Why We Don’t Meditate and How to Get Over It 

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The international Mindful in May campaign has inspired me to dedicate May to meditation and to sharing with you the useful tips and information I’ve learned over the years that have helped me develop a meditation practice.

Mediation has improved my life in so many ways and has become one of my most valued personal tools for health and self care. That said I still find myself missing meditations, hitting obstacles to my practice and understand the struggle with consistency.

We can talk about meditation all day long, but results come from actually doing it. So before I launch into the benefits of meditation and dork out on neuroscience details I thought it more valuable to discuss what gets in the way of meditation and how to move past that.

Most Common Reasons for Not Meditating 

  1. I don’t have the time to mediate. 

I get it, we all lead full lives and time is the most precious asset we have, so who has time to just sit there with there eyes closed doing nothing, right?!

First of all, before you puff your chest up and say “yay!”, take a moment to think about all the times in your day spent unfocused and therefore unproductive and wasting time? Or getting sucked into an internet time warp (thanks Facebook and Youtube). Or obsessing on something you really wish you weren’t wasting your time thinking about?

I’ve found that even taking 5 minutes to meditate makes me so much more focused on what really matters and efficient that I magically seem to have more time on my hands AND get just as much done.

You don’t have to mediate for 20 minutes or sit in silence for 10 days to feel the effects, you just have to do it.

I believe you can make a huge impact with even one minute of meditation. Just close your eyes, take a deep breath, count to 60 and let yourself slow down for a minute. Do this multiple times through the day in moments when you’d otherwise be wasting your time and you’ll start to find more time than you ever realised you had.

  1. I don’t know how to mediate.

Meditation can be as complex or simple as you want to make it. What I’ve found over the years is that simple is often the most effective, not to mention practical.

Meditation unfortunately is sometimes shrouded in cryptic ritual and seems only for the enlightened or initiated. But the truth is, it’s for everyone, it’s right at your finger tips and can be super easy.

The easiest first step is to sit comfortably (you don’t have to sit on the floor in lotus, just find a chair, support your back, lay down, whatever supports your body).

Then close your eyes and pay attention to your breath. You can also repeat one word (called a mantra) like “Aum” or “Love” or “I am.”

Don’t worry too much about getting it right, the word or breath are simply vehicles to focus the mind and in so doing create a sense of stillness.

Yes, thoughts will come up, that’s natural, no problem (more on that next blog). The key is to let them come and then let them go, don’t hold on to the thoughts. Keep gently and quietly coming back to the focus on your breath or mantra.

Sit for 5 to 20 minutes a day and this alone will have a huge impact on your nervous system, mind, body and life.

  1. I can’t sit still and I get anxious.

First of all you don’t have to sit perfectly still.

Try not to fidget and move around too much, that become a distraction, but be easy with yourself. If your foot goes numb just shift until you’re more comfortable and then comeback to your simple focus of breath or mantra.

Stuff comes up a lot in meditation, like anxiety, sadness, frustration, worries and memories. This is actually part of the benefit of meditation. I like to think of it as psychic digestion. We are giving our subconscious an opportunity to process the experiences of life, and that can bring up a whole lot of feelings.

Again, the key is to let them go. Then gently and quietly come back to your breath or mantra. This is called releasing Samskara, and one of the greatest benefits of a meditation practice.

  1. I forget to mediate.

We want to make mediation a habit, and forming a habit doesn’t just happen in some haphazard way.

Habits need to be triggered by something that reminds us to do them. Many of our daily habits are triggered subconsciously, but if we want to form a new habit we can consciously choose something to trigger it.

Think of things you do every day, like put on the kettle, brush your teeth, take your makeup off at the end of the day, go for coffee in the afternoon.

Choose one that make sense to you and make that your trigger for meditation. Write it down. For example, when I put the kettle on in the morning that reminds me to sit down and meditate (even if it’s just for 5 minutes). I even used to have a sticky note on my kettle to remind me.

  1. I don’t see the point. 

What’s the point of anything if it’s not connected to your spirit, heart and purpose? To me, meditation is all about FEELING the connection to your highest self, but it also has an endless list of medical, physical and psychological benefits.

To  name a few:

  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Improves digestion
  • Generates peace, calm and happiness
  • Increases mental clarity and creativity
  • Reduces activity of viruses and emotional distress
  • It lowers oxygen consumption and decreases respiratory rate.
  • Slow aging process

The list goes on, for more motivation check out 100 Beneftis of Meditation or 20 Scientific Reasons to Start Meditating Today.

I hope this has helps you overcome some of your hurtles to meditation! As part of Mindful in May I’ll be sharing posts all about Meditation, stay tuned for next week’s blog debunking common misunderstandings about how to meditate.

If you want to support my Mindful in May Charity page and help bringing water to impoverished communities in Uganda the world and myself will be grateful for your generosity!

As a thank you to all those who donate to the charity I’ll be sending a series of free meditation recordings that I’ve made. Thanks in advance for your support!

I’ll also be hosting a free group meditation and potent discussion about how to make meditation part of your life at Qi Yoga in Freshwater on the 31st at 7pm. Mark your calendars and see you there!

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3 Tips to Use Your Brain Better

Unknown-1Last week on my blog we learned about some fantastic neuroscience findings regarding the mind and body that remind us of our tremendous potential for self healing and creating the life we desire:

  1. We continue to develop new brain cells all through adulthood, meaning we can change patterns, learn new skills and even heal brain damage throughout life.
  2. Our heart and digestive tract have independent nervous systems to the brain, often sending more signals to the brain than the other way around, meaning the body is not just the puppet of the brain, but is in a dynamic dialogue.
  3. Our genes are triggered to express by environmental stimuli, so even if we have a genetic predisposition we can reduce the likelihood of that gene expressing by being mindful about environmental stimuli (like food, thoughts, exercise and exposure to toxins).

This week I want to look at a few practical ways to put that knowledge to use.

  1. Keep Trying New Things & Learning 

Staying in the same old routine dulls the brain and can keep us stuck in undesirable patterns. When ever we learn something new the brain is forced to fire differently, creating new and different neurological connections.

Dr. Joe Dispenza explains, learning is forging new synaptic connections, and every time you learn something new your brain physically changes. Nerve cells that fire together wire together, and as you begin to learn new information you biologically wire that into your brain architecture.

The mind is the brain in action. When ever we make the brain work differently, we’re changing our mind. Changing our mind means changing our experience of life, but if we stay stuck in the same old routines this is unlikely to happen.

So get out there and try something new! Next time you’re in a new yoga pose and feel silly or frustrated remember the effect it will have on shifting other mental patterns, generating new synaptic connections and cognitive ability could be life changing!

  1. Relax, The Saber Tooth Tiger is Extinct  

Stress is one of the biggest causes of disease in our modern world mostly because people do not know how to turn off the stress response in their body.  Over time this leads to adrenal fatigue, poor sleep, bad digestion, clouded thinking, reduced functioning of all bodily systems and ultimately disease.

Evolutionarily the stress response, also known as fight, flight or freeze response, saved us from things like sabre tooth tigers. When we’re in danger this response triggers blood to rushed into our limbs, eyes and our cerebellum or primitive brain, and away from our organs, frontal lobe and neocortex, the areas of logic, creativity and self awareness.

When we’re stressed out about work or life, or overstimulate ourselves with caffeine, the brain receives the same chemical messages as if we were in a life threatening situation, like being chased by a sabre tooth tiger.

The truth is, rarely are we in such danger, but the brain and body don’t know the difference between real danger or perceived danger. It errs on the side of caution and sends the adrenals into overdrive.

So what to do? Recognise that stress is a choice. As mentioned in my previous blog, we can observe our own thoughts, neuroscience calls this meta-cognition. Next time you find yourself in a stressful situation and getting all worked up, heart racing, can’t think clearly try to catch yourself and ask, is this really life threatening? Do I really need to stress out about this so much?

An easy way to diffuse stress and shift into the relaxation response is to take a few deep breaths and calm the heart rate. The Heart Math Institute calls the coherence. When the heart rate lowers it’s telling the brain, “Don’t worry, we’re safe, the tiger is gone, no need to trigger stress chemicals.” Moving the breath and body in a mindful way as well as meditation also turn off the stress response.

  1. Imagine, Visualise & Meditate on What you Want 

The fascinating thing about the body-brain connection is that it can’t tell the difference between real or imagined experiences. Simply thinking about the thing that stresses us out can send us into  a stress response. Or, simply imagining falling in love with someone can create a whole cascade of chemical reactions from the Limbic system generating emotions.

The point is, our body responds to our thoughts, even if they are imagined. Now this can be very very useful, or very very detrimental. If we’re constantly thinking negative stressful thoughts, this is how we’re going to feel. On the other hand, if we choose to think more positively, we’ll feel more positive.

Remember, nerves that fire together wire together. So if we’ve had a negative thought pattern for a long time it means we’ve neurologically wired together strong networks for this thought pattern and it’s much easier to keep using those connections than forge new ones. But we can forge new connections! And the more we think in the way we want to the stronger those connections become. The less we repeat an old pattern, the weaker those connections become.

Dr. Joe Dispenza says that learning is creating new connections, and remembering is maintaining them. You can choose which patterns you want to maintain, and which you want to let deteriorate.

Great ways to shift thought patterns include visualisation or imaging the new way you want to react to a situation before it happens. This is sometimes called mental rehearsal and a common practice among elite athletes because it’s been show to greatly improve performance. Apply this to any new way you want to act or feel and you’ll literally be rewiring your brain so that it becomes easier to act, think and feel the way you want.

Practical Ayurveda for Yoga Teacher with Morgan Webert

30 hour Continuing Education

17 April – 15 May, Fridays 12-6pm

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Pressing the Annual Pause Button 

Unknown-1 “When we cultivate the discipline to pause, it becomes possible for us to make a choice that is outside our normal habit pattern. And it is in breaking through these entrained patterns that we can begin to experience a more liberated way of being. Gradually we become the freedom that we previously longed for.” Donna Farhi

This week while flipping through one of my favourite yoga books, “Bringing Yoga To Life” by Donna Farhi, I came across this underlined passage and it reminded me of exactly why I do all of the yoga practices I do, but particularly reinforced why I detox.

I see detoxing as pressing the annual pause button. A time to stop the “entrained patterns” as Fahri puts it, look at what they are exactly, and then consciously decide how, what or if any of them need changing so that I may live in a more liberated and happy way.

Fahri says what happens in the pause between longing for a feeling of freedom and how we respond to that longing is worth consideration because it is in the pause that we make a choice.

One of the most simple yet profound skills I’ve learned through practicing yoga is to take a deep breath before acting. We learn to do this in the yoga class room by slowing down, listening to the breath and then making conscious movements…and not only does it generate a beautiful grace, control and strength, but also a peace of mind and steady nervous system that is palpable.

The longer I practice yoga the better I get at taking a deep breath, a pause, in hard or intense moments of life, and then moving through them in a more graceful and conscious way.

But that pause, that moment of non action and just looking at what is, can be really uncomfortable.  In nanoseconds we may experience and feel anxiety, depression, unbound enthusiasm, fear, love, longing, aversion…so many powerful emotions. What ever they are it is their potency that often makes us feel uncomfortable and want to rush into a decision that gets us out of experiencing those strong feelings.

So often we’re launched into reactiveness just to escape the intensity of our feelings. On a day to day basis it may happen when we come home from work at night and feel lonely or overwhelmed and without thinking pour a drink, flip on the T.V., over eat or snap at our partner.

All of these little moments of unconscious reactions end up creating habits that we can become trapped by. Rather than listening the the message of the emotions which guide us to our deepest desires and life purpose we become trapped in patterns of avoiding them.

What would happen if we instead stopped, paused, and asked what would true satisfy us? Well, we might just discover the answer!

In previous detoxes when I’ve slowed down my life, created more me time for just a few weeks, stopped the habits like overstimulation, overeating and overexerting that lead me away from feeling all my deeper feeling — when I just paused normal life and looked within — I found answers and pathways to my hearts desire, to my inner power, my life-force.

Fahri says, “When we contain rather than constantly discharge [avoid] our feeling state, we allow ourselves to feel completely. In feeling completely we re-experience our aliveness and the source of that aliveness.”

This is why I detox. Yes, it is to cleanse my body and clear my mind, but these I do in order to re-experience my aliveness and the source of that aliveness within me.

Each time I detox I feel more and I also see the contrast of what is causing me to feel dull, low energy or foggy in my mind and intentions.

The seeing is uncomfortable at first, but the truth is, the long term experience of living without that life-force energy connection is more uncomfortable.

Fahri also talks about how this practice of pausing reminds us that we are not all the things we experience. When we pause we connect to our observer mind and remember our true identity is the part within us that does not change, the soul or purusa as it’s called in Sanskrit.

The perspective shifts to, “I feel anxious right now, but I am not this anxiety. I have the habit of emotional eating right now, but I am not that habit.”

There is so much freedom generated when we remember this! I always fell like a weight is lifted off my shoulders when I re-identify with my pure essence rather than the momentary life experience. And again, this is a huge part of detoxing. Clearing out the self identity that doesn’t serve us, and reconnecting to our identity as pure, powerful, conscious beings.

My New Years Yoga Detox starts tomorrow and I’m so looking forward to this journey, this reconnection to the source of my aliveness, and to sharing the journey with others. It makes such a  difference to support and be supported by others begin brave enough to pause and look a little deeper.

If you can join we’d love to have you, and if not I’ll be keeping you posted in my blogs about the experience.

Losing Goal Mojo Already? 

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It’s the middle of January and you might still be on the motivation high of new intentions and goals. But, if you’ve already felt that little twinge of resistance and low motivation creep up, or know it’s coming, you’ll want to read the rest of this blog.

And, you’ll want to know losing motivation is normal, but that doesn’t mean your doomed to drop your goal.

Over the past decade plus of being in the health and wellness industry I’ve worked with thousands of people and heard all about their health aspirations, frustrations and challenges.

I’ve seen people rush to change their life 180 degrees to only crash and burn a short while later.

I’ve seen how nearly everyone struggles with consistency of practice.

I’ve heard people tell me they want to get healthier, stronger, clearer, meditate more, do more yoga, eat better, sleep better, just feel better…but they just don’t know where to begin.

I’ve heard a lot of people tell me about their self esteem issues and how trying to make positive change in their life ends up making them feel not good enough and even worse about themselves.

The truth is, I myself have struggled with all of these issues.

I’ve also seen and experienced breakthroughs. 

I’ve seen people totally transform their health and happiness, make leaps and bounds of progress along the path of living a happier more liberated and energised life and find lasting, lifestyle change through the yoga path.

I know I’ve also found this, and when I look back over 5, 10, 15 years I really see how much the practice and wisdom of yoga has changed my life.

I know one thing, the healthier I am the happier I am — and I know that we all feel this way.

So, why when this is so obvious, do we struggle starting and sticking to the habits that make us feel healthy and happy?

There are a lot of answers to this question, and lots of debate, so maybe the better question is: What works? What makes us stick to the goals and habits we want? What are the people having breakthroughs doing?

While studying for my yoga health coaching certification we learned a lot about the latest research on habit science, a field dedicated to answering just these questions, and I gained some really valuable insights into why some parts of the yoga path work so well. Two of which I want to share with you to stay on track with your intentions for the year.

Identity Based Goals v Results Based Goals 

The habit science research shows that when we start with identity based goals we’re much much more likely to stick to them. Where as if we set just results based goals we’re highly likely to drop them after a while.

Here’s what James Clear, a habit science blogger says about it and why the two have very different impacts on us:

“What we do now is a mirror image of the type of person we believe we are (either consciously or subconsciously). Our current behaviours are simply a reflection of our current identity. So, the first step in building lasting habits is focusing on creating a new positive identity.”

Sankalpa is a traditional part of yoga practice that helps us create identity based goals by making positive affirmation like, “I am vibrant, clear and grounded.” The practice is to repeat this daily.

The more you chew on this identity, the more you not only believe it, but also act based on it. You start to live up to that identity effortlessly simply because it feels right, and this guides you toward achieving your heartfelt desires and goals.

SET A SANKALPA:

1. Know that you already are who you need to be to fulfil your life’s purpose.

You are good enough! Yoga philosophy recognises that we each have a shinning light of divine power and wisdom within us, called our purusa, and most of our yoga practices simply work to get rid of anything covering that light. Yoga is the process of purification and getting rid of the gunk (mental, physical, emotional or lifestyle) that dims the light (one reason we detox).

Unlike typical resolutions that are based around a need to change ourselves, a sankalpa reinforces the best of who we already are – our true nature.

2. Ask, “how do I want to feel?” Listen to your heart-felt desires.

“We have the procedures of achievement upside down. We go after the stuff we want to have and accomplish outside of ourselves, and we hope and pray that we’ll feel great when we get there. It’s backwards. And it’s burning us out. 

What if, first, we got clear on how we actually want to feel in our life, and then we set our intentions?” Danielle Laporte, Desire Map

Let your vision of yourself and the world be big, and think about who and how you want to be in that vision. How does it makes you feel? Begin to list qualities of that vision and observe how your heart space feels as you list them. Some will deeply resonate with you, write them down.

3. Create a positive “I am” statement using a few of the words that most resonate from above. 

Looking at the qualities from above as well as some of the intentions you’ve already set, can you find an underlying desire that unifies them all?  Now make that an ‘I am’ statement in the present tense. For example, “I am happy, healthy and peaceful.” Don’t worry too much about the wording, this statement will likely change over time, but find a simple clear statement to start with that feels good when you say it.

I am…

This statement will anchor you in your true light and guide you through specific goal setting as well as moment to moment decisions — and keep you feeling how you want to feel!

PRACTICE: Repeat this statement before and/or after yoga/mediation. Paste it on sticky notes around your house. Repeat it to yourself when you feel down/anxious/overwhelmed etc.

Tips From the Habit Experts & Common Mistakes to Avoid 

  • Set a schedule for your goals rather than a deadline. “There is one common mistake we make when it comes to setting goals. The problem is this: we set a deadline, but not a schedule.The problem with this strategy is that if we don’t achieve the arbitrary timeline that we set in the beginning, then we feel like a failure…even if we are better off than we were at the start. The end result, sadly, is that we often give up if we don’t reach our goal by the initial deadline.” -James Clear
  • Make it so easy you can’t say no. Often we make our goals so big that when we set out to act on them they feel so daunting we give up. If we start with small steps that we can’t say no to then we actually act on our intentions and move in the direction we desire. Over time we’ll reach that big goal without getting overwhelmed. Small, continuous change = success & sustainability!

Yoga has taught me that all things are a practice, and it’s through coming back again and again to the practice that we find real change in our body, mind, health, relationships and life.

Adjust your goals to make sure they come from your heart, your core values, and then make a step by step plan that is so easy you can’t say no.

I use these principles in all of my programs, from the New Years Yoga Detox, 30 Day Evolution and 10 Week Transformation, and the results are powerful!

“You’re audacious life goals are fabulous. We’re proud of you for having them. Bit it’s possible that those goals are designed to distract you from the thing that’s really frightening you — the shift in daily habits that would mean a reinvention of how you see yourself.” Seth Godin

NEW YEARS DETOX STARTS JAN 30

 

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Reverse the Bucket List, Find Out What You Really Want

imagesWe’ve turned the corner on yet another year and based many of the conversations I’ve had it sounds like 2014 was a big one for a lot of you. Let’s just stop an appreciate that!

If you’re like me and get super stoked on new visions, ideas and plans, it’s easy to race into the next thing full speed ahead, heels on fire with the feelings of possibility and hope. But if we race past our chance to digest the experiences we’ve had, we can miss the whole point of racing toward them in the first place.

At a conference I went to recently I was introduced to the idea of a reverse bucket list as a way to practice greater contentment, happiness and gratitude. I love the idea!

Basically, instead of making a bucket full of things you want to accomplish, you create a bucket list of things you’ve already done. So I decided to make a reverse bucket list of all I’ve accomplished, gained and experienced in 2014, and wow, not only did my gratitude levels go way up, but I also got some really clear guidance for this next year.

As I wrote this list I realised “accomplishment” meant anything I felt proud about doing. Some of it was sexy and exciting like teaching retreats in Bali, exploring New Zealand or successfully developing and teaching new programs. Other things were less sexy, but powerful accomplishments non the less, like getting out of a relationship that not longer served me and actively working through some of my long held limiting beliefs.

Once I wrote that list I made another list that simply said, “How did all of these things make me feel?”

I’m reading a fantastic book right now called “The Desire Map” by Danielle Laporte. She says, “Knowing how you want to feel is the most potent clarity you can have. Generating those feelings is the most powerful thing you can do with your life.”

Looking at my 2014 bucket list and really reflecting on how each of those things made me feel clarified how I want to feel, as well as how I don’t want to feel. Words like empowered, connected, inspired, focused, expansive, creative, wiser, discerning popped up…but when I got really honest with my self, so did words like tired, stressed and ungrounded.

My fiery heels are already making plans for 2015, but I’m pulling the reins in a little to ask if these goals I’m racing toward actually generate the feelings and lifestyle I truly long for.

About a year ago I was listening to a lecture my Ayurvedic teacher gave on what’s called the wisdom body in Yoga, the Visnamayakosha. She suggested a simple daily practice to stay in touch with the wisdom body— at the end of each day ask, “What did I learn today, and how can I use that wisdom tomorrow?” I wrote this in big letters on a piece of paper and tacked it to the pin board next to my bed (it always seems to get bigger at just the right moments).

I decided to make one more list for 2014 based on this, “What did I learn in the past year, and how can I use this wisdom in this upcoming year?”

Some of my bullet points include:

  • Trust my intuition
  • Speak my truth
  • Find work/life balance
  • Create schedules
  • Believe in myself
  • Simplify
  • Give from my heart

Taking the time to reflect on the past year can reveal what our deeper desires are and if our methods for achieving them actually work or where we can adjust our perspective and actions. It’s a perfect way to prep for intention setting for 2015.

I’m teaching two FREE workshops this Sunday all about how to set new years resolutions from the heart based on yogic principles (see details below). One at 8am at the Lululemon store in Warringah Mall, and one at 2pm at Qi Yoga Freshwater Studio. Hope to see you there! Feel free to drag a friend along if you can, they’re community events so the more the merrier.

If you can’t make it this Sunday, no worries, I’ll be blogging on the topic next week. In the mean time, get out a pen and paper and see what your reverse bucket list for 2014 teaches you!

Make a Reverse Bucket List for 2014

  1. Make a list off all that you’ve accomplished and experienced in the last year
  2. Make a list of how all those things made you feel
  3. Ask, “What did I learn in the past year, and how can I use that wisdom in this upcoming year?”

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The Tongue Never Lies

images-3While we might let slip a few white lies across our tongue from time to time, the surface of our tongue can’t help but speak the truth.

In Ayurveda, the traditional medicine system of India, the tongue is considered the emissary of the digestive tract. I like thinking of it like that, a representative or spokesperson, non-opinionated simply reporting what is.

The tongue reports the facts to us about what we’re eating through our tastes but it also reports facts to us about how we’re digesting what we’ve eating and if the organs are functioning properly.

This last form of reporting takes a little bit of translating, but once you get the hang of it, it’s one of the coolest and most informative daily practices from the Ayurvedic tradition.

It’s called Ayurvedic Tongue Diagnosis, and while Ayurvedic doctors can read a great deal into how the tongue looks, any person can get a useful daily read on their health simply by learning the basics. This should become a regular tool for any yogi.

The tongue reports on our state of digestion and health through it’s appearance. 

The digestive tract and organs are mapped out on the tongue and so it tells a tale of health or imbalance in any of these areas through colour, texture, coating, moisture, shape, smell and more (see info-graphic and charts below).

Ayurveda recognises that anything we don’t digest accumulates in our body and then becomes toxic. This accumulation is called Ama, and when we sleep at night the body works to eliminate ama, particularly through the membrane system of our body.

We see this as goop in our eyes or mucus in our nose or stool. The tongue is also a membrane and the white coating that appears on it each morning is considered ama, or toxicity, that the body is processing and pushing out.

As Dr. Bruce Fife, author of The Detox Book put it, “Your tongue can reveal how much toxic material is stored in your cells and vital organs. The tongue is a mirror of the membrane system of your body.”

Paying attention to the quality of this ama appearing on our tongue can reveal a great deal and help us make day to day choices that direct us back into balance.

Research Your Tongue Every Morning! 

A great practice to get in the habit of is sticking your tongue out first thing in the morning and checking out how it looks. Do this before you drink water or brush your teeth to get the best reading of what your body was processing through sleep.

Then compare what you’re seeing in the mirror with the Tongue Diagnosis Charts (see below).

Things to think about when checking our your tongue:

  • What colour is it?
  • Is the coating evenly distributed across your tongue or accumulated in particular areas?
  • Does it smell?
  • Is it dry or moist? Frothy?
  • What do the edges look like? Smooth or scalloped?
  • Are there red bumps or patches? Where?
  • Are there cracks? Where?

Compare this information to the charts and graphs and start taking action to bring yourself back into balance based on what you see.

Spend a week drawing your tongue, what you observe and how it changes. I love this practice not only to help me monitor my body but also because sticking out my tongue in the morning makes me laugh to myself.

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Tongue Scrapping

After you’ve listened to what the tongue is telling you about your health, scrap that toxic ama off it with a metal tongue scrapper rather than swallowing it back into the system. Lightly scrap from back to front 5-7 times. Notice the color of the ama on the tongue scrapper.

Tongue scrapping is a simple Ayurvedic oral hygiene practice done every morning before drinking water.

Doing this on a regular basis will also heighten our sense of taste and increase the intelligence of our tongue. The more intelligent our tongue, the healthier food we eat and the better we feel.

Tell us what you’ve discovered through checking out your tongue this week!?

The Mysteries of Second Winds and Sluggish Mornings

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Ever wonder why you get a second wind late at night? Why you can wake up early but then feel heavy the rest of the morning? Or why you just can’t seem to stay focused in the afternoon? 

Amazingly, the traditional medicine system of India, Ayurveda, has an explanation for all of this and it’s been the topic of the free talks I’ve given over the last few months.

As mentioned in previous posts the Ayurvedic system understands that EVERYTHING is composed of the five elements — ether, air, fire, water and earth — and paying attention to the elements that dominant in and around you is a crucial part of living a healthy life.

Why? Because health is synonymous to balance and when we have an imbalance of elements in our life we have health problems.

The beauty of this system is that once we get our head around the qualities of the elements and how they show up in our food, body, personality, environment, and all things, we can easily design a life of balance and health.

It’s really simple. Just remember that like increases like and opposites balance. 

If there is too much of one element in your life, just bring in the opposite to find balance.

Ask yourself right now, what is out of balance in my life? Intuitively you might have a sense that this imbalance relates to an element — for example, too much movement (air), or stimulation (fire), a sense of emptiness (ether), lack of structure (water) or stagnation (earth).

The next step is to simply ask: What is the opposite element or quality and how can I bring that into my life to find balance?

Life is no more than an accumulation of days and moments. As such, to change our lives we’ve got to change our day to day patterns. 

One of the most practical and powerful lessons of Ayurveda is understanding how the elements show up throughout the day and then creating daily routines based on this understanding that bring balance into your life.

It’s called Dinacharya in Sanskrit, and means daily rhythms or routines.

When our daily routines align to the daily rhythms of nature we thrive — in mind, body and spirit. When we’re out of synch with these rhythms health issues start to manifest.

Sadly, our modern culture is very out of synch with the natural daily rhythm, and as a result we have an epidemic of lifestyle diseases and issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, insomnia, irritable bowl syndrome, cancers, depression, anxiety and many many more.

So what are Nature’s daily rhythms and how do we align to them? 

The day is broken down into three periods each with dominant elements (see clock graphic). This cycle happens twice in a day and is influence by sunrise, sunset and when the sun is highest in the sky or other side of the earth. Worry less about exact times and feel more into the influence of the sun on the planet.

When we know what elements dominate in each time of the day, we can be wise about how we choose to spend that time, always remembering that like increases like and opposites balance.

Element and energy dominance at each time of day:

Energy-Clock-with-copyright

2:00 – 6:00 – air & ether (Vata dosha) — the subtle wind energy

Before the sun rises, air and ether dominates, meaning there is a lot of lightness, movement, and connection to spirit and subtle energy. This is a perfect time to meditate, and also why some people wake up in the early hours of the morning full of thoughts.

In the afternoon these elements cycle around again creating lightness. This can sometimes cause scattered thinking in the afternoon, but if you ground yourself (opposite quality to air is earth), then it can be a fantastic time for creative thinking and projects.

6:00 – 10:00 – water and earth (Kapha dosha) — the nourishing water energy

Once the sun rises, the heavier, denser elements of water and earth dominate. This is why dew forms on the grass and why we can start to feel sluggish again even if we woke up with energy before the sun came up. This is the best time to do physical activity, bring movement (air/lightness) in for balance, and use your dense physical body. Careful not to eat too heavy of a breakfast our you’ll just bring more of that earth and water into you and get out of balance.

In the evenings water and earth elements make their appearance again, our body physiologically reacts to the darkening of the sky and we start to feel heaviness and density. Go with it, we want this in the evening so that we can wind down and get a good night sleep. Again, careful not to eat a heavy dinner or you’ll exacerbate these qualities.

10:00 – 2:00 – fire and water (Pitta dosha) — the transforming fire energy

When the sun is highest in the sky we feel the transformative heat and movement of fire and water in our bodies.  We feel stimulated mentally and physically. All primates, not just humans, produce the most bile (digestive fire) in the middle of the day. To capitalise on this fire we want to eat our biggest meal at lunch, and also be mindful not to overheat ourselves with too much sun or stimulating food and drink.

The infamous second wind kicks in usually around 10pm when the fire element makes it’s second appearance in the day. Ideally, we want to be in bed at this time so that rather than stimulating our mind this fire quality can go to stimulating tissue reparation and digestion of the day’s experiences and substances while we sleep. If we skip this and stay up too late our body really starts to suffer.

Want to start living in alignment? 

It’s well and good to think about these concepts, but making them part of your day to day life is when the real magic starts. From this blog you can already start to apply this information by paying attention to how you work with the energy of the day or exacerbate it.

If you really want to dive into this juicy material and start to see it transform your life into greater health and vitality I’ve created a 30 Day Yoga Evolution program that guides you through designing ideal daily rhythms.

This program also uses the latest habit science research to help you create new habits that you’ll actually stick to and a healthy life style that is sustainable.

The next 30 Day’s starts this Sunday, September 28th at Qi Yoga in Freshwater and part of the program includes a one month unlimited class pass. I’ve also created an online version of the program for people who can’t make it to the Sunday sessions, find out more here.

Tell us, what’s your favourite time of the day and why?