Toilet Meditation

As I mentioned at the beginning of my 3 part series on Ayurveda routines for better health that I would share my colleague Shelly Prosko‘s Toilet Mediation with you. Shelly is pelvic floor physiotherapist and yoga therapist.

Whether you are a yogi or not, you’ve probably heard of the benefits of mindfulness. We try to mindful with our words when speaking to our kids or colleagues. We think carefully about what we choose to eat, how we spend our time, etc. We practice mindfulness in our everyday activities so why not when we toilet?

First of all, how we position ourselves is important. You want to have your knees higher than your hips. To do so you can purchase a squatty potty  or bring your feet onto yoga blocks or a small garbage can. This is a better position for elimination and helps to release pelvic floor muscles.

Shelly shares an acronym called A.I.R.B.A.G. – use this acronym the next time you toilet:

AAwareness: start by feeling your feet on the floor, feel your pubic bone, sit bones, tailbone. Become aware of any physical sensations you are feeling – in your belly, low back, spine, do a quick scan of your arms, are you clenching neck, jaw, eyes?

IImagination: next, visualize your pelvic floor and the muscles that connect your pubic bone to your sit bones and tail bone at the back.

RRelease/relax: see if you can let go of tension. Notice if holding anything.

BBreathe: become aware of how you’re breathing. You don’t need to change it. Notice how your body is moving with breath. Go back to imagining the pelvic floor – visualize how it moves as you breathe – descends/widens as you inhale, recoils back up on exhale.

AAllow: without straining or pushing. Notice if more needs to come out. Surrender and trust, let go. Trust that your body knows what it needs to do. Do you need to activate or push a little bit without straining? Stay with your breath, revisit the other letters.

GGratitude: when you’re finished, take a moment to send some gratitude to your body for the amazing, sophisticated system that just did some work.

If you have difficulties eliminating daily, consult an Ayurvedic counsellor or Naturopathic doctor. Our diet and exercise can have a huge impact on how well our entire digestive and elimination systems work together. As a yoga therapist I can help you address physical limitations that lead to tension or tightness or holding patterns. You can schedule a session with me at Living Waters Therapies.

 

Developing Your Mindfulness Practice – Part 6

Over the last 2 months or so I have talked about Mindfulness exercises that have begun to shape our perceptions of ourselves. Perhaps you have already begun to notice shifts in how you think, how you react to situations and how you feel physically. If you have been keeping a Mindfulness Journal, take a look at your entries and see how your experiences have affected you. You might not notice any changes yet and that is completely normal (so don’t worry!). Continue to be a witness to your experiences and take them as they are in each moment. Remember, try not to cast judgement on what you are experiencing. Drop any expectations you have about where you think you should be in terms of your mindfulness practice (notice that expectations exist and then, let them go….). Expectations are a form of desire that block the process. No one ever said this was easy work.

This next practice helps us to examine our relationship to food. How we eat is usually a reflection of how we go about our day to day lives. We rush through a meal or snack, maybe you are watching TV, driving a car or reading a book while you eat. Maybe you don’t even notice what your food tastes like anymore.

Mindfulness Practice 6:

Mindful Eating

The first time I consciously practiced this exercise was in mindfulness meditation class where my yoga teacher brought in apples for everyone. If you’d like, have an apple ready for your first go at it. However, because I want this to be accessible to you to try at any time, start with any meal or snack of the day. It’s easier to start small.

  • Give yourself at least 5 minutes to eat your snack, if not more. For example, you have an apple. Clean your apple, notice the beauty of the apple (it’s shape, texture, colour, smell).
  • Take a moment to thank the universe for it’s abundance (and while you eat or before you eat, acknowledge all the people who made this apple in your possession possible: express your gratitude to everyone/everything involved in making this apple available for you to eat (i.e. the sun, water, earth, the farmer who planted the seed, and cared for it, the pickers, the transporters, the farmers who hired the workers, the grocery store (the staff who stocked the shelves, the clerks, the store owners who made the store possible), the bankers or government who have the farmers and store owners capital to their work, the builders who built the grocery store, your boss for giving you a job so that you could afford to buy the apple, your teachers/parents who gave you the knowledge to go to school to get an education to get the job so that you can make a living, etc etc).
  • The Eating process: take a small bite. Chew that piece until it is completely gone. You may not even need to swallow. Repeat one bite at a time.
  • While you chew, notice the taste, notice the texture, the juices, how the taste might change, and any other thoughts that arise. Repeat until apple if finished. Pause and reflect on the experience, comment in your journal. (Post it notes are great when you are on the go!)

While  healthy choices are ideal for our well-being, don’t feel guilty when you indulge in a tasty treat. Instead of scarfing it down and then feeling guilty, take your time to truly savour and enjoy.  Watch how this practice, over time, changes your relationship to what you eat, how you eat, and even how much you eat.

Namaste,

Lindsay

Developing Your Mindfulness Practice – Part 4

IMG_1628This week we will learn a walking meditation. You can do this while you walk to and from your car, take the dog for a walk or during your lunch break. Try to pick a time where you can do it at the same time everyday. Over time you can make your walk longer.

Mindfulness Practice:

Walking Mindfulness Meditation

  • To begin your walk, slow down your pace. With awareness of each step you take, step your foot heel to toe, feeling the entire foot making contact with the Earth. It might begin to feel like you are getting a nice foot massage!
  • With each step you take you can recite to yourself a mantra like, “Thank you.” (Heel touches down “thank”, ball of foot touches down “you”-repeat with each foot and each step you take).
  • Breathe deeply while you walk, try to relax the muscles in your body and your face, walking with a light step.
  • Notice how this exercise makes you feel. If you have started a Mindfulness journal, jot it down with today’s date.

By expressing gratitude for each step, you are recognizing your ability to walk and move easefully through space. You might notice that you don’t have any injuries or pain that restricts movement, that your arms swing freely, etc. Focus on the feet and the movement.

Other options: another mantra, may simple be “right, left” or “stepping”

Don’t forget to make a quick note in your mindfulness journal about your experience today. How did this experience make you feel compared to sitting and breathing?

Namaste,

Lindsay