Category: yoga

Beginning Your Meditation Practice

During shelter in place, one of the most important habits I’ve formed is a daily meditation practice. It wasn’t easy, but it is so worth it — I promise!

Are you looking to start your meditation practice? Feeling that you need clarity and focus throughout your day? Meditation has helped me to be more intentional with every action through my work, meals, movement and everyday life.

Here are a few tips to get you started into your meditation practice. You don’t have to do them all at once, feel free to pick and choose what most resonates with you. Let’s start the journey within:

  1. Do it first thing in the morning. It’s a great way to start the day, to focus inward and on yourself before dealing with the rest of life’s happenings. I know, getting out of bed is the hard part, but I promise you will feel so much better!
  2. Set your timer for 5 minutes. When you’re just getting started, you may find a 5 minute meditation is easy to accomplish. I think it’s a perfect start! As you begin to get into the groove of your meditation practice, begin to increase each session by another 5 minutes. Pretty soon, you’ll find yourself meditating with ease and comfort for longer amounts of time. But start off small!
  3. Create a zoned off space for your meditation. For me, it is on my yoga mat in the corner of my bedroom. For you, it might be a comfortable chair, in your garden, on the porch step, your bathtub, underneath a sunny windowsill… pick a spot. It will help to create a routine. Once you have your spot, you have the option to create it in a way you love with cushions, plants, altars, blankets and rugs. The limits are endless! For me, less is more.
  4. Playing some background music. It could be white noise like ocean waves, or some acoustics that feels soothing to you. Some times I love listening to birds chirp, other days I like heavy bass. Have fun with this!
  5. Count your breaths. When I studied at the temples, one of our leaders asked us to meditate for ten minutes and many of the younger children could not sit still. She asked us to count our breaths and I found this to be so helpful. Now in my classes, I use this method of counting after each breath as a way to help bring focus.
  6. Scan your body. Deepen your awareness of your body, starting from the crown of your head, to your jaw, your shoulders, core, and sit bones on the floor. Notice your hands on your lap or the bend of your knee, the legs and feet onto the floor.

So, give it a try and comment below on any other tips that work for you to settle into your meditation practice.

Meditation is a powerful tool that can enhance your wellness journey and be life changing. I encourage you to incorporate a daily meditation into your new week and am sharing the below Body Scan tip on my IGTV.

Touch Your Toes

“It’s not about touching your toes, it’s about what you learn on the way down.”

When I taught yoga, I remember students introduced themselves to me as newbies and asked how they could they do __________. (ex. how to touch my toes) It’s a question I hated answering because it’s everything students don’t want to hear: patience and consistency (obviously there are the physical aspects such as open up your hamstrings and lower back). But really, that’s what yoga is all about, learning more about yourself, being present with your body and patience to show up every damn day.

My question back to the students, “well, why do you want to __________?” It’s ok if the answers are superficial, I know mine were partially when I first started.

To this day, there are still asanas (poses) that I have that are goals, such as headstand. I think it’s ok though to enjoy the journey / progress rather negatively obsessing over why I still can’t do it yet but I also believe that showing up to the mat is enough.

This morning, I woke up and showed up to the beach, rolled out my mat and started to flow. I finished the beach visit by 9:30 AM and felt the weather was perfect in the Bay Area. Flow with me…


Namaste yogis,

Marilyn

How Yoga Helped Me Learn to Box

So some of you may know that I started boxing around June of 2017 for the first time. I was excited and nervous starting training with a trainer from my office. Anyways, I loved it from the very start and began to make it a habit to hit the gym every morning at 5:30 AM to train before work. I of course had to throw in my asana (yoga) practice in those early morning workouts.

Here are a few things on how yoga helped me with boxing:

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
Being a yogi, the hardest part of the journey, is showing up to my mat and showing up for myself. With boxing, it’s an activity one must love to be great. Showing up to the boxing gym everyday became easy with the influence of yoga, despite it being dark, cold and early at 5:30 AM. Showing up allowed me to practice a lot and give it my all when I was training. For the days I knew I wasn’t having it, I listened to my body and didn’t go. But once I was back up and feelin’ myself, I was back at the gym. With that, know it’s ok to skip the gym, but if you’re feeling lazy, get your butt up and GO!

Breath to Movement
My absolute favorite style of yoga is Vinyasa Yoga. This practice involves synchronizing the breath with a continuous flow of postures – think one breath, one move. Now with throwing punches – every jab, cross, hook is linked to an exhale. On the exhale, I’m able to bring more  power into each hit. Focusing on the breath has also helped with avoiding holding my breath. Let go and just breathe.

Length
In yoga, there is the idea of lengthening to create more space in the body. The same goes in boxing for throwing punches and the length of your reach. When throwing a jab, I want to extend my arm out as much as possible instead of throwing short and find my elbows bent. Imagine one long line of energy through the arm from the shoulder socket to the knuckles. It’s important to extend the punch as much as possible to transfer the energy and power. Having a longer reach also creates distance between myself and my opponent.

Getting Comfortable with the Uncomfortable
Whenever I feel tired or uncomfortable in a yoga asana (pose), I slow it down, rest in child’s pose and then get right back into it when I’m ready. Yoga has taught me to listen to my body and rest instead of continuing half-assed, therefore compromising form. Boxing can get intense and I’ve found myself in moments when I just can’t get combinations down. Instead of punching on frustrated, I take a moment to circle around the punching bag for a change in pace. Once I’m ready, I’ll get back to it – jab, cross, hook, repeat!

I know the idea of boxing and yoga is so opposite – as boxing has a sense of aggression, violence whereas yoga gives off the idea of compassion, love… but I truly believe the two complement one another as yin and yang. Yin for the feminine, softer side of yoga and yang for the masculine, harder side of boxing. Bringing the two together has brought change in my physical and mental wellbeing. I challenge myself and ask how can I push through one more round of vinyasa flows when I’m starting to feel tired and how can I ease off the the training in the gym to avoid overtraining?

I want you to think about the ways has yoga helped you off the mat – drop a line below!

Holiday Hustle

With the holidays creeping up on us in a couple of days, I can’t seem to think that in a season where we are to be grateful for everything and unwind, I feel so stressed out, thoughts of what presents are still on my list, events I need to attend, what I’m going to cook for said events fill my mind…

But then I think of what I’ve learned in my Yoga Teacher Training… in yoga, there is a great saint named Patanjali who reminds us, when the mind becomes confused or filled with doubt, the cure and the remedy is to BREATHE DEEP.

And with this simple cure, I’ve been able to clear my mind and enjoy the time with my family and friends. I’ve been able to get shit done by relaxing a bit, because if you’re anything like me, being stressed and rushing just causes little mistakes here and there. And even if I’ve been eating one too many tamales, I BREATHE DEEP and know that I’m enjoying the season of tamales and tamalizas (tamale making party) and go for a bike ride or a walk to help nourish my body.

Breathe deep and be thankful for your life source, the thing that’s keeping you alive at this very moment.