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Endings and Beginnings

I may be a couple of days late, but it still feels like New Year’s over here (plus I’ve got the snow blowing outside of my apartment, telling me to get this out to all of you). New Year’s is a beginning, it offers us a chance to reflect, and of course to think of what we’d like to achieve and manifest in the year to come. I am a pretty driven person, like a lot of people I know in New York City and its surrounding areas. Often, I’m focused on where I’m going, what I want, how to get there; when I spend my time focusing so much on what’s ahead it can feel like a lot of pressure. When we are always looking so far forward there’s no sense of satisfaction, our work is never done, like a hamster on a wheel.

This year’s New Year’s Day started us off with a Full Moon. A chance to see what’s behind us as well as what’s ahead. One of the things I’ve been practicing this last month is appreciation. Appreciating myself as much as I appreciate the incredible people in my life. Appreciating my efforts and the energy I put forth. It’s been changing my neurology in the best way. Helping me slow down and giving me some new perspective. I highly recommend doing this for yourself. Be proud of your hard work. It doesn’t matter if you see now that you could have done something better or differently, or even if the whole thing turned out to be a mess. Appreciate the fact that you tried and that you worked at something and learn from it all. This is how we level up and become our best selves. A lack of mistakes is also a lack of growth.

When I look back at the year behind me, I see a lot of incredible things. In 2017 I moved back to Brooklyn, a place that had felt like home for a long time and that I missed dearly. I moved back here to be closer to my teachers and to meet new ones, and I have. My community is amazing, both in New York City and Connecticut and I’m so grateful to have found a way to stay close to the people I really love in CT while feeding my own soul in NY. To everyone that has made this transition possible for me, I am so grateful, thank you.

The year to come looks incredible. I’m offering workshops in several new places, returning to one big and exciting event, booking some awesome vendor engagements, and starting relationships with some very special new studios as well as continuing onward at the amazing Stamford Yoga Center and Tangerine Hot Power Yoga, both of these spaces have treated me incredibly well this year. I feel very lucky, and very proud at everything I’ve worked so hard to build. I am really looking forward to seeing the seeds of the last year blossom in 2018.

I hope each of you feels the same. Full of pride for yourself, it really is time for a fresh start and to stop beating yourself up for the same things all the time. (By the way, that loop of beating yourself up is probably what’s got you repeating that pattern anyway!) Know that I am grateful for you, your presence here, your eyes and your hearts and every order and every time you’ve taken a class or a workshop or anything at all. Thank you all.

Happy New Year!

E

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ritual for the new moon

Ritual has been a part of my life for a long time. As curious middle schoolers, my friends and I blessed wood with milk and honey. In high school I began meditation as ritual. The practice felt special and secret to me for a long time. The repetition of mantra, and focus, became a soothing source of familiarity.

I find my life now includes many rituals and practices that keep me feeling close to my own intentions, dreams, and commitments. I believe that anything we do can become a sacred ritual, when we do it with our full attention. I also experience the power of spending a few minutes (or perhaps more than a few) creating a special atmosphere, consciously setting intention, and sitting for contemplative meditation. When I plan a ritual, I draw from the many influences in my own education; paganism, astrology, crystal healing, aromatherapy, yoga, buddhism and intuitive reading. When I create a ritual for another, I seek to blend my own experience and education with theirs. Through conversation and collaboration we create something that feels authentic and meaningful to that person.

If you are new to the idea of performing rituals, a great way to start (in the comfort of your own home) is with the Lunar Cycles. In simple terms, the Full Moon is a time to release and let go. A good time to practice anything that feels clearing to you. The New Moon is a time for building, manifesting, creating. The perfect time to set an intention for the cycle to come.

Ritual for Intention Setting on a New Moon

Here I’m including a simple ritual you can do for the New Moon (the next is March 27, 2017) ::

  1. Gather items :: white candle, crystal quartz, inspiration cards, mala beads, blank paper and pen, sage, dish for burning paper, lighter or matches, lavender oil*
  2. Set the Tone :: Tidy the room that you plan to be in, you can also choose to be outside in a safe and quiet space, indoors is fine too! When possible, choose a place with a good view of the night sky.
  3. Build your Altar :: Arrange your objects in front of you in a pleasing way. The crystal quartz should be at the center of your arrangement, you don’t want to have to leave your ritual once you begin to grab anything, you also don’t want anything extra in your space while practicing.
  4. Begin :: Light your sage and use it to draw a circle around yourself and the area of your altar, you can walk three times around the perimeter or use your arm to circle it depending on the size of your space.
  5. Anoint :: Use the lavender oil on your pulse points (neck and wrists). Hold your hands in front of your face and take 5 deep breaths
  6. Manifest :: Write your intention for this lunar cycle on your piece of paper, it could be one word or many, write from your heart and you will know what to say.
  7. Initiate :: Light the white candle. Use the white candle to light your paper (with intention) on fire and burn it in your fire-safe dish.
  8. Meditate :: Sit comfortably with a soft gaze on the flame of the candle. Breathe deeply, stay connected to your breath while repeating your intention to yourself in your mind. You might contemplate all of the ways you can manifest this intention in all of the areas of your life. Visualize yourself living this way and what it feels like. Stay with your deep breath. Sit for at least 7 minutes, feel free to sit longer.
  9. Closure :: Use your sage stick to circle your space three times once again. Blow out the candle. Clean up your ritual with attention and kindness while drinking a glass of water.

*Essential Oils and Crystals can be substituted based on specific intentions. All of these steps and supplies are also optional. Anything that doesn’t feel authentic to you can be removed or replaced. Anything that feels meaningful to you can be added.

Have you performed this or another New Moon Ritual? Would you like help personalizing this ritual for yourself?

Comment below or reach out at elizabeth@love-by-e.com

Much love!

E

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52 Poses :: Garudasana, Eagle Pose

In 2015 I’ll be highlighting a new posture each week. Find sequences, benefits, and archives here.

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Did you know that a Garuda is not an Eagle? This mystical bird is large and powerful, sometimes depicted as part human. The Garuda is Vishnu’s vehicle. The Phoenix is thought to be an updated, more modern version of Garuda and both are held in reverence by mythology from many cultures.

Garudasana, now commonly called Eagle Pose, is also a powerful pose that forces you to turn deeply inward in order to radically open. There are variations in this pose between different traditions, my history is with the Iyengar lineage and my instructions for Eagle are in line with Iyengar yoga.

In Eagle Pose (Instructions for standing on your left leg):

  • Reach your arms wide in a “T” then take your right arm under your left. (Whichever arm is on the bottom will be the leg on top).
  • You can hold onto your shoulders, or take your fingertips towards the ceiling and hold your wrist, thumb or press your palms together.
  • Cross your right leg on top of your left. Keep your left (standing) leg bent.
  • Hug your right foot towards your left calf strongly. Hook your foot behind your left calf if you can, it’s totally fine not to (or even to place your right toes on the floor). Wherever your foot is, just hug in to help your thighs internally rotate.
  • Square your hips to the front of your mat (They usually skew in the direction of your standing leg)
  • Keep your shoulders away from your ears.
  • You can deepen the shoulder stretch by lifting your elbows away from the floor and drawing your forearms away from you, just don’t let your shoulders ride up!
  • Variation: For “Sleeping Eagle” (Sometimes “Crouching Eagle”), stick your bum way out and hook your elbows in front of your knees. Turn your head in towards your biceps and round your spine.

Yes, there’s a whole lot going on in this balancing posture. However, take it one step at a  time and you will soon find yourself an Eagle pro.

This pose is one of my favorite balancing postures. I love the way it stretches my Trapezius, a muscle that is chronically tight for so many people. Here are all of Eagle’s benefits:

  • Stretches and releases the shoulders and neck muscles
  • Strengthens and tones the legs
  • Improves balance and stability
  • Can reduce cellulite
  • Through the compression of many joints, your circulation is improved and toxins are flushed out of your joints and out of your system.
  • Opens your hips.
  • Stretches the IT bands gently
  • Can relieve pain in the SI joint.

I think Eagle is at it’s best when you follow it up with long deep breaths standing in Tadasana. This allows you to really benefit from the improved circulation through all of your major joints.

Do you love or hate Eagle Pose? I’d love to know why!

Until next time, be well and live well,

Elizabeth

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caring for your crystals

Many people are influenced by the energetic properties of the stones in a piece when purchasing. It’s easy to understand why, the vibration of a balanced crystal can promote love, business, healing, or even inner peace! Who doesn’t want to absorb these positive vibrations?

But, did you know that most crystals are also absorbing energy themselves when being worn? That means your own inner energy (thoughts and emotions) as well as the environment (pollution, other people’s aura). Just like we need to meditate and practice yoga to clear our own energy, your crystals need to be cleansed, too.

There are many simple ways to cleanse your crystal mala beads. My favorite is to burn sage, and “smudge” the beads while chanting a mantra. (The mantra is optional, but a beautiful addition to the practice). In fact, each order that goes out from my studio has been smudged and 9 rounds of the Gayatri Mantra have been chanted over them to clear the crystals and promote healing vibration for the recipient.

Here are some other ways to clear crystals:

  • Give your piece a moon bath. During a full moon, leave your mala in the moonlight for a minimum of 30 minutes. There is an added benefit of absorbing moon energy into your beads.
  • Candlelight will cleanse your crystals, particularly when accompanied by a meditation visualizing the stones surrounded by purifying light.
  • A large Quartz crystal (wrap your mala around it or place it over it), but be sure to cleanse your Quartz as well!
  • You can place your piece in brown rice overnight.
  • Smudge your piece by burning sage, you can chant mantra or intention to make the piece more powerful.

Do you have a favorite way not listed here? Have you ever cleansed your mala?

Leave your thoughts and comments below!

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the power of mantra

These days the percentage of yoga classes that include mantra is rather small. In fact, fewer and fewer yoga classes are using the Sanskrit names of asana(yoga postures), or any Sanskrit at all. Personally, I’m okay with that. I prescribe to the theory that the more people in the world who are introduced to yoga, the better the world will be. And even an introduction to completely physical, American-ized yoga in a noisy gym is an introduction that leads many students to discover the history, tradition, and science behind the practice. Many wonderful teachers took their first yoga class in a gym.

With that said, I also love the traditional aspects of yoga. My idea of vacation includes bringing a couple of anatomy books and a 1,000 page reference book about the Chakras. (Yes, that was what was packed in my Omega suitcase and I was happy all week). My teaching comes from my study of the energy body and physical body alike, and my practice revolves around the alignment between these parts of Self.

What I love about mantra is that it bridges the gap between our physical and energetic bodies, as does the breath. I’ve spent a little time (and really, far less than I’d like) studying with Manorama, a renowned Sanskrit scholar and lovely woman. She taught me that Sanskrit is a language that was built around vibration, and the vibrations of Sanskrit words are intended to affect us both physically and energetically. It’s my experience that when I chant I am connecting with different parts of my body and I’m also feeling a change in mood and in my energy, as in other forms of meditation.

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a 108 bead mala from Love by E

Traditionally, Mantras are chanted in sets of 9, or multiples of 9, with the most popular variations being 9, 21, 27, 54 and 108. This is where mala beads get their 108 beads from. Malas have been used in many cultures for millennia to count recitations of a mantra, and it’s said that if you practice this way with regularity and devotion, your mala will absorb the power of the mantra. Many people still use mala for their intended purpose, while countless others have adopted a practice of wearing a mala as a spiritual reminder or for their beauty.

You can also chant mantra without mala, counting on your fingers to track the number of times you have chanted. You can learn mantra in class, by asking a teacher, even through popular yoga music or online. The traditional way to find your mantra is to find a teacher trained in this kind of meditation, through your study with them you will receive a personal mantra meant to work with your energy.

If you are not experienced in this kind of meditation, one easy way to introduce yourself to mantra is to start with the Western version, affirmations. An affirmation is a positive statement that you repeat to help you manifest your goals, or remind you of your worth, etc. You can choose your own affirmation and set reminders to yourself to say it aloud throughout the day, or sit in meditation repeating this phrase silently. Gabby Bernstein is one wonderful teacher who uses both affirmation and mantra in her work, and I highly recommend her books. If this is a practice that resonates with you, you may want to learn more about mantra and the rich tradition of chanting in Sanskrit.

My knowledge of this tradition is limited, but I practice mantra meditation daily for a few months now and have found it to be an amazing method with many benefits. Are you interested in learning more? Do you have personal experience with Sanskrit mantra or affirmations? Continue this conversation, leave a comment below.

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