What you’ll notice after 7 days of Meditation

When I first started meditating, I had already been practicing asana (yoga) for 6 years.  I had experienced small doses of meditation in my classes and teacher training, but nothing along the lines of a disciplined daily practice.  When I became a full-time yoga teacher, I found myself constantly drained by the demands of teaching all day.  My body was tired and my energy was low, thus I decided to embark on a 7-day meditation challenge of 11 minutes a day.  This endeavor really challenged me as I found myself resisting making time for this practice and would sometimes have to carve out time in my schedule to meditate.  What I experienced over the course of those seven days was life changing.  The benefits began to filter into other areas of my life and I noticed a huge change in my energy levels throughout the day.  I continue to meditate to this day and have only experienced a greater sense of purpose, patience and well-being as a result of my meditation practice.  

Here are 7 things you’ll notice after 7 days of meditation:

1. You’ll become more aware of your thoughts

I can remember my first meditation like it was yesterday.  I spent 11 minutes chatting away in my mind, rehearsing events from the past and acting out conversations to come.  I found myself overanalyzing every situation and trying to make sense of my environment until my mind, around minute 8, finally got tired and came to a grinding halt.  It was in that moment that I started to hear the sounds of the trees around me, the birds chipping away and the ocean waves crashing against the shore.  I felt a serene sense of presence that washed away all of those repetitious thoughts and cleared the way for my mind to come into the present moment.  

2. You’ll release negative thought patterns

One of my favorite quotes comes from Swami Kripalu, “the highest form of spiritual practice is self observation without judgment”.  When I really started to embody this act of watching my thoughts and actions from a place of inquiry rather than judgment (aka labeling good/bad or positive/negative) I was able to clear away the ones that were no longer serving me.  You can feel which thoughts raise your vibration and which ones diminish your light.  It not always your ability to steer clear of negativity, self doubt and judgment but rather how quickly you’re able to catch it and replace it with an empowering thought.  When we transform our thoughts in this way, our pattern becomes to lead with positivity.  We start to give ourselves the opportunity to thrive and the others the ability to shine.  It’s a remarkable place to be and every time I notice myself falling back into the spiral of criticizing behavior, I ask spirit to show me the way back to my true essence, love. 

3.  You’ll become more in tune with your bodies natural rhythms

Are you someone who forgets to eat?  Doesn’t get enough sleep?  How about never takes time to rest or recover in between work outs?  I certainly was one of those personalities that would neglect my bodily functions in order to stay more productive at work.  I would avoid using the bathroom if it meant I was going to miss a call and skip meals to get more work done before the clock struck 5pm.  What happened to my health is that it deteriorated over time and I became extremely indecisive.  Someone would ask me, “what do you want to eat?” or “what do you like to do?” and I wouldn’t know how to respond.  I was so detached that I would enter into a critical thinking process to determine what I thought was the “right” response.  It took years of checking in with my bodily functions and innate desires to start to make decisions based upon what was good for my body rather than falling into the trap of needing to be right.  Our bodies are extremely intuitive and if we can learn to listen rather than control our responses then we will be in greater harmony and alignment with our physical needs. 

4.  You’ll feel empowered in your decisions

After you complete the process of clearing away what is no longer serving you, you open up a channel to the greater good within.  Some people call this “tapping into Source, your higher Self, Spirit, your spirit guides, your intuition” etc.  All I can say is that you slip into what Deepak Chopra calls, “the gap”, and from that place you can receive words of wisdom from a small voice inside of you that always has your back.  Gabby Bernstein called her recent book, “The Universe Has Your Back” based on this similar concept; when you’re tapped into the universal wisdom within you are truly supported in all of your decisions.  I think back to those days when I was struggling as a new teacher and trying to find ways to cover my expenses.  I realized the more I meditated, followed the guidance of my heart, and trusted that I would be supported during the process, the more abundance and prosperity I called into my life.  Clearing the negativity and making way for positivity allowed me to connect with the right people so my career could thrive. 

5.  You’ll get better sleep

One of the main reasons doctors prescribe meditation is to help people sleep.  A calmer mind allows you to “turn off” at the end of the night and stay asleep in between sleep cycles.  When you allow your mind and body to rest, you increase your recovery rate and can produce more efficiently during the day.  When you’re body is constantly strapped for rest, then you remain in a state of fatigue which stimulates the fight or flight response in your nervous system.  I would highly recommend a short meditation at the end of the day to relax the mind and reduce tension in the body.  If you find yourself with constant headaches that could be a sign that there is an abundance of stress in your system and you need to balance it out with relaxing, mindful practices.  I would even recommend a quick meditation in the middle of the afternoon instead of reaching for a second cup of coffee or sweet treat to boost your energy.

6.  You’ll feel better throughout the day

When you meditate, the chemical makeup of your mind changes;  alpha brain wave activity increases, the grey matter become denser in specific areas such as the hippocampus which is crucial for learning and memory, and you stimulate the rest or relaxation response in the nervous system.  This allows you to be more at ease with your environment.  When the mind is able to concentrate and focus, then you can be more awake, aware, and productive.  I remember feeling so refreshed and revitalized after those first few meditations, to the point that I would spring up from my seat and complete tasks that had been on my to do list for weeks.  Almost instantly I started making better choices and my overall well being improved.  

7.  You’ll become more present with your surroundings

Most of us have an innate ability to multitask.  After a few days of meditation, I found myself not only giving my full attention to certain responsibilities but actually completing them so they didn’t continue to plague my mind.  Have you ever found yourself immersed in nature or even in a conversation only to discover that you were thinking about something else the whole time?  When you meditate, you are practicing the art of becoming more aware of your surroundings.  The practice of Pratyahara is commonly known as “withdrawal of the senses” but I tend to lean on the side of believing it means becoming aware of your senses without the need to react to stimuli.  Yoga is the art of directing your mind to the present.  When we direct our thoughts to the here and now you release the need to repeat the past or anticipate the future.  You will always have access to your life lessons as tools for how to handle present day situations, but you will not fall into the same cycles over and over again.  You will find inner peace and bliss, appreciating your present day in a whole new way.  You will see new colors in nature, the grass will become greener, the skies more beautiful than ever.  You will notice the slightest change in your colleagues demeanor and be able to stand as a strong support for your partner.  You will enjoy your meals, savoring each bite because you’re paying attention to what you put in your mouth.  You will be calmer and more compassionate towards other people’s behavior.  Overall, meditation allows you to become more peaceful within and pleasant and with other people. 

There you have it!  Better sleep, a greater sense of calm, overall health, balance and wellbeing, not to mention a greater sense of purpose and direction in making decisions throughout the day.  It’s all the little things that add up to monumental change.  When we settle for quick fixes or one stop shops, we oftentimes find temporary solutions when the real answer could be just the slightest change to your daily lifestyle.  If you haven’t tried meditation, give it a go.  I highly recommended starting with an app such as Yoga Wake Up They have meditations and classes suited for everyone plus you can check out a whole series I recorded on the 7 chakras (one a day for your 7-day challenge) that will help you become more aware of these energetic centers.

Daily Rituals That Make a BIG Difference

“A lot of habitually creative people have preparation rituals linked to the setting in which they choose to start their day. By putting themselves into that environment, they start their creative day.” – Twyla Tharp

I read Twyla Tharp’s “The Creative Habit” years ago during a teacher training with Laughing Lotus founder Dana Trixie Flynn.  She spoke about the importance of sadhana, a daily spiritual practice.  In this book and through Dana’s teachings, I realized the importance of setting a routine, a daily series of rituals that would keep my creative juices flowing and life in balance.  Without these daily rituals then I may fall privy to tempting situations that do not serve my highest good.  So, I set a series of practices that help to keep my head and heart in alignment and help my body functioning optimally.  One of these rituals is just a simple practice of drinking hot water with lemon.  When I wake up in the morning I start the teakettle and throw a lemon into some warm water.  It wakes up my system and gets my digestive system going.  This ritual alone has made a huge impact in my life and changed the course of my day.

Another ritual I set was a daily prayer that could come in the form of yoga, asana, meditation or mantra.  I take time every day to move my body in a way that feels therapeutic and necessary for my physical wellbeing.  Afterwards I take time to sit with my eyes closed and allow the clouds to clear.  I stay conscious of my breath and allow myself to feel the wind (or prana) that rushes through my body and along my skin.  Feeling this energy dance through my system keeps me feeling alive, creative and connected.

Lastly, I take the time to prepare, eat and digest my food.  There was once upon a time when I would rush through meals or take my lunch to my computer screen while I fired off a couple more emails.  What I realized is that I was eating unconsciously and sometimes eating more than my body needed.  When I take just 10 minute to sit down, bless the food and count my chews (on a good day J) then I not only enjoy my food more but I also stop when my body says its done.  I find this to be an important part to maintaining a healthy weight and also feeding my body nourishment that will turn into useful fuel for the rest of the day.

Other rituals you may consider adding to your everyday:

– Morning meditations with YogaWakeUp.  I have a complimentary wake up on the app along with a series of chakra meditations that you can listen to at any point throughout the day

– Aromatherapy.  Stopping to smell the roses and if you do not have access to flowers or the outdoors then adding some essential oils into your life for their emotional and therapeutic benefits.  I like doTERRA essential oils as the company sources their product from the place where the plant is indigenous.

– Cleansing practices.  Such as taking a bath with Epsom salts, oil pulling to clean your teeth, using the neti pot to clear your sinus’, or moisturizing your skin with coconut oil.

– Going on a walk outside.  Connecting with nature and taking a few moments to breath in some fresh air, esp. if you’re stuck indoors behind a desk all day

– Cleaning your home before going to bed.  Just the simple act of picking things up or doing the dishes before your head hits the pillow is a huge step to a good night’s sleep.  If you can take a few minutes to create a tranquil sleeping environment then your mind and body with reward you deep rest and dreams.

These are just a few examples; the important thing is that you set a ritual that is workable for you.  The ritual needs to serve a purpose, so don’t do it for the sake of doing it, do it because you feel the benefits.   Whether it’s to warm up your legs before a run, your fingers before you play guitar, brush your teeth and floss in between, or take three deep breaths – find the ritual that works for you and maintain it.  Patterns are tough to change and it’s easy to go back to your old ways.  Keep at it and if you fall off the train, forgive yourself and jump back on.  Life is too short to sweat over the small stuff but sometimes the small things can make a big difference for your overall health and wellbeing.   What will you start today?

Let's all GIVE THANKS and SHOW SOME LOVE for others in need.

THIS HOLIDAY SEASON, Yoga Wake Up, in collaboration with Reach & Root Yoga, is raising awareness for Safe Place for Youth, a Los Angeles organization that inspires, nurtures and empowers the resilient human spirit of homeless youth by providing immediate and lasting solutions, one young person at a time.  We want to express gratitude for all that we have and give back by raising awareness for this beautiful cause.  We ask that you download the Reach & Root wakeup and in exchange, Yoga Wake Up will give 10 cents for every download to the cause.  Below is more info on Reach & Root, founded by Rachel Pedowitz and Christine Costello.  Their big hearts inspire us.

REACH & ROOT YOGA

Reach & Root Yoga donates their time. You donate whatever feels right. Together we breathe, move, stretch and help make the world a better place. All donations go to groups and organizations providing needed services in our communities. Your body feels good, your heart feels good, and we feel good knowing we helped make those things happen. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced yogi, Outdoor OM is accessible to all ages, levels, and abilities.

Also, for those in the LA area...

On Saturday, December 3rd at 10am, in partnership with our incredible friends at Yoga Wake Up, we invite you to join us in Santa Monica’s Dorothy Green Park at the intersection of Ocean Park and Barnard Way to practice in support of homeless youth, who regularly make their home in shared spaces such as this one. With the coming winter months, we know that nights will become more difficult and sleeping bags become even more critical for this hugely underserved population. If you’ll be joining us, please bring a new sleeping bag with you to donate to the young people seeking services at Safe Place for Youth, a drop-in center in Venice. We’ll begin class with a Yoga Wake Up inspired flow to bring us into the giving season, and then move to an invigorating hour-long vinyasa practice, ending with a loving kindness meditation. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced yogi, outdoor OM is accessible to all ages, levels, and abilities.

And if you can't make the event, don't worry, you can still DONATE HERE.

6 Ways To Maintain Yoga Beyond The Studio

Thanks to my insatiable appetite for adventure, cultural experiences, and the wild unknown, I have been lucky enough to travel the world over these past few years. Traveling and yoga are very similar, because they both give you the opportunity to witness the world from a different angle, to help shift your perspective on life, and to bring you back home to who and what truly matters.

From traveling to different countries, to being on the road or an airplane, to airport layovers, to living out of a suitcase, and to being out of my normal routine and comfort zone, I've discovered some tricks for maintaining my yoga practice while jet-setting the globe. Trust me, if this Gypsy Soul can maintain her yoga practice while traveling, so can you!

1. PACK A YOGA MAT WITH YOU.

Ideally, that's a light travel mat that doesn’t weigh too much (so that your luggage is not over the weight limit ... and so that you have more space to fill with treasures you bought while traveling!) One good one: theManduka eKO SuperLite Travel Yoga Mat.

2. PRACTICE IN THE A.M.

The beauty of traveling is going with the flow and not always having a plan. An unplanned day may take you somewhere magical, where you get to experience something new, where you have the opportunity to eat delicious local foods, and ... well, the only downside is that it may leave you with less opportunity to practice as the day goes on. So, I find it’s ideal to get your practice on in the morning before you leave for the day. This way, you can be even more present to the experiences awaiting you, and you can fully immerse yourself in the local culture without feeling anxious about missing your yoga practice!

3. CREATE SACRED SPACE.

Find a space with enough room to practice and move your body. Creating sacred space can be outside in nature, ideally away from technology and distractions, and should be a space where you feel good and are inspired to get on your mat.

4. PACK YOUR YOGA GOODIES WITH YOU.

Travel with some items that bring you comfort from back home, help ground you while you're on the road, and help create the sacred space I just mentioned above (think “hippie” stuff: crystals, stones, mala beads, a photo of a loved one, sage, incense, yoga music, etc.). Place your crystals, stones, and your favorite mala bead at the top of your yoga mat, or somewhere nearby. Clear any unwanted energy by lighting your incense before or after your yoga practice. Play your favorite music. Suddenly, you won't feel quite so far from home.

5. GO WITH THE FLOW.

Part of traveling is stepping out of your comfort zone and experiencing the world in a different way. Traveling teaches you how to go with the flow more in life. So when you are on the road, while you may have theintention to get on your mat, things may happen that prevent it. Give yourself a break, and know that your practice will look and feel different from your practice at your home studio. Embrace the journey and the opportunity to go with the flow, both on and off your yoga mat, and watch as it helps you become more fluid in your everyday life when you return home from your travels.

6. REMEMBER: TRAVELING IS ALREADY A FORM OF YOGA.

Yes, your trip really is an extension of your yoga practice. Anything approached with intention and mindfulness can be a form of yoga. From walking down a new colorful street with your eyes wide open, to fully savoring every bite of some new exotic cuisine, to having your heart crack wide open from otherworldly people and experiences . ..know that these experiences, when approached with intention and a desire to be present, are all a part of your yoga practice. Just like yoga, traveling can help to transform you into a more aware, connected, and deeply conscious human being.

Chakras 101 - Get to Know Your Centers and Find a Balance

What is a chakra?

A chakra is an energetic wheel, or vortex of energy in the body. Each chakra has specific physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual attributes. The chakras are strongly correlated to the endocrine system, each one aligned with a particular gland in the body.

  • Root – Reproductive
  • Sacral – Adrenal
  • Solar Plexus- Pancreas
  • Heart – Thymus
  • Throat – Thyroid
  • Third Eye – Pituitary
  • Crown – Pineal

The chakras are party of the subtle body. The subtle body is made up of hundreds of nadis, or lines of energy by which prana (life force energy) flows. Similar to meridians in the Chinese system, nadis are the pathways for the chakra system. The chakras are aligned with the Sushumna nadi, which follows the cerebrospinal axis (brain and spine). Moving in a figure eight are the Ida and Pingala nadis. The Ida Nadi is associated with lunar or feminine qualities whereas the Pingala Nadi is associated with solar or masculine qualities. The Ida crosses at chakras 2, 4 and 6 whereas the Pingala crosses at chakras 1, 3, and 5.
There are 7 main chakras. All are in the physical body except for the last; it rests just above the crown of the head. We start at the base, muladhara (root) chakra and move all the way up to the crown, sahasrara (crown) chakra. Each one has a unique color and each one has a certain number of petals that appear around the circumference of the chakra.
Below is a breakdown of each of the chakras. We study the chakras to create more balance and harmony between the mind, body and spirit. We transcend the physical body through the upper chakras and develop a greater sense of self and purpose. We cleanse the body and ensure optimal health by balancing the lower chakras. The 4th (heart) chakra is where the two intersect. Through consistent practice we are able to better manage our energy and understand how prana moves through this ancient system.

Muladhara – Root Chakra

This chakra connects us to Mother Earth. Therefore, it correlates with our basic survival instincts. When your basic needs are met, you feel safe and supported. This is a sign of a balanced root chakra. If you experience fear or scarcity, then you may have a hard time making decisions. This is a sign of a weak or imbalanced root chakra. Ways to balance this chakra are through meditation, a grounding yoga practice (think both feet on the ground or sitting poses), earthly smells such as sandalwood, and warm foods. I recommend going outside as much as possible to stay connected to nature.

Svadhistana – Sacral Chakra

This chakra is the center of our sensuality, intimacy, sexuality and connection to pleasure. When we are connected to this chakra we feel creative, playful, joyful and have a strong sense of desire. Our desires are what give us motivation to pursue various paths in this life (with a person, career, hobby, interest, etc). It is important to have a healthy second chakra, as it is believed to be the home of our personality. Our second chakra is in balance when we have appropriate boundaries and do not overindulge in fantasies. It is the chakra most closely associated with water, so it is about embracing change and the constant flow of life.

Manipura – Solar Plexus Chakra

The manipura chakra is also known as the solar plexus or city of jewels. It is governed by the element of fire. This chakra relates to our personal power and ability to move desires into action. It is believed this is the center of transformation, governing our digestive organs where we transform food (nourishment) into energy for our body and cells. An overactive manipura chakra may plunge through life experiences with too much force and a lack of consideration for others. An under-active manipura chakra may shy away from new experiences and feel inadequate to follow their deepest desires. When this chakra is balanced you will feel willing and worthy yet not over-assertive with your actions.

Anahata – Heart Chakra

This is the chakra of love. It is associated with love, forgiveness, compassion, understanding and most importantly, connection – connection to oneself and connection to others. It governs our most vital life organs (the heart and lungs) thus when you breath in it is believed that you are drawing in life force energy (prana) which fills the heart and circulates through the entire body. When our heart chakra is blocked we feel isolated and alone. When it is overactive we may give all our energy away, leaving very little for our own wellbeing. A balanced heart charka will be able to give and receive love gracefully. Your arms are an expression of your heart chakra. When you’re feeling blocked you may cross your arms or appear closed off. When you’re open you may willing to give hugs, handshakes, a long embrace, etc. A great mantra for this chakra is “I am love”.

Visuddha – Throat Chakra

The chakra of purity and communication. How pure are your words? This chakra governs our mouth, throat, jaw and ears. It is the place where we share our gifts with the world through communication and also take the time to intuitively listen. An imbalanced throat chakra may listen with expectation or speak harsh words of judgment. A balanced throat charka will be open, present, and speak words of loving-kindness. It monitors our thyroid thus regulating our hormones and immune system.

Ajna – Third Eye Chakra

The agni or third eye chakra is the home of our intuition. It is closely related to our intellect, insight, wisdom, and intelligence. When this chakra is open and balanced we feel connected; we are able to see the bigger picture of any situation yet are able to make decisions. We feel divinely guided and trust in the timing of our life. When this chakra is closed we are indecisive and lack purpose. This chakra connects us to spirit (or higher Self).

Sahasrara – Crown Chakra

Think of the crown of your head as a lotus flower with a thousand petals that just bloomed at the break of dawn. Divine white light flooded in from the skies above and filled your body all the energy you needed to feel alive and vibrant. This chakra unites us with the universal consciousness. It reminds us that we are all one, interconnected in this fabric of life. When this chakra is open we feel at peace, calm and centered. The crown chakra opens us up to the eternal, everlasting, universal consciousness, source, or God of your own understanding.

My own personal journey with the chakras has been quite meaningful and significant. I first started my journey working with an intuitive healer before diving into courses and texts written on the topic. Through personal reflection and meditation, I am now able to manage my energy and cleanse my body of negative holding patterns that may come from stress or past experiences. My mind, body and spirit feel awakened and alive. If you’re just getting started, two texts I recommend are Carolyn Myss’ “Anatomy of the Spirit” and Anodea Judith’s “Eastern Body, Western Mind”.

Guarantee a better day within 5 minutes of waking up...

When I first started meditating, I had already been practicing asana (yoga) for 6 years.  I had experienced small doses of meditation in my classes and teacher training, but nothing along the lines of a disciplined daily practice.  When I became a full-time yoga teacher, I found myself constantly drained by the demands of teaching all day.  My body was tired and my energy was low, thus I decided to embark on a 7-day meditation challenge of 11 minutes a day.  This endeavor really challenged me as I found myself resisting making time for this practice and would sometimes have to carve out time in my schedule to meditate.  What I experienced over the course of those seven days was life changing.  The benefits began to filter into other areas of my life and I noticed a huge change in my energy levels throughout the day.  I continue to meditate to this day and have only experienced a greater sense of purpose, patience and well-being as a result of my meditation practice.  

Here are 7 things you’ll notice after 7 days of meditation:

1. You’ll become more aware of your thoughts

I can remember my first meditation like it was yesterday.  I spent 11 minutes chatting away in my mind, rehearsing events from the past and acting out conversations to come.  I found myself overanalyzing every situation and trying to make sense of my environment until my mind, around minute 8, finally got tired and came to a grinding halt.  It was in that moment that I started to hear the sounds of the trees around me, the birds chipping away and the ocean waves crashing against the shore.  I felt a serene sense of presence that washed away all of those repetitious thoughts and cleared the way for my mind to come into the present moment.  

2. You’ll release negative thought patterns

One of my favorite quotes comes from Swami Kripalu, “the highest form of spiritual practice is self observation without judgment”.  When I really started to embody this act of watching my thoughts and actions from a place of inquiry rather than judgment (aka labeling good/bad or positive/negative) I was able to clear away the ones that were no longer serving me.  You can feel which thoughts raise your vibration and which ones diminish your light.  It not always your ability to steer clear of negativity, self doubt and judgment but rather how quickly you’re able to catch it and replace it with an empowering thought.  When we transform our thoughts in this way, our pattern becomes to lead with positivity.  We start to give ourselves the opportunity to thrive and the others the ability to shine.  It’s a remarkable place to be and every time I notice myself falling back into the spiral of criticizing behavior, I ask spirit to show me the way back to my true essence, love. 

3.  You’ll become more in tune with your bodies natural rhythms

Are you someone who forgets to eat?  Doesn’t get enough sleep?  How about never takes time to rest or recover in between work outs?  I certainly was one of those personalities that would neglect my bodily functions in order to stay more productive at work.  I would avoid using the bathroom if it meant I was going to miss a call and skip meals to get more work done before the clock struck 5pm.  What happened to my health is that it deteriorated over time and I became extremely indecisive.  Someone would ask me, “what do you want to eat?” or “what do you like to do?” and I wouldn’t know how to respond.  I was so detached that I would enter into a critical thinking process to determine what I thought was the “right” response.  It took years of checking in with my bodily functions and innate desires to start to make decisions based upon what was good for my body rather than falling into the trap of needing to be right.  Our bodies are extremely intuitive and if we can learn to listen rather than control our responses then we will be in greater harmony and alignment with our physical needs. 

4.  You’ll feel empowered in your decisions

After you complete the process of clearing away what is no longer serving you, you open up a channel to the greater good within.  Some people call this “tapping into Source, your higher Self, Spirit, your spirit guides, your intuition” etc.  All I can say is that you slip into what Deepak Chopra calls, “the gap”, and from that place you can receive words of wisdom from a small voice inside of you that always has your back.  Gabby Bernstein called her recent book, “The Universe Has Your Back” based on this similar concept; when you’re tapped into the universal wisdom within you are truly supported in all of your decisions.  I think back to those days when I was struggling as a new teacher and trying to find ways to cover my expenses.  I realized the more I meditated, followed the guidance of my heart, and trusted that I would be supported during the process, the more abundance and prosperity I called into my life.  Clearing the negativity and making way for positivity allowed me to connect with the right people so my career could thrive. 

5.  You’ll get better sleep

One of the main reasons doctors prescribe meditation is to help people sleep.  A calmer mind allows you to “turn off” at the end of the night and stay asleep in between sleep cycles.  When you allow your mind and body to rest, you increase your recovery rate and can produce more efficiently during the day.  When you’re body is constantly strapped for rest, then you remain in a state of fatigue which stimulates the fight or flight response in your nervous system.  I would highly recommend a short meditation at the end of the day to relax the mind and reduce tension in the body.  If you find yourself with constant headaches that could be a sign that there is an abundance of stress in your system and you need to balance it out with relaxing, mindful practices.  I would even recommend a quick meditation in the middle of the afternoon instead of reaching for a second cup of coffee or sweet treat to boost your energy.

6.  You’ll feel better throughout the day

When you meditate, the chemical makeup of your mind changes;  alpha brain wave activity increases, the grey matter become denser in specific areas such as the hippocampus which is crucial for learning and memory, and you stimulate the rest or relaxation response in the nervous system.  This allows you to be more at ease with your environment.  When the mind is able to concentrate and focus, then you can be more awake, aware, and productive.  I remember feeling so refreshed and revitalized after those first few meditations, to the point that I would spring up from my seat and complete tasks that had been on my to do list for weeks.  Almost instantly I started making better choices and my overall well being improved.  

7.  You’ll become more present with your surroundings

Most of us have an innate ability to multitask.  After a few days of meditation, I found myself not only giving my full attention to certain responsibilities but actually completing them so they didn’t continue to plague my mind.  Have you ever found yourself immersed in nature or even in a conversation only to discover that you were thinking about something else the whole time?  When you meditate, you are practicing the art of becoming more aware of your surroundings.  The practice of Pratyahara is commonly known as “withdrawal of the senses” but I tend to lean on the side of believing it means becoming aware of your senses without the need to react to stimuli.  Yoga is the art of directing your mind to the present.  When we direct our thoughts to the here and now you release the need to repeat the past or anticipate the future.  You will always have access to your life lessons as tools for how to handle present day situations, but you will not fall into the same cycles over and over again.  You will find inner peace and bliss, appreciating your present day in a whole new way.  You will see new colors in nature, the grass will become greener, the skies more beautiful than ever.  You will notice the slightest change in your colleagues demeanor and be able to stand as a strong support for your partner.  You will enjoy your meals, savoring each bite because you’re paying attention to what you put in your mouth.  You will be calmer and more compassionate towards other people’s behavior.  Overall, meditation allows you to become more peaceful within and pleasant and with other people. 

There you have it!  Better sleep, a greater sense of calm, overall health, balance and wellbeing, not to mention a greater sense of purpose and direction in making decisions throughout the day.  It’s all the little things that add up to monumental change.  When we settle for quick fixes or one stop shops, we oftentimes find temporary solutions when the real answer could be just the slightest change to your daily lifestyle.  If you haven’t tried meditation, give it a go.  I highly recommended starting with an app such as Yoga Wake Up They have meditations and classes suited for everyone plus you can check out a whole series I recorded on the 7 chakras (one a day for your 7-day challenge) that will help you become more aware of these energetic centers.