Mindfulness at your fingertips: 3 benefits of wearing a MeditationRing

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“Brew for 2 minutes”, reads the tag on my tea bag. Deep, calming breaths. How long is two minutes? About 20 deep breaths? One inhale… one exhale… two inhale… two exhale… immediately the thoughts start drifting, dispersing, scattering all over the room. All the things that are happening, and the things that I need to do. My focus is lost, and the tea is not ready. So I try to wing it. Could it possibly be two minutes already? In the end, I dump the tea bag without knowing how long exactly I’ve brewed my tea, and I head over to my desk.

If this sounds too familiar, perhaps it’s because this is a shared reality among millions of people on this Earth today. We live fast, multi-tasking, trying to squeeze the most doing out of every little moment, but barely getting any being in. The need to slow down, to savor the moment in mindfulness, is real, and is common to us all.

Enter MeditationRings…

I must admit that when I first heard about the concept of MeditationRings, I was intrigued -- what did they mean by “Spin & Wish”? And how can a ring contribute to someone’s meditation habits?

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As I would quickly find out, MeditationRings are not only beautiful pieces of jewelry, but they do fulfill a role by gathering your scattered attention around one single point of focus, and keeping it there for as long as you need to until a sense of calm, serenity and peace starts to grow within. The concept originates from the ancient Tibetan Prayer Wheels, whose turning has been said to be of immeasurable benefit for oneself and others, by helping the practitioner accumulate wisdom, increase good karma, and purify negative thoughts (paraphrasing from the MeditationRings website).

Here’s 3 ways in which I find MeditationRings to be beneficial and complimentary to my yoga practice:

Calm anxiety

In my opinion, anxiety could be considered the epidemic of our time. Our hectic lives involve much running around, completely stressed out, and very little sitting in silence with the Self. There’s too much projection, and barely any reflection. With a racing mind and a body that is in a continuous fight-or-flight response, small moments of calm and focus are immensely beneficial in giving us time to reset. Concentrating on the spinning motion of the ring takes our focus out of daily life worries and gives us a much needed breather when we need one.

Bring mindfulness into your day

Many of us like to claim we’re “too busy” to meditate. However, it is precisely those of us who need meditation the most! Like the Zen proverb goes: “If you don’t have time to meditate for 1 hour every day, you should meditate for 2”, there is always time. The question is not whether there is time, the question is, are we willing to allow ourselves to make that time and use it for meditation? Some may feel like they’d rather spent that time doing something, or that the time they spend on meditation is, somehow, wasted. Spinning your ring several times throughout the day is an amazing way to bring short meditations into your day and ease yourself into the habit of making time for being.

Remind you of your intentions

On my Instagram account, I very often speak about what I've come to call the godless state, to mean that state of unawareness that can easily swallow us up when we become too engulfed in the survival ratrace of modern life. This is a state where we wake up, get ready, go to work, come back home, and go back to sleep in an almost robotic manner, with very little time to reflect on what we are doing and why we are doing it. Such a lifestyle can easily take over and make us forget our goals or higher purpose. Wearing a piece of jewelry like a MeditationRing is a simple and yet powerful reminder of mindfulness and of our spiritual intentions.

Bonus pro tip: MeditationRings are amazing for kids too. They may help improve their focus, as well as calm and soothe anxious or negative thoughts. My 5 year old recently enjoyed playing with it in the bus and plain during our recent family trip to Hokkaido :)

Have you ever used a MeditationRing? Do you use any pieces of jewelry as part of your meditation, yoga, or other spiritual practices? Share your experience in the comments below!

Stay Lit — enhance your yoga practice with this incense Meditation kit from Reverse Karma

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The sense of smell is strongly linked to memory and emotions. More so than any other sense. It strongly ties to our most primeval instincts, bringing them to the surface like foam rising above the waves. Ephemeral, short-lived, intangible, gone in the blink of an eye, and yet extremely intense. It’s not rare for us to find ourselves strongly reminiscing over heart-warming memories that have been brought up by a faint scent, remembering our childhood or our loved ones.

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I have always been an incense junkie or, should I say, a smell junkie in general. Most of the time I don’t notice, but my husband often catches myself smelling things or foods I’m experiencing for the first time. At the age of 16, burning incense in my room while reading a book (quite often on religious or spiritual subjects) was part of my everyday routine. In recent years, I would also burn incense occasionally at home or at my yoga studio back in Morocco, and my fascination with scents grew into other areas of interest, including essential oils and aromatherapy (a discipline I have actually been considering studying for a while.)According to Reverse Karma, their story “began with the energy to change the way we think, interact and be kind to others. The ideology behind Karma has been traditionally linked to negativity - and we are here to change that.” This translates into an array of wellness products that their team has drawn inspiration, motivation and encouragement from, with the aim of giving back and spread positive karma.

Enter Reverse Karma. I first learned about this brand carrying incense, resins, herbs, smudges, and related accessories when I received their Pyramid incense cones in a Yogi Surprise box. It’d been a while since the last time I burned some incense, and I was pleasantly surprised with their quality, so I set out to learn more about them.

Following my experience with their Pyramid cones, this time I’ve been extremely excited to team up with them to review their Stay Lit - Meditation kit.

The kit comes in simple packaging, without any unnecessary extra adornments, and it includes seven colored incense sticks (one for each one of the main seven chakras). These are hand dipped, use natural dyes only, and are said to burn for up to 1 hour, leaving a lingering scent for up to 3 hours. Each stick also comes with a suggested word prompt for meditation, namely Accept, See, Speak, Love, Do, Feel, and Be, according to the characteristics of their relevant chakra, and they feature differenI lit up “Accept” (Jasmine Scent) for my yoga practice yesterday, and as I sat down to begin with my pranayama (breathing) exercises, I could immediately feel the effects of the scent on my being. It had been a while since I had practiced with incense, and I found it strangely calming and settling, I could immediately feel myself more focused.

As I started my asana practice, I found myself experiencing a deeper connection, dotted with bouts of intense awareness as I held each pose, some slightly longer than usual, sinking deeper into my body and finding new subtle adjustments that, somehow, felt like they’d always been there just waiting to be accessed. This, of course, is something that happens with regular practice, as we evolve and grow and deepen our understanding of the Self. However, it doesn’t happen in every practice, neither is it an often occurrence. I feel like the sense of smell, drawing from these amazing sticks, playing an important role in keeping me centered and deepening my awareness.

My yoga practice on weekends is usually very long. Yesterday’s comprised about 15 minutes of pranayama, near 2 hours of asana, an 11 minute savasana, and a short 5 minute meditation. The incense stick finished burning halfway through, and the smell lingered softly until the end. One important thing that I noticed is that the scent wasn’t overwhelming or stuffy, and by the time I was done, the air in the room felt light and fresh.

The experience was so amazing that I am excited now to incorporate the remaining sticks into my next practices, and I’m looking forward to them. I am also very curious about their other products (sage, palo santo), which I would love to try soon!

If you’re interested in trying their incense sticks and supporting Reverse Karma in their mission to spread positivity, here is their website. They have also very generously provided me with a code for my social media followers — feel free to enter MINTYOGINI10 at checkout in order to get 10% off your entire purchase. (This code will expire on October 20th, 2019)

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. An affiliate link means I may earn referral fees if you make a purchase through my link using my code, without any extra cost to you. It helps support me and maintain this website. Thanks for your support.

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the practice of yoga while fasting

With Ramadan just around the corner, for many of us it’s that time of the year when we start to plan ahead in order to be able to keep up our physical yoga practice while fasting several hours a day. If you have fasted before, you have probably already experienced some of the overall health benefits that come with it. If you are new to yoga, however, you may be wondering whether continuing to practice on a completely empty stomach can be a wise or even healthy idea. In order to put things into context, here I would like to share a few facts about fasting and its relationship with yoga, along with my own experience of keeping up my asana practice during Ramadan.

Fasting in a yogic context

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"In yoga, the ideal break between one meal and the next meal is eight hours. You can manage these kinds of meals even when you are working outside. But a minimum of five hours is a must for everybody. This is because only when your stomach is empty, your excretory system functions properly." (Sadhguru)

Fasting is actually a very common practice among yogis who understand that this healing technique, one of the oldest known to man, can have incredibly positive effects both on the body and the mind.

Yogic fastings can be of different types, including juice fasts, water fasts, or more severe types of fasting in which the practitioner abstains from the intake of both food and fluids. Fasting can also last anywhere from several hours to days. Generally, anybody in good health can safely do a juice or water fast for 3-5 days without supervision. Longer or more extreme types of fasting may require supervision and I wouldn’t advise undertaking one without consulting your general practitioner and making the necessary preparations to ensure that you stay healthy throughout the process.

From a physical point of view, fasting promotes the process of autolysis, which usually begins one or two full days after you start the fast, and which consists in your body digesting and getting rid of diseased, damaged, dead, and dying cells. Fasting promotes the elimination of toxins from the organism, and also provides your digestive system with much needed rest, freeing up the energy that usually goes into the digestion process and redirecting it towards other purposes. Because of this, while many people initially think of fasting as an extenuating ordeal, those who try it tend to realize that, after a while, they feel more energetic than the usual.

From a spiritual point of view, fasting can increase your awareness, making it easier to focus and to enter a meditative state . Fasting may also help to develop your willpower, as you learn to resists bodily urges, and develop the ability to complete a self-imposed task. When you become able to distance yourself from food and look at it as a mere object, without giving in to your body’s craving for sensory pleasures, you start to realize that you are not this body. Fasting may also help you gain sensitivity and intuition.

All of the above create the perfect bodily environment for an enhanced yoga practice. You may enjoy more energy than the usual, and also be able to get deeper into some poses (or to perform poses you had never managed before) because your gut is empty. Likewise, your concentration may be improved, helping you turn your attention inward as you breathe in awareness.

3 keys to keeping up your practice while you fast

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Every year, before and during Ramadan, when Muslims around the world fast every day for a month from sunrise to sunset, I get questions on my Instagram account about whether I continue my regular yoga practice while fasting, and whether I still teach. The answer to both questions is yes. Here are a 3 key pointers that, from experience, work for me:

Asana is not everything

As I wrote in my previous blog post, “what is yoga?”, asana is not everything in a yoga practice. It is important to remember this, because it means that you can still practice yoga even if you’re not doing any physical postures. While it’s definitely better to keep the body active throughout your fast, there may be times when this is not possible or when you are just not feeling it. It’s okay. You can do other things: namely pranayama, seva (selfless service or action, i.e. karma yoga), concentration and meditation, and even reading and studying in order to deepen your understanding of yoga philosophy (you will find several book recommendations on my affiliate Amazon page, linked in the Recommendations section of this website.)

Find a time that works for you

If you’re practicing asana, find a time that works for you. You may need to change the time from your usual routine. As your energetic pattern will change, you may also feel more energized at different times of the day than when you’re eating. You may also want to save some energy in the morning, and dive into a more vigorous practice later in the day, when you’ll have less hours left until you can break your fast. In my particular case, I usually start my own personal practice, which lasts anywhere from 1 to 2 hours, between 11 am and midday. During Ramadan, I often prefer to start a little later, between 1 and 2 pm. I also change my teaching schedule, which goes down from 6 classes a week to just 3, which I hold in the late afternoon, so by the time the class is over people have just about a couple of hours to go home and get ready to break their fast. If you’re looking to join me for class during this Ramadan, please scroll down to the bottom of this post to check out the schedule and book a spot!

Modify your practice if needed

Because my personal yoga practice is not excessively dynamic and doesn’t usually include a vinyasa style flow, I don’t usually feel the need to modify it during Ramadan. I practice my school’s sequence, which is heavily inspired by the Sivananda sequence, and I usually add several extra more advanced poses or modifications, depending on how I’m feeling. During Ramadan, I keep up the same practice and, depending on how my body is responding, I stick to the basic sequence, or take it a little further, always with awareness. I have also recently started learning the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Primary Series, which I practice once a week at the moment, but I am unsure at the moment about whether I’ll keep this one up while fasting, as it’s more dynamic and demanding than my usual Classical Hatha practice.

If you feel like you don’t have the energy for a full regular practice, or you wish to start slower to gauge your capacity and endurance before committing all the way, you can always start by modifying your practice and seeing how you feel. Some ideas are sticking to a few rounds of the sun salutation and 4 or 5 other poses of your choice, or exploring a gentler and more static yet powerful practice like Yin Yoga, in which each pose is held somewhere between 3 to 10 minutes with the aid of props if needed. Yin Yoga is perfect to release the connective bands and tissue all around and within your muscles, as it works on the deepest layers of our anatomy, providing an enhanced sense of relaxation, clearing energetic blockages and promoting circulation.

I hope that the keys above will help you sustain your practice while you fast and make the most out of it— please let me know if you have any additional advice and share your experience in the comments.

If you’re in Oujda (Morocco) and would like to join us for practice, check out the schedule below and book your spot here.

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ETA: You can find an enhanced version of this article, published as a guest blog post, on Juru Yoga's blog.