yoga blog

Leverage your practice with essential oils

My new favorite addition to my practice are essential oils. Or is it already an addiction? I’m just in love since I know how to deal with them. I like a good smell, but also clearing and channeling energies. I started with perfumed candles, but even if the quality is high, I find them too strong. I also used incense sticks and even if the intensity is easier to handle, I only use them for a couple of minutes, as the effect on my respiratory system isn’t a good one. When using them before class, I should not forget to turn them out, as I feel it in my throat, I can hardly talk if it’s too much. Not really healthy…

Essential oils are my number one choice! Each of them has a certain impact on our health and emotions and they can be used in different ways, it’s quite interesting to play around. Just be sure to only use good quality! This is how you can use them in your practice:

Start your practice with a couple of long deep belly breaths
Pour a few drops of peppermint oil onto your palms, then cup them over your nose. With your eyes closed, breathe in deeply to help open your nasal passages, allowing you to cultivate healthy breath.
 
During practice
I like to use a diffusor, but please don’t overdo, keep distance or even better use the interval option if your diffuser has one. Less is more for this one! Use your favorite oil – when I put mine in first time, I recognized it’s not working well, interestingly the smell fits better my skin or the bathroom, but not my practice! My choice now is a mix of Sandalwood and a tiny bit of Jasmine.

Wind down during shavasana
Amplify this peaceful state with Lavender – it helps relaxing… either use it in a diffusor or just put some drops on your wrists and collarbone and let the magic happen!

After practice when your muscles complain
To relieve sore muscles add a few drops of Peppermint essential oil to a carrier oil and massage those areas. Peppermint’s cooling sensation helps alleviate those post-workout aches and pains.

If you don’t want to use the essential oil directly on your skin, just put some drops in a small spray bottle, fill it up with water and go for it. Another option would be to mix some drops with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil and massage your skin. Some essential oils are not meant to be used directly on the skin, so read the instructions and always use a high quality pure product.

Be creative, play around and see how it effects your practice!

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Experience the gap

December calls us to connection. To generosity. To lighting lights in the darkness. To moon bathing. Get your crystals out to clean and recharge during Sundays’ full moon!

Let’s take time to slow down, time to connect and breathe. As you gently breathe in and out, notice the space in between. The space between your inhales and exhales, your exhales and inhales. That space between your breath is neither in or out, there’s no activity. It is the present moment, it is your still point. The present moment is this moment, where time doesn’t exist. There’s no past, no future, now is all that is.

Don’t do anything but breathe and observe. Get used to it. Experience the present moment. Being, instead of doing.

This too is yoga.

Embrace the unexpected

I didn’t manage to sleep last night and when the alarm told me to get up this morning, everything in me shouted loud and clear “NO!” Tuesday morning means an extra early start as I teach an early bird class. So no excuses. Luckily, traffic had mercy on me and I arrived early. It was still dark outside, candles were burning next to my mat and I sat in meditation. So grateful for this peaceful time, just to connect with myself, get settled and ready for class. I was waiting for my students, not expecting many to show up, as I had a few cancellations. This time of the year, people tend to be over busy, often driven by a do-more and be-more attitude, easily forgetting to take a moment to stop and breathe or an hour to practice asanas, getting some quiet and quality time next to the daily craziness….. However, I was surprised that finally just one student showed up.

Instead of being disappointed, I decided to embrace the situation and even felt blessed when my student agreed to practice together – what else works better than a nice Ashtanga practice to move in synchronicity! Even if time was limited, I enjoyed our beautiful flow through the vinyasas a lot. I’m so grateful for this unexpected opportunity!

Early morning practice and particularly getting myself upside down into a headstand always brings my world back to peace. What a shift into a most beautiful start into the day! Thanks for your flexibility B., it was a pleasure practicing with you!

Cultivate a practice of gratitude

Particularly during these days, close to the end of the year, we hear a lot about being grateful. However, gratitude is a great tool of mindfulness-based practices and helps creating a more positive mindset.

Why you should establish a daily practice — let me start with Deepak Chopra and what he said:

“Gratitude is good for you; it creates a biochemical shift in the body. The brain responds to positive input and sends life-enhancing messages to every cell.”

Sounds good? Yeah, and there’s more. When practicing gratitude, you will attract more reasons to be grateful for. This is the law of attraction! Meaning you’re not just grateful for what you already have, but also for what you want to have. Practice gratitude to receive. Woop woop, good trick, isn’t it? And it works! Just imagine, visualize what you wish as if you already received it. This way you’re sending the right energy out and the universe will deliver. Additionally, you are reprogramming yourself — in a state of deep gratitude, you will feel soft, released and happy.

How does a practice like this look like? Well, gratitude comes in many forms and there’s no right and wrong how to do it. Go with what feels good to you, but if you like to have some inspiration, here you go:

  • Use gratitude as an intention you set at the beginning of a yoga class (it can relate to your yoga practice, but doesn’t has to).
  • Say mentally a little prayer at the end of your yoga practice (you might want to thank your body for the great work and don’t forget to thank yourself for making time for your practice).
  • When life is going well, remember to be grateful for what you have. Whenever you recognize it, whisper a ‚thank you‘.
  • When life is serving lemons — be grateful for the teaching, there’s a reason for it. Give thanks for the teaching as well as for the final state you want to reach, as if you’re already there and looking back.
  • While it always works to send spontaneous ‚thanks‘ into the space, create a daily ritual, repetition is key.

I do it every morning, first thing when I wake up. I can recommend particularly this time, as the day is brand new, our brain still in a rest mood. Good to plant a seed. I give my thanks to the universe — couple of things I have and also a couple of things I don’t have so far. A great start into the day!

Gratitude is a practice of creating a state of emotional prosperity — go for it, make it a habit.

Creating

Yogis!

I’m working on the Yin classes for our retreat next year — and I’m happy to give a hint on what to expect:

Next to the Ashtanga or Vinyasa classes in the morning, we will practice Yin Yoga in the evenings, which means we will go into the postures and hold them for several minutes. Our focus will be on our breath while we will strengthen the mobility of the joints and stretch the deeper muscles, the connective tissues and fascia. The meridian systems will be stimulated and inner organs massaged.

Each class will focus on one of the five elements — wood, fire, earth, metal and water. We will learn about the relating organs as well as the assigned emotions. No worries, we won’t go to much into the theory, but experience it!

Each class will have an introducing meditation and/or breathing sequence to prepare us for the calming, but intense practice.

I’m so looking forward to seeing you there! Get the details here and contact me for any questions!

Practice mindful

 „If you practice yoga to get better at practicing asana, you will quit.“

Of course we all want to get better and master certain postures. But Yogis, this happens automatically, you just need to show up, practice and do your best. Yoga is much more – I had a quite good teaching today.

I woke up this morning with a terrible headache. I could hardly get up and as it’s weekend, I allowed myself to stay a bit longer in bed. I had my lemon water, but the stabbing pain was still there. I practiced with the hope it might help. It was tough, not just due to the pain, but my full body was stiff and constantly asking for Shavasana.

All of a sudden I recognized that I mixed up the sequence, wrong order of what I’m used to practice each day. I stopped, that was crazy. And I had to laugh, I was distracted by thoughts and forgot where I was in the sequence. The more I practice mindfulness, the more I recognize what it means NOT to be in the present moment. I clearly wasn’t when I practiced and this affected my flow. Nothing major of course, but it made clear how easily it could lead to injuries when allowing the mind to wander.

I continued my practice with a better focus and my medicine was close – no, not Shavsana, but headstand. My bad headache was much better after turning upside down.

My practice today teached me about the importance of mindfulness. Practicing asanas was nothing but the means to an end. What happened today to me on the mat is happening off the mat exactly the same. Think about it. How often are your thoughts wandering and you’re not paying attention? Particularly when doing things you are used to, things that reached a state of routine or even automatism?

Commit to what you’re doing, fully and mindfully. And take your learnings from the mat off the mat.

Meditation is Mindfulness is Yoga is Meditation

Mindfulness is not just a hype everyone is talking about at the moment, in these times it’s the key to stay sane. But what is mindfulness? Mindfulness means being in the present moment, in the here and now, without any judgment. The past is gone, nothing we can do about it. The future is not yet there, so why waisting our time with being rather in the past or in the future? We miss all we have, the present moment.

I’m working quite intense on this since some time and during a yoga class I taught recently, I recognized how easy it is for me to be fully in the present moment when I teach. I’m focused and concentrated, no thoughts that don’t belong to exactly what I’m doing. Why is it so easy in this situation and difficult in others? Is there any magic formula to be mindful? Nope. But passion is a good trigger to keep us exactly where we should be, in the here and now.

Luckily there are different techniques that help us learning how to stop the ‘autopilot-mode’ and focus on the current moment. Meditation is one of them. I wrote already a lot about it and my struggles (https://tuneinyoga.com/2016/07/16/meditation-vs-meditation/), but I didn’t gave up, I so much wanted to sit cross legged in stillness. I was looking for this quietness in my head, this emptiness, that I already found when practicing asanas. And I finally found it. In my daily meditation practice, I understood how my thoughts appear in my head and where. Just through moving them mentally to a different place, I can get rid of them. My god, so easy and it took my ages to find out! Well, this is my way and it might not be yours, but I cant tell you, it’s so worth to find out!

The more and the longer I practice meditation, the easier it get’s for me to stop the craziness of jumping between not existing time zones. The present moment is all that counts, all that matters, all that exists.

Give it a try! If you are in the Zurich area, stay tuned, learn how to create calm in your every day life and we will do it all together — soon to come: TUNEin:CALM 🙂