Yoga off the Mat: Find Joy in Living Yoga

 

Mudita, or joy, is such a wonderful feeling. It comes from delighting in other people’s wellbeing rather than begrudging it. It is the opposite of a negative feeling that can weigh us down: envy. In Buddhism, as we increase our ability to connect with the spring of infinite joy, the closer we may find abundant happiness. To celebrate others in the face of tragedy so to foster and encourage a joyous state is not easy. Living yoga can help you feel this liberating state of consciousness.

Train your brain to look for the good. It doesn’t mean denial. It means awareness of now and to honor that truth. Focus on how you feel just by moving and breathing with intention. Settle in your in body. Engage the flowing energy of breath. Let go of negatives in your mind. Acknowledge the essence of who you are and the spirit that exists in you. Find out who you are and be at peace with all that makes you unique. Shift out of dwelling in what you cannot control and savor in little blessings everywhere. Experience joy with practice, breaking down walls, connect yourself with others, realize the simplicity in each moment and live it with bliss. Recognize the potential that lies in success of others, express genuine delight, and savor the comfort that you gain from seeing your expectations soar and free. We can all be “better,” but what you are now is pretty darn amazing.

So go on: let yourself be happy by seeing all the good and happiness in the world that surrounds you. Cultivate your joy daily, on and off the mat.

Dark Chocolate Cherry and Chia Energy Bars

Chia seeds is a good source of omega-3 fats, calcium, and fibre.  It can be eaten whole or milled. It is tasteless and can be easily added to many dishes. I love adding it to salads or blended into smoothies. It comes from the mint family, and transcends from native countries. It can improve your health by improving your metabolism, stabilizing blood sugars, and regulate your digestive system.

I have to thank this recipe from Shaina Olmanson, from Foodformyfamily.com. Inspired by her story, I tried this as I prepare for my race season this year. I tweaked a bit for my taste. I spend so much money on bars, and love many of them, but I am quite motivated to make this one regularly. It is simple and encompasses one of my loves: dark chocolate. Thanks Shaina!

(Fit2bwell Tip: Quality dark chocolate is rich in Fiber, Iron, Magnesium, Copper, Manganese and  Antioxidants. When consumed in moderation, it can have heart healthy benefits. When choosing nut butter, do not choose low fat! Nut fat is healthy for you compared to additives they replace the fat with in those alternatives. )

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup chia seeds
  • ¼ cup chopped dark chocolate
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup organic peanut butter (explore other nut/seed butters)
  • ½ cup coconut palm nectar (honey was in the original recipe)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup dried tart cherries (feel free to substitute dried strawberries)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, chia seeds, dark chocolate, and pumpkin seeds. Stir to combine.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the peanut butter, nectar, and the salt. Stir until smooth. Pour the butter and nectar mixture over the oat mix and stir until evenly coated. Then stir in the cherries.
  3. On a baking sheet using a 2-3″ cookie cutter, press the energy bar mix into the cutter and press firmly. Continue until the mixture is gone.
  4. Place the energy bars in the refrigerator until firm and then transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

Movement of the Month: Celebrate JOY of summer with Anjaneyasana “Crescent Lunge Pose”

Summer sun is around the corner and I love practicing this heart opening, joyful pose. This picture was taken at my friends’ Will and Jen’s Aerial Arts of Rochester studio.  It tones our chest, abdomen, butt, thighs, calves, feet and ankles. It stretches our hips and groins It brightens your energy and reduces fatigue. Ignite your internal sunshine!

(Fit2bWell tip: Feel free to modify with a low lunge version by placing your back knee and thigh bone down onto a padded blanket. Uncertain about balance? Try with a high back chair in front of you as a guide.  For a challenge, kick it up a notch by doing a variation with aerial yoga like I demonstrate here, with back foot on an aerial hammock.)

1.)   Start in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog). Exhale and step your right foot forward between your hands, aligning your knee over the heel. Keep your left leg strong and firm. If you are would like to do a low lunge variation, feel free to start kneeling both knees on a padded blanket.  Keep your left knee grounded, as you take your right food forward. Your feet should be approximately hips width distance apart. Similar to above, you should start by aligning your knee over the heel. Keep the ball of the left rooted, similar to the energy of the left knee and top of thigh. Pretend in both versions the back foot is stepping on to the back wall.

2.)   Inhale and raise your torso to upright. At the same time, sweep your arms wide to the sides and raise them overhead, palms facing. Feel free to explore other variations, such as Namaste (prayer position) or cactus variation, where palms face the front, upper arms are parallel to the floor at shoulder height and elbows at 90 deg. These would work your shoulder girdle in various degrees and engage your shoulder blades with various degrees of difficulty.

3.)   Be careful not to overarch the lower back. Lengthen your tailbone toward the floor and tuck your pelvis softly forward. This will bring the shoulder blades deeper into the back and help support your chest and integrate the core into the strength of this pose. Allow your gaze to lift the heart upwards.

4.)   Be sure not to press the front ribs forward. Draw them down and into the torso. Hold for 6-10 breaths.

5.)   Transition back to Down Dog or knee kneeling pose after completion. Hold for a few breaths and repeat with the left foot forward for the same length of time.