A powerful demon named Mahishasura was wreaking havoc on the gods and goddesses and was threatening to overthrow them. He was distracting them from their duties and causing them to turn their attention toward worldly pleasures. Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu, the sacred trinity in charge, were worried. They brought their energy together to create a great goddess, Mahamaya (also known as Durga).
Mahamaya was a fierce warrior, and along with her trusty lion, she attacked the evil demon. Mahishasura was able to transform into different creatures to try to defeat Mahamaya. It was a formidable fight. Mahamaya’s lion swiped at Mahishasura’s chest and was able to weaken him some. At that time Mahamaya shot an arrow into his flaming mouth, making him drop to the ground. Mahamaya stood upon Mahishasura’s chest and cut off his head with her scimitar. With the demon defeated light and grace were restored to all.
Maha maya means “great illusion”. Mahamaya fights against the illusion (maya) that makes us believe that what we see in the world is real. Our minds are represented in this story by Mahishasura; creating distractions to lead us away from our true nature.
The pose trikanasana forms three triangles (one with the legs on the floor; another underneath the side of the body with the arm and front leg; the third connects the top hand with the two feet). These triangles are representative of Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu. While taking trikanasana, try to meditate on bringing forth the strength of these three deities to crumble the maya and bring about your true nature.
To take trikanasana start from standing and step one foot back so feet are approximately 3-4 feet apart (this will differ depending on your leg length). The back heel is going to be turned in at about a 45o angle and you will press firmly into the back edge of this foot. Bring the arms up so that they are parallel to the ground and extending over the legs. Draw your front hip back as you extend the front arm away from the body. At this point tip forward while exhaling, bending at the hip rather than the waist, keeping both legs straight so that the front arm comes toward the floor. Top arm should stack directly over the shoulder. Turn the torso to the side so that one shoulder stacks directly over the other. Palms face the same direction as the upper body here. The hand can come to a block, to the shin or to the floor depending on your flexibility. Keep the muscles in the thighs engaged here. If it feels comfortable for your neck you can look up at the top hand. To come out, inhale keeping strong legs to lift back up and them step the feet together at the top of the mat circling hands together in front of the heart. Be sure to take the other side!
From my work I know a number of people that need to get their shoulders more mobile. I often work on this in classes and participants hear me talk about sewing machines and wings on your back such things as I attempt to describe the ways to move the scapula in particular (shoulder blade).
If you’ve ever felt stuck around the shoulder blades or have had knots around this area you definitely are not alone! In my thai yoga massage practice as well as in yoga classes this is one of the more predominant issues I hear about. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve held someone in an “FBI lock” while pressing my elbow into the muscles along the shoulder blade!
So, here are a few ways to open up this area. Two I have videos for, the others I’ll describe.
Laying on the floor on your back with knees bent, arms at side with palms facing the ceiling, slowly arc the arms out to the sides keeping them on the floor and straight until they are reaching above your head – like making snow angels. Bring them back down to the sides and then repeat several times. You’ll be surprised by a couple of things: 1, you may not be able to keep your arm straight throughout the movement, and 2, you can’t keep your arm on the floor the entire way around. Keep practicing and eventually it’ll get easier. Do about 10 each time.
For the next two you will use a wall. Standing at the wall with your palm pressed into it at shoulder height, begin to move away from your hand slowly until you feel a stretch in your bicep in the upper arm. Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds. This is more for the biceps and into the chest, but will help with the shoulder mobilization as well.
Still at the wall, this time with the back pressed against the wall and a bend in the knees, put your arms into a cactus position: elbows bent at 90 degrees, shoulder height and hands up the wall. Slowly bring the hands down into an up side down cactus with palms against the wall and then back up. Repeat this about 10 times.
These five movements will slowly bring about a normal range of motion in those who have been stuck and perhaps a greater range for others. It’s great for athletes, those working at desks and anyone who drives a great deal in particular. Try it out and let me know what you think!
“Your thoughts are like the artist’s brush. They create a personal picture of the reality you live in.” Syd Banks
When you slow your mind down and consider what thoughts loop through time and time again, what comes up? I spent many years telling myself that I wasn’t good enough for more money, wasn’t good enough for a better career, wasn’t good enough for a great love. Where did that get me? A low income in a career that was going nowhere with a guy that wasn’t the least bit suited to me.
What we tell ourselves creates our reality. There are a lot of people who give themselves messages just like the ones I just described, and others who continually tell themselves they are fat or they are ugly and on and on. Where is that getting you? Low self-esteem and lack of self-love comes to mind.
Confidence in ourselves and our ability to serve the world in our own unique ways is vital to living a fulfilled, meaningful life. So how do you get there? Here are a few tips:
Self doubt arises in the mind, but so does self love. The samskaras, as we call them in yoga philosophy, those looping thoughts, can work in your favour with a little mind training. Why not start today.
You are worth it.
If you are interested in a free breakthrough session to help you get there, get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or book your session anytime.
There are a lot of ways that you can choose a coach. Looking at their area of expertise is one that’s very helpful, although most coaches can work in other areas too. Ensuring they are certified/licensed and insured is another general way. These are the very basics of choosing. When we go beyond that, there are questions you can ask that gets to the heart of whether this coach who is certified and works in the area in which you want to be coached is right for you.
Often times this can be determined by simply having a one on one with them. Many coaches, including me, offer a free first session to determine if you are the right fit for each other (remember the coach may not feel you are a right fit for their style too). Beyond that you can ask questions about their coaching model and approach. Here are a few models that will help you to determine what you’re looking for:
GROW represents four stages in the coaching conversation:
CLEAR (Peter Hawkins)
The coach may take a very clear method or they may switch up based on the clients needs. They may also combine methods and approaches. Here are some of the approaches they may take.
Whatever the method or approach the coach takes, the most important piece is trust. Do you feel that this person is trustworthy to you, because without trust, you won’t be able to move forward in the coaching process.
What type of coach are you looking for?
“Knowing others is intelligence;
knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
mastering yourself is true power.”
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
Fear is the antithesis of personal power. We experience fear for so many reasons, often fear of the unknown, equally often, I believe, as fear of re-experiencing past pain. Our past experiences so often dictate how we live our future. This can be a great tool for our own protection of course – if we touch a hot stove as a child we won’t ever do it again! However, it can also be a block to how we conduct ourselves authentically.
When I was a teen, a couple of guys once said that my friend was the one with the personality and that I was the one with the looks. Highly hurtful to both of us. I think, especially in our teen years, we often place a higher vale on looks, she likely felt a great deal of pain from this and completely overlooked that I also did. And for my part, I didn’t feel comfortable expressing my own pain from that comment – because I got a compliment (so did she, but again, higher value on looks). The truth is, though, that comment stayed with me and still comes up from time to time in my mind as one of the most hurtful and damaging comments I ever experienced, even now at 51. I’ve been through a lot in my years but for some reason that stands out.
When that guy made that comment he essentially told me that my personality sucked and that all I was worth was my body, my looks. I was a shy kid and a bit on the awkward side, and called weird more than once. So I was already sensitive to this and trying my best to fit in. I tried to fit in through alcohol and drugs mostly, so this simple comment solidified my choices, I needed booze to fit in, to come out of the shell.
I gave my power away.
Now all these years later, and 19 years sober, I have learned and grown so much. I’ve finally come into a place where I feel authentic and have allowed the real Reena to show up. And finally, finally, realized that what people think of me is none of my business. What I think of me, however, is vitally important. Over the years I’ve worked on myself through yoga, reading countless books on spirituality and self-esteem and you name it! I’ve educated myself, taken course after course after course and got to a place where I felt like maybe I had more than a body and looks to offer (thankfully – I am 51 after all lol). There was still a piece of me that felt like I wasn’t enough though.
How many people, particularly women, feel this way? Staggering amounts! So how do we reclaim our personal power? For me, it started when I looked at the ways I was I was not living in accordance with my own values. My values are tied up in a sense of justice for all, in equal opportunities, in freedom, in authenticity and truth (for a start). So when I looked at the ways in which I was stepping out of my values and committed to changing that, I ended up changing a lot! I was finally ready to give up some things in my life that were causing conflict within. I stepped through a lot of fear and claimed my space. I did this through coaching, mindfulness as well as my meditation and yoga practices. It allowed me to see who I really was from my core and find the courage to live from that.
I reclaimed my power.
I’d love to hear how you are going about your own journey to personal power, please leave your comments!
Have you ever started on a road to make changes that will benefit you greatly, only to find yourself waining far too quickly? Losing motivation and deciding it isn’t worth it after all? Have you thought much about why you do that?
Self-sabotage often take the form of fear. I know when I go down that road of “it’s too much” or “I’m not ready” and other like thoughts, it’s typically fear based when I get to the root. Allowing fear to hold us back from the changes we want to make in our lives, however, is optional. And we are the only ones who can stop the process, albeit often with help.
This is one form of self-sabotage. There are others, but fear seems to be the biggest one. Weight loss sometimes comes with fear that others won’t want to hang out with you if you aren’t eating ‘fun foods’. Finding success in career might come with the fear that you’ll lose friends because you’re peer group will change or others will reset your success. Any change that we make has a pay off – but so does not changing.
Consider the benefit of staying exactly as you are right now and ask yourself if that benefit is stronger than the possible outcome of making change. Imagine how it would feel to obtain the change, regardless of what it is. If the emotional impact would benefit you, isn’t it worth getting over your fear?
While touring his kingdom, King Visvamitra stopped by the hermitage of the sage Vasistha. Vasistha invited to king and his army to dine with him that evening. Visvamitra wasn’t expecting much of a meal and was surprised at the feast that was presented to him and his men. He asked Vasistha how he managed this and Vasistha explained that he had a magical cow that had been gifted to him from Indra. The cow, Nandini, provided the sage with anything he needed. Visvamitra decided that such an animal should be with a king rather than a sage. He asked Vasistha to give it to him. When Vasistha refused, the king became enraged and decided to take the cow by force. Nandini understood what was happening though, and stood on her hind legs and out came an entire army of fierce warriors. These warriors swiftly defeated Visvamitra and his army. This incident made a deep impression on the king and he renounced his kingdom and lived in isolation as penance. He wanted to become a great sage like Vasistha. Unfortunately each time he progressed and was given yogic powers his temper got the best of him and he was again was left with nothing. After many trials and starting over many times, he finally obtained the title of Brahmarishi (a member of the highest class of sages) from Vasistha himself.
The pose named for Visvamitra is a tough one, requiring flexibility, core strength and a steady mind. An arm balance, twist, hamstring opener, hip opener and shoulder opener all in one. It takes time and patience to build up to such a pose, just as it took Visvamitra time and patience to become a sage. When we are willing to let go of the need for immediate gratification, we allow things to progress as they should naturally. Using force rarely gets us to where we need to be. When I look at the times in my life both on and off the yoga mat where I tried to work my will and make things happen, I’ve often been met with disappointment (or injury in the case of pushing too hard in yoga). It just doesn’t have the same feel to it. Alternatively when things come about naturally there is a sense of ‘rightness’; that this is exactly what is meant to be.
To take visvamitrasana, you need to be very warm, it should be done closer to the end of practice. For details on getting into this pose, see an earlier post here.
It’s very common to feel overwhelmed these days, and we easily burn out from all that needs to get done. From parenting to work even to our social lives, keeping up can be damn hard. Add on to that all the ‘shoulds’ and we have a recipe for anxiety, depression and other concerns around our mental health and our physical health as a result.
There are ways to deal with feelings of overwhelm and here are a few:
We all have our ways of coping, and as we grow emotionally, spiritually and through wisdom, they change. Finding the healthiest ways for you is key.
If you are ready for a coaching session, book a free one with me at this link: Breakthrough
It’s the first day of summer, which moves us into the season of pitta in ayurveda. For a little more on doshas, ayurveda and seasons, rad my previous post on Spring.
Ayurveda is a traditional Hindu medicine that is referred to as the science of life. It seeks balance of mind, body, spirit and recognizes that everything we encounter effects this balance. Like increases like is a simple way to look at ayurveda. If you have a pitta dosha, then having more pitta enhancing foods, exercises or even seasons is going to bring you further out of balance. In order to balance you want to then decrease your pitta and increase another dosha in this example.
Summer is the time for pitta. Pitta is associated with heat, it’s elements are fire and water. It makes sense then, that as the temperature starts to climb, and in some areas like where I am, so does humidity, our pitta increases as well. Since pitta enhancing foods tend to be spicy, sour, oily, and salty, we want to reduce these in summer. Start choosing tastes that are bitter, sweet, and astringent tastes calm pitta. This would include apples, cucumbers, grapes, dairy and other such items. Heavy meats should be avoided too. Rather than a roast, try more fish or put some kabobs on the bbq.
Cottons and linens are great choices to wear in summer because of their breathablility. Try to avoid synthetic in the summer to keep cool. Even think about the colors you are wearing or surrounding yourself with if you are particularly sensitive this time of year. Go for cooling colors like white, blue, green, silver and gray.
Sitali is a form of pranayama (breath work) that is cooling. If you find yourself heated up or your temper has flared (a sure sign of a pitta imbalance) try this out: Make an O shape with your lips and curl your tongue lengthwise. Imagine your tongue is a straw and ‘sip’ in the air. Breath until the lungs are filled and then bring the tongue back into the mouth and close the mouth. Hold the breath for a few seconds and then exhale through the nose. Do this several times and you’ll cool off like magic!
Do you know your dosha? Try a dosha test like this one: Discover Your Dosha Type
Have you ever gone through a period of time and eaten badly, didn’t treat your body right and felt generally gross as a result? (Haven’t we all?) Often we beat ourselves up over treating ourselves poorly, about being ‘bad’ , dropping off our prescribed feel good plan etc, etc. What if, instead of beating ourselves up, we find the gift that is awareness?
When we begin on a journey of increased health and wellness we start to realize that how we had been feeling wasn’t so good. I have health coaching clients who are quite amazed that they didn’t know how poorly they had been feeling, in fact. We can get used to anything – including feeling like a bag of sh*t! When we know better, we do better as the saying goes.
When we then take a detour down the old path, which by the way, is completely normal and expected, we are once again confronted with the realization that, yes, that feels gross! This is a time when people generally have a choice: beat yourself up, decide that you failed and go back to the way things were because, ‘hey, I just don’t have what it takes to maintain a lifestyle like this’ or realize the gift that you’ve been given – more deeply rooted awareness into the difference food, exercise etc has made for you! You experimented, essentially, and have discovered again ‘yup, this way feels a whole lot better!’
Change doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time and small steps. Eating healthier, more nourishing foods is no exception! Beating ourselves up about it only makes us feel worse, it doesn’t spur us on to better choices long term. When we are completely rigid in our thinking around health we are setting up the scenario for failure. Every time we make choices that are not as optimal for our health, we can look at it as an experiment, nothing more. It isn’t good or bad. It’s a choice. Period. It indicates nothing about how the rest of your life will proceed. It is more awareness.
We can relax in the awareness that no matter what, we can love ourselves through all the ups and downs of life, as a best friend would, compassionately and lovingly. It’s time to treat yourself like your own best friend.