Pranayama for Anxiety and Depression

If I have a swell of emotion such as sadness, frustration or anger, my tendency is to clench and hold the breath. This is not what you want to do; but rather, allow the emotion and that energy to flow. Oftentimes, we’re taught to not show our emotions; rather tense up, push it down, and/or power through it. In my experience, this tends to harm more than heal. Something I have been working with in my own practice in these moments is to breathe and to silently say to myself, “stay open.”

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Let Go of the Story

I approached the situation with lightness and ease. Instead of engaging in self-negative, self-defeating talk, I simply let the story go, and focused on the facts. The more you practice yoga and mindfulness, the more in tuned you become with your body and mind. You become less judgmental of yourself and others. You flow with life rather than against it. 

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What is Yoga Nidra and Why You Need to Experience this Profound Practice!

Do you suffer from insomnia? Stress and anxiety? Racing thoughts? Depression and Fatigue? 

Yoga Nidra is a sleep-based guided meditation designed to nourish and revitalize body, mind and spirit. During the meditation, you will be supported by the use of blankets, bolsters and blocks to allow the body to rest comfortably. Once the body is at the ease, the mind follows.

Read the full post to see what others are saying about Yoga Nidra with Tara.

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Why Resolutions Don't Work

Resolutions don’t work because they follow the same principle as a goal. I’d like to give you a different way to approach resolutions and goals. It’s called an intention. You may have heard this word used in a yoga class, either in the beginning and/or end of the practice. How do intentions differ from goals? The main difference between an intention and a goal is that in the case of an intention, there is no end point. You’ll still use a positive affirmation of something you want to accomplish. I like to think of an intention as a new direction you would like your life to go. However, where a goal would say, “by this date, I want to accomplish x, y or z.”, an intention allows more freedom, space and flexibility. This is important because life will usually get in the way or throw you a bump or curve in the road.

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Rock and Roll All Night and YOGA Every Day!

A few weeks back, I attended the Sing Out Loud Music Festival in St. Augustine. This was a weekend showcase of great music all over the city. Standing in the same spot for hours in the heat was challenging, albeit worth it in the end to see such great bands perform live right in front of you. This inspired me to come up with a yoga sequence that would help with all the standing in one spot for hours on end.

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How Meditation Improved My Headstand

When I meditate, I will imagine the two sides of my body. Starting at the back of the head, at the occipital ridge, I bring my awareness to the even distribution of weight between the two sides. Working down, I will sense my shoulder blades and even them out, hip bones, etc., until my body is resting comfortably on the floor, the points that make contact evenly making contact with the earth.

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Why I'm Failing as a Yoga Teacher, and I Love It!

Since graduating from yoga teacher training, I’ve been trying to build my brand, get my name out there, and establish myself as a successful yoga teacher. I envision teaching to sold out crowds, flying around the globe hosting retreats, workshops and conferences.  But after two and a half years of constant hustle, I find that I am struggling to fill up classes and get teaching gigs.

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Yoga for When You're Stuck in the Airport

As summer approaches, it's time to get out of town and explore this big, beautiful world. However, if you are stuck in the airport for any length of time, it can take a toll on your mind, body and spirit. Excessive sitting in tight spaces can weak havoc, resulting in tight muscles and depleted energy.  Below is a short sequence you can do while waiting in the airport to relieve tension and strengthen your resolve.

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Pose Breakdown: Anjaneyasana

Anjaneyasana or Low Lunge is a great pose to practice everyday.  This is not just a pose for beginners, but for anyone practicing yoga, especially for those who sit all day.  Excessive sitting tightens the psoas muscle which in turn can lead to low back pain, groin pain, and sciatica. The iliopsoas muscle is a combination of two major muscle groups, the psoas major and iliacus.  The psoas major originates in the thoracic spine at L12, and wraps around the pelvis, linking up with the iliacus and inserting into the head of the femur (front of the hip and groin).  It is one of the largest muscles in the body, and is responsible for flexion of the hip. Many times this muscle is overlooked when students complain of low back pain.  Low lunge helps stretch this muscle.

To learn more about the iliopsoas,  click here  - BhandaYoga.com

To learn more about the iliopsoas, click here - BhandaYoga.com

To come into this pose, begin on all fours in table pose.  Spread your finger wide apart and make sure your shoulders are in line with your wrists.  Your hips will be aligned over your knees, with the neck of the feet firmly planted on the mat.  From here, bring your right foot up, planting the soul of the foot in between your hands on the mat.  Bending into that right knee, keep the left foot elongated behind you, still pressing the neck of the foot into the mat. Your hips should be square to the front of the mat in this position.  Once you feel stable, walk your hand up to your right thigh, being mindful that you are not overly hanging in that front knee.

Take a look at your right knee and make sure it is directly over your foot, so that your foot leg and knee create a 90 degree angle.  Your knee should be pointing forward tracking over the second and third toe. Connecting to your front foot, press down evenly into all four points of the foot, feeling the arch of your foot slightly lift, stabilizing the ankle so that the knee continues to point forward, and not bow in or out.  

Release your sacrum down towards the mat in order to create space in the upper body and to elongate the spine.  From here, you can sink a little deeper into that left hip, but again, make sure your knee does not come over your foot.  If you feel stable, you can lift your arms above your head, sliding the shoulders down the back and internally rotating the arms so that your hands will face each other.

Take a few breaths here, and when you are ready, bring your hands back down to the mat.  Draw your right foot back underneath you in table, and do the other side.

Check out the video below for a complete breakdown of this beneficial pose.  

A Love Letter From My 10 Year-Old Self

Me at almost 10 singing my heart out!

Me at almost 10 singing my heart out!

Dear Tara,
When you read this, you will be entering your 40th year on this planet.  As a 10 year-old right now, you may ask, what possible advise can I bestow unto you?  I have not lived as long, and have not experienced everything you surely have experienced.  How can I possible have any wisdom and knowledge to impart?  But I ask you, Tara, to look deep within your heart.  Look at yourself when you were 10 years old.  What do see?  I see someone who was unafraid of life. Someone who allowed their voice to sing.  I sing all the time and everywhere.  Many times the songs are made up in my head, and I sing without abandon, without any hesitation of who might hear, who might look or criticize.  I ask you now, Tara, to look within your heart, within your soul, and sing with all your might.  Let go of FEAR!  Let go of HESITATION!  Let go of what others might say and think.  What they think and say are none of your business anyway.  Sing with all your heart, all your being!  Trust in your inner voice and guide that all your dreams will manifest into reality.  No more holding back.  Sing with every fiber of your being.  Lift your voice to travel with the energy of the universe.  Smile and trust that all will be as it should be, as it always was.  Do not forget this, even in time of doubt, uncertainty or hardship.  You are unique and universal.  You have a beautiful voice.  Let it shine forth!

In Loving Kindness,

Tara at 10 years old
 

Cultivating Mindfulness

I recently had the privilege to hear Master Tibetan Buddhist Monk, Lama Lobsang Samten, speak about finding inner peace and happiness.  The presentation was amazing, and I left feeling so calm and peaceful.  One of things he spoke about was cultivating mindfulness.  First, we need to calm the mind of all its chatter in order to meditate.  From there, we can turn inward to seek the root of our unhappiness.  Once we are able to do this, then the solution or "antidote" to our negative feelings will be present itself, and our mental suffering will dissolve.  

So, how do you cultivate Mindfulness?  Try this.  Soften your gaze.  Close your eyelids only halfway, not squeezing them all the way shut, nor keeping them fully open. Find a happy medium.  Think of a favorite place you like to go.  Maybe it's the beach, or a park, or a ski slope.  Whatever you picture, imagine you are there right now.  See all of your surroundings, smell all the smells, hear all the sounds around you.  Imagine you can feel the sun on your skin, or the saltwater lightly spraying you, or the crisp mountain air tingling your nose.  Fully imagine being in this special place, and take some nice long, slow, deep breaths in and out of the nostrils.  Now when you're ready, open your eyes and see how you feel.  Does your heart feel lighter?  Is there a smile on your face?  In that moment of concentrating, was your mind thinking about all it had to do, or a problem you were dealing with?  Most likely, no. You were able to quiet your mind long enough to distract it from its previous thoughts and worries.  If you were unable to visualize anything or quiet the mind, don't worry.  

Lama Samten said there are many layers of the mind to go through before you can reach stillness. He spoke about nine stages in order to fully arrive into your inner mind or consciousness.  When you first begin to go through these layers, it's very hard.  But, as with anything, the more you practice, the easier it becomes.  Our five sensory factors are the tools needed to train the mind to come into Mindfulness.  Once you reach Mindfulness, then the techniques are no longer needed, and you can truly meditate.

According to Lama Samten, the purpose of meditation is to find the root of our negative thoughts and emotions, and then applying the wisdom and knowledge of the inner workings of the mind in order to dissolve these negative thoughts and emotions.  Think of it as removing weeds from the lawn.  If you cut the weeds just at the surface, they will grow back. But if you dig deep and remove the root of the weed, then it cannot regenerate.  The mind has characteristics of love, compassion and kindness, but it also has hate, anger and destruction. Our mind is driven by these mental factors, either positive or negative.  Meditation is about transforming the inner mind or inner consciousness.  By using our five outer senses, we can train the inner mind to find happiness and peace.  The more we practice love and compassion, the more our mind will emit these positive qualities.

 

So, what does this all mean?  Do we need to sit in meditation for hours at a time in order to reach inner happiness?  I don't believe so.  Find a technique that works with you, albeit, music, a mantra, concentrating on the breath or an object. I like to walk along the river on my lunch break, taking in the surroundings and focusing on the water.  Doing this for 15-20 minutes quiets my mind, and allows me to focus on all the beauty around me, and to be grateful for all of the things in my life.  It helps shift my thoughts from negative to positive.  True meditation is done within. We train the mind to stay peaceful no matter what comes up. Cultivating Mindfulness and vigilance is so important in order to calm the mind.  You need a good, strong foundation in order to locate the root of your unhappiness.  Once you train the mind with wisdom and knowledge, keeping the mind in its positive thinking all through the day is true meditation.  The more we practice, the more we can eliminate our suffering.

If you would like more information on Lama Samten, or his center in Canada, check out the link here.  

I am so honored to have had this experience, and thank Lama Samten and his assistant, Jason Simard, for sharing their wisdom and knowledge.

How do you cultivate Mindfulness in your daily life?