Connecting with Nature

Connecting with Nature

Just as the sun continues to grow stronger each day, sparking the energy in plants all around us to bud and bloom, it's natural for many people to experience a quiet awakening deep inside themselves. This isn’t a coincidence, since spring is universally recognized in cultures around the world as the transitional season of rebirth and renewal. It’s an ideal time for exploring the possibilities of new beginnings.

Consider it to be sort of like the childhood stage of the seasonal life cycle, where getting outside can invoke a genuine sense curiosity and desire to learn and grow. One of the best ways to tap into that pure and innocent childlike self that wants to come out and play is to simply take a leisurely walk through a park or wooded area where we can mindfully experience the awe of life blooming before our very eyes.

Doing this can inspire us to ask ourselves questions like, “what urges or ideas do I have inside of myself that need to be explored?” and, “what have I been afraid of pursuing in the past that I feel I finally need to start?” We can even ask more specific questions about how we might explore new ways of having fun, improving our health, building new relationships, altering our career paths or rejuvenating other areas of our lives.

As we use this time to work on exploring different ways that we can renew ourselves, let us remember to also dig deeper to identify any leftover negativity that may still be looming from the winter or fall. The light, warmth and aliveness of spring can help ground us in the present moment so we can meditate on anything we may still be unconsciously carrying around with us that needs to be felt more deeply or perhaps even addressed more actively before it can be completely released.

Keep in mind that connecting deeply with nature doesn’t have to stop at getting outside a little more often and reaping the benefits of personal renewal. In fact, we could all take this time of year to act as a firm reminder to be a little more grateful for this planet we call home. Showing our love and appreciation by continuously taking small actions that add up to a healthier environment not only brings us closer to creating a more sustainable planet, but also invites mores positive energy into our lives.

Easy ways to start making more eco-friendly decisions include starting a compost, turning off lights and electronics when they’re not in use, switching to organic/non-toxic products and cutting back on buying items with packaging materials that are destined to end up in the trash. Joining a local environmental organization that needs volunteers to help clean up local lands, rivers and streams of garbage and debris is another great way to work on inner growth and help the environment at the same time.

There are endless amounts of ways we can connect closer with nature, and everyone will have their own personal preferences for how they go about doing so. Whatever your plan is to make the most out of the time you spend outdoors and the things you do to give back to the environment, be sure make it count!


Declutter Your Mind to Improve Mental Clarity

Declutter Your Mind to Improve Mental Clarity

As spring slowly but surely creeps closer toward us, the anticipation of warmer weather and longer days tend to put the idea of “spring cleaning” on our minds. It’s common practice to clear out the physical clutter in our homes this time of year, but what about mental clutter?

By decluttering our minds from negative and counterproductive thought patterns that only contribute to stress and anxiety, we end up creating more awareness and freeing up space, which we can eventually use to develop more positivity. Just imagine what could be possible for you in your life if you stopped wasting so much time and energy on thinking and feeling some of the useless things you’re used to thinking and feeling right now.

Of course, thoughts and emotions arise so instantaneously that most people never even consider making an effort to question them and meditate on them for a while. Unraveling these types of automatic negative thought processes takes a lot of inner work, but anyone who’s willing to stick with it can achieve that state of mental clarity that’s really needed to serve as the foundation for real growth. Here’s how to do it.

Pick one bad thought that arises frequently.

We’ve all had recurring negative thoughts and emotions about ourselves or our circumstances. An example might involve assuming that you’re undeserving of a promotion you really want at work, thus invoking feelings of shame and inadequacy. Once it hits you, it feels pretty bad, and often gets worse as your mind runs with it.

Identify your triggers.

Our thoughts arise seemingly out of nowhere or are clearly triggered by something external, which is why it feels like the following emotions and subsequent thoughts seem just as wild and uncontrollable as the original thought itself. Take some time to think about when and where that thought arises and make a commitment to start bringing this thought into your awareness whenever it arises in your everyday life.

Investigate its usefulness.

Whenever you become aware of this thought and its emotions as they occur, ask yourself what value they have. Since this particular mind decluttering technique is of course all about targeting negative thoughts, your investigative work should reveal to you that there’s really no value in thinking in a way that makes you feel shameful, anxious, frustrated, impatient, or any other negative emotion.

Challenge it by using a power phrase.

A good power phrase is a short and concise statement that directly invalidates your thought. Training your inner voice to automatically say something like “that’s not true” will help you to start believing it. Keep in mind that challenging the thought doesn’t guarantee you’ll completely eliminate it–remember, thoughts are automatic responses to situations. You’ll mostly just put a stop to the snowballing effect of the thought → emotion → thought → emotion feedback loop most people aren’t even aware of when it’s happening to them.

Find peace in the mental space you just created.

The above steps essentially help bring you back to reality and free up mental space that otherwise would continue to be filled with useless thoughts and emotions that consume your consciousness as they feed off each other. Take some time to just enjoy being grounded in the present moment, detached from the hamster wheel running inside your head.

You can start using this new mental space to fill it with more of the positive ideas that might naturally cross your mind during your investigative work. With enough hard inner work over time, it will become second nature to you.


Blossoming with Summer

 

Mother nature has her transcending routine. The sun sets and rises each day. With the summer solstice just passed, the apple trees branches hang low, bearing the weight of their fruit. It seems everything is in abundance: family, friends, food, sunlight, old hangouts, new hot spots, must do’s. Our senses, emotions and body all embrace the warmth which the summer season has to offer.

Welcome the summer with loving open arms. Give yourself (and yours) some love and stay top of your game this season. Here are just a few ideas to get you going...

Love Your BodyLove your body

 

1. TLC pampering:

Do things that make you feel beautiful and special.  This is an essential ingredient to loving your body, and keeping your temple in tip-top condition. Pamper yourself. Light candles, play some music, sing along if you wish. Fashion your favorite hair style, use your favorite Yogi Surprise products and use that perfume saved for special occasions. Feel special now, there’s no time like the present.

dress for success yogi2. Dress for success:

Add a splash of color in your daily wardrobe. It’s about feeling comfortable, gorgeous and confident all day long. Think chakra, think Anahata ‘Heart’ chakra, think green, the color of harmony, growth, abundance, and nature.

3 Food-loving:

Increase your vitamin and mineral intake by complimenting your diet which is a sweet seasonal fruit smoothie. Spinach, blueberries, coconut milk, with a pinch of honey and a pinch of cinnamon is my favorite.

Summer Yogi Camel Pose4. Strike a love body Yoga pose:

Pump up your lung capacity, stimulate your thyroid glands, whilst toning your abs and quads with full power Ustrasana, camel pose.

Love your mind

1. Set your intention

set you intentionHow do you like to start your day? We all have our ideal routine and experience shows us time and again that we reap the rewards when we proactively roll this into our lives. So take time out to organize your thoughts and create space. Summer always yields a busier schedule. You may have 101 things-to-do today, but what if you could only do 3? Set your intention, draw knowledge from your Yogi self and live a more mindful and intentional life.

2. Gratitude meditation

Unwinding after your day, pause for a moment in reflection. Quietly say, think or write down what you’re grateful for. Think of as many events or people as you can, big or small, it doesn’t matter, it’s the way you feel. As your gratitude grows, it gives rise to your inner joy and opens your heart. Try this just before bed and dream sweetly.
headstand summer yogi

3. Strike a loving mindful Yoga pose

Boost your mental power by practicing Shirshasana (head stand), the king of all asanas.

Love your energy

1. Eating

Eating can have a profound effect on our energy levels. The color from blue, purple and red berries, for example, comes from anthocyanins, an energy boosting powerful antioxidant.  Fiber from foods like nuts, beans, grains, fruit, assist to level out your energy levels and can aid your digestion.

2. Sleeping

Sleep, we all do it, we all need it, but do we get the recommended 7-8 hours a night? Getting a good night’s sleep helps our bodies to repair our heart and blood vessels and has also been connected to improving our memory. Yes, please I really need more restful, peaceful, sleep-full nights! Three things have become integral to my wind-down, bedtime routine:

  1. No caffeine after 3pm, ok 4-5pm at a push.
  2. No devices 1 hour before bed time.
  3. Writing down my hit list for the next day.

summer yogi inhale joy exhale love

4. Breathing

Awareness of breath connects body and mind to the present moment, to say it has enhanced my life is an understatement. I use this technique all the time and constantly advocate it to my loved ones. The next time you catch yourself having a ‘moment’ where your tension levels rise, check yourself and take a few moments to just breathe. Inhale peace, exhale love – dispel that negative energy.

5. Strike a energy giving Yoga pose

‘Soham’ is used to represent ‘Inhale’ and ‘Exhale’ and in Sanskrit actually means ‘I am that’. The next time you do Marjaryasana, cat pose, practice saying ‘Soham’ 10 times with your normal breath flow, then do another 10 rounds at a fast pace for an instant Yoga energy pick me up.

Love your karma

Karma in Sanskrit means action, work or deed. It is one of the four ancient paths of Yoga.  When we work and live our lives in a selfless fashion, we help other souls and ours too. Karma Yoga is the path of self-transcending action. A path we all walk, albeit unknowingly or mindfully. Take mindful action, smile, send a note of appreciation, be kind to someone you dislike. The results might just amaze you.

Love your environment

1. Home

Now is the time to get involved with that DIY you’ve been meaning to do. If it’s a beast, consider the fun you could have getting loved ones to lend a helping hand. Even the smallest things, such as changing your table setting to reflect the best of summer, can make a perky difference.
Get Outdoors

2. Outdoors

It’s blooming wonderful outside. There are lots of communities organising fabulous events, sporting events and activities, festivals in all shapes and sizes. If smaller crowds are you thing, bring it home. Connect with family and friends by hosting your own mini festival. A BBQ or picnic to celebrate the season is a great opportunity to get creative with your themes.

3. People Power

What a privilege it is to surround yourself with wonderful people. People inspire people, so get connected with others who make you feel good. Think shiny happy people.
eat seasonally yogi yoga summer

4. Eating seasonally

Take a leaf out of Ayurveda philosophy. Eating locally and seasonally helps to sustain and support your local environment. It can be more cost effective on your wallet and tastes far better too. Superfoods including corn, tomatoes, strawberries and peaches are bang in season right now. Enjoy!

5. Outdoor Yoga

summer yogi outdoor yogaWarmer, longer sunny days are perfect for a spot of outdoor Yoga. Suggest to your teacher hosting a class outside, or start a Yoga club with family and friends. Part of the fun is picking a Shanti spot and enjoying what you love in the heart of Mother Nature.

 

A YOGI’S GUIDE TO BLOSSOMING WITH SUMMERThe relationship you have with your-self will last a lifetime, so make it count and acquire, retain and invest your energy wisely. Identify the aspects in your life that carry less value. If you can cut them out or adjust your priorities, you’ll find more energy and less stress, pathing the way for love, light and happiness.