The July Full Moon. Guru Purnima. The Full Moon of the Guru.


The Full Moon falls on Friday, July 15th, 2011, at 2:40 AM EDT.

The luminous full moon represents prosperity, abundance, and healing energy.

This full moon day in July is observed as the auspicious day of Guru Purnima, a day sacred to the memory of the great sage Vyasa who edited the four Vedas, wrote the 18 Puranas, the Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagavata.

Our Gurus are to be honored and revered on this day by remembering their life and teachings.

The word Guru translated means: remover of darkness and ignorance.  In Sanskrit, “Gu” means darkness, “Ru” means remover.

Also known as Hay Moon, this day is also of great significance for farmers, as this is when the period known as Chaturmas (Four Months) begins. Farmers welcome the advent of the rainy season and the abundant life that the much needed water brings.

Drink some jasmine tea or infuse the air with jasmine oil, Jasmine has a special correlation with the moon.  It is a wonderful time to take a healing bath made with mineral salts and essential oils.

Guru Purnima is a day to illuminate our lives with knowledge; to be inspired, to overcome limitations, to recognize the abundance we are surrounded by, to be receptive to a life of wonderful possibilities.

It is a day to realize your full potential.

Celebrate and let your heart and your mind shine like the moon filled with love and gratitude.

You can find essential oil of jasmine at Nantucket Natural Oils:

https://nantucketnaturaloils.com/category.php?currentCategory=49&ProductCategoryID=50&page=4&Keywords=&StartLetter=

A lovely bath can be made with:

Masada Dead Sea mineral bath salts with lily and jasmine

http://www.amazon.com/Masada-Dead-Bath-Lily-Jasmine/dp/B0044V6LX6

Welcome Summer. Happy 1st Anniversary to Ahum. Juicing Fruits and Sugar.


Happy Summer! July marks 2 important occasions: The official start of summer and the one year anniversary of AHUM.   After a brief hiatus, I am happy to to be sharing some thoughts on all things yoga.  If you are new to the blog, Welcome!   There is a great archive of past posting to read.   If you are a current  subscriber welcome back!   Here we will PRACTICE.  EAT. and  LIVE.

Thank you for joining me.

Namaste

(“The gesture Namaste represents the belief that there is a divine spark within each of us that is located in the heart chakra.  the gesture is an acknowledgement of the soul in one by the soul in another.  “Nama” means bow, “as” means I and  “te” means you.  Therefore, Namaste literally means “bow me you” or I bow to you.”  Aadil Palkhivala)

I am a HUGE fan of juicing.  Especially during these hot and humid days, it is a great way to hydrate the body.  I was recently asked about the sugar content in fruits and the effect that the sugar may have on the body.  Great Question.  ( although I do find it kind of funny that someone could eat a lunch of a coke, a burger and fries and no one would blink an eye, but have a fruit juice and something must be awry  🙂

First and foremost when it comes to juice and food it has always been my firm belief that you have to listen to your body.
Everyone’s body is different and it is important to ask yourself the question “How do I feel” after you eat or drink something.

Juicing is and always has been an excellent way to get a concentrated source of nutrients, both vitamins and minerals, into the body in an absorbable form.

Since your body absorbs and digests the nutrients faster, it has more down time for repair.  When your body is not busy digesting food it is on the lookout for ways to heal itself.
When you juice,  you are feeding your body and repairing it at the same time.  Fruit juices in particular are known as “cleansers”.

Yes, when we juice sweet fruits, we are eliminating the key component in slowing down the absorption of the simple sugar fructose. This key component is the pulp, Pulp is an insoluble fiber that slows down the absorption of fructose in the gut by the body.  The rule of thumb for what is an allowable amount of sugar to take in on a daily basis varies tremendously.  The best answer I believe is the following:

“In petitioning for labeling changes regarding sugar, CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest), joined by dozens of leading health experts, also wants the FDA to set a maximum recommended daily intake (Daily Value) for added sugars of 10 teaspoons (40 grams) and require labels to disclose the percentage of the Daily Value a food provides.”There are many naturally occurring sugars such as sucrose which is a combination of glucose and fructose (or fruit sugar), lactose (from milk), maltose and galactose. You don’t want too many of the simple sugar glucose, but you can have a few more of the complex ones. If you digest too many simple sugars, your body gets swamped and the excess that is not used by your body gets stored as fat. Also useful to know is that sugars enters your cells using the same pathway as Vitamin C – so, too much sugar and your body does not absorb Vitamin C as well.  However, you can eat or drink natural sugars in moderation – say up to 100 grams a day (like orange juice which contains quite a lot of fructose). ”

As a frame of reference, on average,  a glass of fresh orange juice has about 30 grams of natural sugar, keeping you well below the amounts discussed above.

In a nutshell, processed sugar is to be avoided, natural sugar is fine in moderation.

In yoga, with food, and in our lives it is always about finding the balance.

The Importance of Enzymes

enzymesThe food we choose to EAT is one of the most important decisions that we can make when it comes to maintaining our health.  The more fresh fruits and vegetables that we can incorporate into our diet the healthier we will be.  In fruits and vegetables there is a life giving element that exists: enzymes.

There are 2 groups of enzymes: exogenous; those found in raw food and endogenous; those produced within our bodies.

Enzymes are one of the most essential elements in our body.   Life itself depends on them.  We need enzymes for every bodily function.  Every breath you take, every move you make, every thought you think and every action you take requires enzymes. Enzymes are an absolute necessity to life.  They are your body’s workers. They assist in keeping our body in top form by lowering cholesterol, cleaning the colon, breaking down fats, strengthening the immune system, detoxifying the body, cleaning our lungs, and building muscle.

When we feed our bodies with enzyme-deficient food, our body systems start to slow down and deteriorate.  Cooking food destroys 100 percent of the enzymes in that food. When you eat cooked or processed foods your body must produce ALL the enzymes required to digest that food.  When we are born we are given a limited amount of enzymes.  This is like an enzyme bank account.  If you don’t make regular deposits into your account by eating foods rich in natural enzymes, you start to deplete your account and use up your enzyme supply.

After a prolonged period of depleting the enzymes in our body it starts to work overtime to produce more enzymes, causing extra stress which affects our immune system. This lowers our ability to protect from and fight diseases. Our digestive system eventually slows down causing food to be undigested. This undigested food stays in our system creating a toxic environment that saps your energy, clouds your thinking and is a breeding ground for illness.

The good news is that with the simple addition of fresh fruits and vegetables to our diet we can prevent the depletion of these enzymes.  All fresh and raw foods have naturally-occurring enzymes. Start by adding a fresh fruit or vegetable juice into your daily routine.  Carry bananas, apples, or avocados with you for a snack.  Start dinner with a salad instead of bread.

Start slowly, changing old habits with new fruit and vegetable inspired choices, and welcome the feeling of newfound energy with the addition of these life giving enzymes.

Practicing the king of all poses. Salamba Sirsana or Headstand.

salambraSalamba Sirsasana or Headstand is known as the King of all Yoga Poses.  The reasons are many.   It affects every system of the body: the cardiovascular, lymph, endocrine, and digestive systems. It reverses aging, increases blood flow to the brain, regulates pituitary and pineal glands, enhances circulation and creates mental clarity and calm.  It allows you to literally turn your world upside down to gain new insight by changing your perspective.

Even with all of these benefits there are times not to practice headstand: You should not practice headstand if you have high or low blood pressure, any serious eye diseases, compressed cervical disks or neck injury.

When practicing headstand take as much time as you need.   The rewards of sirsasana are so great that even if you are not ready to do the full pose, you can benefit by preparing for it.  Whether you are just starting out in hare pose or working on a full headstand, patience is the key with this posture.   Just because you floated up with ease yesterday does not mean you will today.  Honestly assess where you are physically and mentally. The strength and concentration that is required may not always be there at first.  Breathe.   Pay particular attention to the neck, there should never be any pain; pain is very different from feeling challenged.

Becoming aware of the body and knowing when you are ready to move on to the next step is very important.   Headstand requires strength in the core, neck, and upper back, open shoulders and a flexible spine. To safely and properly prepare for headstand always make sure that you are warmed up.  It is not a posture to jump right into.  A recommended length of time for staying in headstand is 10 seconds for a beginner while gradually adding 5-10 seconds and working up to 3 minutes.  Always rest in child’s pose after coming down from headstand to give your body and the nervous system time to adjust to sitting right side up again.

It took me a long time to learn to do a headstand.   We all have “our thing” as I like to call it; our challenge.  Headstand was mine.  I suffered a head injury when I was 6 years old, when a lawn dart landed squarely inside the top of my head.  I had real fear of injuring myself while practicing headstand, a fear of placing any weight at all on the top of my head.   Slowly and consistently I worked.  It was a struggle initially; I found it difficult to breathe and I could only stay put for a few seconds.  All the talk of core strength seemed to go out the window.  When I made the move to try to lift my feet off the ground for the first time it seemed that I had none at all.  Every day I found time in my practice to devote to letting go of the fear.  And then one day it happened, I just floated up.  It wasn’t magic by any means, but a combination of consistent practice and determination.  Now, it is a joy to see the same thing happen with students who thought that standing on their head would never be possible.

If you are working on headstand go easy on yourself.  It may take months or even years to accomplish. It is the journey not the destination that is important here.  Be consistent with your practice and patient with your self and soon you will be embracing The King of all poses.

Yama of Yoga: Satya.

When I was in high school my mother gave me two wonderful little books of philosophy called Notes to Myself and How to Live in the World and Still Be Happy by Hugh Prather.  I read them over and over again throughout my life, his simple words always seemed to make sense, to calm and reassure me.  I carried the books with me until they were so dog eared and highlighted that they literally fell apart.  Even now, so many years later, his words are ingrained in my memory.   One of my favorite Hugh Prather quotes is:  “LIVE your life as if everything you do will eventually be known.”  Now that is a tall order.

Living a life based in truth is one of the Yamas of Yoga: Satya.  Literally translated it means truthfulness.  Practicing satya means being truthful in our feelings, thoughts, and words. It means being honest with ourselves and with others.

When we are honest we can be fearless, living life as an open book.  Honesty is at the heart of all healthy relationships. Practicing Satya in your words is a good place to start.  You might need to deliver the truth to a friend who desperately needs your input.  It may not be what she wants to hear at the moment but you can deliver those words in a supportive, honest and loving way.   Gossip and hearsay are a large part of this lack of truth in our daily lives.  If we were to think for a moment before recounting events in our day, being sure that the words we were sharing were absolutely truthful, we would probably have a lot less to say.  Sometimes, the truth hurts, so it is just as important to know when not to speak if it will cause someone else damage. This idea is stated simply and eloquently in the Mahabharata:  “Speak the truth which is pleasant.  Do not speak unpleasant truths.  Do not lie, even if the lies are pleasing to the ear.  This is the eternal law, the dharma.”  Being truthful means that we must choose our words wisely.

Being truthful with ourselves is another aspect of Satya.  Becoming clear with who we are and what makes us happy.  This means we can let go of trying to achieve perfection and stop being so hard on ourselves.  We can let go of the desire to always please.  When you do things that are not a reflection of the real you, you cannot be happy with yourself.  You will become confused because you won’t know who to please or how.  Find the courage to say this is who I am and be okay with it.  Embrace your truth.  Don’t compromise yourself.  Many friends and relatives with the best of intentions might offer us advice.  Listen to them and then listen to your own heart, it will never steer you wrong.

Once you begin to act in accordance with your fundamental nature; the true you, you will find your intuition growing stronger, decision making becoming easier, and a sense of peace in your daily life. Making a commitment to truth is not always easy, but living without lies is ultimately very freeing.

Live in your truth and live a life of respect, honor and integrity.

Practice Gratitude

gratitudeHappy February.  Happy Valentines Day.

January is always a great time to take on new projects.  2011 began with the development of turning our current web page into a full fledged website.  The last several weeks have been filled with writing, organizing, and photo taking.   It has been very time consuming yet very exciting.  With the bulk of the work complete, I am now back on my weekly blog posting schedule.  We are looking forward to unveiling the Dharma Yoga Nantucket website in April.

Going through this process has filled me with gratitude.

You can PRACTICE living in a state of gratitude everyday.  At every turn we have that choice.  It is easy to focus on what we don’t have instead of being grateful for what we do have.  The next time the thoughts in your head start to take a turn, take a deep breath and ask yourself:  What am I grateful for?  By refocusing your energy and taking a moment to make a mental list, you will be amazed at how those thoughts of gratitude can change your mood and your outlook.  Take a moment to write down three things that you are grateful for and carry it with you in your pocket.  Having a tough day?  Take it out and read it.  This idea is hardly anything new, Oprah has been talking about the importance of gratitude for the last 25 years.  And well before Oprah, this concept is discussed in the Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali as pratipaksha bhavana.  Translated it means: “When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite (positive) ones should be thought of.”  The next time you feel overwhelmed remember that your thoughts have great influence on your outlook, think good thoughts.

Valentines Day is a perfect opportunity to take stock of all there is to be grateful for.  Some may call it a Hallmark Holiday, but who could argue with a holiday that is all about the celebration of love?  I was scanning the latest Valentine cards last week when I realized all the forms of love that were being celebrated.  To Sweethearts, Moms and Dads, Grandparents, nieces and nephews, sisters, friends, even dogs and cats!  Celebrate this holiday by letting those you love know how grateful you are to have them in your life.

Thank You, Husband. Thanks Mom. Thank You, sisters. Thank You, friends.

Thank You students, you inspire me.

Click on the link below for my Valentine to you.

You can watch it here:
http://vimeo.com/9820752