Yoga off the Mat: What is Love?

Love is in the air for February. But what about in your daily life? Love is a great healing power in the yogic world, but not always realized or practiced off the yoga mat.

There are many ways to experience, to share, to learn love. Yoga can help you appreciate it practically and meaningfully, every day. Begin with yourself. This starts with engaging in learning patterns of your mind and cultivating new positive ways of being. Begin with a loving-kindness meditation, called Metta Bhavana.

Meditation stems from prolonged or deep concentration, which in the Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga, is referred to as “Dhyana.” It is not simply a thing to do, but something that you allow to happen to you and that you allow to feel.  Meditation is a state of mind, and it cannot be controlled. Allow awareness to help transform your mind: this is mindfulness.

Below is my Fit2bWell adapted guide inspired by my favorite readings to help bring Metta Bhavana into your daily practice. This is a reflection of my love for life to help ignite your unconditional love for yourself, and may you spread this power to all around you.

1.)   Sit comfortably

2.)   Close your eyes

3.)   Reflect on your own goodness by thinking of a time when you showed kindness, compassion to others. Bring attention to one of your strengths that you appreciate. Smile.

4.)   Take a deep breath and notice how you feel. Really notice.

5.)   Begin to repeat these phrases, loud enough for you to hear the words:

·       May I be safe from inner and outer harm

·       May I be happy and peaceful

·       May I be healthy and strong

·       May I be able to take care of myself with joy

6.)   Take another deep breath and notice how you feel. Yes, again. Really notice

7.)   Repeat as often as you feel. It may be different each time. Say it with authenticity.

Practice is the key. There is no magic. There is no destination for completion.  Let the love sink in. You might get bored, or feel undeserved at times, but don’t give up. Everyone deserves self-love to receive never-ending love. You don’t need a month, a day, or an expensive gift, to remind you the importance of that. You are worth it.

“In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go?”.” – Gautama Buddha

Movement of the Month: Open your Heart with Ustrasana “Camel Pose”

  1. Kneel on the floor with your knees hip width and thighs perpendicular to the floor. Rotate your thighs inward slightly, narrow your hip points, and firm but don’t harden your buttocks. Imagine that you’re drawing your sitting bones up, into your torso. Keep your outer hips as soft as possible. Press your shins and the tops of your feet firmly into floor.
  2. Rest your hands on the back of your pelvis, bases of the palms on the tops of the buttocks, fingers pointing down. Use your hands to spread the back pelvis and lengthen it down through your tail bone. Lightly firm the tail forward, toward the pubis. Make sure though that your front groins don’t “puff” forward. To prevent this, press your front thighs back, countering the forward action of your tail. Inhale and lift your heart by pressing the shoulder blades against your back ribs.
  3. Lean back against the firmness of the tail bone and shoulder blades. Keep your head up, chin near the sternum, and your hands on the pelvis. Beginners probably won’t be able to drop straight back into this pose, touching the hands to the feet simultaneously while keeping the thighs perpendicular to the floor. If you need to, tilt the thighs back a little from the perpendicular and minimally twist to one side to get one hand on the same-side foot. Then press your thighs back to perpendicular, turn your torso back to neutral, and touch the second hand to its foot. If you’re not able to touch your feet without compressing your lower back, turn your toes under and elevate your heels
  4. Lift  the lower back ribs away from the pelvis to keep the lower spine as long as possible. Press your palms firmly against your soles (or heels), with the bases of the palms on the heels and the fingers pointing toward the toes. Turn your arms outwardly so the elbow creases face forward, without squeezing the shoulder blades together. You can keep your neck in a relatively neutral position, neither flexed nor extended, or drop your head back. But be careful not to strain your neck and harden your throat.
  5. Stay in this pose anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute. To exit, bring your hands onto the front of your pelvis, at the hip points. Inhale and lift the head and torso up by pushing the hip points down, toward the floor. Smile to finish!


Spring Up, ShakeDown

Shakes are a great way to fill up with fast nutrition. Spring is around the corner, and this is one of my favorite recipes.  It’s gluten free, and tasty morning breakfast after a heated yoga class or a satisfying weeknight dessert. Drink up, shake up and slim down!

Fit2bWell Tip: Review the nutrition facts of almond milk and soy milk as below. Feel free to substitute one for the other to experiment. I also like to experiment with other healthy organic butters like almond and soynut, and even indulge in a bit of nutella once in a while.

2 cups Silk Dark Chocolate Almond Milk

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

1 large banana, frozen

  • Break banana into 1-inch chunks.
  • Place banana and remaining ingredients in blender or food processor. Cover; blend on high speed about 30 seconds or until smooth.
  • Pour into 2 glasses. Serve immediately.

Fit2bWell Tip: For thicker, sweeter shakes, try substituting for 3 small frozen mini/lady finger bananas