Persist, Devote, Keep at it: Bhakti Bird

On a sunny day in April 2015 I was sitting in a Pranayama (life-force control) class my first time at The Ananda School of Yoga & Meditation. I had been meditating and deepening my practice for two weeks and had another two to go. I was working towards my 200-hour Yoga Certification. In this moment my attention was on my breath. As I inhaled I observed my belly expand and as I exhaled I kept my attention on my belly relaxing back into my body. My mind was quiet, my body was still. Tap, Tap, Tap, my focused-mind softened. Tap, Tap, Tap. I was becoming distracted. Tap, Tap, Tap. I couldn’t take it anymore. I opened my eyes and looked to where the noise was coming from. I noticed a couple of other students do the same. What we saw was a robin sitting on the outside window sill. Tap, Tap, Tap. He was tapping his little beak against the window pane and pulling us away from our breathing techniques. Tap, Tap, Tap. Before long everyone and the teacher were looking toward the window. The teacher walked to the window and tapped back trying to shoo the bird away. It left only for a moment and returned just as the teacher walked back to the front of the class. Tap, Tap, Tap. “It seems you will all be challenged today; devote to your practice no matter the outside circumstance,” our teacher said. For days this sweet bird returned again and again during our class time. The second day I made a joke about how Bhakti (Sanskrit for Devotion) Bird was there to help us all gain mental strength over distraction.

Garudasana 2015
Garudasana (Eagle Pose) at Crystal Hermitage Gardens in Ananda Village 2015. “At the center of life’s storms I stand serene.”

I still think of Bhakti Bird whenever I am faced with distraction or resistance. That first day that I was distracted by this small creature and its small sound, I had allowed that sound to cause resistance (lack of focus) during my meditation. The responsibility does not lie on the bird. I am the only one responsible for my mind, my thoughts, and where they go. The second day, the day our feathery friend received its name, I discovered that by switching my perspective I could own my responsibility. That sound wasn’t happening to my meditation. It was happening for my meditation. Anytime I heard the Tap, Tap, Tap I was reminded to stay devoted to the present, to my practice. I swear that bird was a Yogi reincarnated and an intuitive one at that! Every time my mind wandered good ol’ Bhakti Bird would get me back to the task at hand.

Part IV of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, is Persistence. Take a moment to remember a time when you persisted on something. Perhaps it was in high school striving for a certain grade or athletic standing. Maybe a time at work when you were focused on getting that promotion or raise. Perhaps in meditation, returning to the practice again and again. This past week I persisted to clean up our yard by raking the leaves. A minor comparison, but it took me 8 hours. I don’t think it had been raked in years! (We rent.)

Once you’ve thought about that moment of persistence hold onto the feeling. You were focused on a goal and you worked at it until you either accomplished it, lost interest, or did not succeed. Notice I do not say failed here, because there is no failure in devoting yourself to something. Dedicate yourself to the creative process not the creative product. I would argue that your creativity is in everything you do, but if you disagree then look at it as dedicating yourself to the process not the product.

When we persist at anything we will always find resistance. Think back to that same memory of persistence. What circumstances or people did you have to overcome? Those moments of resistance are where you were able to practice persistence. For my example of raking the leaves the wind was my biggest foe, but don’t worry I overcame and completed my task!

paschimotanasana
Paschimotanasana- Posterior Stretching Pose “I am safe. I am sound. All good things come to me; they give me peace!” https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/seated-forward-bend

Let’s take resistance more literal. Have a seat on the floor and put your legs out in front of you. Inhale and draw the hands out and around and up over head. As you exhale slowly bring the hands to the top of the legs and begin to bend forward. Stop at the first point of resistance. Now breathe into it and experience the physical sensation of resistance. Inhale and visualize space in the area that is resisting, and exhale try to relax that area and move deeper into the stretch. Persist for 1-3 minutes, moving deeper through relaxation not through force.

We can apply this persistence/ resistance to current events. This, for many, is a stressful time. Stress is resistance. Think back to that distracting Bhakti Bird. I changed my perspective and it made all the difference. If you are finding yourself in a dark place and feeling overwhelmed by stress try changing your perspective. A TedTalk changed my entire outlook on stress. Check it out here. Joy practices are another great way to get you out of a funk and in a better headspace. Joy practices are anything that makes you feel joyful and peaceful. Examples include: nature walks, physical exercise, dancing, laughing, gardening, cooking, cleaning, fishing, etc. Try to do one a day! If you’d like a fun nature exercise suitable for children, adults, solo, or for the family check out Journey to the Heart of Nature, click here.

Persistence is a relatable topic in our everyday lives, in our creative lives, and in our spiritual lives (remember this is a yoga blog 😉 So whatever your facing today, in this moment, remember the wise words of Ms. Gilbert:

..devotional discipline is the best approach. Do what you love to do, and do it with both seriousness and lightness. At least then you will know that you have tried and that– whatever the outcome– you have traveled a noble path.

Perseverance
Affirmation for Perseverance; AKA persistence

As I mentioned before, Bhakti is Sanskrit for Devotion. I think devotion and persistence are one in the same. I have found, in these trying times, that keeping myself focused on something, anything, helps me feel sane. I have devoted myself to this blog, to raking the leaves, to my daily yoga and meditation practice. I have persisted to keep my space, our home, tidy as this helps me to have a tidy mind. I have devoted myself to exploring my spiritual practice through lots of nature adventures, new yoga practices, and reading yoga related books and materials. I strive everyday to see my God reflected in everything that I do and every creature that I see. This has been the deepest practice of all. If I can love my Higher Power through my loved ones then I am not only connecting to the deepest part of them but I am also connecting to the deepest part of my own reality. Above all I have been trying to devote myself to the light within. That light is in every living thing and finding it outside of myself only adds to my spiritual experience. Am I trying to reach enlightenment? Perhaps in some lifetime. For now, I am more focused on my current well-being and the well-being of the people around me.

Devotion is not mere sentiment; it is heartfelt commitment to something or someone.

-Ananda Sangha Worldwide

No matter what your devotion or persistence is directed towards; opening your heart center or chest can help you to open to your practice of devotion. Try this Heart Opening Yoga Routine with Melody, one of my teachers from The Ananda School of Yoga & Meditation.

Another way to encourage the center of feeling is through chanting. Check out four chants here. I especially enjoy “When I Awake” sung in the recording by Swami Kriyananda, founder of the Ananda Village and my yoga school.

alter
Having an alter helps me to have a space dedicated to my meditation and prayer practice. I like using candles, inspiring photos, chimes, and things I find on my nature adventures.

One final way to cultivate loving energy for a positive mindset and concentration is through prayer. You do not need to be religious for prayer and there is no wrong way to do it. There is power in affirming out loud or to yourself the things you are grateful for, the things you are seeking guidance with, and for visualizing the health and well-being of yourself and others. Personally, when I pray for others I visualize them surrounded by a warm-glowing light. I see them happy, healthy, and laughing. I feel that this strengthens the vibration that is sent out and the vibration I feel inside.

Many of us have been overcoming our fear of the unknown. Below is a prayer from Whispers from Eternity by Paramhansa Yogananda:

Demand to be able to Conquer Fear

Infinite Spirit, teach me to comprehend the utter uselessness of being afraid. Help me to keep in mind that even death, since come it must, at least comes only once and need not be suffered a thousand times, beforehand, through fear! When death does come it will be by Nature’s mercy. When it comes, I will welcome it in my soul, for I will understand that it is time for me to move on, lowering the curtain on this life’s drama, but traveling, perhaps, to something new and equally interesting. Let me not be a “psychological antique,” fearing change.

Teach me not to paralyze my nerves daily with the dread of some future, imaginary accident. Such dread may only invite the accident to happen!

Bless me, that I not let fear anesthetize my mind and shut off my unlimited power, as Thy child, to overcome all tests and trials. Help me to realize that, whether I am awake or asleep, alert or dreaming, Thine all-protecting presence encircles me always.

Help me to see that neither mighty fortress nor the wealth of Croesus could protect me from disease, earthquakes, and all kinds of accidents, that Thou alone art my protector, and that, though I walk where bullets fly or where swarms of bacteria abound, I am ever safe, enhaloed in Thy all-sheltering light.

Aum, Peace, Amen

Stay home, stay safe, and if you must venture out do so wisely. Persist in a positive state of mind. Focus your attention on uplifting tasks and responsibilities. Do a daily practice of Joy and meditation. We will get through this together.

Tap, Tap, Tap. Bhakti Bird is calling.

With Devoted Light,

Em<3

Enchanted With an Idea

Enchantment: the state of being under a spell; magic.

Inspiration Finds Us

The last few days of reading Part 2 of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic have been enchanting and eye opening. As I have stated in previous posts I have read this book many times, and this time I have been reading up and researching yoga teachings regarding each section of Big Magic: Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, and Divinity. Enchantment is probably my favorite section in Big Magic. This section is all about the process of inspiration and where it comes from. Much like falling in love, becoming inspired with an Idea is an enchanting journey that thrives on trust, openness, and gratitude. Elizabeth Gilbert has an imaginative way of explaining Ideas. I capitalize the word “Ideas” here because she refers to Ideas as alive. Gilbert shares an experience of an idea for a book knocking on her creative door. After months of research and an outline she had to put the project away for two years due to ‘life’. When she returned to the project her research and outline were right where she left them but that creative inspiration was nowhere to be found. She goes on to explain that left unattended ideas will find new partners to work with.

..that ideas are alive, that ideas do seek the most available human collaborator, that ideas do have a conscious will, that ideas do move from soul to soul, that ideas will always try to seek the swiftest and most efficient conduit to the earth (just as lightning does).

-Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

Have you ever experienced an idea this way? One moment your casually eating your oatmeal then BAM you have an ingenious idea of how to solve the water crisis by purifying ocean water, or whatever it may be.

Gilbert would explain this experience as an idea passing through you, enticing you with itself. The process of inspiration doesn’t end here. If anything, inspiration is only the initial “spark” of your relationship. In this moment you must decide if this is an idea for you to manifest into this physical world. That is all an idea desires. Ideas come to us, seeking a partnership, where we may work together to manifest that idea into the physical world. If you say no then the idea and inspirational spark will soon pass. Sometimes this is best. Not every idea is meant for you, and you’re not always meant for every idea manifest. If you say yes, as Gilbert explains, then you are agreeing to work with the idea tirelessly, devotionally, and to your best ability until the mere thought becomes reality.

three bodies
https://www.instagram.com/p/B3WX5iinyKS/?igshid=fzt6i2smdj18

In yoga teachings, we each have three bodies- (The word body here signifies any soul encasement, whether gross or subtle.) the gross physical body, the astral body, and the causal or idea body. I want to focus on the causal body in this post as it reminds me a lot of Ms. Gilbert’s idea theory.

The causal bodied being remains in the blissful realm of ideas.

-P. Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi

Each of the bodies mentioned above are progressions we must each pass through to return to our truest form, the Universe’s Infinite Bliss. Yoga teachings state that this takes thousands and thousands of years as we reincarnate into new forms to dissolve and work through our desires on each of these plains (physical, astral, and causal). WAIT. If I have lost you already or you’re quickly losing interest, take a breath. To some people this will seem much too hippie-dippy. I understand, I use to roll my eyes anytime my mom would mention her experience of the subtle spiritual world. If you are the kind of person that needs science to continue reading, let me bait you with this: https://www.newscientist.com/round-up/physics-questions/ .

something unkown quote
https://libquotes.com/arthur-eddington/quote/lbl9b3k

There are things that science, quantum physics in particular, cannot explain and the way we find the answers to those mysterious questions is through creativity. Hang in there and let’s get some creative juices flowing!

 

Back to the Causal Body! The causal body is a part of your physical and astral body until it is released after many lifetimes. Once only the causal body remains, yoga teachings state, they reside in the causal world or plane.

Causal desires are fulfilled by perception only. The nearly-free being who are encased only in the causal body see the whole universe as realizations of the dream-ideas of God; they can materialize anything and everything in sheer thought. Causal beings therefore consider the enjoyment of physical sensations or astral delights as gross and suffocating to the soul’s fine sensibilities. Causal beings work out their desires by materializing them instantly. Those who find themselves covered only by the delicate veil of the causal body can bring universes into manifestation even as the Creator. Because all creation is made of the cosmic dream-texture, the soul thinly clothed in the causal has vast realizations of power.

-P. Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi

While doing all this research I had a magical idea of my own. Perhaps, these causal, idea bodies are exactly what Gilbert was talking about in her theory of how ideas come to us. These souls that have released physical, mental, and emotional desires are working through their final desires with their own power of manifestation. Could their ideas of a story or painting, or way of doing something pass through time and space to our physical plane and grace us with inspiration? I’m not sure why they would choose to work through our world and I’m not sure it matters. If someone asked me, “Hey Emily, would you mind helping me make this pie? I only have 7 of the 8 ingredients.” I would say, “Of course! I love home-made pie. Let’s find a way to make it work and then we will both get to enjoy it!” I’m really not sure, but I like the idea!

Creativity is a gift to the creator, not just a gift to the audience.

-Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

Fishing for Inspiration

So how do we get more bites of inspiration? Well, ya gotta make your bait look appealing to the ideas that are out there, just swimming around looking for a partnership. Enough fishing metaphors. Whether you believe the explanations given above or not, you can still find inspiration with the activities mentioned below.

Quieting the mind gives space and stillness to attract ideas. Meditation is my favorite way of quieting my own rambunctious mind. Unfortunately, I do not have internet and with self-isolation I am unable to upload a current yoga or meditation video at the library, but I do have this meditation video from 2017. Please enjoy this 17 minute practice with me here.

His causal being finds expression when man is thinking or diving deep in introspection or meditation; the cosmical thoughts of genius come to the man who habitually contacts his causal body.

-P. Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi

trees

Nature has always helped me to still my thoughts and gain perspective. This can be very appealing for those fishies of inspiration. (Sorry, I said no more fish metaphors.) The Sky and Earth Touched Me by Joseph Bharat Cornell is filled with all sorts of activities you can do in nature to help still the mind and reconnect with the world around you. For a yummy Forest Bathing Exercise from this book click here.

Additional ways to calm the body and quiet the mind could be:

  • yoga practice
  • breathing exercises
  • quiet activity like fishing, walking, or playing a familiar instrument
  • chanting or spiritual singing
  • any activity that helps you to become quiet and calm

Remember, stilling the mind  is giving room for inspiration to come-a-knocking.

The Creative Perspective for Success

Living a creative life doesn’t mean we have to live enslaved by our creative life force. It is all in your perspective. If we choose to see inspiration and magical ideas not as our own but outside of ourselves we are eliminating the responsibility of ownership of an idea. We can simply create without too much pressure of what it is we end up creating. When we practice openness, trust, and gratitude with the ideas that come our way we allow for a light-hearted courting and a friendly, joyful partnership. For anyone wanting to live a creative life where you awaken your own creativity throughout your everyday, and for the individual wishing to create masterpieces, this is the perspective to carry.

..merely making things, and then sharing those things with an open heart and no expectations..”

-Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

Please tune in next time for an exploration on Part III of Big Magic: Permission. Thanks for reading!

-Em<3

 

 

 

 

 

What Else Do You Have Going On Right Now?

Here I am. The fridge and pantry are fully stocked. Social Distancing practices are under way, and I have started a Self-Isolation Resolution List to keep me focused.
When I first heard about the Coronavirus or COVID-19 I thought like many. I thought people were overreacting, over-buying, and full of it. Here we are only one week later and everyone’s day-to-day has changed for at least two weeks. Schools are cancelled, gyms and libraries are closed, and social distancing is in full effect.
BUT WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH MYSELF FOR THE COMING WEEKS? Within two days all three of my jobs were dismissed due to closures. After filing for temporary unemployment and watching a movie I was already bored. Due to the library closing quicker than I anticipated, I was unable to check out any new reading material, so I poked around my bookshelves and had a jolt of inspiration. Only yesterday I recommended a book to an old college friend. My favorite book. That conversation and seeing the book sitting there on my bookshelf sparked big magic in my brain. 😉 So without further ado…..

Inspired by a dear friend, I have decided to re-read my favorite book, written by Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic. I have read this book at least 3 times all the way through. My copy is filled with post-its, bookmarks, and notes I’ve scribbled in on the margins. Every time I read this book I learn something new, I find a new inspiration, and I feel uplifted and encouraged to create something unique.

DSC_0770_1Over the next couple of weeks I will finish this book yet again. Only this time I will be making posts covering the six sections of the book: Courage; Enchantment; Permission; Persistence; Trust; Divinity. Each blog post I do will not only relate to the section in the book, but also relate to yoga and meditation teachings I have discovered along the way.

I am leaving my inspiration open for now. Meaning, with the upcoming blog posts I may also include pictures, affirmations, and videos where you can practice yoga and meditation right along with me.

DSC_0771_1Life is weird right now, and the stress you may be feeling is relatable. The more goodness , Joy, and Love we can inject into the world right now the better. I wish to provide my services as a teacher and a human being to all of you. Please join me in contributing positivity into this uncertain world.

Here’s your invitation.

I cordially invite you to join me however you’d like in the coming weeks. You’re invited to enjoy this excellent book along with me, to check in on this blog, and to become inspired by the world around us and the world within us. What else do you have going on right now? 

With Love,

Em<3

 

P.S.- You can find the e-book here (price $12.99):
https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Elizabeth_Gilbert_Big_Magic?id=IVMmBgAAQBAJ&hl=en-US&gl=us

What to Expect in a Restorative Class

Hello again friends!

Today I would like to talk about Restorative Yoga. I can just hear some of you experienced restorative yogis hum-sighing with excitement. When I practice restorative yoga it makes me feel like a fat cat with nothing better to do than lounge around with a bunch of squishy, comfy objects. I have described this kind of yoga as delicious and if you EVER get the chance to try it, DO IT. It will slow you down in the most comforting, enjoyable way. Alas, this isn’t helping you with truly understanding what to expect in a restorative yoga class, so let me try again with the power of STORY TELLING!

Joy was taking her first restorative yoga class at a studio in her City. She was nervous, but she had read in the class description to wear comfortable clothes, to bring water, and an open mind. As she walked through the studio doorway the lights were dim. There were sounds of the ocean rhythmically tossing against the shore and a light overlay of a string instrument. Joy sat at the bench in the lobby and began to unlace her boots. She silently worried to herself, “Joy, don’t fall asleep.”

“Are you here for the 5:30 Restorative class?” A woman asked as she approached Joy.

“Yes, I am,” Joy said with a smile. She hoped her nerves didn’t show through.

The woman across from her had a kind smile. She wore loose fitting pants and a tucked-in shirt. Her wavy hair was pulled back into a ponytail and she walked with ease. “I’m Emily Basili. I teach this class. What’s your name?”

Joy responded and the woman said, “Hello Joy, if this is your first time here you’ll need to fill out a health questionnaire and a waiver. The questionnaire helps me tend to your needs so please take your time answering the questions.”

Joy took the clipboard and forms from her instructor. Once completed, Joy handed it back too Emily. “Thanks! You can go ahead and make your way into the studio. At the front of the room you’ll notice I’ve set up my mat and several props. Once you find a place on the floor for your mat please grab the same amounts and kinds of props for yourself. While you wait feel free to do some cat-cows, light stretching, or meditate sitting or in Savasana.

Joy nodded and turned to the studio doors. As she moved closer she could smell burning sage and what she thought might be sandalwood. The room was dimly lit with a lamp at each of the back corners of the room. In front of her she saw the mat Emily had described as well as 6 yoga blankets stacked to the side and one bolster and eye pillow stacked next to that. Joy felt a twinge of excitement beginning to erode her nervousness. “This is gonna be good,” she said to herself and she began to set up her things.

At two-minutes after 5:30 Emily came into the room, closing the door behind her. She walked to the front of the room with a clipboard. “Good evening everyone. I am grateful to be sharing this space with you and I hope you leave class tonight feeling relaxed and centered. We will begin tonight’s class with a centering exercise. Come to a seated position, and become aware of your breath.” Emily continued to guide Joy and the others in the room. She told them to let the breath flow as it wishes and throughout the next hour to practice simply being. This was a hard concept for Joy to understand, but she hoped that after the next hour of class she would know better.

After centering, Emily led the class through three poses. The first was called Supported Child’s Pose. Emily instructed students to place a bolster and blanket in front of them and an additional smaller folded blanket at one end. She demonstrated how to enter into the pose by gently and slowly laying her torso, belly side down, on top of the props. She used the smaller folded blanket as a pillow for her head, resting one cheek on it. Emily then prompted the class to try it themselves. “I’ll be around to assist you,” she said.

The next pose was Supported Supine Twist. After listening to directions of how to place the props and how to get in and out of the pose Joy set her area up. She sat with the bolster to one side with the top end in line with her belly button. She inhaled as she brought her knees bent and raised her calves to be parallel to the floor. She exhaled and let her legs float down to rest on top of the bolster at her side. She didn’t feel much at first, but tried to focus on her breathing to experience more. Emily came around to each student to check in with them. “How does everything feel?” Emily asked quietly.

“It feels fine, but I don’t feel much of a twist in my spine,” Joy replied.

“Let’s see if we can adjust a few things.” Emily had Joy lift her legs back up and exchanged the bolster for two blankets. Joy relaxed her legs down onto the blankets. They were lower to the ground than before. “That’s much better,” Joy said.

“Excellent,” Emily said quietly. “Now go ahead and close your eyes and lift your gaze just slightly.” Joy did as she said and could feel Emily move to the space above her head. “Is it alright with you if I adjust your neck?”

“Sure,” said Joy. Emily gently drew her hands to the nape of Joy’s neck. She placed her hands firmly under Joy’s neck and without lifting it she moved her hands all the way up the back side, gently pressing slightly. She rested her fingertips just on the bottom of Joy’s skull. Here Emily lifted Joy’s head slightly off the floor and ever so slightly pulled her head away from her body. This movement was gentle and controlled. It was subtle and made Joy feel longer as she laid across the floor.

The final pose that was instructed was Supported Savasana. Students put two blankets under each leg, a blanket with one end slightly rolled under the neck and Emily came around to each student to cover them with an additional blanket and assist putting on the eye pillows.

Joy could feel herself fully relaxed into her props. Her body felt heavy but her mind felt light as though it was filled with space. Emily guided students through a visualization of light lapping over the body like sweet waves lapping against the shore. “Time doesn’t seem to exist in this space of relaxation,” Joy thought. Time moved on. Joy wasn’t sure if she had been laying in Savasana for five minutes or five hours.

“Gently begin to bring yourself back to your body. As you inhale, feel your belly rise and as you exhale, feel the belly soften and relax towards the floor,” Emily cooed.

As instructed Joy slowly awakened her body by wiggling her fingers and toes, rocking back and forth, and slowly bringing herself up to a seated position. While seated, Emily guided the class through a meditation technique called Hong-Sau. As it concluded Joy found herself overwhelmed with the feeling of acceptance. She was accepting of her initial nervousness, she was accepting of the parts of herself she tended to be critical of, and she was accepting of the guy next to her who snored during Savasana.

“Bring your hands together just in front of the heart. Keep the eyes closed and the gaze lifted. Say I silent ‘thank you’ to yourself for the time and energy you put forth today and send out waves of gratitude to the other individuals in this room for cultivating this space. Thank you so much for attending class this evening. May you leave here feeling calm and relaxed and know that this space of stillness is present within you all of the time. You are free to revisit it whenever you’d like. Namaste.” Emily gave a small bow.

After cleaning up her props and mat Joy thanked Emily for the class. “I’m glad to hear you enjoyed, Joy,” Emily said with a smile.

“I very much did, and I hope to come back.”

“That’s great to hear. Classes are every Thursday from 5:30-6:30.”

“Thank you,” Joy said once more. She turned to go and felt deep in her heart a new level of relaxed effort in her own skin.

Wanna give it a try? Check online with your local studios to find a restorative class near you. If you live in the Mason City, IA area and would like to attend a class with me please check out the classes tab on this website! Have a great day and be well.

Em<3

 

Intermittent Fasting & My Personal Practice

I have been doing intermittent fasting for the last two months. I was introduced to the idea by a Yoga mentor and by one of my fitness mentors. I have been into personal fitness since High School. In college I received a bachelor’s degree in strength & conditioning and have since made fitness and nutrition a beloved hobby. I have never liked the idea of being on a diet or restricting myself from things that I love as long as I enjoy them in moderation and in a mentally healthy way.

Before I started intermittent fasting I was struggling with consistent meal times. In yoga school they recommend not eating before a personal practice of yoga or meditation. I do my personal practice when I wake up in the morning and before I.F. I always wanted to eat breakfast. If I didn’t eat breakfast I would find that my stomach would be painfully hungry by the time I sat to meditate. I often would finish my practice early because I was unable to get my mind off my hunger.

I do about one to two hours of personal practice in the mornings, but I no longer feel like I am controlled by my hunger. It’s been a beautiful difference actually. My work keeps me up until two or three in the morning sometimes. I try to eat my last meal around 8 pm. With intermittent fasting you don’t consume foods, or high amounts of caffeine for 16 hours and then consume all your daily calories and nutrition within a 4 to 8 hour period. This 4 to 8 hour period depends on how deep you want to get into I.F. I am happy with sticking to about 8 hours of eating. Within this 8 hour period I consume three meals and usually a cup of coffee and a lightly caffeinated cup of tea. I drink lots of water throughout the day along with herbal tea.

How do I feel? I am completely satisfied with Intermittent fasting. I sometimes have to remind myself to eat or to eat enough for my daily caloric intake. This is drastically different from how I was just two months ago. I no longer feel like I’m ruled by my hunger and I feel like I have more energy in my workouts and throughout my daily activities. My mood is improved and I rarely feel “hangry”. I feel like I have been getting better sleep and I have noticed a flatter lower tummy area. (This specific area, like many, has always been a tricky spot for me.)

Back to how this has effected my personal practice. Well, I no longer feel distracted by my hunger in meditation even after 13 or 14 hours of fasting! I no longer stress about eating breakfast or not. I still eat a sort of breakfast but not until noon. As for the meditations, it is hard to say if I.F. has had an effect on how “deep” or focused I am, but no longer being distracted by my growling tummy has been amazing!

I plan to continue with Intermittent Fasting as long as it agrees with my lifestyle. I love how I feel and how it has cultivated a healthy relationship between myself and food.

 

Blessings,

Emily Basili