Always Be Dancing

Yoga and Flamenco for Every/body & Mindful Book Reviews By Eve


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Meditation: Getting Started

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How does one start to meditate? I started meditating about 5 years ago. I wanted to start before that but just never sat down on my own and meditated. When I started, I had little knowledge of “how-to” meditate. I thought you needed to sit absolutely still, in total silence and think of nothing. Yeah….you can guess how well that went.

But overtime, it seemed to take hook. I was never sure if I was meditating correctly and often felt I was not doing it right or well, but I stuck at it and it stuck to me. First, I found that I needed to meditate in the morning, because if I waited until later in the day, it did not get done. So every morning, after I made breakfast for my son, I would sit on the other sofa and meditate…listening to him munch his bagel and gulp his milk. I felt like a pro! Look at me sitting here, not moving, blocking out the sounds around me….but I still felt like I was not doing it right and it was not “affecting” or “effecting” me correctly.  But I stuck to it. And it stuck to me. It was oddly satisfying and if I did not do it, I felt like I was missing something that I wanted. My brain wanted it. My body wanted it. My soul wanted it.

Enter Kundalini. In Kundalini, everything is organized and makes sense. The exercises have aim and purpose and are felt physically, mentally and energetically. There are physical movements or stillness encased by specific breathing patterns, chants and mudras. This allows for the seeing, the hearing and the sensing of of what’s happening  within minutes of starting a practice. The truth is in the doing. Here form really follow function. Kundlini fits all bodies, all sizes, all adaptations without getting lost in the “what my body should look like” thoughts. 

Also, Kundlini is a gold mine when it comes to varied meditations. Kundalini offers metal, physical and emotional distractions that ope the gateway for meditation that is wholly enjoyable and accessible. 

     Two Meditations to Start Your Journey:

                            Kirtan Kriya/ Sa Ta Na Ma Meditation

Kirtan Kriya, often referred to as SA TA NA MA meditation, is the most important meditation in Kundalini Yoga. If you can do only one meditation, this is it. It will readjust and align you to bring balance into your body, mind and spirit and thus your life. It is your teacher. It is your best friend. 

The bottom line is that this meditation works. All you have to do is do it. You can trust the process and the technology.

Directions:

Sit with a straight spine. Bring your mental focus to the brow point/3rd eye point.

Chant SA TA NA MA.

While chanting alternately press the thumb with the four fingers. Press hard enough to keep yourself awake and aware of the pressure. Keep repeating in a stable rhythm and keep the hand motion going throughout the whole meditation.

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SA press the thumb and the pointer or Jupiter finger together with pressure.
TA press the thumb and the middle or Saturn finger together.
NA press the thumb and the ring or Sun finger together.
MA press the thumb and the pinky or Mercury finger together.

The Jupiter/Pointer finger brings in knowledge, expands our field of possibilities and releases us from limitations.

The Saturn/Middle finger gives us patience, wisdom and purity.

The Sun/Ring finger gives us vitality and aliveness.

The Mercury/Pinky finger aids clear communication.

Visualize or feel each individual sound come in the crown chakra at the top of the head, down through the middle of the head and out to infinity through the third eye. This is very important and must be done with each sound. It is an essential part of the cleansing process. If this part of the meditation is not done, you may experience a headache.

While doing the meditation, you may experience pictures of the past come up like on a movie screen in your mind. Let them dance in front of your eyes and release them with the mantra. This is part of the cleansing of the subconscious mind. If emotions come up, you can also incorporate them in the chanting, i.e. if you feel anger then chant out the anger. Whatever you experience is OK. Do not try to avoid or control your experiences. Simply be with what is going on and go through it. It is all part of the cleansing process.

** Sa Ta Na Ma Meditation is becoming scientifically recognized as a powerful tool for preventing or stopping Alzheimer’s disease, increasing all aspects of cognitive function, (perception, thinking, reasoning and remembering) and reducing stress levels while improving short term memory.

                                          Morning Meditation

6 minutes version:

  • 1 min out-loud
  • 1 min whisper
  • 2 min in-head (can add tongue movements) with hand movements
  • 1 min whisper
  • 1 min out-loud.

This meditation can be done for 6-31 minutes. Just keep all the segments equal length (the silent section is repeated twice). It can really be done for as little as 3 minutes (30 sec, 30 sec, 1 min, 30 sec, 30 sec)

31 minute version:

  • 5 min out loud
  • 5 min whisper
  • 10 min in-head (tongue moving) with hand movement
  • 5 min whisper
  • 5 min out-loud
  • [1 min listen inside, hear the mantra, experience it. No hand movements.]

                                        Evening Meditation

                                      Sa Ta Na Ma Variation

3-30 minutes

Rest hands in lap. Fingers interlaced with the pads of the thumbs pressing into each other

Rest eyes gently looking at tip of nose; eyes may close.

Sniff in 4-counts, mentally saying Sa-Ta-Na-Ma.

Hold breath while mentally repeating the mantra 4 times.

Breath out through the nose in two strokes while mentally chanting Wahe/Guru. (Wahe/Wow! + Guru/Inner teacher = Cheers to my inner super hero!)

To end: Breath in for the count of 4. Hold breath for the count of 7. Breathe out through a circle mouth, making a whooshing sound, for the count of 8. Repeat 4-8x.

                                          Practice Timing:

3 minutes: Affects your circulation, blood chemistry and stability of the blood. The increased blood circulations begins, distributing enhanced neuroendocrine secretions throughout the body.

7 minutes: Brain patterns start to shift from the static of beta waves, to calmer alpha waves and ultimately to deep relaxing delta waves. Simultaneously, the magnetic force surrounding the body increases in strength.

11 minutes: The pituitary gland, glandular system and the nerves start to learn and change. The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems begin to accommodate the increased energy.

22 minutes: Anxiety producing thoughts in the subconscious begin to clear. Your three minds (negative, positive, and neutral) start to work together so your mental integration changes. 22 is the infinite number of longing and gives mastery of the mental realm.

31 minutes: Affects your whole mind and your aura. Endocrinological balance is achieved, as is balance of the chakra’s of the ethereal body. This balance persists throughout the day, and is reflected by changes in moods and behavior.

                                            Amount of days: 

11 days: 11 is the number of Infinity in the material world and conqueror of the physical realm. So it’s like the first step to break loose from the entanglement of the mind.

40 days: Helps to break negative habits that block you from the expansion possible through the Kriya or mantra, if done 40 days straight in a row

90 days: When you practice the Kriya or mantra for 90 days straight it will establish a new habit in your conscious and subconscious mind. It will change you in a very deep way.

120 days: When you commit to practice the Kriya or mantra for 120 days without skipping a day it will confirm the new habit of consciousness. The positive benefits of the Kriya get integrated permanently into your psyche.

1000 days: This will allow you to master the new habit of consciousness that the Kriya or mantra has promised. No matter what the challenge, you can call on this new habit to serve you.


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Today’s Accessible Yoga Set: It’s All About You

October 2, 2019

I am in the process of putting more of my yoga online, so bear with me. My next goal is to add voice-over to my videos so that people can be guided through the sets. Today’s set is, accompanied by my son practicing his sax, so enjoy!

Here is the video of the practice and below are all the various chair adaptations for the set. If you have a specific issue and would like a different adaptation, please comment and I will make poses for you.

In this set, the warm-up is timed to about three breaths per movement. I have done the 4 U’s at 5 min. each, but you can do anywhere between 1-11 min each (just remember all segments must be of equal time.) *Not videoed: 10 min. deep relaxation (Allow your body to fully sleep. “I am in a deep sleep. I do nothing”)

Breath Series 

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Part 1: Prosperity Meditation (3 min): Pictures 1 & 2

~It is so powerful in bringing prosperity that more than 11 minutes would be greedy. This meditation stimulates the mind, the moon center, and Jupiter. When Jupiter and the moon come together, there is no way in the world you will not create wealth.” -Yogi Bhajan
  • Alternately strike the sides of the hands together. When the palms are face down, the sides of the Jupiter (index) fingers touch, and the thumbs cross below the hands, with the right thumb under the left.
  • When the palms are face up, the Mercury (pinky) fingers and the Moon Mounds (located at the base of the palms) touch.
  • Mantra: Har. Chant continuously from the navel, using the tip of the tongue (pronounced “hu-duh”  or a rolled “rrrr”).

Part 2: I’ve Got It In My Sight/Caliber of Life Meditation. (3 min) Pictures 3-6.

~Removes depression & discouragement
  • Extend arms straight forward, parallel to ground. Elbows remain straight through the whole meditation.
  • Curl fingers of right hand into a fist. Extend thumb straight up.
  • Wrap fingers of left hand around right, so end of palms still touch and extend thumb straight up, so that both thumbs touch along their sides. There will be a tiny “v” between the tips of the two thumbs.
  • Focus eyes on this “v”. Look as if through a eagle eyes, seeing far away and seeing the “v”.
  • Inhale deeply 5 sec./ Exhale completely 5 sec./ Suspend breath out for 15 sec. (can increase hold to up to 1 min.)

Part 3: Ego Eradicator with Breath-of-Fire (3 min)

~Ego Eradicator opens the lungs, consolidates the magnetic field, and brings the brain hemispheres to a state of alertness. 

Posture: Raise arms up to a 60 degree angle. Keep elbows straight and the shoulders down. Apply Neck Lock. Curl fingertips onto the pads of the palms at the base of the fingers. Thumbs stretched back, pointing towards each other. Feel a rainbow streching over your head thumb tip to thumb tip.

Eyes: Eyes are closed.

Mental Focus: Focus above the head.

Breath: Breath of Fire

Time: Continue for 1 – 3 minutes.

To end: Inhale deeply and bring arms overhead with the thumb tips touching. Open the fingers (like moose antlers), exhale and relax the arms down in a wide arch, feeling the rainbow expand.

Part 4: Peaceful Heart (2 min)

Warm fuzzy happy glow for you

Cross one hand over the other at the heart (try right hand on top and then left the next time; notice). Breathe long and deep. Bring the positive energy into your heart. Share it.

Sun Salutation Variation with Warrior Series

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  • Mountain, Up Mountain, Look Up To Hands, but keep them straight up *First notice your feet. Step hip distance apart. Big toes are slightly turned in towards each other.  Knee is tracking the directions set by the line between second & third toes. Sit and stand a few times. Make sure the knee do not fold inwards or splay out; keep them aligned with your toe line.
  • Utkatasana, Flat Back (1/2 Way Lift), Forward Fold

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  • Lunge, Lunge w/ Arms Up, Low Lunge

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  • Plank var. 1, Plank var. 2
  • Downward Facing Dog var. 1, Downward Facing Dog var. 2

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  • Cobra, Upward Facing Dog

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  • Wide Legged Forward Bend, Twist var. 1, Twist var. 2, Twist var. 3

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  • Head Stand variations #1 fingers interlaced, pressing firmly on the crown of the head. This contraction helps to build strength in the shoulder complex.
  • **Headstands are invigorating and revitalizing, resulting in increased positive energy and mental vitality. Headstands also improve circulation and balance.

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  • Crescent Lunge Set-Up, Crescent Lunge **I found in this instance, that trying to turn my back foot out into Warrior 1 caused tweeking in my hips and obliques, so I chose to do Crescent Lunge, a straight back-leg.
  • Warrior 2, Archer, Dancing Warrior

Kriya/The Four U’s

Originally taught by Yogi Bhajan on July 5, 1984
This is the set of “U.” It invigorates you by adjusting your Pranic Body with your Auric Body in direct contrast with the Ardine. These are called the 4 U’s and they are “for you.” Anytime you do these, you need to do a deep relaxation afterwards.
“The ‘4 U’ kriya sets the nervous system to withstand pressures of society and challenges of times.  Do each posture for 11 minutes for 11 days without moving a muscle and this is said to create nerves strong as steel—’stainless steel forever.’ This kriya also works on eliminating fear and developing greater spinal flexibility. Different people will function at individual levels of development and capability. Therefore, though the full time for each posture is 11 minutes, practice according to your individual ability.”
-Mukta Kaur, SuperHealth

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  • U #1 variations

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  • U #2 variations

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U #3 & #4 variations


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Chair Yoga to Balance The Injured Body

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I was inspired to create a chair yoga sequence with the aim to create healing energy for realignment physically, mentally and emotionally for a friend of mine, who is recovering from a Tibial Plateau Fracture . Not only does a physical injury throw the body out of physical alignment, like the game Topple where every little shift away from center creates the need for the body to readjust itself to be balanced. The left compensates for the right, the right compensates for the left and back and forth it goes. Like in the game, though if too much weight is shifted to one side, it topples over. In the human body,  this can lead to other injuries, depression and general deterioration of health.

Yoga’s goal is to balance body, mind and spirit. It uses various modalities to affect the positive effect on the physical body, the emotional state, the state of consciousness and the energetic impression , but not solely through postures that are often unattainable for injured, stiff, elderly and physically disabled persons. I realize one of my gifts,  is to help bring movement and balance back to these bodies, inside and out. I feel my yoga creates a safe space for healing, flying, dancing….wholesome goodness to create a pathway for self-healing.

The Sequence (click here for video of the sequence)

  1. 5-Minute Breathing (each section 1 min; between each section, release the nostrils and breath deeply several times with both nostrils):
  • Breathe only with the left nostril (male, calming). Block of the right gently.
  • Breathe only with the right nostril (female, fiery). Block the left gently.
  • Breathe in with the left and out with the right, only.
  • Breathe on with the right and out with the left, only.
  • Alternate Nostril Breathing: In with the left, out with the right; in with the right, out with the left
  • If you have trouble inhaling or exhaling, with a finger, gently lift the area on your face, near the cheekbone, on the same side as the nostril. Lifting that area can open the sinus passage and allow for freer breath. You can notice this in the accompanying  video of the sequence. Before beginning the next exercise, take a moment to make sure your feet are aligned properly-big toes slightly in so that the outer edge of the foot is parallel with the outer edge of the mat. Feel the triangle beneath the foot between the pads of the big and little toes and the center of the heel. Notice that the knees should follow the same line created between the second and third toes.
  1. Spinal Flex (2-3 min)
  2. Suffi Grind/Coffee Grinder, both directions (2-2 min)Processed with VSCO with g3 preset
  3. Side Twists/Washing Machine (2 min)
  4. Shoulder Shrugs (2 min)
  5. Lazy Neck Rolls, both directions (1-1 min or 2-2 min)Processed with VSCO with g3 preset
  6. Alternate Leg Stretches (2 min)
  7. Life Nerve Stretch with Breath-of-Fire (BoF) , both sides (1-1 min or 2-2 min)
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  8. Downward Facing Dog (2 min)
  9. Bridge (2 min) or 12-26 times
  10. Ego Eradicator w/ BoF (1-3 min)Processed with VSCO with g3 preset
  11. Healing Meditation/Rest (5 min)

Play List:

  1. Triple Mantra by Bachan Kaur*
  2. Aeo (pts 1 & 2) by Brian Briggs
  3. Circle by Adam F.
  4. Expansions by Lonnie Liston Smith
  5. Brazilain Rhythm (Fearless Mix) by Mondo Grosso (esp. good for Breath of Fire)
  6. Life Is Something Special by NYC Peech Boys
  7. Bah Sama (Yoruba Soul Mix) (esp. good for Breath of Fire)
  8. Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung by Ajjet Kaur**

*Aad Guray Nameh, Jugaad Guray Nameh Sat Guray Nameh, Siri Guroo Dayv-ay Nameh  (Surrounds you with a power shield of protection)

Aad Such Jugaad Such Hai Bhee Such Nanak Hosee Bhee Such (Clears away obstacles that block your personal growth)

Aad Such Jugaad Such Hai Bhai Such Nanak Hosee Bhai Such (All obstacle remover)

**Ra Ma Da Sa, Sa Say So Hung is the healing meditation used to generate healing energy for friends, family, ourselves, the planet.

 


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Always Be Dancing: 40+ Day Kundalini Kriya and Meditation Series

My day starts with an 11-minute Sa Ray Sa Sa meditation.

This version is to be practiced on the Full Moon, but I was so inspired by this meditation for Saturday’s full moon (5/4/2019) that I am continuing with it, for at least 40 days.

This version of the meditation is a key to opening the flow of Kundalini. The new awareness will give you the authority to make the right choices to conquer the ugliness of life. You will be peaceful and secure. *Yeah, I need this!

Mantra:

Sa Ray Sa Sa, Sa Ray Sa Sa, Sa Ray Sa Sa, Sa Rang

Har Ray Har Har, Har Ray Har Har, Har Ray Har Har, Har Rang

Mudra and Movement:

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  1. Start with hands flat together in Prayer Pose at the Navel Point. Breathe in.
  2. Sa Re Sa Sa, ascend the palms up the center front of the torso passing all the chakras, about 4·6 inches in front of the body

*Passing by Heart Center, begin to open the hand mudra to resemble a lotus flower; fully open by the time the hands reach the level of the Brow Point. (The open lotus has the base of the palms together, the little finger tips touch and the thumb tips touch. The rest of the fingers are spread open to express an open lotus flower.)

*The full path up coordinates with: Sa Ray Sa Sa, Sa Ray Sa Sa, Sa Ray Sa Sa, Sa Rang

4. Har Re Har Har turn the fingers to point down, with the back of the hands touching

*It is a reverse Prayer Pose. Slowly bring this mudra down the chakras in rhythm with the music until the fingertips reach the Navel Point on the sounds Har Rang. Then turn them around and begin again.

*The full path down coordinates with: Har Ray Har Har, Har Ray Har Har, Har Ray Har Har, Har Rang

Time: 11 – 31 minutes.

Here is Nirinjan Kaur’s FANTASTICAL version!

 

             Meditation for Prosperity II (Har Har)

                                          Posture: Sit in Easy Pose, with a light chin lock 

                                  Eyes: Focus at the tip of the nose, eyes are 9/10th closed.

Mudra: Elbows are by the sides, forearms are at a 45° angle, with the fingers at the level of the throat. The exercise begins with the palms facing down.

Alternately strike the sides of the hands together. When the palms are face down, the sides of the Jupiter (index) fingers touch, and the thumbs cross below the hands, with the right thumb under the left.

When the palms are face up, the Mercury (pinky) fingers and the Moon Mounds (located at the base of the palms) touch.

Yogi Bhajan said that the thumbs crossing in this way (right under left) is the key to the meditation.

Mantra: Har

Chant continuously from the navel, using the tip of the tongue (pronounced “hu-duh”).

Time: Continue for 3-11 minutes. To end, sit quietly and reflect on the vibration of the mantra. 

Set for the Nervous System and Glandular Balance*

This kriya is for reducing stress and fortifying the mind and body to effectively respond to change in a healthy way.

*I am doing all the exercises in this kriya for 3 minutes each. It is a very powerful kriya and after doing the full sequence on day-one, I decided to break it down so my body and mind are more prepared and can sustain this for a 40 or more day challenge. Please remember to breathe and rest between each section. I find that to end, I breathe in through my nose, with closed eyes, I roll my eyes up to look at third eye, and hold my breath for 10-15 seconds. I also make sure to have a gentle neck lock and root lock**.  I like to notice the colors that appear before my “eyes”-noting their relation to the chakras. I then continue to breathe normally and rest for another 2-3 breaths before I continue on. 

**I describe the sensation of the neck lock as a subtle lifting-up behind the ears to create a long back of the neck and of the root lock as a gentle pulling-up on the muscles of the “seat” as if to try and lift yourself off the floor.

  1. Sit in Easy Pose with the arms extended straight out to the sides parallel to the ground. The palms are facing up. Begin to move only your Saturn finger (the middle finger) up and down rapidly. Using a powerful breath, inhale as you raise the finger and exhale as you lower it. Continue rhythmically, coordinating this movement with the breath for 7 minutes. This exercise stimulates the pituitary to create a balance between the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems.
  2. Remain is Easy Pose. Stretch the arms out in front parallel to the ground. Place the left hand over the right interlacing the fingers with the palms facing down. Begin to rapidly swing your arms from side to side, moving the head and neck in the same direction as the arms. Keep the elbows straight. Continue coordinating the movement with a powerful breath for 5 minutes. This exercise makes the body very flexible. It also strengthens the chest muscle and stimulates the lymph nodes in that area.
  3. Sitting in Easy Pose, extend the arms straight out in front, parallel to the ground. Make fists of the hands with the thumbs tucked inside touching the fleshy mound below the little finger. Keeping the arms and hands straight, bring the left arm up as the right arm goes down. Continue alternately moving the arms up and down forcefully, coordinating the movement with forceful breathing for 8 minutes. This exercise works to balance the parathyroid gland and stimulates weight loss.
  4. Butterfly Pose. Sit with the soles of the feet pressed together. Draw the feet into the groin, keeping the knees as close to the floor as possible. Interlace the fingers and place the hands in the lap.

Inhale and raise the arms up over the head while simultaneously drawing the knees up towards the center of the body. Exhale and lower the knees and arms down to the original position. Continue rhythmically coordinating the movement with powerful breathing for 8 minutes. This exercise balances the prana and apana, and sets the navel point.

 

Una Tarde en España/An afternoon of Spanish music, dance and tapas!

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An Evening of Culture: Fundraiser for Natick Cultural District

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“An Evening of Culture” fundraiser

Date: April 6th 
 
Time: 7:00 pm, cocktail hour with appetizers and 8:00 pm approx. entertainment will begin.

I will be dancing Alegrías accompanied by Anthony “Tiriti” Tran on guitar.

 
Location: 12 Highland Street.  Delbridge Center for the Performing Arts at the Walnut Hill School.
This fundraiser supports all the great cultural offerings we provide free to the public each year. If you want more info. about us please visit our website:  www.natickcenter.org.
 
Now, a few details about the night:
 
Tickets are $60 per person and $75 at the door.


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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: I am Bear & Bear Moves by Ben Bailey Smith

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I Am Bear by Ben Bailey Smith; Illustrated by Sav Akyüz

Bear is a fun-loving, mischief making, goodhearted bear. This beautiful read-aloud picture book, with its beautiful bold and bright graffiti-esque illustrations, is both Rap-able and rhyme-able. I highly recommend this fun book that craftily adds in a solid basis for helping kids build strong language skills. This book is fun, funny and fa-fa-fabulous (wicky-wicky-flash)! Plus, there is a wonderful accompanying (free) music video which only adds to the rocking, rhyming fun. 

Bear Moves by Ben Bailey Smith; Illustrated by Sav Akyüz 616N3FcameL._SX463_BO1,204,203,200_

In this rollicking sequel to I Am Bear, Bear Moves’s narrative combines strong percussive rhythms with fun, descriptive action words and beautiful, bold, graffiti-esque illustrations to encourage the reader to get up and bust-a-move. I call this the ultimate “Rise-and-Shine” book! Everybody, children and adults alike, will have a good hearty laugh at the word play in this fun, laugh-out-loud, shake-your-tail-feather book.
Thank you to Candlewick Press for sending me these books. All opinions expressed are my own.