the llama blog
practicing yoga off the mat.
The crisp air, the golden hues, the crunch of leaves below. Fall is the perfect time of the year to start a mindful walking practice. While many people think of meditation as sitting on a cushion with hands in a mudra (hand gesture that seals a specific intention), traditional Buddhist methods recommend four meditation postures: sitting, standing, walking and lying down.
Walking meditations include the same benefits as seated such as focusing the mind, settling the body and creating awareness of our self. Walking lifts your spirits, strengthens It invigorates, and is somewhat easier than just sitting.
The American Heart Association recommends walking for 30 minutes. Why not combine the benefits of exercise and meditation? Many find it’s an easier meditation since the physical act of walking becomes your focus.
Mindful walks are great after meals and before important meetings. In addition to moving the body, walking outdoors reconnects us to nature, which has its own nurturing powers.
Instructions for a mindful walk:
1. Allow yourself at least 10 minutes to walk a day. (30 minutes is ideal even if it’s broken up throughout the day.)
2. In the beginning, choose a short path that you know very well. Knowing your route prevents your mind from wandering about directions and obstacles.
3. Stand up tall and allow your gaze to drop slightly mimicking natural walking.
4. Bring awareness into the feet. They will be the focal point during the walk. Notice the shift in weight from the heel to the ball of the foot as you lift, shift and place the foot on the ground.
5. Using focal words like “left” and “right” as you move each foot, help draw your mind back to the present.
6. Notice any thoughts, feelings and emotions that arise. Do not push them away. Become aware of what is happening then return your focus to your feet.
7. And of course, don’t forget to breathe.
You can train your mind to be present at any time even while walking with your eyes open. It takes practice and patience. Try to incorporate walking into your daily schedule this month.
As the seasons begin to shift, so does my personal life. I am expecting my second child around the end of the month. While I feel confident in my mothering skills, a second child presents a whole new set of challenges I’ve yet to experience. And this brings worry and anxiety to my mind.
Fall is a transitional time of year. The days grow shorter, and the weather begins to cool down. When we’re not grounded, we open our minds and bodies to the fall winds, which in turn create a lack of focus, mental worries and insomnia.
To ground yourself during this time of year or during any lifestyle change, you should follow a daily routine. Routines provide stability and help keep your feet on the ground. Here are a few Ayurvedic practices I recommend adding to your daily routine. Add one….or add them all!
Daily Routine (dinacharya)
Practice a daily routine now for calmer, stress-free days ahead.
Ahh. It’s the end of the day – a time to unwind and relax. Depending on how the day unfolded will often determine if we reach for that extra glass of wine or choose that extra helping of Brussels sprouts.
We often focus on how we start our days ensuring our minds and bodies are ready for the day ahead. While this is very important, an evening routine is equally important. We need an opportunity to rejuvenate before the next day begins.
How do you relax in the evenings? Do you veg-out on the couch binge watching ‘Homeland?’ (guilty!) Do you mindlessly surf the internet and social websites? Do you eat quickly with the TV on? No judgment on how you spend your evenings. Observe what you do, and ask yourself, “do I feel more energized after I do X?” If you’re still feeling sluggish and stressed, this may be an opportunity to reevaluate your routine.
The routine we follow can set us up for success or failure the next day. Eating heavy, fried foods may lead to indigestion and a restless night of sleep thus making us groggy and irritated the next day.
Incorporate any of the following to bring more rejuvenation and closure to your day.
1. Eat with the TV and all electronics off. Go back to the days when families sat at the dinner table and had conversations. Interacting with your loved ones and savoring your dinner opens your heart and strengthens your connection with the people you love the most.
2. Prep for the next day. Often we spend more time choosing an outfit and making our lunch then are rushed to make it on time for work. Hang an outfit in the bathroom the night before. Wrap up the majority of your lunch while preparing dinner.
3. Read a book or write in a journal. Watching TV and surfing the internet is actually stimulating which means it revs up your energy vs. allowing you to unwind. Snuggle up and read a chapter in your book. Or jot down your thoughts, worries and/or gratitudes in your journal. Sometimes just coloring on a page will calm you enough to breathe deeper.
4. Breathe and meditate. Light a candle. Turn on soothing tunes and find a comfortable seat. Breathe deeply. Think of this time as “filing” your thoughts for the next day.
5. Practice gentle yoga. Sitting all day wears on the body and can affect our sleep. Try some gentle poses like low lunges, happy baby, child’s pose, pigeon, reclining twists and savasana.
6. Wash your face. If you’re a morning bather, it’s good to rinse off the day before settling into bed. Ayurveda would also recommend rinsing your tired feet too.
I can confirm an evening routine is beneficial not only for myself but also for my family. As our body recognizes the routine, it sends signals that sleep is coming. Find a practice that meets your lifestyle and utilize the evening to change the course of your day.