Friday, October 28, 2011

Have a Classy Weekend!

Photo via Emersonmade.

Stay classy, my lovely readers!

Here are some links for the weekend...

It's fall! If it's already raining where you are, enjoy a hot cup of coffee. Or, make your own marshmallows for hot chocolate!

Hilarious yoga cards.

Can you believe it's almost Halloween?! Not dressing up? How about this little black dress and some sexy eyeliner for a date instead?

Incredible Bikram photos. My favorite is the one of bow pose.

Kissing tales. 

Tips and postures to practice for improving your headstand.

Quick meditation: do one thing at a time.

Retreat Day: Yoga, Meditation, Relaxation

Photo via Lilie Zen Coach.

I've got another silent retreat coming up this Sunday, so I thought I'd share a little more about what the day entails, plus a few thoughts on how you might create your own retreat day at home.

The main idea is to clear space  -- both physical and emotional -- for yourself. Observe how you are doing in this moment. Only you can tend to the inner workings of your body, mind and heart.

Now, you may be wondering why and how silence can help you approach the self-reflective practices of yoga, meditation and relaxation. You may be thinking: do I really need to be completely quiet for a whole day to do these? And, more importantly: how can I go a whole day without talking?!

Photo via Lilie Zen Coach.

You may be surprised by the amount of energy silence allows you to conserve. By limiting the cognitive and physical exertion required by talking, you can dedicate more to your practice. Moreover, by limiting the speech that comes out of you, you allow yourself the chance to let some of that dialogue back up internally. Words build up like water behind a dam, and you can see the contents of the river more clearly.

In my experience, silence has allowed me to give space for whatever is happening internally. If I am sad, for instance, but have not given myself the time to sit down and be present with my feelings, I may not be aware of what's causing my sadness (or even the mere fact that it's there!). If I want to move beyond a negative emotion, I first have to give myself adequate space and time to first witness it.

Once I become aware, I can accept how I am truly doing -- and perhaps change how I'm doing for the better.

Photo via  Montmarte.

In his book The Wisdom of Yoga, Stephen Cope quotes Swami Kripalu to explain the powerful nature of practicing intentional silence:

Silence is the first step toward obtaining truth since it helps us to curb untruth, which we generally express by talking excessively all day. This incessant flood of speech makes us prone to the bad habit of speaking untruth.

Cope goes on to reflect on the doors which silence can open for us:

What may appear to us as simply a voluntary self-denial of speech is described by yogis as an experience rich in deepening interiority -- an experience in which not just gross speech, but the very nature of thought itself (the subtle and constant chatter of the mind) is revealed for observation and study, creating a new level of witness consciousness.

You may be surprised at the wonderful benefits silence offers. Within a limited amount of time, you begin to experience energy, clarity, peace, focus, connection, and concentration. In the beginning, silence may be a challenge, but its blessings will encourage you along the way.

Photo via Olivia Rae.

Here's the schedule I'll be using for my silent retreat.
  • 9:00-9:30 am: outside meditation. We begin by observing ourselves within nature.
  • 9:30-11:15 am: morning yoga class. Physical practice prepares us for a deeper mental practice later in the day.
  • 11:15am-12:30pm: mindfulness eating (lunch). Have you ever eaten a meal in complete silence? This eye-opening meditation allows you to fully experience the rich flavors and textures of food as well as your personal experience of becoming full and satisfied by food.
Photo via Olivia Rae.
  • 12:30-1:00pm: walking meditation. Taking slow, attentive steps allows us to reflect actively and experience our bodies fully.
  • 1:00-1:30pm: seated meditation. Seated meditation offers a more intensely internal and mental approach. We practice witnessing thoughts and sensations, and attempting to have no reaction to them as they pass.

Photo via 365 Days Yoga.
  • 1:30-2:00pm: walking meditation. A second round of walking meditation, with a focus on experiencing ourselves within nature, not just within ourselves.
  • 2:00-2:30pm: seated meditation. The other rounds of meditation have allowed us to go deeper and deeper inward, making this seated experience even more significant.
  • 2:30-3:00pm: relaxation/ yoga nidra. We give our bodies the deep, full rest they deserve.
  • 3:00-4:15pm: afternoon yoga class. This class tends to be a genuinely internalized experience of yoga because you have spent so much time meditating beforehand. You are able to fully witness your breath and the way you approach postures and finding your edge. And of course it feels great to move freely again after periods of stillness!
  • 4:15-4:30pm: integration meditation. A final period of meditation allows us to integrate all of the observations we've learned about ourselves throughout the day.
  • 4:30-5:00pm: speaking circle. After an extended period in silence, it's helpful to speak with each other about our experience before we depart to re-enter the world as we know it.
Photo via Olivia Rae.

Ready to try a retreat yourself? Start by setting aside a whole day (or as much of one as you can) on your calendar. Explain to family and friends that you'll be out of touch at this time (no cell phone, no email!). Set up a space for yourself where you can practice yoga and meditate, and prepare your lunch the day before. Here's a sample of the routine you might try out:

At Home Schedule
9:00-10:00am: morning yoga practice
10:00-10:30am: meditation
10:30-11:00am: morning snack / break
11:00am-12:00pm: take a walk or read
12:00-1:00pm: mindfulness eating (lunch)
1:00pm-1:30pm: walking meditation
1:30-2:00pm: seated meditation
2:00-2:30pm: relaxation/ yoga nidra/ nap
2:30-3:00pm: reflective journaling

Photo via Pinterest.

Cool Dudes

Photo via Yoga Dudes.

These guys seem pretty cool, don't you think? They look like the kind of dudes who bring their yoga with them everywhere they go. 
Photo via Yoga Dudes.

Photo via 365 Days Yoga.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dreaming of Faraway Places

I've had my mind on planning a vacation lately. I could see myself going somewhere mountainous like Colorado, or tropical and warm, or even snowy and cozy (how lovely would it be to cuddle up in front of the fire every night?!). I've heard resources like airbnb, HomeAway and vrbo are awesome.

Are you guys planning any fun holiday trips?

Where did you go for your first real vacation on your own (not paid for by parents)?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Kiddos in the Blogosphere: One Year Later

Photo by Raul Gutierrez.

A long while ago, I posted about some of my favorite families in the blogosphere and their kiddos. Now I'd like to offer a follow up to that post, featuring an update on these beautiful bloggers. Their homes are so full of love, and their little ones are getting so big!

Joanna and Alex of A Cup of Jo are the parents of the adorable Mr. Toby. I love following their posts on life in New York City and adventures in parenting. Joanna offers some lovely insight on motherhood as well as the best spots to enjoy in the Big Apple. And isn't it cute how Toby is already picking up his parents' dashing style? Check out those wayfarers! You're on your way, little man.


Ryan and Cole of Pacing the Panic Room are wonderful. They bring such a creative, energetic approach to parenting their little ones, Tessa and the Littlest Buddy. I love when Ryan's photos capture moments like this -- so graceful, effortless, and fun. Ryan is one of those rare photographers who is unafraid to capture the rawness of a moment, like when a set of new parents welcome their child into the world. And if you're into wild hairstyles, fashion photography, or indie music, you should swing by his blog. Plus, how sweet is it that Ryan signs every post with "all the love in the universe?" 

Kelle Hampton's dreamy blog features her two beautiful daughters, Lainey and Nella. Kelle really does stay true to the blog's title, Enjoying the Small Things, as she posts about life's little pleasures like fall arts and crafts, time together as a family, and bathtime and chicken noodle soup. There's something so joyous about this spaced you've carved out for yourself and your family, Kelle! 

I'm happy to report that the little dreamer from Mila's Daydreams is up and about. What a precious little girl who seems to have her mom's eye for creativity already. And, exciting news: Adele Enersen, the genius mom behind the series, is publishing a book! If you'd like to keep updated on the news about when it's published, go sign up here.

Copyright ©Adele Enersen.

Copyright ©Adele Enersen.
Copyright ©Adele Enersen.
Copyright ©Adele Enersen.

I love that Anna of Rummey Bears isn't afraid to post when her daughter has a runny nose or a scraped knee. She captures the essence of childhood on the Rummey Bears blog -- the bright, sneaky, silly side of being a kid -- which occasionally hurts, but is so worth it. Thank you, Anna, for your courage and your humor.

Finally, I'd like to introduce Jamie of A Desert Fete, super blogger and mom of precious Hank. Not only does she post here, but she also shares an online space at Hank + Lucy. Sometimes I swing by and just imagine how those two little ones will grow up as best friends. They are in the hands of some good mamas!

Who are your favorite mom and dad bloggers out there?

Note: photos are from each respective blog.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Silent Waiting, Alone

We need times of silent waiting, alone, when the busy intellect is not leaping from problem to problem, and from puzzle to puzzle. If we learn the secret of carrying a living silence in the center of our being we can listen on the run. The listening silence can become intertwined with all our inward prayers. A few moments of relaxed silence, alone, every day, are desperately important.

-From The Sanctuary of the Soul: Selected Writings of Thomas Kelly

Above photo illustration via Pinterest. Above photo via Pinterest.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Casual Juicer

Happy Saturday, yogis! Hope you are all enjoying a lovely fall weekend. 

Here's a little update on our juicing adventures. Turns out, I agree am fine with keeping things casual for now; I'll go with a glass of juice for breakfast or with meals for a while until my taste buds have had time to adjust.

Reflections from the first juice...

I was amazed by the refreshing smell that filled our kitchen after making the first batch of classic green juice. Sort of a mix between summer rain (cucumber) and crisp air (celery) and something deeper (kale). And that color! The most vibrant green you can imagine. A few drops spilled onto the counter, and when I wiped them up the sponge was stained a brilliant shade. All I could think of was pure chlorophyll. So fresh!

I have to say, I was a bit surprised by the amount of juice the recipe made. Perhaps it was because I shared it among three glasses, but I was expecting it to yield more.

During the first taste, I experienced the strong flavor of celery, while my friend's immediate reaction was a scrunched up nose and an exclamatory, "Wow, this is gingery!" 

Another friend reminisced about a previous juicing experience. "Yep, this is what I remember," he said. "A weird mix of tastes and always that smell in the kitchen afterward!"

Seems that we all experience juice a little differently :)

Cleaning up wasn't hard, since hot water can be used to rinse everything except the filter (but man, that thing is a pain to brush out!). Of course I wished I could immediately sit down and enjoy my juice, but felt more compelled to wash the new, shiny machine and restore it to its immaculate state of clean.

The Breville itself was a dream. I adore the LCD screen that lights up and easily lets you access different settings for soft fruit and harder veggies. It was quiet, too.

The second juicing experiment...

Tonight I tried a red recipe featuring sweet potato, beets, apple and red bell pepper all on my own (so brave, right?). I think after last night I was a little more skeptical of surviving on this stuff. I'm definitely still hoping to ease slowly into a cleanse. I'll probably just add juice to meals for a week or two, and then maybe do a weekend cleanse. I'm still pondering the possibilities.

I do know one thing for sure: I can only take beet juice in limited amounts! It's such an overpowering flavor; you have to be careful how much you add to a juice recipe.

This morning I mixed together something a little more palatable: 3 apples, 4 carrots, some pineapple and a sweet potato. Yum! I think that's my favorite juice so far. 

We'll keep you updated on new recipes as we discover them. I checked out The Juicing Bible from the library and there are tons of great ideas in there to try.