April: Asteya

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Asteya has been a really interesting limb to focus on for me. It requires much more discernment than I’d had to use than with ahimsa or satya. I actually relied a lot on satya to point me in the right direction much of the time.

The third of the Yamas is Asteya which translates to non stealing. In my teacher training, my teacher explained it as not taking what is not earned or given to you. Of course this manifests in the physical realms- don’t steal objects from stores or people- but it also manifests in an energetic sense. This is the aspect I found most interesting this month. Not stealing people’s time & energy- not taking what isn’t mine and not letting others steal my time & energy.

ON THE MAT ASTEYA PRACTICE

I’ve been practicing asteya on my mat in two ways. The first is that I’m not trying to force myself to be on my mat at a certain time. I’ve allowed myself a freedom of time and space that doesn’t feel like yoga has been something to check off of my list. Of course- it depends where you are at in your life when t comes to this. If you have 4 kids running around and you have to schedule in your yoga time then this too is practicing asteya! This is where the discernment piece comes in. I found myself leaning to satya (if you haven’t read March’s limb satya, I’ll link it here) to figure out whether I was really having my time & energy ‘stolen’ by busing myself with something else or my thoughts. Trying to figure out the truth of the situation allowed me to see whether I was avoiding yoga practice or whether it was something I was using to avoid something else.

This became a back and forth of ‘I practice to support my best self’- practicing asteya on the mat meant I was able to arrive there entirely, without leaving part of myself with another task or person.

The second way I’ve been practicing it on the mat is within my thoughts. What am I giving my energy to? Is it necessary to be expending that thought or energy right now, during my sacred practice? The mind is very good at wandering. At squandering your sense of peace on things to keep it busy. I’ve been trying to not allow myself to slip into worry or fear while on my mat- in my ‘time’ for practice.

OFF THE MAT ASTEYA PRACTICE

Off the mat asteya tends to be a bit more difficult. I like to plan and I also like to wing it- but how can you ensure you are getting the most out of your time and other people’s time? I often wonder, am I taking up their time or do they have something else they’d rather/should be doing other than being here with me?

We are all so. busy. But how much of that ‘busy’ is just stolen energy or time, expended on things that don’t end up serving your purpose anyway?

I personally, end up sucking my own time where I don’t need to. This past month, the that students i’m tutoring were leaving on break. I compiled this worksheet document to keep them academically growing while they were away. I spent maybe an hour and a half on it. Do you think they completed it? No. There was no reason for me to put my energy into that- I ended up taking away my own energy, my own prana, on something I pretty well knew wasn’t going to be fruitful anyway. It was no one else’s fault and no one ‘sucked my time’- it was me. In the end, there are no time suckers or energy thieves-We make the choice to give what we give, to expend what we expend. We ultimately control how much we put out there, no one forces you to give up your energy (except maybe if you’re a mama or dad!!).

Practicing asteya off the mat simply means being in tune with what is yours to keep and yours to give.

Next month (MAY) is brahmacharya which translates to conservation or moderation(or more traditionally celibacy)- so it should be an interesting one!

xx

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March: Satya

satya- (1).jpgI’ve had this post sitting in my drafts for what feels like forever. March was a chaotic month for me and it lasted 5 weeks instead of the usual 4! This month’s focus was Satya- the second of the Yamas in Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga. Looking at this one has been really difficult this month as it translates to TRUTH or HONESTY.

What is true in your life? Which thoughts are true and which thoughts are fear based or ego driven? How much do we spin stories about what ‘could’ be or what ‘should’ be instead of what is?

For myself, I’ve been looking at satya as more of a mental health practice than a ‘have I told this person the truth’. It’s a really good tool for checking in with your thoughts and seeing where you are telling yourself ‘stories’, and then returning back to the now.

We all have this compass engrained within us to know what our true self would need, it’s about sifting through the bullsh*#@ to find it.

In the end, satya looked like me ‘changing my mind’ a lot. And thats okay. I wrote a post on Instagram about how frustrated I was with the question ‘are you being kind to yourself?’. Sometimes, honesty isn’t exactly kind or nice. Sometimes Its about facing the truth in order to grow and honor your soul.

ON THE MAT SATYA PRACTICE

In order to practice satya when I step on my yoga mat, I’ve been committing myself to completing a full body scan (10-15 minutes) before practice and then after practice. A body scan is where you either sit of lay (but if you are laying don’t fall asleep!) and mentally move through each part of the body, relaxing muscle by muscle and noticing what is going on in that particular part. There is no judgement. Only observation. I start with my toes and slowly work my way up.

Are the toes tense or relaxed? How do the ankles feel? Are the calves resting or active? and so on until you get the crown of your head.

Why complete this? It helps you slow down and connect with the body before asana. It helps you decipher what is true in the body/mind and what is false. Having scoliosis- I tend to feel like my alignment is incredibly uncentered, when truly it isn’t. My mind views my body different than what it is in reality. My right hip is too high. The left side of my ribs are sinking- These are all things I start to think at the beginning of my practice. I notice. Then, when I body scan before Savasana, it is changed into mind awareness. My body is here and it is doing all the work I need it to.

The TRUTH of the body, is that it tries it’s hardest for you every moment. You are here now in this life- feeling and creating feeling. Whether you are chronically ill, suffer from structural or functional disorders or simply have monkey mind- you are here, and that is truth.

OFF THE MAT SATYA PRACTICE

This is the trickier part. Life has a way of providing several paths or ways of seeing things. Sometimes, our mind persuades us to believe things that aren’t true. You can’t do that. You aren’t beautiful. You aren’t worthy. We tell ourselves these stories at different junctions in our lives and they become misleading-so very misleading. Satya is about looking at what is true. Not berating yourself with it- but understanding that in truth there is a bit of peace.

Off the mat, I ask myself ‘Is that true’ and if it is I go on with my day. For all the chatter we have in our minds on the daily, I think its important when a seed of doubt gets planted to ask ‘is that true’? Doubt isn’t very factual- when faced with honesty it either dissipates or you move in an entirely different direction. Whenever a feeling of doubt or insecurity arises trigger yourself to ask ‘is that thought true’, and then move on.

or try to. Sometimes it’s not that simple, we are human after all.

Most of all, enjoy the peace that comes with this practice. I’ve found satya hard but rewarding to focus on. I feel much more grounded in self or whatever concept of self I have.

xx

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PACK & PRACTICE: Travel Yoga Essentials

Being that I can fit most of my belongings into a carry on, I thought I would write a yoga essentials on the road post. Now I want to preface this by saying, you don’t need anything to be a yogi on the go. Nothing. None of these things i’m about to show are actually essential. All you need is a body to do yoga on the road. However, things can bring comfort and I know these few yoga related things that I have bring me an immense amount of comfort while being away!

On the Go Yoga Mat

travelessentMy numero uno. My ride or die. I love this yoga mat. I had been researching it for a while before buying and Santa ended up putting it under the tree for me (he/she always knows♥). Previously I owned a Jade Yoga mat- which I really liked- except for how *heavy* it was. Even walking to yoga class down the street was an exercise. It was GREAT for my home practice though!! Anyways- when I moved I ended up downsizing a lot and ended up with no mat.

This Manduka eKo Superlite Travel Yoga Mat is the best thing that ever happened to my yogi traveling butt. I can fold it up to fit in my purse, not even just my carry on but my purse. Its super thin and light but also super grippy. I can move into all aspects of my practice on it. I know you don’t need a mat to practice yoga- at all. But in a time where I feel like I don’t have a true ‘home’, it has really helped to have a little space that is constant & familiar. My mat is like my home- it’s where I come back to myself- and I’m so happy that Manduka made it possible for me to take this feeling of home with me wherever I go.

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Books & Yoga Journal

I brought a few books in physical copy that I simply can’t live without. Now warning, they aren’t tiny and they did make it so that my carry on suitcase was impossibly heavy. However, I made it through security alright and got help lifting it into the overhead bin so it al worked out in the end. They’re just too good to let go. BUT- if you have an ipad or tablet, it would probably be easier to buy them in digital copy. So much lighter.

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I’m loving ‘Teaching Yoga’ by Mark Stephens– while I’m not currently teaching yoga, I am always trying to plan home practices for myself and keep track of ones I love for someday when I will be teaching. This book has a great overview of asana and yoga theory that is wonderful to return back to over and over. ‘Ayurveda: The Science of Self Healing’ by Dr. Vasant Lad is also one of those books you can go back to over and over both for answers for yourself and for students. Health is on a spectrum and sometimes while traveling- finding balance is really hard. Sometimes looking to ayurveda is the answer for me on remember how to balance my body and mind.

Finally, my last essential book is my yoga practice journal.Everyday I practice and I write about it. Sometimes the practice isn’t asana. Sometimes its laying in bed and wondering what i’m doing in life and breathing. Sometimes its a hardcore vinyasa class that kicks my ass. Either way- having a journal to check in with how you are feeling creates a more stable container so you can figure out how to find balance. My journal is from Chapters and says ‘Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History”- to remind that feeling is in direct correlation with growth.

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Comfort and Cozy

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Being on the go can be exhausting. Coming back to the self more often than not, can help restore some energy. The moment I take off my shoes I put on my reading socks from Chapters. Meditation always goes better for me with warm toes. Why? I have no idea. Also, I bring a travel candle with me and my amethyst, rose quartz & selenite. I’m super smell oriented, so the candle helps bring me back to a space of calm and the crystals make it feel more like ‘my’ space (even though truly, we own no space).

Self Care

travelessent7Last but not least are my on the go self care items. Dry brushing is an Ayurvedic technique that stimulates the lymphatic system, boosts circulation, gets rid of dead skin cells, improves digestion….and the list goes on. I dry brush every time before I shower while the water heats up.  I may not adhere to all ayurvedic cleansing techniques (oil pulling every morning is hard when you can’t bring a big jar of coconut oil with you everywhere) but I do keep up with this. Its more-so just a shower prep for me where I can have a few extra moments to myself. For Christmas I got this cute little travel sized brush and while getting the middle of my back is tricky- it is quite a useful little tool.

Once I get in the shower, I use this Rituals shower oil to restore some moisture to my skin. I was wary of this at first when my mum had it- oil…is…oily. But this shower oil from rituals is like a body wash. Its not slick or slimy at all! I love the smell of Yogi Delight and bought one as soon as I got to Luxembourg. I’m completely hooked.

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Next are my on the go essential oils. The first, I got from my mum last Christmas and it is a mix of sandalwood & frankincense for grounding. I used it all throughout my yoga teacher training whenever I started to feel nervous or agitated- which was often –  and I still have plenty!! The mix is by Yogandha . My second blend a new one I got in the UK while shopping with my best friend at Neal’s Yard. It’s their Travel roller, a mix of bergamot, rosemary and clary sage to dispel fatigue and ease anxiety. I’m not an anxious traveler- except when it comes to ‘missing’ a train or flight. I arrive hours early because i’m so anxious that I will miss the transportation to wherever I’m headed. Traveling is a big financial investment which is where the anxiety crops up! This oil blend keeps me mellow-ish and ‘ready to roll’.  travelessent9

And of course…headbands to keep my hair outta my face.

Essential Pranayama for Travel

In yoga, the most essential part of well being is circulating your prana (engery) via the breath.  practice is something that is commonly overlooked as a yoga practice with all the beautiful posed bodies on instagram however, it is more than often, most important for keeping a balanced self while traveling. I practice two key pranayams while traveling:

3 part breath: CALM: with one hand on my stomach and one on my chest, I breathe in 3 parts. First, deep into the stomach, then into the lungs, then into the clavicle (if its accessible to me that day). Then, I let go in 3 parts- the clavicle, lungs and stomach. Its a wonderful breath to use to bring you back to the self and soothe anxiety. Take it slow and if safe, close the eyes.

Alternate nostril Breathing:BALANCE: This is not to be practiced for anyone who has frequent seizures. Breathing into the left nostril while the right is blocked by a finger and then switching the blockage to left and breathing out the right. This continues **slowly** back and forth until completing by breathing out the left nostril. Always take a few moments to return to natural breathing afterwards.

Essential Asana for Travel

Malasana: GROUNDING: Malasana is a super grounding pose. Especially if you keep your hands firmly planted on the earth. Traveling all the time can tend to make us a little ‘airy’. Remember to come back down to the ground every now and again.

Cat/Cow: BALANCING: Cat/ Cow has a beautiful way of restoring the natural curves of the spine and balancing the mind (as long as you flow with the breath!). Carrying purses, luaggage ect, your spine can go a little wonky. Keep it healthy- its the centre of your being!

Downward Dog: CIRCULATE: Inverting your heart above your head can reserve blood flow ensuring that parts of your body that may have been getting limited oxygenated blood flow get a little boost- like your brain! Sitting in a plane, train or automobile keeps blood flowing consistently in one way. Shake it up and reintroduce some life to your body!

Seated Spinal Twist: DETOX: Twisting rings out the abdominal organs- where some have cited the key to health is! Keep your gut happy by twisting out any toxins.

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Yoga Poses to Ease into the Seasonal Change

Seasonal changes affect our bodies & minds in more ways then we, in our busy frantic lives, give them credit for. The transition into autumn, I’m learning, is a big transition and goes much deeper than a new menu item at Starbucks (pumpkin spice for everyone!!). As the heat of summer fades into cool days and the leaves begin to change colour, you can begin to incorporate these yoga poses into your daily practice with the intention of easing the transition. While asana is not everything in yoga, when practiced with intention it can help guide the body into a more balanced and connected state. CHILDSPOSE1.jpgUTTANASANA1.jpgTWIST.jpgBalance.jpgOnly practice these poses to your comfort. No pain!

There are many other ways to ease the toll that change takes on the body & mind as well! Food, routine, self care through cleansing and minimizing, meditation, learning… these are all ways of easing seasonal transitions. Asana is simply one wonderful form!

Enjoy your autumn practice!

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