the key is in the pause

Laughter

It is National Humor Month and it starts on April Fools’ Day. There are all kinds of things out there to make us laugh.  From Laughter Yoga, cartoons, our friends and pets.

Usually we don’t think of humor when we take a yoga class or come to our meditation cushion to quiet the mind.  A pose that comes to mind that makes us all feel a bit silly is Happy Baby – Ananda Balasana

From laughter is the best medicine Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Why does laughter work by the folks at BrainStuff – HowStuffWorks

Spring Equinox

sriyantradwSpring is not just a season, it is a longing. Mark Twain put it beautifully when he said, “It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want — oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”

The heart’s yearning for Spring crests on March 20; the Spring Equinox, when day and night are nearly the same length.

Episcopalian, turned pagan, turned Christian again, musician and writer Matt Morris  (also known as Teo Bishop)described the equinox like this: “Here, in this moment of balance, I honor and recognize the sacred mystery of existence. I am a part of a cosmic dance. A holy and blessed music fills the world. The light and the darkness shift from this moment onward. As it is on the land, so it is in my being. I follow the movement of the Mother, and She works a transformation in me. Be it new beginnings or resolution, the Equinox is a point of transition; of change. I embrace the change.”

For yogis, the arrival of Spring perhaps best describes what we want to achieve when we come to our mats. Renewal. Balance. Hope. Growth. Expansion. Strength.

The practice of yoga is particularly suited to the change of seasons, for almost every pose represents an aspect of the natural world. The first pose a student is taught is Tadasana, or Mountain pose. Standing with your feet together, you breathe deeply from your belly. Long, deep, steady inhales and exhales. Your feet rooted in the earth. Rising up from the earth through the crown of your head, reaching for the sky; you stand solidly and strong. You are pure power and peace. You just….ARE.

Spring Equinox is your opportunity to create a practice that celebrates what traits you value most or aspire to. It’s time to express yourself and what you stand for. It’s a time for discovery and uncovering the longings of your soul. As the ground softens and prepares for new life, so should you. As the March winds bluster and sweep away the remnants of winter, let the same winds of change urge you toward fresh thoughts and new perspectives.

Come onto to your mat on March 20 and start by grounding yourself in Tadasana. Go through the routine mindfully. Spread your toes and lift your thighs. Tuck your tailbone under and expand upwards. Stand in perfect peace and contemplate how you want this day’s practice to go. If you long to grow, practice forward bends. If you feel the need to become stronger and more grounded, articulate this desire with standing poses like the Warrior series and weight-bearing poses like Plank. If Winter has left you sluggish, break into a vinyasa flow. And if the return of Spring has you longing for inspiration and a new way of being, try Kundalini yoga.

Although every day is a chance to begin again, the ceremonial feel of an occasion like Spring Equinox begs to be celebrated. What can you do today to honor the occasion?

 above image Sri Yantra 2015 by Diane Wright acrylic on wood 

 

 

 

Procrastination Holiday

Although may of us procrastinate even the littlest things there actually might be some sound scientific reasoning behind the act.  Additionally who would have thought there was an actual time to celebrate or honor procrastination?  So many articles, books, and talks are devoted to being on top of it.  So according to Wikipedia procrastination is explained as:

Purpose

There are several expressed goals for the week. The first is to celebrate the act of procrastinating by leaving necessary tasks to be done at a later time. There are, however, other purposes for the holiday. One claim is that the week of putting-off provides a mental and emotional break causing a decrease in stress and anxiety. However the holiday does not advocate sloth and inaction. Instead it places emphasis on accomplishing tasks and leisurely activities that could not be accomplished while one had other responsibilities. These may include reading, cooking, cleaning, and exercising. 

There is of course opposition to this “holiday” but I will take the positive approach.   So this key is to take a break and do something that one has put on the back burner such as doing #yoga or #meditating.  Although procrastination is an ugly term in itself, the premise behind this ideal is worthy one indeed.  Take some time for yourself and explore some new yoga poses.

Click on the link and come into a child’s pose – Balasana

 

Classroom Yoga

DSC02320 DSC06892 DSC06906Khampiane Keodonexay (teaches Language Arts at Manning Middle School)
DSC02321I find that the greatest things about yoga are that anyone can do it, there are modifications for any level, it’s relaxing and calm, and it really helps ease pain and tension. Kids love it because it’s a break from the norm, it opens their minds and gets them ready for lessons. I incorporate yoga on “Grammar Wednesdays” and the kids actually look forward to doing it; many of them state that even after leaving my classroom, they continue to practice yoga either at home or at a yoga studio. Typical poses that I teach the kids are: ragdoll, downward facing dog, cobra, happy baby, tree pose, corpse (the all time favorite).

Khampiane Keodonexay (teaches Language Arts at Manning Middle School)

What Color is your Meditation Cushion?

catspawcThere are countless articles and books about how we respond to color. There is a lot of money spent on what will be the trendy colors for the seasons, for everything from cars to fashion.  When it comes to meditation cushions, yoga props or zafus, the tradition has been austere, dark solid colors.

I started making meditation cushions because I wanted some festive meditation cushions and yoga props for my yoga classes.  At my core I’m an artist, so this wasn’t a stretch. 😉  I try to choose colors that inspire, energize and calm.

The article What Color is your Zafu? by  Elizabeth Marglin shares a quick list of what colors represent:

Yellow: Stimulates joy and uplifts the mind

Orange: Stirs up energy and boosts confidence

Red: Excites the passions and helps overcome depression
Violet: Calms the emotions and deflects irritability
Blue: Soothes the spirit and also induces harmony
Green: Balances, heals, and relaxes
Black: Inspires both introspection and discipline
Brown: Encourages security and stability
 The Psychology of Color Guide for Designers on Pinographics is a fascinating article with more detail.
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