Category Archives: Meditation

Don’t Hibernate, Invigorate!

This winter, feed your fire for vigor and vitality.

During the coldest months of the year, it can be tempting to cozy up next to the fire and not venture out again until the weather warms. For many of us, our internal flame of motivation can begin to burn a bit low this a time of year. However, since hibernation is not a natural state for humans it is important that we feed our fire, so that come spring we don’t regret those hours of chillin’ the winter away. The yogic principle of Tapas supports us in cultivating the inner flame that motivates us.

Tapas is one of the Niyamas, or observances, of yoga. The literal translation for tapas is “heat” or “fire.” In the yogic context, it is self-discipline or the determination that fires us up to attain our goals and dreams. You can think of it as the inner flame that keeps you moving forward even when don’t feel like it. It makes you floss when you’d rather not. It encourages you to keep going, or to change course, to help cultivate the life you want. Without Tapas or self-discipline, we might simply slow down to a grinding halt and hibernate our lives away.

So, how will you keep your fire, or tapas, burning brightly this winter? Here are six steps for fueling your fire: (I have included examples for promoting a greater sense of ease and peace in my life.)

1) Visualization – Visualize your heart’s desire or the next step to fulfilling your life’s purpose. Don’t be shy or timid, think big!

My heart’s desire is to reside in a place of peace and ease when things outside of my control are stormy.

2) Intention – Set an intention, a clear course of action that you plan to follow to realize your heart’s desire or life’s purpose. It may be helpful to write your intention down or share it with someone.

To support greater peace and ease in my life, I will foster a daily meditation practice.

3) Affirmation – Affirmation is a powerful tool that can support action and actually result in changes in the activity of your nervous system. Formulate a simple, positive statement in the present tense supporting your intention. Write it down and post it somewhere where you will see it every day, and repeat it to yourself at least daily for 30 days or more.

Through daily meditation, I experience peace and ease in all parts of my life.

4) Acknowledgement – As you set out to do the work to fulfill your intention acknowledge the challenges that you may face, and make a plan to avoid or address temptations that might keep you from following through. Pratipaksha-bhavana is a yogic discipline of cultivating the opposite and can be helpful in shifting our negative mental attitudes to positive action.

In the winter months, I like to stay in my cozy, warm bed reading longer and later, which can disrupt my morning meditation practice. Before going to bed I will set up my meditation cushion in a warm, inviting part of the house with a comfy blanket, set up a teapot and cup to start warming on my way to my cushion, and I will place any books away from my bed before falling asleep.

5) Tolerance – Practice tolerating emotional discomfort. Positive action is not always fun or comfortable, and it is easy to change courses as soon as you begin to experience resistance or discomfort. Practice being comfortable with uncomfortable thoughts and emotions. As soon as you experience discomfort around carrying out your intention, take a moment to come back to your visualization, intention, and affirmation, and reignite your flame for positive change.

I dislike the feeling of being cool after getting out of my warm bed in the morning. I will practice inviting thoughts and feelings of warmth and comfort as I get out of bed coming back to my intention of experiencing ease and peace.

6) Repetition – Self-discipline and positive action are all about repetition. Whatever your intention or planned course of action is, repeat, repeat, repeat. If your flame starts to sputter, or you stray from your intention, exercise compassion. Recognize what may have dampened your fire, use this as a learning opportunity, and move on perhaps with even greater resolve!

I will commit to my morning meditation practice five days a week. When I skip a day, I will compassionately explore why I was unable to keep my commitment that day and make an action plan to refuel my commitment.

The yogic practices of asana (postures), pranayama (breath work), Tapas (self-discipline), and meditation are all high-grade fuels to feed your fire. What other fuels can you use to feed your fire?

Fuel Your Fire Yoga

“Yoga is a light, which once lit, will never dim. The better your practice, the brighter the flame.” B.K.S. Iyengar

Katey Hawes, owner and founder of Posabilities, Inc., is a physical therapist, registered yoga teacher, and yoga therapist.

You may find her at Facebook.com/posabilities4u, Twitter @Posabilities4u, Instagram and .

This summer have the body that you love!

Love the life you live, live the life you love.”  ~ Bob Marley

Do you want to have the body that you love this summer?  The first step is to love the body that you have.  Not this summer, not when you drop a size, or when you reach your target weight.  Love the body that you have right now, in this moment.

The US weight loss industry rakes in 61 billion dollars annually selling products and programs for weight loss, yet Americans continue to gain more and more weight every year.  (http://www.marketresearch.com/)  From 1960 to 2000 the percent of Americans at healthy weights decreased by 18%, while the percent of obese Americans increased by about the same amount. (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/).  By some estimates, as many as 80% of overweight people who manage to slim down noticeably after a diet, gain some or all of the weight back within one year.  (http://www.cnn.com/2011).  Clearly the current approach of self denial, punishing exercise regimes, and self judgment that the industry sells are not working.  While a healthy diet is beneficial, other important factors to successful maintenance of a healthy body weight include stress management, mindfulness, positive thoughts, and participation in enjoyable activities.  Here are a few approaches that you might consider for managing a healthy body weight:

Positive affirmations – Choose a positive affirmation that is encouraging, specific, and focused.  Write your affirmation down and read it daily.  The American College of Sports Medicine states that positive reinforcement in the form of daily affirmations can dramatically influence your behavior.  Some examples of affirmations are:

  • I enjoy exercising more each day, and I choose to eat only healthy food.
  • Today, I love my body fully, deeply and joyfully.
  • Today, my own well-being is my top priority.

(http://www.acsm.org/access-public-information/articles/2012/01/09/finding-the-motivation-for-exercise-and-fitness-within)

Eat nutrient dense foods – A high nutrient density (HND) diet emphasizes a liberal intake of vegetables while intake of animal products, as well as processed foods and oils, are minimized.  Foods are grouped into four categories:  unlimited, limited, more limited, and off limits (as much as possible) based on their micronutrient levels per-calorie density.

  • Unlimited — All raw vegetables, green vegetables (steamed or frozen), beans/legumes (canned or cooked), fresh fruit, bean sprouts, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, cauliflower.
  • Limited (1 serving daily) — High starch vegetables (potatoes), grains, breads, cereals, dried fruits, nuts, seeds.
  • More limited — Fat-free dairy (12 oz maximum per week), animal products (12 oz maximum per week); and
  • Off limits as much as possible — Fruit juice, sweets, white flour, cheese, oils.

(http://www.nutritionalresearch.org/sites/ntr.civicactions.net/files/research/weightloss-HND.pdf)

Practice mindful eating – mindful eating or mindfulness-based weight management programs are recent arrivals to the scene; a growing body of research reveals how this approach can promote weight loss and improve health.  An example of a mindful eating program is Mindful Eating and Living (MEAL) at the University of New Mexico Center for Life Integrative Medicine Specialty Clinic.  The MEAL program incorporates sitting meditation, gentle yoga, and walking meditation at every meeting, as well as discussions about mindful eating.  (http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-library/ampmindfulness-weight-loss)

Practice stress reduction techniques – When we are stressed our bodies produce increased levels of cortisol which is a hormone which encourages us to eat more and for our fat stores and excess circulating fat to be relocated and deposited deep in the abdomen, which left unchecked can develop into or enhance obesity. Here are a few stress reduction techniques that might work for you:

  • Deep breathing
  • Use visualization to picture yourself relaxed
  • Meditation

Find a physical activity that is enjoyable for you – If you read enough articles you will find that there are many opinions and plenty of evidence that supports many different types of activity for healthy weight maintenance.  The best advice is to find an activity that feels good to you and that you enjoy, and make it a regular part of your life.  The perfect exercise is the exercise that you will enjoy enough to do on a regular and ongoing basis.

So, nourish yourself with unconditional love, fresh, delicious nutrient dense food, and enriching activities that make you happy, and reap the benefits of loving your life and your body!

Katey Hawes, owner and founder of Posabilities, Inc.., is a physical therapist, registered yoga teacher, and yoga therapist.

You may find her at Facebook.com/posabilities4u, Twitter @Posabilities4u, and .

Meditation 101 – What is meditation and why do it?

By:  Kathryn Gardner

In yogic theory, the mind is considered to be a field of consciousness, and thoughts are like waves that roll through that field.  Meditation is a way to bring us back to ourselves, where we can really experience and taste our full being, beyond all habitual ways of being and thinking.  In normal waking states, our minds focus on passing thoughts and outer circumstances, and we mistakenly identify with these thoughts and experiences.  In the stillness and silence of meditation, we glimpse and return to our deep inner nature remembering that we are the field that the waves pass through.

Often, when one thinks of meditation, an idea persists that the goal is to control the mind so that the thoughts stop coming, and a peaceful feeling is achieved.  But, as Sherrie Wade, founder of Transformational Meditation, sees it, “the purpose of the mind is to think.”  Rather than working against the true nature of mind, practicing meditation helps us develop the ability to sit quietly and observe the thoughts, feelings and moods that pass in and out of our mind.  As we observe the mind, transformation occurs.

If the transformation of mind for its own sake is not enough to tempt you, maybe the health benefits – physical and emotional – will appeal.  Meditation has been widely studied and is known to reduce pain, stress and anxiety while promoting a healthy, happy and productive lifestyle*.  People who meditate have been found to sleep better, age slower, be more present and focused, and be less annoyed by the details of life.  In a nutshell, meditation helps you enjoy life!

Kathryn-Gardner-fb-frameKathryn Gardner is a Vinyasa yoga teacher and is currently studying Transformational Meditation, a technique based on ancient yogic texts as well as the works of Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dean Ornish, Joan Borysenko and others.  This method helps one transform ordinary waking consciousness into its original state of pure space or consciousness.

Posabilities will host a free introduction to meditation on Sunday, March 17 at 5:00 pm.  Kathryn will lead a 60 minute class, “Creating a Meditation Practice” every Sunday at Posabilities starting April 7, 2013 at 5:00pm.  Click here to read more.

*Many studies have been done in the last 20 years supporting these ideas, including the following:

Grossman (2004), Feiburg, Germany
Amishi Jha & Michael Baime (2007), Penn’s Stress Management Program
Miller, et al. (1995), University of Massachusetts Medical Center