Beating the Winter Caldron: Cultivating warmth and joy on the inside


BY: Liz Price-Kellogg and Kristen Taylor 
If you’re feeling a little lethargic or melancholy this winter you’re not alone! The dark, cold days of winter leave many of us feeling sluggish, empty, stiff, and craving foods that make us feel even worse, leaving our immune systems compromised.

    Yoga is a great tool to wake up the energetic body and mind, and to strengthen and stretch the physical body. Yoga practice builds immunity, aids in digestion, and improves circulation.

    Practicing yoga, through poses, breathing, and meditation, can help put the warmth back into your heart, and to help you to stay happy, balanced and grounded on those coldest, darkest days of the year. We can also practice yoga off of our mats through eating nutrient packed, whole-health foods, celebrating time with great friends, and embracing the seasonal beauty of nature.

Love, Kristen & Liz

I Can’t Meditate. I Have Too Many Thoughts. 
Kristen Taylor, Wellspring Meditation, Chopra Center Certified Meditation Instructor

Many of us have been there. We sit down to meditate, expecting a potentially life-altering, peaceful practice and, instead, are bombarded with seemingly unstoppable thoughts ranging from what to eat for dinner to that thing we did 10 years ago that we wish we could forget. The bell noting the end of our meditation practice rings, suggesting tranquility and new beginnings, yet we stand up feeling more agitated and unenlightened than when we first sat down.

    Meditation is a journey from activity to silence (and, yes, sometimes it seems like we are on a derailing train filled with unwanted passengers). We are learning to train the mind. Meditation is not about attaining something that we do not have or forcing our minds to be quiet. It is about experiencing the silence and abundance that already exist within and making those innate treasures a larger part of our lives. The most important thing to remember about meditation is that it is a practice. It is a skill that takes time to strengthen just as it takes time to build the endurance to run a marathon.

    We each have between 60,000 and 80,000 thoughts a day—unfortunately, many of them are the same thoughts we had yesterday, last week, and last year. This often derailing thinking train is what is sometimes called the “monkey mind.” Meditation is a powerful practice for going beyond habitual, conditioned thought patterns into a state of expanded awareness. We start experiencing the silence that exists between every thought—quieting an overactive mind—and ultimately realize that we are not our thoughts or feelings. Practicing meditation on a daily basis invites us to weave silence and stillness into mind and body to create a life of greater compassion and fulfillment.

    How do we train the monkey mind? Invite a sense of exploration into each meditation and made a dedication to practice daily. Release expectations for your practice, knowing that each meditation will be different from the next. When thoughts or outside noises distract you during your meditation practice use them to guide you back into the stillness that already exists within the mind. You may gently note the distraction, labeling it as noise, thought, color, or sensation. You may choose to think of the distraction as a passing cloud or other form.   

    Meditation is often a dance between silence and distraction. Cultivate patience. Be easy on yourself. Remember that training the mind, making the journey from activity to silence, may be one of the most challenging and rewarding endeavors of life.

Meditation for Whole-Health: Discover Primordial Sound Meditation

Kristen Taylor, Chopra Center Certified Meditation Instructor, will be offering full and mini versions of her Primordial Sound Meditation courses in 2019. Here are some questions and answers about this amazing, ancient practice for whole-health.

What is Primordial Sound Meditation?

    It is a silent, mantra-based meditation technique based on the ancient wisdom and traditions from India. This knowledge was revived and updated by Dr. Deepak Chopra, Dr. David Simon, and Roger Gabriel so that it could be practiced in the modern world. This technique, and the mantras it uses, have been tried and tested for thousands of years for their effectiveness and benefits.

What are the benefits of Primordial Sound Meditation?

    As stress is greatly eliminated through Primordial Sound Meditation, our minds and bodies are invited to function with maximum effectiveness, offering increased health, vitality, and happiness. A study shows that within four days of practicing this ancient technique, our telomeres strengthen by 40 percent, helping to protect us from the effects of illness and aging.

What are primordial sounds?

    Primordial sounds are the most basic, essential sounds of nature. “Om,” which we often hear at the beginning and/or end of a yoga class, is the original primordial sound. We use primordial sound mantras because they are the natural sounds that the universe makes during different times throughout the lunar cycle. They have the effect of taking our awareness within to the most essential state of our being. There is one sound resonating at the time, date, and location of each of our births. We silently repeat that sound to draw us toward our true states of love, joy, peace, and equanimity.

What is included in a course?

    Courses include interactive instruction in intimate groups of 6 to 8 people. Course topics provide an excellent foundation to establish or reconnect with an enjoyable meditation practice. We discuss basic principles and benefits of meditation, intentions, thoughts, mantras, stress release, karma, layers of life, types of meditation experiences, meaningful coincidences, and higher states of consciousness. Each participant receives a personal mantra calculated through eastern astrology and course materials from the Chopra Center and Wellspring Meditation. We participate in group, guided meditations and there is time for questions and answers. Additionally, all Registered Yoga Teachers (RYTs) who complete the entire Primordial Sound Meditation course are eligible for Yoga Alliance Continuing Education credits.

When and where are courses offered? 

    We offer full and mini courses. Full courses include 7 hours of instruction over two days and mini courses include 3.5 hours of instruction on one day with an opportunity for at-home journaling, reading, and activities. Both options provide a fantastic foundation for an ongoing, enjoyable practice.

Please check for any scheduling changes and also additional course dates and information at Private group and individual courses are also available. Also explore Kristen’s weekly, half-hour free Community Meditation class offering at River Yoga.

Make your practice a priority! Build heat all day with this daily 15-minute yoga practice! No mat needed!
Liz Price-Kellogg, owner of River Yoga, ERYT

Always honor Ahisma (non-harming) as you practice. Yoga should not cause pain. Please practice with responsibility and honor your unique body. 

Sukasana (Easy Seat)

    Begin in a comfortable seat away from distractions. Take a few deep inhalations, exhale slowly and feel yourself soften. Allow your shoulders and the muscles of the face to release their grip. Lengthen the spine and begin to draw your awareness to your solar plexus just above the navel. Bring your palms to your belly and begin to breath deeply into your hands. Notice the rise and fall of your belly as you breathe. Slow the breath down and increase the duration of the inhalation and exhalation. Imagine a radiant sun at your navel warming every cell in your body. Continue to breathe deeply for up to five minutes. Notice each in-breath and each out-breath, bringing your full awareness to the present moment. Allow your breath to be a focal point throughout your practice.

Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

    Now stand. With feet parallel, root down as you lengthen through the crown of your head. Soften the shoulders down your back and reach your fingertips towards the floor, palms open. Hug the midline of your body to activate your muscles. Consciously and deeply breathe.

Surya Namaskar  (Sun Salutation)

(We love this mini version – no mat required!)

    Move slowly and consciously with your breath, gradually building heat in the body.

Inhale as you sweep your arms up over your head, sealing the palms.

Exhale and arch to the right, dropping the right hand down the right thigh, lengthening your left side body.

Inhale back to center, arms reaching above the head.

Exhale and arch to the left, dropping the left hand down the left thigh, lengthening your right side body.

Inhale back to center, arms reaching above the head.

Exhale and swan dive, extending forward and down with a straight back (knees bent if necessary), head bowing.

Inhale and press your palms into your shins. Lengthen the spine parallel to the floor, reaching from your seat to the crown of your head.

Exhale and fold forward, crown of your head sinking toward the floor.

Inhale and press into your feet as you rise with flat back (option to roll up), sweeping your arms above the head, sealing your palms.

Exhale and slowly lower your palms to your heart center.

Continue this movement in synchronicity with your breath for several minutes. Move slowly and allow your breath to be your guide.

Savasana (Final relaxation on the wall)

    Find some wall space and slide your legs up the wall. Your seat should be touching the wall.  Relax and take several deep breaths to allow the body to soften and surrender. Notice the contact points where your body touches the floor, feeling deeply grounded and centered. Place your hands on your solar plexus and notice the in-breath and the out-breath. Imagine a radiant sun at your navel warming every cell in your body. Close your eyes and release the need to do anything for a few minutes.

Make your yoga practice a routine and reap the whole-health benefits of this ancient science.

Yoga is a light, which once lit, will never dim. The better your practice, the brighter the flame. –B.K.S lyengar