Gentle Movement Practice to Overcome the Blues

A Note from Tracy:  Research has proven that yoga is an effective tool to help overcome depression, according to  this article recently published in Harvard Health Publishing.  Effective yoga practices to combat depression are about more than movement, however.  Breath and meditation are equally, if not more, important.  In this series of articles, I will share six practices (some movement, some breath, and some meditation) from my series Overcoming Depression with Yoga.  Enjoy!

 

Next week I’ll share a simple Full Torso Breathing practice to help build energy and calm the mind.

Enjoy, and if you’re interested in learning more about my private yoga therapy practice and yoga teacher training, visit my website at http://svanayogaseattle.com/

Tracy Weber

My newest Downward Dog Mystery, Pre-Meditated Murder is available now  in e-book and paper back copies everywhere! Check this link for some local ideas. http://tracyweberauthor.com/buy_premeditated.html

Sweet Little Yoga Book

Every now and then, I get asked to review advanced copies of books about yoga.  I almost always decline due to time constraints, but how could I refuse a book that takes less than five minutes to read?

This sweet, kid-friendly picture book is decorated with cute illustrations of a happy frog doing all of my favorite yoga poses–and some of my least favorite ones.  (But that’s a blog topic for a different day.) I highly recommend it for the little yogis in your life. Yoga Frog is targeted to children ages 4 – 8, but parents will flash a smile or two, and each page describes one or more poses appropriate for the whole family.

As an adult, I’m even more drawn to the cute Yoga Frog “mini kit.” It contains a teeny, tiny book with most of the poses contained in its hardcover sibling and a plastic bendable frog, perfect for desk-top creativity.  Mine is currently executing a near-perfect Warrior I on my kitchen counter.  My teacher training students will recognize a couple of sequencing errors in both of the books,  but honestly, pose-perfect yoga isn’t really the point.

I highly recommend these for the kids (and the kids at heart!) in your lives.  They are both available wherever books are sold, but here is the Amazon Link for the book  and for the mini kit, for those of you interested.

Thanks for reading, and Namaste!

My newest Downward Dog Mystery, Pre-Meditated Murder is available now  in e-book and paper back copies everywhere! Check this link for some local ideas. http://tracyweberauthor.com/buy_premeditated.html

Happy Birthday, Ana Pup!

Today is Ana’s second birthday!  I could never have predicted the joy, frustration, and chaos this sweet soul would bring into my life, but I wouldn’t change a thing!  Please help me celebrate my second soul dog with the photos below of our time together — so far!

I fell in love with this little sweetheart from the first photo I saw of her.  She was a little over 4 weeks old at the time.

A week and a half later, I flew to California, and we met for the first time.  Ana looked much cuter than I did.

I named her Ana, short for Ananda, which means unending joy.  I failed to consider what that might look like through the eyes of a puppy. A week after that, hubby and I drove back to Sacramento pick her up.   We had NO IDEA what we’d gotten ourselves into.

Her true personality emerged within a week.

Hence, her first Halloween costume.

She soon developed an obsession with sticks.

Which so far, she hasn’t outgrown.

Our first real challenge was figuring out how to contain her.  She could slip every harness, jump on the kitchen counters, and scale 5-foot fences by the time she was 5 months old.  We finally figured out a fence that could contain her.  You can’t see the cement moat we poured underneath it. Here she is, strategizing how to get out the day it was installed.  She was 6 months old at the time.

As she grew older, a vet finally figured out that her hyperactivity was due to food allergies, and I started the long process of rebuilding her health.  We still struggle, but there are many more good days than bad.

She finally grew in to those ridiculous ears.

And her teeth grew in to her.

She rejected her job as guard dog.

Making it clear that she was a lover instead.

Unless you’re a squirrel, that is.

Ana and I have become best friends.  We’re never far apart for long, but when we are, it is always a joyous reunion.

I can’t imagine my life without this girl, and frankly, I don’t want to. Here’s hoping we have at least another decade of birthdays to come!

Happy birthday, little sweetheart!  I adore you!

Tracy Weber

My newest Downward Dog Mystery, Pre-Meditated Murder is available now  in e-book and paper back copies everywhere! Check this link for some local ideas. http://tracyweberauthor.com/buy_premeditated.html

Pigeons, Yoga Studios, and Mysteries, Oh My!

Hi all!

Today, I’d like to share with you a blog article I wrote recently for Killer Characters.  The article is officially written by Judith, one of the characters in Karma’s a Killer, but she recounts a story about a real-life pigeon that used to live at Whole Life Yoga, and the day I saved him after a near-fatal hawk attack.  You can read the account that I wrote on that day at this link.

The blog on Killer characters can be found at http://www.killercharacters.com/2018/06/wildlife-rehab-can-be-murder.html

Oh–and Karma’s A Killer is now available in audiobook on Audible!

Enjoy!

Tracy Weber

My newest Downward Dog Mystery, Pre-Meditated Murder is available now  in e-book and paper back copies everywhere! Check this link for some local ideas. http://tracyweberauthor.com/buy_premeditated.html

Planting Seeds: Breath and Meditation for Turbulent Times Week 4

Note from Tracy: Recent news articles and social media threads inspired me to create and teach a yoga series at Whole Life Yoga called Yoga for Turbulent TimesFor those of you not near Seattle, I’ve decided to share the breath practices and meditations from this class as I teach them. I hope you find them useful.  The practice below is from week 4 of the series.

“The heart is like a garden. It can grow compassion or fear, resentment or love. What seeds will you plant there?” Jack Kornfield

What we pay attention to in our lives grows. If we allow resentment to plant in our heart, we will become resentful. If we invite peace, we will become calm. If we invite compassion, we will become kind.  What do you want to cultivate in your life’s garden?  The breath and meditation practices below can make whatever you plant flourish.

Alternate Nostril Exhale Breathing

Note:  This breath practice is a little complex, but it is wonderfully calming, focusing, and balancing to the nervous system. It’s not my first choice for use in a business meeting, but funny-looking or not, it is amazingly effective!

  1. Lengthen your inhale and exhale, focusing on a long, smooth, flowing exhale.
  2. After several breaths at that lengthened breath, begin the alternate nostril exhale technique described below.
    • Raise your right hand, folding down your index and middle finger, as in the above photo.
    • Inhale freely through both nostrils.
    • Seal your right nostril at the bottom of the nostril flap with your right thumb. Partially valve the left nostril with your ring finger near the cartilage.
    • Exhale through the partially valved left nostril.
    • Inhale through both nostrils
    • Repeat the partially valved exhale, this time exhaling through the right nostril. Seal the left nostril with your ring finger and partially valve the right nostril with your thumb.
    • Inhale again through both nostrils.
  3. Repeat this nostril breathing technique for 5 or more minutes. Always finish by exhaling through the partially valved right nostril.
  4. Release the nostril technique and take a few lengthened breaths through both nostrils.
  5. When you are ready, return your breath to a normal rhythm. Carry the energy of this breath practice to meditation.

Note: If you notice breathlessness, anxiety, or strain at any time, reduce the lengths of the inhale and exhale or release the nostril technique. Do not use this technique if your nostrils are congested.

Planting Seeds Meditation

  1. Come to a comfortable seated or lying position.
  2. Allow your eyes to close. Notice your breath without intentionally trying to change it.  Bring your attention to the warmth and coolness of the breath at the tip of your nostrils.
  3. When you are ready, bring to mind something you’d like to grow in your life. Examples include joy, abundance, calm, and creativity. Anything that feels right to you is fine.
  4. Imagine that quality as a seed. You can even write the name of that quality on the seed, as if you were engraving words on a tiny piece of rice.  Plant that seed in your heart and feel the energy of that seed inside you.
  5. Imagine that, with each breath,  the seed begins to take root in tiny slivers of light. The light carries that quality to every cell within you. As you continue to breathe, the intention grows, blooms, and bears fruit. Eventually it reseeds itself in the community around you.
  6. Continue this meditation for 10 minutes or longer if you’d like.

May the seeds you plant in this life all be worthy of cultivating!

Tracy Weber

My newest Downward Dog Mystery, Pre-Meditated Murder is available now  in e-book and paper back copies everywhere! Check this link for some local ideas. http://tracyweberauthor.com/buy_premeditated.html

Fostering Kindness: Breath and Meditation for Turbulent Times Week 3:

Note from Tracy: Recent news articles and social media threads inspired me to create and teach a yoga series at Whole Life Yoga called Yoga for Turbulent TimesFor those of you not near Seattle, I’ve decided to share the breath practices and meditations from this class as I teach them. I hope you find them useful.  The practice below is from week 3 of the series.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”  Plato

Kindness is a moment by moment choice. A practice of demonstrating compassion toward those who delight us, those who challenge us, and ourselves. As Plato so wonderfully pointed out, we have no way of knowing what battles the people around us face on a daily basis. How much of our neighbor’s burden could we lift with a simple smile or a kind word? Best of all, kindness feels good!  Use the practices below to help you remember to create kindness in your world.

Solar plexus breathing

  1. Lengthen your inhale and exhale, making them approximately equal.
  2. After several breaths at that lengthened breath, imagine a ray of kindness-carrying light pouring in to your torso at the level of your solar plexus, which is at the base of your sternum. See that light spreading up and down, illuminating your body.
  3. With your next inhale, imagine that your breath follows that light. It enters through your solar plexus  and simultaneously moves up your chest to your nostrils and down your abdomen to your pelvic floor.  Be sure to keep your exhale long so that it matches the length of your inhale.
  4. Continue this breath pattern for 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. When you are ready, return your breath to a normal rhythm. Carry the energy of this breath practice to meditation.

Note: If you notice breathlessness, anxiety, or strain at any time, reduce the lengths of the inhale and exhale or release the solar plexus imagery.

Loving Kindness Meditation

  1. Come to a comfortable seated or lying position.
  2. Allow your eyes to close, and notice your breath—without intentionally trying to change it.  Bring your attention to the warmth and coolness of the breath at the tip of your nostrils.
  3. When you are ready, bring your own self to mind, complete with all of your strengths, weaknesses, successes, and struggles.  Silently and continuously repeat the following intentions for yourself:
    • May I be at peace. May my heart be open.
    • May I be healed, and may I be a source of healing for all beings
  4. When you are ready, bring to mind the image of a loved one—someone you care about.  Silently and continuously repeat the following blessings for that person:
    • May you be at peace. May your heart be open.
    • May you be healed, and may you be a source of healing for all beings.
  5. When you are ready, bring to mind the image someone with whom you are in conflict, or someone who “pushes your buttons” in some away.  Perhaps someone who’s injured you in the past whom you’ve not forgiven.  Silently and continuously repeat the following blessings for that person:
    • May you be at peace. May your heart be open.
    • May you be healed, and may you be a source of healing for all beings.
  6.  When you are ready, bring to mind an image of the entire planet. Visualize or sense the continents, the oceans, and the shape of the earth as it moves around the sun.  Silently and continuously repeat the following blessings for the earth:
    • May the earth be at peace. May the hearts of the earth be open.
    • May the earth be healed, and make the earth be a source of healing for all beings
  7. If your attention wanders (and it will!) just notice it, and invite your attention back to the sensation of the breath at the tip of your nose.  Then continue with the loving kindness meditation from wherever you left off.  The “blessings” above can be modified to anything that makes sense to you.
  8. Continue this meditation for 10 minutes or longer if you’d like.

May you create and receive kindness every moment of your life’s journey!

Tracy Weber

My newest Downward Dog Mystery, Pre-Meditated Murder is available now  in e-book and paper back copies everywhere! Check this link for some local ideas. http://tracyweberauthor.com/buy_premeditated.html

Two Monks and a Woman: Forgiveness. Breath and Meditation for Turbulent Times Week 2

Note from Tracy: Recent news articles and social media threads inspired me to create and teach a yoga series at Whole Life Yoga called Yoga for Turbulent TimesFor those of you not near Seattle, I’ve decided to share the breath practices and meditations from this class as I teach them. I hope you find them useful.  The practice below is from week 2 of the series.

There is a story of two monks who were traveling on foot to an inn.  They had taken a vow of celibacy and were not supposed to interact with or touch women.  They came to a muddy stream  and encountered a well-dressed young woman crying at the stream’s edge. She was on her way to a wedding, and she couldn’t cross the stream without ruining her dress.

Without hesitation, the elder monk picked up the woman and carried her to the other side. The young woman rushed on her way without saying thank you.

The younger monk stewed for the rest of their journey.  Hours passed, but he couldn’t stop replaying the scene in his mind. How could his elder have broken their vows by touching a woman?  Finally, he couldn’t hold himself back any longer. He turned to his elder and asked, “How could you break our vows by touching that woman? She didn’t even say thank you!”

“What woman?” The elder asked.

“The one back at the stream.”

The elder smiled and replied. “I put that woman down hours ago. Why are you still carrying her?”

There are many variations of the above parable, and it is rooted in many traditions.  Regardless of where it originated, the story is a powerful metaphor for anger and its cousin, resentment. May the breath practice and meditation below help lighten your burden.

Breath practice:

  1. Lengthen your inhale and exhale, making them approximately equal.
  2. After 6 breaths at that lengthened breath, lengthen the exhale portion of your breath until the exhale is approximately 2 – 3 seconds longer than the inhale.  Imagine yourself letting go of anger and resentment with every breath out. Remain at this breath for several minutes.
  3. When you are ready, shorten your exhale until it is equal to your inhale again. Remain at that breath length for 6 or more breaths.
  4. Return your breath to a normal rhythm. Carry the energy of this breath practice to meditation.

Note: If you experience breathlessness, anxiety, or strain at any time, reduce the length of the exhale or go back to the lengthened breath in step 1.

Meditation:

Forgiveness is the act of consciously letting go of resentments so that they no longer hold us back. Forgiveness is not trying to get someone else to change. If the mantra “I forgive you.” feels insincere, delete those words and simply use the mantra “I wish you joy and peace.”

  1. Sit comfortably with your spine erect and the crown of your head floating up toward the ceiling. Sitting either in a chair or on the floor is fine, as long as you are physically comfortable.
  2. Allow your eyes to close, or if this is too challenging, keep your eyes at “half mast” gazing quietly at a place below and in front of you.
  3. Notice your breath without intentionally trying to change it. First notice the warmth and coolness of the breath as it enters your nostrils. Notice the movement of your rib cage and belly. How does your spine move with each breath? What other sensations can you feel?
  4. After you feel comfortable and relaxed, bring to mind someone who’s harmed you, knowingly or unknowingly.  It’s best to start with someone from whom the harm was minor or not too painful. If seeing their face is too challenging, think of their name instead.  With each exhale, repeat the following mantra: “I forgive you. I wish you joy and peace.”
  5. If your attention wanders at any time during the meditation (and it will!) simply notice it, then invite your attention back to the sensation of the breath. When you feel ready, ask yourself the question again.
  6. Continue this meditation for 10 – 15 minutes.

May you offer forgiveness to anyone who has harmed you, including yourself!

Tracy Weber

My newest Downward Dog Mystery, Pre-Meditated Murder is available now  in e-book and paper back copies everywhere! Check this link for some local ideas. http://tracyweberauthor.com/buy_premeditated.html

Be the Change You Wish to See. Breath and Meditation for Turbulent Times Week 1:

Note from Tracy: Recent news articles and social media threads inspired me to create and teach a yoga series at Whole Life Yoga called Yoga for Turbulent TimesFor those of you not near Seattle, I’ve decided to share the breath practices and meditations from this class as I teach them. I hope you find them useful.

Yoga for Turbulent Times Week 1:

The yoga teachings tell us that we can’t control the world around us. We can, however, control how we react to it.  More than that, we can act with active compassion whenever we see suffering in the world around us. Active compassion implies that we take action to reduce the suffering of others. There’s a catch though: We have to do so without joining the suffering.  A tall order on the best of days.

On the worst?

Gandhi gives this advice (bold added by yours truly):

We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.

In other words, the first–and arguably most important–step in changing the world is changing ourselves. The breath and meditation practices below may help.

Breath practice:

Bring to mind a quality that would help you create inner balance, regardless of turbulence in the world around you.  Give that quality a name.  If a word doesn’t come to you, give it a picture, a sensation, a sound, a light.  Be open to whatever image, word, or thought your mind provides you. Keep that quality in your awareness as you begin this breath practice.

  1. Lengthen your inhale and exhale, making them approximately equal.
  2. After 6 breaths at that lengthened breath, add a 2-second pause after both the inhale and the exhale.
  3. If the breath in step 2 is easy for you and you’ve practiced pranayama before, lengthen both pauses to a count of 3 or 4.
  4. Remain at this breath for several minutes. With each inhale, imagine the quality you chose entering your heart. In the pause after inhale, imagine it taking root inside you. With each exhale, offer that quality back to the world. In the pause after exhale, imagine that quality within and around you.
  5. After several minutes, release the pauses and continue breathing with a lengthened inhale and exhale.
  6. After several more breaths, return your breath to a normal rhythm. Carry the energy of this breath practice to meditation.

Note: If you notice breathlessness, anxiety, or strain at any time, reduce the lengths of the pauses or go back to the lengthened breath in step 1.

Meditation:

  1. Sit comfortably, with your spine erect and the crown of your head floating up toward the ceiling. Sitting either in a chair or on the floor is fine, as long as you are physically comfortable.
  2. Allow your eyes to close, or if this is too challenging, keep your eyes at “half mast” gazing quietly at a place below and in front of you.
  3. Notice your breath without intentionally trying to change it. First notice the warmth and coolness of the breath as it enters your nostrils. Notice the movement of your rib cage and belly. How does your spine move with each breath? What other sensations can you feel?
  4. After you feel comfortable and relaxed, bring to mind  the quality you chose for the breath practice and ask yourself the following question:
    • For the next week, how can I embody the quality I hope most to receive?  (For example, if your quality is “peace,” the question would be “How can I embody peace?”)
  5. Don’t try to audit or evaluate the answers that come to you. You may hear words, see images, feel sensations, or experience emotions. Allow whatever you experience to float across your consciousness.
  6. If your attention wanders at any time during the meditation (and it will!) simply notice it, then invite your attention back to the sensation of the breath. When you feel ready, ask yourself the question again.
  7. Continue this meditation for 10 – 15 minutes.

Enjoy and may you find whatever you need amidst turbulent times!

Tracy Weber

My newest Downward Dog Mystery, Pre-Meditated Murder is available now  in e-book and paper back copies everywhere! Check this link for some local ideas. http://tracyweberauthor.com/buy_premeditated.html

Celebrate Puppy Mill Action Week!

Hope from A Fatal Twist

Hi all!  This is my week to blog on Killer Characters, and I’m posting as Hope, a rescued Golden retriever from my Downward Dog Mystery, A Fatal Twist.

Check it out, and please either rescue or adopt only from reputable breeders.  Hope and other puppy mill moms like her thank you!

http://www.killercharacters.com/2018/05/happy-puppy-mill-action-week.html

Tracy

My newest Downward Dog Mystery, Pre-Meditated Murder is available now  in e-book and paper back copies everywhere! Check this link for some local ideas. http://tracyweberauthor.com/buy_premeditated.html

Time to Celebrate!

During the last week and a half, I’ve crossed the finish line on several important milestones.  A friend asked me yesterday if I’d celebrated yet.  The answer, surprisingly, was no.  I’ve been so far behind since I broke my collarbone that I’ve stumbled from one major project to the next, not looking behind me for fear I’d get run over by the next deadline.  Today, please help me celebrate virtually!

Milestone 1:  Completion of my sixth Downward Dog Mystery, MURDER LIKES IT HOT!  Cover reveal and excerpts coming soon.  The book was due April 1, and will be released on January 8, 2019!

Cover reveal for Murder Likes it Hot coming soon!

Milestone 2: Completion of the proposal for book seven in the series, tentatively titled THE VINYASA VENDETTA.  I will likely change that title, but for now it works.  My publisher will have to read it, look at sales numbers for book five, Pre-Meditated Murder, and decide if they want to continue publishing the series.  So if you haven’t purchased Pre-Meditated Murder yet, now’s the time!  😉  I likely won’t know whether or not the proposal is accepted for awhile, but keep your fingers crossed for me!

Milestone 3: I renamed my yoga business!  It’s svAna Yoga, and you can learn more about why I chose that name at this blog article.  This business will focus on yoga teacher training, yoga teacher training continuing education, private yoga therapy, and perhaps a retreat or two!  Much more on this as the website is developed.

Milestone 4: I spent four days on the East Coast, hanging out with my writer tribe at Malice Domestic.  It’s always wonderful to reconnect with my writer friends, and I’m glad I got to do so this year after having to miss it last year.

What’s My Line? A panel I spoke on at Malice!

So what’s next?  Lots of things, and honestly I’m still mega behind.  I need to develop the content for my new yoga website, I have several yoga teacher training projects in the works, and I begin a six-month training on animal behavior this month.  Depending on the results of Milestone 2 and how fast my yoga therapy practice grows, I may start a nine-month program in Applied Animal Behavior at the University of WA in September.

I told my husband the other night that if nothing takes off, I’ll be very bored.  If the book series, yoga business and animal behavior training all thrive, I’ll be swamped.  Wish me the latter.  I always love life when I’m busy!

Thanks all!

Tracy Weber