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Category Archives: Yoga and Meditation

Ayurvedic Tips for Pregnancy and Postpartum (Also for sickness during pregnancy)

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imageThere are entire books written on Ayurveda and pregnancy, but the following tips are ones I’ve remembered or have made a big difference for me. Most of the tips came from my ayurvedic doctor, or people familiar with ayurveda, while some of them come from just what I’ve heard. Ayurveda is the ancient science of life. It’s fascinating to learn about. I’m not an ayurvedic practitioner, and one thing to note is that in ayurveda, every person comes with their own individual constitution. Some of the things that work for me, may not work for you because of your body constitution. But, for the most part, these are general rules that most pregnant woman can follow. Read the rest of this entry

What Your Nose Tells You About Your Brain… And It’s So Cool!

It's really hard to take a serious picture of your nose...

It’s really hard to take a serious picture of your nose…

Stand still or sit down.

Put you finger under one nostril like I’m doing in the picture, breath in and breath out. Put your finger under your other nostril, breath in and breath out again.

Which one was more clear, or less blocked?

If your left nostril was more clear, don’t bother reading this post (joking, just read it anyway).

If your right nostril is more clear, then you’re in luck. When your right nostril is more clear, the left side of your brain, which is the academic/logic part of the mind, is functioning better at that moment. So, comprehending this post will probably be much easier. Your metabolism and digestion is also working faster.

If your left nostril is more clear, the right side of your brain is functioning better. The right side of your brain is the more creative and artistic part of the brain. Ever noticed how sometimes, no matter how many times you read a block of text, the information just doesn’t seem to be sinking in? It’s probably because the left nostril/right side of the brain was dominant at that moment.

If both are completely equal and stay that way for a while, then maybe you’re an enlightened yogi, because it’s very rare.

There are certain activities that are better to do, depending on the nostril that is dominant.

Activities You Should Do If Your Right Nostril is Dominant

  • Read/write
  • Study
  • Giving speeches/talking in public/teaching
  • Sign important documents
  • Eat (or at least after you eat the right should be more clear to indicate good digestion)
  • Exercise, be active

Activities You Should Do If Your Left Nostril is Dominant

  • Listen to Music
  • Meditate
  • Being with friends and relax
  • Do leisure activities and do creative hobbies

But, what if you need your right nostril clear, so you can think? 

Let’s say you HAVE to pay attention at a lecture or meeting or something and the information is going in one ear and out the other. There are a few things that can help.

Casually lean to the LEFT to clear your RIGHT nostril, so you can pay attention better. Nobody will even notice what you’re doing. Like this:

I know, I know, it looks like I'm leaning over to fart... People, I know you can do it better than me in real life.

I know, I know, it looks like I’m leaning over to fart… People, I know you can do it better than me in real life because I can win awards for being most un-photogenic.

If you really don’t care what people think, you can actually stick your hand under your left armpit, there are certain energy points there that help clear the right nostril. Looks like this, minus the silly posed look on your face.

Nothing going on here, folks.

Nothing going on here, folks. I’m just terrible at having photos taken of myself.

If you’ve just eaten a big meal, you want to make sure your right nostril is more clear for better digestion. If your right isn’t clear, just after eating, you can also lean to the left or even recline or lay down on your left side to help the digestion thing start to happen. Sometimes you can actually feel the shift, like this big lump moving from one side of your sinuses to the other. Gross. Cool.

Some people have ‘chronic’ nostril dominance

The nostril that is more clear, should shift every couple hours or so. But, sometimes, you’ll find that it doesn’t and one tends to be more dominant throughout the day. To make it extremely simplified, if our nostrils don’t balance regularly, that’s an indicator that there’s some sort of imbalance in our systems. Luckily, there are some things you can do to help (important stuff people!).

If Your Right Nostril Seems to Be More Dominant, you may find your body and mind are overactive or your may have trouble sleeping. To help:

  • Fall asleep on your RIGHT side when you go to bed.
  • Do alternate nostril breathing, a breathing technique which balances the brain, releases stress and tension and impression on the mind, for about 5 minutes, twice a day. Here’s a link from the Art of Living Foundation on how to do it and the benefits and the video is below.

If Your Left Nostril Seems to Be More Dominant, you may find that your digestion is sluggish, you often feel ‘spacey‘, have trouble making decisions. To help:

  • Fall asleep on your LEFT side when you go to bed.
  • Do alternate nostril breathing, a breathing technique which balances the brain, releases stress and tension and impression on the mind, for about 5 minutes. Here’s a link from the Art of Living Foundation on how to do it and the benefits and the video is below.

How to Do Alternate Nostril Breathing

Twelve years ago, I was at a public talk by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and he had us all put our finger under our noses to check which nostril was dominant. I found that part of the talk fascinating and I’ve been paying attention to my nostrils ever since. I’ve been practicing about 14 years of yoga and meditation and observing the breath as well as been involved with teaching and learning in a classroom environment. From countless experiences, I’ve found that it’s very VERY interesting to put a little awareness into your snout!

If you have time, watch this video on the mind, by brain researcher, Jill Taylor, it is AMAZING. It ties in with the side of the nose that is dominant (even though she doesn’t talk about the nostril dominance thing specifically).

Yoga and Meditation: The Simple Science of Why It Works

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Make a tight fist.

Hold it.

Hooooold it.

Hold it until it becomes uncomfortable.

Keep holding.

Now relax.

Make a fist again.

Was it easier to make a fist the second time?

That’s the way yoga and meditation work for the body and mind. You give the body and mind a break from ‘the grind‘, so that you can come back again, stronger and sharper. Read the rest of this entry

If You Brush Your Teeth, You Ought to Read This

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Even the ocean sometimes isn’t enough to shut up my mind.

Tonight, while I floated around in the sea, trying to catch my last wave in, my mind was a bubbling mess of thoughts — worries, ‘what ifs’, doubts and insecurities. I walked home in a huff and took a shower. Then dried myself off and reveled in the fact that the house was quiet. My husband had taken the kids grocery shopping!

So, without wasting a second, I plopped down on the floor and shut my eyes for a 20 minute meditation. When I opened my eyes, I felt so fresh, alert and calm. All the stupid thoughts that had been flying around in my head 20 minutes ago, were gone. My smile was back and my breath felt light.

Do you brush your teeth everyday? Read the rest of this entry

The Mother Swallows the Anger of the Child

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I was sitting in our big comfy recliner when Goldie (2 1/2) came running to my feet. She threw herself on top of me and started crying. I pulled her onto my lap and listened while I stroked her head, “Oh yes,” I said, “I know, you wanted something and you couldn’t have it, you’re upset, etc.” Kissed her little forehead and eventually, she started smiling and then she bounced away.

I laughed as she toddled off because our interaction was not too dissimilar to many interactions I’ve had with my spiritual guru, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the Art of Living Foundation. People, including myself, travel all over the world to see him. He’s a very busy man, so when we finally get the chance to talk to him, we all gather around, painfully eager to get a chance to sit with him. And… he usually sits in a big chair! We laugh, we cry, we ask questions, we tell him our problems and our triumphs. The question I’ve heard him ask me the most is, “Are you happy?” He doesn’t really care too much what we do, so long as we are happy. Read the rest of this entry

I Bet You’ve Never Done Yoga WITH Your Yoga Mat

I know lots of you have done yoga ON a yoga mat… but how many of you have done yoga WITH their yoga mat? This is how Margo, my 4 1/2 year old, did it. She gave me explicit instructions on how to fold, bend and stretch, for optimal benefit. For those of you who may not know, ‘asana‘ is a sanskrit word for yoga pose.

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Womb-asana (Footling Breech Variation)

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Paper Airplane-asana

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Yogi Taco-asana

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Head-in-the-Sand-asana

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Bow Down Before Me-asana

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Heels In Your Buttcheeks-asana

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Float in a Boat-asana

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Yoga Mat Full Body Massage-asana

 

Can Being a Parent Make You Enlightened?

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At least 12 years ago, a friend of mine told me that your spiritual growth stops when you have children. I would say that is 100% inaccurate.

The other day, I was coming in from the ocean after surfing and I had this brief glance of the universe/consciousness/God. Whatever you want to call it. It was sunset and the water was delicious. I kept diving under the water, just to soak up the last few rays of sun. Those last few moments of being alone in the ocean and feeling the cool water against my face and of it rushing through my hair. Read the rest of this entry

How I Met My Guru

(I don't normally wear flowers in my hair... long story)

(I don’t normally wear flowers in my hair… long story) Washington DC 2008 (photo credit Kasia Fraser)

I am Kate.

I have a Guru.

You can find my guru’s picture in almost every room of my house.  It’s unusual for a white girl living in a modern western society, I know.

Gu – means darkness

Ru – means removal Read the rest of this entry

Instant Pick-Me-Up: Yoga Stretches You Can Do With Your Kids Milling About

'I like being tired and grumpy with the rooms spinning...' said no mother ever.

I like being tired and grumpy with the room spinning…‘ said no mother ever.

You feel like staring at the wall, or curling up under the covers, or dropping to the floor, or maybe even like running down the street screaming!  But, nope… You’re home with the kids and you’re stuck.  Forced into being attentive, alert, understanding and super-human-ish.  No matter how tired you are, or how much the room is spinning, you are mom (or dad) and you are on duty!   Energy sliding into oblivion… what should you do?   Reach for the coffee?  Turn on the tube?  Check facebook (again)?  No!  You can do something much better! Read the rest of this entry

Meditation with a Baby in My Lap: Confessions of a Yogi Mom

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What’s the first thing I do as soon as my kids fall asleep?! Do the dishes? Fold the laundry? Start cooking dinner? NO WAY! I unroll my yoga mat next to the bed where the kids are sleeping and start my yoga/breathing/meditation routine that I’ve been doing every day for the past eleven years. Read the rest of this entry