Yoga for Athletes
Taking Your Practice from the Mat to the Court
Last Thursday I was gifted the opportunity to meet with about 50 high school basketball players through West Coast Elite San Diego . WCE is directed by one of the top basketball coaches in the country, Sterling Jones. Sterling trained my son Tommy from the time he was in middle school, and continues to work with him when he is home on break from Harvard.
Tommy McCarthy of Harvard VS. University of Kansas
I’ve seen through my children, as well as through my own experience, the kind of camaraderie that forms through the challenges of training. Trust and intimacy evolve naturally as teammates (and coaches) witness one another breaking through mental and physical barriers. You gain a deep respect, and often adoration, for those you see grow, and for those who see you grow through the process.
Paired with camaraderie, however, is often a big dose of competition, extreme rigor and pressure to excel, leaving many athletes overly sore, burnt out, or full of anxiety (which all translate into an impaired game). This is why I’ve found it so important for athletes to supplement their intense training with practices that offer balance, and an opportunity to work – alone or as a team – in a less goal oriented, high pressure way.
Yoga, I’ve found, is the perfect supplement.
So, let’s go back to Thursday when I met with dozens of young, high energy, tight, sore, and rigorous athletes… I came out to help these boys develop greater muscular balance in the body and learn how to discipline their mind through focus and concentration.
They were all attentive, respectful, and along for the ride. There was also an element of hilarity as they were moaning and groaning with every stretch… But, this just confirmed it even more! Athletes, who are so used to go-go-going strong all the time, need the practice of slowing down and listening.
The result of a balanced approach to training is agility, calmness during stressful situations, ability to move and react quickly, intuitive efficiency, and stronger teamwork!
The boys were extremely receptive to the lessons, and I can’t wait to see how they apply what they learned in their game.
If you are a yoga teacher working with athletes, or an athlete doing your own practice, take these thoughts into consideration:
1. Use Your Breath First : Athletes are often used to moving from their “outer” body first, without much consideration for the feeling or deep rooted cause of the action. In yoga, the movement comes as a result of the breath, so each posture is formed from the inside-out. With long, deep, full breaths you can move deeper into a stretch in a safe way. In most sports the breath speeds up, but in yoga the breath stays slow, even and rhythmic.
2. Find Your Edge : In yoga, “the edge” is the place where you’re working at the top of your body’s ability on any given day. If you worked any less, you’d be slacking off; any more, and you’d be risking injury. Only you know where your edge is, so take the time to listen carefully to what your body is saying from pose to pose. Practicing “the edge” helps athletes struggling to balance ambition in their lives, and can be a potent remedy to the perfectionist mentality.
3. Change The Mental State : Many athletes deal with judgment, competitiveness and criticism on a regular basis. This can facilitate and contribute to stress. The yoga practice helps to counter this type of training, as it is deeply personal and should be self enhancing. Yoga is a time to let go of being a goal-oriented competitor and just be present in the process of where you are today.
4. Use Everything, Overuse Nothing : Yoga teaches a balance between Strength and Surrender- both mentally and physically. In the body, for example, notice how you can contract an opposing muscle from the one being stretched, by pulling it closer to the bone. i.e.: contract and lift the kneecap and quadriceps toward the top of the thigh and inward toward the femur to open the hamstrings.
5. Don’t Envy Flexibility / Show Compassion : Flexibility comes to people in varying rates. Some athletes experience a steep learning curve in increasing flexibility. A focused practice of utilizing the breath while stretching muscles may be brand new. These athletes need to be reassured that it takes time and consistent effort to get results. Be careful not to compare flexibility. For many it takes years to achieve a supple, flexible body. It is not easy to be flexible if you train. Training makes you tight! You have to work hard to get tight, so don’t be embarrassed by it.
Whatever you play and however you train, I hope you are able to apply these yogic lessons to your practice. There is value in intense training, and value in slowing down. Ultimately, work for balance in your life so that you can play at your highest potential.
How knowing my star sign taught me to be my Highest Self
I’ve never been much of the “woo-woo” sort. I didn’t get into yoga because I wanted everlasting peace. I was an athlete, a bit of a gym rat, and a physical go-getter. Yoga came to me by accident, and just so happened to completely change my life.
When I stepped foot into my first yoga class, I had no idea what Sanskrit was- or why it was important to chant it at the beginning of every practice. I had no idea what bandhas were, and no idea why everyone was so “peaced-out” after class. I just knew it made me feel good. So I kept on going to class, immersing myself in the experience of each asana, and listening carefully to what my instructors were saying.
At first, the depths of yoga entered my being subconsciously. And it wasn’t until my beloved teacher Dom asked me to sub his class that I had even considered I could teach it.
Teaching my first yoga class was an enlightening experience; in that moment, I felt like I knew why I was created.
Since that day, over 30 years ago, yoga has opened me up to countless realities I had never before considered as real. It taught me about the power of my thoughts, the wisdom of my true nature, and the infinite possibilities that show themselves when we trust in the mysterious unfolding of life.
Yoga introduced me to a number of other ancient practices which were all rooted in the same understanding that all of life is connected. One of these practices, which came much later in my life, was Astrology.
Now you may be thinking, “Ok, I get Yoga- it’s a physical practice! But… Astrology?”
At first, I thought that too. But when I met Leslie McGuirk of Lucky Stars Astrology at Rancho La Puerta Spa in Mexico, I had the same kind of life changing moment as when I taught my first yoga class.
The way she could describe the meaning of the stars was so new to me. Before I had known astrology only from the single sentence fate-tellers in the daily newspaper— and I wasn’t so convinced. What first changed my mind was hearing Leslie akin astrology to owner’s manual: “Astrology is one of the most useful tools for increasing self awareness and inner peace. Think of it like the owner’s manual in your car’s glove compartment; you have the key to your vehicle and you are the driver.”
“Astrology is one of the most useful tools for increasing self awareness and inner peace. Think of it like the owner’s manual in your car’s glove compartment; you have the key to your vehicle and you are the driver.”
I was intrigued. I was so curious to know what could the stars teach me about myself that I don’t already know. So, I decided to dive in deeper, and booked a private reading with Leslie. What she revealed to me wasn’t anything incredibly new. But it was incredibly transformational… I’ll explain.
What I found out was that I am a double Virgo! Meaning not just my Sun sign is Virgo (my primary characteristics), but my Moon sign is also Virgo (my emotional and intuitive characteristics). Although not super uncommon, most people have different Sun and Moon signs- which usually offers more dynamic and balanced outer and inner worlds. But I am a full-out, full-fledged Virgo…
Subnote: If this is totally new for you (like it was for me) here’s a little more background: Your Signs reveal the unique relationship that the sky, stars and planets had to the Earth at the moment of your birth. For thousands of years, people have been using astrological science as a way to learn about themselves and the workings of the natural world. There’s nothing too “woo-woo” about it once you get past the vague, generic descriptions.
So, as I began learning more about what it meant to be Stacy, the double Virgo, I began to know how to work with -rather fight against- the traits that were an undeniable part of my person. Virgos are typically very careful, methodical, hardworking, resourceful, well spoken, problem solvers who are not afraid to speak their minds. But they’re also typically very shy, overly critical, worrisome, sensitive and fragile.
Before I was equipped with this knowledge, I would unknowingly fight against the traits I thought were weaknesses. I would force myself to be less sensitive, or belittle myself for speaking my mind so fiercely. I didn’t know it was my true nature to be a go-getting business woman with a soft side that also needed tending to. With this awareness, I have been better able to consciously work with and even transform my more challenging traits, while enhancing and using my best traits to their fullest.
In this way, learning my star sign has helped me to grow into my highest self- all “woo-woo” aside.
Not only have I been able to embrace my double-Virgo mind, but I’ve also made a dear friend. Leslie continues to help me foster my best self, and acts as a sort of technician who helps me read my owner’s manual with greater clarity.
I’m a fan and I want everyone to know just how powerful this practice is. You too can be fueled by the awareness of who you are in relationship to the cosmos.
Leslie will be the guest speaker for the next A Day of Namaste (themed Count Your Lucky Stars) on Sunday, April 8, 2018. She will be talking specifically about the planet Mercury and its role in the way we communicate. You won’t wanna miss out!
May the stars bless you,
With all my love,
A Day of Self Love
Be Your Own Valentine
I am passionate about helping people create lifelong rituals which ensure their success, wellbeing and sustaining ability to thrive. Establishing healthy habits takes practice, persistence, and patience- whether it’s taking on a new diet, exercise regime, or adopting a new mindset.
The process of gaining lasting Self Love is no different. It takes time, practice, and many ups and downs to test if we’re really doing our homework.
Yes, love is work. Sometimes. But what better work could there be?
Honing the ability to love ourselves fully – no matter the external circumstance – is priceless. Self Love breeds contentment, joy, health, ability to be of service, and the ability to love others fully. It is only from offering ourselves love that we can offer it to others.
Remembering the importance (and vitality) of Self Love is especially important in times when society asks us to show our love with boxes of chocolates and flowers. Not that these things aren’t lovely… but they’re not L-O-V-E, Love. To truly experience Love, we must go past the image of love, and dive deep into the embodiment of love.
This state is cultivated from deep within, and only from within. To me, loving self is akin to looking within through eyes of love, a gentle heart, and a nurturing mind.
Below you’ll find some of my favorite Self Love Rituals. These are the practices that help me nurture myself, that give me care when ego says I’m not worth it, that nourish me so that I may nourish my family and students. They are by no means the only way to cultivate Self Love, but they are a few.
Feel free to take a full day going through all of these practices together; or just add in one per day, and feel how even a moment of offering yourself love makes such a world of difference.
1. Loving Kindness Meditation
My go-to, always, everyday. Love of any kind starts with Self Love. This meditation, practiced in three parts starts with self, then extends to an individual of choice, then to all beings. The order is not to create a hierarchy, but to validate the importance of giving within before giving abroad. I like to begin each morning with this meditation.
May my heart be filled with Loving Kindness.
May I be well.
May I be peaceful and at ease.
May I be happy.
(Repeat 2x, replacing “my/I” with “your/you” and then “our/us”)
2. Abhyanga + Hot Bubble Bath
Your body is your temple, and showing it a little love will go a long way. Taking a moment to clean your body and pamper yourself with pleasure is a beautiful act of Self Love. Immerse yourself in a hot bubble bath, with candles, your favorite calming music and essential oils. Then, for a few minutes, slather melted coconut oil over your entire body- don’t miss an inch! Tend to the spaces that normally don’t get looked at. Massage away tension. I promise you’ll feel good… and your skin will love it.
3. Take Time to Do Your Practice
Rid of what is not serving you, and make space for what you love. If you have four appointments scheduled in a day, but aren’t taking 10 minutes to care for your body and mind- rethink how you’re prioritizing your Self Love. Reschedule an appointment, and instead go take a yoga class, call a girlfriend to have lunch, close your eyes and listen to your breath… When we are over scheduled and overwhelmed, we simply can not offer our best selves. Quality over Quantity. Work can wait, but habitually not taking care of your body will eventually mean that you can’t work at all.
4. Nourish Your Body
Eat well. Feed your body beautiful foods. Feed yourself lovingly. Be aware of what you consume. Have a sensual experience with your food by eating slowly, and savoring all the flavors, textures and subtleties of your cuisine. Don’t eat on the go. Eat purposefully, graciously, and with ease. Your body will better assimilate the nutrients of your food, your digestion will improve, and you’re weight will very likely balance out on its own.
Try this little something extra for you sexy food lovers… Beaming Cafe’s Sexy Mayan Smoothie! I was more or less obsessed with this smoothie when it was first launched. It’s perfectly rich, a little spicy, gives a nice boost to your heart health, and invigorates the senses! Blend all ingredients in a blender or Vitamix- Savor and Enjoy!!
Sexy Mayan Smoothie:
1 cup almond milk – homemade sprouted or organic boxed
1 T Beaming superfood plant protein (with or without greens)
2 T cacao powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 cup frozen banana
1/4 tsp sea salt (optional)
1/2-1 cup ice
Ok. There you have it. A few of my all time favorite Self Love Rituals. Now it’s up to you to make space for Self Love in your heart by doing your practice.
Sending you all lots and lots of love.
Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha
In a media world – How do we practice yoga authentically?
I have a friend who is just starting his yoga journey. He began practicing yoga to improve his health, but when he looks at yoga on social media he’s left with the impression that yoga is only about touching his toes, twisting into a pretzel, or hand-standing on a perilous cliff… Encouraging, right?
I think he’ll find some solace in this….
The research is valid that a consistent practice of yoga can relieve back pain and lower blood pressure; and the most recent study published in Frontiers in Immunology suggests that yoga and mediation can actually “suppress inflammation-promoting genes and genetic pathways, and can actually undo the physical and mental effects of stress, and reduce the risk of disease, at the genetic level.”
This is the yoga that yogis have practiced for centuries, and is detailed in the second verse of Patanjali’s yoga sutras: Yoga Chitta Vrtti Nirodha (Yoga ceases the fluctuations of the mind). The ancient practice of yoga is not about touching your toes, it’s about liberating your mind from the redundant, recycled, unnecessary thoughts that constantly pass through our heads.
The power of yoga is its ability to connect us to the deepest part of our inner self so that we may finding lasting health and peace. When we heal the mind, we heal the body.
The past decade has seen the packaging of an ancient practice in a way that makes it accessible and attractive to an emerging yoga community. The modern yogi’s challenge, then, is staying faithful to the antiquity and integrity of the teachings, not slipping into commercialism or diluting the practice.
So. How can you make sure you’re really practicing yoga, and not just glorified calisthenics?
For me, I practice authentically by practicing awareness of mind. If my mind is racing, competing, or judging the person on the mat next to me, I know I’m not doing my practice. If I am going over my to-do list for the day (or for the next three months), I know I’m not doing my practice. If I am still mulling over the guy that cut me off on the way to class, I am definitely not doing my practice.
But when, in the midst of the effort of each pose I am serene, focused, and full of breath, I know am doing my practice. When I choose to love my body, even when I’m tired, achy or injured, I am doing my practice. When I tune in and feel more than I judge and think, I am doing my practice.i
I come back to the teachings. I come back to the Sutras, like Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha.
The real practice of yoga is deeply intimate. Only you, yourself, can truly tell if you’re immersed in the depths of stillness that come from complete surrender to experience. Only you know when your mind is still. And only you can attest to how that makes you feel… But I’d bet it makes you feel pretty darn good. I bet you breathe a little easier, that your heart rate normalizes, that you sleep better at night, that your injuries heal faster…
So, don’t worry about what the social media yogis are doing. They have their practice to do- and you have yours.
Yoga is so much more than handstands, and so much more than a weekend get-away. It’s a lifelong commitment to bettering yourself, a constant inner-looking (Svādhyāya), a daily remembering of the power of your thoughts, and lasting peace that comes from the stillness of the mind.
Yoga Chitta Vrtti Nirodha. Yoga is stilling of the fluctuations of the mind.
Do The Twist!
Bharavadjasana – Simple to Complex
Just as important as backbending and forward folding, twisting is an integral part of a balanced yoga practice. A well balanced practice will take the body in all directions available, so that you end feeling balanced and whole.
For some, however, twisting brings up many concerns. If shoulders, low back, or hips are tight, it’s likely a challenge to twist in a way that feels good. And if you’ve ever had a neck or back injury, twisting may down right scare you…
But! The good news is this: Twisting is accessible for almost everyone!
You don’t need to go into the deepest expression of a pose to reap the rewards. With the use of simple modifications, props and good instruction, you’ll be doing the twist in no time.
Before we jump into posturing, let’s review some of the benefits and fundamentals of twisting:
Twisting the body is a little like ringing out a wet towel- the process of rotation helps to squeeze out toxic fluids and make space for new, fresh fluids to take their place. In this way, twists detoxify the body. Incorporating twists into your daily practice will increase your spinal flexibility and strength, give more dynamic strength to your core muscles, create more space for breath, and will actually help to “ring out” your internal organs (aka: healthier digestion, more regular bowel movements, and easier processing of nutrients).
Twisting postures range from simple to complex. Keep in mind that twisting is all about elongating (2/3 Lengthening, 1/3 Twisting)! As you twist, lengthen gently with your inhales, and then rotate gently with your exhales. Remember that you can’t move into a twist if there is “no room”.
*Please Also Note: Contraindications to twists include bulging or herniated disks, sciatica, severe scoliosis, any back or neck injury that is upset by twisting movements, pregnancy, menstruation. Always listen to your body. If there is any glimpse of pain in a posture, do not practice it in that moment. Consult an experienced yoga teacher, physical therapist or physician should you need further guidance.
One of my favorite twisting postures is Bharavadjasana. This seated twisting pose opens up the low back, hips and shoulders all in one, and acts as a great example of how to modify any twisting pose to suit your ability.
Bharavadjasana, Simple to Complex:
Variation A: Seated on a Block / Front leg in Sukhasana variation / No bind of arms
When you need to focus on gently opening up the back and hips, and elongating the spine, this is the variation for you. Sitting on the block will give space to those with less range in their hips, and will help keep the pelvis in proper alignment. As you twist, take the opposing hand to the thigh of the front leg. The back hand will act as a reminder to lift (hint: do NOT dump your weight onto this hand- this will throw off the alignment of your shoulders and bring unwanted lateral flexion to the spine).
Variation B: Seated on Mat / Front leg in Sukhasana / Bind of back arm to front arm
This variation is for those whose hips and low back feel comfortable seated directly on the mat. (hint: both sit-bones will be evenly weighted, and the pelvis in proper alignment). As you twist, the opposing hand will meet the front thigh, while the back arm will gently internally rotate from the shoulder in order to wrap around the mid-back. The back hand will meet the front arm, just above the elbow crease. (hint: keep your shoulders opening gently away from the heart center, and breathe as evenly as possible into both sides of the lungs).
Variation C: Seated on Mat / Front leg in ArdhaPadmasana / Full bind of arms
The final variation of Bharavadjasana is for those with open hips and shoulders; whom need a little more intensity from their seated twist. The front leg is bound in ArdhaPadmasana, offering greater opening to the front hip (hint: as in the previous variation, make sure both sit-bones have even placement on your mat). As you twist, the opposing hand will reach to the front knee, while the back hand will reach for the bound foot. Some find this connection at the big toe, and others can reach around the full foot. (hint: use your inhalations to consciously lengthen, while keeping the pelvis weighted, and the exhalations to gently deepen the twist).
There you have it, yogis.
Get on your mat + Happy Twisting!
With Love + Namaste,
Do you remember the first time you realized your body was “aging”?
Maybe it started in your thirties with a few more aches and pains in the morning. A tendency to get tired earlier in the day. The first signs of wrinkles around your eyes. A memory not quite as sharp as it used to be.
As the years have progressed, those little twinges have probably gotten more frequent. And if you’re like most people, you brushed it off as a “normal” part of the aging process… just something that happens when we get older.
The thing is, you don’t have to give in to the frailty, disease, and memory issues associated with aging. These symptoms are not “inevitable.” They are signals that your body needs something.
When it comes to aging, we’ve been fed a load of unsubstantiated assumptions our entire lives. But emerging research from top experts suggests that we can have all the advantages of youth, well into our later years.
That means a lean, strong, flexible body….supple, smooth skin….. a brain that is sharp… energy to last all day… and an immune system that provides powerful protection against illness.
We are a body-oriented culture. We judge ourselves by our appearance and our body’s ability to perform. When our bodies change—as they inevitably do—our self-worth goes with them, for better or for worse.
In Siddhartha, a novel about enlightenment and self-discovery the prince, Siddhartha, ventured out of his palace for the first time, he was shaken by his first glimpses of a person bent with age, a person wracked with illness and the body of a person who had died. Seeing the inevitable path of all our bodies to our final demise caused him to inquire into how he might transcend the suffering he had witnessed. This led him to realize that in order to transcend suffering, he had to transcend his attachment to and identification with the body. He had to look deeper, beyond the pleasures and suffering of the body, for lasting happiness.
This is what our yoga practice teaches us. Any person in a body who is practicing Yoga is living in a yoga body, regardless of age, build, gender or flexibility. And the deeper practices at the heart of Yoga—meditation—require a body simply as an anchor for awareness.
I think most people when coming upon my age may scour, but I’m truly looking forward to the unfolding lessons, increasing self awareness and growing self love that comes with aging. I’m reminded that this is the start of a brand new year- and that there are still infinite opportunities for growth along my journey. Within every moment lies a miracle. And within every burden lies a blessing.
Meditations, Mantras and Movement to Keep Your Chakras In Balance
What sets Yoga apart from other calisthenic routines?
The ancient yogis knew of something beyond the outer shell of movement- something deeper than muscles and bones- yet something just as important to shaping our physical health.
What they looked at and sought to keep healthy through their physical routine was the Chakra System.
So, what’s a… Chakra??
A Chakra (literally Wheel in Sanskrit) is an energy center or wheel of energetic movement in the body. It is part of the body’s subtle anatomy; and though subtle, has major effects on the gross, physical body and mind.
There are 7 major Chakras, which run along and align the spinal column, ranging from the base of the pelvic floor to the crown of the head.
Each of these 7 Chakras has a specific energetic and emotional quality, associated color, sound, and deeper meaning.
Often when we feel out of balance- angry, saddened, over-whelmed, exhausted- it is a sign that our deeper, more subtle self is in need of some serious restoration. Therefore, a great way to target the root of our imbalances is to look at the Chakras, and bring them back into balance first.
Below, you’ll find a simple guide to the Chakras, and how to bring them back into balance:
MULADHARA (ROOT CHAKRA):
Location: At the base of the spinal column, centered in the Pelvic Floor / Energetic Qualities: Stability, Security, Safety, Fear & Fearlessness / When you’re out of balance: You may feel unsafe and fear-laden
Bring back into balance with:
Meditation: Lying on your back, with your hands on your low belly, imagine red light charging through your spine down to the base, igniting new life and energy with each breath.
Mantra: “I fearlessly take on the challenges of life. Trusting my inner-guide, I face the unknown with love.”
Movement: Utkata Konasana (Goddess Pose). This posture requires strength, poise, and confidence. Open your heart wide and feel the power of your lower body. Breathe deeply all the way into the Pelvic Floor.
SVADISTHANA (SACRAL CHAKRA):
Location: Just above the pubic bone, below the naval / Energetic Qualities: Creativity, Sexual Energy, Personal Expression / When you’re out of balance: You may feel “stuck” or uninspired
Bring back into balance with:
Meditation: Practice simple seated meditation, follow your breath and soothe your mind into stillness. Creativity is the product of a clear mind. Sometimes just finding some peace and quiet is all you need.
Mantra: “I am available for creativity to flow through me with abundance and ease. I reflect the creation of all life, and recognize the gift of creation within me.”
Movement: Virabhadrasana (Warrior Pose). This posture requires strength and ease, and challenges the muscles of the pelvic floor and abdomen to maintain a long, supple spine. It sparks awareness and stillness. Root firmly, and maintain a soft gaze.
MANIPURA (SOLAR PLEXUS CHAKRA):
Location: At the Solar Plexus, between the naval and the breast bone / Energetic Qualities: Personal Power, Will, Decision Making / When you’re out of balance: You may feel uncertain, weary, uneasy about a decision
Bring back into balance with:
Meditation: Practice Kapalabhati Breath (Skull Shining Breath). Breathe in deeply through the nose into the belly, let out quick exhalations through the nose, as the navel “snaps” back toward the spine. Before trying this on your own, ask a teacher for proper instruction and safety guides!
Mantra: Simply state, “I am” with each inhalation. With each exhalation, bring your awareness to your physical presence, stating “here”.
Movement: Plank Pose. Yes, a simple posture to refine your core muscles and define the strength of your abdomen. Gently draw your navel toward the spine, reaching through your crown, broadening across your chest, and pressing out through your heels.
ANAHATA (HEART CHAKRA):
Location: At the heart center / Energetic Qualities: Loving-Kindess, Acceptance of Self and Others, Compassion / When you’re out of balance: You may feel unloved or unloving, disconnected, impatient
Bring back into balance with:
Meditation: Simple sitting, with hands on your heart. Breathe into your heart space, filling it up with air and letting it flow out. Practice until you feel your chest and shoulders softened and available to move freely.
Mantra: Loving-Kindness “May my heart be filled with loving kindness, may I be well, may I be peaceful and at ease, may I be happy”
Movement: Ustrasana (Camel Pose). This backbend opens the heart, strengthens the back muscles and invites you to breathe into the chest and ribs. Keep the neck and throat soft, and use the stability and strength of your legs to ground.
VISHUDDHA (THROAT CHAKRA):
Location: In the throat / Energetic Qualities: Verbal Expression, Speaking our Highest Truth, Communication / When you’re out of balance: You may feel unable to say what you need to, afraid to share your truth
Bring back into balance with:
Meditation: Recite “AUM” with clarity, taking equal time to pronounce each sound “A-U-M”. Don’t be afraid to make noise! The point is to hear yourself, and to get past the discomfort of opening up.
Mantra: “I speak my truth with confidence and clarity. I listen deeply to myself and to others, and communicate with ease.”
Movement: Matsyasana (Fish Pose). Try this assisted with two blocks, one underneath the scapula, and one supporting the head. Lengthen through your toes, and allow your throat space to open as you relax the face and breathe.
AJNA (THIRD EYE CHAKRA):
Location: Just at the Pineal Gland (Third Eye), set between the brow bones / Energetic Qualities: Insight and Intuition / When you’re out of balance: You may feel lost or untrusting of yourself
Bring back into balance with:
Meditation: With eyes closed, bring your inner awareness to the place between your brow. Keep your inner gaze alive and bright, as practice maintaining focus on this area.
Mantra: “I am connected, at peace, and present.”
Movement: Balasana (Child’s Pose). Allow your head to rest fully, either on the floor, or on a bolster or block. Soften the muscles of the face, and allow the gently pressure of the position bring your awareness to your third eye.
SAHASWARA (CROWN CHAKRA):
Location: At the crown of the head, rising up like a “Thousand Petal Lotus Flower” / Energetic Qualities: Trust in your Highest Self, Connection to Self, to all things, and ultimately to the Essence of your True Nature / When you’re out of balance: You may feel lonely, unsupported or irrelevant
Bring back into balance with:
Meditation: Practice inhaling and exhaling bright white light in through your crown. Inhale, white light filters in the body all the way down the spine. Exhale, white light leaves through the crown, shooting back out and creating a field around you.
Mantra: “AUM. I am one with all that is.”
Movement: Sirsasana (Headstand). Please consult a yoga instructor before attempting this posture. Grow through the spine, reach the tail and the toes upward. Use your foundation wisely, planting the forearms/hands firmly into the earth. Breathe deeply into the body, and keep a soft gaze.
Happy Balancing, Yogis!
With Love + Namaste,
- A Mala, unlike a gold chain, is not designed to be flashy or to seek out external attention. It is a reminder to go within, to seek solace in one’s self, and to deepen one’s internal awareness while out in the world.
- A Mala, unlike diamond earrings, is not a sign of class or privilege, but a representation of committed reverence and self work.
- A Mala, unlike jewelry made form synthetic metals, is made from pure Rudraksha Seeds, which have unique conductive properties. These seeds have been honored for centuries as prayer beads, and so also carry an important historic symbolism of the yoga practice.
- A Mala is inherently designed to support a meditation practice. The 108 beads, when followed carefully with each breath, offer about 35 minutes of focused meditation. And the large bead at the center, called a Bindu Bead (or Guru Bead), can be rubbed gently as a reminder for mindfulness during a busy day.
What does it really take to find your purpose?
You can’t force your purpose… What you’re meant to do will flow through you with ease, grace and abundance. And it absolutely will, if only you allow it to.
It will take deep work, inner-looking, and patience with yourself. It will take pushing through your fears and self-imposed boundaries.
And it will take letting yourself go freely into the flowing process of self-discovery.
You can think of it like this:
Your body and mind are channels which conduct energy. When these channels are clear, embodied energy can flow through you with ease- i.e.: whatever you’re desiring to become or create will manifest naturally.
Creating a clear channel through which energy can flow is the first step to honoring your ability to shine, to do what you love, and to live for your unique purpose.
By doing your practice. Every. Single. Day.
The bottom line: Do your self-work. Practice loving your body, respecting your mind, and taking time to rest. Practice pushing through discomfort- in asana, in meditation, during your work day. Practice loving fully, practice compassion, practice peace and ease of mind.
It may sound silly, but being there for yourself will allow you to truly listen to what your soul desires.
And from there, you will begin to live for your purpose.
Maybe what you’ll discover isn’t what you thought you wanted when you were younger. Maybe it’s not being a CEO, or an astronaut, or the president.
Maybe you’ll find that your unique purpose is being a supportive spouse, a loving and attentive mother, a team player at work, an inspired entrepreneur, or a better steward of the earth.
No matter your end goal, you can only start from where you are right Here and Now. So, breathe, be here, and trust that you’ll discover your purpose as it unfolds.
How one yogi began living for her purpose…
Betsy is a dear friend and an alumni of my seasonal day retreat series, A Day of Namaste. After attending the last ADON, Betsy was inspired to ditch her limiting self-view and begin living for the purpose of her higher self! Her story is truly inspiring. In her second trimester of pregnancy, she was let-go from a company which was going through bankruptcy. Some fear, and a bit of an identity crisis took over, but then… something magical happened. In going with the flow, in listening to her soul’s desire, she realized that the job she thought would always support her was actually holding her back. And so she created her own lifestyle blog for Mamas and Mama-To-Be’s, called Beautiful With Baby. Read her story below, and check out her beautiful site!!
Betsy and I recently led a Mamaste Meditation Hike at Beaming Cafe Del Mar. We shared our favorite superfood concoctions for Mamas, and talked about what inspires us to live fully aligned with our purpose. I even shared the McCarthy family creed, which begins with our Family’s Purpose.
Here it is: McCarthy Family Purpose
The purpose of our family is to love and support each family member in achieving the fulfillment that comes from doing their best to fulfill their life purpose. maintaining high levels of integrity, and working to improve themselves each day.
And our: McCarthy Family Creed
- Today I give thanks for all that I am and all that I have.
- Today I treat everyone I see with love and respect.
- Today I focus on staying the paphto fulfilling my life purpose.
- Today I do my best in everything I do.
- Today I do my best to improve my knowledge, skills, health and attitude.
- Today I create abundance for myself and all those around me.
“I am so fortunate to have been able to attend one of Stacy’s A Day of Namaste retreats. The minute you are welcomed through the doors at A Day of Namaste, you can automatically sense that by the end of the retreat your mindset and daily routine will be shifted for a greater good. Going into my last retreat I was in a state of uncertainty in my career. At 5 months pregnant I was seeking to grow a side business that would allow my creative side to shine and be compensated for. During the retreat I was given the guidance, tools, and shift in mindset that has now led me to be going full throttle with my lifestyle blog, Beautiful With Baby. I am now being sought out by major beauty and apparel brands for partnership. A year ago I never would’ve put myself out there to welcome this kind abundance with the fear of rejection. This change was directly influenced from attending ADON. The education you receive at A Day of Namaste is full circle. Everything from a healthy diet, movement, and mindset are crucial to living your best life and reaching your goals. I also learned how to karate chop a piece of plywood in half at the last retreat. So cool. Hiiii-ya!” – Betsy B.