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Archive for March, 2011

Seated Forward Bend Paschimottanasana

Saturday, March 19th, 2011
seated forward bend

seated forward bend

A harmonizing practice for people in recovery

As you practice the following sequence, remember to honor your limitations, going to your edge with love and acceptance rather than judgment and discouragement. If you are unable to move into a posture at this time, focus on breath-ing deeply as you think about the affirmation—that in itself is healing. At the end of the routine, take some time to write down your thoughts.

Benefits Helps stretch the hamstrings and lower back. It also fosters a sense of calm and letting go, while gently stretching the spine.

Affirmation I move forward with patience.

Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Sit up straight and rotate your ankles, flexing and stretching them. Keeping your feet flexed, inhale and lift your arms above your head. As you exhale, bend at the hips and lower your chest toward your knees. Keep your spine straight as you do this. Place your hands on your calves, ankles, or feet, wherever you can comfortably reach. Hold the pose for 10 breaths.

adapted from Yoga Journal, by Annalisa Cunningham, author of Healing Addiction with Yoga

 

 

Zen Alarm Clock with Gentle Chime for Stress Reduction

Zen Alarm Clock with Gentle Chime for Stress Reduction

Now & Zen

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Chime Alarm Clocks, Well-being, Yoga Timer, Yoga Timers by Now & Zen, mindfulness practice, yoga


Child’s Pose – Use Your Yoga Timer with Gradual Chime

Friday, March 18th, 2011
gentle yoga for people in recovery

gentle yoga for people in recovery

A harmonizing practice for people in recovery

As you practice the following sequence, remember to honor your limitations, going to your edge with love and acceptance rather than judgment and discouragement. If you are unable to move into a posture at this time, focus on breath-ing deeply as you think about the affirmation—that in itself is healing. At the end of the routine, take some time to write down your thoughts.

Benefits Releases tension in the shoulders and spine and relieves mental fatigue. Encourages feelings of safety and protection, as though you were in a womb of healing energy.

Affirmation I rest in trust and patience.

Begin in Sitting Mountain Pose, sitting on your feet with your toes touching and your heels separated. Inhale.

As you exhale, gently lower your head to the floor in front of your knees. Place your hands, palms up, next to your feet. Completely relax the neck and shoulders. Set your Zen Bowl/Gong Timer for 5 minutes.  Hold this position while breathing for 5 minutes or as long as you are comfortable. Use pillows or bolsters for support under your torso or forehead if you have a tight lower back or stiff hips, knees, or ankles.

adapted from Yoga Journal by Annalisa Cunningham, author of Healing Addiction with Yoga

Use our unique “Zen Clock” which functions as a Yoga Timer.  It features a long-resonating acoustic chime that brings your meditation or yoga session to a gradual close, preserving the environment of stillness while also acting as an effective time signal. Our Yoga Timer & Clock can be programmed to chime at the end of the meditation or yoga session or periodically throughout the session as a kind of sonic yantra. The beauty and functionality of the Zen Clock/Timer makes it a meditation tool that can actually help you “make time” for meditation in your life. Bring yourself back to balance.

Gentle Tibetan Bowl Timer for Yoga, Meditation and a Gentle Alarm Clock

Gentle Tibetan Bowl Timer for Yoga, Meditation and a Gentle Alarm Clock

Now & Zen – The Yoga Timer Store

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Yoga Timer, Yoga Timers by Now & Zen, yoga


Gentle Yoga Routine – Use Your Zen Yoga Timer

Thursday, March 17th, 2011
Resting Yoga Practice

Resting Yoga Practice

A harmonizing practice for people in recovery

As you practice the following sequence, remember to honor your limitations, going to your edge with love and acceptance rather than judgment and discouragement. If you are unable to move into a posture at this time, focus on breath-ing deeply as you think about the affirmation—that in itself is healing. At the end of the routine, take some time to write down your thoughts.

1. Sitting Mountain Vajrasana, variation

Benefits Opens the heart and invites stillness into the body.

Affirmation Serenity comes when I surrender.

Kneel on the floor, with your knees pointed forward and your feet stretched behind you. Now sit back on your heels so that your back is upright. You can put a pillow under your buttocks or knees for padding in order to be comfortable in the position; if you cannot kneel, sit on a chair so that your spine remains straight rather than hunched over. Relax your shoulders. Keep your chest open. Breathe deeply and slowly to help you relax the body and mind. Imagine that you are firmly planted like a mountain, energy going up your spine, feeling strong and serene.

Use our unique “Zen Clock” which functions as a Yoga Timer.  It features a long-resonating acoustic chime that brings your meditation or yoga session to a gradual close, preserving the environment of stillness while also acting as an effective time signal. Our Yoga Timer & Clock can be programmed to chime at the end of the meditation or yoga session or periodically throughout the session as a kind of sonic yantra. The beauty and functionality of the Zen Clock/Timer makes it a meditation tool that can actually help you “make time” for meditation in your life. Bring yourself back to balance.

adapted from Yoga Journal by Annalisa Cunningham, author of Healing Addictions with Yoga

yoga tools and clocks with chimes

yoga tools and clocks with chimes

Now & Zen – The Zen Yoga Timer Store

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in intention


Yoga for Self-Confidence – Use Your Yoga Timer

Sunday, March 13th, 2011
yoga

yoga

After a busy day of work, kids, groceries, and stressing over global warming weather conditions, how often do you sit down and think about how accomplished you are; how many people you’ve helped; how you know you can do it again tomorrow because you’ve truly got what it takes to change the world? Most likely you collapse in a heap on the couch, overwhelmed by feelings of struggle or ineffectiveness, negative self-image, inertia, or the everyday kitchen-sink blahs.

Yoga can help you through those doldrums. Like a piece of string tied around your finger, yoga serves as a reminder to acknowledge all the good things about yourself—those accomplishments and qualities you’ve somehow forgotten. It gives you the confidence and oomph you need to shift feeling states—all you need to do is roll out that yoga mat and get started. In fact, one of the first things that yoga will actually remind you about is to do yoga!

Those of us who practice yoga regularly—the precise postures, deep breathing, and meditative awareness—have learned that no matter what mood we’re in at the beginning of our yoga session, we always feel better by the end. If we start out feeling stiff, we become looser and more fluid. If we feel sluggish, our energy perks up. If we were hyper-stimulated when we first sat on our mat, we end up calmer and more balanced when we leave. On days when we’re overwhelmed, yoga brings a sense of grounding and connection. When distressing world events lead to feelings of helplessness, the strength we exert on the mat will help us tap into a sense of personal power that allows us to move forward in life. Instead of feeling pulled in all directions, we begin to feel connected to ourselves.

Yoga works like this every time, no matter what reason you have for doing (or starting) it. Getting in shape, gaining strength and flexibility, improving your posture, digestion, or sex life—all these good things are already within your grasp. That strong, fluid, healthy, sexy you is just waiting to be uncovered, just longing for an invitation to show up at the party. Yoga serves as a reminder that the strong, able, open-hearted, and confident person you wish to be already exists, at least on the inside.

I’ve had plenty of intimidating experiences that yoga rescued me from, such as the time I gave a yoga lesson to a regular private client—an upper-crust member of high society—and her guest from the British royal family decided to join in. If I had been introduced to him before the class, I’m sure my palms would have started sweating, and I would have done a Ralph Kramden, “A hummuna hummuna.” But the class was already in full swing and, filled with confidence about the benefits of yoga, I didn’t feel the least bit shy as I warmly welcomed him onto the mat.

As I made some hands-on adjustments to the now shirtless royal, I thought to myself, “Is it OK to touch someone this close to the crown?” But, at that moment, I was the expert and I knew that I could help him with his overly flexible joints. He couldn’t have been nicer and more appreciative, and we had a nice chat after the class, during which I wished I were wearing a cuter outfit.

Even though I wasn’t doing the yoga with my two students, I benefited from exploring the qualities that they were practicing under my guidance: standing on one’s own two feet, finding balance, resting in one’s breath, taking chances, being steady and straightforward, letting go, falling down, having fun, and taking a fresh start. These are all yogic gateways toward remembering the feeling of confidence in any situation.

yoga

yoga

Meditation master Chogyam Trungpa taught that we are all born with basic goodness, and when we acknowledge this, we connect with a sense of primordial confidence. Although this confidence already lives within us, we can sometimes lose our link to it because of negative emotions, such as fear, jealousy, or hatred. Alas, those feelings live there, too, but they don’t have to take over our entire mental and emotional landscape, leaving no room for the natural faith we have in who we are and what we can do. Just like in cooking, we can fold our natural self-confidence right into our self-consciousness to create a new and healthier blend. Who knows? Maybe with enough yoga practice, the confidence will rise to the top just like the yummy cream in a farm-fresh bottle of milk.

This yoga sequence is designed to help you develop building blocks you can use to reconnect to your own inherent self-confidence. Take your time, and try to release any expectations. The opposite of self-confidence is wishing and hoping, which always get us in trouble. Let go of that habit, and try to stay connected to your own deep breath. Have faith in your own good heart.

Mountain Pose With Arms Up. Stand with your feet directly below your sitting bones so you feel firmly planted. At the same time, actively reach through every fingertip up to the sky. This pose can be done almost anywhere, anytime, and is a great reminder of how good it feels to be able to stand on your own two feet. Let your breath be full and notice how your front, back, and sides fill with breath and soften back in toward your strong and quiet center. Hold this position for five deep breaths.

Warrior Lunge. Bend both knees. Step your left foot back, and balance on the ball of the foot. Make sure your left leg is straight with strong energy extending out your left heel. Keep your right leg parallel to the ground, knee above heel. Use your abs to keep your spine vertical. Even though your arms are getting tired, hold them up with commitment for a little longer. Let your gaze rest on something at eye level across the room to help you find balance and steadiness within the exertion of this full-body position. Stay here for three to five breaths.

Open Warrior (Warrior 2). On an exhale, turn your back heel inward and lower it to the ground, so your left foot is roughly perpendicular to your right, and the arch of your left foot is in line with the heel of your right. Pivot your hips and torso to face outward over your left foot. Extend your arms away from each other at shoulder height. As you breathe in and out for five to eight breaths, let your open body position invite you to feel expansive, open-hearted, and confident.

Reverse Warrior 2. On an inhale, lean away from your bent knee, stretching your right arm overhead as your left hand rests on your left thigh for support. Stay here for three breaths and indulge in the feeling of breath nourishing your body. Even though your legs are getting tired, can you let your breath give you a second wind? This is great practice for staying the course when you feel tired or discouraged.

Lunge. On an exhale, cartwheel your hands to the floor, on either side of your right foot. Bring your left knee to the ground with your toes pointing behind you, in line with your body. Your right knee should be over your right heel. Reach out through the crown of your head and out through your back heel. Focus on your whole body, inhaling and exhaling through your nose for five cycles.

Twisted Lunge. On an exhale, twist to the right and place your hands in prayer position. Press the back of your left elbow against the outside of your right knee as you draw up through your spine. Relax your mind once again and see if you can feel long, strong, and expansive. Stay here for 5 breaths. Lengthen your spine with each inhale, and twist a little bit more deeply (from your core) with each exhale.

Forward Fold. Exhale and place your hands on the floor on either side of your right foot. Inhale; on the next exhale, step your back foot forward and place it next to your right foot. Let your head hang between your arms and bend your knees if it’s more comfortable. Stay here for as long as you want but try to focus on your breath. Notice what the breath feels like when you are in this upside-down situation. It will be helpful when life throws you for a loop.

adapted from Natural Solutions by Cyndi Lee

Use our unique “Zen Clock” which functions as a Yoga Timer.  It features a long-resonating acoustic chime that brings your meditation or yoga session to a gradual close, preserving the environment of stillness while also acting as an effective time signal. Our Yoga Timer & Clock can be programmed to chime at the end of the meditation or yoga session or periodically throughout the session as a kind of sonic yantra. The beauty and functionality of the Zen Clock/Timer makes it a meditation tool that can actually help you “make time” for meditation in your life. Bring yourself back to balance.

Zen Alarm Clocks and Yoga Timers with Gentle Chime

Zen Alarm Clocks and Yoga Timers with Gentle Chime

Now & Zen – The Yoga Timer Store

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Yoga Timer, Yoga Timers by Now & Zen, Zen Alarm Clock, Zen Gardens


The Poetry Cure

Saturday, March 12th, 2011
harobu

harobu

Christy Porter spends her days hefting crates and picking cantaloupe to feed migrant farmworker families in Southern California’s Coachella Valley. It’s hard work, and it shows. The 48-year-old nonprofit director walks with a seesaw gait on arthritic and overtaxed knees. Her arms are dotted with spider bites, her legs often splashed with oil from do-it-yourself attempts to fix the forklift.

Yet despite the dings, Porter seems to glide on a cushion of air. Like one of those airboats skimming over crocodile-infested waters in the Everglades, she rides a little higher than those around her. Her cushion? Not a daily meditation practice or a stress-busting supplement, but poetry. In her mind’s eye, its images and rhythms transform her everyday surroundings into something new and fresh.

Sure, it’s 120 degrees outside, but isn’t that brutal glare simply the world blazing, “like shining from shook foil,” as Gerard Manley Hopkins said?

And yes, she occasionally runs into sidewinders lurking under the warehouse stairs. But it’s hard to be spooked when she thinks of Emily Dickinson’s “narrow fellow in the grass.” “You know that starburst filter that photographers use to make everything sparkle?” Porter asks, shaking her blonde hair out of a big straw hat. “Poetry is like that to me.”

Indeed, healers through the ages have turned to poetry for its remarkable ability to soothe and console, much like prayer and song. The Iroquois fought off depression after the loss of a loved one by chanting a condolence incantation. In ancient Egypt, healing verses were written on papyrus which was then dissolved into a brew to be sipped.

Today, poetry is actually making its way into some doctors’ offices. Harvard poet-physician Rafael Campo, author of The Healing Art: A Doctor’s Black Bag of Poetry, is convinced that reading, writing, or reciting poetry can be therapeutic. In his own internal medicine practice, he likes to slip sheets of poetry among the prescriptions and brochures he hands out to patients.

Campo believes poetry can let people see illness differently (the starburst lens theory), as well as help them stay on an even keel amid life’s spider bites and forklift breakdowns.

While he’s certain that poetry is good for people, he can’t tell you quite why. “We’re just at the early stages of understanding the possible mechanisms of action,” Campo says. “But poetry probably affects people beginning on the level of the neurons in the brain stem. When patients read or recite poetry, the rhythms have been shown to improve the regularity of their heart and breathing rates.” Indeed, a study published in the International Journal of Cardiology showed that when volunteers read poetry aloud for 30 minutes, their pulse rates were slower than those of people in a control group who engaged in conversation.

Getting Acquainted with Poetry
For most of us, poems are something we left behind in high school or college. Here are a few simple ways to bring them back into your life.

• Go back to the beginning Try to remember something, anything, you liked that was read to you as a child: Mother Goose, Shel Silverstein, hymns or lullabies. The rhythms that moved you as a child can reach you now, and serve as your entrée to more adult fare.

• Read with your ears Poetry reaches us through our ears even more than our eyes. To experience this aural impact, go to a poetry reading or listen to tapes or CDs of poets reading their work. Or, as Denise Levertov once suggested, go into the bathroom and read poems out loud to yourself.

• Find your match “There’s a poem for everybody just like there’s music for everybody,” Christy Porter says. Don’t give up because you hate Hopkins or loathe Levertov. If intricate language is not your thing, try a plain-speaking poet like Mary Oliver or Billy Collins, the former U.S. poet laureate.

• Learn one by heart There’s nothing as handy as a great poem that’s filed in your brain, always accessible. Use relaxed moments when you’re walking or hiking to memorize a poem or lines from a poem. Poems learned by heart are “secret talismans,” Rafael Campo says. They can “ward off panic attacks while you’re flying on a plane—or be recited aloud while you’re doing yoga in the living room.”

• Write your own You don’t have to write poetry to benefit from the art form, but if you’re moved to try your hand at it, Campo recommends these guides: John Fox’s Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making (J.P. Tarcher, 1997) and Louise DeSalvo’s Writing as a Way of Healing (Beacon Press, 2000).

adapted from Natural Solutions, by Anna Japenga, January 2004

Zen Alarm Clock for a Gentle Awakening

Zen Alarm Clock for a Gentle Awakening

Now & Zen

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Chime Alarm Clocks, Dreams


Massage Your Nervous System by Just Breathing – Choose a Zen Timer With Chime

Thursday, March 10th, 2011
yoga

yoga

There is one yogic breathing technique that can be practiced at all times of the day and night by just about anyone.  This pranayama (breath control) is called ujjayi.

Ujjayi means “victorious.”  The prefix ud means upward and superior, and jaya (from root ji) means to conquer and have victory over.  With consistent practice of ujjayi breath, a practitioner will attain victorious results for both body and mind.

The benefits of ujjayi breath are manifold.  In addition to aerating the lungs and removing excess phlegm, it boosts endurance and gently warms the body.  This soothing breath massages and tones the entire nervous system, making it an excellent way to combat stress.  It’s also believed to help counter high blood pressure.

While one should initially learn ujjayi breath in a seated position, in can later be consistently threaded through the entire asana practice.

Here’s how to practice:

1.     Sit in a comfortable, upright meditation position (I encourage sitting on a folded blanket or pillow for extra support)

2.     Maintaining a tall spine, close eyes and begin to breath normally through both nostrils.  Observe the flow of the air in and out of the body.

3.     Once you’re familiar with the course of the breath, take a deep, slow breath in through the nostrils.  Try to focus the air in on the palate and back of the throat and create a sibilant sound (saaaa).  It should be an ocean like sound, or like having your ear against a conch shell.  Fill the lungs entirely and then…

4.     Breath out slowly, focusing the air on the back of the throat/palate.

The sea-like sound is caused by a subtle constriction of the glottis, which is the aperture of the larynx.

The breath should be just loud enough that someone sitting close to you would hear it.   Avoid being too loud of forceful.  I’m fond of esteemed Ashtanga teacher Tim Miller’s description of ujjayi, “Imagine sipping the breath in through a straw. If the suction is too strong the straw collapses and great force is required to suck anything through it.”

5.     Set your Zen Timer with Tibetan Bowl for 15 minutes.  Continue to breathe for 5 to 15 minutes with this ocean like sound.  If possible, take a brief savasana after.

More experienced practitioners, commit to carrying ujjayi breath through your entire asana practice.  Let it be metronomic in quality.

Observe how much space you’ll discover in body and mind!

Sophie Herbert is an alignment focused yoga teacher (and perpetual student), a singer-songwriter, and a visual artist. She has lived, studied, and volunteered extensively in India; teaches yoga in Brooklyn and Manhattan; and recently released her first full-length album, “Take a Clear Look.” Please visit her website at SophieHerbert.com.

adapted from Wholeliving.com February 2011

Use our unique “Zen Clock” which functions as a Yoga Timer.  It features a long-resonating acoustic chime that brings your meditation or yoga session to a gradual close, preserving the environment of stillness while also acting as an effective time signal. Our Yoga Timer & Clock can be programmed to chime at the end of the meditation or yoga session or periodically throughout the session as a kind of sonic yantra. The beauty and functionality of the Zen Clock/Timer makes it a meditation tool that can actually help you “make time” for meditation in your life. Bring yourself back to balance.

The Zen Timer and Clock Store - Boulder, Colorado

The Zen Timer and Clock Store - Boulder, Colorado

Now & Zen – The Zen Timer Store

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Chime Alarm Clocks, Yoga Timer, Yoga Timers by Now & Zen, Zen Alarm Clock, Zen Clocks and Dream Recall, Zen Timers, yoga, zen


Find Your Balance in a Tree Pose

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011
Tree Pose

Tree Pose

One of the most recognizable yoga asanas, Vrksasana (Tree Pose) has been identified in Indian relics dating back to the seventh century. “A figure standing in a one-legged balance is part of a famous stone carving in the town of Mahabalipuram,” says Tias Little, the director of YogaSource in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In ancient times, he says, wandering holy men called sadhus would meditate in this posture for long periods of time as a practice of self-discipline.

In some traditions, the pose is called Bhagirathasana, to honor a great yogi king from India who—legend says—stood on one leg for a long time to appease the Hindu god Shiva and to be allowed to bring the sacred river Ganges from heaven to earth. “This posture represents the intense penance of Bhagiratha,” says Kausthub Desikachar, son and student of the yoga master T.K.V. Desikachar and chief executive of the Krishnamacharya Yoga Madiram in Chennai, India. “It’s supposed to motivate us to work toward our goal even if there are many obstacles in the way.” That doesn’t mean you have to stand on one leg for years. “The point is to make a dedicated effort to one’s practice,” he says. “It makes us strong, it enhances our willpower, and we achieve amazing benefits.”

This ancient, reliable pose is often the first balance posture you learn, since it’s relatively simple and strengthens your legs and spine and opens your thighs and hips. When you practice balancing poses, you learn some practical lessons in how to get grounded, find your center, stay focused, and steady your mind. Plus, the process—falling and trying again—helps develop patience and persistence, humility, and good humor.

Boost your balance

Learning to balance often has more to do with your mental state than your physical abilities. If you’re stressed, or if your mind is scattered, your body is likely to be unsteady, too. And, of course, the very practice of trying to balance is stressful. Most of us, as we try to balance, have unsettling thoughts like “I can’t do this” or “Everyone’s watching me wobble.”

Luckily, there are three tools you can use to quiet distracting mental chatter and steady your mind:

1. Be aware of your breath. Paying attention to your breath helps unite body and mind and establish a state of physiologic calm. As yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar writes in his classic guide, Light on Yoga, “regulate the breathing, and thereby control the mind.”

2. Direct your gaze. Also called drishti, a steady gaze helps focus your mind. In Vrksasana, anchoring your gaze on the horizon or a fixed point directs energy forward to keep you upright.

3. Visualize your tree. Imagine that you are a tree—with your feet rooted firmly in the earth and your head extending up toward the sun. Take a moment to meditate on what “tree” means to you and find an image that suits your body and temperament—a graceful willow, a solid oak, a flirty palm. Invite this mental picture to guide you toward stability.

Posted in Yoga Timer, Yoga Timers by Now & Zen, yoga


A Regular Meditation Practice Can Make Your Brain Work Better – Use Your Zen Meditation Timer

Monday, March 7th, 2011
meditation

meditation

Sitting in meditation can be challenging. You might feel anxious to get back to your busy day. Your mind wanders. Your foot falls asleep. But consider this: A regular meditation practice can make your brain work better.

Over the past few years, scientists have discovered that meditation helps the brain to process information more efficiently. One study, conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, found that people who meditate capture information that others miss when presented with a series of visual cues in quick succession. The difference was most marked in longtime practitioners of vipassana meditation, but even novices who practiced just 20 minutes per day scored better than people who didn’t meditate.

Just as repeated practice of Sun Salutations builds strength and stamina, so regular meditation enhances the brain’s capacity for perception, awareness, and efficiency in processing, says Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School. “Meditation has both short- and long-term benefits to brain structure and function,” he says.

Another study, conducted through Massachusetts General Hospital, found that longtime meditators have a thicker insula, the part of the brain that links the emotional center with the thinking center. Some researchers say that this finding may explain a seeming paradox: In meditators, the amygdala, the part of the brain tied to the fight-or-flight impulse, is more active than in nonmeditators. But meditators also seem to be better able to calm that response than others.

“No one has proven why yet, but the theory is that meditators are more aware of what’s happening in their environment and better able to control their internal psychological and physiological responses to it,” says Khalsa.

adapted from Yoga Journal by Heather Boerner

Use our unique “Zen Clock” which functions as a Yoga & Meditation Timer.  It features a long-resonating acoustic chime that brings your meditation or yoga session to a gradual close, preserving the environment of stillness while also acting as an effective time signal. Our Yoga Timer & Clock can be programmed to chime at the end of the meditation or yoga session or periodically throughout the session as a kind of sonic yantra. The beauty and functionality of the Zen Clock/Timer makes it a meditation tool that can actually help you “make time” for meditation in your life. Bring yourself back to balance.

Meditation Timers and Chime Clocks

Meditation Timers and Chime Clocks

Now & Zen – The Zen Meditation Timer Store

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Yoga Timer, Yoga Timers by Now & Zen, yoga


Everyday Ecstasy

Sunday, March 6th, 2011
yoga wind pose

yoga wind pose

Four days a week, Nancy Seitz unrolls her yoga mat for a 90-minute asana practice in the Sivananda Yoga tradition. But her “yoga” doesn’t end when Savasana does. By ardently embracing some of yoga’s devotional practices, Seitz—a 55-year-old editor in Manhattan—has developed a sweet sense of connection with the Divine that permeates her entire life.

Each morning she practices a 30-minute devotional mantra meditation. Before she leaves for work, she repeats a mantra for safe passage. She offers gratitude before each meal. She attends a weekly arati (light) ceremony at her local Sivananda center. At home she performs a puja ceremony at her altar—offering milk, rice, flowers, and water to Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of music, arts, and knowledge, as well as to other deities. She devotes her yoga practice to the spirit of the leader of the lineage she follows, the late Swami Sivananda.

“Bhakti just gives my practice a different dimension,” Seitz says. “It’s really hard in the day-to-day world to keep awareness and stay positive, and this awareness of the Divine helps.” Like other modern yogis, Seitz has found bhakti yoga, known as the yoga of devotion, to be a lifesaver as she navigates a hectic modern existence. The Sanskrit word bhakti comes from the root bhaj, which means “to adore or worship God.” Bhakti yoga has been called “love for love’s sake” and “union through love and devotion.” Bhakti yoga, like any other form of yoga, is a path to self-realization, to having an experience of oneness with everything.

“Bhakti is the yoga of a personal relationship with God,” says musician Jai Uttal, who learned the art of devotion from his guru, the late Neem Karoli Baba. At the heart of bhakti is surrender, says Uttal, who lives in California but travels the globe leading kirtans and chanting workshops.

Yoga scholar David Frawley agrees. In his new book, Yoga: The Greater Tradition, he writes that the ultimate expression of bhakti yoga is surrender to the Divine as one’s inner self. The path, he says, consists of concentrating one’s mind, emotions, and senses on the Divine.

everyday ecstasy

everyday ecstasy

As American yoga matures, interest in bhakti yoga has exploded. The Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, holds an annual bhakti festival, and Yoga Tree in San Francisco hosts the Bhakti Yoga Sunsplash, a celebration with music. Today’s Western yogis don’t necessarily practice devotion to a Hindu deity, a guru, or “God” as a patriarchal figure in white robes (although some do). Many Westerners who practice bhakti yoga tend to connect with a more encompassing idea of the Divine, the Beloved, the Spirit, the Self, or the Source. As Uttal says, “Everyone has their own idea or feeling of what ‘God’ is.”

“For me, bhakti means whatever strikes your heart with beauty, whatever hits the mark of your heart and inspires you to just feel the love,” says Sianna Sherman, a senior Anusara Yoga teacher.

As you tap into this universal love, you naturally develop a sense of trust that this benevolent, wise universe provides; you relax; and you can’t help but generate positive energy for others.

Frawley calls bhakti “the sweetest of the yoga approaches” and says it is often more accessible than other forms of yoga, which may explain its growing popularity. “At first, American yoga was just a fitness thing,” says Carlos Pomeda, a yoga scholar in Austin, Texas. “But more and more we are seeing people discover this whole other world of love and devotion.”

adapted from Yoga Journal by Nora Issacs

gentle chime clock from Now & Zen

gentle chime clock from Now & Zen

 

Now & Zen

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Yoga Timers by Now & Zen, yoga


Have Fun to Boost Your Immune System

Saturday, March 5th, 2011
meditation lady having fun

meditation lady having fun

Plan a fun night with friends or book that workshop with a visiting yoga teacher—it may keep you healthy. Earlier this year researchers at Loma Linda University in California discovered that looking forward to an event boosts immunity. They compared the stress levels of two sets of students—one group was anticipating a positive experience; the other group was feeling neutral. Those in the first group had lower levels of stress hormones, including cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline), which are known to weaken the immune system over time. “Our studies show that biological changes take place before and in anticipation of an event. Specifically, detrimental stress hormones decrease when you look forward to something you enjoy,” says Lee Berk, the study’s lead author. In 2001 the same researchers discovered that laughter increases immunity. What better excuse to invite some of your friends over to laugh out loud?

adapted from Yoga Journal by Catherine Gutherie

Tibetan Timer and Gentle Alarm Clock for Meditation

Tibetan Timer and Gentle Alarm Clock for Meditation

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Posted in Well-being, Yoga Timer, Yoga Timers by Now & Zen, yoga


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