Meditation : Walking Poem

HOW TO Meditate While Walking 

It is a beautiful time of the year to take your meditation outside.  Here is a poem by Thich Nhat Hanh on a Walking Meditation.  Next week we’ll post an article on how you can perform your own moving meditation session.  This could allow for an alternative for those who are struggling with a sitting meditation, or just offer some variety by combining your sitting meditation with occasional walking meditations.

Find a quiet moment, and with a little visual imagery you can find yourself walking anywhere while reading the following poem.

Walking Meditation (poem by Thich Nhat Hanh)

Take my hand.
We will walk.
We will only walk.
We will enjoy our walk
without thinking of arriving anywhere.
Walk peacefully.
Walk happily.
Our walk is a peace walk.
Our walk is a happiness walk.

Then we learn
that there is no peace walk;
that peace is the walk;
that there is no happiness walk;
that happiness is the walk.
We walk for ourselves.
We walk for everyone
always hand in hand.

Walk and touch peace every moment.
Walk and touch happiness every moment.
Each step brings a fresh breeze.
Each step makes a flower bloom under our feet.
Kiss the Earth with your feet.
Print on Earth your love and happiness.

Earth will be safe
when we feel in us enough safety.

Pranayama: Breath of Fire

The “Breath of Fire” breathing technique offers many benefits. To name just a few, it cleanses the blood and mucous linings of the lungs and cells within the body, it expands lung capacity, and it warms the body and activates the brain. This is a great breathing practice to use before an energizing yoga class since it will warm you up.

In addition to the following video, which will take you through the details of learning how and why we should practice Breath of Fire, another tip for beginners would be to focus on your exhale when just learning. Place a hand on your abdomen and feel the inward pull of your navel center during the exhale. Concentrate on the exhalations, and the inhalations will occur naturally.

For beginners, it is suggested to practice sitting in Sukhasana, or Easy Pose (a comfortable cross-legged position). You may choose to sit flat on the floor, on a folded blanket, or a bolster or Zafu for additional height and comfort on your knees & ankles. Start by practicing for one minute and then work your way up to three minutes or longer.  As you become more experienced in this practice, you can incorporate breath of fire into yoga poses or other activities.

Warning: not advised if you have any heart conditions or high blood pressure, please be aware that this Pranayama will elevate your blood pressure.

Yoga : To Prop … Or not the Prop?

HOW TO Decide if you need a Yoga Prop?

Everyone has different expectations for their yoga practice. Some look for meditative deep relaxation while others look for a hard-core workout. So it should be no surprise that whether to use yoga props during your practice would vary from person to person as well. This article from Yoga Journal offers some thought for those from both sides of the fence. Having started my practice studying Iyengar Yoga, I’ve always been open to using props in certain challenging poses, or on days that I was less flexible. But, as this author points out, it is important that you become aware of how you are using these props and evaluating how a yoga prop is assisting you on that day, at that moment, in that pose. Be in tune with your body. If the use of a certain prop no longer feels “good”, then experiment with other options.  And, besides “being your own teacher”, don’t hesitate to ask your yoga instructor for ideas or recommendations on which props you could use when in certain poses.  If you are uncomfortable asking during a class, you can always ask them for guidance after the class so you can incorporate this idea in your home practice or future classes.

To Prop or Not to Prop

Are props a helpful supplement to your practice, or do they just get in the way? Here’s how to decide when to use—and not use—these tools.

By Claudia Cummins

The original yogis didn’t practice with foam blocks, D-ring straps, or purple sticky mats. But as yoga evolved, many practitioners discovered that props could help deepen their explorations.

Among modern yogis, attitudes toward props range from the Zen-like minimalism of those who shun all but a sticky mat to the abundance of those who travel with an extra suitcase filled with yoga accessories. Regardless of where you fall in this spectrum, a few guidelines can help you make the most of your props.

Be clear about why you’re using them. Mindlessly using a block to support your hand in a standing pose just because your teacher told you to won’t deepen your practice. Ask yourself what purpose the extra support is serving and let that answer guide the way you use it. Are you using the block to move into a posture you aren’t yet supple enough to manage on your own? If so, consider ways to lessen your reliance on that aid over time.

Be your own teacher. Use your body’s signals to devise new and effective ways of using props to enhance your practice. When you sense a certain part of your body crying out for extra support in a resting pose, for example, wedge a towel or shirt beneath that area and observe what happens. Or if you’re struggling to master a new pose, ask yourself whether any props within arm’s reach might help. You might be surprised by the ingenious solutions you unearth.

Explore new territory. If a rolled-up blanket is supporting your back during a restorative pose, you might like to explore how varying the size and position of it alters your experience. Or if you’re using a strap to help you understand a particular action or direction in a posture you know well, you may choose to repeat that same pose without props from time to time to explore the differences.

Be creative. Yoga basics include mats, blankets, straps, and blocks. But if you consider a prop to be any aid that helps you access a posture more fully, your world will widen considerably. Walls, tables, balls, books, socks, neckties, even the helping hands of a friend can all be used to deepen your exploration.

Practice nonattachment. Ideally, yoga leads us toward greater flexibility and adaptability. So don’t grow so attached to your chest of yoga toys that you can’t practice without them. If you use props regularly, challenge yourself every once in a while to stow them away and practice without any aids at all (that’s right, not even a sticky mat). On the other hand, if you’re a yoga minimalist, incorporate a few props into your practice every now and then just to explore how they might be helpful. You might be surprised by what you learn. Remember, the best yoga prop is always an open mind.

Claudia Cummins teaches yoga in Mansfield, Ohio. At the moment, her favorite pose is Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana (Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose).


If you are not familiar with the variety of yoga props on the market, please check out our website Rolling Sands Harmony. Our product pages will provide more information on the products themselves. If you click on the Categories listed here on the right of our Harmony Blog, you’ll see some of the poses or exercises that you can do using that prop.

Foam Rollers : Massage & Release

HOW TO do Massage and Release with a Foam Roller


Featured Product: Foam Roller 
Purpose: Use for sports training, to help enhance balance, for body awareness, to improve flexibility, and during dynamic strength training. In therapy or rehabilitation they help with muscle re-education and myofacial release. Use a foam roller to self massage the entire body
Compatible Exercises: Pilates, Strength Training, Self-Myofacial Release, Stretching


Foam Rollers are available at our store – available as a 36″ high density foam roller or an 18″ high density foam roller.  The next few weeks will cover a number of exercises for these versatile rollers.  Foam Rollers can be used to release tension and overworked muscles or also as a prop to add challenge to your fitness, Yoga, or Pilates routines.

Foam Rollers for Myofascial Release and Massaging Tight Muscles

by Elizabeth Quinn

Use a Foam Roller
Photo � E. Quinn

Foam rollers offer many of the same benefits as a sports massage, without the big price tag.

The foam roller not only stretches muscles and tendons but it also breaks down soft tissue adhesions and scar tissue. By using your own body weight and a cylindrical foam roller you can perform a self-massage or myofascial release, break up trigger points, and soothe tight fascia while increasing blood flow and circulation to the soft tissues.

How It Works

The superficial fascia is a soft connective tissue located just below the skin. It wraps and connects the muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels of the body. Together, muscle and fascia make up what is called the myofascia system. For various reasons including disuse, not enough stretching, or injuries, the fascia and the underlying muscle tissue can become stuck together. This is called an adhesion and it results in restricted muscle movement. It also causes pain, soreness and reduced flexibility or range of motion.

Myofascial release is a body work technique in which a practitioner uses gentle, sustained pressure on the soft tissues while applying traction to the fascia. This technique results in softening and lengthening (release) of the fascia and breaking down scar tissue or adhesions between skin, muscles and bones.

Myofascial release has also been shown to relieve various muscle and joint pains such as IT band syndrome and shin splints as well as improving flexibility and range of motion.

Foam rollers are inexpensive and with a bit of experimentation you can target just about any muscle group.

How to Use a Foam Roller for Myofascial Release

Using a foam roller is simple, but working some areas may take a bit of practice and some body contortion. You start by finding a relatively open area with some floor space. Position your body with the area you want to work on top of the foam roller. Your body weight creates the pressure that massages and releases tight spots in the fascia. You control the pressure by applying more or less body weight on the foam roller and using your hands and feet to offset your weight as needed. It’s helpful to try a variety of positions and see what works best for you.

Tips for Using a Foam Roller

* Always check with your doctor before using a foam roller for myofascial release.

* Perform foam roller sessions when your muscles are warm or after a workout.

* Position the roller under the soft tissue area you want to release or loosen.

* Gently roll your body weight back and forth across the roller while targeting the affected muscle.

* Move slowly and work from the center of the body out toward your extremities.

* If you find a particularly painful area (trigger point), hold that position until the area softens.

* Focus on areas that are tight or have reduced range of motion.

* Roll over each area a few times until you feel it relax. Expect some discomfort. It may feel very tender or bruised at first.

* Stay on soft tissue and avoid rolling directly over bone or joints.

* Keep your first few foam roller sessions short. About 15 minutes is all you need.

* Rest a day between sessions when you start.

* Drink plenty of water after a session, just as you would after a sports massage.

* After a few weeks you can increase your session time and frequency if you choose.

* Do not use a foam roller without your physician’s approval if your have any heart or vascular illness or a chronic pain condition.

Meditation : Mudras

HOW TO Benefit from Mudras : Graceful Gestures during Meditation 

Following is an excerpt from an article called Mudra: Graceful Gestures from LifePositive.   The following descriptions of Mudras will give you a description on how to place your hands in different mudras and the benefits you can achieve.  Read through the examples and see which mudra resonates with you at this time and then incorporate into your daily meditation.

Note that there are many, many mudras….this is just a sampling.

Mudras:

These mudras are for everyone. They can be practiced for half-an-hour daily. It is advisable to sit cross-legged on your bed or on the floor while doing a mudra, but the Acharya assures that it won’t be ineffective if you do not follow this posture. You could even go for a stroll, with your hands casually tucked in your pockets, fingers folded in a particular mudra.

Mudras never generate an excess of energy, they simply seek an optimal balancing of prana, much like a thermostat. So next time you are ailing, remember it may just be an instance of maladjusted prana and an innocuous sleight of hand could be the cure.

mudras,yoga,fingers GYAN MUDRA

The thumb and the index finger are brought together in gentle contact, not pressing hard, while all other fingers are kept upright. This is the mudra most people are familiar with.

Great thinkers such as Buddha, Mahavir, Christ and Guru Nanak are generally depicted in this pose. Its practice ensures mental peace, concentration, sharp memory and spiritual feelings.

It cures insomnia and mental disorders, and dissipates tension, depression and drowsiness. This is a must for those who aspire to develop telepathy or wish to acquire extrasensory abilities.

mudras,yoga,fingers APAN VAYU MUDRA

(Also known as Mritsanjeevini Mudra)

Fold the forefinger down and touch the mound of the thumb. The little finger should be held erect.

It regulates complications of the heart. In a severe heart attack, if administered as a first aid measure within the first two seconds, it provides instant relief.

mudras,yoga,fingers PRAN MUDRA

Touch the points of the little finger and the ring finger to the tip of the thumb lightly.

This is a life-giving mudra, it energizes the body and improves its vitality.

It helps to improve eyesight. A must for those who feel nervous, tired and weak.

mudras,yoga,fingersSURABHI MUDRA

Join the little finger of one hand with the ring finger of the other and vice versa. Similarly, join the forefinger with the middle finger of the other hand and vice versa. Leave the thumbs free.

This controls rheumatic inflammation and sharpens your intellect.
mudras,yoga,fingers APAN MUDRA

Join the middle finger and the ring finger with the tip of the thumb; the forefinger and the little finger should be held upright.

Provides relief in urinary problems and eases difficulty in labor and delivery. It facilitates the discharge of waste matter from the body and purifies the system.

mudras,yoga,fingersLINGA MUDRA

Join both the palms and lock the facing fingers together, keeping one thumb upright. The upright thumb must be encircled by the other thumb and the index finger.

Makes the body resistant to colds, coughs and chest infections by generating heat in the body, and destroying accumulated phlegm in the chest.

It helps in weight reduction too, but has to be practiced with restraint.

The intake of at least eight glasses of water, and butter and ghee (clarified butter) as cooling agents in sufficient quantities is a must.

Due to the heat it generates, it may not be possible to practice this mudra with as much ease and flexibility as the other mudras. It might prove taxing and result in a feeling of lethargy.

mudras,yoga,fingers SHUNYA MUDRA

Bring the middle finger down to touch the palm and bring the padding of the thumb on top of it, keeping the other fingers straight up.

Do this for 40 minutes a day.

This mudra is ideal for ailments of the ear, and also helps those of the nose and the throat.

Even five minutes of this mudra will help an earache.
mudras,yoga,fingers VARUNA MUDRA

A bit like the Gyan Mudra.

Touch the tip of the little finger with the tip of the thumb while the other fingers are kept upright.

Regular practice ensures an optimum level of water in the body and heals all ailments connected with dehydration.

Pilates: Toning your Arms

HOW TO Tone Your Arms while Doing Pilates 

A brief video on toning your arms in Pilates.  Being mindful of your movements and activating those muscles is a sure way to get results.  Adding a Pilates Ring, Pilates Bands, or soft-weight toning balls will also help you achieve your desired results…and quick!  These Pilates tools add weight and resistance to your routine and will help you to focus on engaging those muscles.


How to Tone Your Arms With Pilates — powered by http://www.livestrong.com

Meditation : Mantras Defined

HOW TO Understand Mantras and Their Meanings

This article has a nice description of some of the different mantras. Hope it helps you decide on one for yourself…

Health And Yoga News Letters

Mantras for You


Below are listed a sampling of mantras. As stated previously, one’s mantra is usually given by a Guru. But in the absence of a Guru, the individual may choose a mantra that “rings true”.

Mantras – when repeated on Japa Mala Beads – have a profound impact upon our well being.

OM
The King of mantras of a single syllable is ‘Om‘. It is the sound of infinity and immortality, containing within it all the scriptures of the world.

‘Om
‘ is often used at the beginning of meditation to focus the mind, or as a prefix to other mantras.

OM NAMO
These words are often said before invocation of a particular deity. ‘Om‘ retains its significance as above. ‘Namo‘, in Sanskrit, means to honor, appreciate and be humble towards.

Therefore, putting it before the deity’s name means something like “praise be to” or “all thanks to”.

The following are different mantras using these prefixes :

OM NAMO GANESHAYA
Ganesha is the God of beginnings and success. Therefore, this mantra is formed at the beginning of new undertakings and to bring about success by removing obstacles.

OM NAMO LAKSHMAI
Lakshmi is the Hindu Goddess associated with prosperity in all aspects of life – financial, emotional and spiritual. Mantras to Her bring richness to life and a wealth of good fortune.

OM NAMO SHIVAYA
This mantra represents the tranquil insight to the meditative experience. It helps destroy negative qualities.

OM NAMO NARAYANA
Narayana is the name of Vishnu, the source of humanity. It is a mantra said in times of trouble to re-establish harmony and balance. Many powers come from saying this mantra. It also aids in attaining enlightenment.

Some More Mantras:

OM TARA
Tara represents the female energy. Mantras said to Tara evoke compassion, strength and healing.

RAM
This simple but profound mantra is the name of God, repeated over and over. It engenders God consciousness, truth, righteousness and virtue.

SHRI HARI SHARNAM MAMAHA
The Sanskrit word ‘Sharnam’ means shelter. This mantra asks that we be brought to Hari’s shelter, a place of refuge. The blessing of Hari’s protection removes all anxieties.

CHRISTIAN MANTRAS
Christian mantras are often short sections of common prayers. They work to bring about an awareness of God’s loving presence.

Examples:
Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me.
Holy Mary, Mother of God.
Glory be to God.

Choose ONE of the several mantras stated above depending upon what “sounds and feels right” and has a meaning in harmony with your intuitive acceptance.

Never disclose your personal mantra to anybody. Once you have chosen your mantra, go to the next step to choose the right mala beads for your practice.

Warm wishes,
Ankita
http://www.healthandyoga.com

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