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    How fasting once a week changed my life



    I was a teenager when I first heard about fasting. 

     

    It wasn’t a topic I’d heard about growing up. 

     

    I came to learn about it through Mahatma Gandhi, who devoted his life to his country and spiritual practice. He would fast on Mondays—not only from food, but from speaking too, as he took silence, known as Mouna

     

    Each day of the week is connected to a specific planet and Hindu deity. Monday is for the moon and Shiva, who represents consciousness. 

     

    I was surprised to learn it was possible to go a day without solid food. 

     

    Throughout the years that followed, I often reflected back on and found inspiration in Mahatma Gandhi’s weekly commitment.

     

    Over 25 years later, his weekly fasting is fully integrated into my life. I had set my intention to fast one day a week after a full moon ceremony, but I did not expect it would turn into a lifetime commitment. In Yoga philosophy its known as Tapas , which is means to burn austerities. To practice something which takes effort.  

     

    Every week I experience the many health benefits of fasting, and my body thanks me for taking time to rest its digestive system—among many other advantages I’ll share in this blog. For now I only fast on water or tea; when I am ready, I will also fast from speech.  

     

    I have since made friends with some Yogis who live in India and do not eat solid food of any kind. They inspire me that all is possible. One of my friends I have nicknamed “Superman,” as he not only refrains from food but also, at his youthful age of 72 years young, climbs up a mountain three times per day to visit a Shiva Temple. Each journey is an exhausting 15 kilometers mountain, which is a good workout even once a day.

     

    Here are some of the gifts I receive from fasting once a week. 

    Healthier Digestion

    It feels like on a weekly basis my digestive system completely resets itself. Since I travel so much, there are times I eat foods I would normally not ingest. If I have loose stools, the next day after I fast I have regular, solid bowl moments. I feel lighter and have no bloating.  

       Increased Willpower  

      Each week, different situations may take place on my fasting day that could easily distract me from keeping my fast, yet the benefits overweigh the distractions. They are really just attractions made up from my mind. Yoga philosophy encourages the practice of prathyahara, sense withdrawal. This is now revealing itself; when I see others eat, or when I smell food, I know that my health is more important than a temporary sensation. This in turn builds my willpower and strength. And you cannot buy that at the store. On a more subtle level, extra prana is going to my manipura, Solar Plexus chakra. 

     

    Conserve Energy

    When we eat, we need fire to digest food. Fire is another source of energy. When we conserve our inner energy reserves, we in turn have more energy. I always need less sleep and have more energy when I am fasting. I feel lighter and brighter. I make sure I drink lots of good water and get connected to the sun, as the sun is the first source of prana (and is where some of my Yogi friends who do not eat get their extra energy).  

     

    Save Time

    I always know that if I am working on my fast day I will be more productive, because I do not need to spend time in the kitchen making food, cleaning up or doing dishes. It’s a good trade that makes me feel great. 

     

    No More Emotional Eating

    There is something in the yoga philosophy called Swadyaya, which means self-reflection or self-inquiry. I have begun to reflect on my relationship with food. Previously I took my low felt emotions out with eating. It used to be binging on sugar. I now have a relationship with my body’s message, and when I am full, I stop, without feeling guilty for not eating everything on my plate. I no longer experience emotional eating, as I now recognize when my feelings are low and watch them instead of losing myself in them. 

     

    Save Money

    The money I save on 3 meals a day, equates to 12 meals a month—and 144 meals per year. It may not seem like a lot, but it does add up. 



    More Love For Myself 

    One of the main reasons I stay committed to my weekly fast is to show love and respect to myself, the gift of the body that spirit gave me. Taking care of it, I in turn show love for my body (or better said, the vessel that carries me around).  If I do not take care of the body I am given, no one will do it for me. We really are a walking miracle, able to do anything we believe in. 

     

    If you feel the call to fast, I recommend that you try it and go slow as you listen to your body. Some people have low blood sugar and need to eat, while others are able to go without food for one day and, like my yogi friends, simply do not need feed. Yet this is not something they just did overnight. 

     

    Becoming mindfully aware of our relationship with food and your body is a gift to yourself. This begins with your intention to make a conscious change, however that might look to you. If you feel stuck and need support,  reach out to book a coaching session with me to give you the help needed to make changes. 

    eum fugiat, quo voluptas nulla pariatur.

    Our bodies are vehicles that allow us to move freely, explore the earth, and get from A to B. However, we rarely listen to them. I fell in love with yoga history and philosophy during yoga teacher training, because its leaders advocated for people to tune into their bodies, respect them and condition them. Part of a text written by Patanjali in 400 CE, looking at the 8 Limbs of Yoga, explains the practice of Ahimsa-or non-violence towards the self and others and all living beings. The Sanskrit word describes a state in which we are in harmony with ourselves and our environment. I see quite the opposite of Ahimsa when I teach yoga sometimes. I see my students wincing in pain as they push their bodies beyond their limits—as they forget to listen to their bodies and move with compassion. 

    To me, yoga is about cleansing, strengthening and releasing tension, it’s not about injuring yourself so you can look like Yolanda the Yoga Star in the front row. It’s about letting your body guide your movements, and flowing intuitively with both effort and ease. If that means you modify 80% of the poses—perfect. If that means you have to rest in child’s pose during the standing series—go for it. If listening to your body shows up as you being in full self-expression, being able to do backbends galore—follow that lead. As Ahimsa suggests, be kind to others and yourself. Don’t harm or act violently toward your body to satisfy your ego on your mat. In my eyes, the yoga practice is about love, compassion and empowerment, not punishment, comparison and pain. 

    I used to push by body too hard when I practiced, and that is why I see the same struggle in others, now as a teacher. It would seem impossible for me to catch my breath or to flow with any joy at all. I’d have a constant furrow in my brow and would think terrible things about my instructor—who, in my mind, was holding us all too long in the pose. I came to my mat to punish myself, because at that time I lacked a lot of self-love. I used to struggled, and still do at times, with loving and respecting my body. So, my mat became my punishment pad, where I’d pay for not exercising more that week or eating a chunk of cheesecake. I’d push myself beyond the point of challenge, on the way to injury. When the fun and excitement was taken out of my practice, I knew something had to change. I was no longer looking forward to yoga, I was dreading it because I felt I had to do it. 

    All that shifted for me was a big injection of self-love, attention and compassion. I started focusing more on my breath as I practiced, which allowed me to be more silent and tune into what my body needed right then. I started to really appreciate my body for working the way it did and allowing me to move it in just the right ways. I started to enjoy my practice again! I started to crave my mat and the heat. I started to come into full self-expression, without agony or strife. All because I let my body guide my movements, and dropped the violent attitudes I previously had towards it. Now that I know that kind of peace and ease is possible in yoga, I want nothing more than for my students to realize the same truth. I believe I’m part of the healing process, guiding them to tune inward, and move with breath and love. So, I say this as a gentle reminder that we can all apply a little Ahimsa to our lives. We can all begin to treat ourselves and all beings with kindness, love and respect. It changed my yoga practice– imagine how it could change the world. 

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

    Eryl McCaffrey is  a Power Vinyasa Yoga Teacher and Freelance Writer based in Toronto, Ontario. She believes that yoga has the ability to heal, empower and change the world. Eryl is passionate about health and wellness, connection, writing, hiking and music. Check out her blog Two Feet and a Heart Beat at twofeetheartbeat.wordpress.com. 

  • The Healing Power of Smudging

  • Sound Healing: The Transformative Power of Sound

    For thousands of years, people have been using sound to heal and transform their minds, bodies, and spirits. From chanting of mantras in ancient India to the use of singing bowls in Tibet, sound has been recognized as a powerful tool for promoting relaxation, reducing stress, and inducing deep states of meditation and healing.

    Sound healing is based on the principle that everything in the universe is made up of energy, including our bodies and the world around us. When we experience physical, emotional, or spiritual imbalances, it is believed that we are out of tune with the natural vibrations of the universe. By using specific frequencies and vibrations, sound healing helps to bring us back into alignment, allowing us to tap into the innate wisdom and healing power of our bodies and minds.

    There are many different forms of sound healing, each with their own unique approaches and techniques. Some of the most popular methods include:

    1. Singing bowls: These are bowls made of metal, crystal, or other materials that are played by striking or rubbing them with a mallet. The sound produced by the bowls is believed to help release tension and promote relaxation.
    2. Chanting: Chanting is a form of sound healing that involves repeating mantras or sacred phrases in a rhythmic and melodic way. The vibrations created by the chanting are believed to help clear the mind, open the heart, and promote inner peace.
    3. Tuning forks: Tuning forks are metal instruments that produce a specific frequency when struck. They are often used in conjunction with acupuncture points or energy centers in the body to help balance and harmonize the energy flow.
    4. Gong baths: A gong bath is a form of sound healing where the participant lies down and is immersed in the sound of gongs being played. The vibrations produced by the gongs are believed to penetrate deep into the body, helping to release tension and promote relaxation.

    Sound healing has been shown to have a wide range of benefits, including reducing stress and anxiety, improving sleep quality, boosting immune function, and reducing pain and inflammation. It is also a powerful tool for promoting spiritual growth and transformation, helping us to connect with our inner selves and the larger universe.

    If you are interested in experiencing the transformative power of Sound Healing through a personal session, event or study sound  contact Sequoia Henning, who has used sound to heal herself and continues to share the healing power of sound both online and in-person.. 

    Sequoia is teaming up with another Senior Sound Healing Marcus Fung and will be teaching level 1 in Edmonton Alberta Sep 15, 16, 17 2023.   

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    3 Simple Ways to Raise Your Personal Vibration

    Are you in need of an energy boost? Do you experience depression or anxiety? Here are some effective tools to enhance your mental and energetic state. The best part is, these tools are simple and completely free. Try one exercise each day, determine which works best for you, and practice it for 10 minutes every day for a month to witness amazing transformations.

    Preparation for the Practices:

    1. Find a comfortable position and take a moment to observe your current state. Notice any changes after the practices to develop awareness of subtle energies.
    2. Relax your body by taking three deep breaths, exhaling with audible sighs to release tensions, pains, and worries. Feel the tension melting away throughout your entire body.
    3. Connect with your multidimensional self by focusing on different aspects of your being.

    Physical Body: Scan from the base of your body to the crown and back down, paying attention to the sensations and tightness in various areas. Observe with compassion.

    Thoughts: As you repeat the body scan, shift your awareness to your thoughts. Move your breath from the base to the crown and notice the kinds of thoughts that arise. Are they positive, negative, or neutral?

    Emotions: Repeat the body scan, this time focusing on your emotional body. Notice the dominant emotions and where they are held in your body. Observe without judgment.

    Now, you can begin practicing one or more of the following techniques. Afterward, repeat the initial exercise to observe subtle changes.

    1. Toning: Utilize the power of your voice to open your heart and release stagnant energies. Sound vibrations help restore balance on mental, emotional, and spiritual levels. The toning practice involves using the sound “Ah,” the first vowel sound.
    • Close your eyes and breathe into your heart, acknowledging the present feelings or sensations.
    • Release nine sounds of “Ah,” allowing each sound to penetrate any blocks or emotional pain in your heart.
    • Afterward, observe the changes felt in your heart.
    1. Mantras: A mantra is a powerful tool for calming excessive thoughts, enhancing concentration, focus, and expanding your energy field. Specific mantras tap into ancient frequencies, and with repetition, you align with their transformative power. Open your mind to the vibrations and sonic alchemy they offer.
    • One example is the mantra “Aum Gung Ganapatiya Namaha,” an offering to the energy that removes obstacles with the assistance of Lord Ganesha.
    • Before chanting, visualize where you intend to direct these frequencies, such as a new house, relationship, job, or personal journey. Make an internal offering from your heart.
    • Take a few deep breaths and begin chanting the mantra out loud, whispering, or silently. For more significant situations, consider a 40-day practice, chanting 108 times or as often as possible.
    1. Affirmations: As Buddha wisely said, “What we think, we become.” Affirmations help reshape our beliefs and self-perception by replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. By focusing on uplifting affirmations, we can raise our vibration and improve our overall well-being.
    • Our thoughts create pressure waves that communicate with the energetic fields of others. Positive affirmations contribute to a harmonious exchange of energy.
    • One common belief to address is “I am not good enough” or “I am not worthy enough.” Counteract this by repeating affirmations such as:
      • “I love and approve of myself just the way I am.”
      • “I am worthy of all that I am.”
      • “I am perfect, whole, and complete.”
    • Feel free to create your own affirmations, using present-tense language, and repeat them frequently until they replace the old beliefs