3 Ways to be More Generous

In this month of December, we at Essential Yoga Practice are offering our readers The Generosity Series, and hope that you might join us in a dialogue on how to give of ourselves along the way of refining the yogic practices of becoming more present in our aim to enjoy life.   This time of year when we are seeking meaningful and memorable ways to experience the holidays, sharing is especially important when we perceive a limitation. There are many ways to share of ourselves, and perhaps the outcome will be the potential within each of us to inspire others to be generous too. What and how can we give?

1.    The one thing that we all value is having “time.” To be present to each part of your day allows you to give yourself to the experience, to understand and appreciate the people, the situations and opportunities in front of you, and to participate in the how and why you are present.   Consider being more generous with your time by being generous with yourself.  Try not to rush so that you can have clarity for the course of your day and make sure you have some down time for yourself too – meditation and yoga are ideal daily practices.   Consider sharing your time by how you spend time with others, enjoying their company while lending a hand or sharing a mutual endeavor.  Call someone you have missed for a while just to chat, find ways to volunteer, …the sky is the limit!

2.    Pare down and contemplate the quality of your generosity.  Give without expectation or attachment of the outcome – give from your heart and with full intention of leaving a positive imprint for the recipient.  The ripple effect is the greater value and only time will tell of the continued generous effects that come from “paying it forward.”

3.    Be willing to share your gifts.  We are each blessed in so many unique ways.  It is flattering when people seek you out for your expertise, your advice and your opinions based on your gifts and life experiences.  Be willing to share, to help someone grow, and perhaps you might learn along the way as the effect contributes to an improved community.  You will be seen as a leader, not just as a compassionate and generous person.  You will allow others to build on your efforts with their inherent gifts. Let’s see what happens when we combine our intellectual currency.

Let’s give of ourselves and open our hearts to all the ways we can be more generous.  How you are willing to give is a reflection of who you are. Be kind and generous with yourself and then you will be able to tap in to your inner light, which will shine the way to your ability to give.

The essential oil that encapsulates abundance is Wild Orange.  Use that in your yoga and meditation practices this month, and share your observations. One winner will receive a bottle of Wild Orange!

Gratitude Series Yoga Practice

We used a blend called Joy:  4 drops Bergamot, 3 drops Wild Orange, 2 drops Geranium and 2 drops White Fir in a 10 ml roller bottle with Fractionated Coconut Oil as the carrier. Use on pulse points, behind the ears, between the palms and inhale deeply.  The affirmation: " I am grateful.  I allow joy to fill my entire being.” Enjoy this practice of a Classical Sun Salutation, followed by Warrior I, Revolved Side angle Pose, Warrior II, Triangle, Side Angle Pose, Powerful Pose, Volcano Pose, Mountain Pose, and Happy/Easy Pose with a Twist. Enjoy your practice!  

There are still two more days to be eligible for this month’s giveaway, a bottle of Peppermint and a bottle of our Joy blend.  What essential oil(s) have you been using in your practice?  Like, comment and share to be eligible to win!

9 Reasons We’re Grateful for Essential Oils and Yoga

1.  Essential oils (EO) and yoga have been used for centuries. Yoga is the oldest form of “exercise” on this earth, about 5,000 years old. Essential oils have existed as long as there have been plants on this earth. Having access to what is “tried and true” provides a great foundation to grow our wellness practices. 

2. They support the body's healthy functions. Essential oils are the perfect wellness supplement since they are created in nature. Unlike nutritional supplements, essential oils work on a chemical level, which gives them the ability to support cellular structure and function, the very building blocks of our beings. There are so many oil choices and ways to use essential oils, that this type of wellness support can be completely personalized. Practicing all the eight limbs of yoga provides a means to build resilience in body, mind and spirit, and can also be tailored to the needs of the student. In addition, the sister science of yoga, the medicinal practice, is Ayurveda and is equally 5,000 years old.

3.  Both EOs and yoga focus on the “individual” as we are all such unique beings. Individuals who are new to the concept of incorporating essential oils into daily living are often surprised at the vast number of choices available for supporting specific wellness goals. This is because most essential oils have at least several constituents, and some essential oils have hundreds of compounds. The variety of choices allows us to experiment and explore, not only with which essential oils we best respond to, but we can also tweak how much, how often, and the method of application.  We also learn if we personally benefit more from using the oils topically, aromatically or internally—or a combination of the three. In yoga practice, we can tailor how to use all 8 limbs to include asana (poses), pranayama (breathwork), meditation, spiritual study, our yogic quest to understand the self as we learn how to serve our dharma, the purpose of our life.  In starting a new practice, it is wise to find a well-experienced yoga teacher, schooled not just in yoga but in yoga therapy. It is likewise ideal to work with someone experienced in using EOs when targeting specific wellness goals.

4.  Both teach us to honor the body as a temple. We have one life to live in this vehicle that is our body.  It was given to us by God and it is our responsibility to take care of it.  In doing so we have freedom to live the purpose of our life, to honor God.

5.  Both are tools. Both explain that although God gave us everything we need on this earth and in our bodies to nurture ourselves, EOs and Yoga are tools to enhance the body’s capacity to support healthy functions.

6.  Both can affect emotional well-being. Aromatherapy is a science on its own, using the olfactory system to connect with the body’s limbic system so as to pull us out of emotional potholes.  Yoga uses restorative poses to calm the central nervous system, and standing poses and inversions to energize and empower us, pulling us away from negativity and helping us feel the potential of our own strength in many ways.

7.  Both are a “practice.” We practice to understand ourselves and our world better, to see where our efforts can be helpful and useful.  We practice to learn much more than how to be strong and healthy physically, emotionally and spiritually.  We practice to learn to be better human beings everyday, to affect positive change and to make our world a better place. And, as with the idea of what the word practice means, we must work at using these tools consistently, so that we refine what we are able to do and evolve along the way.   

8.  The exponential value of using the two together!

9.  That we get to share our passion for both, yoga and essential oils, with YOU!

Reverse Engineering Your Gratitude

As we enter this season of heightened gratitude, try on new lenses to actively appreciate all the blessings in your life. Most of us routinely overlook all the effort and collaboration that goes into the wonderful blessings we enjoy. So we invite you to try a practice that is new to most by reverse-engineering your gratitude. 

What does reverse - engineering gratitude look like? Let's use an example to illustrate this principle: say you have gone to lunch with a friend, and you are enjoying a delectable salmon salad and scrumptious roll. What had to happen for that meal and experience to take place? First of all, a whole crew most likely had to sail in treacherous waters, leaving behind family for several days at a time to participate in commercial fishing. Then someone had to process and pack the fish,  someone had to transport it, someone arrange for purchase, and finally someone had to prepare it, and serve it. Wow! And we can be grateful for the effort that goes into each step. In most scenarios, we can easily identify 10-20 or more individual components that we can reverse engineer. 

When it comes to yoga poses, we can notice the intricacies and synchronicity of the myriad of actions within each pose, and the overall comprehensive cultivation of strength, stretch, balance and dedication required to perform it.  In tree pose, Vrksasana, we must use our eyes for a focal point, to help the brain in how our nervous system is designed to help us balance, we need the foundation of our body, our legs and pelvis for stabilization, we need the mobility of our spine for the constant readjusting to anything that affects where we are are in space, and the way our nerves work for quick reaction time to help maintain us upright against gravity.  We can take this a step further and think about the oxygen we breathe to help all the cells involved in this kinetic chain and the heart that beats to send it around the body, and so on. We can consider a hand mudra like anjali (prayer position), for the energy it taps into and invokes.  

If you have children, this is a fun "game" to introduce that helps create heightened awareness and gratitude. 

While you are walking yourself through this exercise, diffuse frankincense and peppermint to help heighten your cognitive processes and focus. 

We'd love to hear about some of the results of your reverse - engineering processes, so we are going to do a few giveaways… We appreciate you all, and we love hearing your responses, as your voices join ours in this movement to share yoga and aromatherapy!   In every month, we enter the name of each person who is commenting and sharing and tagging friends from our social media posts, into our monthly giveaway.  During this gratitude series, we look forward to giving away a roller bottle duo:  1. Peppermint to help you “come present” and enjoy the many blessings of the season, and 2.  a blend we called “Joy," a combination of Wild Orange, Bergamot, White Fir and Geranium.  We are eager to hear from you! Namaste EYP friends!

 

 

What You Appreciate, Appreciates!

This second week in our gratitude series is an encouragement to your mindfulness practice of recognizing the many people, opportunities, and things in your day that you are fortunate to have in your life: from people who bless your day, to shelter and clothing, to the many gifts of the earth like sunshine, rain, fresh air and plants.  Then, use your words…to create a mantra for your yoga practice that refines your mindful practice of gratitude, to begin your faith practices with words of gratitude, to thank people around you, and to write down the gratitude on your heart. Journaling is a healing process.  Words on sticky notes, on your mirror, on your water bottle, on your lunchbox, or at the front of your yoga mat, bring your attention to realizing the positivity in your life that comes from gratitude. Focusing on gratitude keeps us connected and ready to be human together, a great sadhana (Sanskrit for daily practice)!  

Our challenge to you:  Start your yoga practice with this ideal and notice that you are inclined to practice poses that open the heart, chest and shoulders:  Cow face pose, Camel, Warrior I, Locust, and the many more backbends whether subtle or deep.  Use citrus and flower essential oils to invoke happiness and lift your heart. Share with us what you will write to remind and inspire your practices of gratitude. Enjoy this sadhana! 

 

Week One: Essential Yoga Practice Gratitude Series: Heart Meditation

Our First EYP Gratitude Series:  As we enter the month of November, as the fall and winter holidays are fore-front on our minds, we at Essential Yoga Practice cannot help but begin with our first “Gratitude Series.” In this month of Thanksgiving, we want to focus on the mother of all virtues, ‘Gratitude.”  This is the foundation of any practice. It is an interesting thing to note that anytime we begin a journey, at some time we return to recognizing how all of our forward steps are because of someone or something that supported us, and our heart center, our heart chakra swells with deep appreciation.  In this month, we encourage you to start or continue with a meditation practice as part of your “Dinacharya,” your morning routine, focusing on “Gratitude.”  Meditate on the heart center to get in touch with the concept that gratitude lives there.  Then shift to an asana practice to become more aware of the shoulders, chest, and heart.  While in each asana, build time by concentrating on the breath and heart center, to go deeper, to note what arises deep within the heart. 

 

There are different seeds of gratitude in your heart, with you since the time of your conception, and they are compassion, love, and kindness.  Practice some of these heart and shoulder opening asanas to allow these seeds to come to fruition in your life:  Warrior I, Locust, Bow, Wheel, Cow Face Pose, Eagle, Camel, Shoulder stand, and pranayamas like Ujaai, and Viloma I.  Stay with your heart, knowing that gratitude is there, and the seeds will sprout to all areas of your life:  Family, friends, work, community… Rest your focus on this during your meditation practices this month, and your understanding of how you are supported will deepen. 

 

What is the fragrance of gratitude?

Essential oils that support the focus on gratitude include:

•   Equal parts Wild Orange & Frankincense

•   Douglas Fir

•   Helichrysum

•   Rose

 

Try this meditation:

 

Rest your mind on the field of gratitude.  It comes from deep in the heart. You don’t have to do anything, just sit with this thought and feel what happens when your mantra, your one-pointed focus is “gratitude.”  Stay with this as long as you like, bring your hands to your heart in anjali mudra, (hands in prayer) and bow your head to the Divine within you, around you and through you.  Do this practice regularly to grow those seeds of gratitude and you will enjoy not only feeling supported but recognizing that is a sweet responsibility to support others. 

 

On this year anniversary, what are we thankful for? 

     -   Divine Grace

-       The gifts of Yoga, a 5,000 + year old practice of wellness

-       Aromatherapy from around our world, gifts of the Earth

-       Our families who supported us while we worked on this creation of Essential Yoga Practice book, DVD, tear-sheet class teaching guide, Essential Yoga Sangha online course, website and SM platforms.  We’ve come a long way!!

-       The many people who came into our lives to help create it all, and

-       YOU, our audience! We can’t wait to get to know you more! Now we want to hear from you, what are you thankful for? 

The Seventh Chakra - Sahasrara

The Crown Chakra, also known as the Sahasrara Chakra, is the 7th Chakra and is aptly named since it represents our connection to our Higher Power. It has to do with inspiration, connection to the divine, receiving insight and information, and our overall integration with God and/or universal consciousness. When our Crown Chakra is in balance, we are able to be 100% present, we have discernment – meaning that we are able to see truth as it really is, we are unified not only with ourselves but with our Higher Power…we are satisfied that we are on track to fulfill our divine purpose as we live here on earth.

 

White is the color associated with the Crown Chakra, spirit is the element, and it is connected to the Central Nervous System. The yoga identity associated with the Crown Chakra is Universal Identity, and Vrksasana (Tree Pose) and Padmasana (Lotus) are yoga asanas that can be helpful to balance the Crown Chakra. Frankincense and Lavender are essential oils supportive to a healthy Crown Chakra.

 

Excess energy in this chakra can manifest itself as consistent frustration, feelings of depression, migraine headaches, wild mood swings/personality traits, manic/depressive features or psychotic-type mental illness. Deficient energy may manifest as loss of self, lack of inspiration, feeling overwhelmed or helpless, feeling like a victim, not connected to meaning or significance in life, and no aspirations. Yoga asana, meditating on honoring the body as the temple of the radiant soul, and essential oils are a few ways to help us return to balance for a healthy Crown Chakra balance and divine connection. 

 

As we finish our focus on Chakras, let’s also talk about some general ways you can maintain healthy and balanced chakras so you feel better and resonate with positivity:

·         Pray

·         Meditate

·         Use pure aromatherapy

·         Participate in regular yoga practice

·         Spend time in nature

·         Breathe

·         Journal

·         Use affirmations

·         Nourish yourself in body, mind and spirit on a regular basis

·         Make a joy list and consistently do activities on it

·         Eat organic produce, recognizing that you can strengthen/balance a chakra by eating colored foods representative of the chakras (processed, junk and fast foods tend to clog chakras, and make them sluggish and deficient)

·         Get enough sleep

·         Pay attention to your dosha type, and participate in recommended self care

·         Drink enough water

·         Exercise

·         Manage your emotions

·         Forgive

·         Get fresh air and sunshine

·         Reduce your toxic load

·         Listen to positive music, specifically classic music

·         Use stones, gemstones and/or crystals (see pages 30-31 Essential Yoga Practice)

·         Live intentionally; you can create the life you want to live!

For more information on chakras, self-care and inviting the synergistic benefits of combining yoga with essential oils, join us for our Essential Yoga Sangha in November. Yoga Alliance members can receive 10 CE credits by participating. For more information, click here.

The Sixth Chakra - Ajna

Chakras are subtle energy centers along the spinal column, which govern areas of human anatomy and embody themes of human development from primitive urges to faithful spritual growth. They are symbolic of Divine forces manifested in mantras, geometric patterns, and crystal energies. Through various yogic practices, one is able to explore inner awareness and cultivate connection to these centers of concentraton, thus tapping into personal growth toward the goal of yoga, Samahdi.  Though all chakras play a dynamic role in cultivating the use of meditation, the 6th or Third Eye Chakra deepens our focus on this part of our yoga practice.  Known as the Ajña Chakra, this mind center holds the energy of consciousness.

A balanced 6th chakra presents as one with common sense, quick to learn, good memory, spiritual grounding, follows intuition, and uses intelligence. Imbalance in the Ajna chakra presents as one who is not sympathetic, over-thinks, lacks common sense, has sleep/nightmare issues, is forgetful, does not follow intuition, and is judgmental.

Yoga asana to support delving in the 6th chakra include:  Dolphin pose, Peacock pose, Warrior I, Warrior III, Eagle pose, Crow, Crane, Child’s Pose, and sitting in Happy or Easy pose for meditation. 

Pranayama that corresponds to the 6th chakra is Nadi shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing, which creates balance between the right and left hemisphere of the brain, an enhanced sensitivity to the breath and uses the inner focus to the eyebrow center necessary for meditation.

Essential oils that support the third eye chakra are those that carry the highest energetic frequency and are considered sacred oils. They are often used for meditation as they are both grounding and uplifting. Included are: Sandalwood, Frankincense, Rose, Jasmine, Clary Sage, Cypress, Patchouli, Palmrosa, Peppermint, Myrrh, Vetiver and Immortelle (Helichrysum italicum).  Complimentary oils to blend with them include:  Lemon, Basil Rosemary, Marjoram, Juniper, and/or Neroli. 

Want to learn more? Sign up for our Essential Yoga Practice Sangha, our 2 week online course designed to delve deeper into the practices of using yoga and aromatherapy.  Yoga Alliance teachers will receive 10 CEC hours. Next course is November 6 – 18, 2017.  Sign up here

The Fifth Chakra - Vishuddha

The fifth chakra, the throat or Vishuddha chakra, is associated with the color blue and clear communication. The throat and ear (hearing) are part of this chakra. This energy center is the conduit connecting our intuitive or spiritual-focus chakras (the 6th and 7th chakras) with the chakras rooted in our physical body. When it is open and balanced, we are able to communicate freely, we feel centered and content, and we’re able to be honest with ourselves and others.

An excess imbalance of the throat chakra could look like arrogance, dishonesty, manipulation and/or self-righteousness. Deficient energy could look like fear of speaking your truth, feeling timid, being inconsistent or unreliable, having difficulty communicating your needs to others.

Ether, the yoga identity associated with the Throat Chakra, is also referred to as space, and is the essence of “emptiness.” Being still and silent through meditation is especially advantageous in helping us purify and strengthen our throat chakra, the connection between heart and mind. Try utilizing “Mouna Meditation”, wherein you choose a time of day when you can keep silent and abstain from intellectual focus (ie reading, TV, music, etc.) in order to increase external and internal silence.

Newcomers to meditation might notice a number of random concerns break through consciousness, such as a phone call that needs to be made…allow these thoughts to dissipate without becoming distracted or involved, and as this silent practice quiets your mind and soothes anxious feelings, you’ll be better equipped to allow these benefits into your daily living practices, such as thinking before you speak and saying only that which is necessary and true.

Yoga asanas to open the Throat chakra are also heart and shoulder openers. Examples are Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I), Purvottanasana(Long Bridge), Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Supported short bridge),  Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand), Dhanurasana (Wheel), and Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose).  Pranayamas that supports the Throat Chakra are Ujaai, and Bhramari.

One of the best essential oils to use to support clear communication and the throat chakra, is lavender. It is interesting that this essential oil which is so well known throughout the world, is one that can evoke a sentiment of love or extreme distaste in those who try it. It is an oil that encourages us to speak our truth, and therefore can feel uncomfortable to those with an imbalance in this chakra. If you find yourself having an aversion to lavender, ask yourself what emotions you have that need to be expressed, what your truth is, and how you are voicing it honestly to yourself and those around you.