Grace Under Pressure...

I can't believe we are already in the final weeks of 2017!  It's been a jam-packed year, with many lows and highs, but through it all, I've been carried by the power of Grace.  Grace, to me, is the devotional process of deliberately keeping an open heart regardless of what life hands you. It's the power of Grace that enables me to get up every day and serve vulnerable individuals and families who are experiencing the most difficult days of their lives, even when I'm struggling myself.  It's Grace that allows me to shed the limiting beliefs and behaviors ingrained in me from early life.  It's Grace that helps me feel empowered to continue learning and serving.  And it's Grace that reminds me to listen to the lessons in the challenges of daily life with gratitude. Most of all, I am grateful to you all for your tireless support!  I know 2018 will be an amazing year!

I'm sure you have been inundated with articles and tweets and posts about "surviving" the holidays, but I wanted to add a few tips here:

  • Self-care is not selfish!  Be sure and give yourself the gift of time and space from stressful (even good-stressful) situations. A little quiet time (and meditation) can help renew your energy and focus. Check out my free guided meditations on Insight Timer!

  • Online shopping can save time and reduce overstimulation at holiday time. Be sure to support small businesses and independent makers as you complete your gift giving lists!
  • Give yourself a moment to explore within. Ask yourself, "What do I need right now?" Allow the answer to arise from any layer of your being--the body, energetic, thoughts/emotions, wisdom/intuition, or spiritual. Once you know what it is you need, you can address it. Sometimes, just taking a moment to check in with yourself, just noticing what it is you need, can help to soothe and shift it in subtle ways.
  • Remember that the winter holiday season is all about togetherness, service, and cultivating Joy!

Again, thank you so much for a wonderful year!  It's truly been my pleasure to serve you and support you in discovering your most radiant, highest, and best self! Here's to a beautiful New Year full of joy, abundance, growth, and community!


Hot Hot Heat!

Now that summer is in full swing, you may be either enjoying the heat or (like me!) craving the climate-controlled indoors. I wanted to share with you some great tips for keeping your body and mind cool this summer:

According to Ayurveda, summer is Pitta season

Give cooling breath a try

Encourage relaxed effort, compassion, and acceptance in your yoga practice

Integrate meditation into your summer rituals (also: try Yoga Nidra meditation outdoors!)

Remember to eat seasonally. Here are a few cool and delicious summer recipes!

Some News:

Life is a series of twists and turns, switchbacks, diversions in new directions, and ultimately forward movement.  This month I've returned to full time work during the week, but I will continue to offer Yoga Nidra meditation classes in the evenings and on weekends!  Keep up with my community class schedule over on the website.  I will also continue to offer private in-home individual and specialty group sessions!  Contact me to bring Yoga Nidra meditation to your home or special group (girl/guy friends, parent groups, bridal parties, you name it!

Looking ahead to Autumn... I plan to pursue my 200-hour Yoga Teacher certification!  This additional training will help me to learn more about human anatomy (including the subtle bodies), eastern philosophy, yoga asana (poses), different meditative practices, hands-on adjustment and energy healing, and even Kirtan (chanting)!  There are SO many ways to create and hold the space for healing individuals and communities at the deepest levels and I am so excited to continue this journey toward having even more to offer you!  I am endlessly grateful for any and all support toward enabling me to continue on a spiritual path and to afford the tuition for this special program.

Five Things...

Here are Five Things I am digging this week:

1. Angelenos-- did you know the best Chinese vegetarian food is at a gorgeous Buddhist monastery in Hacienda Heights?  I've got to visit!

2. Meditation not only reduces stress, it also changes your brain functioning.  Here's how

3. Curious about eastside style? Check out the fashion from the Echo Park Craft Fair last weekend!

4. A personal story about creating a meaningful sankalpa for your practice

5. Need advice? Check out Captain Awkward!

Enjoy the Jacaranda blooms!

In Bloom! Springtime is Here!


I had no idea that March's beautiful spring awakening would bring such an incredible April Superbloom!  Thanks to such a wet winter season, all over Southern California, poppies-- as well as hundreds of varieties of wildflowers and native plants-- have exploded into such glorious life that they can be seen from space!

This Spring, invite a fresh outlook on life by trying new leisure or fitness activities!  This month I joined Class Pass, which allows you to try new fitness classes for a nominal monthly membership.  I'm looking forward to getting out of my comfort zone (yoga and meditation) and trying something new! You can also find my classes on Class Pass and sign up there in advance!

Another way to invite a fresh perspective to your day is to try Nadi Shodhana, alternate-nostril breathing, a simple yet powerful technique that settles the mind, body, and emotions.  There are a few different Nadi Shodhana techniques, but they all serve the purpose of creating balance and regulating the flow of air in the nasal passages, In just a few minutes of alternate nostril breathing, you can invite renewed ability to focus the mind, support respiratory function, balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain, and settle stress. Here is one technique of Nadi Shodhana, from the Chopra Center:

  • Take a comfortable and tall seat, making sure your spine is straight and your heart is open.
  • Relax your left palm comfortably into your lap and bring your right hand just in front of your face.
  • With your right hand, bring your pointer finger and middle finger to rest between your eyebrows, lightly using them as an anchor. The fingers we’ll be actively using are the thumb and ring finger.
  • Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and out through your nose.
  • Close your right nostril with your right thumb. Inhale through the left nostril slowly and steadily.
  • Close the left nostril with your ring finger so both nostrils are held closed; retain your breath at the top of the inhale for a brief pause.
  • Open your right nostril and release the breath slowly through the right side; pause briefly at the bottom of the exhale.
  • Inhale through the right side slowly.
  • Hold both nostrils closed (with ring finger and thumb).
  • Open your left nostril and release breath slowly through the left side. Pause briefly at the bottom.
  • Repeat 5-10 cycles, allowing your mind to follow your inhales and exhales.

After 5-10 cycles of alternate-nostril breathing, return to your natural breath, and check in with how you feel!

Some News:

  • This month I am celebrating my One Year Anniversary since I became certified to be a Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra® guide!  My training with Jennifer Reis at Kripalu was truly transformative.  I learned so much, made lifelong friends, and will always remember this truly special place with deep gratitude. I am so thrilled that I have been able to share this transformative practice all over Los Angeles-- in studios, with specialty groups, in the workplace, and at home! Yoga Nidra meditation really is for everyone, of all ages and abilities.
  • When I decided to get my certification in Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra®, being able to offer meditation classes to our city's most vulnerable communities was one of my big goals (once a social worker,always a social worker!).  This month, I'm thrilled to share that I will be offering Yoga Nidra Meditation classes by donation at Heal One World, Los Angeles' first non-profit, donation-based wellness center-- offering yoga, meditation, fitness classes, Chinese medicine, and other alternative/complementary wellness and healing practices.  Located in the Arlington Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles (3503 W. Pico Blvd. LA, CA 90019), Heal One World is a safe and affordable space for people from all walks of life seeking to boost well-being through a holistic lens. Yoga Nidra meditation will be offered every Saturday at 2:30pm.  I invite you to attend classes here-- come as you are, give what you can, and receive what you need!
  • Coming Soon! Audio tracks of Yoga Nidra meditations!  Take me with you wherever you are.
  • As I mentioned earlier, you can sign up for my classes in advance using ClassPass, as well as Mindbody! Or, just drop in!  In addition to the new class at Heal One World, you can still find me every Saturday at 12noon at Yogala, in beautiful Echo Park!  Hopefully there will be more to come!

I wish you all a beautiful Spring season.  As always, do contact me if you have questions about Yoga Nidra meditation, how you might benefit from the practice, and how you can bring the practice to your home or workplace!  

With gratitude,

Five Things

You made it to the weekend!  Here are five things I'm digging this week:

1. What's the difference between Yoga Nidra and "normal" sleep?

2. California's superbloom is so prolific that you can see it from space!

3. Ease overwhelm with more space: turn off background noise at work/home, spend time outside without distraction, forget about your phone while waiting in line...

4. A guide to naturally-dyed Easter Eggs

5. I am absolutely loving super-model/mother/musician Karen Elson's new album, Double Roses.  Check it out!

We are headed on a little day trip to Ojai, California today to get out of the city, taste some pixie tangerines, commune with nature, and visit my favorite place, Meditation Mount.  I can't wait to get on the road!  Have a beautiful weekend.

Pink Moment in Ojai...

Pink Moment in Ojai...

Five Things



It's finally Friday!  Here are five things I'm digging this week:

1. Did you know you can practice yoga nidra without even getting out of bed?  How dreamy are these bedrooms?

2. Oh man, do I relate to this writer's thoughts on a mediocre life

3. An animated guide to meditation

4. Seven tips to experience deep meditation

5. Nine TED Talks on the importance of self-care

Have a beautiful, restful weekend.  I'll be teaching at Yogala tomorrow at noon-- hope to see you there!

photo: The LA Times

photo: The LA Times

Five Things

Did you know that today is World Sleep Day?  #WorldSleepDay aims to celebrate the benefits of good and healthy sleep, draw attention to the burdens of sleep difficulties, and to share ways to promote healthy sleep!  By the way, did you know that just twenty minutes of yoga nidra meditation feels like a 3 hour nap?  This week, I'm sharing some links about my most favorite activity:

1. What losing sleep does to your mind

2. Six breathing techniques to help you fall asleep faster (including my personal favorite, alternate nostril breathing)

3. Break up with your snooze button: make your wake-up something to look forward to

4. An ayurvedic perspective on sleep, including ancient rituals to ease you into dreamland

5. And finally, The Chalkboard explores the place where "the magic happens" in Yoga Nidra

Have a beautiful weekend!  

Five Things

Today I’m sharing five things that I love, have stumbled upon, am currently experiencing, or am excited about right now. Hopefully these links will brighten your day and allow you to get to know me a little better! With the intention to invite more discipline into my journal posting, I hope to make this a weekly post!  

1. The perks of being a wallflower (or otherwise not fitting in)

2. I'm dying to try forest bathing, which is more than just a hike

3. Spot-on and hilarious survival tips for visiting Los Angeles, by my friend Carlie

4. The co-existance of the tragic and the transcendent, through the words of a forgotten poet

5. If you live in/near New York, or will be visiting soon, add your voice to the world's largest collection of OM at The Rubin Museum's OM Lab between now and May 8

Hello Spring!

After an all-to-brief LA "winter," the skies have cleared and LA is beginning to bloom! I love seeing all of the fresh grasses on the hillsides and wildflowers beginning to pop up!  Springtime is a wonderful period of deep cultivation of the seeds of intention you have been planting all winter. Prune away what does not serve you, in order to encourage your highest goals to come to fruition. 

One way to release that which no longer serves you, is in experiencing opposites in both physical and emotional sensations. When you are attached to a particular limiting belief, it can cause feelings of separation and isolation.  In Yoga Nidra meditation, we explore opposites in sensation and emotion, in order to then detach from such extremes and experience a middle path. Through this exploration, limiting beliefs and fears can begin to dissolve, lighting up your way toward transforming the way you see yourself, your abilities, and your higher purpose. During meditation, you learn to welcome every thought as one expression of your innate wholeness. When you welcome opposites at the same time, you can experience a glimpse of the truth that you are already whole and balanced, just as you are.  Imagine all of the possibilities when you begin to sprout from your seed pod!

Discovering Yoga Nidra!

A few weeks ago at my class at Yogala, I was pleasantly surprised to be approached by a local journalist, wanting to learn more about Yoga Nidra meditation for an article she was thinking about writing.  It was such a pleasure not only to share a deeply healing session with her, but also the philosophical underpinnings of this practice which I have come to love so much.  

Here is a link to the article!

Opening the Heart

As Valentine's Day approaches, my mind turns not just to flowers and chocolates, but also toward cultivating love both inside and out. It's easy to direct love and attention toward the people and creatures in our lives, but it can been more of a challenge to direct that same devotion to ourselves, especially in our busy, stimulating culture.  Caring for the foundation within the inner refuge of the heart opens the doorway to greater love and acceptance-- of all beings, including the self. I wanted to share some ways we can cultivate love this season:

1. Embrace your vulnerability.  As Brené Brown says," Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity.... If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful lives, vulnerability is the path." When we acknowledge and express our own vulnerability, we open ourselves to deeper connection by allowing ourselves to be truly seen.

2. Setting a heart-based resolve (sankalpa); When you wake up in the morning, set a resolve/intention for the day.  For example: "I listen to the wisdom of my wise heart," "I give and receive love freely," or "I treat myself and others with compassion and lovingkindness." Feel free to repeat your intention throughout the day, write it down on a sticky note on your mirror, state it during your Yoga Nidra or other meditation practices.  In the repetition of the intention, it becomes implanted in your consciousness, and will be so.

3. Heart Chakra Mantra: The base mantra for the heart (Anahata) chakra is "YAM." In meditation, close your eyes, and chant the mantra YAM either out loud or silently in your mind.  Chant the mantra for at least two minutes, or for as long as you please. 

4. Heart Hridaya Mudra: Place your right hand over your heart space, and the left hand over the right.  Breathe naturally, directing your attention into your heart space.  Begin with 5-10 natural breaths, and increase the number of breaths each week.  Breathing into the heart space releases tension, balancing energy both in upward and downward channels.  Emotions begin to harmonize into balance, dissolving fears, sadness, and doubts.

5. Practice Yoga Nidra: In this deeply healing practice, we can address limiting beliefs and open the self to new ways of acknowledging, resolving and healing old wounds; we can expand our awareness to embrace our innate capacity for joy, tenderness and profound lovingkindness.

As always, I am deeply grateful to share the loving practice of Yoga Nidra Meditation with you and yours.  

A New Year: Looking Back, Looking Forward

Back when I was in school (many, MANY years ago!) I looked forward to my classes in Greek and Roman mythology and classical literature.  As we move into a new year, my mind habitually travels to the Roman deity Janus: the god of beginnings and transitions.  Janus is depicted as having two faces, one looking to the past, and the other looking to the future.  In order to envision our future, we must learn from our past mistakes and successes, joys and disappointments.  In this way, we can create a vision for who we wish to be as we begin another year.

That being said, in many cultures, it is believed that we are who we are, and the becoming of who we want to be is already happening.  The catch is that we have these mental-emotional-spiritual limitations-- perhaps created by circumstance, through negative experiences, through our ancestry, culture, relationships and so forth-- which blind us to the truth of who we really are.  Yoga Nidra meditation addresses this conundrum through setting a Sankalpa, or resolve.

In a way, Sankalpa is an answer to the broad question "what do I really want?"  Encompassing more than the material comforts of life, what is your heart's deepest longing?  Is it overall health and well-being, a healthy relationship, success through fulfilling work, an awakened spiritual potential?  You may look at your past challenges in order to illustrate something about your core being that you would like to be improved upon.  However, formulating a resolve starts from the radical belief that you already are who you need to be in order to fulfill your life's purpose.  All you need to do is focus your mind, connect to your heartfelt wishes, and channel your divine energy within.  

While many New Years Resolutions begin with "I will," Sankapla begins with "I am" or "I deserve," "I manifest," "I release," "I invite," and so forth It's not a request, it's a statement of truth.  Some examples of Sankalpa:

"I am healthy and whole, just as I am."

"I deserve positive relationships."

"I release fear and anxiety over that which is beyond my control."

"I give and receive love freely."

"I treat myself and others with compassion."

Once you have formulated your Sankapla, repeat it to yourself --with conviction! --three times. You are planting the send of truth into your mind, body, and spirit. It is already happening!  Having this awareness, every conscious choice you make is an opportunity to strengthen the truth of your Sankalpa and become who you have always been.  

Make sure to visit the Calendar tab on the website to keep up on my class offerings, and know that I am always open to your feedback, questions, and customized private sessions.

May the New Year lead you ever closer to your true nature, your pure goodness, your Divine light.  Remember you are already who you need to be in order to fulfill your life's purpose.




Weekly Series: Journey Through the Koshas/Part 6: The Bliss Body (Anandamaya Kosha) and Beyond...

In Yoga Nidra meditation, we take a journey through they layers of our being, in order to reach the very center of the Self, our embodied Soul, thereby inviting and allowing healing and transformation to occur.  Each week, we have been exploring the five Koshas, or sheaths, which describe each layer f our being, from the outside in.  Through this perspective, we may bring balance to out body, breath, mind, wisdom, and spirit.  This week, we explore the Bliss Body, or Anandamaya Kosha, and go even beyond the Koshas to unified consciousness.

Anandamaya Kosha, the Bliss Body, is the most interior of the koshas, and it surrounds the Self.  Aaa means "bliss" and nanda means "child." The Bliss body has been described in ancient writings as having "joy in the head, contentment as the right arm and delight in the left, bliss as the heart, and Brahman (universal self) as the Foundation."  Ananda is the innate Joy that is the expression of our true nature

Have you ever had an awareness of pure abandon-- perhaps a feeling of being out of your own body, or of effortless exhilaration, or of pure wholeness and connection with the universe and beyond?  Without thinking or planning or questioning or judgement?  This (and countless other feelings and states of expansive awareness) is Bliss. It's the innate Joy that lies within us all and is the expression of who we really are.  Ananda is permanent, limitless, and is absolutely unconditional-- meaning that it is not influenced by any internal or external events.  

It is here where I like to say that "the magic happens."  This is where our innate healing abilities lie, where we can truly release that which limits us-- pain, grief, trauma, and so on--and reawaken all of a person's positive qualities, such as worthiness, kindness, generosity, compassion, courage, wellness, and more.  There is a feeling of wholeness, balance, and integration-- the radiant core where unconditional love and communion with life lives.

You might think that Bliss is the end of the journey, but Anandamaya Kosha is still a sheath.  It's still part of the journey. The experience of Bliss can be amazing, but there's something even beyond Bliss.  

It's our pure and precious experience of the Self, of Unity and Oneness with the infinite.  It is in this space that we experience the concept that we are just a drop in the ocean of the universe.  Here we are completely free from internal and external conflict, from attachment and separation, and here we experience Wholeness.  It's the eternal center of consciousness, which is never born and never dies.  These descriptions are even limited, because the realization of the Self is indescribable.  

Meditation is not technically supposed to be 'goal oriented," but if ever there was a goal, it's to reach this state beyond the Koshas, of realization of unity and oneness.  I invite you to experience this awakening through Yoga Nidra meditation.


I am always thrilled to share the practice of Yoga Nidra meditation, for I believe that everyone deserves to experience the feeling of bliss and universal oneness.  You are always invited to contact me with questions, and of course, to experience firsthand the benefits of Yoga Nidra meditation with me!

Weekly Series: Journey Through the Koshas/Part 5: The Wisdom/Intuitive Body (Vijnanamaya Kosha)

In Yoga Nidra meditation, we take a journey through the layers of our being, in order to reach the very center of the Self, our embodied Soul, thereby inviting and allowing healing and transformation to occur.  Each week, we are exploring the five Koshas, or sheaths, which describe each layer of our being, from the outside in.  Through this perspective, we may bring balance to our body, breath, mind, wisdom, and spirit. This week, we explore the Wisdom/Intuitive Body, or Vijnanamaya Kosha. 

After experiencing awareness of the gross body, the breath/energy flowing in around and through us, and awareness of thoughts, sensations, and emotions, we reach an even deeper layer of our being, known as the wisdom/intuitive body.  This body refers to the higher mind, where our potential is awakened--thereby allowing us to transform limiting beliefs and reach a sense of wholeness and unity.  This level of being bridges all states of mind and is our guide to deep transformation-- as it comes alive, you not only are experiencing your body/breath/thoughts/emotions, but you are able to witness these layers of being in a nonjudgemental way.  

As a nonjudgemental witness to the grosser states of being, we begin to recognize our personal conditioning, see beyond the roles we play, and observe the larger frame of who we are.  Here is where we can transform limiting core beliefs. For example if one has come to believe that they are unworthy of love (say through unhealthy primary relationships, trauma, addiction, etc), the Witness can detach the experiences from the person and begin to recall the innate goodness inside of them.  Here the person can "see" themselves for who they really are-- worthy of love, deserving of acceptance, happiness, and connection.

In the Wisdom/Intuitive body, we also begin to experience thoughts, beliefs, memories and images from both personal and collective arenas. For example, we may experience a memory of being held by our mother as a child, and then experience an intuitive flash of a collective memory of the Universal Mother, holding the universe in her comforting arms. Here we may have a glimmer of knowing our deep connection to our true and tender selves as well as to all beings that have ever existed or will exist.  

In a modern society where we are ever more disconnected from ourselves and one another, this experience of pure intuition, wisdom, wholeness, and connection can be amazingly transformative.  I invite you to experience this awakening through Yoga Nidra meditation!

Next week, we will explore the Bliss Body, Anandamaya Kosha.

I am always thrilled to share the practice of Yoga Nidra meditation , for I believe that everyone deserves to reconnect and experience the feeling of universal oneness and bliss.  You are always invited to contact me with questions, and of course, to experience firsthand the benefits of Yoga Nidra meditation with me.


Weekly Series: Journey Through the Koshas/Part 4: The Mental-Emotional Body (Manomayakosha)

In Yoga Nidra Meditation, we take a journey through the layers of our being, in order to reach the very center of the Self, our embodied Soul, thereby inviting and allowing healing and transformation to occur.  Each week in September, we are exploring the five Koshas, or sheaths, which describe every layer of our being, from the outside in.  Through this perspective, we may bring body, breath, mind, wisdom, and spirit into harmony.  This week, we will explore the Mental-Emotional body, or Manomaya Kosha.

Often our minds are as busy as rush-hour traffic, running over "to-do lists," planning ahead, responding to outer stimuli, ruminating over past experiences, taking care of our feelings, worrying about the future, even worrying about worrying!  The thinking mind, as well as the unconscious mind, sense organs, emotions, and core beliefs are all embodied in the Manomaya Kosha.  Given the complexities of our conscious and unconscious minds, it's no surprise that many people find it difficult to reach a state of "quiet" in the mind and therefore believe that they are "unable" to meditate.

The interesting thing about Yoga Nidra meditation, is that the guide can help you to engage the mind in order to delve deeper in order to reduce or eliminate limiting beliefs and habitual thought patterns.  We do so in a few different ways.

Early on in Yoga Nidra meditation practice, we develop an intention, or Sankalpa as it is known.  We formulate a positive statement in the present tense, so that it already feels like and is the truth.  Sankalpa speaks directly to the unconscious mind, the place where change takes root, in that the intention becomes a seed you are planting.  When we state our Sankalpa to ourselves, we are also stating it to the universe, beginning to align it to reality.  We can manifest our own reality through this intention-setting practice.  Even if our conscious mind doesn't fully buy into the intention, our much more receptive subconscious mind does!  In time, there comes a sense of both minds coming together into the truth of the statement.

At another stage in Yoga Nidra meditation practice, we explore opposites, both in sensation and emotion.  When we involve experiencing a sensation/emotion and then invoking its opposite, we can learn things about the other that we may not be aware of when only thinking of one.  The opposites may bring clarity to one another, thereby freeing one another.  When we can experience the opposites, and then try to experience both at the same time, we come to realize that the opposites actually neutralize each other and a sense of equanimity arises.  Here is where limiting beliefs can dissipate, inviting fresh perspective and change.

Lastly, at any time during Yoga Nidra meditation practice, difficult emotions and sensations can arise.  It's natural to want to resist the feeling, and we do that often in our waking lives in order to survive the day.  However, when we push away our feelings, we begin to separate from our innate wholeness.  Repressed feelings eventually will bubble up, forcing us to take notice.  In Yoga Nidra meditation, we allow these feelings, however uncomfortable, to arise, so that we can observe it and be fully present with it without judging it.  We learn to anchor to what does not change-- our true Self-- rather than become agitated by the feelings.  In this way, the power of the emotion or sensation can be reduced or even eliminated, inviting reconnection, balance, and healing to the emotional, energy, and physical bodies.

Next week, we will explore the Wisdom-Intuitive Body, Vijnanamaya Kosha.

I am always thrilled to share the practice of Yoga Nidra meditation, for I believe that all beings deserve to experience feelings of universal oneness and bliss.  You are always welcome to contact me with questions, and of course, to experience firsthand the benefits of Yoga Nidra meditation with me.


Weekly Series: Journey Through The Koshas/Part 3: The Energy Body (Pranamaya Kosha)

In Yoga Nidra meditation, we take a journey through the layers of our being in order to reach our embodied soul, thereby allowing healing and transformation.  Each week of September, we are exploring the five Koshas, or sheaths, which describe every layer of our being, from the outside in.  This week, we will explore the Energy Body, or Pranamaya Kosha.

In our everyday lives, our breath can go unnoticed, becoming limited in range, especially during times of stress.  When we are experiencing stressful events (good or bad), the breath becomes shallow, the blood pressure rises, muscles become tense, and our mental focus lasers in on the task at hand.  Once the outside stressor diminishes, it can be very difficult, or even nearly impossible to return to our pre-stressed state.  Our energy, becomes stuck, which can lead to a myriad of stress-related conditions.

Pranamaya Kosha is the layer of our energy and vital life force, which is produced by our breath-- the bridge between the physical and subtler bodies.  It cannot be seen, but it can certainly be sensed and felt.  

In Yoga Nidra meditation, we begin to observe the breath with great curiosity.  We visualize the breath flowing in and out of the physical body, we direct the breath to our chest and belly, we send the breath to places that feel painful or constricted, we count our breaths flowing in and out. In these ways, we can return our breath to its fullness, thereby encouraging a more balanced and efficient flow of energy/prana.  As we become aware of our breath, the blood pressure lowers, digestive functions return, muscles begin to soften, and we can therefore begin to relax more and more deeply.  Becoming aware of the breath allows us to reconnect the breath energy to the physical body, as well as to begin to access the deeper layers of our being.

Next week, we will explore the Mental-Emotional body, or Manomaya Kosha.

I am always thrilled to share the practice of Yoga Nidra meditation, for I believe that all beings deserve to experience feelings of universal oneness and bliss.  You are always welcome to contact me with questions, and of course, to experience the benefits of Yoga Nidra meditation with me!


Weekly Series: Journey Through The Koshas/Part 2: The Physical Body (Annamaya Kosha)

Last week we discussed very briefly the five Koshas, or sheaths, which describe us at every level of our being: physical, energetic, mental/emotional, wisdom, and bliss, all leading to the Self, or the true essence of existence.  Each week in September, we will explore in depth each of these layers.  This week, lets look at the Annamaya Kosha, the Physical Body.

Annamaya Kosha represents the entirety of the gross body, the densest level of our being.  In Sanskrit, "anna" means "food", and annamayakosha refers to that which is nourished by food.  It includes not just the anatomical structures (skin, bones, muscles, organs, etc.) and physiological processes, but also the essential building blocks of the body from an esoteric point of view, such as the five elements, the chakras, or energy channels.

There are several practices which help one to connect with the physical body. For example, yoga asanas (poses), dance, movement, massage, and of course, meditation.  In many forms of meditation, one is guided through a body scan in order to "check in" with the physical body.  

In Yoga Nidra meditation, the body scan can be considered the gateway to the subtler layers of being.  We also call this a rotation of consciousness.  Through body scanning, we systematically name and observe the gross body. Notice the term "observe"-- in Yoga Nidra, we are not trying to change anything that may be happening in the physical body; we are simply noticing the presence of each body part, perhaps noticing how it is feeling, but not trying to modify it in any way.  It is a practice of pure awareness.  By simply noticing, there is no pressure to change or alter anything, thereby encouraging a sense of ease within the practice, which in turn allows the mind to delve into the subtler bodies with ease.

Next week, we'll begin delving into the subtle bodies, beginning with the Energy Body, or Pranamaykosha.

I am always thrilled to share the practice of Yoga Nidra meditation, for I believe that all beings deserve to experience feelings of universal oneness and bliss.  You are always welcome to contact me with questions, and of course, to experience the benefits of Yoga Nidra meditation with me!


Weekly Series: Journey Through the Koshas/Part 1: What are Koshas?

When I guide Yoga Nidra meditation, I tell my students that they will be taking a journey inward, peeling back the various layers of their being to rediscover and nourish their true and tender Self.  I wanted to use the next few Journal entries to explore these layers of being a little further and share a little bit of the theory which provides the main framework of Yoga Nidra meditation.  So each week for the month of September, I will illustrate a journey through the Five Koshas, the gross and subtle bodies surrounding our true Self, the very center of our being.   

Kosha is a Sanskrit word meaning "sheath" or "covering," which envelops the Self.  There are five Koshas, which describe us at each of our levels: physical, energetic, psychological, intuitive, and spiritual.  If you visualize peeling back the layers of an onion, or opening up Russian dolls, you will get the idea behind the five Koshas.  Each metaphorical sheath is contained within the next, and they are also interwoven.  These layers of being provide a spiritual roadmap, allowing us to methodically navigate the inner journey to the Soul/Self.  The Koshas help describe the process of going inward,  bringing the body, breath, mind, wisdom, and spirit into balance.

The Koshas describe us at each of our levels.  Through the practice of Yoga Nidra meditation, we come to know our Koshas and as such travel ever closer to our true Self.  In the next few weeks, we will explore each of these Five Koshas in more detail.  For now, here is a brief description:

  • Anamaya Kosha, The Physical Body: This represents the entirety of a person-- skin, bones, muscles, organs, vessels, fluids, elements. In Yoga Nidra meditation, we explore the physical body through body scanning techniques
  • Pranamaya Kosha, The Energy Body: Through awareness of the breath as it circulates throughout the body, one becomes aware of the energy body.  In Yoga Nidra meditation, we regard the energy body by noticing, being curious about the breath as it flow in and out of our bodies.
  • Manomaya Kosha, The Mental-Emotional Body: It is at this level that we process thoughts and feelings.  In Yoga Nidra meditation, rather than try to suppress thoughts and feelings, we allow them to bubble up, regard them without judgement, thereby allowing them to be released.  When we no longer repress our emotions, we come closer into balance.
  • Vijanamaya Kosha, The Intuitive/Witness Body: It is in this layer that the higher mind resides.,  Witness Consciousness is that aspect of the self that observes each level of our being without judgement.  Here we see beyond our individual conditioning and limiting beliefs, then are able to achieve deep transformation and healing.  Each stage of Yoga Nidra meditation invites the Witness body to participate
  • Anandamaya Kosha, The Bliss Body: This is the layer of being that is the closest to our true Self, a place of pure joy and awareness.  This is the part of us that it untouched by trauma or pain; its essential nature is joy and wholeness, and represents all of a person's best qualities-- generosity, courage, compassion, benevolence, empathy, and so on.  In Yoga Nidra meditation, we can access this layer of our being through guided imagery, journey, and resting in harmony with the creative forces of the universe

As we practice Yoga Nidra meditation, each Kosha drops into the background as we get ever closer to our true Self, allowing us to experience complete oneness and unity which is always joined with the universe.  

Next week, we will explore the Annamaya Kosha/Physical Body more in-depth!

I am always excited to share the practice of Yoga Nidra meditation, for I believe that everyone deserves to experience these feelings of universal oneness and bliss.  You are always invited and welcome to experience the benefits of Yoga Nidra meditation with me.


Meditation Music

I had a conversation with a client the other night about the use of music during yoga nidra meditation, namely, whether music is necessary in order for the meditator to have a positive experience.  I thought for awhile, but the only answer I could provide was "I don't know."  

See, just as there are dozens of types of meditation, there are also dozens of opinions on whether music matters or not, and even on an individual basis the answer is different.  Even on a session-by-session basis the answer can be different!

In yoga nidra, you are guided to use all of your senses throughout the entire process.  For many people, music can enhance their ability to enter into or remain in a meditative state.  It can create a sense of permission to let go, of otherworldliness, expansiveness, relief, of multitudes of emotions and sensations.  Others may prefer silence, so that they are completely in their own headspace, away from what may be perceived as bothersome or distracting.  Still others prefer other types of sounds, whether from nature or other ambient sources.  Figuring out your personal preference simply requires experimentation.  

In individual sessions, I always ask the client if she or he has a preference.  It's not always that easy in a group setting, since there are at times multiple opinions.  As such, I have a sort of rule-of-thumb-- I play very low-volume ambient music with a limited variety of tonal changes and very few (if any) beats.  That way, there is no competition between the music and my voice and there is no emotional connection between the practitioner and the music.  Just as I am a facilitator of deep relaxation, so too is the music.

Here is a playlist of some of my personal favorite tracks 

What are your favorite songs to relax or meditate to?