Sunday, November 30, 2014

yogic meditation helps you dispel the clouds that obscure the sun in your mind

During the menopause tremendous new understandings are asserting themselves in our lives with such force that they seem to upset all our past ways of thinking. However, this is only a problem of perspective. At this time we are in the middle of these changes and cannot see the relationship between our new consciousness and our old.

This is a period of tremendous psychological insights and change, but not much stability, alas. Therefore we should keep our life circumstances fluid enough that we can make changes as necessary. This is not a time to try and build. At this stage, we are better off as observers.

It is perfectly natural to experience confusion, doubt and uncertainty. One should wait for the situation to settle down, trying to minimize the elements of her life that require her to make long-range commitments, because our changing consciousness will make it difficult to continue such a commitment. If old goals lose their meaning, that is what must be. eventually new goals will enter our life that will better fit our new state of mind.

This revolution in ideas and consciousness is a fundamental part of our life, and it must be allowed to pursue its own course.

How can yogic meditation help?

Meditation is first just observation. So what happens when we observe? In observation, the mind shifts from thinking to awareness. When thinking is predominant, attention is absorbed internally within a stream of thoughts. Thought is a limited, material construct, a representation of reality. In awareness, attention is open, at one with a changing, unfixed reality. Observation is a relaxed alertness that requires no effort.

Sitting quietly, doing nothing, not knowing what is next and not concerned with what was or what may be next, a new mind is operating that is not connected with the conditioned past and yet perceives and understands the whole mechanism of conditioning. It is the unmasking of the self that is nothing but masks—images, memories of past experiences, fears, hopes, and the ceaseless demand to be something or become somebody. This new mind that is no-mind is free of duality—there is no doer in it and nothing to be done.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Finding your centre in the eye of the storm

The menopause is often described as a journey. Whether it will be a journey of discovery or a harrowing, nerve-wracking and tiring one largely depends on us. When we embark on a journey, we can't leave our Self at home. So we should start by getting to know ourselves in order to enjoy this life-changing journey.

Self-knowledge is not the knowledge of the Self placed at some high level; it is from moment to moment in our daily life, actions, relationships. You cannot know yourself in abstraction. You must begin near and search every word that you speak, search every gesture, the way you talk, the way you act, the way you eat. Be aware of everything without condemnation. Just take time to observe your emotions, your moods, your cravings, your urges.

Most people live in a state of permanent distraction. They may spend a considerable amount of time and energy acquiring knowledge, but this accumulation of knowledge still leaves them unsatisfied and craving for more.

Our minds are filled with knowledge, and such a mind is not a thinking mind. It is only a repetitive mind. Such a mind is incapable of discovering the new.

The menopause is a game changer.

You can't rely on your old and trusted ways, security, routines, etc. when you embark on this journey. You listen to your changing Self and hear a new tune, one that you don't recognise. Some women may be stricken by panic, others choose to dance to the new tune and eventually find joy, serenity, or new motivation.

That's why so many marriages implode when a woman reaches the menopause. A marriage that previously met our emotional and sexual needs may no longer do so, a friendship may suddenly feel hollow and based on just a superficial affinity, we may start to question our jobs and seek a way out, we may set a totally new goal and lose interest in old ones.

If relationships are dominated by conflict, both open and repressed, this is the right time to reassess them and ask ourselves whether we'd be happier and more content without.

The peri-menopause is the most difficult stage, because our hormones fluctuate wildly, and we often feel we don't really know who we are and what we want. If we take time to observe ourselves and our emotions, a pattern may emerge, and we could get a glimpse of the new Self emerging, still unsteady, but gaining confidence. When we finally reach the post-menopause shore our understanding of who we are becomes much clearer: by then most women feel emotionally stronger and more confident.

So, how do we hold our ground when we are tossed about by the hormonal storm that rages during the peri-menopause? How do we find our centre? How do we learn to listen to ourselves? How do we become true to ourselves and start to realign our lives with our emotions? Get to the eye of the storm instead of running from it.

Yoga and meditation are valuable tools, sharing insights and stories with other women may help some of us, but ultimately we have to get our hands dirty and open a new path for our life, one that is just as unique as we are.

Fear of the unknown, reluctance to take risks, emotional or financial dependence, are the major obstacles that we find on our way. I never said that it was easy, but if we were honest with ourselves, avoided shortcuts and didn't indulge in escapism, we would realise that burying our head in the proverbial sand is a lot more painful, emotionally draining and confidence-sapping than facing our fears head on and finding strategies to overcome those obstacles. A rewarding, regrets-free post-menopausal life is awaiting those who are true to themselves. Not a bad prize!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

get that healthy glow back with Kapalbhati Pranayama

Ahhh…the glow of youthful, healthy skin! If you are menopausal or post-menopausal you may have noticed that your skin is losing tone and radiance and wonder what to do about it.

The good news is that it's easy to achieve and will cost you nothing.

Forget skin care products that cost more than caviar, they are a complete waste of money.

If you have money to burn, you'd be better off sharing a bottle of champagne and a dozen oysters with your friend(s). The glow may not last, but at least you will have a good laugh, and maybe more :-)

The problem with hedonistic pleasure is that it's impossible to turn it into a routine without it losing its appeal.

So, save the champagne and oysters for special occasions and start doing some Kapalbhati instead.

Kapalbhati is derived from the Sanskrit work ‘kapal’ meaning forehead and ‘bhati’ meaning light. The practice of Kapalbhati breathing appears in ancient yoga texts where this breathing exercise is used to illuminate the mind and increase vitality.

To perform Kapalbhati you need an empty stomach.

Sit in Padmasana (Lotus Pose) and keep your spine straight and lengthened.

Let your hands lie on your knees in Gyan Mudra (the tips of your thumb and index finger touch each other)

Start with forceful exhalation followed by smooth inhalation through both nostrils.

Ribs are kept slightly raised and contracted throughout the practise of Kapalbhati. The muscles which move freely are the diaphragm and the front abdominal muscles. The fall and rise of the ribs are very slight during Kapalbhati and are almost negligible.

Inhalation in Kapalbhati breathing is completely involuntary and happens naturally.

After the passive inhalation, exhale once again forcefully. Repeat this for at least 50 times and as you progress in your practice you will be able to reach a count of 100 effortlessly.

Ideally, you should practice Kapalbhati for ten minutes a day to see some benefits. The best time to practice is in the morning, as soon as you get out of bed.

This type of breathing exercise works on the heart and lungs and helps maximize their functioning.

Kapalbhati improves digestion and reduces stomach problems such as gas, indigestion, and constipation.

The intense movements of the abdominal muscles help tone the area and reduce fat around the stomach.

According to ancient yoga texts, Kapalbhati breathing can remove negative thoughts through the process of skull cleansing. This cleansing also extends to the other chakras or energy pathways in the body and improves the flow of ‘Prana’ or Life Force through all parts of the body.

Kapalbhati breathing can generate heat within the body. This helps rid the body of harmful toxins and prevent illnesses.

Kapalbhati and Formation of Mula Bandha

The vibrations created during Kapalbhati positively result in contraction of the perineum and anal sphincter. This action involuntarily forms Mula Bandha, the Root Lock. It tones the uro-genital and excretory systems, which is particularly beneficial to menopausal women.

On a spiritual level here is where the realignment of the physical, mental and psychic bodies takes place.


Vigour and speed, number of rounds should be determined judiciously. If there is a feeling of giddiness one should not continue the practice.

In between rounds breath naturally to give rest to the system, avoid fatigue or dizziness.

People suffering from heart disease, high blood pressure, epilepsy, spondylosis, slip disc and hernia should avoid Kapalbhati.

Do not practice if there is any serious injury in the respiratory tract especially in the nose (bleeding). if there is pain in the abdomen or chest, if you suffer from fever or headache.

Women during menstrual periods and pregnancy should not practice Kapalbhati.