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winter

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Journal Post

While we spent January in introspection and reflection,  February brought a welcome lightness as we passed through the midway point from the Winter Solstice to the Spring Equinox. We also recognized the Lunar New Year and I found myself getting even more excited about the New Year and the possibility of things to come. It can be challenging to stay grounded in the present moment as we contemplate the potential of the coming spring.
Dear Friends, Last month, we emphasized staying centered and grounded within as we transition through the darkest time of year. We are on the other side of the winter solstice, but wintertime encourages us to remain reflective and drawn in, not to overextend ourselves as our energies are different at this time of year. Continue to take advantage of the shorter days and longer nights. Go to bed early and encourage deep rest during the remaining few weeks of winter.
We REALLY want to know. What do YOU want? April feels like the culmination of a great deal of work on many levels. We have made it through a long, challenging Winter where we spent time downsizing and taking inventory of what is working and what is not. We have made some hard decisions and have let go of what is no longer serving us. With the return of Spring is the Return of Hope. , the spiritual quality of the spring in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Did anyone else feel like they wanted to start this year over? Thank God for the Chinese New Year, the first new moon of the Lunar Year. 2013 is the year of the Water Snake.  The moon takes close to 13 months to travel around the Earth. This New Year speaks more to me than the arbitrary day, December 31, marking the Earth's revolution around the sun. Imbolc, the Return of the Light, has just passed and with it the fact that we made it to the halfway point between the first day of Winter and the first day of Spring.
Samhain (pronounced Sow Wen) is the Celtic word for Summer's end. And indeed the shift from any hope for more warm weather has settled upon us. We can all feel the change that swept through the air these past several days, reminding us who is really in charge. Tonight we don our masks and costumes to protect us from evil spirits that might be lurking about as it is said that the veils between worlds are thinnest this time of year. Many traditions choose to honor their ancestors and those that have passed during this vulnerable time.
India! How can one begin to describe the experience of two weeks in this challenging, energetic and sacred land? Eight adventurous students, plus my husband, John, daughter Kate and I, embarked on our second Yoga Pilgrimage to the foothills of the Himalayas in December 2007.
Landing in the New Delhi airport after a 16-hour flight, we were immediately confronted with new and strange sights, sounds and smells. With our large bags stuffed into and on top of the small taxis, we were driven to a Delhi hotel for our first night in India.
Have you been in a class at Willow Street where your teacher set the theme of the class as "change"? In our practice of yoga, we experience change in many ways, from the mat to what we take from the mat into our daily lives. Whether planned or unexpected, change permeates the flow of life. Change is the one thing we can count on.
Bitter, dark green vegetables help to cleanse and lighten the body (and the liver) after a long winter. Enjoy!
You will need:
* 2 cups young fresh kale, stemmed, ribbed and shredded into thin strips
* Rock salt or sea salt to taste
* Fresh-ground black pepper to taste
* 1/8 tsp ground turmeric
* 1/8 tsp sweet paprika
* 1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter) or olive oil
* the juice of one lemon (to taste)
Place the shredded kale in a steamer above rapidly boiling water and steam, covered, for about 10-12 minutes.
Heat ghee in a pan until clear, add the turmeric, paprika and black pepper and stir briefly to release aroma.
To ensure both peace of mind and a strong immune system through the winter months, find ways to connect and harmonize with your surroundings now. One of the best ways to do this is by eating foods that are in season. Every single food that exists-from a coffee bean to an ear of corn-has a precise medicinal effect to assist the body's equilibrium as we pass from season to season.
Drinking ginger tea, omitting dairy foods from her diet and taking daily walks became as routine as brushing her teeth for Jennifer Cormier, a Pilates instructor at Inward Bound Wellness in Ashland, Oregon. To shed winter weight and brighten her complexion with spring's arrival, Jenn dabbled with Ayurveda (pronounced eye-yur-vay-dah), India's traditional healing science. After a month of adhering to these ancient daily rituals, Jenn began to feel more in rhythm with the budding of new life around her. She began to laugh more and sleep more soundly. Her digestion improved, her eyes sparkled, and she had more energy to exercise and enjoy activities with friends and family.
Hanging in my office's south-facing window is a prism, a flat plate of glass about four inches in diameter. For half the year, in the spring and summer, the Sun is high in the sky and the angle of its rays too steep to filter through the glass and into my room. Effectively out of sight then, as the old adage has it, it's also usually out of mind, though occasionally, when nudged by a breeze blowing through the open window, it taps against the pane ... clack, clack, clack ... and reminds me it's still hanging around. This morning though when I opened the slatted blinds that cover the window, a hint of rainbow sprawled across my floor, not nearly the full spectrum, just a long uneven smudge of red.
 
We now find ourselves halfway between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. Earth-based spirituality celebrates the period from February 1st-February 4th by observing a holiday called Candlemas.  One of eight fire rituals in the traditional calendar, it marks an important time of purification and passage.  It is interesting to note its counterpart in the Christian tradition, in which the holiday Candlemas marks the ritual purification ceremony performed at the Temple of Jerusalem for the infant Jesus and his mother Mary.
In these last few days it has felt as though spring is just around the corner.  The snow that has been lingering for several weeks is starting to melt, exposing fertile soils to the encouraging sun.  Because it has been a gradual warming rather than a sudden rise in temperature, the streams and rivers are not strained beyond their capacity, and flooding has been kept to a minimum.
The days are steadily growing longer and warmer, and the      nights are gradually losing their chill.  Coming out of a long,  cold winter, many of us are finding our energy levels rising  and our calendars growing busier.  It seems that every week  there is a different festival or other opportunity to get outside  and enjoy the spring breezes and birdsong.  There are so  many exciting events and projects happening that it can be a  challenge to find enough energy for it all.
I was talking with an old friend recently about the wishes of childhood that we have left behind, the deep desires that were once sent out into the universe with the superstitious blowing of a fallen eyelash, but that have faded with the passage of time.  To my surprise, I realized that although countless eyelashes in my younger years had been dedicated to one wish in particular, as an adult that desire no longer holds the same romantic appeal: I no longer wish to live forever.
Now is a time for embracing the Darkness.  In a literal sense, the nights have become longer and colder; in a figurative sense, Hallowmas and the days that follow are the time of year when the veil between our world and the underworld is most transient, and when we are best able to shed light not only on our ancestral spirits, but also on the darkest corners of our own soul.
Terry Dobson, an American martial arts master and former U.S. Marine, was a big, powerful man who learned nonviolence by studying the Japanese discipline of Aikido, which means "Way of Harmony." In Aikido, the emphasis is on restoring peace rather than winning a battle. Terry told many stories to illustrate that the "enemy" is usually no further away than our own mind and heart. This is one of our favorites:
The train clanked and rattled through the suburbs of Tokyo on a drowsy spring afternoon. Our car was comparatively empty - a few housewives with their kids in tow, some old folks going shopping. I gazed absently at the drab houses and dusty hedgerows.
Sometimes it's nice to site back and reflect on where we have been and where we are now...My husband and I moved to Florida from Virginia five and a half years ago, after he retired. Initially I kept my yoga center in Virginia and went back regularly to run it, so I did not start teaching in Florida right away. However after comparing winter up north with winter down here, I sold my yoga center and decided to focus on Florida! In August of 2000 an opportunity came up to teach in the community where we live. We initially offered two morning classes, with my husband Dave teaching one class and me the other; we had a total of 18 students.
Renew thyself completely each day; do it again, and again, and forever again. Chinese inscription cited by Thoreau in Walden
Happy Spring! Daffodils, Crocus, Forsythia and Peach Blossoms are already in bloom in the mountains of central Virginia! After months recharging our yin energy this winter, nature's feminine side is beginning to show its flowery wiles. Between now and Mother's Day is the time to infuse ourselves with the Feminine. iHanuman started off Women's History month with Women's Yoga Expert, Bobby Clennell. Next week we join Elise Miller for her training on Yoga for Scoliosis at the breathtaking Satchidananda Ashram in Buckingham, Virginia. We will be sharing recordings from both of those inspiring women's workshops very soon!
In my yoga classes this Winter, we have been practicing poses to restore our Kidney Energy. The Kidneys govern the Winter Water Element and when water is out of balance, it can become stagnant. This leads energetically to feelings of depression. Interestingly, the poses we practice for the kidneys are backbends, which also lift and open the heart. This lifting of the heart, energetically, has the same effect. It places the Heart in its true energetic seat, as the Emperor. The Emperor rules what is in the best and highest good for the Kingdom as a whole. When we act from what is our truest and highest good, we are benefiting ourselves, our families, our communities and our entire world. Imagine that!
It's not too late to start over! Did you rise on January 1, 2012! with the best of intentions and then life just started to take over and you lost some steam? This is just a reminder that you can start your new year over anytime you want! In fact, it may feel more authentic to you to take this time now between the full moon and the upcoming new moon to reset your intentions. This is when the Chinese New Year is celebrated on the first new moon of the year.
It is that time of year again... Time to come back deeply to ourselves. We shed our autumn skin and now is the time to be with what truly is. Winter, the most Yin time of Year, is Dark, Cold, and Emotional. It is also receptive, feminine, and intuitive.Traditionally this is a time for Retreat. Unfortunately, most of us find ourselves torn between gearing up for the holidays and physiologically slowing down. As we move towards the shortest day of the year, we encounter the Water Element of Winter; a time to nourish our deepest essences, gestating for the weeks leading back towards the light; a time of deep contemplation. What will you contemplate this season?
Credit: Woven - Montauk Beach Finally March has arrived and we can begin to wake ourselves up from our long winter's nap. In March, we clear away the clutter from the windy cold winter to allow the new green sprouts to show their color. We plant seeds for what we want to grow and blossom this spring and summer and prune the last of the dead limbs. What remains? What are we bringing forth into the new year to nourish the seeds and tender green shoots? And who are the people in our lives that will support us on this journey?
GaneshThe Solar New Year has returned again, not only ringing in a new year, but a new decade! It is a time most of us vow to rid ourselves of the excesses of the holidays in favor of resolutions for our highest expression of ourselves.
Sarah PowersI could not think of a better class to start my Winter Solstice 90 days with than a kidney sequence with Sarah Powers. I consider Sarah Powers to be one of my teachers, even though I have only practiced with her in person TWICE! She came to Virginia and I followed her from Richmond to Yogaville. But this is the power of media and why we created iHanuman.
Last night was the full moon and I spent the entire day in ceremony. This full moon was a particularly auspicious one because it is the Full Moon of Initiation and the Lunar Celebration of the Beginning of Winter. Traditionally�Â�  all of the harvest had been stored for the winter and all debts for the year were paid. Traditionally ceremonies were held to release our shadow selves to the eternal flame that burns through the winter and let it burn in transformation for the spring. We release those parts of ourselves that no longer serve us so we can preserve energy for that which we want to flourish in the new year.
I take a weekly walk with some girlfriends and each Friday we wonder if we will walk the next week. We have had several frosts here in the Blue Ridge Mountains and each Friday could be our last so I am thankful for these walks. Even though I could feel a cold coming on, I decided to walk anyway hoping that the fresh air might do some good. I think it did. I progressively felt a little bit worse by the end of the day, but the fresh fall air and gorgeous yellows, reds and orange colors were pleasant and peaceful for my mind's eye and gave me something to reflect upon as I lay in bed wishing I could be back outside. Are you still enjoying the fall or has it turned more to winter where you live?
, we were taught how to lead a ceremony. This particular ceremony's intention was to let go of grief from this past year; this could be the loss of a loved one, a job, or anything else which you chose to let go. Three days later on the autumnal equinox our cat died and I found myself holding ceremony for 24 hours which concluded with a full moon circle.
In my last post I wrote about the necessity of intentionally and consistently surrounding yourself with people and activities that feed your Spirit. Over the next couple months I'd like to share with you some short vignettes from something that I do personally that continues to nourish, challenge and inspire me: Meditating with Asha.
The second day of Judith's workshop was equally as informative as the first. The sutra study for the workshop was from Pada II v.16, "Heyam dukham anagatam" or "The suffering that is to come is to be avoided." It is a fascinating concept because everything we do in life is to put our anxiety at rest. We constantly try to control our circumstances to appease our anxiety and avoid suffering.
On day 8 of my cleanse, I was blessed to attend one of two days of a workshop with Judith Hanson Lasater, author of several books including, Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times,Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life, and her most recent book which I am dying to read, What We
As much as we all hate to admit it, summer has wound down. However, as I mentioned last month, the late summer season into Fall are my favorite seasons. I say seasons because Ayurveda, the science of Life or sister science to Yoga, claims there are six seasons. The additional seasons are the late summer/early fall and the late winter/early spring.
AHHH August! August brings the beginning of my favorite season of the year. The summer months are too hot and the winter months are too cold, but the end of summer and early fall are just right. My emotions are more balanced, my physical body feels more comfortable and everything just seems to flow more easily. Being out of balance can be very uncomfortable and unsettling. There are seasons of the year, cycles of the moon, transits in the sky and just periods in our lives that can bring us slightly out of balance. Two of these periods of life are Adolescence and Menopause.
John SchumacherHappy Summer Solstice! Just as we asked you to invoke the goddess last month, the longest day of year begs us to inspire the fire inside that is masculine energy. Yang energy is strong, aggressive and passionate. It is the fiery energy of summer. Spiritually, we can practice tapas or discipline, austerity and consistency. Burn your internal fire to overcome difficulties and purify yourself to cleanse the toxins and feel your personal best level of health and vitality.
Support Your Spirit
In looking for some inspiration for writing this newsletter, I did not have to do much more than walk outside. It is amazing how beautiful and wonderful the world is, especially in the springtime after a long cold winter. It was not that long ago when people depended on new shoots and leaves of spring as the first fresh food since at least the Winter Solstice. IMAGINE if you HAD TO wait until the middle of March to eat fresh greens!
Although some are talking about another 40 inches of snow this month, March is the month of the spring equinox and therefore heralds the beginning of spring. Until then, we are still in the water element and the end of the winter.
Bhujangasana -Cobra Pose Open the heart and stretch the belly with Bhujangasana or Cobra Pose. Back bends stimulate the Kidney Energy and invigorate the heart. Back bends can counteract the effects of depression. During the winter, many people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD, because of the decrease in light. Back bends, when practiced correctly, elevate our mood. This gentle back bend improves digestion and creates flexibility in the spine.
It is still cold here in Central Virginia. We have had an unusually precipitous Winter. Personally, I enjoy the change of seasons after several years living in a tropical climate in Southeast Asia. This Winter we have been challenged to slow down, go inside, reflect, meditate and truly hibernate. This can be difficult for those of us who prefer the growth of the Spring Season or the Fire of the Summer Season.
Sweet Potatoes and GreensWinter is here and it's even more important to eat well to keep our immune systems strong during these cold months. It is easy to fall into bad habits, filling up on stodgy comfort foods instead of the healthier options our bodies really need. Our recipe this month features delicious sweet potatoes coupled with super greens, kale, spinach or bok choy. It's fast and easy to prepare, and chock full of vitamins, minerals and fibre.
BRRR! It sure is cold out. Winter has finally arrived and looks like it is here to stay. Wintertime is a time when we are asked to be particularly smart and intelligent. Why? Because if you are not, you can freeze to death! Now, thankfully, most of us are not likely in a position to freeze to death but we do run the risk of leaking heat into the cold outside and therefore losing precious energy. Our immune systems can be easily taxed so we must preserve our energy to sustain us through the cold months ahead. We are no longer graced by the bounty of the summer harvest, so we must dig into our root cellars and preserved foods to carry us through.
Little Altars EverywhereMy husband and I just returned from our honeymoon in Greece. As a novice traveling in Europe, everything was magnificent. I have been fortunate to have traveled extensively in Southeast Asia and Africa over the last decade and always knew I would explore Europe later in life.
Fall LeavesSeptember has arrived and is nearing time to put away our summer clothes in preparation for the chillier days and nights of Fall. The change of seasons from summer to fall is the ideal time to "Take Stock" for the Wintertime: assess how we have grown over the summer months, put aside what no longer serves us and begin to save some of our energy for the long winter months ahead.
Lord ShivaHappy July Friends! iHanuman has been busy this month working on upgrading our website to offer our teachers and students new web features and communication tools, so we do not have a new feature this month, but we do have 6 new video classes with Anusara Yoga Teachers Betsey Downing, Ph.D and Jaye Martin.
Spring Cherry BlossomsJoyful Spring to You! The season of Spring represents the Wood Element and we are reminded with each new conscious breath; each inhalation brings a new earthy scent. If you pause, you can literally feel the earth moving beneath your feet and all around you. Buds and shoots push themselves from the ground in anticipation of the warmth and sunlight to come.
Spring is the natural time for restoration and renewal. After a season of drawing the energy inward, it is time to undo the stagnation and accumulation of ama (stagnation of toxic particles that clog our energy channels) that has occurred over winter. I just returned from an amazing 3 days at Prama Institute, Marshall, NC (pramainstitute.org), with the most wonderful, brave, curious explorers! We dedicated the weekend to our own journey inward, seeking the truth of our own consciousness, with the help of some great meditations and cleanses. If you are interested in partaking in your own cleanse (cleansing physical, emotional and mental toxins), please click here for some recommendations.
Valentine's DayNamaste and Happy New Year Friends! The New Year brings the opportunity for shedding the old aspects of ourselves and our lives that no longer serve us. This allows us to make room for the new growth that comes with the warmer winds and longer days of Spring. iHanuman has been in hibernation this Winter to develop our media platform which will be released later this summer. Stay Tuned!

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