Today's blog post is brought to you by Beth Wendler, who teaches Music Together at Sundance.
The Place you are right now, God circled on a map for you.
— Hafiz quoted in Marrow of Flame by Dorothy Walters
I’m often amazed with children’s ability to be present. They don’t worry about the next moment or the past moment. I most love their presence with what they are feeling at the moment. If they’re hungry, they let you know. If they’re done with an activity, they let you know. They don’t spend a lot of energy trying to be in any other state....than the one they're in. I find it wonderfully refreshing.
The most refreshing aspect of young children’s presence is their state of being. Not only are they present physically, where their feet are, as someone once said. They are equally as present to their emotional state. There is little denying their frustration, anger, sadness, joy, quiet. They are quick to expression and quick to resolution.
Sometimes I watch in wonder, they don’t worry about what to make for dinner, they don’t worry about the phone calls they didn’t make yesterday. In this moment I have everything I need. In this moment, I’m happy. In this moment I am singing. In this moment I am.....
It’s so elusive for us. It requires such practice. Is it simply that they don’t have the responsibility? In their purity do they realize that in this moment all is well...and in this moment all is well.....and in this moment...?
There is never a more important moment than the one they are in. This is really the focal point of presence. As Ram Das says, “Be Here Now.” The potential for fullness and expansion that would come if we could treat each moment as the most important, the only important one.
What a gift we would be giving to ourselves, our loved ones, acquaintances, if each moment we share with another is the most important one, the only one.
Rabbi Abraham Heschel said this about presence, “The higher goal of spiritual living is not to amass a wealth of information, but to face sacred moments.”
This is the beauty of children’s presence. They face sacred moments all day long!
Today's blog post is brought to you by Dana Hantel, a certified personal trainer, TRX trainer, and T
Eastern and western philosophies have long emphasized the importance of balance and moderation, but somewhere along the way, most of us lose sight of this wisdom when it comes to cultivating balance in our physical bodies. About a third of the population suffers from knee pain, and most Americans experience low back pain at some point. But there’s good news: chronic joint pain is commonly caused by muscular imbalances, which are largely the result of lifestyle factors such as prolonged sitting and repetitive motions. This means that targeted stretching and strengthening can restore balance, relieve pain, and improve functioning for most people.
As an example, desk workers often have weak, overstretched mid-backs with painful knots near the shoulder blades. A regular yoga practice can help to a degree, but a holistic program including chest openers in yoga class, rows in strength class, and massage therapy to dissolve trigger points is likely to provide a faster, more complete, more permanent solution. At the other end of the spectrum, distance runners tend to have stronger muscles in the front of their thighs than in the back of their thighs, so they generally benefit from exercises like single-leg deadlifts that balance the thigh muscles and stabilize the knees. Even modern American yoga classes tend to emphasize certain postures, such as planks and chaturanga push-ups, more than others, which can lead to imbalances. Indeed, yogis often have stronger muscles in the back of their arms compared to the front and stronger muscles in the front of their torso compared to the back, so complementary poses like upward plank paired with targeted strength training like bicep curls can help keep joints healthy.
Each of us has a unique combination of physical traits, personal histories, occupational demands, and recreational activities that shape our bodies and our movement patterns, which is why a one-size-fits all approach to exercise often leads to poor results at best and injuries at worst. By gaining a fuller understanding of how your body works, you can tailor your yoga practice and fitness routine to your body’s particular needs, which can help restore balance to your muscles and healthy mobility and stability to your joints. This will improve your ability to complete activities of daily living with greater ease, enhance performance in your favorite sport, reduce the risk of chronic pain and acute injury, and make you feel just plain better when you climb out of bed in the morning.
To get started, simply take note of where your body is stronger or tighter, where it’s weaker or more flexible. Notice which movements challenge you and which come easily. Mind-body practices like yoga and tai chi help us become more aware of our bodies, so if you haven’t explored these practices yet, consider doing so. And if you don’t know much about anatomy but would like to, chat with a knowledgeable instructor or trainer and consider a movement assessment. Sometimes this approach to health and fitness can be tough—it requires self-awareness, a commitment to learning, and a whole lot of patience. It usually means doing more of what’s difficult and unpleasant, at least for a while. But in the end, your body will thank you.
Today's post is brought to you by Shannon O'Bryan, a meditation teacher a Sundance.
Let us first examine ‘the purpose of meditation’ and what type of meditation we are talking about.
To do this, first we must clear away preconceived ideas of “what should be happening during my meditation”.
My name is Shannon O’Bryan and I teach a technique known as Nishkam Karma Yoga or, in the western world, simply, Vedic meditation, which is a simple technique practiced for 20 minutes, twice a day. This technique allows the mind and the body to integrate into a more grounded and rested state of being quite effortlessly. It is from this state that our body wants to thank us and begins to throw off stress and offer some relief to our nervous system.
"Yogasthah Kuru Karmani"; (Bhagavad Gita); Established in Being. Perform Action." By establishing ourselves in that least excited, most grounded and rested state of Being, we are provided with the energy and adaptability to be able to launch out into the relative world with more creativity, a greater sense of awareness and clarity, and are able to take on all of life's demands without really breaking a sweat.
There is one thing that is very important in Vedic Meditation... We do not try to meditate. We do not try to control our experience. We do not try to block out sound or thought. We simply take the experience as it comes. What we want is to transcend control; to let go, to allow Nature’s intelligence to take over. That is why we say that this is a natural practice. Nothing is involved but the nature of the mind and the nature of the body. No intervention by one’s individuality is necessary. And that is why during this practice we do not use effort. Effort means control and its use in meditation takes away from our most natural state. We do not focus, try or concentrate, for these experiences also tell us to exclude many things that may want to occur naturally and control the mind down a different path. Remember, the ultimate goal is to get back to our most natural state... our highest Self beyond thought, worry, space and time.
Another thing to remember... by nature, the mind’s tendency is always to move toward greater happiness (whenever a choice presents itself). It is this experience of following charm that causes the mind to follow the mantra, whose nature, in turn, is to become more and more subtle simply through effortless repetition silently in meditation. The subtler strata of thought intrinsically are more charming than the gross conscious thinking level.
What is a mantra? Mantra is a combination of two Sanskrit words. “Mana”, meaning mind, and “Tra”, meaning vehicle. So, quite literally, it translates to “Mind Vehicle.” The mantra’s we use are simple Sanskrit sounds chosen specifically for each individual. These sounds, you will find, are so charming to the nervous system that your mind and body can’t help but to dive and to be effected in the most lovely ways possible by it if we can remove this experience of greater effort. Our goal then is to intend to think this sound, but to be ok with letting go of it, surrendering to the experience the mind and body want to take you on, and allowing it to become softer and subtler and fainter until it finally slips away.
As the mantra becomes subtler it also becomes more charming. This increased charm attracts the mind. Mind and body are intimately connected. If the body is storing some fatigue (and whose body is not?), then, in the midst of meditation, the body may recognize an opportunity to rid itself of that fatigue. Dozing will indicate that the body has used a portion of the meditation sitting to purify itself of deep tiredness; the body is attempting to normalize – that’s all.
However, if intellectually we decide that that natural function does not match our concept of ‘the purpose of meditation’, then we may reject our own natural response, and resent our body’s need to rest in that way. Then we are in danger of using effort to stay awake because of an intellectual idea we cherished about ‘the purpose of meditation’.
Instead of that approach, what we should know is: “the use of effort defeats the purpose of this meditation”.
The true purpose of this meditation is simply to allow whatever happens naturally to happen and not to wish that it shouldn’t happen. The true purpose of meditation should be to allow our own intelligence to be one with nature’s intelligence. To that end, we take it as it comes. This is why we do not reject any experience that occurs spontaneously in meditation, whether it be the experience of thought (stress release), transcendence (going beyond), sleep (removal of fatigue) or any other experience one may have. It is all good as long as we are going about it as effortlessly as possible.
We must remember that the most important thing lies in taking the time for yourself...every day, twice a day. Make that appointment with yourself... we have no problem making so many other appointments with so many other people. Literally add it to your date book, set an alarm as a reminder, whatever it takes. You are worthy of the time to rest and heal and develop that greater sense of Self and you will be better for all of those around you for committing to that time. All of those stresses and things from our past and expectations of the future... they are no longer relevant to us in the here and now. Our body wants to get rid of all of that junk... we must provide it with the ability to.
Interested in learning more about meditation? Visit us at:
and register for our next Intro Talk or 4-Day Workshop (90 minutes each day). Looking forward to sharing more with you soon.
Today's blog post is brought to you by Jill Roberts, a yoga instructor at Sundance.
"I don't trust anybody that doesn't like chocolate," I often find myself saying with a wink and a slight smile. People that know me well have learned the hard way that if there is chocolate near me, I don't share. Game on, it's mine.
So, when studies came out about how good chocolate milk is for marathon runners I was doing backflips, front flips and sticking my arm balances in yoga with traces of a chocolate milk mustache.
I'll be running my 21st marathon in April and feel like each 26.2 mile run teaches me something new. I started drinking chocolate milk as part of my training diet around 3 marathons ago and I swear it has kept me healthier and stronger than I was before discovering this smooth beverage. Below I mention the science behind the nutrition of this drink, but I can tell you that in drinking this as opposed to the alternative sport drinks out there, I felt better because my sugar intake came down. Yes, there is some sugar, but compared to the other options, I feel like it is a healthier alternative.
I'm not a fan of supplements, but I knew I wasn't getting enough of the "good things" runners require. I dabbled in trying to take daily vitamins but I didn't like the way I felt and the cost was killing me. So clearly, excitement flooded me when I realized that this chocolaty goodness can fill with magnesium, sodium and potassium which is obviously critical for marathoners and it also has vitamin D for healthy bones.
In addition, studies show that distance runners (especially women) experience bone density problems because of the "pavement pounding" and often times, low body weight, so calcium intake can be increased through milk. Another bonus is that milk also contains protein which is essential for repairing muscles after long runs.
Clearly, chocolate milk is very easy to prepare - glass, pour milk, add chocolate, stir, enjoy. But if you're looking to add a little more zip to your drink, see my suggestion below.
All you need to do in 5 easy steps!
1. pour milk into blender
2. add ice (as much or little as you prefer)
3. instead of chocolate powder, use Nutella hazelnut spread - if you're really extremist, use more than one scoop of Nutella spread! ;). (always remember if you're running crazy miles, the extra calories are needed!)
4. Hit the blend button and pour into glass
5. Gulp with a smile and then head to a restorative yoga class!
**some of my runner friends have added a few orange slices too! I didn't particularly love the taste, but you can try it!**
In closing, if you are 26.2% as radical as myself or more, try a nice large glass of this refreshing beverage when you unlace your sneakers filling your belly with a chocolate hug!