April 21, 2011

Prithivi Mudra (Earth Mudra)

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:45 am by DivineShantiYoga

With our earth day celebration this year, along with making positive changes for our environment, we can nurture our energetic connection to the earth as well. We need stability and nourishment to grow and be effective in our place in the world. Practicing the Prithivi Mudra can eliminate an energy deficit in the root chakra, creating this grounding. This mudra can restore your equilibrium and trust if you feel uncertain of your steps while walking. Whether or not you feel psychologically or physically strong and vital greatly depends upon this energy, so this is wonderful to practice when you are feeling insecure, need inner stability or self-assurance. The earth is the renewing force for our bodies, so imagine the balance of giving and taking of this energy while connecting physically to the ground.

Place the tips of the thumb and ring finger on top of each other, using light pressure. Extend the other fingers. Do this with each hand.

Affirmation: The power of the Earth gives me secure stability, staying power and assertiveness, self-assurance, and self-confidence. The power of the cosmos gives me enthusiasm, pleasure, and joy.

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April 18, 2011

Lavender Lemon Cupcakes

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:05 pm by DivineShantiYoga

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour (I used 3/4 cup wheat flour & 1/4 cup ground almond meal)
  • 1 1/2 t dried lavender buds, roughly chopped
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 3 T unsalted butter, cubed and brought to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar ( I substituted agave nectar here)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 T lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk (Almond milk worked instead!)
  • Ingredients for the icing on your healthy cupcakes
  • 1 cup loosely packed confectioner’s sugar
  • Fresh lavender buds for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F and place cupcake liners in a 12-cup muffin pan. To make the batter, whisk together flour, lavender, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a separate bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, lemon juice, and zest. Beat in one-third of the flour mixture until just combined. Beat in half the milk, followed by another third of the flour, then the remaining milk and flour. Fill cupcake liners about two-thirds of the way up and bake for 24 to 26 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the icing, stir together confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Stir in zest. Drizzle over cupcakes and garnish with lavender. (Let frosting set for 30 minutes before packing or serving.) Serve right away or store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

April 15, 2011

Tigers Above, Tigers Below

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:17 pm by DivineShantiYoga

After sharing this story in some classes this week, it was requested to post it so it may be shared with more of you. As a beautiful reminder that this moment is the only moment, enjoy the sweet words by Pema Chodron.

“There is a story of a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs and the tigers are getting closer and closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine for which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump of grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. Then she just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly.

Tigers above, tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life, it might be the only strawberry that we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.”

April 6, 2011

Internal workings of the breath

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:50 am by DivineShantiYoga

When yoga poses are well-aligned, the breath flows through the central axis in the body, in front of the spine with its radiant glow. The great eighth century yogi and philosopher, Shankaracharya said “Yoga asana is that in which meditation flows spontaneously and ceaselessly, not that which destroys happiness.”

It is easy to fall away from this focus during our asana (posture) practice. The mind and the ego can keep us from this central axis, making our time on the mat more about physical exercise in self-improvement rather than the precise observation of, and insight into, the nature of our bodies, minds, and spirits.

Pranayama balances the energies of both the in-breath and out-breath throughout the body. A glorious way to counteract this tendency of forgetting the inner workings of practice; is to link the basic internal patterns of the inhalation and the exhalation. Our inhaling breath, prana, or life force energy, is felt as upward floating and flowering. The exhaling breath, or apana, is a downward rooting flow. Apana grounds us into the earth, toning the center of the pelvic floor.

With each breath, prana and apana helps to align the bones and muscles in the body. Prana lengthens the spine, opens the heart and internally rotates the legs.  Apana rounds the spine, and rotates the legs in an external rotation.  In pranayama, we preserve the grounding quality of the apana even while inhaling, and we preserve the lifted quality of the prana as we exhale.

April 1, 2011

Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:45 pm by DivineShantiYoga

Benefits: Gently stretches the hips, thighs and ankles. Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and fatigue. Relieves back and neck pain when done with head and torso supported. Balasana is a resting pose.

Cautions: If you are experiencing diarrhea, pregnancy, or if you have a knee injury, avoid practicing Balasana, or ask an experienced teacher for modifications.


Tips for practicing:
1.) Kneel on the floor, set your knees hip-width apart and touch your big toes together.
2.) Exhale, draw the sit bones back toward the heels and bring your forehead to the floor (or a block).
3.) Lay the tailbone heavy on the heels (or a rolled blanket) while you lift the base of your skull away from the back of your neck.
4.) Breathe into the space behind the heart and feel the upper back expanding.
5.) Set an intention of openness, connecting to the infinite, or receiving.
6.) Feel the freedom of a child who is cared for by the universe without worry.