Wednesday, December 12, 2012

DIY Christmas gifts are fun

Nate's dad, Paul, wanted new business cards. He was tired of his old black and white cards and ready for some new designs.  He is a very talented wood carver along with ceramics and metel work... His all-time favorite subject to carve is fish (he's Swedish :).

So I took some photos of some of his work and had fun with it! Using a couple of new programs on my iphone I was able to make the background of the fish look funky, colorful and hopefully eye-catching.  I then created a collage of these photos and made them the centerpiece of his otherwise simple business card.

Should make a fun little DIY Christmas gift once I get these printed out :)

Check it out and let me know what you think! & Merry Christmas everyone!!!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Balancing Opposites

This morning in yoga class, Rocky told us a wonderful revelation: "Learn and practice the art of doing nothing, the art of allowing." This was in reference to our beautiful shavasana ("corpse pose"), after a very active yoga class.

shared from Pinterest
The beauty of it, as he said, is that we are constantly going towards the edges to find that balanced midline just like when we practice handstand. We are constantly going toward the edges trying to find that perfect balance.

shared from
You might not notice it when you see someone do a graceful, balanced handstand but it's these aspects that are usually at play (which I find completely fascinating):

1. feet extending toward the sky
2. hands spread and rooted down firmly into the ground
3. belly deeply engaged & pressing in toward the spine
4. tailbone tucking up & under
5. ribs pulling in
6. arms strong and straight
7. Thighs squeezing together strongly
8. Biceps externally rotated
9. palms and finger tips widely clawing the mat
10. toes actively engaged and spread
11. heart melting forward
12. shoulder blades squeezing in toward the spine

It's when we are able to push a little toward each edge that we find that perfect balance as if we could stay upside down forever (or maybe just a full minute- haha!).

It's the principal of taking opposing, paradoxical forces (strong and open, grounded and flying, soft and full of effort, contracted and expanding) and pushing against each of them to find one integrated, equal whole. When you're in a pose or really any situation in life, it's a true art to balance two polar opposites and find union (yoga) between both.

It was this same principle at play when we ended our super active, heated class (of handstands and core strength building) with blissful shavasana. It was at that moment when Rocky told us how important the art of doing nothing is. The art of of allowing. It was that final moment that I found my true inner balance, peace, and harmony. It was this full act of rest after such a vigorous asana practice when I experienced integration between my physical body, heart and mind.

NYC Times Square Shavasana, shared from Pinterest
The physicality of my practice is really the tip of the iceberg. The lessons I learn on a visceral, physical plane guide and teach me on every other level - emotional, mental and spiritual.

It's such a beautiful practice I am so grateful to have in my life!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Karma Project

Starting today, I am embarking on a 30 day project which I'll be calling the Karma Project.  My dear and beautiful mother will also be joining me.  Before I go into the project, I would like to explain what has led me to this idea for practice.

Yoga has been quite a savior for me.  The transformation, growth, sheer grace, humbling beauty and love it has given me is tremendous.  I want to thank each and every yoga teacher I've ever had for each and every class I've ever taken.  I have inched, and leaped closer to the ultimate freedom, light, joy, wisdom and love I've always yearned for.  The graciousness and spaciousness I have experienced, transferred from one yogi to another, melts my heart.

Karma Yoga is the art of selfless service (also known as Seva).  It is doing something kind for someone else or doing the right thing without expecting anything in return, such as applause or reward.  The belief is if you do something good for the benefit of someone else, even a small gesture like opening the door or helping an elderly person across the street, and you are not attached to the fruits of that action, you will experience true freedom and purity of heart.  However, if your ego is tied to that action and you are doing it for other selfish motivations, you are bound to the fruits (results) of that action and you are not experiencing pure freedom and joy.

shared from Spiritual Bliss facebook page

Better put from yogawiz:
"The individual who acts as an instrument in the hands of the Lord, as a participant in the cosmic activity of Nature, devoid of any expectation of fruits, his/her Karma will not bind that person.  In that case, the individual's actions become Karma Yoga.  So in the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna exhorts Arjuna to work unselfishly.  Believe you are merely an instrument with the Supreme working through you.  The password is surrender.  Yield all the fruits of your actions to the Supreme.  IT is then and only then, that the individual is freed from bondage of Karma.  Then we start to enjoy peace.  The practice of Karma Yoga, further, prepares the individual to receive knowledge of the Supreme Self."

One important thing I've learned through my yoga practice is that gratitude is an infinitely growing and exponential process.  It positively affects everything it touches, even in the smallest, subtlest way. It's the ripple effect.  It has the power to heal not just our self but what's around us.  It's deeply transformative in nature.  I am beginning to wonder if giving (selflessly) is not the other side of the coin to gratitude? Like the chicken and the egg, if a person begins to practice feeling gratitude for life and everything she has, wont' she also feel more inclined to give for the sake of giving (and vice versa)?

As yogis we are given the gifts of fire and water (as well as earth, air and space).  The fire or heat we create in yoga brings about transformation and stirs something deep within us - be it courage, love, etc.  The water we create, when we cry tears of pain or joy, is such a needed release of emotion.  It moistens the grounds of our heart in preparation for spiritual growth.  We can plant seeds in this new soil and it can grow exponentially.  Grounded in truth and rooted in love, we protect our seeds and slowly we watch them grow up toward the sky, toward the light, toward heaven.  The amount of growth is infinite and it's these early elemental gifts of fire and water (and earth, air and space) we receive in yoga, that makes our own transformation possible.  Picture a caterpillar in her cocoon emerging as a butterfly or a seed planted and growing into a tree.  Through our transformation a veil is lifted from our eyes, and we catch a glimpse of our true and full God given capability.  We begin to see how we can be of service to the world.

My mom shared her idea with me, that if each person was to really use (and enjoy) their unique gifts, and selflessly give these gifts to others, imagine how much that would positively change the world.  One person sharing their gifts even in the smallest way, might not sound like a lot, but imagine if the whole masses were doing it? How huge would that be?

Here is what I plan to do.  Starting today, for the next 30 days, I will be doing at least one selfless act of service each day with the intention of doing something for another with no interest or expectation of receiving anything in return.  It doesn't matter how small or large it is, what matters is the intention; the motivation to make someone else a little happier, their day a little easier. I intend to focus on that yogic wisdom to "yield my fruits of action to the Supreme," being like an "instrument in the hands of the Lord."

Thanks for reading!  I am excited, inspired and curious to see what develops over the next month.  I'll be sharing as much of my experience as possible here!

shared from Spiritual Bliss facebook page