Kelly

Feb 142013
 

I think sometimes we forget the most important thing about LOVE– Acceptance.Heart

In a society full of comparisons, competition and ego– we can easily fall into the trap of loving conditionally.  Since no one is “perfect”, in our culture, everyone has their “strengths” and “weaknesses”.  It the ultimate challenge to LOVE someone without judgement– with complete acceptance– for all their wonderful qualities (most especially) and for all of their quirks and challenging qualities.

This ALSO MEANS YOU NEED TO LOVE YOURSELF this way too!  We tend to have unrealistic expectations and extreme judgement of ourselves– it is hard to simply love and accept who we are– all the good and the “bad”.

One way to LOVE yourself is to BE KIND to your body.  Sit down, take a few big cleansing breaths, and then put your hand on your shoulder/neck and rub, squeeze, massage love and kindness into that shoulder.  If you have time, continue on to the hands, giving each finger individual attention, and pushing, kneeding into the palm of your hand.  Finish up with a great foot massage.  Include some great oil like sesame or almond oil– and let the smell get into your senses and feel PLEASURE– because YOU DESERVE it and your body deserves the kindness (it works hard for you!!).

If you can’t do this for yourself.  Take some time to sit down and think about all the wonderful qualities that make you -you. How would your mother describe you?  How would your best friend describe you?  Can you love yourself the way that they do?  Why do you need to be more than who you are? Start loving yourself NOW- don’t wait until tomorrow or until you can see a counselor.  Give yourself the gift of UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.

Om Shanti- Kelly

 Posted by at 9:58 am
Jan 302013
 

I want to remind each and every one of you to please beware of EGO driven yoga teachers. As with every profession, when someone gets very good at something, it tends to put the EGO in the driver’s seat and the person stops acting from pure intention and begins living to feed his or her EGO.

Earlier this week I visited a yoga studio and while the yoga practice was a good one, the teacher never asked anyone in the class if they had injuries, nor did the teacher offer any modifications for any of the poses.  I have been living with a painful injury in my hip and I had to modify for most of the class.  Fortunately, I know how to modify yoga poses, and I was even finding myself in pain at times in the class, just trying to do what the teacher was instructing.  I worry about people who are living with injuries- coming to a yoga class like this one– and getting injured further.

Please remember that your body is your guide.  At All times in yoga class you should default to what your body is telling you, and not to what the yoga teacher is suggesting, instructing, or at some instances BARKING at you.

I’ve gone to yoga classes before where a teacher constantly corrected me on my arm position in downward dog.  When I told the teacher (a nationally recognized yoga teacher) that it pinched my shoulders to do it her way, she said, “well, there is something wrong with your shoulders then”.  Um, yeah, there is something wrong with my shoulders… they don’t want to be pinched in downward dog.

I’ve been adjusted by yoga teachers who don’t even listen to the student’s breath as they are doing the adjusting… someone twisted my arms in downward dog (man I must have a terrible downward dog!) and I was hurt for 6 months from a blown out shoulder– just from one oblivious yoga teacher who cared more about how they are conducting the class, than how the student is feeling.

After going to this yoga studio the other day, it left a bad taste in my mouth and made me realize that as with everything, we must let our intuition and our common sense be our guide.  It is easy sometimes to let our own Ego get in the way and try to do something in yoga class that we know our bodies are not ready to do.  But please don’t ever feel like the Yoga Teacher has the last word.  They should be there to guide you and protect you and help you Practice Yoga, and if they aren’t doing that– find another yoga studio.

:) KellyBaddha Kona

 

 Posted by at 12:36 pm
Jan 292013
 

Chanting is a special part of yoga. If you want to begin to learn to chant, check out this beautiful CD by Deva Premal called “Mantras for Precarious Times”. It is a compilation of her chanting specific mantras, such as Om Gam Ganapatayei Namaha, which is a prayer to Ganesha for the removal of obstacles from your life. She chants each mantra for 108 times (which is nice –that way you don’t get off count). 108 is the sacred number of times that you chant a mantra for it to become sort of vibrationally embedded into your body and spirit and reach out to the spirit of the one you are chanting to (my loose explanation). The important part is to have the right intention when you chant. As you chant, sit in a seated cross leg position, feel it in your heart, let the vibrations resonate in your body and especially your head, and picture that which you are chanting for- such as peace for all beings– really see it in your mind.
It’s not easy to chant– just like meditation, it take concentration! But it’s a beautiful practice. Check out this CD if you are a beginner and want to bring mantras into your life.

Deva Premal's Mantras for Precarious Times

Deva Premal’s Mantras for Precarious Times

Dec 052012
 

One of the pillars of a yoga practice, is to live a spiritual life, one of compassion and love.  Seva is loosely translated as giving selfless service.  When we think of others, we once again get out of our “minds” and into our hearts and that is where God is.  And as I see it, the goal of yoga is to help bring you closer to God or your divine nature.

A Seva practice can be many different kinds of service– small things, big things, selfless things.

If you want to seek out some concrete volunteer opportunities for you to create more Seva in your life… here are a few links that I found in my Parent’s Magazine:

DOINGGOODTOGETHER.ORG
Packed with suggestions for volunteering with your family whether you have five minutes or five hours

BIGHEARTEDFAMILIES.ORG
New ideas for age-appropriate, kid-tested projects posted daily

VOLUNTEERMATCH.ORG
Plug in your zip code to see where your town could use a helping hand.

FAMILY-TO-FAMILY.ORG
Helping families and children in need, from sending a birthday party in a box, to organizing a book drive.

Dec 032012
 

I recently read an article in the Boston Globe about how Norwich University is doing a study on how Transcendental Meditation is helping alleviate stress for Military Personnel.  While the study/program is catching some flack with disbelievers in the Military, the Cadets seem to be showing concrete evidence of reduced stress and increased strength and stamina in military activities.  The article pointed out the obvious elephant in the room, that although meditation is assumed to only be for “hippies” and Easterners, it can also be practiced by conservatives who may not consider themselves “yogis” but would like to benefit from the practice all the same.

It’s a great article to read if you sign up for the Boston Globe online.  Here is the link.

Otherwise, here’s a link to a clip from CNN

I’m happy to hear that our soldiers are getting some stress relief and I think meditation is an EXCELLENT way to help them through all that they have to deal with especially those suffering from PTSD

 Posted by at 3:20 pm
Nov 132012
 

I just wrote this article to help people who have never tried yoga– to try and tell them what is so great about yoga and how it can bring stillness to your life in the midst of chaos.  At least that is what it’s done for me!  And my yoga mat is my LIFEBOAT!

Article:

Photo Credit: Sean Boggs

“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.”

Says Deepak Chopra- new age guru on how to live a mindful life.

As the year winds to a close, we often look to the new year with optimism that we can change our lives to be happier, healthier and -do I dare say the word- simpler.  Our smart phones and computers keep us so “plugged in” Is there any wonder that we yearn for peace in a world of constant noise?

In the midst of the movement, media, and chaos of life, you may be finding yourself looking for stillness or perhaps even a new meaning to your life that extends beyond phones, computers and the constant drive to do things bigger, better and faster.

As a yoga teacher, I’ve seen more and more people seeking something more authentic out of life lately, more than just money and the latest fad.  People are looking for a Spiritual “More”.  With so much fear and uncertainty in the world around us we are realizing that the material “things” we have been seeking are not making us happy.  Where can we find true happiness and peace?    In the past, we may have sought out happiness in the noise of life- twitter, facebook, emails, texts-  all things that entertain and distract us.  Yet by keeping ourselves engaged in this constant entertainment and distraction, we are actually feeding into the chaos.  What would we do in a space of complete quiet?   Is there happiness to be found in stillness?

Yoga is one path towards this stillness.  It is an ancient practice that brings people towards connection with their “Divine Nature”,  and to people who have found Yoga, their yoga mat is the tool they reach for to bring them back to the stillness and happiness that is inside each of us. Yoga is a complicated practice to describe in a small article, but mostly simply, it is a way of life.  It consists of a physical practice of stretching the body (muscles and nerves), control of the breath (which is a direct link to the nervous system and stress relief), concentration and meditation, and rules to live by such as non-violence in thought, word and deed.

In a yoga studio, students sit on their yoga mats and wait for the teacher to lead them through poses, focusing on breathing and moving, to let go of the world for a moment and seek connection to the clarity  that comes when our minds are quieted.

A simple mat made of rubber, the yoga student’s mat becomes like a best friend.  It is there for you when you need it.  It sees you on your best days and can bring you through your worst.  It sees you when you are weak and tired and struggling through the yoga class.  It sees you when you are strong and confident, and it accepts you as you are every time.  You can sweat on it, roll it up, and throw it in your car.  You can forget about it and forget about yoga altogether, and every time you want to come back, it is waiting for you- just as the stillness is waiting inside of you.

You may be working extra hours at work, or struggling with the responsibilities of life.  The exhaustion of the day may be screaming for you to sit in front of the television or shut yourself off from those around you. But what you really need is to find a yoga mat– your tool to happiness- your tool to remind you to get back to what is most important in life.  And being healthy and happy inside does not mean bigger, better, faster, it means doing what you love, being around people who make you happy, and really living life to its fullest.  This is what yoga reminds us all to do.

If you try yoga- you will find you have the power to slow yourself down, return to your breath and the gift of life that rides in on every inhale. I wish you peace and happiness on your new journey to fight the chaos by finding the stillness inside you.

-K.Western 2012

Oct 032012
 

photo credit Sean Boggs

What is “meditation”?  It means many things to many people but one thing is for sure, it has been practiced for thousands of years… and people keep doing it– why?

To practice meditation means that you are moving from a state of intellectual input and output (or what I call “living in your mind”) to a state of calm, peace and presence.

There are many benefits of this change ….
One benefit is the chance to calm your mind and your emotions.  When we live in the area of the mind that is of stress, frustration, anger, fear, or other negative emotions and thoughts, this creates a physical response in the body which creates adrenaline and other stress hormones that can be toxic to the body if not used up (in our fight or flight nature).  So regular meditation helps us to tell our nervous system that we are ok, we can be calm and that we don’t have to release so many of these chemicals into our bodies.  Spending more time each day in a state of peace is one of the best things you can do for your health.

Another reason people practice meditation is to seek oneness with The Divine, or with their Divine nature.  To sit in silence, very calm and focused, practicing one pointed concentration and letting go of the daily grind of thoughts and emotions, means to hear the stillness around you.  When you start to become part of that stillness, you realize that it is not really stillness, it is all energy, and you are that energy, and God is also that energy.  So everything in this Earth, everything around us and in us, everything that came before us and after us, is energy.  Can we connect to that?  Can we feel our own Divine Nature… what came before and what comes after?  This is not an easy task and thus why we call meditation a “practice” .  It is not something to accomplish (that can be argued), but something to get better and better at and to notice that as we practice…the perspective we have about our lives will change, and the things we worried about before may start to seem small compared to the realization of our connection to the Universe– how small we are, and yet how big we are.

Keep PRACTICING meditation.  Make a special place in your house to go and seek out this peace.
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti (Peace)

 

Sep 252012
 

I love this poem that I found in the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying (which is an amazing book by the way)

The author is unknown….but is titled
“Autobiography in Five Chapters”

1.  I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost…. I am hopeless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

2.  I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I’m in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

3.  I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I see it is there.
I still fall in…. it’s a habit
My eyes are open
I know where I am
It is my fault.
I get out immediately

4.  I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I walk around it.

5.  I walk down another street

I have to re-read this poem every year… but each time I do I realize that once again I’ve fallen in the hole and blamed everything else- and when I realize the only thing I can change is myself… I do something different, and it makes all the difference.

Sep 152012
 

About twice a year I lead a 4-6 week detox and yoga program that helps people reset their lives and refocus on what is important to them. I mostly stress that your health should be the number one priority every day.  If we don’t start the day off feeling good, how are we going to accomplish all the things we need to do that day as well as find our inner peace and happiness?

This is the reason I give for doing a daily yoga asana practice every morning.  After teaching 5,000+ yoga classes, I’ve seen A LOT of people go from tired and cranky before yoga class, to blissed out and ready for the day after the class is over.  People are always pointing out how great they feel and why don’t they do this EVERYDAY? 

I don’t know– why don’t they do it every day?  We brush our teeth every morning because if we didn’t, we would have yuck mouth and feel gross the rest of the day (not to mention the risk of tooth decay).  We brush our hair and put on clothes to make us feel good.  How long does it take YOU to get ready in the morning?  Have you ever considered that just 5 more minutes in your morning routine (that’s right!  just a 5 minute yoga practice), can change your WHOLE day?  Try it… what do you have to lose….5 minutes?

You will start the day feeling great and thus everything else that comes your way will be seen in a different light.

Daily Yoga Practice

Daily Yoga Practice

What’s the magic behind it all?  It has to do with the nervous system.  Have you ever considered why a big stretch in the morning feels so good and so natural?  It’s your body telling you it wants to, it needs to, stretch out.  Consider how you feel after a long car ride.  Your body hasn’t moved for hours… you feel stale and sore and tired.  Why should you feel tired after sitting in a car for hours?  Because the energy in your body has gotten sticky (odic), and your nerves are stuck and all kinked up.  When you stretch out (or practice yoga), you make the energy change to active, light (actinic) energy, and your nerves stretch out and the electrical impulses that control our bodily functions work better– and poof- it’s magic- you FEEL great!

So try it out!  Don’t set unrealistic goals, just start with 5 minutes a day (you can do more yoga in your yoga classes– but start a daily practice on your own).  Choose the5  best poses that feel good to your body, do 3-5 sun salutations to warm up and open up your whole body.  And finally, spend a minute or two in the final resting pose, Svasana, focusing on your breath and challenging yourself to quiet the mind and not get pulled into thinking about your day…. it’s challenging!  But YOU CAN DO IT!

Peace and Namaste!

Sep 122012
 

Yoga makes life better.  Everyone who practices yoga on a regular basis knows that it is a magical thing that can make everything about your life better.

Helping others also makes one’s life better.  When we put our focus outward on others, we change perspective and forget to feel so sorry for ourselves, and in return we feel happier- lighter.

Shopping doesn’t really “help others”, in fact it tends to simply “help ourselves” -making us feel good at the time… but never leading to a sense of contentment and bliss.

But today, after purchasing a few things a the thrifty shop this afternoon, I noticed that I actually left the store feeling like I did something good.

Usually after I’ve spent money on something I feel heavy and guilty( and broke)… but I spent $10, and walked away with a fall hat, a long sleeve shirt for my 1 1/2 year old daughter, a few very well loved books, and a naked barbie (which Lily wasn’t going to part with).  Oh, and a gently used kid backpack with a broken snap.

And what I felt was a sense that I was not terrorizing the Earth with more stuff that I was going to pack into our home,into our drawers,  while discarding with ease the items that were replaced by these new goods.  Instead, I felt like, I gave these items new life and  the money even went to support a local alternative high school.  I spent less, gave more and in the end, felt absolutely NO buyers remorse (which is typical after a shopping spree of mine).

So, next time you are thinking you NEED something… possibly take a look at a thrifty shop…. it’s a good way to honor the Earth, to help others (many thrift shops are non profit or go to a good cause), and to feel good about reusing what others felt was good enough to pass along instead of throw in the trash!

Hat and Bag

Reuse and Recycle