Meditate and love!

Is this the time of year in which you tend to think about love and romance and make effort to be more loving towards yourself and others? YES! Valentine’s is coming!

As you are reading this, I am enjoying most beautiful island of Bali with my husband and son. It is easier to feel loving and lovable when in the mood for holiday and surrounded by the beauty of nature. What about everyday life?
Sometimes I feel angry or powerless as things get out of control, or I might feel burdened by many responsibilities, or usual routine makes my life feel dull… Under these circumstances can I still feel IN LOVE with myself, my husband, my son, life itself? I say YES! and practicing yoga is my answer. Right, yoga is my answer for most of my questions (as it really does work!).
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When yoga is approached as a practice to deepen awareness, it helps to cultivate the skill for self-compassion and love which is especially useful when your life has become out of alignment. And the practice could be very simple – just feeling your body. Do you know that your body speaks your mind? Your body is a barometer of what’s really happening in your mind and in your life. Breathe deeply and notice how your body feels today. Where do you feel tightness? Any discomfort anywhere? Just bringing awareness to some place in your body stimulates the flow of vital energy to this place. It might intensify your sensations at first but if you keep your calm focus and deep breath, the physical discomfort will gradually disappear and it will release some mental pressure too! This is a practice I’ve been doing more than any other ones since my son was born. The reason is simple – it’s very effective in relaxing the body and mind and I can do it pretty much any time, even while simultaneously taking care of my baby. In this case I choose a smaller area to concentrate on – say, my feet if I’m walking, or my hands if I’m cutting veggies.

Since we talk about it before the Valentine’s day, I suggest you concentrate on feeling your chest and your heart area. Is your heart cold or warm? Open or closed? Soft or hard? Really feel into it. And stay with whatever comes up for you for some time. Keep choosing feeling instead of thinking. Don’t let your mind interfere. Then start exhaling anything that doesn’t serve you anymore. Empty it all out. Create some renewed space in your heart. As the next step, allow your breath get deeper and start inhaling love. Feel warm smooth soft sensations filling in your heart. And feel the well of love which is always in your heart pouring out. You ARE love. That’s what your deeper self is. Just pure love. Once you feel you’ve had enough, finish the practice with sending love, blessings and warm wishes of happiness to your loved ones and all beings. Repeat daily or as often as possible. I hope you will try this meditation for yourself, and will like it as much as I do.
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It’s important to learn to nourish our deeper self first, to feel love, to be love. Only then we can share it with others. It is also great to stay open to the love that surrounds us. You might be surprised at how much you are given when your heart and mind stays open. Giving and receiving freely is so much fun! As you learn connecting to your heart and your true real self – LOVE, you will find it much easier to stay connected and loving to others.

HAPPY VALENTINE’s DAY!

Zoya at http://www.zoyayoga.com

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Feelings and new beginning

We’re near the end of January. How have the first month of the year been feeling to you? I’d like to emphasize – FEELING. It’s not about what you’ve done, but how have you’ve been feeling or in other words what and who have you BEEN.
For me who I am BEING is equally, if not more important, than what I am doing. And our feelings define the quality of our being. Am I feeling / being joy or sadness? Acceptance or resistance? Love or fear? Pain or pleasure? Freedom or limitation?

imageWhen we have emotions that feel good, we are vibrating at a high rate, aligned with Source Energy. And that helps us to attract more positive stuff in our life. So it’s vitally important to choose to do things that make us feel good, to have wonderful positive people around us, and to learn surrender and go with the flow of life when we can’t change what’s going on rather than struggle and get angry.

If you don’t feel you’ve been your best this January ( I personally don’t), we’ve got a perfect second chance! Well, yes, every day is a second chance, I know! but it feels good to do it in synchronicity with big natural cycles. The new year of the Horse is starting next week and it’s for me a more significant new beginning to compare with the 1st January of any year, since Chinese calendar follows natural rhythms of the universe. So let’s start anew and this time really do our best to FEEL our best by doing what we need in order to feel so.

The practice of self-study, or svadhyaya as we call it in yoga, is always compelling at the turn of a new year. As I look inwardly, I’m asking myself: Who am I most committed to being in 2014? What is my word or phrase (sankalpa) for the coming year? I might write about my answers one day but for now I love you and leave you contemplating on what YOU want to BE. And to motivate you, I’d like to finish with the words of the Dalai Lama: “Although attempting to bring about world peace through the internal transformation of individuals is difficult, it is the only way.” If doing it for your own sake is difficult, do it for your loved ones, all people around you, your town/city, your country, your planet and all living beings!

Many Blessings for a Happy Horse Year!

Are you ready for 2014?

It’s time to summarize the year 2013 as we have only a few days till new 2014 starts. Here are some questions I’ve been asking myself:

What important lessons have I learned?

What are my happiest moments in 2013? What made me feel joyous and content?

What and who am I grateful for?

I love finishing on a high note remembering the most valuable memories and most beautiful pictures of the year.

And then it’s time to plan for 2014!

If my life of the coming year is to be described in the newspapers, what would I love to see as the headlines?

What is most important quality I’d like to develop in the coming year?

Depending on my answers I’ll be formulating my new sankalpa. I feel like the one that I worked with in 2013 have come to life! So it’s time to channel my energy into a new area of my mind and soul.
(For info on yogic way of creating a new year resolution please read https://zoyalu.wordpress.com/2011/12/27/7-yogic-secrets-to-get-your-new-years-resolutions-come-true-part-1/ )

How do you finish your 2013? What are your thoughts? Do you have a tradition for closure and new beginning?

Let me take this opportunity to wish you a Happy Holiday season and to send you some blessings!

Lovingly,
Zoya

Happy solstice!

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How are you feeling as we approach the darkest night of the year? It’s been cold and raining pretty much non-stop here in Taipei for more than a week now. A perfect weather for looking inward and feeling the sensations of the inner darker world…
I believe that to be well we need to be in touch with our inner flow which is always influenced by Nature cycles (the theory of microcosm and macrocosm, anyone?). We are taught to resist the darkness, to deny our needs and to put on a happy face especially during this time right now as we approach Christmas. It always makes me think: why in our society, the darkest time that we need to rejuvenate and replenish ourselves is used for one of the merriest celebrations of the year? Whatever the reason is, it makes sense to get in touch with Nature and our inner self, and find more time for silence, rest and healing.
Instead of pushing through with a smile on your face, look into your inner darkness, be quiet and aware to recognize what is needed, and try to act upon these needs. Give yourself the present of staying in tune with Nature, and Nature will give you the present of keeping well.
Happy Solstice!

7 Yogic Secrets to Get your New Year’s Resolutions Come True (part 1)

2012 is around the corner! It’s time to make New Year’s resolutions! I see the start of a new year as a perfect time to bring welcomed changes into my life. If I don’t even decide what I want to achieve, how will it ever come to me? It’s important to have enough clarity to choose the right direction, and to have enough determination to continue moving on the chosen path.

You’ve tried making resolutions before? You didn’t stick to your resolutions? It didn’t work out? Don’t feel disappointed! Resolutions made on New Year’s Eve have notoriously low success rate, so you are not the only one to fail. Then what’s the point, you ask?

This year will be different! We’ll make the resolutions the yogic way!!! I’ll share with you the secrets that will make your resolutions sticky:) I’d like to share with you a yogic method that has been used for centuries, and shaped people into heroes, and lives into fairy-tales:) Seriously, it works! My husband, my numerous friends and yoga students and myself, we  are all the proof that it does!

In yogic science, all the terms are given in Sanskrit, an ancient language of wisdom. A Sanskrit word for resolution is «sankalpa», it can be also translated as an affirmation or a positive mental statement. I would like to use the word «sankalpa» rather than «resolution» as there are some important differences between the two (which make sankalpa very successful and resolution – not so much).

How to choose and formulate my sankalpa?

  1. The correct formulation of sankalpa is critical to the success of its practice. So it is worth taking some time over this process.  Make an appointment with yourself to sit alone in a quiet place. Reflect on the past and dream about the future. Think about what areas of your life you would like to improve, how you might want your personality to change as well as about your goals and the purpose of your life. Write it down. You could be aiming at very specific goals or formulating how you would like to feel in general. 
  2.  Next, you want to choose what’s most important out of all the goals listed and formulate just one sentence that will get us to where we want to be. There should be only ONE sankalpa which should aim at ONE goal only. Yes, only ONE. Go for quality, not quantity. Any fisherman knows you can’t catch two fish on the same hook! The same way you don’t want to de-focus the power of your mind. However, this one sentence can be so powerful that it will bring all the changes in life that you need.
  3. To create your own sankalpa, don’t just ask WHAT you want to achieve, ask WHY? For example, if you want to have more money, go beyond saying, “I want to have more money because I need more cash.” Connect to something deeper. What’s behind your desire for more money? Say, you answer is to feel more confident / secure/ at peace with yourself, then your sankalpa should include «feeling confident/ secure/ at peace with myself » rather than «getting more money».When you clarify the “why” behind what you want you’ll feel much more driven and connected to your goal. Also, working on self-confidence might not only manifest more money into your life but also improve your relationships. The same way, working on security or feeling at peace with yourself might not only bring more money but it might help you to get connected to the Earth, your family, your inner self, and the life flow itself. So the result might be greater than the original goal!
  4. The sankalpa should be short.  The wording should not change, even if the meaning stays the same. If you are bilingual, you also need to fix the language of the resolve. Whichever phrase and language you choose, it should always be the same, until the sankalpa is fulfilled.
  5. The sankalpa should be made in the first person by using “I” or “my”. Completely different from a prayer in this sense, your sankalpa must involve you only, and cannot help to change something in another person. However it definitely can be formulated to change your attitude towards the situation around that person.
  6. The sankalpa must be joyous in its essence and therefore “not/don’t/won’t/can’t” and other negative words should not be used. For example, if you desire to recover from a medical condition it should not be structured as “I am not sick”; instead a positive statements such as “My physical body is healthy and strong” or “I enjoy perfect health” can be used. Only positive language should be used.
  7. It should be stated in the present tense as if it has come to fruition already. For instance, not «I will enjoy perfect health » but “I enjoy perfect health”. However, if you have some serious illness, saying “I enjoy perfect health” might sound too fake to you to experience positive feeling when you pronounce it (which is essential! but more on it in my next post). In this case you might need to modify it into «I choose to enjoy perfect health». It takes off the resistance, yet it’s much more powerful than saying «I will enjoy perfect health» (the last version will normally never come to the now, it will always stay in the future for your mind).

Let me give you another example: the statement “I will not be smoking in 3 months” is not a good sankalpa to stop smoking (negative + future tense). A better statement could be “I am free of addiction” but it contains the negative word «addiction» and has a limited therapeutic aim. By looking deeper at the roots of the problem and widening the understanding of the inner causes, one might come to a stronger and more efficient sankalpas as”I am at peace with myself»,  “I am secure in myself”, «I resolve to take care of my body and accept it as it is today», «I trust that my Higher Self fulfils all my needs»”, “I am open to share my truth and integrity with the world», «With playfulness and humor, I raise my vibration in the world», etc.

You are welcome to read some examples of sankalpas that I offer for each chakra (energy center) on my website. Click here, and then on any of the chakra article where you’ll find suggested sankalpas at the end. Just choose one sankalpa which feels most appealing to you.

During my yoga lessons I usually recommend starting with a simple sankalpa “I am at peace with myself”. The need for inner peace is often the «WHY» behind many desires. People might want all sorts of different things in life – to loose wieght, to find a loving partner, to be healthy, wealthy, joyful, generous, etc. But deep inside it’s all for the sake of feeling at peace with themselves. Looking from the other perspective, by re-connecting to inner peace we can be more successful in achieving any goals and reshaping direction in life along positive lines, and that, in its turn, eventually leads to more inner peace,  balance, happiness and fulfilment. That’s why «I am at peace with myself» is my all times favourite:).

While you are having fun pondering over your possible sankalpas, I’ll write my next post on how and when to use sankalpa to make it efficient and get your dream come true! I would love to hear from you if you find any difficulties, or if you simply want to share a thought. Thank you for reading! Talk to you soon!

Zoya

www.zoyayoga.com

27th of Dec, 2011

Merry Christmas, or Do you feel nurtured this Holiday Season?

Tomorrow (Dec 22nd) is the winter solstice! Here comes the longest night of the year! That’s the time when we must be most introspective and allow plenty of rest to the body and mind. And what do we find in reality? Paradoxically, these days can be the most hectic and least peaceful time of the year…

How are YOU feeling this holiday season? Are you excited by all these gatherings with family and friends, and feel satisfied and content with your holidays? Or do you feel overwhelmed by trying to please your loved ones and to manage all this shopping, decorating, mailing, baking, travelling… (You name it!)?Why don’t we take a break to feel? Yes, to really FEEL. Right now. Let’s just find 5 minutes to simply switch from thinking to feeling. Start by paying attention to your breath: how do I breathe at the moment? Is my breath deep or shallow? Slow or fast? Smooth or harsh? Now try to notice what is happening inside of your body: do I feel relaxed or tensed? Which parts of the body carry the tension? And lastly – what’s happening inside of my heart: what emotions are prevailing at the moment – peace, contentment, joy or frustration, irritation,sadness?If you are satisfied with your answers, carry on with whatever you do! Your holiday is a happy one and your body and mind are in tune! However, the majority of us might find ourselves ungrounded, stressed and far from being peaceful (and that’s when we are «expected» to be most joyful!).

So what can we do? There is no other way but to respect the Nature and our body-mind system, and try to slow down.  We can attend only the MOST important activities reminding ourselves that before we can honour others, we must first honour ourselves.  We can look for ways to save ourselves time and effort, maybe buying our holiday pies from the local bakery rather than baking them or simply asking others to help us? It’s essential to get plenty of sleep, and eat well. Don’t attempt trying every food you’ll be offered!

For me personally, my saviour is my commitment to yoga. I think maintaining my yoga practice is essential to get the best from my holidays.  I felt so good this morning after just a short asana practice! (Cutting the time in half is better than skipping it altogether). And practicing sitting meditation is my sanctuary from all holiday pressures.

Winter solstice energy applies to all life and all beings, and whether we like it or not it effects us too! Honor the energy of the Mother Earth and spend today and tomorrow as quiet as possible, in self-reflection, going within your self and cultivating feminine, passive energy of Yin or Tha.It could be any type of exercise program or energy practice for you, but if you do hatha yoga consider including more contemplative postures, like forward bends and long-held Yin-style asanas (click on the words to get an example). These poses reverse the frenetic stress that builds up around the holidays. And don’t forget some digestion-aiding asanas. Add more twists into your practice—they’re a good counterbalance to indulgence in food and drink!

If we stay tuned into Nature we’ll feel nurtured and maintain balance. And that can help us to enjoy the season’s indulgences even more and recover from them more quickly:)) hopefully, we’ll stay mindful enough not to indulge, and manage to enjoy everything in moderation:)).

If you are on a yoga (or any other spiritual) path, the holiday times is a test on just how well you have learned and embodied our yoga practice. Remember that yoga is a way of life. If it is to be truly useful, yoga should be available to us anytime anywhere.

I’d like to wish you all the holidays full of joy, love and happiness.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Lovingly,

Zoya

www.zoyayoga.com

21st of Dec, 2011

Namaste! Here is my first blog:)

Namaste to all who is reading my first blog:)

I’ve been considering blogging for a long while (almost two years?:), and I’m finally doing it. Yeay!:) Today is happened to be 12/12/2011, quite an interesting date. Recently we’ve had many special dates – 01/10/11, 10/10/11, 20/11/2011, 01/11/11, 11/11/11, and all of them have a specific meaning and therefore a task to perform. Honestly, I wasn’t able to “celebrate” all of them, though I believe in numerology and the fact that each number has a particular vibration and some special energy. But today is different to me –I’m doing it!

A few days ago, I saw a friend’s post on FB about the 12/12 alignment with an attached article on Divine Forgiveness and Divine Union. The part on forgiveness has clicked with me. It is something I’ve been working on for a few years. I’ve been receiving the message of forgiveness many times recently, so it feels like it’s time to finish the work! No, it is not that I have some enemies, or I hold a grudge against someone. In my case it’s more about forgiving my-Self! I haven’t killed anyone but I’m sure in some cases I could have done better… And don’t we all criticize ourselves for not being good enough, not doing enough of good things, or doing too much of bad stuff? Some people might take it easier but my «inner critic» is a strong guy, and I’ve spent much time and energy confronting him (yes, it’s him, not her:) i see him as a middle-aged man in a black suit:).  I was lucky to get help from my mentors and friends; I used Emotional Freedom Technique, Shamanic Healing, and hours and hours of meditation to get to where I am now at. However, I feel it’s not over yet. Tonight I’ll do an important step to say final «good-bye» to that unloving part of myself that holds me back from letting go of all past «mistakes» and embracing the now with openness and joy that will lead to an abundant future.

“Forgiveness” doesn’t require much effort at it is not an action. It is simply stopping of blaming someone or yourself for something. Since blaming requires energy, and forgiveness is the stopping of this action of blaming, it actually is easier to forgive than to continuously be blaming another or yourself. So all I need to do is to relax, take a deep breath in, breathe out and forgive! Then the energy that was held to feed my inner critic and the space taken by this guy who lacks compassion will get free! Yep, that’s it! Tonight is the night! Thanks to blogging I made this final decision. I’ll do it the moment I finish my writing.

Farewell my inner critic! Your space will be taken by a loving rose-cheeked woman with an open heart:)

Zoya Lu

http://www.zoyayoga.com

12th of Dec 2011