Guided meditation for the new year

funny-dog-meditation

img_4233In this morning’s yoga class, I led my students in a guided meditation for the new year.

Studies show that a regular practice of quiet meditation provides many benefits. Check out this article with some fun infographics about what will happen to your body and mind if you start meditating today…. Try it and see for yourself!

Join me daily at 7:00 AM at beautiful Cotton Tree Lodge in southern Belize for an hour-long class — before your jungle adventure begins!

At the end of every yoga class I teach, I invite my students to join me in a guided (or sometimes silent) meditation to bring closure to our practice, to integrate the benefits of the active poses, and to end with internal reflection.

meditation-om-2Meditation is ideally practiced in a seated posture that allows the chest to be open and the spine long. As a certified yoga teacher for the past twenty years, I include seated meditation in all of my classes, because according to the ancient yoga classics, it is one of the eight “limbs” of the complete yoga system, which is comprised of eight branches.

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Sit with your spine tall and straight in your preferred meditation posture:

  • Easy cross-legged pose (Sukhasana)
  • Half lotus pose (Ardha Padmasana)
  • Full lotus (Padmasana)

Lengthen your breath. Try to breathe deep into your belly and exhale fully. Do this a few times.

Focus your mind on the sensation of your breathing. Notice the inhale and exhale, the sensation of the air as it passes through your nostrils, the expansion in your chest and belly as your diaphragm moves. Let yourself be fascinated with the mechanics of your breathing.

Reflect on the past year. Let your mind review 2016 in a movie-like sequence. Maybe images will appear in your mind’s eye. Maybe feelings. Sensations. Whatever arises, let it come up as you think about the past year.

Notice what is there.

Now imagine that you can gather all of these experiences–the people, the places–into a bundle. Imagine wrapping it all up in a golden-colored wrapping paper and surrounding the bundle in pure, white light. Really see it glowing in bright light.

Now imagine that you can physically place the bundle in a special place. Make it a specific place, whether real or imagined, where you know it will be safe, valued, protected. See it there.

In your mind’s eye see a passageway–it could be some kind of doorway or an opening–and see it opening for you. You can walk through the passageway into the new year.

Walk through and notice what is on the other side, in the new year 2017. You might see images, or feel sensations, emotions, peoples’ faces, maybe specific places. Whatever you perceive, just let it be there for you.

Now send a radiant beam of white light straight from your heart into the new year 2017. Imagine that this light is surrounding and blessing the people and places you will experience. Keep sending this light into the new year.

Take a few deep breaths. Feel your body from head to toe. When you are ready, open your eyes.

How do you feel?

Parama K. Williams is a published author with a Master of Arts in Education and fifteen years of international experience as a U.S. Licensed, Certified Massage Therapist and Yoga Teacher. Join her on the upcoming wellness retreat in tropical Belize!

 

How to relieve menstrual cramps naturally

When I am having painful menstrual cramps, often the last thing I want to do is exercise. I was taught to believe that exercise makes cramps worse. I have discovered that this is simply false. Yoga can relieve menstrual cramps instantly, when practiced with awareness. Last week I was having unusually painful cramps. I thought it would help to take a break from my daily yoga practice, pop an Advil, and stay in bed. But I forced myself onto my mat and began a rigorous practice of sun salutations and weight bearing poses in a vinyasa style flow. At first my cramps got worse and I almost stopped after a few minutes. Instead, I kept going until I broke a sweat. Little by little, pose by pose, the cramps went away. I noticed that deep breathing had a lot to do with this. I experimented with shallow breathing and the cramps instantly returned.

Mother Parama in Bound Side Angle Pose

Parama in “Bound Side Angle” Pose

I think the poses I chose also had something to do with the cramps going away. I included a few deep standing twists in warrior and utkatasana (chair pose). I ended with seated twists: ardha matsyendrasana and marichyasana. I avoided inversions like headstand. From my experience, doing upside-down poses while menstruating feels unnatural: the flow should go down and out, not up and in. Most importantly, it was a vigorous practice. I increased my heart rate, sweated, and maintained deep, steady breathing.

I ended with a little bit of “mental yoga.” I prayed and asked for my cramps to be a reminder of the pain and suffering of other people. I prayed that I would be able to somehow feel pain on other peoples’ behalf, thereby helping them suffer less. I asked specifically that every time I feel the painful sensation of the cramps, that I don’t focus on my own pain, but instead that I channel the sensation into lessening the pain of other people.

I don’t really know if it was the yoga, or the prayer, or both that made my cramps go away completely for the rest of the day. I did not need the Advil. I felt motivated and energized. My yoga practice had an instantaneous, long-lasting effect.

How to transform stress into relaxation

The STAR is an effective, 10-minute process that transforms job-related stress into relaxation, right there in your home or workplace. Stress can turn an otherwise productive day into a long, drawn out nightmare. We’ve all had days like that. The STAR—the Self-Administered Tool for Awareness and Relaxation—is your solution. With the STAR, you can reduce and even eliminate stress and enjoy a full, productive workday: You can be calm and stress-free.

After many years of working in a variety of high-stress jobs, I discovered that there are 3 keys to eliminating stress: Awareness, Attention, and Affirmation. In this introductory program, you will learn how to use the STAR in 10 minutes or less.

How does the STAR work? The STAR is a stress management tool that integrates physical movement, brain-body research, therapeutic touch, and positive affirmations. In this program, you will learn how to use the STAR to increase your awareness of the physical, mental, emotional, and physiological effects of stress. You will experience the connection between your body, mind, breath, and emotions. Using a simple process, you can reduce and eliminate stress.

Transform your work-life into a joyful, fulfilling experience. Let the STAR work for you.