energy are no longer only my own. Every minute, every thought, every emotion and every action counts more than ever before.

This said I am making huge efforts to transform my fear, worry, and anger into curiosity. My yoga and meditation practice helps and so does understanding that it is more fun and energizing to become creative during difficult times rather than contravening and gloomy.

Enter my new daily routines and system of daily theming.

My System of Daily Theming

Having a system and a theme is better for me than a schedule.  Although not specifically about productivity, my system of daily theme is about personal development, and being happy, healthy and wealthy on all levels. This is about channeling my energy while improving my wellbeing and living intentionally.

Each day has a focus that provides inspiration to keep moving forward, especially when I don’t feel like it. Here’s how it goes:

SUNDAY – Quality Time, Reflect & Prepare

 Like on the calendar, I mentally start the week with Sunday – it’s like a pre-weekday for me. This is when I review and reflect upon what’s happened and where I’m at. I try to rest and take the day as easy as possible while having my eye on the week ahead. Grocery shopping and laundry may get done today as long as it doesn’t intervene with family time or the feeling of ease.

On Thursdays, I strive to be more like my dear friend Alana, who is always testing new recipes and makes the most nutritious AND delicious meals.

On Thursdays, I strive to be more like my dear friend Alana, who is always testing new recipes and makes the most nutritious AND delicious meals.

MONDAY – Mindset

I love Mondays in the same way I like the start of a new year. My energy is fresh and everything is open and possible. It’s a good time to start something new and get focused. This is the day when I would set an intention or focus for the week. Example:  being at ease, being patient, attracting abundance, connecting with people, embracing my faults, etc.

TUESDAY – Lifestyle Design

Lifestyle is about the way we live day to day. I think it is very important to consider this and make a conscious effort to improve how I am moving through each day. As my husband constantly reminds me, “This is our life. This is it. We have to be happy now, not someday.” So we talk about the trips we want to take and set ideas in motion. We light candles and maybe open the good bottle of champagne and find something to celebrate, even if it’s “just” Tuesday.

WEDNESDAY – Heart & Soul

Wednesday, Humpday, is the midpoint of the week, so to me, this is a good opportunity to check in and see if what I am feeling and what I am doing is aligned. I make a point to make gratitude a big part of this day. I may take time to write in my journal. I connect with a friend I have been thinking about for a while. I will try to spend some quiet time in the bath after Koji is asleep. I may also send thank you cards to clients, friends or family members just because.

THURSDAY – Food & Nutrition

Full disclosure, I am not a foodie per se. I enjoy good food, but I primarily eat for fuel and prioritize nutrition over taste. I often eat the same things over and over again. Because I want to enhance my appreciation for food and widen my perspective, I made Thursdays about food and nutrition. This gives me an excuse to try a new recipe from one of the beautiful cookbooks I seldom open or maybe do something different for meal time.

FRIDAY – Movement

Like most people, I tend to have more energy at the beginning of the week, so by Friday, I wouldn’t always feel like practicing yoga or working out. For this very reason, I made movement and fitness Friday’s focus. Fridays are often traveling days, so I make a big effort to doing something active no matter how small. Even walking around the airport during connections is better than sitting in the lounge, and 10 sun salutations first thing in the morning is something.

SATURDAY – Energy

Saturday is a great day to do things that augment & restore positive energy and to spend quality time with friends and family. I try to close my work week on Friday, but I may use part of Saturday (during Koji’s nap) to wrap up some projects or work on something that brings me joy. Doing home redesign or improvements to improve the energy in our home could also be Saturday activity.

What also helps

Yoga is a huge part of my life. I also like to have themes or intentions for each practice. This helps me understand what I want out it.

Yoga is a huge part of my life. I also like to have themes or intentions for each practice. This helps me understand what I want out it.

In addition to daily theming, having daily rituals have really helped me streamline my energy, especially in the morning. {See my morning routine}

There are many interesting articles about how daily theming improves focus at work and helps you get things done. I recently read an article in Forbes Magazine about daily theming. Productivity strategist and author, Mike Vardy was interviewed about his methodology for success – click here to view the article. Along with a daily focus for tasks like Mondays are admin days, he recommends having a theme for the year. He chooses three words to embody his intentions for the year:

What words are going to be the waypoints or the measuring stick so when I’m choosing the projects that I want to pursue, when I’m deciding what conferences I’m going to attend, […] or what things are going to fuel my intentions going forward, I can look at these three words.”

I love this idea and this is exactly what I mean to do on a daily/weekly basis.

{Working on creating more content related to each specific day. Love to hear your ideas! Please comment below or email me!}

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Finding a Comfortable Meditation Posture

Finding a comfortable meditation posture was always my biggest challenge when I was first starting my practice. My back would ache, my knees would hurt, and my feet would fall asleep. The only advice I ever remember getting was to sit still and ignore the discomfort. This didn’t make me look forward to or enjoy meditation in the least.

Luckily, I was fascinated by the practice of meditation from a young age, having watched my mom sit daily. So despite the physical discomfort I experienced from my poor meditation posture, I continued to accompany my mother, grandmother and later, my teachers to meditation ashrams and classes. And while I am glad I persevered, I wish I had been taught earlier how to sit in a comfortable meditation posture.

I suspect not being able to find physical comfort can be a deterrent for many people new to meditation and since I highly recommend meditation during my 30 Day Healthy Living Program and nearly every other program I teach, allow me to offer some suggestions.

Here are several options for how to sit with ease during meditation:

Meditation Posture on a Chair

YY-Meditation8For many people, sitting on the floor is either inaccessible because of injuries or physical limitations. Sometimes meditating on the ground is inconvenient, for instance, if you are meditating at the office or on the train home from work. So sitting on a chair is a great option for everyone.

  1. Sit on the edge of the chair with your back well aligned and away from the backrest;
  2. Feet should be hip-width apart and flat on the ground for stability;
  3. Root your sitting bones into the chair and elongate the spine;
  4. Lengthen your spine and relax your shoulders;
  5. Rest your hands in your lap & breathe.

 

Virasana or Hero’s pose Meditation Posture

YY-Meditation5This is my favourite meditation posture. I like the symmetry of this pose and sitting upon a block seems to help support my spine best. Plus, virasana is good for the digestive system and I find it the most sustainable posture.

  1. Place a folded blanket on the ground as cushioning for your ankles;
  2. Start in a kneeling position with feet pointing straight back;
  3. Before sitting back, pile as many blocks or books under your buttocks as you need in order for your knees to be comfortable*;
  4. Your thighs are hip-width apart;
  5. Root your sitting bones into the block and lengthen your spine.

*Although it may not feel like it at first, this meditation posture is fantastic for the knee joints.

 

Sukhasana or Easy Crossed-legged Meditation Posture with Support

YY-Meditation3I wish I could remember who taught me this version of the easy crossed-legged sitting pose because it is genius. The  ‘V’ shape of the blocks gives support to the sitting bones and hips without putting pressure on the tailbone and allowing it to release.

  1. Place a folded blanket on the ground as cushioning for your feet and ankles;
  2. Using two or four blocks, depending on the height of the support needed, create a ‘V’ open to the front by placing two corners together, as in the feature photo of this article;
  3. Sit crossed-legged on the V with your sitting bones on either block and your tailbone ‘hanging’ in the space between the blocks;
  4. You should feel comfortable, but you can also add another set of blocks, books or rolled towels under your knees for further support;
  5. Root your sitting bones into the blocks and lengthen your spine.

 

Once seated comfortably in a meditation posture you can sustain, I recommend setting a timer for the length of time you’d like to sit. Then close your eyes and breathe deeply. (Stay tuned for meditation downloads, which will be available on my site very soon. )

PS Yoga is also very good for helping to strengthen and stretch your body, making the meditation posture easier and more comfortable.

 

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Open your Nadis & Increase your energy

Nadis are energy centres & channels responsible for giving vitality to every cell and system in the body. Imagine living every day with more flow and more exuberance.

In this post, I am sharing simple ways to boost the subtle energies of the body for maximum results.

What are Nadis and why are they important?

When the nadis are clear, prana or vital energy flows easily to the cells and health is optimized. When they are blocked, we become weak and ill. Stress, unhealthy lifestyle habits and trauma also obstruct the circulation of this life force.

The word “Nadi” comes from the Sanskrit word “Nad”, meaning flow or motion. According to the ancient Tantric texts, it is believed that there are 72,000 nadis in the body.

The biggest centres are the chakras and there are larger concentrations of nadis at the joints, hands & feet and sense organs: eyes, ears, nose, lips and tongue.

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Right intention and appreciation redirects your energy and improves the flow of prana throughout your system.

Ways to clear the nadis and balance your energy

  • Right Intention – Your energy flows where your attention goes, so MIND YOUR MIND! Set your intentions clearly, repeat uplifting affirmations, be grateful, take in positive impressions as often as possible. (see Daily Affirmations)
  • Hatha Yoga – Yoga helps to free stagnant energy and balance two of the main nadis that weave through the chakras: Ida & Pingala, the female (lunar) energy  & male (solar) energy. In fact, the term “hatha yoga” actually means “sun-moon yoga” referring to the practice of bringing these nadis into equilibrium.
  • Alternate Nostril Breathing – This breathing exercise also helps to balance Ida and pingala and opens the sinuses, an important gateway for prana / life-force / breath to enter the body.
  • Ayurvedic Self Massage – This practice is also fantastic for stimulating the nadis and clearing congestion from the joints and muscles. The benefit is particularly noticeable when you observe the difference between the arm you just massages compared to the one that has yet to be massaged.
  • Cleansing & Improving Digestion – The tips to improve digestion along with the seven-day detox or cleanse dramatically improves the effectiveness of the nadis and your overall well being. (see tips for improving digestion)
  • Consuming healthy food & healthy products is key. Read your labels and make sure you educate yourself to know that what you put in your mouth and on your skin is safe and beneficial. You cannot not even imagine how absorbent your skin is! Whatever you put on your skin absorbs directly into your blood stream within 30 seconds!
  • Exercise & nature appreciation – Daily movement at a moderate intensity helps to circulate energy and blood flow throughout your body. It’s best to avoid extremes and if you can exercise outside and breathe fresh air in nature, all the better! (see tips for exercise)

 

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Ayurvedic Self-Massage Guide & Download

Ayurvedic self-massage is a highly beneficial treatment on all levels.

I recommend this type of self-massage because it particularly helpful for lymphatic drainage, aiding the body’s detoxification process. It also a nice, nurturing ritual that can be continued regularly as it helps foster self-love and appreciation– two qualities everyone good use more of!

Ayurvedic self-massage is also known as Abhyanga. It can be done with or without oil.  An article by ayurvedic practitioner, Sandhiya Ramaswamy for the Chopra Centre describes abhyanga like this:

There is no greater expression of self-love than lovingly anointing ourselves from head to toe with warm oil […] It is believed that the effects of Abhyanga are similar to those received when one is saturated with love. Like the experience of being loved, Abhyanga can give a deep feeling of stability and warmth.

I often include dry self-massage (sans oil) in yoga practices with my students as part of the ‘warm up’. (See details about the Therapeutic Yoga Clinic)  It is very nice to do at home with warm oils, especially when you are fresh from the shower or bath and already semi-relaxed.

Benefits to Self-Massage 

  • Encourages self-love;
  • Stimulates cardiovascular circulation;
  • Lymphatic drainage;
  • Improves digestion and immune function;
  • Promotes relaxation and grounding;
  • Lubricates joints;
  • Helps you sleep deeper and more soundly;
  • Releases muscular tension;
  • Calms the minds;
  • Balances the nervous system;
  • Increases the flow of energy & prana in your body;
  • Smoothes your skin (especially when using warm oil);
  • Regulates body temperature;
  • Enhances your mood and confidence.

How to practice self-massage

There is no right or wrong way to do self-massage, but it is best to start with your head and end at your feet. Do circular motions on your joints and vigorously rub up and down between the joints.

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CLICK HERE to download a guided self-massage practice I recorded for you

 

Using oil

If you want to use oils, great. Oil helps to calm the nervous system and hydrates the skin. It’s very important to use a good quality, cold-pressed oil (available at all health food stores) and warm it up slightly prior to using it.

Here are the recommended oils to use per dosha:

  • Vata benefits most from warm sesame oil.
  • Pitta benefits most from warm almond oil.
  • Kapha benefits most from warm sunflower oil.

If you aren’t sure which one to use, almond oil is a safe bet or even olive oil. If you know aromatherapy, you could also add a drop or two of lavender or ylang ylang to further promote relaxation.  I very much like the Rescue & Renew Detox Massage Oil from Arbonne & the Arbonne Harmony Essential Oil blend for a high quality tri-doshic oil.

Evening Ritual

I like to make a date for myself on a Friday or Saturday evening when I have some time and can stay in. I have an early dinner, take a hot epsom salt bath with oil and then do a little self-practice of massage and maybe some light yoga and meditation. I heat the oil gently on the stove on low for a few minutes and then pour it over my head letting it saturate my hair. Then, I massage the oil into my skin from head down. I drink a hot cup of herbal tea and go to bed early. It’s heavenly.

TIP:  If you use oil, sleep on a towel or pillow case you won’t mind getting oil stains.

 

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20 Life-Changing Questions

Determining what I really really REALLY want started by answering several life-changing questions. These questions, complied over several workshops and countless reading, required me to get extremely honest with myself, which led to some big decisions like selling my yoga studio in Pointe Claire, moving, building a new online business and even shifting my social circle. Difficult as this was at the time, the answers to those life-changing questions instigated a transformation that went from me feeling continuously stuck and frustrated to being happy and free.

I go into much greater detail about these life-changing questions and how to actualize the answers in the Ritual & Inspiration Vision Board workshop I co-host with my friend Ron Cherilus, I AM Coach and co-founder of Centre I AM. However, here are the questions and some context to help you get started.

Summum bonum – The Highest Good

Before I get to the actual life-changing questions, I want to share why I feel they are important. In Latin, “summum bonum” is an expression that means the “highest good.” It was first used by Roman philosopher Cicero referring to an end in itself or the ultimate goal of life in which values and ethics are top priority.

Responding to the life-changing questions below is about understanding how to serve and pursue your highest good, your true purpose and joy in life.

For me, the “highest good” is what is of greatest benefit both to you and to the people and community around you. And this is how I believe life begins to shift from OK to incredibly fulfilling.

Warning & Recommendation

This is not the easiest process, because you may have to confront some truths about your current situation that is may be easier to ignore, like being in a job, house or even relationship that does not serve your highest good.  My recommendation is get comfortable, make a cup of tea and journal the answers to the life-changing questions below in a stream of conscious way by writing down whatever comes to mind as it comes to mind, kind of like a “brain dump”.  Working with a life coach or mentor may also help facilitate this process.

20 Life-Changing Questions

  1. When do I felt most at ease and free? Why?
  2. When do I feel most light? Why?
  3. My favourite place… My sanctuary…
  4. Who are my favourite people? Who do I feel my best around?
  5. What are the qualities of these people?
  6. What10-15 things am I grateful for now?
  7. What are my main values in life?
  8. What inspires me?
  9. Where am I most inspired?
  10. What motivates me and gets me moving?
  11. My greatest discovery…
  12. In which ways do I want to grow?
  13. Moving forward, what are my health goals?
  14. What are my top five personal goals for this year?
  15. What are my top three-five professional goals for this year?
  16. What are my daily/ weekly practices to keep me healthy and happy?
  17. What makes me feel strong, sexy and fabulous?
  18. If I were completely fearless, I would…
  19. How does my bravest, most confident self behave? What does she/ he do?
  20. Three powerful life-affirming words to describe me in my best state are…

My  hope is that these answers will help you clarify what and who you want in your life and why. Hopefully, what comes out of this exercise will also inspire and motivate you to make important decisions for your highest good.

For further support with this work, consider joining the upcoming workshop I am co-hosting with I AM Coach Ron Cherilus:  Ritual & Inspiration, Cultivate your Best Day Everyday with Vision & Priority Management.

 

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Spring Cleanse Program

This spring cleanse program is inspired by ayurveda, the ancient Indian medical system I practice. It holistic and works all levels: physical, mental, emotional and energetic as well.

I do a customized cleanse program for my clients, which ideal for addressing specific needs and/or health goals. However, I wanted to share suggestions for a gentle spring cleanse that almost anyone can do — Please read the disclaimer at the bottom. The program outlined here does not involve aggressive purgation or detoxification, yet it is still highly effective and harmonizing.

Why Cleanse?

In ayurveda, cleansing is an important part of maintaining good health and it is holistic, meaning it addresses the whole you — body, mind and the emotional heart. 2018-05-Blog-Spring-CLeanse-greens

  Better digestion;
  Stronger metabolism & immunity;
  Feel lighter;
  Feel healthier;
  Boost energy;
  Healthy weight management;
  Improve body composition;
  Reduce stress;
  Promote mental clarity;
  More restful sleep;
  Improve skin tone & lustre;
  Brightness of eyes;

Basically, it is a total reset for the system and the best time for following a cleanse program is in the spring or fall when the weather is neither too hot nor too cold.

Spring Cleanse Program Overview

BODY
EA2018-05-Blog-Spring-CLeanse-foodT light, soupy / stewy meals & keep portions small:
  • You will likely have about 4-5 ‘meals’ per day during the cleanse. If you aren’t hungry, don’t eat;
  • Eat soups (ideally blended) and lightly steamed greens – lentil soup recipe
  • Avoid all fruit except apples & pears (best cooked);
  • Eliminate wheat, coffee, alcohol, meat, dairy, sugar, high fat & processed food.
DRINK  only herbal teas & water at room temperature:
  • Arbonne Detox Tea has fantastic, high quality kidney and liver cleansing herbs. One tea bag makes about one litre – drink this warm or at room temp during the day;
  • Chlorophyll and aloe is also good in water;
ADD cleansing herbs to help you eliminate:
  • Arbonne Essentials Body Cleanse – I love this product because it is easy to use, tastes good and everyone can benefit from it. The active ingredients are aloe for cleansing, ginger for circulation and anti-inflammation as well as magnesium to help the body relax and process. Take 1 sachet at night in warm or hot water or  1/2 in the morning & 1/2  at night in warm water or hot water;
  • Triphala in larger doses or in conjunction with the Arbonne Body Cleanse is also beneficial. Triphala is a blend of three herbs that has a laxative effect on the body. You can take tripahla along with the Body Cleanse for better results.  (I like the herbs from Bayan Botanicals or Himalaya – easier to get Himalaya in Canada)
EXERCISE should be very gentle during the cleanse – only walking, light yoga or restorative yoga.
 
MIND & SOUL
  • It’s important to rest your mind during the cleanse time; 2018-05-Blog-Spring-CLeanse-yoga
  • Avoid television, social media and other distracting mental activity as much as possible;
  • Avoid extensive social outings and late nights;
  • If possible, avoid traffic, unnecessary errands and housework;
  • Practice gratitude;
  • Journal;
  • Day dream and be creative;
  • Favour books that inspire you and calming music;
  • Adopt a comfortable routine – create it and you can send it to me;
  • Sleep on time, eat on time;
  • Ayurvedic massage (abhyanga) and/or warm oil (shirodhara) treatment is highly recommended as part of a cleanse program – For these services in Montreal, I recommend you go to the Ayurvedic Holistic Centre in NDG or contact my dear friend Vanesa Ayurveda.

DISCLAIMER: This cleanse program can be done by almost anyone. However, your immunity system and strength should be stable – do not attempt a detox when you are sick, extremely tired or very stressed. Exclusive cleanse diet is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

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If you would like a personalized cleanse program, please contact us to book a private consultation with me