15 Minute Mini Vacation

vacation

Friends, how about that Daylight Saving Time? I don’t know about you, but our house is full of what would seem to be hungover people. It is not pretty.

Yesterday was National Napping Day and I celebrated with a 15 minute mini vacation because I was simply too tired/wired to really nap and sometimes there just isn’t enough time or energy to do a whole yoga practice.

Are you in?

15 Minute Mini Vacation

You will need:

15 minutes alone

three pillows or rolled towels or bolster plus two blocks

this Tara Brach podcast and something to listen to it on

Do this:

Set yourself up in reclined cobbler’s pose – a pillow under spine/head, soles of feet together, knees splayed out resting on pillows or towels.

Here’s a picture:

Listen to the podcast.

Breathe.

Ta da! A 15 minute mini vacation.

I feel much better now. Don’t you?

If you’d like an entire restorative practice and are in Sacramento, come on by It’s All Yoga at 7:15 tonight.

Image 1: pinterest

Image 2: VanderbiltHealth.com

8 Tips To Bring More Relaxation Into Your Life

relax post it

When was the last time you relaxed?

I mean, really relaxed?

Like turn the phone off, shut the laptop and watched the leaves swaying in the breeze relaxed?

It’s probably been a while because most of us simply feel like we don’t have the time to relax.

Or the idea of relaxing brings up voices in your head that sound a lot like “relaxing is for vacation only!” or “that’s for lazy people!” or my favorite – “I’m too damn busy to relax!“.

Between back-to-back meetings, driving carpool, commuting to work, liking your brother-in-law barber’s vacation photos on Facebook, making dinner and watching the latest episode of the most talked about TV show, there isn’t much time for just lounging around. Most of us spend so much time going, going, going that we forget to stop and just be for a while.

And if we’re really honest, we really like being busy. Or at least feel trapped by being busy and we’re just not sure how to jump off the treadmill of modern life.

So rather than wring our hands lamenting about our collective state of busyness, my challenge is to schedule in some relaxation time this month.

Seriously.

Schedule some down time/relaxation for 20 minutes a day.

If you are suddenly very irritated with me and how I don’t understand how busy you are, then you may need to double your relaxation time this month.

There is an old Zen saying:

“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day—unless you are too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

Where will you find these 20 minutes for relaxation?

Mostly I find mine when I close my laptop and/or switch off whatever screen is captivating my attention. Turn off the Facebook, friends!

It also helps to write it in your schedule as an appointment to yourself. If is feels silly writing “relax” on your calendar, feel free to give it a code name.

Tips To Bring  More Relaxation Into Your Life:

  • While on transit to and from work, put your phone in your bag and close your eyes for a few minutes to just breathe.
  • If you drive to work, turn off the sounds. No music, no podcast, no nothing. Enjoy the silence for the entire drive.
  • If you have an office you could close the door, silence the phone and massage your face for a few minutes.
  • Sit by the river/lake/stream/pond/urban body of water and listen to the birds.
  • Lay on the grass and watch the leaves flutter in the breeze.
  • Make snow angels if you like that sort of thing.
  • Meditate using a mantra. Here’s mine.

Of course, you could take a restorative yoga class. Or you could practice one restorative yoga pose at home before you go to sleep. Here’s one of my favorites.

What are other ways to relax? Do you schedule your relaxation? What are your feelings on relaxation?

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Image Source: Just Relax 97/365 by SashaW on Flickr (cc)

Savasana: A Love Story

savasana a love story

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to talk to some Yoga Basics students about coming to my classes. Here’s what I told them.

Savasana: A Love Story

During the first year or so of going to yoga classes around town, I fell in love. That overwhelming feeling of I-just-can’t-get-enough kind of love. An obsession, really.

At the beginning, I didn’t know its name. I called it “that lying down part at the end”. My secret wish was that each class I took  would end with “that lying down part”.

I fell in love with Savasana.

What’s to love?

I loved that feeling of my body letting go of tension, releasing the urge to work,  and falling into relaxation and rest at the end of class. Even if we only were there for a few minutes, that was the part I liked the most. I felt its power of rest like nothing I’d ever experienced, except maybe for an actual nap.

After each class, my mind felt calmer, my body relaxed and for a brief time, I felt peaceful.

For a super Type-A, pitta-deranged, smart Alec with amazing perfectionist tendencies, peaceful was something I’d never felt before.

And I liked it.

So I kept going back, week after week, hoping that we would end with “that lying down part”.

It surprises me now – a decade plus past my first class – that not one time, in any class I took that first year, did any teacher mention that every class ends with “that lying down part”.

Imagine my delight when I finally asked someone and they explained that EVERY yoga class ends that way!

To this day I love Savasana.

In fact, I’ve dedicated my yoga teaching to the lying down part! We pretty much do that the whole time in my classes. And while, yes, it can be hard to do – it is worth it.

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Interested in starting a love affair with “that lying down part”?  Check out my class schedule and come rest with me.

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What yoga pose would you write a love story about?

Photo credit: Robert Bejil Photography on Flickr (cc)

Meditation Mantra Or How To Stay In The Moment Without Losing Your Marbles

Does your mind become really active and agitated in quiet yoga poses and when you sit in meditation? Like there is a pack of wild cracked-up monkeys living it up in there?

Me too.

My secret to not losing my marbles during quiet times is to give my brain a job to do while I am in a restorative pose or sitting for meditation. My now employed monkey mind brain can do a job while I keep my focus on the present moment – where the happiness lives.

What I say:

May I be filled with lovingkindness

May I be well

My I be peaceful and at ease

May I be happy.

I repeat this until my mind settles down or until my sit/pose is finished. Some days I am still saying it when the timer goes off and other days I am able to settle in and focus.

Why focus on my own well-being instead of wishing these things for others?

It’s exactly like what they say when traveling with someone who needs help on an airplane, take care of yourself first so you can take care of others.

When I say it:

I use this mantra during my sits and long stays on my mat. I also say it while I am driving somewhere stressful or on my way to work in the car or when I am wanting to punch the person at the grocery store in front of me in the head. These words also come in handy when I am lying down with my daughter wishing more than anything that she’d go to sleep already.

Basically when I feel my body get stressed out because of modern life, I try to quiet my monkey mind by repeating this mantra.

How to spread the love into the world:

After I feel all full of love for myself, I substitute the name of a person I love dearly where I had been saying I. Now that I’ve been practicing with this mantra for a few years, I am able to send some lovingkindness to others. Needless to say, it took me a really, really long time to get there.

That’s how I stay in the moment without losing my marbles.

What’s your secret? How do you stay in the present? Do you use a mantra? 

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Based on teachings from Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living by Pema Chodron and Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg

Image source: We Heart It.

7 Steps to Jump Start Your Meditation Practice

1. Read every meditation book you can get your hands on.

2. Think about meditation. A lot.

3. Sign up for a group meditation.

4. Collect meditation accessories – bolster, block, blankets, scarf, cushion, timer, candle, mantra, essential oils, CDs.

5. Check Facebook, Twitter and Google Reader to see if you are missing anything.

6. Check your phone. In case you missed a call.

7. Sit down, set the timer, press start.

SIT. {Really the ONLY step necessary}.

5 minutes daily to start.

We can do anything for 5 minutes a day. Even listen to the crazy people screaming in your head.

Image Source 1: We Heart It

Image Source 2: We Heart It.

Clearly this is my reminder to myself to sit.

Do you have a meditation practice?

Do tell me all about it.

You may also like: Tips and Tricks for Starting and Maintaining a Daily Meditation Practice.

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What I’m Excited About: Sacramento Edition

So many good things going on locally that I feel the need to share.

My friends Amanda from Urban Almanac and Christine from Stinky Buddha have started a mindful meditation/discussion group. The first meeting is tonight.

It’s All Yoga is having Spring Swap Asana on Saturday, April 21 – at the studio. Women’s gently used, still in style, clothes, shoes and accessories.

Check out the Facebook invite and bring your friends.

Play and Stay and Baby and Me Rhyme Time at the Robbie Waters Branch of the Sacramento Public Library is totally worth the drive to the Pocket from Midtown.

Tuesday and Thursdays – Open play time starts at 10:15 and goes to 11.

11-11:20 or so is story time and if your kid doesn’t nap until later the toys come back out until noon.

It’s completely FREE and always filled with delightful tiny people and their caregivers.

What are you excited about?

In Case You Missed It Edition! Volume 30

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Each week I’ll give you links to posts that made me laugh, cry, think or at least raise an eyebrow. Please click the links and check out the posts. You may find something that rocks your world too.

Leave me some feedback in the form of comments below on what you liked, what you hated and what you’d like to see more of. I’m here to help you find the best of what is online.

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Compressed family time this weekend. 24 hours round-trip to Texas. So happy I was there for my niece and nephew’s big days and to hand-deliver Mother’s Day cards.

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My Best Of…

You all know of my huge blog crush on Pink of Perfection, right? Well Sarah went on a yoga retreat and reported about it in the 6 Things I Learned On A Yoga Retreat. Totally spot on.

Staying Green and Healthy When Time Is Running Short – um, sign me up. I couldn’t click this fast enough.\

The High Cost of Low Teacher Salaries from Dave Eggers in the NYTimes.

Why You NEED to Get Up Earlier (And How To Do It) found on Twitter via @sarahschaale

Terry Gross talked education this week on Fresh Air.

Michelle is offering an online meditation class which starts tomorrow. Don’t miss out!

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That is the In Case You Missed It Edition for this week, folks.

Remember to click the links and leave some comments. This is a conversation, you know.

In Case You Missed Edition Archives -click it to see them all.