07 Sep

Just a little yoga goodness

The September Aquarian Times newsletter from 3HO hit my inbox today and with it, a lot of good content, but it was this quote that made me want to share:

“You believe the woman is a doormat. I believe woman is the door to God. You believe woman is the chick and I believe she is the eagle. Her sway and her grace is keeping the Earth in its own place.”
~Yogi Bhajan, August 1, 1984
The newsletter also included a link to this video, which may prove a bit long for the average attention span, but I really enjoyed it.  If you can make it through about 1:25, you might be hooked (I was).  Thinking again about planning a trip to Solstice

31 May

What is Kundalini Yoga?

I went on retreat about a week ago, the last step in my 200-hour Kundalini Research Institute Level 1 Certification program (sheesh, that’s a mouthful!), which means I am just about as “official” as a yoga teacher can be.  It has been sort of a long road, this training, and I haven’t said much about it here because I never seem to feel like I’ve processed it enough to render a judgment.  And, you know, there’s that whole non-judgment thing.  I will share more at some point – some of the stories are too good not to share – but today, I’m thinking about what to say when people ask me about Kundalini Yoga.  This always feels like kind of a tricky question, and one that I’m getting a lot more frequently these days.  There isn’t a short answer.

In the end, I think the best explanation comes through experience, but not everyone who asks can be talked into going to a class with me (and I even have free class passes!).  So in the meantime, I’ll share this quote from one of Yogi Bhajan’s first lectures in the United States, which came to me today in the Yoga Yoga newsletter:

Kundalini Yoga: An Adventure in Consciousness

Many do not understand the concept of yoga. Some think it is a religion. Some think it is physical exercise for health and some think it is a psychological system. All this is based on a misunderstanding of yoga. Yoga is simply a relationship. The word yoga comes from the biblical word, yoke, which in turn originated from the root word in Sanskrit, jugit. Both mean “joining together” or “to unite”. Yoga is the union of an individual consciousness with infinite consciousness. A yogi is a person who leans completely on the Supreme Consciousness, God, until they have merged their individual self with the Infinite Self. This is all.

Yoga is a technology that expands one’s awareness. It begins with the reality that every human mind has both Infinite and Creative potential. However, this unlimited potential can be limited according to one’s level of awareness. Awareness varies and gives one a variety of choices. To break the unconscious limits one needs a technology. That technology must expand the caliber and capacity of the mind to establish equilibrium to control the physical structure and experience the Infinite Self. The techniques of Kundalini Yoga create an owner’s manual for Human Consciousness. It explores your dimensions, depth, nature, and potential as a human. This is all that yoga means.

From The Aquarian Teacher Level 1 Instructor Textbook.

Hm.  Yeah, that’s all.  Don’t worry about yoga – all it is is just your dimensions, your depth, your nature, and your potential as a human.  No big deal.  (You see what I mean?)

09 Feb

Have you ever been to a yoga class?

If you’ve never been to a public yoga class, let me just take this opportunity to encourage you to give it a try.  Just once.  If you hate it, you never have to go back again.  But just this one time, face whatever it is that’s holding you back, and try it.

The thing is, on one level, yoga is a physical activity – sort of a set of dance steps, if you will.  And in that sense, you can certainly learn to do it on your own, with a book or a video.  I learned Hatha yoga from Rodney Yee, and I’ll still pop in that Power Yoga DVD when I’m looking for a good, sweaty workout that I can get through without having to get in the car and go someplace.

The physical part is just one aspect of yoga, though, and a public class allows you to experience some of those deeper levels in a way that’s tough to get at home (especially if you’re trying to interact with a TV or computer screen).  Going to the class in person is not just about having an instructor there who can correct your postures.  They do that in some classes, of course, but the presence of the teacher and the other students in the room – that’s what’s really special about going to a yoga class.  There’s an energy, a connection that happens in that space that’s tough to describe, but you’ll feel it when you’re there.

I know there are a lot of excuses that stand in the way of going.  Heck, the thing that made me sit down and write this tonight is that I finally got myself back to class after some weeks of dwindling motivation.  I’ve been avoiding it: running on the treadmill at home, skipping class in favor of a nap or going out with some friends, not wanting to fight traffic to get over to the studio.  But then, when I go – pretty much every time – I end up feeling SO GOOD.

Don’t be afraid.  A yoga studio is nothing if not a welcoming space.  Go give it a try.

13 Jan

Kundalini Yoga, Part 1

I sat down this morning to write you something about Kundalini Yoga, and boy, was that a mistake.

I’ve wanted to write about it for a long time – wanted to capture some of my experience over time, wanted to share some insight into what it is, maybe make it a bit less intimidating for people who are on the fence about it – but I put it off and put if off.  Why?  Because I’m still figuring it out for myself.  Because I don’t want to screw it up.  Because it’s kinda kooky.

Here’s what I want you to know at the start: (1) it found me (not the other way around), and (2) it’s had an incredibly positive impact on my life.  I started going to Kundalini almost 4 years ago now, when my new Chicago neighbors invited me to come along with them to class.  I’d never been to a yoga class before, but had spent plenty of time with Rodney Yee and his DVDs – it didn’t take much convincing to try out the class.  But if I had wandered in on my own (and how would that have ever happened, I wonder), I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have come back for a second go of it.  For many months in the beginning, I did it mainly because I was building friendships with Rita and Charlotte, and I was so thankful for the invitation to join their circle.

As for the positive impact, well… that’s where this story gets really big and a bit unwieldy for me.  Where do I start?  Simply put, this practice sustains me.  It’s been the primary tool for my personal growth over the past few years.  I don’t mean it like there was this grand transformation (I started doing yoga and then I found the perfect job/house/partner!) – it’s just… well, life just works better.  There’s more… ease.

That’s my start… page 1.  I hope that helps – that it intrigues you, that it makes Kundalini seem just a teeny bit more accessible, less weird.  More to come…

12 Jan

Morning Ritual

Years ago, Christine Kane wrote an article about creating a morning ritual.  I read it at a time when I was so hungry for advice, feeling rather lonely and lost – there was a LOT of self-help in my inbox back then.  This one really stuck with me, though, and I think if it quite often, actually.

What made me want to share it with you today?  Well, if I’m being honest, it’s that 40-day challenge.  I mean – wait – not that the 40 days of writing is getting too hard and I’m giving up on creating my own content ;)  (Okay, it’s a little bit of that, too.)  No – what I mean is, I’ve been thinking again about how that first little piece of your day can make or break the rest of it.  Woo-woo as it is, I firmly believe that every morning, you start telling the universe about what’s important to you.  And the universe listens.  Do you roll over, put on your glasses, and check your email on the smart phone?  That’s sending a message.  (What kind of response are you getting?)

I would like to set the tone for my day with yoga and meditation first, followed by time spent writing – after all, these are practices I value, and habits I set out to create with the 40-day challenge.  I’ve got the first part down, but let me tell you, for the past several nights, I have sat down in front of this computer screen at 9:30 (or later), tired and grouchy about having to come up with something interesting to say to the whole internet.  I fear that you probably inferred this on your own.

So.  Tomorrow: wake up, do yoga and meditate, write, and then get on with the rest of it.  Take a look at Christine’s advice here.  Can changing (or creating) your morning ritual improve your day?

How to Create a Powerful Morning Ritual
by Christine Kane

It is said that your habits create your destiny. 

I’d add that your habits also create your confidence, courage and even your creativity!

In other words, your daily choices, routines, and seemingly insignificant moments make all the difference in your results.

One of the best ways to generate great results is to create amorning ritual. A powerful morning ritual sets the tone for your entire day – and your entire year!

A ritual is personal. A ritual is creative. (Not reactive!) A ritual is what gets YOU on track to create your best day. (And subsequently, your best life!) It can be as simple as a 15-minute routine, or as intense as long-distance running. The important thing is that it becomes a HABIT.

My morning ritual combines a mixture of physical, mental and heart-centered activities to engage each of these human power centers!

Here are some ideas to help you create your own powerful morning ritual.

Hydrate First 

Many Eastern health practitioners recommend chugging down at least a half-liter of filtered room-temperaturewater first thing. (Yes, before your coffee!)

Upon waking, your body has spent hours without hydration. Drinking pure water at this time triggers a series of physiological functions that keep your body super healthy. Some report that this one practice can actually heal many diseases. (I’m not a scientist – but I can attest to the amazing results!)

Get Moving 

Exercise is called “The Number One Form of Preventive Medicine.”

It is also a prescription for happiness and a cure for depression! Getting exercise first thing sets your day off right. You can do a simple stretching routine, yoga or an all-out heart-pounding hour at the gym. Pick something do-able and do it.

Meditate 

Many people don’t meditate because they find it intimidating. I say, start with just 5 minutes. Meditation connects you to your center, and to the deep silence that surpasses any drama that might be happening in the world of your personality. Don’t worry about doing it right. Just allow yourself the time to BE.

Set Intention

“Intention rules the earth,” says Oprah Winfrey.

It’s true! Your intention is a powerful force to engage.

Remembering your intention puts you back on track. You become focused again.

Reflect for a moment on your Word of the Year. Read a goal you’ve written down for yourself. Remind yourself of a financial dream. (If you’re one of my new students in Uplevel Your Business, read the intention you wrote down on the first day of the program!)

You don’t have to know the HOW. You just need to set the intention so your inner GPS can stay on target!

Be Grateful 

Before I get out of bed, I silently create a morning gratitude list. When I begin my day remembering my “gratitudes,” (instead of my “anxieties”) my heart fills with extreme joy and deep awareness. I then bring that energy into everything I do – and to everyone with whom I connect.

Use a Netty Pot 

(This one’s a little weird!)

For years, my acupuncturist told my husband and I to use a Netty Pot. We laughed at him. Then, in the face of acute sinus problems, my husband tried it and became a convert. He converted me.

A Netty Pot uses warm water and a special salt to cleanse your sinuses and clear your breathing. Google it, and let the idea sit with you for a while. (You might be a convert too!)

Eat Creative 

Your choice of breakfast foods can set up your success with other meals as well. Start your day off in the healthiest way possible for you – and make it a ritual, not a chore.

Be Prepared: Create a Not-to-Do List 

Everyone needs a “Not To Do” morning list.

Suggestions here include anything that brings up a “reactive” state: Turning on the local news. Checking email. Answering texts. Answering the phone.

Let these things wait until AFTER your ritual has been completed!

Your Assignment: 

After reading this article, don’t just think, “Wow. Those are some good ideas. I should try one or two.”

Instead, deliberately create your morning ritual now. Take about 20 minutes to think about and write down what your ritual will be each morning. Start simple at first. Choose one or two items from this menu. Or come up with your own. Write out your Ritual in detail.

Begin first thing tomorrow morning, and let your habits create YOUR destiny starting now!

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE?

Please do! Just be sure to include this complete blurb with it:

Christine Kane is the Mentor to Women Who are Changing the World. She helps women uplevel their lives, their businesses and their success. Her weekly LiveCreative eZine goes out to over 20,000 subscribers. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can sign up for a F.R.E.E. subscription at http://christinekane.com.

TO SEE HUNDREDS MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS ONE?

See Christine’s blog at ChristineKane.com/blog.

09 Jan

Yoga Party

I just got home from the best birthday party I’ve been to in a very long time.  Maybe “party” is the wrong word…?  Donation yoga at Eastside Yoga, pizza from East Side Pies, homemade (gluten-free) lemon cake (no link for that one – you’ll have to find your own foodie friend if you want to recreate this one for yourself).  It’s a Sunday, so it’s not like anyone was looking for a big, crazy throw-down – just good people, good food, and good vibes, which is exactly what we got.

02 Jan

40 Days

I’ve decided to start off the year with two 40-day commitments.  I’ve done this before, with positive results; along with the habit-forming part of it, I’ve found that it’s a good way to mark a new chapter, to set a new foundation for things to come.  This time, I want to get back to a daily yoga practice (I’ve taken a break due to a sore knee and a bit of burn-out, truth be told) and I’d also like to make writing a bigger priority.  So, with that, my 40-day challenge…

1. Daily Sadhana

Okay, not the 2 1/2 hour kind.  I realize I haven’t said much (if anything) about my Kundalini yoga practice on this site, so might as well just jump in with the crazy and let you decide if you’re into it.   The word sadhana refers to a daily spiritual practice.  Many people follow the Aquarian Sadhana, a practice that takes about 2 1/2 hours, and is usually performed at 4:30 in the morning.  You can read more about sadhana here.

I’ll occasionally practice an Aquarian Sadhana, but it’s typically only for special times of the year – I’m just not ready to commit to the whole enchilada.  Here’s what my daily practice looks like:

– Tune in with the Adi Mantra

– 10-minute warm-up series, which includes stretch pose, a counter-pose where I’m rolled into a ball, and ego eradicator

– 11-minute meditation

I’ll often use the 11 minutes for silent meditation, but this time, I wanted to get back to a prescribed meditation.  I settled on the Sodarshan Chakra Kriya.  Here’s the brief description from 3HO: ‘One of the greatest transformational meditations, the most effective way to clear your subconscious garbage.’  Sounds good, right?  I’ll practice that for 11 minutes, and follow it up with 11 minutes of silent meditation.

Wow.  I had a little more to say about that than I thought I would.

2. Write (here, on this blog) every day

Yes, every day for 40 days.  Huh.  I was going to say, “it’ll be like my own NaBloPoMo, without the ‘Na’,” but apparently we’re doing this every month now.  Who knew?  Okay, well, add that to the list of prompts that will help me along here.  Some of it will be great!  Some of it will not be great!  But like I said, I have some help, which also includes:

No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog, by Margaret Mason

Prompts from the Dream Lab class I took over a year ago (I was a bit delinquent in that one, and have been meaning to get back to this work)

Mondo Beyondo Dream Generator questions, available when you sign up for the mailing list (Am I a Jen Lemen and Andrea Scher superfan?  Yes, I am.)

Prompts from my coach, Rachel W. Cole

So.  That’s all I need, right?  Oh, and um, time, and commitment, the willingness to be vulnerable, and something to say.  Just that.  I’ll be fine.  Can you tell that this is way harder than the yoga thing for me?  And this is precisely why I’m ready for the 40-day challenge.

Okay… go!