Archives for posts with tag: meditation

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This month marks the fourth year since I began writing this blog. And sadly, this is only my second post of the year. But what can I say- life took over. Life with a baby that is now a toddler majorly took over. And I have missed writing. I have missed sharing my stories and my journey toward greater health and I miss hearing regularly from my readers.  I miss the creative expression part of me that has most recently been replaced with Mommy time. But I have been on an amazing journey these past few weeks that is bringing me back to my writing and to my creative side.

I have been following Deepak Chopra and Oprah’s free 21-day meditation for the past two and a half weeks and have been meditating regularly for the first time since well before Beckett was born. Wow, it really feels great. Back in ­­­­July of 2011 I posted about my first experience meditating after taking a weekend course on Vedic meditation. While I enjoyed the feeling that came with meditating regularly, it was the way I felt when I stopped meditating regularly when I really noticed what a positive impact it had had on my life.  (Here is my story). Anyway, jumping back into these past few weeks of meditating have had a greater impact than ever before which became very clear to me this past week.

Beckett, my nearly twenty month old, and I were on our way home from a lovely lunch with my cousin in law that was in town from Australia. It was minutes before Beckett was due to take a nap so I was singing my heart out trying to keep him from falling asleep and melting down in the car as he was clearly very tired from all of the morning’s fun.  All of a sudden out of nowhere I see an SUV grill speeding VERY quickly in my rear view mirror that in no way looks like it is slowing down. Moving at the speed limit we were suddenly slammed into by the speeding SUV behind us. Crash! We were hit hard but thankfully it became quickly clear to me that both Beckett and I were okay. I got out of the car and went around to grab my screaming, very scared toddler to calm him and make sure he was okay. I then went to check on the driver who hit us who was still sitting in the driver’s seat very upset.  I told him as I had repeatedly been telling Beckett, “Take deep breaths. It’s okay. We have all been on our phones while driving”. No panic on my part. No anger. No feeling bad. No worry. Just calm.

I am not positive whether it was being a mom in this situation with my child in the car that needed to be cared for immediately and/or the meditations that had made the difference but this was by far the most calm I have ever been in a high stress situation. I felt nothing but grateful that everyone was okay.  I have to believe the regular meditating that I have been doing played a part. The old me would have gotten mad at the upset college kid that was illegally on his phone or felt really bad for myself for being in this situation (Please don’t text and drive!). But not this time: I just felt happy everyone was okay and that we only had a minor pain in the neck (pun intended) to sort out.

There is so much busyness in our lives today. As a society we are addicted to being busy. What do you do to calm your mind and your body? There are so many ways to help us slow down – meditation, yoga, prayer, deep breathing – what works for you?

In light of Thanksgiving tomorrow, I just wanted to say that I am so grateful to have found meditation again so that I am mindfully grateful every day, not just during this time of year (Check out the free meditations from Deepak and Oprah! They are good for five days after they were posted so you still have some time to enjoy the last week and they are short and sweet with beautiful messages and music for each day).

I am so grateful for all on my first Merci Beaucoup post, Deux, and Trois, and am particularly grateful for my family’s health this year.  Thank you for still reading, four years later, despite the gaps in the posts and the life that has distracted me from my passion for sharing my health and wellness journey. I hope you have a beautiful Thanksgiving!


“Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.” ~William Faulkner

Written By Lana House

Studio Owner, House Pilates


Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending an amazing yoga retreat in Tulum, Mexico. I went with a group of 60 others and spent the week in a gorgeous tropical place, silently walking the beaches, practicing both aggressive and therapeutic yoga, eating fresh local food, sunbathing and relaxing the days away. One thing that I loved so much about the trip was meeting fantastic people from around the world that all practice yoga. We discussed the different types of yoga they practice, why they love their classes, and how yoga has changed their lives for the better.

These conversations were a wonderful reminder that yoga can be done by anyone and that there is a class out there that is perfect for each one of us; there are enough studios, dvds and classes offered everywhere so that you can find the one that feels the best for you. However, starting a yoga practice can be totally overwhelming when there are so many to choose from, so I thought it might be helpful to give a little info on the different types out there. I have three different studios I like to go to with completely different experiences, so that I can enjoy whichever class feels right for me that day. For example, if I want a really hard workout but don’t have a lot of time, I go to the yoga class at my gym that is only an hour fifteen. If I am going with a friend at the end of the day and know my concentration might be shot by then, I love to go to the class where we can rock out to loud hip hop music, we can chat if we feel like it and leave early without anyone caring; all while still getting a sweaty hard workout. And if I have a couple of hours for my workout and need a more mentally and physically challenging experience, I go to a different class. Each has its benefits and I love them all for different reasons.

So, here is a breakdown of the many kinds of yoga out there (feel free to add more in the comment section if any were not included!) and a little summary about each one*.

And for those of you completely new to the world of yoga, the benefits are incredible. Besides the typical workout benefits of building strength and mobility in your body, countering stress and tension, etc…yoga has a major focus on the breath. Proper breathing provides sufficient oxygen for the correct and efficient functioning of every body cell. It nourishes the muscles and organs with oxygen and it dispels fatigue and anxiety. So learning to breath deeply in yoga can do wonders for your body and help you learn to stay relaxed in stressful situations. (Check out a full list of benefits here).

Yoga is truly a gift to us all and I hope you are inspired to find the perfect yoga class for you.


Types of Yoga

Ananda Yoga: Ananda Yoga classes focus on gentle postures designed to move the energy up to the brain and prepare the body for meditation. Classes also focus on proper body alignment and controlled breathing.

Anusara Yoga is a relatively new form of yoga (1997), which pairs strict principles of alignment with a playful spirit. Postures can be challenging, but the real message of Anusara is to open your heart and strive to connect with the divine in yourself and others.

Ashtanga (or Astanga) Yoga is the name given to the system of yoga taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. This style of yoga is physically demanding as it involves synchronizing breathing with progressive and continuous series of postures-a process producing intense internal heat and a profuse, purifying sweat that detoxifies muscles and organs. The result is improved circulation, flexibility, stamina, a light and strong body, and a calm mind. Ashtanga is an athletic yoga practice and is not for beginners.

Bikram Yoga is the method of yoga that is a comprehensive workout that includes all the components of fitness: muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular flexibility and weight loss. The founder, Bikram Choudhury, was a gold medal Olympic weight lifter in 1963 and is a disciple of Bishnu Ghosh, brother of Paramahansa Yogananda, (Autobiography of a Yogi). One of the unusual but most beneficial aspects of Bikram’s yoga practice is the 95-105 degree temperature which promotes more flexibility, detoxification, and prevention of injuries. This is the only yoga style that specializes in using the heated environment.

Hatha is an easy-to-learn basic form of yoga that has become very popular in the United States. Hatha Yoga is the foundation of all Yoga styles. It incorporates Asanas (postures), Pranayama (regulated breathing), meditation (Dharana & Dhyana) and kundalini (Laya Yoga) into a complete system that can be used to achieve enlightenment or self-realization. It has become very popular in America as source of exercise and stress management. The ideal way to practice the Hatha Yoga poses (asanas) is to approach the practice session in a calm, meditative mood. Sit quietly for a few moments, then begin the series, slowly, with control and grace, being inwardly aware as the body performs the various poses selected for the practice session. Do not overdo the asanas or try to compete with others. Take it easy and enjoy.

Integral Yoga: This traditional type of yoga combines postures, breathing exercises, selfless service, meditation, chanting, prayer, and self-inquiry.

ISHTA: Developed by South African teacher Mani Finger and popularized in the States by his son Alan, ISHTA (Integral Science of Hatha and Tantric Arts) focuses on opening energy channels throughout the body with postures, visualizations, and meditation.

Iyengar Yoga, developed by yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar more than 60 years ago, promotes strength, flexibility, endurance, and balance through coordinated breathing and poses that require precise body alignment. The poses are generally held longer than in other styles of yoga. In Iyengar, you slowly move into a pose, hold it for a minute or so, and then rest for a few breaths before stretching into another. Equipment like cushions, blankets, straps, and blocks to help the less flexible also distinguishes Iyengar from other types of yoga. Although Iyengar incorporates the traditional postures, or asanas, that make up the broader category of hatha yoga, the cushions and other props revolutionized yoga by enabling everyone — even the elderly, sick, and disabled — to practice. Because of its slow pace, attention to detail, and use of props, Iyengar yoga can be especially good if you’re recovering from an injury. Iyengar is still one of the most popular types of yoga taught today.  

Jivamukti Yoga:Developed in 1986 by Sharon Gannon and David Life, the Jivamukti Yoga method expresses the spiritual and ethical aspects of the practice of yoga that have been disregarded or devalued in contemporary times. It is a vigorous and challenging asana form with an emphasis on scriptural study, Sanskrit chanting, vegetarianism, non-violence, meditation, devotion to God and the role that music and listening play in the practice of yoga. Life and Gannon currently operate a popular yoga studio in New York City.

Kali Ray TriYoga:A series of flowing, dancelike movements was developed by Kali Ray in 1980. The practice also incorporates pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation. Kali Ray runs the TriYoga Center in Santa Cruz, California.

Kripalu is called the yoga of consciousness. This gentle, introspective practice urges practitioners to hold poses to explore and release emotional and spiritual blockages. Goal-oriented striving is discouraged and precise alignment is not as important as in some other traditions. There are three stages in Kripalu yoga. Stage One focuses on learning the postures and exploring your bodies abilities. Stage Two involves holding the postures for an extended time, developing concentration and inner awareness. Stage Three is like a meditation in motion in which the movement from one posture to another arises unconsciously and spontaneously.

Kundalini practice concentrates on awakening the energy at the base of the spine and drawing it upward. In addition to postures, a typical class will also include chanting, meditation, and breathing exercises.

Power Yoga is essentially yoga with brawn. It’s the American interpretation of ashtanga yoga, a discipline that combines stretching, strength training, and meditative breathing. But power yoga takes ashtanga one step further. Many of the poses (also called postures or their Sanskrit name, asanas) resemble basic calisthenics — push-ups and handstands, toe touches and side bends — but the key to power yoga’s sweat-producing, muscle-building power is the pace. Instead of pausing between poses as you would in traditional yoga, each move flows into the next, making it an intense aerobic workout.

Restorative Yoga: In a restorative yoga class you’ll spend long periods of time lying on blocks, blankets and yoga bolsters – passively allowing muscles to relax.

Sivananda Yoga:Like Integral Yoga, this traditional type of yoga combines postures, breathing, dietary restrictions, chanting, scriptural study, and meditation. The popular TV yoga teacher Lilias got her start practicing Sivananda Yoga.

Svaroopa Yoga: New students find this a very approachable style, often beginning in chair poses that are comfortable. Promotes healing and transformation.

Viniyoga: This is commonly used as a therapeutic practice for people who have suffered injuries or are recovering from surgery. It is a gentle, healing practice that is tailored to each person’s body type and needs as they grow and change.

Vinyasa: Focuses on coordination of breath and movement and it is a very physically active form of yoga. It began with Krishnamacharya who later passed it on to Pattabhi Jois.

White Lotus Yoga: A modified Ashtanga practice developed by Ganga White which is combined with breathwork and meditation.

* This list came straight from the website and was not written by me

Written by Lana House of House Pilates