Saturday, November 21, 2020

When the rubber meets the road

 



In yoga we learn about awareness; awareness of our body, awareness of our breath, awareness of our emotions, awareness of our thoughts. Yoga is a life-long practice of cultivating awareness in all its forms and it truly begin when we step off the mat, that's when the rubber meets the road. 

When the rubber meets the road is the point at which a theory or idea is put to a practical test. It's the moment of truth, it's the reason we practice! It lets us know if we've learned anything or if we've just been going through the motions. 

The very essence of yoga is to reconnect to the Divine, within ourselves and others. Yoga teaches us that we are all One; everything, everyone, every experience and every relationship is a pathway to the Divine. 

So, how do we cultivate awareness? How do we reconnect with the Divine? How do we connect with others while staying connected to ourselves? Well one way is the practice of Loving-Kindness meditation. Loving-Kindness meditation is likened to the butterfly effect or life ripples in a pond. It starts with ourselves and moves outward. 

It is very simple and only takes a few minutes. Loving-Kindness meditation has been part of my daily practice for many years. Choose any contemplative posture, a soft comfortable chair, a meditation cushion, or even lying down, which happens to be my favorite. I do it before getting out of bed in the morning! I hope you give it a try. 

Repeat silently or softly. 

May I receive loving-kindness, may I be safe and well, may I be happy, free and joyous. 

May my family receive loving-kindness, may they be safe and well, may they be happy, free and joyous. 

May my friends receive loving-kindness, may they be safe and well, may they be happy, free and joyous. 

May all beings receive loving-kindness, may they be safe and well, may they be happy, free and joyous. 

It's easy to practice yoga on the mat, yet the true practice happens off the mat. We must offer loving-kindness to everyone! Yes even the so-in-so who cuts you off in traffic...may they be safe, the grumpy co-worker...may they be happy, the addicted person on the street...may they be free. Remember, we are One. 

Loving-Kindness meditation will transform your life. As you focus on loving-kindness you will begin to feel more connected; to the Divine, to yourself, and to others. Like the ripples in a pond and the flapping of the butterfly's wings you never know how far your prayers will reach. 

May YOU receive loving-kindness, may YOU be safe and well, may YOU be happy, free and joyous!

Kathe

 

 

 

 

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Praise to the Jewel in the Lotus

Om mani padme hum, this Sanskrit chant is pronounced OHM MAH NEE PAHD MAY HUM. All the Buddha's teachings are held in this one phrase. This ancient Buddhist mantra translates as "Praise to the Jewel in the Lotus."

There are different meanings and different opinions as to what each syllable represents. It is commonly thought that each syllable represents one of the six goals of existence and that the mantra purifies our heart-mind as it brings forth the qualities of the goal...the lotus blossoms and the jewel is revealed. 

Let's look at each syllable; 

OM - represents divine energy and purifies the ego

MA - represents ethics and purifies jealousy

NI - represents patience and purifies passion

PAD - represents diligence and purifies ignorance

ME - represents concentration and purifies greed

HUM - represents wisdom and purifies hatred

It is chanted over and over again to invoke the loving and unconditional qualities of compassion. The practice of this mantra connects us to our innate loving and compassionate nature. Within all of us is a lotus flower, it grows up out of the mud and muck to become a beautiful, fragrant blossom. 

Including this ancient mantra in an asana practice transforms it. The mantra can be chanted aloud or silently. I've added it to the six basic spinal moves, perfect for a morning practice. It takes about 6-10 minutes total. I do hope you give it a try.

Your spine can move in six directions; forward bend, backward bend, right side stretch, left side stretch, right twist, and left twist. Not only can it move in six directions, it needs to move in all six directions every day for optimal health. The health of the spine is the health of the nervous system! 

Begin sitting tall in easy pose - sitting mountain. Bring the hands together at the heart, leaving a small space between the palms. Imagine holding a precious jewel. 


Next, with eyes closed consider the story this month; Praise to the Jewel in the Lotus as you open the hands into Lotus Mudra, fingers spread, thumbs and pinkie fingers stay touching. 



Inhale and reach the arms out to the side and overhead bringing the hands to gently touch as you repeat the mantra; Om mani padme hum. 

Exhale as you stretch over to the right side, right hand touches the earth and left hand reaches over, the left elbow lifts high to the sky, repeat the mantra. 

Inhale and come back to sitting tall as you round the arms overhead bringing the hands to gently touch, repeat the mantra. 

Exhale as you stretch over to the left side, left hand touches the earth and right hand reaches over, the right elbow lifts high to the sky, repeat the mantra. 

Inhale and come back to sitting tall as you round the arms overhead bringing the hands to gently touch, repeat the mantra.

Exhale and fold forward, bring the hands to the earth, walk them out and round the head, neck and upper back down to the ground, repeat the mantra. 


Inhale as you lift the head and neck in line with the spine, walk the hands back towards the body as you lift the shoulders. Exhale and bring the hands down behind the back, lifting the heart and come into a gentle back bend. The chin stays parallel to the earth, repeat the mantra. 

Inhale and come back to sitting tall as you round the arms overhead bringing the hands to gently touch, repeat the mantra.

Exhale and gently twist to the right bringing the right hand back behind the right hip and the left hand to the inside of the left knee, repeat the mantra. 


Inhale and come back to sitting tall as you round the arms overhead bringing the hands to gently touch, repeat the mantra. 

Exhale and gently twist to the left, repeat the mantra. 

Inhale and come back to sitting tall as you round the arms overhead bringing the hands to gently touch, repeat the mantra. 

Exhale and bring the hands down in front of the heart, repeat the mantra.  

Switch out the cross of the legs, and repeat the entire sequence again. Once your hands return to the heart, open them into Lotus Mudra and rest in the Jewel for a few precious moments. Remember you are this precious jewel, you have risen out of the mud and the muck and blossomed into a beautiful, fragrant lotus flower! 

Om mani padme hum

Kathe 


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Opening to Grace

 Pushpaputa mudra is a gesture of offering, you are the offering, you are opening yourself to the grace of the Divine. Pushpaputa mudra symbolizes openness of heart and mind. Practicing the mudra makes one receptive to all the Divine has to offer. 


This month we opened our practice with Pushpaputa mudra. We opened our minds and hearts to the Divine. Our story this month; I open to grace. 

This mudra invites us to be present and receptive to grace. Open to Grace - the meaning is endless. It offers us an opening to infinite possibilities. Grace is always available. It is a force that lives in us. It is a force that reveals to us our true nature. 

Often we begin our yoga practice stressed, weary or preoccupied with thoughts. As we take a seat and begin to settle down by becoming aware of the breath we start to release tension and anxiety, even our thoughts settle. When we inhale the body opens and expands. In this space we can be more gracious, open-hearted and open-minded. When we exhale we soften and let go, physically, mentally and emotionally. We open to the present moment and remember that inside of us is a quiet sweetness. Something we forget in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. 

One of the lessons I am learning from my yoga practice is to soften when I want to harden. I sometimes notice myself tensing up when I'm in a difficult situation. Then I remember to take a breath, soften and open to grace. To reach our fullest potential our heart and mind must be in the right place. Opening to grace means taking a moment to reflect before responding to what is before us. We soften with an attitude of acceptance and realize our inter-connectedness with the world. 

Opening to grace shows us who we really are. Through grace our individuality can be experienced as a beautifully unique expression of the Divine Whole. When we glimpse however briefly, our true nature, we begin to inherit our birthright as Divine beings. The gratitude that wells up in response to the sweetness of this experience is such that we can say nothing but "I am blessed!"

We can open to grace in any and every moment. When we practice opening to grace, we will see no distinction between the spiritual and the mundane, though we must PRACTICE!! Only then will we move through the world finding divine teachings and learnings everywhere. We will recognize grace is being offered constantly and therefore open and receive it. Opening to grace offers us the opportunity to come into harmony with all that is. 

May we remember to take deep breaths, and Open to Grace!

Hari Om

Kathe






 

 

 

Monday, July 27, 2020

Awakening the Inner Goddess

How do we connect with the divine feminine energy of the goddess? First let me say, everyone - both males and females, have masculine and feminine energy within themselves. Yang energy is masculine, Yin energy is feminine. Sun energy is masculine, Moon energy is feminine. Masculine energy give us ambition, focus, and confidence. Feminine energy give us connection, compassion, and the ability to nurture. We want a balance of all of these energies, however in today's world most of us have more masculine energy than feminine energy. 


Yoga teaches that the energy of the Universe is a power called Shakti. Shakti is both manifest power and unmanifest power - the power within all experiences. It is the power to create and the power to transform. The divine feminine at its very essence is shakti energy. It's time to reclaim the shakti that lies within each of us! 


As we begin to awaken our inner goddess her energy can demand our full attention, she wants to show us what we can be. Getting to know the goddess is like getting to know the different parts of ourselves. She is creative and destructive, light and dark, capable of giving and taking. Her powers are endless and her forms are infinite. In her fierce form she uses whatever weapons are necessary to slay jealousy, ignorance, greed, anger, and the like - you get the drift, yet behind her fierceness is love...endless love. When we embrace her totally without aversion, we can then relax into that blissful state that is our true nature. 


This month I'd like to share a breathwork practice dedicated to the divine feminine, may it awaken your inner goddess, may you receive her shakti, may wisdom, power, and love flow from your heart, and may her energy bring balance into your life. 


Our story this month; I am divine energy


                                                Goddess Pose

Begin standing in Mountain Pose with hands on hips. Inhale and step out wide and turn your feet out to 45 degrees. Exhale and bend the knees coming into a squat, the knees track over the toes. Extend the arms out at shoulder height, lift the forearms and turn the palms to face forward (cactus arms), fingers spread, keep the elbows level with the shoulders. Lengthen the spine and tuck the pelvis slightly as you pull the belly in and hold the pose for several breaths. To release the pose return the hands to the hips and inhale as you press into the feet straightening the legs, then step the feet together. 


In the benevolent form press the palms together at the heart, elbows out wide. Smile. 


Goddess Pranayama 


Straighten the legs on the inhale, squat on the exhale.


Begin in Goddess squat, knees tracking over the toes, hands at the heart. 

Inhale; hands in prayer at the heart lift and reach overhead

Exhale; round the arms down gathering energy, fingertips touch below the belly palms face upward

Inhale; with the fingertips touching lift the palms upward bringing the energy toward the heart

Exhale; turn the palms to face down and float the palms downward giving the energy back to the earth

Inhale; round the arms overhead bring the palms to touch

Exhale; round the arms down bring the energy back behind the body, fingertips touch, draw the shoulders back and lift the heart

Inhale; bend the elbows and bring the hands up towards the shoulders leading with the back of the wrists, hands are soft

Exhale; press hands out in front of the body with straight arms, palms face away 

Inhale; fold the wrists and bring the fingers to the thumbs as you open the arms out wide to the side

Exhale; float the arms back to center, prayer position at the heart, grateful for the grace of the goddess

Repeat for 3 rounds


Hari Om

Kathe



 



         



Thursday, May 14, 2020

Practicing Patience during a Pandemic




Wowzer!! Who would have thought we'd ever experience a pandemic, the whole world in semi-shutdown mode? Coronavirus, aka Covid-19 showed its scary face and we shuddered in fear and disbelief. 

Many of us have learned a thing or two about ourselves, as well as others, during this once in a lifetime experience. One of the things I've learned is that I need to relearn and practice PATIENCE! Patience with the news media, the government, the manufacturers and distributors of products, and most importantly patience in personal relationships. My  energetic 7-year-old twin grandchildren moved in 2 weeks before the pandemic shut down schools ... one boy, one girl, complete opposites, YIKES!

I did the homeschooling thing back in the day with several of my boys, and as a former children's librarian I figured I could manage schooling the twinsies easy peasy. Boy oh boy, what an adventure. When my sons were young patience stayed at the top of my prayer list and I learned a few things but I realize I still have much to learn. Just like yoga, after years of practicing I still have much to learn. Yoga is considered a practice, practice is something we do over and over again to get better at it. So...I am practicing patience, not only with others but also with myself.

These are some things I've come to understand about patience. Patience creates feelings of peace and calm, as opposed to the anger and frustration that often arises with impatience. Patience has three aspects; like a story it has a beginning, a middle and an end. First there's acceptance, realizing that what's happening now is what is happening now. Next there's persistence, we must be determined to keep on keeping on, knowing life is a journey. Finally we take a few deep breaths and settle into a place of peace and calm in the face of what is. 

Patience allows us to respond instead of react to what is. When we take a breath we create a space where we often are able to act more mindfully. This is really important when things get challenging. We won't always get things right, therefore we must practice patience with ourselves. Others won't always do the right things, practice patience with them. And remember, its always alright to take a few deep breaths. Practicing patience leads to peace where we realize all shall be well...eventually. 😉

Om shanti, shanti, shanti
Peace for me, peace for my family, peace for the world. 

Kathe







Saturday, April 4, 2020

A spark of joy during this time of challenge

Our book, A Yoga Storytelling Adventure; Forever Friends has been given a wonderful review by Kirkus! Libraries and bookstore mainly trust four companies for reliable book reviews; Publisher's Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist and Kirkus! Kirkus, a big player in the book world, has been in business since 1933. They are a respected name in the publishing business. They also have a reputation for unpredictable reviews that are sometimes outlandishly harsh; which means to be given a good review by them is amazing!! It is somewhat daunting that this review would come out at a very strange point in time when bookstores and libraries throughout the country, and a good portion of the world are closed. Still...it is available on Amazon!😊

Reading and practicing yoga is a perfect way to keep your kids educated and entertained while they are home from school. Forever Friends is a story that teaches kindness, compassion and cooperation, the very same values that we all need during this difficult time in history. The book includes a set of yoga poses that follow the story-line. Yoga and story, connecting left brain and right brain, enhances learning and memory. When you practice the poses with your children it can also provide a little bit of fun and stress relief for both of you during this time of challenge. 

Stay well out there folks! We are sending out healing thoughts and prayers to All!

Mel and Kat


 Kirkus Review

FOREVER FRIENDS
Melanie Moyer and Kathe Hudson Illus. by Maileys Pitcher
ISBN: 978-1-73409-840-2



Two animals form an unbreakable friendship in this cheerful, yoga-inclusive picture-book sequel.
A gray and purple royal elephant has everything he could wish for—except a friend. Then a stray dog enters the palace grounds and asks to share the elephant’s food, and the two form a bond. Later, a merchant visiting the palace takes the canine away, which leaves the elephant bereft. It’s only after the palace adviser explains the elephant’s heartbreak to the king that the two animals are reunited once again. Moyer and Hudson, the authors of the previous Yoga Storytelling Adventure; The Impossible Dream (2017), offer a simply told story in accessible English with a few Hindi words, defined in an introductory glossary. All of the human characters refreshingly try to do their best; they realize their error in separating the animals and react with kindness. Pitcher’s playful illustrations beautifully show the elephant’s emotions; when she and the dog meet again, the elephant’s coloring changes to a joyful purple-pink. At the end of the book, Moyer and Hudson, both yoga teachers, clearly encourage young readers to do yoga poses named after the story’s characters, including the elephant, the king, and the dog.
A pleasant tale of friendship with a happy ending—and extra yoga inspiration.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Now available at Ingram!


A Yoga Storytelling Adventure; Forever Friends, our second in the series of kid's yoga story books has successfully launched!

It can be found worldwide as it will be printed and distributed around the globe through these amazing countries; Brazil, Germany, Russia, S Korea, Poland, China, India, Italy, Australia, the European Union, Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain, and the United States. 

May Forever Friends travel far and wide and may children everywhere learn about the power of friendship! 




You may ask, why story and yoga? Story and yoga together can enhance literacy skills. Stories develop language, listening, and critical thinking skills, and yoga increases mind-body awareness. These twin arts give rise to balance, strength, and flexibility in both body and mind. Children develop not only language but also emotional and physical literacy as well. As former librarians  passionate about promoting literacy and as yoga teachers passionate about sharing health and well-being we decided to bring these twin arts together.

Stories, especially wisdom tales, are extremely valuable in developing young listener's imagination, and yoga brings the story alive; it is both interactive and theatrical. Combining yoga and story unite the logical and creative sides of the brain, stimulating the imagination. By visually acting out the story with yoga postures children become a part of the story, and are able to recall the story in detail, aha, complete comprehension.

Last but certainly not least...its just plain FUN!

If you'd like to introduce a child to yoga through story, and we certainly hope you do, please purchase a copy! SEE THE LINK ON THE SIDEBAR →

Furthermore, we'd be ever so grateful if you'd leave an Amazon review.

Mahalo, we serve,
Kathe and Mel