Have you ever felt completely removed from your physical body? As if you are watching yourself from above like you would in a dream? I have – and it’s horrible. I can remember the bright summer day in 2019 after I interviewed for an engineering position with The City of Reno. When I got home, I burst into tears and fell to the floor.
It was a beautiful Friday afternoon and I had a social/work event to be at in less than an hour – so I wiped my tears and headed out the door. The entire rest of the evening, even though I was surrounded by friends, I was completely out of my body. It felt like I, my spirit, was hovering above me, watching my body go through the motions. I was exhausted by the time I got home.
So, how do you get yourself out of this situation? How do you re-attach yourself to your body? Once I finally got some space that night, I did a balloon body meditation. It brought me back to my body to where I felt like I could finally breathe again. *sighs heavily* It brought me back to my body, my awareness, and my power. The balloon body meditation below can be used whether you are having a panic attack or not – it can be used at any time to help you self-attune. There will always be some introspective information to gather from doing a balloon body meditation. Even if you don’t think you need it, I invite you to try. For me, this experience was a clear sign from the Universe that taking the engineering position was not in my highest interest (and that certainly turned out to be true!).
Comment below: Did you feel your physical body release stress during the balloon body meditation? How far away from you was your balloon body when you brought it back in? Notice that this boundary can change from day to day, moment to moment.
Reiki is described as a universal life force energy. It originated in Japan and is taught by a lineage of teachers to students through attunement. Reiki is a great way to promote relaxation, get clear on intentions, reduce tension and promote a positive mental state.
Reiki is a tool I use as a yoga teacher and for life in general. It is a healing power and a gift. Reiki can never cause harm. As a Reiki practitioner, I am here to allow the universe’s energy flow through me, the medium, to you. The energy will go where ever it is needed – the medium does not decide.
When I find myself stressed, I turn to Reiki. When I find myself calm and relaxed, I turn to Reiki. As with anything in life, the more you practice and the more awareness and focus you bring to a Reiki session, the more you will get out of it. Reiki can be done on other people, on animals, even on things. Reiki can also be done on yourself. So don’t be surprised if you catch me sending out some positive vibes for my future self to collect.
First of all, congratulations on having a baby! Enjoy this beautiful time in your life to connect with your newborn. As your newborn transitions into this world it is important that we take time to connect with our new role as a provider as well, and yoga is a great tool to do that.
Let’s start with the most commonly asked question – How soon after giving birth can I do yoga? You should always consult with your doctor before starting postpartum exercises and wait at least six weeks before adding full body movement. Yoga is a great way to connect with your body and breath before, during and after pregnancy, but should always be tailored to your body’s needs at the time. A safe yoga practice allows the body, mind, and spirit to continue to grow and heal.
You already have the most powerful tool in your toolbox, your breath. Learning breathing techniques can calm the nervous system and ground you into the present moment. You can incorporate breathing exercises into your daily routine starting now. I would recommend starting with Box Breathing. Breath in for four seconds, hold that breath at the top for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, and hold at the bottom for four seconds. Can you increase to 5, 6…8 second boxes?! There is also Bee Breath, which is great to do with kids. Press your two pointer fingers over your ear holes to block the sound. Hum as loud as you can.
Yoga is great at combating stress. Stress reduction is so important for postpartum recovery and listening to your body’s and baby’s needs. A great way to relax the nervous system is with a body scan, which can be anywhere from 20 seconds and 20 minutes long – whatever amount of time you have. Start at your feet, and focus all your attention there, noticing what that feels like. You’ll slowly work your way up the body just noticing one area at a time and adding some relaxation, release and softening as you go. Body scans help us be more present and aware of our body’s needs, stress reactions and where we hold tension. When we have better stress management we are better mothers, better partners, more productive at work and overall happier.
Interested in a private yoga session? You can schedule a 1:1 with me on Mondays and/or Thursdays. I offer a Private Parent & Baby Yoga Class that encourages connecting with your baby as you practice. Or, if you’re a new parent and want to take a yoga class solo, try out my Private Postnatal Yoga Class where the focus is solely on you, your needs and your interests. Classes are 30 or 45 minutes long.
Although the practice of yoga that I teach is the physical aspect, yoga asana, there is also a large element of spirituality and mindfulness. The first few minutes of a yoga class lay the foundation for the next hour, so transitioning students into practice and out of the rest of their day is very important to me. One of my favorite ways to drop people into a loving, mindful and conscious space is to use a heartfelt offering.
In class I offer students the heartfelt offering below. I read one line, and then let them repeat that line either out loud or in their heads. I invite you to read these 12 lines, very slowly, intentionally. Pause after each line to let it sink in.
Doesn’t that feel nice? How often during the day do we pray for ourselves? Even more, how often do we pray for all beings? My guess is that we could all take a moment to pause and pray more often. Comment below and share your experience with repeating the heartfelt prayer above.
The eighth limb of yoga is samadhi, or nirvana, pure bliss. This is the final limb of yoga, the ultimate goal.
Samadhi can be hard to understand, especially if you are unfamiliar with meditation or yoga. It takes a lot of practice to reach samadhi, but the effort is very worth it even if only breached for a moment. Samadhi is being one with the inner light of awareness that exists inside us, that connects us, that makes us all part of one universal system. It is seeing others as part of yourself, without comparison, judgment, or bias. Your own ego goes on vacation during samadhi.
Samadhi Exercise: Meditate on your heart space. Just try. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and bring all your focus and awareness to your heart space, chest area. Inhale and feel the chest expand, exhale and feel the body release as a lightness comes over you. Meditate on your heart until you feel a sense of oneness, completeness, wholeness.
Here’s a look at all 8 limbs of yoga in order. Keep in mind that they build off of each other, yet also work best when practiced together (and every day!).
Comment below and share your experience giving your complete, undivided attention to something so much so that you’ve felt lost in it. How would you describe the feeling of nirvana/samadhi/pure bliss in words?
Take a free yoga class! They are a great place to start your practice with the 8 limbs of yoga.
The seventh limb of yoga is dhyana, or meditation, a practice of continuous focus. Dhyana is the middle stage of tuning inward to discover true self. It builds off of the sixth limb of yoga, dharana/focus, and leads to the eighth limb of yoga, samadhi/ nirvana.
“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”
Dhyana Exercise: If you’re not sure where to start, I would recommend a quick body scan meditation. Set aside 5-10 minutes (it will go by really quickly!) for this exercise. Settle into a comfortable sitting position and gently close your eyes. Take a few slow, deep breaths as you transition into stillness. Now, bring all your attention to your feet. Notice any sensations that arise. Just observe what it feels like to have all your focus on your feet. Once you feel focused, begin to bring that awareness up the legs into the ankles and calves, noticing what that feels like. You can imagine that you are cleansing every cell of your body from the inside out, and using your breath to move the stagnant energy. Eventually, at your own pace, you will make your way up through every body part, noticing whatever sensations/thoughts/emotions present themselves. Do not judge or criticize yourself if you find this practice hard or become distracted – just return to your breath and body. You will notice that peripheral distractions gradually fade away as you become more in tune with your body, mind and spirit.
Dhyana can really be brought into any aspect of your life, whether you are sitting still or running wild. Crafting, writing, even doing dishes can be a meditative practice for some people. The key is to keep a continuous focus on whatever you are doing. As with everything else in life, the more you practice, the easier it will become.
Comment below and share your story with meditation. Does it play a role in your life? When are your favorite times to meditate, and why?
The sixth limb of yoga is dharana, or one-pointed concentration.
Dharana is also referred to as choosing a focus, or choosing to focus. Think about a time when you were so engaged with your work or a conversation that you lost track of time. You were in flow state. You were completely focused. Your best, most productive self arrises when life flows uninterrupted through you with openness, ease and focus. That feeling is dharana, and it is very powerful when mastered.
Just admit it, multi-tasking doesn’t work. Instead, try putting 100% of your focus into one thing at a time, even if it’s something simple. Stay present. Stay focused. Stay engaged. The more effort and patience you put into your focus, the more deeply you will be able to feel its essence.
Comment below and share your experience with dharana. Do you notice yourself being distracted in yoga poses, fidgeting around during work meetings, not being able to calm down from a reaction, or losing balance easily? Those are all indicators that you could benefit from practicing dharana, or one-pointed concentration.
Dharana Mantra: My focus is unwavering, non-doubting, and passion-filled.
Dharana Exercise: Focus on just your breathing for a few minutes each day. Focus/meditate on the part of you that never changes.
Take a free yoga class and practice dharana. The longer, balancing poses will really test your ability to stay focused!
The fifth limb of yoga is pratyahara, or tuning out sensory input and tuning into ourselves. Limbs five, six, seven and eight are yoga practices on inner development.
Our senses are being bombarded all. day. long. It’s exhausting to see the non-stop emails/texts/calls coming in, to have people requesting your attention, and the endless to do list sitting on your desk staring you down. The more distractions you have fighting for your attention, the more you will have to practice pratyahara to keep your peace. While there may be many external stimuli that you cannot control (like where you were born and grew up), there are also ways you can have control over the stimuli you are exposed to. You have power to choose where you spend your time and energy, and the people and distractions that come along with those certain communities.
There is a freedom and peace in tuning inward to quiet the mind and stimulations. Once inside, still and steady, you can better determine where you are spending your time and attention, and then refocus on what is most important to you. In the comments below, create a list of what you would say are the top 5 highest priorities in your life right now. Now, make a list of the top 5 areas in which you spend your precious time. Are the two lists aligned?
“The inner gate opens only when the outer gates are closed.”
Pratyahara Exercise: Notice how frequently throughout the day you become distracted by what other people are doing or saying. Do you try to change yourself around certain people?
The fourth limb of yoga is pranayama, or regulation of breath. Breath work is fun, freeing, and fundamental.
Breath is literally boss of everything, life and death. You come into this world with your first breath, and are gone with your last. Breath is considered a subtle body energy and manifests through our physical bodies. There are many benefits of just breathing, much beyond the physical benefits many people think of such as lower blood pressures and heart rates. Breath work reduces stress in the body, mind and spirit, increases self-awareness, and helps move the life force through our bodies. Regulating your breath can be a parallel for how you regulate and balance your life.
You can’t really know your relationship with your breath until you try for yourself. If it feels uncomfortable to sit with your breath, that’s OK, just stick with it for a few minutes.
Box breathing. Breath in for four seconds, hold that breath at the top for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, and hold at the bottom for four seconds. Can you increase to 5, 6…8 second boxes?!
Bee Breath, is a funny one that you can do with kids. Press your two pointer fingers over your ear holes to block the sound. Hum as loud as you can.
Ujjayi breath, or warrior breath. In and out through the nose, trying to make the ocean wave sound in the back of your throat. This is best coupled with a yoga asana practice, I sometimes find myself using ujjayi breath throughout the day as a reminder to breath (pause).
Most of us think of yoga as ‘yoga asana’ – the physical aspect of yoga. So far in this blog we’ve covered the first two limbs of yoga, the yamas and niyamas. The third limb of yoga is asana. Yoga asana is the physical postures, movements and sequences that help purify and unionize the body/mind/spirit.
It has been questioned, do we really even practice yoga in the western world and in the US? I would say, yes, we are all yogis! If you like to stretch and move your body you might certainly like a yoga asana practice. Through yoga asana you will notice the purification of the body from its toxins, blockages, and tension and clarification of the heart-mind.
Yoga asana is intended to prep the body for the last pose of class – savasana. Savasana is great for meditation and listening to the inner stillness. For a lot of beginner yogis the poses where we sit in stillness are the hardest. When the mind wanders off the body tends to fidget, move and feel discomfort. Practicing yoga helps you to be calm and steady, strong and light, present and engaged.
Comment below and share your favorite yoga poses! These are mine: childs pose (balasana), humble warrior (baddha virabhadrasana), bird of paradise (svarga dvijasana), high lunge (ashta chandrasana), and staff pose (dandasana).
Asana Mantra: My body is a sacred temple.
Asana Exercise: Take one of my free classes! (This is the very first class I ever taught online ⬇️)