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How to Create an Authentic Space for Practice in Your Home

I am often asked about how to create a space, a sanctuary for practice (meditation/yoga) in one’s own home. You might have an extra room, or you might have some space within your own living room to create a dual-purpose room. The size of the space does not matter. The bottom line is that you value practice. It makes sense to create a devoted space to this value. We have kitchens, bedrooms, entertainment rooms, why not a practice room? So, your mind might jump to thoughts like… “what should I buy” or “what color should I paint it?”. My suggestion is start somewhere else, in fact start way back. Practice while you create.

To create an authentic space in your home for meditation and yoga practice look to Patanjali’s (400CE) 5 Yamas (restraints) and 5 Niyamas (observances), 10 ethical guidelines for living. These guidelines are lived for the purpose of quieting the mind for meditation. Here is the how to guide on how to apply these guidelines in the creation of your meditation space. By applying these restraints and observances during the creation of your meditation and yoga sanctuary you will ensure the room will have both inspirational form and efficient function.

5 Yamas- Restraints

Ahimsa- Non-harming: When choosing materials look to sustainable, earth friendly materials, organic elements that have gone through less processing and materials that have been made by companies who care about ethical manufacturing.

Satya- Non-lying: The room must be a true representation of you, not what you think it should look like. Within the realm of mindfulness lifestyle movement there are many different symbols. The symbols mean something. Find out what they mean and only use statues and symbols that represent a part of your truth.

Asteya- Non-stealing: Make your design decisions wisely. Make them in such a way that you do not have to throw away excess materials. Also, respect the time and energy of the people you hire to help you, do not “steal” their time.

Brahamacharya- Non-wasting of energy: Overly stimulated senses use up too much energy. This space is not meant to be stimulating. You do not want anything in your sanctuary that will catch your attention or wow you. Design with balance and find neutral tones. Look for objects that feel serene, these objects do not distract.

Aparigrapha- Non-hoarding: In the design of this room do not bring in every single symbol and trinket that symbolizes you or somebody else’s spirituality. This room is not about accumulating goods or boasting your ability to covet earthy processions. Keep it simple.

5 Niyamas- Observances

Saucha-Cleanliness: Create visual order. Orderliness in our physical spaces creates orderliness in the mind. Besides clean design choices, also look ahead: will the room be easy to maintain, easily and healthily cleaned to maintain a fresh and organized feel? You do not want to bring in materials that will trap and hold onto dirt.

Santosha-Contentment: You will practice contentment in this room. Start by practicing contentment while creating your space. Practice contentment with your choices. Practice contentment with your budget. Practice contentment with the process. In other words, do not over think this.

Tapas-Discipline: You must do the work. Designing, moving furniture, creating, cleaning, and building, these all take effort. You have set your intention to do this, now the effort requires action. This effort may feel like you are moving past obstacles, this is a good thing, keep going.

Svadyaya-Self-study: A purpose of this room is for you to be able to observe yourself, your consciousness, your practice, your breath, your movement. Make it personal. What are you currently practicing? Bring in elements (books, symbols) that will help you maintain your self-study. These may change as time goes by.

Ishvara-Pranidhana- Surrender to the sacred: Build an altar in the room, a focal point of inspiration to remind you of your spiritual journey. Bring in a seat for meditation. Leave an open space for movement and breath, a space to let go of the desire to control. Surrender here in your sanctuary to your eternal self, the bliss of the divine.

Enjoy your sanctuary. You might notice that by creating this space you find your way to more practice than usual. This is a good thing! Your friends and family physically see this space, witness your passion, and are sparked by it.  You are on a path, a journey, this space is a physical representation of that.

Ancient Wisdom for a Modern Family: Five Tips to Balance Your hOMe

Is your home your sanctuary? Is your family your inspiration? For many of us, the answer to these questions too often is, no. This unfortunately creates a blame game and perpetual expressions of stress. With just a little information, a whole lot of intention setting, and some responsible follow-through, this paradigm can change.

Here are five tips to practice at home, together as a family. The sanctuary you are seeking lies within—you create the inspiration for which you’re looking. By 1) letting go; 2) creating; 3) cleaning; 4) sharing; and 5) moving, you will observe balance, comfort, and a foundation that will nourish your family for generations to come.

  1. Let Go

Let go of cell phones. Whether your children are old enough to have their own or are just beginning to witness their parents’ connection to this electronic appendage, a mindful disconnect from your devices is a powerful choice.  Verbally express your choice as a family, making a point to turn cell phones off and put them in another room, starting with meal times. Experiment with expanding cell phone free time.

  1. Create

Write and record your own family guided meditation. Have everyone participate in writing a script and performing it on a cell phone recording app. Be sure to include breathing deeply, placing your hands on your belly, feeling it lift and lower, relaxing body parts from head to toe. Take a visualization trip through your favorite nature spot. Ask everyone to picture something for which they’re grateful and make positive “I am” affirmations. Then listen to this beautiful meditation together.

  1. Clean

Physical clutter not only gets in the physical way, it clutters the mind. Once a month, have every family member fill a bag to donate to Good Will or throw away. In a clutter free home, the family cleans together. Wipe down dust, place shoes in a tidy row, vacuum… there are always jobs to do. In the kitchen cupboards, find a processed food item and read the ingredients together. If it contains chemicals you can’t pronounce, toss it and replace with a nourishing alternative. Talk about how nice it feels to care about our bodies and our homes.

  1. Share

During dinner, share the day’s highs and lows, with everyone taking turns. Ask interesting, age appropriate questions of each other—anything but, “How was your day”? Make sure your questions require a more involved response than, “good.” For example, “What is your favorite fictional character of all time?” “If you were to open a business, what would it be?” “What is the one place in the world you are dying to visit?”

  1. Move

Move together. Set a timer for a 20-minute circuit. Take turns choosing a movement that everyone follows for one minute at a time. Take a walk together outside. Have a dance party in which everybody gets to choose one song for the playlist. Practice yoga together.

Calling all Families! Join Aida Bielkus and Jess Melfa at Health Yoga Life Cambridge, Sunday October 21st at 1:30 pm for an unforgettable workshop, “Ancient Wisdom for a Modern Family.”

Aida Bielkus, PhD, is co-founder of Health Yoga Life and an experienced life coach and yoga teacher. She encourages everyone to find easy ways to reduce stress in daily life.

CLICK HERE to register you and your family

Treat Yourself! Urban Weekend Retreat!

In terms of getting back to balance, very little compares to taking time for yourself!  But we know it can sometimes feel impossible to carve time to getaway.  Health Yoga Life has created the Boston Urban Weekend Retreat just for you.  Join us this Memorial Day for a rejuvenation of mind, body and spirit.  You deserve to be good to yourself.

Take time focus on yourself and plant seeds for transformation.  Health Yoga Life’s founders are experts in the field of wellness and have created a dynamic weekend program to teach you the tools and tips they know work for people. Come learn, have fun and connect back with yourself! Just in time for summer!

Highlights of the weekend include:

  • Welcome Kit-including weekend nourishment and detox (optional) plan
  • 4 Yoga Classes
  • Meditation Sessions
  • Healthy Delicious Lunch Saturday
  • Emotional Wellbeing Strategy Session
  • Gong Sound Bath
  • Endless tips for optimal health to last a lifetime & awesome community!

The weekend will take place at the HYL Cambridge Yoga Studio at 181 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139

Schedule for the weekend:

May 25-27, 2018

Friday: 6PM-9:00PM

Saturday: 11AM-7:00PM

Sunday 8:30AM-12:30PM

Save $50 for early bird registration! CLICK HERE

Secret to happiness is…

Happiness is available to all of us but elusive at times.  Recently a Tibetan Buddhist monk,  Matthieu Ricard was given the superhero title of “Happiest Man Alive”.  His secret? Meditation!

I know. I know. It’s hard to believe that yoga and meditation (simple things that you need very little to actually practice) are the key to so many benefits.   As research proved, scans of Ricard’s brain actually showed while meditating on compassion “an excessive activity in his brain left prefrontal cortex compared to its right counterpart, allowing him an abnormally large capacity for happiness and a reduced propensity toward negativity. ” (source: click here)

Life for for all of us has ups and downs.  Pains and pleasures. Highs and lows. Meditation practice is an anchor.  It draws you back to center every time.  Center is where the magic is.  It is the seat of true authentic happiness.  Nothing will bring you closer to center than a commitment to a practice that teaches you about yourself.

Did you know Health Yoga Life offers drop in Meditation Classes at our Cambridge studio?  Class is offered Tuesday and Thursdays at 5:15pm.  Make it a double hitter of happiness and stay on for the 6:00pm yoga class.  Watch anxiety, stress, depression wane; happiness, ease and peace increase.  This is not a hoax. This is science!

Can’t make it to the studio consider signing up for our “Mind, Mood, & Meditation” 12- month program!  Only $7.99 a month. Receive a yoga class, meditation, energy shift video, and healthy lifestyle  tips delivered to your inbox monthly! CLICK HERE

Connection! Time to build community!

Boston HYL yoga teacher training

What I know for sure is that teaching yoga is a practice of stepping out of the narrow-centered self into a space that is expansive, empathetic and of being of service.  The world we live in today often can feel isolating.  There is a feeling of “one most go at it alone”.  Face to face contact is replaced more and more by face to screen contact.  We also seem to live with more fear of each other, fear that someone knows more than me, someone is better than me, someone is not willing to help me.  Think about it.  How many times do you actually make any kind of attempt to reach out to a stranger?  Do you even say hello, or even smile, to people anymore?

When I think about this, I think of all the lost opportunity to experience our human interconnectedness.  I think of all the missed chances to grow compassion for others.  And growing in compassion is the way toward more enlightenment, according to the Dalai Lama (who obviously knows a thing or two about the topic!).

Take a moment and consider how could you experience more compassion for others and express it.  How could you be more present and connected to everyone (not just those closest to you) in your community? How could you grow in your expression of together rather than alone?

Early bird is on! But ending soon!

One way to do this is to share what you love!  Join our fall teacher training and get schooled in all things yoga! Like I said stated above, teaching yoga gives you the opportunity to share of yourself with others in a meaningful way!

Don’t worry if you need to miss a day or weekend. We work with you to make up the time.

$200 savings now apply! ENDS 7/15! Payment Plans available.

Learn more CLICK HERE or ready to sign up? PURCHASE HERE

The Power of a Yoga Retreat!

I have been a fortunate soul when it comes to travel. I have been to beautiful places around the world and often through my work with yoga. This past week I was reminded about just how powerful a retreat can be for aligning with yourself and resetting your life. There is nothing like taking time for yourself in a healthy way to clear the debris from your mind and the stress from your shoulders.

On my recent journey, I tried surfing for the first time in my life. I signed up for a class thinking for sure I would hate it and ended up finding a new passion. As I thought about this experience, I realized this feeling I had was very similar to when I went away on my first yoga retreat at the age of 25. Before signing up for the retreat, I had a lot of trepidation-would I like it? would this be a waste of money? will I be the only one by myself? will I regret it?

sunworship2

Then on the retreat, when I had the opportunity to connect deeply with myself, it set my life in motion in a way I never would have predicted. I found courage to honor myself and started to trust that if I honored my authentic self, I would be happy (even if life wasn’t perfect all the time). I came back and started to take real steps toward more health and professional satisfaction, which I knew did not have to be mutually exclusive.

There are so many barriers, real or perceived, that keep us from doing something we want to do -too much work, too little money, too many family responsibilities, this isn’t for me, I’ll be the only one by myself, I’ll be the only guy, I will regret it, someone will be mad at me if I do this, and on and on and on. What I invite you to see is that these barriers are illusions that keep us stuck right where we are. If I listened to the lie I was telling myself, “you aren’t a good enough swimmer, don’t try surfing”, I would have never discovered this new passion.

If you want something to change, if you want more happiness, health, freedom, success you need to do something to honor your spirit. You need to make the time to get to know the real you, the one without the stopping energy. This is the power a retreat can have! A retreat is one of the best ways to do that-to take the time to actually be with yourself, so you begin to peel off the stuck and step into the flow!

Join us for our yoga retreat to Tulum, Mexico March 30th to April 5, 2017.  CLICK HERE to learn more.

#WellthyWednesday #QuickEnergyShift – Marma Point Self Massage for Stress Relief

#WellthyWednesday #QuickEnergyShift: Marma Point Self Massage for Stress Relief

You literally hold your heart in your hands.  It is called the Tala hridaya marma point. Marma points are Ayurvedic acupressure points.  They are where matter meets consciousness.  It’s true. When you reach out to shake someone’s hand there is a moment of heart connection. Here is a great way to take care of the “HEART” in your hands!

The Tala hridaya marma point is l
ocated in the palm of both hands. It is underneath the middle fingers’ bottom knuckles.  It is responsible for circulation and controls the lungs and heart. Massaging this point on the right and left hand will reduce stress and anxious feelings.

Press into this point with the thumb of the opposite hand. When you feel a knot or tenderness, you have found the right spot. Gently massage, counterclockwise in small circles. This will break up blocked energy.  Finish by closing with clockwise circles. This stimulates and energizes the point. This only takes 3-5 minutes on each hand. One side might feel like it needs more massage than the other.  Go for what you feel you need. Let your intuition guide you. Massage oil and essential oils may be used to enhance this experience.

Feel your body as a whole. Feel the link between the hands and the heart, and the heart that links the whole body. Breath in what you need, exhale what no longer serves you.  The free Prana (life-force) circulating through your whole body feels flowing and balanced. This balance reduces stress and creates an overall sense of wellbeing.

Check Out HYL’s Ongoing Offerings

200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Available HERE

Virtual Coach Training Available HERE

Mind, Mood & Muscle™ Online Yoga & Wellness plan.  Includes 12 months of Quick Energy Shift Videos, Motivational Coaching Tips, Yoga Class Videos, and Audio Meditations sent directly to your inbox! Available HERE

#MondayMantra – #LoveIsLove

Sky above. Earth below. Peace within. #MondayMantra #LoveIsLove #Orlando

Today, we rise with heavy hearts in the aftermath of the events in Orlando this weekend. Our thoughts & prayers continue to be with those affected by this senseless tragedy.

Today, we also take the opportunity to recommit to finding peace within ourselves so that we may radiate peace, love & light out into the world. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” 

Love is truth. Love is light. Love is the way. And, as President Obama reminded us yesterday, “no act of hate or terror will ever change who we are or the values that make us Americans.”

Manifest love & light on your mat using a Lotus Mudra. By sealing in specific energy forces in the body, Hand Mudras (seals) cultivate a certain state of mind. Rising out of muddy water toward the sun, the lotus flower is a symbol of light rising out of darkness. It cultivates grounding and the opening of one’s own heart.

You can practice Lotus Mudra in seated meditation, in asana (yoga postures) such as Vrksasana (Tree Pose), or in conjunction with Pranayama (control of breath or breathing exercises).

To create a Lotus Mudra, bring the heels of your palms together at your heart center. Spread your fingers, bringing your thumb tips and pinky fingers to touch. Keeping your knuckles separate, let your fingers blossom like the petals of a flower.

Closing the eyes or gazing gently at your hands, breath in deeply. Feel strong and grounded like the deep roots of the lotus. Pause and hold in the breath. Exhale slowly, feeling your heart open like the lotus blossom, radiating love and peace.

#TransformYourself. #TransformYourWorld.

#MondayMantra – Try something new!

Don’t let fear stand in your way, try something new! Everyone has a list of “I’d like to, but haven’t” – whether it’s paddle-boarding on the Charles, joining an ultimate Frisbee league, taking a music lesson or cooking class, or hosting a dinner party.

When it comes to leaving our comfort zone, we often let fear stand in our way. But how often do we actually regret trying something new?

Commit to checking one thing off your list this summer! We promise, you won’t regret it.  We’re stronger together! Share your progress with us on social media #HYLSummer

HYL AT THE STRATTON MOUNTAIN RESORT, VERMONT!

Our Summer 2016 two-week Intensive Yoga Teacher Training starts June 25th!

Join us for an amazing time in the mountain of Vermont. Great hikes, terrific food, awesome friends, a great learning environment, and someone to make your bed every morning!

Get certified in 2 weeks! Find your voice. Improve your practice. Or take one week now and the second week later!

Email us at yogatt@healthyogalife.com for more information!

Love our studio?! Vote for HYL for Best Yoga Studio on the 2016 Boston A-ListVOTE HERE! Share your vote on social media with the #bostonsbestyoga & be entered to win a $25-$50 HYL Gift Certificate!

Questions about our upcoming events?! Contact us at info@healthyogalife.com or 857.350.4124.

Namaste!