Thursday, May 24, 2012

What Is Your Morning Routine?

A Blog Entry from Costa Rica

I've been on a yoga retreat for week here in Costa Rica at the beautiful Blue Osa Yoga Sanctuary & Spa. Every morning begins with a 5am Ashtanga Yoga Practice to greet the morning sun. The practice reminded me of having a morning ritual or routine to start the day. What is your morning routine? Do you have one?

Do you find yourself hitting the snooze button on your alarm clock several times and finally getting up at the very last minute? Then do you find yourself rushing to get out the door after throwing on some clothes, slapping some toothpaste across your teeth, gulping down a cup of coffee, and cursing every stop light as you travel to work knowing you are already going to be a few minutes late? If you start your day like this, what is the rest of the day like for you?

Starting the day like this sounds like the 50 Yard Olympic Sprinter: braced and ready at the starting line, the gun sounds, and you're off and running. A mad dash at full speed without stopping, everything a blur on either side of you, until you cross the finish line. At the end, you're out of breath. Yes, you may have reached your goal, but at what cost? You may have missed seeing your surroundings and you didn't get to spend quality time with others. You only had one thing in mind: get to the end no matter what. It takes some time to calm the body after that adrenaline rush knowing that you'll probably have to repeat this feat again and again.

How would it be for you if you could slow things down and start your day off with ease? Create a ritual or routine that sets the pace for your day. Something that is gentle, relaxing, clears the mind, and keeps you on a steady track so that you have a more fulfilling day and still reach your day's goal.

Maybe it's a yoga practice, a few stretches or Sun Salutations that gets you going. Perhaps it's your cup of coffee, but you're able to sit and enjoy the whole cup, sip by sip. Reading your favorite section of the news paper. Looking out the window or stepping outside on your front porch to greet the morning can be very simple ways to set the pace of your day.

Again, your routine can be anything you choose. Bottom line is this: make it simple and commit to it. Do it everyday. Even do it on your days off or when you're on vacation out of town. What you develop is a sense of discipline and commitment to a practice that generates a good feeling within yourself.

The toughest part, sometimes, is just getting started. The first few times of sticking to your routine may be a challenge, but keep doing it. It will only get easier. If you're a snooze-button-presser, maybe you'll need to set your alarm 10-15 minutes earlier so that you can press snooze.....BUT ONLY ONCE! Then get up and move right into your routine.

Try your new morning routine for a few days. Then try it for a week. Notice how you feel the rest of the day. This may not sound like a yoga practice with traditional poses, but an aspect of living a yoga lifestyle is called Tapas or Self-Discipline. Developing a sense of discipline can create a greater sense and acceptance of self; growing into a fuller sense of Self.

I'd love to hear how this works out for you. Respond to this blog entry or post it on my Facebook Wall ( Maybe you already have a morning routine that you'd like to share with us. Let us all know how having a morning routine, compared to not having one, makes you feel and act during your day. Maybe you have an evening routine, too. Let's hear about it.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

New (Super) Moon

A Blog Entry from Costa Rica

I write this blog entry from my quaint tropical bungalow on the sunny coast of Puerto Jiménez. It's a beautiful resort villa along the ocean in Costa Rica. The air is humid and filled with the sounds of nearby songbirds, the sites of butterflies, toucans, and accompanied by the nearby waves of the ocean rolling onto the beach. A perfect respite from the everyday routine of my busy life. I find myself moving slowly, speaking quietly, and sitting in stillness on my yoga vacation with the intention to grow anew. I want to take advantage of these quiet moments to move inside of myself. I'm here to practice presence and reconnect with nature. I come to this little piece of paradise to rejuvenate; to recharge.

I will not only take advantage of this beautiful locale, but will also immerse in the power of new moon. This is that time of the month where we can lay down the old and receive the new. As we step into this new cycle, we can take a moment to shed ourselves of what no longer serves us, to bury what is old and dead. Now is the time for rebirth and growth. The new moon this month is accompanied by a solar eclipse. The eclipse can represent the opportunity to invite new possibilities. Open your heart and mind to what is possible - open yourself up to your greatest potential. As you put to rest what is old, you can open yourself up to what is alive and new - within you.

Reclining Cobblers Pose
To take advantage of this super-charged new moon, try this simple home practice. First, sit comfortably on your mat. Perhaps have a couple of blocks or a blanket to help support your seated posture. Bring your hands to heart center, close your eyes, and bring to mind those ideas, beliefs, stressors, challenges, etc. that have laid heavy within you. As you bring these notions to mind, there is no need to add judgement to them, just notice what comes up. Your practice will involve releasing these ideas so that you can create space for Truths to emerge from within.

After a few moments of this quiet meditation, lie down on your mat. Again, support your body in any way that suits you best with your props. First lie in Savasana, then bring the bottoms of your feet together and up toward your pelvis. Your knees will fall naturally out to the side. This will create a releasing hip opening posture called Supta Baddha Konasana or Reclining Bound Angle Pose (often referred to as Reclining Cobblers Pose.) Extend your arms out to the side of you or even over your head. In this posture, you are opening the body in a way that now allows you to release those notions you thought of earlier.

The pelvic area stores a lot of emotional energy. In this pose, your hips are open. Give yourself the permission to free yourself of the emotional energy that has kept you weighed down. Likewise, with your arms extended outward, your heart space is open. As you experience release from the hip opening posture, receive and accept through your heart center. As you lie here, try this breathing exercise:

Exhale completely (breathe out through the mouth if that feels helpful). As you release the breath, imagine those no-longer-needed notions to stream out of you. Hold yourself empty for a few seconds; pause at the end of the breath. Then take a slow long inhale. Fill up your heart space with new thoughts of rejuvenation, power, energy, love, acceptance, etc. Fill yourself up with the new ideas and beliefs that will serve you better in this moment. Hold yourself full for a few seconds. Notice how the body feels as you resonate with this new life energy. Now when you exhale, experience those new thoughts, not leaving your body, but rushing internally throughout your entire being. Repeat this breath-flow by starting with an inhale to gather up any left-over no-longer-needed thoughts to release during your next exhale. Repeat this as many times as you'd like.

At the end of your yoga practice, perhaps simply lie in stillness. Notice your breath. Notice your re-charged body. Feel free to practice this anytime. You don't necessarily have to do this at the time of the new moon. Whenever you feel a need to be re-charged, moving into this pose (or a similar hip/heart opening posture) and practicing this breath can be invigorating and enlightening.