I just recently participated and presented at a yoga festival in my home town, and the week prior to that someone had asked me a very interesting question.
She asked: “how come there is another yoga celebration happening here? We just had big yoga event here two weeks ago and now there is another one happening?
I got the sense from this question that she was concerned that there was too much yoga celebration going on. I almost felt that this question reflected a lack of abundance. Luckily the question was proposed to me over Facebook, so I humbly chose not to reply and just enjoy the festival.
The yoga festival was amazing. Everyone expressed their gratitude for such an amazing and wonderful event and it seemed that most participants during and after the festival were basking in their yogic bliss.
I also recently revisited and watched the documentary “10 Questions for the Dalai Lama”. Near the end of the flick the Dalai Lama is asked, “How can we as a collective group on this planet create more happiness and peace in the world”? He replied, “Have more festivals and celebrate”.
There are all kinds of festivals that unravel across our planet at different times of the year. They range anywhere from wine & beer festivals to movie festivals. So, what do all of these festivals have in common? They unite people and create a space for happiness and joy.
Attending a yoga festival is a great way to celebrate the beauty and magnificence of yoga in all its facets. Here are 8 reasons why we should all celebrate yoga together and perhaps attend more fun-filled yoga festivals.
1. Celebrating yoga allows you to step out of your comfort zone. Often we get stuck doing the same yoga practice or the same yoga style of yoga in the same way. When you go to a yoga festival you will get the opportunity to enjoy some new yoga practices and learn new ways of doing things whether it is alignment or breathing.
2. Celebrating yoga allows you to appreciate the traditional roots of yoga. A yoga festival is a great way to learn about some ancient teachings form different yoga lineages or schools. It is also a great time to have reverence and give thanks to those great yoga teachers or masters who have shared yoga with us in an authentic way.
3. Celebrating yoga allows you to discover more of who you are. When we have deep conversations and new insights with people about mind, body and spirit we learn more about our personality.
4. Celebrating yoga gives you an opportunity to see and explore new yoga realms. Yoga is more than just doing asana (postures). It incorporates a wide variety of modalities, everything from chanting mantras to experiencing higher states of conscious through exercises such as yoga nidra (yogic sleep).
5. Celebrating yoga grants us some wonderful time to connect with like-minded people. Often people come together for an event because they share something in common. What a wonderful way to meet new people and create new relationships.
6. Celebrating yoga gives you the time and space to express yourself. Whether it is dancing, singing, or doing acro-yoga, this is an opportunity to embrace the freedom yoga offers.
7. Celebrating yoga can evoke inspiration. At a yoga festival or conference, people come to share their experiences of how yoga has awakened, shifted or transformed them in some way. Often wisdom and stories are shared which are very enriching and uplifting.
8. Celebrating yoga opens your heart center. Just like any celebration, we have a love, passion and appreciation for something. That something being related to yoga opens more space for us to give, receive and connect with ourselves and others.
Jai Kai is Yoga Teacher and Ayurvedic Practitioner specializing in Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy. He will be presenting at the 2015 Sedona Yoga Festival. You can check out his website Sacred Seed Yoga & Ayurveda and connect with him through Facebook.
Out of all the yoga, health and wellness practices, mediation can be one of the hardest practices to do. Meditation has recently become a mainstream practice promising all kinds of benefits for body, mind and spirit. But does it really work and is it really worth our time?
You may have heard people talk about mediation as being a blissful experience promoting peace and harmony. But, meditation for many is a challenging practice because it often involves sitting still in one spot for certain lengths of time. Instead of attaining bliss, peace and harmony, many feel restless and uncomfortable because they are not use to sitting still in one place.
Many people also claim that meditation helps to calm and clear your mind. For many however, meditation does everything but that. As soon as one closes their eyes and tries to sit in stillness, their inner mind chatter becomes loud with thoughts of worry, doubts and planning.
So what’s the point of meditating? Can Meditation really help you?
First of all, the initial stage of meditation can be quite challenging and a habit hard to create. I initially started practicing mediation regularly only because I had to for a yoga training I was taking. We practiced meditation early in the morning, every day at 5:00 am for six weeks straight. We were asked to close our eyes and just sit there and pay attention to our breath for one hour.
At the beginning of the training, the meditation practice was torturous and I often felt extreme physical and mental pain. I was far from finding peace, harmony and bliss. The only time I felt good was when the alarm would go off to indicate the practice was over. I would think to myself yes, finally I can start my day.
What I didn’t realize was that this practice of meditation was helping me to start my day with peace and presence. As time went on during my training, I started to become more aware, relaxed and content. I soon looked forward to the experience of meditation by I was feeling these positive effects more and more. By the end of my six week course I embraced this practice, took it home and continued it for years.
Now for me meditation is a time were I connect with myself, purge my thoughts and reflect on who I am. This is a time for me to simply just be and enjoy the moments of stillness and silence. There are times now when I do feel extreme bliss and happiness.
Meditation can be difficult at first, but sometimes one has to walk through a dark forest in order to come into an open clearing and see the light. This light creates wonderful feelings of peace and joy. This is what meditation does for me every day.
So, is meditation really worth the effort? Well, here are 3 reasons I believe one should meditate regularly and how meditation can enhance one’s sense of inner harmony.
1. Meditation helps one to become more calm and peaceful. The state of one’s mind is reflected through one’s actions. People that react to circumstances and events in a calm, gentle and peaceful manner have an inner state of peace. Thus, meditation helps one to release thoughts of anger, frustration, jealously and fear. Letting go of negative thoughts through meditation creates a sense of peace and equanimity.
2. Mediation helps one to become more aware and focused. It allows one to still their mind and experience the present moment for what is it. Thus, one can gain a more clear and objective perspective. A regular practice of mediation creates more consistency of being present, observant and focused throughout the day. When one is more aware of their daily actions, they will perform them more efficiently and effectively.
3. Meditation reveals who you are. The practice of meditation allows for contemplation, introspection and self-analysis. When your mind is calm and quite, ask yourself “Who am I”. This questions has many layers but ultimately it allows one to discover their own inner truths about who they really are.
Meditation can definitely bring one content and joy and, it can be practiced almost anywhere, anytime. One of my favorite places is to practice outdoors in nature where I can tune into the sounds around me such as the birds or the cars passing by. Then I can focus deeply on my breath and begin to clear my mind of thoughts as I become more present. Stilling my mind, even for a short period of time, brings me bliss. It is the quality of one’s meditation, not the quantity. Remember to be patient with your meditation practice and enjoy the happiness and bliss it brings to you.
Aman Rai is an Ayurvedic Counsellor, Yoga Teacher Trainer and Meditation Instructor. She is also the co- founder of the Sacred Seed Yoga & Ayurveda College. Feel free to connect with her through Facebook at facebook.com/SacredSeedYogaAyurveda
Many superfoods, according to Ayurveda, should be used and consumed properly according to one’s specific dosha or constitution.
Basmati rice is considered as one of those foods that are sattvic in nature which means it is excellent for all type of people and Ayurvedic constitutions. Basmati rice is healthy and healing for the mind and body.
Basmati Rice is often consumed with various legume and Ayurvedic dal recipes to help cleanse and nourish the tissues of the body.
Below is a more detailed explanation of basmati rice in terms of its benefits and nutritional properties.
Basmati Rice is sweet and balanced in nature – neither too hot nor cold. According to Ayurveda, it balances all the doshas because it is easy to digest and builds healthy cells and tissues.
Basmati rice is a tonic as it is strengthening, energizing and nutritive. It is also a demulcent as it can relieve pain and inflammation while healing the lungs and stomach.
Nutritional Properties: Basmati rice contains mostly carbohydrates, which we all need, but also some proteins, a small amount of fats & fiber and a few vitamins and minerals. It is an excellent source of energy composed of thiamine and niacin.
As far as the fiber content of basmati rice is concerned, the brown variety has more fiber than the white variety and so it is often considered to be more nutritious. However white basmati rice can be more easily digested and suitable for some people. White basmati is often used as a digestive cleanse due to its unique nature and the ability to help draw out toxins.
Healing Properties: Basmati rice helps to build and strengthen all tissues of the body and is good for convalescence, debility (loss of strength) and for those who practice yoga and meditation as it is nourishing to the brain and helps maintain focus.
Basmati rice also helps to support normal appetite and growth, and is very important for the normal functioning of the heart, muscles and the nervous system.
According to Ayurveda, basmati rice when taken with mung beans (kitcheree) is one of the best staple food for health maintenance and treatment of diseases.
When it comes to superfoods the Ayurvedic diet includes an abundant and a variety of different foods which are considered extremely healthy and healing.
Many of these superfoods, according to Ayurveda, should be used and consumed properly according to one’s specific dosha or constitution.
Mung beans are in a category of their own because they are considered sattvic in Ayurveda which means they are excellent for all type of people and constitutions. They are harmonizing for the mind and body.
They are best used and prepared in dishes as whole mung bean which are green – these can be soaked for 8 hours or as split mung beans which are yellow – these generally do not need to be soaked. Soaking and/or sprouting the beans helps create digestive enzymes and supports the digestion process.
Below is a more detailed explanation of mung beans in terms of their benefits and nutritional properties.
Mung beans are sweet, astringent and cool in nature. They are balancing for all the dosha types and are considered a complete food consisting of protein, fat, carbohydrate and dietary fibre especially when they are mixed with rice such as basmati. They are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates which aid in digestion and stabilize the body’s blood sugar levels.
Nutritional Properties on Mung beans: Mung Beans are very low in saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol. They are a good source of thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin K, vitamin C, riboflavin, folate acid, copper, manganese, pantothenic acid, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.
Healing Properties of mung beans: Mung beans are good for convalescence – the gradual recovery of health and strength after illness, especially from febrile (feverish) and infectious diseases.
Mung beans are also really good for the liver, spleen and bleeding disorders. They are an excellent food used for alcohol, drug and smoking detoxification. They are also good for people who suffer from diabetes, high cholesterol, cancer and other immune deficiency diseases. Mung bean tea is excellent for heat stroke and fevers.
What is contentment? The oxford dictionary defines contentment as a state of being satisfied, and also as a state of tranquil happiness.
In Sanskrit, contentment is referred to as Santosha and is one of the key practices required in Yoga and Ayurveda.
So, an important question to ask yourself is, “how would you define contentment? And, are you content?”
Contentment for me is a state of being in acceptance from which comes inner joy, peace and harmony. These are not dependant on any external events or things.
Contentment allows me to just be rather than having to be or become someone else. I am not always content, but the development of contentment is a part of my spiritual practice.
I have had times were I have felt completely content and during these times I felt free from the agony of dissatisfaction.
We each have equal capacity to be content and the seed of contentment is buried within us. We were born to experience joy, happiness and tranquillity.
Somewhere along the way we lost our connection to our inner joy because we started looking at things outside of us for a sense of fulfillment.
From a young age happiness starts to elude us. We become dissatisfied with what we have, always thinking someone else is happier because they have a bigger and better toy.
As a mom I see this with my own kids. They get treated the same but still one of them always looks to the other and wants what the other has.
They develop the syndrome of “I want what he has because it will make me feel better.”
By doing this over and over again our reserve of contentment dries up, leaving us to think that we have to look outside of us for bigger and better things to get replenished.
This same lack of content follows students into a yoga class. I observe students in class comparing their flexibility to that of their peers.
As a result the gratification from their yoga practice is lost to thoughts of competition and comparison with others. Continue reading