Tag Archives: yoga

namaste

Namaste

I’ve been Indian my whole life. I mean, I was born Indian, so that’s sort of obvious. This phrase “namaste” never struck me odd or weird. I just kind of went along with it telling people namaste at whatever Indian function I was being dragged to growing up. Whatever, no big deal. I never really looked into the meaning of this pretty common phrase. I just thought I was saying “Hey, what’s up” to whoever crossed my path. Little did I know that there was so much more to that phrase than just a simple hello.

My curiosity of the meaning of this phrase started picking up when I began going to more and more classes. Why the heck were these yoga teachers ending class with a namaste? I mean sure, yoga started in India and namaste is an Indian phrase, but there has to be more to it than that. There is.

Namaste is not just a phrase to greet someone. It’s about humbling yourself and respecting the other individual. Usually when the word namaste is said, there is a small bow that goes with it. The etymology of the word literally means “I am bowing to you”. You are honoring the soul, the inner-dwelling God within that person, the thing that is greater than the individual, the capital S Self…whatever you want to call it. It’s not just a simple saying after all. What does it take to truly and sincerely greet someone with Namaste?

It means that you are putting that individual before yourself. It means you are seeing the positive over the negative. It means bowing down to that person, and acknowledging the greatness that person is, the greatness that that person brings to this world and this life. It means having to lessen your ego and put yourself aside to see and honor that person as part of the Supreme.

But what does all of that mean? Why is it generally hard to see the other person in this amazing light of seeing the purity of their true inner being? It starts with us. We are constantly forming opinions whether good or bad, and those opinions start to cloud our perception of who that person or thing or entity is. We start identifying them by our old opinions and judgements we’ve formed of them (either good or bad), and thus we have created a shell. We’ve created a shell around these people and things and entities that we start to identify them with, and it’s become so thick, that it’s hard to see through that shell.

This isn’t a bad thing, We all do it. It’s just the way our mind works. We create these opinions and we start relying on those opinions to help us remember. After all, all of our thoughts are just repercussions of previously conceived notions.

How can we start having a fresh perspective on someone each and every time we meet them, so that we can start chipping away at the shell we create each and every day? How can we start seeing people for what they really are and see their true inner being?

Let’s start shrinking our egos a little bit and put our self intentions to the side, and start thinking about the other person. Let’s start to actually care and feel and really be with other people instead of being in our own worlds. But most importantly, let’s start seeing our own selves for what we truly are.

We are the greatness that exists in this universe. We are a part of something bigger than these bodies and these shells we’ve created. We are pure and loving and caring. We are amazing souls. Let’s start honoring ourselves first for what we is real within us–what is real and permanent–our pure soul.

Life is pretty amazing, and once we start realizing that amazingness then we can be sincerely humble enough to start respecting ourselves and the incredible people and things and entities this world so lovingly surrounds us with.

 

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travel yoga mat-review

In the midst of traveling this summer, I didn’t want to forgo my yoga routine because I’ll be in hotel rooms and what not. Luckily, my amazing sister-in-law found a sweet deal of a yoga mat that is perfect for traveling. And, let me tell you, I just did my first routing in the hotel room using it, and I loved it! Every single minute of it.

The Manduka eko SuperLite travel mat is freaking awesome. It weighs only about 2 pounds. Just like Manduka mats overall, it has amazing grip and definitely won’t make you slip and slide all over the place. We’re in a pretty humid locale right now, and that didn’t affect my mat either. The thickness is only 1.5mm. I tend to like a cushier mat, because my knees hurt if I leave them on the ground too long, but with the padding of the carpet underneath my mat, it’s perfect. The other thing that I like about this mat, is that it doesn’t slip and slide on the carpet either. It stays put, so you’re not surfing while doing your routine when you’re on the go. The best thing about this mat, is that you can fold it up like you would a tshirt and stick it in your suitcase.

mat folded up real nice to fit in my suitcase

mat folded up real nice to fit in my suitcase

And of course, it’s part of Manduka’s green line, so it makes everyone happy.

I definitely recommending getting this mat, even if you’re not traveling, but just want a thin grippy, awesome mat for your at-home practice. Thanks Manduka for making a killer yoga mat. The traveler in me really appreciates it!

 

yama and niyama project

So in one of my classes here at the Ayurvedic Institute, we had to pick a Yama and Niyama to implement into our lives and work on. Yama and Niyama are 2 of the limbs of Patanjali‘s 8-limb path of Yoga.

Essentially, Yamas are the restraints and Niyamas are the things that you should do.
Yamas: Non-lying, non-stealing, non-violence, non-coveting, and continence.
Niyamas: cleanliness, contentment, self-discipline, self-study, and surrendering to God

I thought it was pretty neat that our teacher made it seem like a very tangible project. That it’s not hard to just implement some of these into your life if you just try. The ones that I picked are “non-stealing” and “self-discipline”. Folks, before you get all tizzied up. No, I do not steal, but there was a sense of contentment and satisfaction that went along with this one. A sense of not wanting more and more past what you have already. Anyways, it definitely appealed to me.

I think it’s just neat to try this little experiment out. Sure a lot of it you need a ton of faith in yourself, discipline, and plenty of effort on your end, but the harder you try, somehow it becomes a lot easier to practice. The more you try the easier the universe will make it for you to achieve your goal. It’s incredible how much latent strength you have hidden somewhere in you, that is just waiting to come out and be displayed.

You don’t even have to pick a yama or niyama. If you have really just wanted to start a practice or habit, all you have to do is just put in the effort, and then everything will fall into place with just a little bit of faith. The universe is inherently looking out for you. It is inherently taking care of you and wanting to take care of you. Sure, at times it may feel like it’s every man for himself, but there are unseen forces who are constantly on your side as your little cheerleaders, hoping and helping you achieve anything you put your heart to.

When I was little, I was told that I can achieve anything I want if I put my heart into it and have faith in something greater than myself. And it’s so true. Naturally, I didn’t realize this until I got older. But, this little project has taught me just that. Am I perfect now? Heck no. The first 3 weeks we were assigned this, I just kept forgetting. But, at least now I am thinking about it. Step one, right?

Just ask for strength and the universe will give it you. It’s a pretty great relationship if you ask me!

Just keep telling yourself that you are incredible, and that you really can achieve anything you want to. It’s all possible. Trust me.

Happy weekend folks! Go out and be amazed at what this world has to offer you!

something about octobers

Thinking back, I can’t believe that one year ago today, I was sitting at my grandparents’ house in India studying Sanskrit and Yoga. It’s crazy thinking that it’s already been one year since I decided to start this journey in life, and tried my best to be open to what the world and universe sent my way.

Well, here I am one year later, starting a new journey with new relationships, and a somewhat new perspective and outlook on life. My husband and I (that still sounds funny) got married about a week and a half ago, and made the trek from Memphis to Albuquerque to study all those things that I started in India, but on a much deeper level. We are at the Ayurvedic Institute, and I find myself just as excited, if not more, to be back in the groove of studying Sanskrit and Yoga and Ayurveda.

Our classes officially started yesterday, and it was awesome to have all of my old memories and things that I remembered from India flood back to me. But, I think the coolest part of it all was that I now have my best friend to share this exciting time and new journey with, as well as 38 other fellow classmates. Everything is just a whole lot better when you have incredible people to share it with.

I know I’ve said this again and again and again, but it’s really crazy how life works out, and it’s crazier what happens when you let the universe give you what you need at that point in time. But, you have to be open to it, and really truly let your heart talk to you.

In class yesterday, we were talking about dharma, and what the true meaning of dharma is. It’s a really hard word to translate into English, but I like the definition that was given to us; and it was along the lines of being aligned with your true nature, true self, and when your soul and your heart is doing what it’s meant to be doing in life. As I was meditating yesterday, I was trying to just clear my mind, and when I was able to do that, even for that brief period of time, there was a sense of peace. I know that this path isn’t easy, but it brings me a sense of joy and peace, because I know that I’m doing something that I love, and not what someone else wants for me.

Once we let our insecurities go to the side a little, and realize that we have the capability to be open and loving, we can let the universe talk to us. It’s scary as crap, but totally worth it in the end.

I can’t wait to share this new journey with all of you, and tell you all about the different things I am learning! I guess Octobers are a good month for me…

a little tlc

YOWZAA. I can’t even remember the last time I blogged. Okay, it’s been almost 3 weeks. But, still, it’s been forever! And for that, I can only say that I am sorry. I knew my weeks would be crazy, but not this bad. I guess the good part though, is that I’m back. My last day of work was Monday, and it’s nice to have a little time to myself, and focus on things that need to get done in my life, like a more routine schedule where I can get back in the gym and start meditating more regularly again.

When life gets hectic and chaotic, it’s so easy for me to stop taking care of myself. I get tired and lazy. Eating out becomes more okay in my book. Not doing yoga or exercising or meditating becomes normal. The only things that end up mattering to me are making sure I have some sort of food in my stomach, and sleep. I never realized how hazardous this can become, nor did I realize the tolls it would have on my behavior. Cranky. Extra stressed. Extra emotional. Random bouts of anger.

WHAT IS GOING ON?! Folks this is no joke. This is real life. This is what happens when I stop taking care of myself. Never did I realize how important those little things like working out and doing yoga were in my life. Whenever I tried introspecting or talking it out, all I could figure out was that I just felt really imbalanced, physically, emotionally, and mentally. But I couldn’t put a finger on what was wrong.

It is so incredibly important to take care of yourself. Spend some quality time with you. Give yourself a little TLC. The external world all around is important, but it can easily act as a trigger to cause imbalances in your life. I don’t know the exact science behind it all, but a lot of the way you feel or act is attributed to the internal. It’s not easy honing in on exactly what makes you feel the way you do. But, it’s so important to keep trying.

I always did those things, journaling, meditating, etc because I enjoyed doing them. I felt at peace. But, it was never a thought to me that I actually needed it. It keeps me centered, focused, grounded, three things I can always tell is off in my life. As selfish as it seems, its important to put yourself first at times and take care of you. I think deep down, humans in general are pleasing people. We don’t want to come across as a bad person. And for some, like me, it’s hard for me to say no, even though I know that it’s going equate to less sleep or something. But, how are we going to take care of others if we are not fit to do so?

All I know, is that I am looking forward to a lot of personal time the next few days. How do you spend your personal TLC time?

shouldering burdens

I made it back to one of my favorite teacher’s yoga class yesterday (my work schedule is so ridiculous, that this is like the best thing that’s happened to me…getting off on a Saturday morning!). I was already pretty sore from my yoga session Friday, but I wanted to go, because Amy really incorporates the spiritual aspect of yoga into her vinyasa flows and I absolutely love it.

Friday, we did a ton of shoulder/upper arm asanas, and focused more on that. To my somewhat displeasure, we again, did a lot of shoulder/upper arm asanas today as well. It seriously was really difficult to get through. But, somehow or another, I did. And it was awesome.

But, this isn’t the point of this post. We started off class just standing in mountain pose and practicing some intentional breathing. The instructor started talking about intention, and what brought us to class that day. She continued to talk about a book she is reading about how mental symptoms manifest into physical symptoms. She was focusing in on the shoulders and how we carry all of our burdens in our shoulders. You can almost tell when someone is overwhelmed by their burdens, or whose ever burdens he/she is carrying, by how their shoulders are at a resting state–they are almost always rolled forward. This unintentionally brings a slouch to your back.

I never really thought of this before. I began to think about it as she was talking about shoulders rolled forward, and I realized that mine were definitely rolled forward. Go ahead and see for yourself. Are your shoulders rolled forward? If they are, roll them back. See what happens. I immediately rolled them back, which automatically opened my chest up and lifted my chin. Amazing. Something as simple as that brought a little bit more physical confidence in my appearance. Incredible.

The book that she was reading is called You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. In the book, the author has different mantras that you say for different physical symptoms. Amy began to read the mantra for shoulders as we were huffing and puffing practicing our intentional breathing and ujayi breathing. She began to tell us that in the book that when people have rolled shoulders it means they feel like they are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. I thought, there are definitely times when I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders. I consistently want to please everyone around me, I willingly bring that pressure upon myself. Does this happen to you guys ever?

Louise Hay’s mantra for the shoulders was kind of long, but I found this one line excerpt from it. “I choose to allow all of my experiences to be joyous and loving.” I think this is a very powerful affirmation to tell yourself on a regular basis. I don’t think we realize that when we don’t take even 2 minutes to focus on our own mental and physical health, how it begins to show physically. I choose to allow all of my experiences to be joyous and loving. There is no one out there in this world, in my life, that is telling me, “Nishita, you must be miserable and stressed and overwhelmed all the time.” No one. I’ve created this reality in my head that tells me I should be in a constant state of frenzy. I choose to allow all of my experiences to be joyous and loving. 

It’s hard to admit to yourself that the way you feel isn’t because of anyone else except yourself. But, I think once we realize this we can begin make our lives a little bit less miserable, and a lot more exciting and joyous.

This week, I’m going to think about my intention in every thing I do, the same way Amy makes me think about my intention every time I walk into her class. What’s your intention going to be this week? I am choosing to allow all of my experiences to be joyous and loving!

ps. This book is definitely on my list of books to read now. Have any of you read it?

my 6am yoga class

Y’all, I finally did it. I made it to the 6am yoga class I’d been telling myself I’d go to since I’ve been back from India. I set my alarm for 5am, and as soon as it beeped, I turned it off. I argued with myself (yes, this actually happens), saying that I’ll just go and workout after I get off work. I wake up 10 minutes later, look at the time on my phone, and grudgingly get out of bed.

I realized I had been telling myself excuses out of sheer laziness. How pathetic?! So, I sucked it up, changed out of my pjs (okay, all I really changed were my pants…into my yoga pants), and hopped in my car to the gym. I even got there 20 minutes before class was going to start. Awesome.

Seriously though, I realized that I have been missing out. Getting up that early and starting my day with a good vinyasa flow has made all the difference in today. I was a huge ball of energy the rest of the day. Also, I’ve noticed that when I start my days with something like yoga or meditation (or both!), I’m more aware of what’s going on during the rest of the day. I also make healthier choices and am more cognizant of what’s going on, my options, etc. For example, when I came home, I decided to make a fruit and veggie packed smoothie for breakfast (which was so delicious, I’ll post the recipe!) instead of skipping out on breakfast all together.

The way you start your day really does make a huge difference as to how the rest of your day is going to be, and I finally experienced that today. Waking up early, will also help me go to bed earlier too, so I’m not staying up, or waking up in the middle of the night. It’s all about regulating our internal clocks and stuff folks!

I’ve been reading a lot about how a morning ritual that involves a slow, every-day routine is really good for you in general. Instead of immediately hopping out of bed in a frantic, thinking about everything that needs to get done, you should wake up and be aware of the present. Focus on yourself. When I say the word ritual, I don’t mean something mundane where you wake up, shower, make coffee, eat, and leave. I mean, make it something meaningful. Journal the minute you wake up, meditate for 20 minutes before you leave the house, sit in a room filled with candles and do 10 minutes of intentional breathing, read an inspirational quote to start your day. The options are endless! By the time you leave the house, you’ll be refreshed and ready to take on the day.

Mornings are usually when I’m the most tired (except for at night around 11pm). But, I am going to make the effort to start having amazing, intentional mornings. I’m telling you. One experience, and your whole life is changed. Try it out!

patience is a virtue

Patience is a virtue, and a virtue which I can’t say I’ve mastered in my life. While I was in India I realized that I’m a very impatient individual contrary to my belief that I actually am patient. Let me expand. I am patient with the people that come in my life and the situations that are thrown at me. But, I’ve realized that I am not patient with myself. This is something that was further noticed during my vipassana experience.

Here’s what I’m talking about.
India: I took yoga classes for two and a half months. Surprisingly, there is a process in which you learn the different poses and maneuvers. Yes, I knew this going in. Did I keep this in mind within the first week and a half? Nope. My teacher was teaching me the process. First, I had to learn pranayama. We spent the entire first week on just that. One hour every day. Next, we moved on to learning stretches; I’m talking about flex your toes, bend your knees, completely basic stretches. In the back of my mind, I’m screaming, “I know all of this! Lets get straight to the head stands.” And then we moved onto very basic moves that I had already practiced during my regular yoga sessions in Memphis. I began getting very impatient a few weeks in. All I could think of was how I want to learn more advanced techniques and poses in yoga. That wasn’t going to happen.
Vipassana: If you read my posts on vipassana (if not, check them out here), you read how I was getting bored the first few days, especially when I realized that we weren’t even practicing the real vipassana technique, just a precursor to it. Of course, in the beginning I was thinking how I just wanted to get to the real deal.

Point of both of these scenarios: I feel as though I am more prepared than I actually am. I want a challenge from the get-go. I don’t like easy. What I learned from my yoga experience, was that through learning the basics, I’m strengthening my foundation so that I can be more successful when I actually do begin some more advanced poses. The basic crunches and bicycles and leg lifts that I was having to do in the beginning of my yoga training in India strengthens my core, which is really essential for a basic surya namaskar. Each step is built upon the prior. The same goes with what happened at vipassana. If I jumped straight into vipassana meditation without the basic foundation of ana pans where I’m learning to just concentrate my mind, then during actual vipassana, I wouldn’t have figured what the heck Goenke was talking about!

It’s as easy as this. When I was little, I would always watch people take the stairs 2 or 3 steps at a time, and no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t do it. I wanted to so bad, but looking back, I wasn’t ready for it. I needed practice. I needed to be patient. As silly as this little anecdote is, I think it gets my point across. You can’t jump straight to the big leagues, when you can’t even throw the ball. Okay, I’m done with my ridiculous metaphors and stories.

So, why am I writing about patience today? I came upon this quote:
“Please remember that patience is in and of itself a great challenge, and that it often holds the key to breaking through a seeming impasse.” Daisaku Ikeda

I was having these thoughts about patience when I was in India, and I even was talking to my friend back in the states how I was frustrated with my yoga teacher because I didn’t want to do this baby stuff. I realized I have a major patience issue.

This quote really resonates with me, in that patience really is a great challenge, an even greater challenge when it comes to being patient with yourself. I think humans are very eager individuals. It’s really easy for us to jump ahead, but when we don’t succeed at that stage, we get overwhelmed with disappointment in ourselves, and we quit. But, if we build ourselves one step at a time, we’re setting ourselves up for success.

Patience is a virtue, but one that takes great effort to actually instill in our lives.

Happy first day of February!

it’s time for the goodbye

Well, this is officially my last post from my 3 month long journey here in what I call the motherland-India. I am so excited to be hopping on a plane in less than 24 hours, and finally be heading to my home. But, a part of me hasn’t accepted that reality yet.

The past 3 months have literally been a roller coaster of emotions, experiences, thoughts, etc. I’ve learned so much about life and who I really am. I was lucky enough to have 4 amazing gurus to teach me as much they can in a short period of time about classical music, Sanskrit, Yoga, and Ayurveda. I’ve gotten so much closer to my family in India, and I can finally say I don’t feel like I don’t belong here.

I’ve eaten so much, I don’t want to see Indian food for at least 3 weeks after I get home (except for this one punjabi shabji my aunt is bringing me today!). I’ve literally shopped ’til I dropped. I’ve been in a car here more than I can say I wanted to. I rode on a train in India (from Ahmedebad to Mumbai). I did touristy things and took cheesy pictures. I partook in Navratri festivities, Diwali festivities, and Sharad Poonam activities. I’ve witnessed and experienced every range of social economic status–I saw what it is like to be extremely wealthy, and I’ve seen what extreme poverty looks like. I saw how ridiculous election time is here in Gujurat, and how angry people get when their candidate doesn’t win. I watched riots and protests on TV in Delhi after a young girl was gang raped on a bus. I visited beautiful temples that really represent what our places of worship should be like, and I’ve visited not so amazing temples.

I learned how to work a riksha and travel in the city all by myself. I know the streets of Ahmedebad and can find my way home if I get lost. I stayed in a village with no internet, a city that is growing faster than anyone can think, and in a megacity that is running out space. I saw the rivers and lakes of this country and more fruit trees than I ever have in my life. I saw that there are more animals roaming the streets of India then there are in the zoos of India. I watched Bollywood movies and memorized Bollywood songs that I can’t wait to bring back to the States. I talked in Gujurati, English, and shaky Hindi. I learned that the final price is never the final price here, and that you can always shave off at least 200 Rs at the end.

I found out that I am a very impatient person. I get aggravated easily. I learned that the only way to live life is to constantly be open to what your environment and surroundings are throwing at you. I realized that the Universe is always, always, giving you signs about where your life is going. And when those signs are being thrown in your face, grab them as quick as you can. I learned that the most unexpected people walk into your life and can make such a huge impression. I’ve made friends that I probably wouldn’t have if I hadn’t come.

I felt excitement, homesickness, loneliness, happiness, extreme heat, annoyance, over indulgence, pain, flexibility, and love.

Most importantly, I am content and at peace with myself. I’m ready to come home.

solar power

About a month before I left to come to India, I went to my doctor’s office for a basic check up to make sure all the wheels in my body were turning right. I didn’t want to have any surprise mishaps when I got here, knowing I was going to be here for 3 months, and I wanted to make sure I was in tip top shape.

One week after my check up, I got a phone call saying I was Vitamin D deficient, nothing too major, but definitely something I need to boost in my body. The first thing my parents jumped to was, you don’t drink enough milk, so of course you’re going to be low in Vitamin D levels. This is true, I don’t drink a lot of milk. Maybe one glass a day, and here in India, I don’t drink it at all. I don’t like the taste of it. I’m also at a point in my life, where I am really questioning the true benefits of milk, and really how natural it is for us to be consuming milk (we’re the only species consuming milk of another species after infancy). There are definite benefits of milk. This, I am not arguing with. But, these benefits can definitely be found in other sources such as plants and vegetables. Okay, my last thing about milk and then I’m moving on to the point of this post, I have a huge thing about what dairy farms are feeding cows which is then going into our own bodies. I mean, cows are supposed to be fed grass and walk around in fresh air, not be cooped up in some barn thing and fed processed, fortified, extra-hormone-added crap. All that in turn, we are feeding our body. If you’re gonna drink milk, drink organic. I have found no final conclusion on the milk issue, and if I ever do, I’ll let y’all know.

Okay, so back to my point. Is milk the only way for us to receive Vitamin D? And the answer is false. There is one source of Vitamin D that is free for us to use, and is one of the best sources-The Sun. Vitamin D deficiency is more common than you may think. And, we all know the reasons: kids choose video games over playing outside, we’ve become so engrossed in our work that we neglect our own physical health, and we become so tired by the end of the day or week, that we sleep in late. When was the last time you took a walk outside during a sunrise or sunset?

The sun drives our planet. It is the ultimate source of energy for all beings on Earth. And, best of all, it’s free for us to use! We don’t have to pay 5 something dollars for just one gallon of it! The benefits of the sun are tremendous! But, then why do we stay cooped up in our house all day long?

A practice I’m trying to develop as a habit here in India to bring back with to the states, is Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutation. It is said that if you are able to only practice 2 things for your wellness, Pranayama and Surya Namaskar are both beneficial enough to keep your body, mind, and spirit healthy. And I don’t doubt it at all. Surya Namaskar is seriously an all body work out. After just one or two rounds on your first few days, you will wake up sore the next. It is no understatement when I say you are literally harnessing the energy of the Sun, and bringing it into your body. After a few rounds, you will be energized and ready to take on the day.

it’s all about the surya y’all

The Sun, so powerful, that we literally don’t know how life can go on without it. We have a relationship with the Sun (read my post about it here), but we’ve forgotten that relationship. It’s time we rekindle it, and really reap the benefits.

In the Geeta, God himself states: “Yadadityagatam tejo jagadbhasayate’khilam | Yaccandramasi yaccagnau tattejo viddhi mamakam ||” This translates to “The light in the sun, that illumnines the entire solar world, and that which shines in the moon and that too which shines in the fire, know that light to be Mine.”

We have the ability to take in light straight from the Supreme himself. Let’s start taking in that light, and empowering ourselves to truly be healthy mind, body, and spirit.

Here are some great articles on the benefits of the Sun and Surya Namaskar:

10 Healing Benefits of the Sun; How Effective Is Sun Salutation; Sun Benefits 

Also, if you’re wanting to learn Surya Namaskar, check out your local yoga studio, college rec center for courses, ask a friend, or check out YouTube. The options are limitless. Don’t let excuses get in the way of a healthy life.