If you are practicing Yoga with me during the month of July, you've heard me talking about the fire element. You also learned the symbolic gesture of fire - the Agni mudra.
Each month I choose one of the 5 elements of yoga (earth, water, fire, air, space) and plan the practice around the element. Living in Arizona, I chose the fire element for the month of July. We celebrate 4th of July with fireworks, it is extremely hot this time of year, why not explore the fire element?
When I prepare the yoga sequence, I think about the attendees of my practice. Not only do I think about where the practitioners are at the moment, but also where the practice of yoga may lead them. As the yoga instructor I pause, take inventory of my strength and weaknesses, checking my toolbox, making sure I am prepared to inspire and educate others.
This is a short summary of what I have learned about the mudra of fire and the positive energy it activates in your body. It is said that the energy activation point lies on the fingertips. When the fingertips are connected, the subtle energy in your body gets activated. The Agni (fire) mudra is useful for (just to name a few):
Even if you don't buy into the energetic benefit of making shapes with your hands, just think of it as finger/ hand exercise. Your hands are the most expressive part of your body. You 'talk' with them, write, type on a keyboard, or you prepare meals for yourself and others. Why not benefit and increase your mobility and flexibility in your fingers, wrists, arms, and shoulders.
For me, Agni mudra is a reminder to think about what ignites my fire? It brings me joy to see the smiling faces of the practitioners as they are following along my sequence with curiosity and confidence.
What ignites your fire? Leave a comment!
May 15, 2020, I received my 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training certificate. The completion of the training signified an end of a period, and simultaneously stands for the start of a new one. I have learned so much but realize that I know so little. Therefore, I will be a lifelong seeker of knowledge.
The "Why" behind the Yoga teacher training was to share my passion with the community. I wanted to show that Yoga is for everyone. Modern Yoga focuses on poses designed to stimulate inner peace and physical energy. There is so much more to Yoga besides the physical exercise, therefore difficult to summarize in a paragraph.
The way I like to explain it (in a very broad sense): this very old system can help you live a fuller, better life. To get to oneness, there are 8 different pathways (8 limbs of yoga).
1. Yamas: What not to do
2. Niyamas: What to do
3. Asanas: The exercise
4. Pranayama: The breathing exercise
5. Pratyahara: Withdrawing your senses
6. Dharana: Focus
7. Dhyana: Meditation
8. Samadhi: Oneness
As I mentioned before, I continue to seek knowledge, deepen my understanding, and work on self-improvement. These past 3 years have taught me a lot about myself and my community. I experienced highs and lows, gains and losses, but mostly a test of patience. I had to accept the fact that my style and personality may not speak to everyone. I had to learn to wait for the right opportunity to come my way. Not to be discouraged while waiting. A very humbling experience!
Recently I was able to participate in a Japanese tea ceremony. Such a memorable time for multiple reasons (I might write about it in another blog). As all participants made their way to the tea house, we were introduced to the humble door and the proper way to enter. This small entry way allows equality among the participants. Regardless of your social status, your job title, your income, etc., all must bow down to enter. This was such a meaningful experience, reminding me how humbling life can be.
While waiting for the right opportunity to show up, humbly accept the here and now. Continuously work on self-improvement to be ready when opportunity knocks at your door. I am beyond excited to share with you that as of June 2023 I have the opportunity to share my passion with my community. Our city opens its first Yoga studio, and I am part of the teaching staff. This will be a humbling learning experience for sure, but I am ready for the challenge. If you would like to learn more about the studio and the amazing staff visit Home - Elements yogaaz
I am going to close with Patanjali: Yoga takes you into the present moment, the only place where life exists.
After a 'good night sleep' you should wake up and feel rested, right? In a perfect world, yes. But what if this is not the case? You may wake up and feel groggy, almost like you didn't sleep at all.
I recently came across a TED talk that covered the 7 types of rest:
I hope you have a 'go to' rest practice that will reset your body and mind.
Is it me or is it hot in here? It could be Menopause! Let's talk about it.
What is Menopause?
"Menopause is the time that marks the end of your menstrual cycles. It's diagnosed after you've gone 12 months without a menstrual period. Menopause can happen in your 40s or 50s, but the average age is 51 in the United States.
Menopause is a natural biological process. But the physical symptoms, such as hot flashes, and emotional symptoms of menopause may disrupt your sleep, lower your energy or affect emotional health. There are many effective treatments available, from lifestyle adjustments to hormone therapy."
If you are interested in the full article, continue to read here: Menopause - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic
Disclaimer: I am not a healthcare provider, therefore not giving clinical advice or treatment suggestions.
Please see your healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment.
This article is about sharing some experiences and my journey with the big M. First off, no one really talks about Menopause. It is somewhat tabu, because if a woman admits being in menopause, or suffering from it, she also admits to no longer being fertile and youthful.
Before I continue, this article isn't for women only. Menopause should be understood by all, especially if you live in the same household. It will make your interactions and partnership so much more pleasant. Going through Menopause is the same rollercoaster ride as a teenager going through puberty. Best of luck if you have both rollercoasters at the same time (Menopause and Puberty) under one roof!
We all know the common symptoms:
Hot flashes (they seem like a preview of what one may think "Hell" will be like), night sweats, irritability, mood swings, trouble sleeping, weight gain, slower metabolism, thinning hair, and dry skin.
That's a lot to deal with, while handling your daily life tasks. For me the most disruptive are the hot flashes, because they happen out of the blue at the most inopportune times.
I deal with them, some days better than others, like this:
- Acknowledge that this (Menopause and all the 'joy' that comes with it) is another chapter in the book of womanhood. I am not the only one going through the change. And it's a part of life.
- Don't panic! Stay calm, acknowledge what's about to happen and
- Breathe through it! (Especially at work, during a meeting, or even worse while presenting, a hot flash is hitting you) Take a deep breath, acknowledge what's happening. Take deep controlled breaths. The hot flash will rise up and disappear shortly. The more you fight it, the more unpleasant it will be. And all the folks in the room will pick up on your "heatwave". You might want to call a quick bathroom break for the team ;)
- Talk about it! I don't have a problem saying that I am having a hot flash and that I need a moment.
Menopause is not a disease, nor contagious. Let the people in your inner circle know what's going on with you. Communication is the key, no one will pick up on your inner turmoil. Say that you "need a moment" or a glass of ice water. You may be surprised and soon get some ice water brought to you without asking!
- Have fun with it! The other day I referred to my undercut hairstyle as "The Menopause". The barber may not have found it funny, but I am sure some women out there are laughing. Long hair is beautiful but can be a bit much when suffering from hot flashes and night sweats. I can only suggest the undercut. You keep the long hair, which most likely ends up in a bun or ponytail anyway. But your neck can breathe!!! Trust me, it works!
Listen, I don't want to make light of the symptoms of Menopause. It can be a long and difficult process. If you suffer from one or more symptoms, talk to your healthcare provider. I wanted to share my experiences and journey and point out the positive of this change. You no longer have a period! Birth control, done! Kids, mostly grown ;) Career in the bag. So, what's standing in your way to explore this new chapter in your life? Travel - see the world; Learn something new - language, sport, hobby; Reconnect with your partner - you started out as a couple.
Now is the time to focus on yourself, your journey, your health, your wellness. I start my day with a short Yoga routine, train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 3 times a week, Line Dance once a week, and read as much as I can. I continue to further my skills career related, volunteer as often as I can, and simply put try to be a good person.
I will close with these thoughts: no matter what chapter in life you are in, be kind. Be kind to others, but also be kind to yourself. Be kind to yourself, especially during this transition. You may not be full of energy as you were in your 20ies. But you're full of valuable life lessons. And still have a thirst for new experiences. You are making progress, one experience at the time.
I will leave you with my favorite quote from Seneca: 'what progress have I made? I have begun to be a friend to myself'
A couple of days ago I went to the Grand Canyon (South Rim elevation 7,000 feet (2,100 meter), North Rim 8,000 feet (2,400 meter).
The view was breathtaking! Was it the view only though? I know, high altitude can affect your breath as well.
What is breath?
Breath (definition): the air taken into or expelled from the lungs. An inhalation or exhalation of air from the lungs.
Breath is the force that sustains life; conscious breath is the force that sustains awareness. In the practice of yoga, the breath is fundamental.
Yogapedia explains Breath:
Conscious breath is a cycle that infuses the body with oxygen and channels prana (vital energy) throughout the physical being.
The full breath cycle includes four discrete, and equally important, elements:
Puraka (inhalation) - The steady drawing in of air; filling the lungs and creating an awareness of the vital force that is entering the body.
Abhyantara Kumbhaka (pause after the inhalation) - The intentional cessation of inhalation, a full pause with the body motionless.
Rechaka (the exhalation) - Release of the breath in a steady, conscious movement. Lungs return to a relaxed state.
Bahya Kumbhaka (pause after the exhalation) - A state of calm awareness preceding the next inhalation. A moment of quiet reflection; a present state of being. (Source: www.yogapedia.com)
There are several breathing techniques and exercises helping with breath awareness. Here is one suitable for all ages and all levels (beginners to advanced):
4 x 4 or box breathing
Sit in a calm and comfortable position
Breathe in through your nose counting to 4 (or 4 sec)
Hold your breath counting to 4 (or 4 sec)
Breathe out through your nose counting to 4 (or 4 sec)
Hold your breath counting to 4 (or 4 sec)
You do this for about one minute and you will feel yourself calm down.
This breathing technique can be utilized at different times of the day.
It can be helpful to wind down at the end of a busy day, or right before bedtime. It can calm your nerves before a meeting or a difficult conversation. A great thing about 4x4 or box breathing, you can adjust the rhythm that suits you the best.
Why breathing in Yoga is so important?
When practicing Yoga one important aspect is learning to control your breathing.
Proper breathing allows your body to retain as much oxygen as possible.
Synchronizing your breath with movement allows you to perform poses with ease and comfort.
- releases tension
- relaxes mind and body
- brings clarity
- relieves pain
- strengthens the immune system
- improves posture
- increases digestion
If you would like to practice breathing and/ or start your Yoga journey, send me a message via contact form.
I am looking forward to practice with you!
Taking care of self before taking care of others is a principle that applies in real life situations. For example, listening to the flight crew before takeoff, as they explain how to use oxygen mask and life vest. The oxygen mask is a very good representation of the above-mentioned principle.
I have taken much needed time off to reflect, recharge, and recover.
"Self-care is not selfish. You must fill your own cup before you can pour into others."
With new gained perspective and drive I am ready to continue to serve my community. Here are a few lessons learned during my "time out":
1. Acknowledge your feelings (positive or negative). While all your emotions are valid, they may not be justified. Check if your emotional response matches the circumstance.
2. Self-care is a reminder to you and others that your needs are valid and a priority.
3. Evaluate your friendships (social media vs real friends). Social media time out may help differentiate between the two.
4. Spend time in your own company (the quiet space to reflect and meditate).
5. Entertain yourself (the creative space to practice your skills or learn something new).
6. Giving back to your community (connect with likeminded people, e.g., volunteering).
Reflecting on this time out, I ask myself: What progress have I made? I've found the perfect quote from one of the stoics:
"What progress have I made? I have begun to be a friend to myself." ~ Seneca
Take care of yourself!
"Yoga is not for me!"
I hear this statement often. But when I inquire about the why, it is heartbreaking to hear the most common answers:
I also hear:
Saddened by the answers and the thought of missed opportunities, I am motivated to share the benefits of Yoga. I hope this blog can clear up the most common misconceptions about Yoga.
You don't have to be flexible to practice Yoga, the practice will help you become flexible.
Older people can't do Yoga. Yoga is for people of all ages and body types. If you have physical limitations, the instructor will show you modifications for each Yoga pose.
People refrain from indulging in Yoga as they feel it is expensive. This is a complete myth. You don't need to spend any money on Yoga practice. The internet is full of free online resources that help you learn Yoga efficiently. *Yoga with Oma offers free Yoga!
Yoga should be done only by thin and fit people. This is far from the truth. No matter what body type, you can take advantage of Yoga. You can make your body fit by practicing Yoga. It can help you control your weight and keep your body in shape.
What to wear to practice Yoga? Generally, it is important to wear clothing that is both comfortable and made from breathable fabric (like cotton, bamboo or jersey). Once you chose your outfit, try practicing a range of motion in it before you leave the house. This will ensure you can move freely and that you’re not exposing more of your body than you are comfortable with during practice. Click the link to read the full article How to Know What to Wear for Yoga (with Pictures)
Everyone is going to be watching me, and probably laughing. In Yoga, often a gazing point is taught with each pose. Students are encouraged, for example, to look at their outstretched hand, or at a point on the floor or wall in front of them. As you will discover if you do start Yoga, when your eyes are wondering about the room, it is a lot harder to stay balanced. In short, your fellow classmates won't be paying attention to what you are doing because they'll be busy paying attention to what they're doing and trying not to fall!
I hope this helped to debunk the most common misconceptions about Yoga. Join me for free Yoga in the park, choose an online practice, or join a studio. Hoping you will experience how beneficial Yoga truly is. However, it is important to seek medical advice before performing any Yoga.
For additional information, click below link to Yoga International article on the subject.
20 Reasons You Can't Do Yoga... And Why None of Them Are True (yogainternational.com)
See you on the mat,
Fall is in the air, Thanksgiving around the corner, and people can't help but be thankful. Everyone is starting to express their gratitude for what the season brings. What is gratitude?
Psychology Today defines it as follows:
"Gratitude is the expression of appreciation for what one has. It is a recognition of value independent of monetary worth."
It answers the following questions:
Is gratitude an emotion?
Gratitude is an emotion, one that makes a person feel happier. Gratefulness is also a mood as well as a personality trait. Some people are just more inclined to feel grateful as a daily habit.
Is gratitude a feeling?
Gratitude is both a temporary feeling and a dispositional trait. In both cases, gratitude involves a process of recognizing, first, that one has obtained a positive outcome and, second, that there is an external source for that good outcome.
The practice of gratitude has been proven to increase one's well-being. Although the cooler and cozier time of the year can inspire feelings of gratefulness, gratitude can be practiced year-round.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
It doesn't matter how you practice gratitude, by doing so it can help you get out of your head. It can give you a new perspective by reminding you of the good things in your life. And it will focus your attention on someone else's well-being.
Being in a constant state of gratitude can be challenging. You can try to cultivate it by practicing yoga. Below I have listed a Gratitude Yoga sequence. The next time you are on your mat give these gratitude inspiring poses a try. For best results hold each pose for 5 - 10 breaths (if it's available to you).
This holiday season I have a lot to be thankful for! I want to thank you all for your continuous support. I am looking forward to new opportunities in 2022. I want to wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season.
May your hearts be open, receiving only what is good, and may you be full of gratitude!
Read the full article here:
Gratitude | Psychology Today
Giving back to the community is one of my favorite things. I recently had the opportunity to do so at the Care + Share Expo.
I was able to do Chair Yoga demos, story time and Yoga for children, Aromatherapy and Mindfulness.
It was such a well planned and executed event. The city of Surprise created a space to connect with the community to educate about available services.
On a personal level, it was very meaningful to be part of this event, being able to share the benefits of Yoga.
I hope that all Expo visitors enjoyed themselves as much as I did!
Spending time in nature has so many benefits. The Sonoran Desert is beautiful, especially this time of year. The temperatures are just right to spend time outdoors.
Frederick Law Olmsted, the 19th century architect of many great American parks, captured the experience well:
Nature employs the mind without fatigue and yet enlivens it. Tranquilizes it and enlivens it. And thus, through the influences of the mind over body, gives the effect of refreshing rest and reinvigoration to the whole system.
Some people say spending time outdoors is taking a nature bath. Overwhelmed by a full schedule (work or personal), long hours of screen time, what better way to unplug. Soak up the sun, listen to the sounds of nature and recalibrate. If it's available to you take a few moments to meditate or even practice a few yoga poses.
This morning I started my day with a beautiful hike. Greeted the day with a few rounds of sun salutations, before I hiked back down. My mind is clear and refreshed, ready to face the world.
If you would like to learn more about the benefits of nature, full article by the Greater Good Science Center How Nature Helps Us Heal | Greater Good (berkeley.edu)
As for Yoga with Oma, more info about Yoga practice and mindful walk/ hike coming soon.