Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
During my recent visit to Austin, I had the privilege of taking several classes with Craig Williams. Craig is among many other things an Oriental Medicine Doctor and Ayurvedic Practitioner who offers a wide range of classes and workshops related to physical, mental, and spiritual health. Here are a few takeaways from his recent class Natural Solutions For the Cold and Flu Seasons:
Prevention: Protect Yourself From The Common Cold
· Decrease or eliminate sugar and alcohol for the winter
· Frequently wash your hands with warm soapy water
· Consume Probiotics to maintain GI health (70-80% of your immune system lives here)
· Use essential oils in diffuser, ceramic lamp rings, shower tablets, or rooms sprays (examples include tea tree, eucalyptus, and/or lavender) to clean the air you breath
· Take Epsom salt baths with essential oils
· Sleep a lot
Herbal Remedies For Cold Prevention Or Immune Boosting: (Check with your healthcare practitioner if any are contraindicated for you.)
· Echinacea + Elderberry (at onset of cold – read labels for dosage) *best in syrup form
· Osho Root + Reishi (great if you often have regular upper respiratory issues)
· American Ginseng (if you have deficient Qi)
· Andrographis (gargle to clear a sore throat)
· Chyavanprash (Ayurvedic formula to boost the immune system and body)
· Triphala (Ayurvedic formula to promote elimination and digestive track health)
A Few Food Recommendations:
· Steamed broccoli
· Dandelion greens
· Other dark green leafy vegetables
· Onions sautéed with ghee (tonic food – contains butyric acid that promotes large intestine health)
· Gogi berries
· Spices: cumin, coriander, turmeric, and fennel
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Autumn is a special time in Ayurveda. It’s considered a joint season; just like in this vulnerable part of the body, during the autumn season it is easy to injure oneself. If you are not careful, you could become vulnerable or risk injuring your body by moving too quickly, doing too much, catching a common cold (through exposing your skin to the cold, dry, windy air) and depleting your immune system by not sleeping enough or through skipping meals. To ensure good health in fall, consider “oil + heat” as two of your new best friends. Give yourself regular sesame oil massages before you shower to protect your skin from wind and cold air. Heat yourself with warm showers, hot tea, baths, and soups.
At the turn of each season, ask yourself these simple questions, which will help you see the relationship that exists between your health and the natural world. Keep track of your answers in a journal so you can look back and reflect upon the difference or similarity in perspectives and challenges for each season.
- What changes are going on outside in Nature?
· How does this season make me feel?
· What are the challenges I face?
· What brings me joy during this season?
· What diet or lifestyle routines do I want to change?
· Am I getting the right amount of sleep?
· What yoga or exercise routine feels the best to me?
Put a comma—envisioning a momentary pause—after each season no matter where you live. Your body can benefit from experiencing and adapting to new environments, exercise routines, and foods; it will grow stronger, be more resilient, and keep you in touch with the cycles of nature. The yogis believe that you are one with Nature, and that in order for you to bloom, you need diversity.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Summer is a pitta season, and as such, fire and water elements will be more predominant, and most people will feel the heat, sweat more, and seek refuge in cool water to help regulate their internal furnace. Relaxing is one of the best ways to decrease pitta’s hot, ambitious nature and prevent your elements from going out of balance in the first place. It’s best to take it easy, do less, and take frequent deep breaths in a hammock under the shade of your favorite tree.
In the Western culture, there is a tendency to try to be consistently productive all year round, without exception. On an intuitive level, most people know that taking downtime in the summer feels right because everybody needs and deserves a break. In the West, the work environment and ethics are aligned with the pitta elements and create a world for enthusiastic people to strive for perfection and power, reflecting the “like increases like” Ayurvedic sutra.
But when the Pitta elements are out of balance in your lifestyle or in your body, what you notice is often a feeling of being burned out, dried up, tired, and angry. You carry along companions like regret, especially if others around you are having fun. When it’s hot, bright, and perhaps dry or humid outside, it’s best not to take on too much responsibility or overplan your free time; rather, leave some time to be spontaneous and let yourself go with the flow.
Ideally, all these practices should be followed, but if the list seems overwhelming, choose just a few that resonate with you and commit to them for the whole season.
· Wake up before the sunrise at 5:30 to 6:00 a.m. (do your best!) and greet the day with gratitude for another opportunity to celebrate life.
· Wash your face, brush your teeth, scrape your tongue, do a neti pot, and lubricate your nostrils with oil or ghee.
· Drink hot lemon water with a little salt in the morning to stimulate elimination.
· Meditate for 5 to 30 minutes (on water, loving kindness, or blue sky).
· Do your aerobic exercises while it’s cool outside, balancing your exercise with restorative asanas.
· Perform abhyanga, a full-body self-massage, which calms the nervous system and hydrates the skin. In the summer, apply coconut oil (leave the oil on for 10 to 30 minutes) and then take a warm shower, which will open your pores and allow the oil to be absorbed into your skin.
· If possible, eat all your meals outside in the fresh air.
· Summer is the time to stay cool. Avoid overheating by eating salads and foods that are cooling (like cucumber and watermelon), sweet (like fresh fruit), and sattvic (like mung beans and basmati rice); drink lassis, a blend of yogurt and water mixed with fruit and/or Indian spices or salt. A small amount of chili or spice can promote sweating, which helps you cool down. Too much heat will create pitta irritation such as heartburn, diarrhea, or a skin rash.
· Do your cooking and meal planning in the morning when the kitchen is cool.
· Never skip a meal, especially if you relate to the Pitta dosha and are in the summer season. To avoid low blood sugar moments that fuel Pitta’s impatient, irritable nature, keep a stash of healthy snacks like energy bars, nuts, fresh fruit, seaweed strips, or coconut water around at all times.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Everyone...meet Michael, if you don't know him...add him to your summer reading list please!
Great approach to a big problem! Ready to join the club?
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Wise words from Dr. Vasant Lad around spiritual healing....it begins with:
the grace of a teacher, knowing what events to record from your life and what to let go, make your mind liquid not rigid, live your life without ego, and accept yourself as who you are. There you go...now you can all be healed. Have a great life, i know you will.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
There are numerous opportunities for the Yamas to support your current wellness and nutritional aspirations. The Yamas create a wheel of ethics that includes kindness, honesty, refrain from stealing, moderation, and non-hoarding. Following these five principles will help ensure that your life is filled with healthy relationships, including the one with yourself, others, and the natural world around you.
The Yamas prepare you to see that how you treat the outer world reflects how you treat your inner world. It is through conscious application of the Yamas that you will learn to see that compassion is your birthright, trust begins with yourself, healthy boundaries make healthy relationships, and balance is not as bad as it sounds. They allow you to work with what gifts you have been given rather than what you perceive you are missing.
Although the Yamas are all interrelated and work together, if one stands out more than the others, consider spending some time deepening your relationship with that one principle. Applying the Yamas to your diet, yoga practice, and wellness lifestyle activities can be very rewarding and effective.
· Ahimsa - Non-violence, reducing harm in thoughts, actions, and speech
Application: Enjoying a vegetarian diet; having your food be raised organically and in a cruelty-free manner as well as locally produced; prayer; and mindfulness
· Satya - Truth, honesty
Application: Asking the questions like: “Am I hungry or bored” or “Am I eating to distract myself” or “Is this good for me?”
· Asteya - Non-stealing
Application: Not taking the food from another’s plate; eating enough each day to avoid robbing the body of nutrients
· Brahmacharya- Appropriate use of one’s vital energy
Application: Moderation; understanding the impact of eating too much or too little food
· Aparigraha - Non-possessiveness
Application: Learning to say “no” at a buffet line; ceasing eating when you no longer have hunger
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Here are a few examples of how to weave the yoga philosophy into your lifestyle and diet.
Ahimsa- Non-violence, reducing harm in thoughts, actions, and speech_____________
Example: Vegetarian, organic, cruelty-free, locally produced, prayer, and mindfulness
Satya- Truth, honesty______________________________________________________
Example: Asking the questions like: “Am I hungry or bored”, “Am I eating to distract myself”, “Is this good for me?”
Example: Not taking the food from another’s plate or eating enough each day to not rob the body of nutrients
Brahmacharya- Appropriate use of one’s vital energy
Example: Moderation and learning what too much and too little food will do to you.
Example: Learning to say “no” at a buffet line, stop eating when you no longer have hunger.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
“Ayurveda is a Nature-based medical system centered on the conviction that physicians don’t heal the patient, Nature heals the patient. Ayurvedic physicians learn to tap into the ancient texts, recall wisdom passed down from their teachers’ teachers, cultivate a strong connection to their intuition, and experiment with plants, herbs, and foods before using them as medicine or suggesting them to others. Nothing in the natural world is labeled as good or bad in the world of Ayurveda, everything has the potential to be medicinal in the right dosage, and one person’s medicine is another person’s poison.
The philosophy of Ayurveda acknowledges each person as a soul, a one-of-a-kind expression of the divine. It is also believed that from the moment you are conceived, your unchanging Prakriti (yogic version of fixed DNA) is established. Despite the fact that we are all unique beings, we are each composed of the same maha bhutas (five elements: ether, air, fire, water, and earth). The elements will be arranged differently for each person, depending upon unique conditions like the physical health and well-being of your mother when you were conceived, and the karmas you’ve carried over from past lives into this life.
The more familiar you are with your Prakriti, the more you can prepare yourself for the physical and mental health issues that typically affect people with your constitution. For example, if your constitution is composed predominantly of ether and air, you would typically see health issues related to anxiety, nerve disorders, joint issues, or constipation. Knowing these strengths and weaknesses based on the elements, you might consider drinking less caffeine, consuming less sugar, eating more fiber, and booking regular massages to ward off the typical imbalances related to ether and air.
Prakritis with strong affiliation to fire and water will often experience heat-related imbalances such as skin rashes, diarrhea, digestive disorders, or high blood pressure. To help manage the fire and water elements, you might consider decreasing hot and spicy foods, meditating, and avoiding being outside in the hottest part of the day.
Earth- and water-based constitutions often discover swelling, depression, excess mucus, or challenges managing their weight and metabolism with a base Prakriti rooted in the heavy, wet elements. Often proper diet, nutrition, and exercise will keep the earth- and water-based constitutions healthy. Knowing your Prakriti and your physical and mental patterns—something you can learn by a consultation with an Ayurvedic practitioner—might inspire you to cultivate a more holistic lifestyle, one connected to Nature and her five elements.”
To read the more, order your copy today: www.melinameza.com
Asato Ma Sat Gamaya Lead me from the unreal to the real,
Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya From darkness to light,
Mrityor Ma Amritham Gamaya From death to immortality.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Learn more about sequencing and yoga philosophy on my next retreat or workshop:
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Please vote me and this beautiful photo onto the cover of Yoga Journal Magazine! All you need to do is click the link below:
"One vote, per day, per entry will be counted - multiple votes per day will be disqualified and removed."
Thanks for your support!
Monday, March 21, 2011
The yogis and nutritionist both agree that it is never too late, or too early, to consider sequencing your life today for a healthier tomorrow. I think of sequencing as both an art form and a science that anyone can master. All you need is sincere focus and attention from the beginning to the end of your vision, and trust in your body’s innate wisdom to guide you through the beautiful moment-to-moment discovery of presence—of the now—which leads to the spontaneous, blissful experience we call yoga.
I believe the more you practice adapting to new routines and seasonally breaking the momentum of habits before they become addictions, the stronger, healthier, and more open you become as a person. Instead of your world feeling boxed in by your routine, the seasonal changes help you widen your gaze so you experience more in life, seeing new potentials and possibilities in your work, family, diet, adventures, and exercise routines that connect to the revolving world around you.
In the end, the practice of yoga—on the mat and off the mat—is really all about practice. Practice will lead you to your truth, to the essence of who you are.
Here are just a few of the spring practices from my new book, Art of Sequencing – Volume Two, to weave into your day, week, or monthly routines:
Drink hot lemon water with a little salt in the morning to stimulate elimination.
· Meditate for 5 to 30 minutes (on melting glaciers, the image of vibrant green plant life, or new intentions).
· Exercise outdoors or do a vigorous yoga practice to break a sweat every day, with no exception. In addition to physical workouts, a steam sauna or hot tub can help release toxins.
· Try an elimination diet for two weeks (see appendix).
· In general, spring is the time to decrease heavy, oily, cold, fat-rich foods such as meat, seafood, poultry, dairy products, and foods cooked in oil. Increase your intake of foods that are bitter (like arugula), spicy (like radish), and astringent (like grapefruit) to promote cleansing of the liver, digestive organs, and blood.
· With “spring fever” in the air, it’s a great time to start new projects, take classes, plant seeds, and travel, while the energy is there for the taking.
· Practice inversions to turn your world and organs upside down. Think of your body like a jug of orange juice. If it sits in one position—upright—for too long, the pulp ends up settling to the bottom of the container. The yogis believe the same thing happens in our bodies, particularly in the organs. The pulp in this case is undigested, inorganic matter that we ingest through the air we breathe or food we eat. By flipping your body upside down, you create a gentle cleanse, where toxins or waste products get pulled by gravity from deep inside your tissues towards the center of the body. With sufficient hydration and exercise, these toxins can move out through the skin (via perspiration), exhaled breaths, urination, and bowel movements.
Read more about seasonal practices in the Art of Sequencing - Volume Two
Thursday, March 17, 2011
In traditional Chinese medicine, the passing of winter is seen as a great time to start sending some extra love and attention to the liver and gallbladder, organs that tend to get overloaded with extra socializing, large meals, decreased exercise, inadequate rest, and other behaviors typically associated with that time of the year. These two organs are extremely beneficial: they filter toxins from the external environment and the food that we eat; aid in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fat, and protein; break down fats in the body; and, on a more bio-energetic level, process emotions like anger.
For starters, try incorporating an inversion into your daily routine (Examples: Headstand, Handstand, Downward Dog, Standing Forward Folds, Shoulderstand).
Here is one asana tip from my recent book, Art of Sequencing - Volume Two:
• Inversions to turn your world and organs upside down. Think of your body like a jug of orange juice. If it sits in one position—upright—for too long, the pulp ends up settling to the bottom of the container. The yogis believe the same thing happens in our bodies, particularly in the organs. The pulp in this case is undigested, inorganic matter that we ingest through the air we breathe or food we eat. By flipping your body upside down, you create a gentle cleanse, where toxins or waste products get pulled by gravity from deep inside your tissues towards the center of the body. With sufficient hydration and exercise, these toxins can move out through the skin (via perspiration), exhaled breaths, urination, and bowel movements.
If you are looking for Spring retreats, check out: www.melinameza.com
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Within the art of Ayurveda, there will never be one remedy or one sequence that brings everyone or their dosha back into alignment. The response to every inquiry about your health should be “It depends,” as my teacher, Dr. Robert Svoboda, was so fond of saying. The mantra of “It depends” teaches you to see the interconnectedness between you and your lifestyle, how changing one facet of your routine will affect another. It’s a friendly reminder that humans in general are complex, and it’s wise to look at or diagnose the body/mind/soul from many angles.
To start early spring cleaning, consider adding the following pranayama practices from Art of Sequencing – Volume Two, to your daily routine:
· Kapala bhati—also known as “skull shining”—to reduce weight gain, bring heat to the chest, and to promote strong agni and mental alertness. (Do not do this if you are menstruating. Menstruation is considered a natural cleanse for women.)
· Agni sara, to prevent stagnation in the organs and promote blood circulation. From a standing position, separate your feet hip-distance apart, and bend your knees while resting your hands on the lower part of your thighs. Exhale completely to create Mula bandha (root lock) and Uddiyana bandha (upward flying, diaphragmic lift). After your exhale, quickly pull your pelvic floor muscles inward and upward towards your diaphragm until you feel your deep core muscles. Keep holding your breath while your diaphragm, abdominal organs, and pelvic floor pulse quickly back and forth away from your spine. Relax all of your muscles before you take your next breath.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Thursday, February 10, 2011
In Ayurveda, winter is the season associated with Kapha and all the imbalances associated with the earth and water elements. The Kapha qualities outside can make you feel heavy and lethargic and/or pull you towards foods that promote weight gain or the use of recreational drugs or alcohol to cope with depression, stress and the winter blues. The following tips from my new book, “Art of Sequencing – Volume 2” will help to balance Kapha, creating a more calming and grounding presence during the winter.
One of the ways you can prevent slipping into the winter blues is to be become more mindful about what you are eating when you are eating. This helps avoid overeating, which can lead to depression. Eating when you are not hungry is one of the easiest ways to dampen your agni (digestive fire) and put on extra weight, a special challenge during this time of year when many people reduce their level of invigorating outdoor exercise due to rain, ice, and snow.
What if you let eating become part of your meditation practice? When you eat, simply focus on eating-nothing more, not your emails or processing thoughts of the day, etc. Learn to savor how your food tastes and smells, pay attention to how well your body digests it, and tune into how much you need to satisfy your hunger.
Here are a few ways to begin:
- Choose one place to eat each meal, free of clutter and distractions.
- Slow down when you're eating, putting your fork, spoon, sandwich or burrito down in between bites.
- Stop eating when you no longer have hunger.
- Chew your food until it becomes liquid to promote the first stage of digestion, which begins in your mouth.
- Avoid eating when feeling emotional or stressed out.
- Eat well-balanced meals with sufficient protein and fat to minimize hunger between meals.
- Sun Salutations or rhythmic, Hatha yoga postures to promote circulation and emotional well being.
- A vinyasa flow practice that incorporates asanas like Plank, Caturanga Dandasana (lowered plank), Bhujangasana (cobra), or Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (up dog) in between forward bends and backbends.
- Forward bends with flowing transitions into backbends to keep your spine supple.
- Inversions and arm balances to promote blood flow throughout the whole body, invigorate the brain and reduce dullness.
- Twists to reduce inflammation around the organs, minimize weight gain and promote digestion, which can get sluggish or overtaxed in winter.
Art of Sequencing - Volume Two includes over 450 new asana photos, twenty five unique asana sequences for beginners, intermediate, or advanced students, a brief overview of yoga history, the stages of life, and a full section devoted to Seasonal Vinyasa classes and Ayurvedic routines.
Melina Meza, BS Nutrition, 500-RYT
Melina has been exploring the art and science of yoga and nutrition for 20 years. She combines her knowledge of Hatha Yoga, Ayurveda, whole foods nutrition, and healthy lifestyle promotion into a unique style called Seasonal Vinyasa.
What is Seasonal Vinyasa - Yoga for the Seasons?
Seasonal Vinyasa describes an artistic style of sequencing asana and seasonal daily rituals. The main inspiration for Seasonal Vinyasa comes from the Hatha Yoga and Ayurveda traditions, two complementary sciences that promote health in body, mind, and spirit. While inspiring the self-knowledge to adjust your day-to-day choices and align with what is occurring outside in nature, Seasonal Vinyasa emphasizes the teachings of the yogis—that there is no separation between humans and nature.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
"If you can be absolutely comfortable with not knowing who you are, then what’s left is who you are—the being behind the human. A field of pure potentiality rather than something that is already defined. Give up defining yourself—to yourself and to others. You won’t die—you’ll come to life."
I think its great practice.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Incorporating Kriya Yoga into your New Year’s resolutions, seasonal practices, or lifestyle goals:
1. Tapas: Decide what you want to change. Set an intention, one that will create a positive change in your life. Create a plan for action.
2. Svadhyaya: Discover who you are moment-by-moment, in the midst of change. How do you respond to change, cravings, old patterns?
3. Isvara-pranidhana: Let go of your attachments and expectations, be present to “what is”. Seek the place where your heart-mind is at peace, in that place you will find your inner teacher.
Kriya Yoga Practice in Action
Example: New Year’s Resolutions
Each new calendar year inspires new possibilities. It’s never too late to improve your health.
1. One habit I wish to break is______________________________________________________.
2. I notice I respond this way when I crave the object I am eliminating_________________________________________________________________________.
3. When I leave room to let go of my old habits, I can see the new opportunities and experiences such as___________________________________________________________.
Example: Seasonal Experiments
Try making seasonal adjustments to align with nature and the five elements.
1. During the winter season, I am going eliminate__________________________________.
2. I feel or notice more/less________________________________________without__________________________.
3. Now that I know how_____________________affects my body, I will/will not include this back into life once the season is over.
Example: 2-Week Habit Check
Is the habit driving me? Or am I driving the habit?
1. I am letting go of________________________________for 2-weeks.
2. I crave? My energy level is more/less stable? I am more/less emotional without__________________________________ in my life?
3. On the 15th day when I tried__________________________ I felt better/worse? Now that I know____________________helps me maintain my health, I will keep doing it! Now that I know___________________made me feel less healthy, I may keep going with the experiment!
“I do believe it is important to get ample amounts of sleep, rest, meditation, and retreat space in the winter. After all, most of the natural world becomes dormant during this season. Since it’s not possible for most of us to crawl into a cave and sleep for three months, take whatever quiet space you can and sit in the cave of the heart, meditate, and reflect as often as possible on your spiritual nature, nurturing your sacred being. The more imbalanced you get at this point, the harder it is to get back on track in the springtime. Discover what inspires you to stay healthy!” From the Art of Sequencing – Volume Two Seasonal Vinyasa
Join me from January 22-29, 2011 at Haramara Retreat Center near Sayulita, Mexico!
While reveling in the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean in one of Haramara’s yoga pavillon’s, we will practice asana sequences that increase core temperature, circulation, metabolism, and your spirit! We will also engage in mini-workshops to learn ancient philosophies that can be woven into today’s lifestyle and alignment principles to strengthen the body’s inherent tendencies toward seasonal imbalances. We’ll enjoy creative time together near the beach to awaken the muse, and also get to
enjoy silence while resting in the “cave of the heart.”
Included in the retreat:
Accommodations, three delicious meals a day, daily guided meditation, Seasonal Vinyasa yoga classes, and mini-workshops.
Mention my blog and receive a $100 discount off the room of your choice.
Casa Grande (sleeps 6 women): $1,475
Read more: www.melinameza.com
Register with 8 Limbs Yoga Centers: 206-325-8221
Sunday, January 2, 2011
Ready to start your new year on the right track? If so, please join me at my first workshop of the year this Saturday in Houston:
Kriya Yoga and Winter Seasonal Vinyasa Yoga with Melina Meza
at Cura Yoga, Houston, Texas
Saturday, January 8, 2011
1:00 – 4:00PM
Register with www.curayoga.com or 713-839-9642.
This workshop presents the profound ways in which you can incorporate many aspects of the yogic path into your daily life. Students will journey into the ancient Indian yogic philosophies, ethics, and physical practices discovering a deeper knowledge of their own body and mind. In an accessible and approachable format, this workshop and practice aims to teach students how to achieve lasting personal transformation via such practices as Kriya (the yoga of transformation) from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and Seasonal Vinyasa yoga insights that connect you to the rhythms of nature and foster a sense of gratitude and interconnectedness.
Read more or register: www.curayoga.com or 713-839-9642
Pre-order your copy of Art of Sequencing - Volume Two Seasonal Vinyasa and receive free shipping!