Abyanga: Ayurvedic self-massage with oils specific to your dosha. Intended as a daily ritual with benefits to the mind, body, skin and immune system and just feels so nourishing. Realistically, I indulge in abyanga about twice a year these days when I am feeling particularly ungrounded, but when I do it feels oh-so-good. More on this topic at the Chopra Center.
Asana: or posture in Sanskrit. A traditional yoga practice consists of a series of asanas (i.e. sukhasana, savasana) that are intended to promote mental, emotional, and physical strength and flexibility as well as relaxation. Asana can be chosen for a specific region of the physical body (i.e. chest openers) or benefit (i.e. anxiety, back pain), though research is still in its infancy so please proceed with the guidance of a trusted and well-trained provider and listen to your experience.
Ayurveda: An ancient mind-body approach to health and total wellness developed by Sages in India. More on this topic at the Chopra Center.
Bodhisattva: In Buddhism, an individual on the path toward spiritual awakening. Bodhi meaning "awakening" or "enlightenment" and sattva meaning "the essence" or spirit in Sanskrit. Siddhartha Gautama, the spiritual teacher and founder of Buddhism, achieved enlightenment while sitting under the Bodhi tree.
Dosha: In Ayurvedic medicine, everyone's body and mind profile is made up of one or more of three energies or bio-elements, called doshas. Independently they are vata (air), pitta (fire), and kapha (air). When your doshas are out of balance due to a variety of internal and environmental factors, including diet, stress, and weather, it can manifest in emotional, physical, and spiritual dis-ease. Find out your dosha profile through this quiz and learn more on doshas in this Chopra Center article
iRest Yoga Nidra: iRest is a research-supported version of an ancient meditation practice called Yoga Nidra. iRest was developed by Richard Miller, PhD. Practitioners are invited to sit or lay still while paying attention to sensations in their body, their breath, emotions, thoughts, feelings of well-being, and of being awareness. These are referred to as the sheaths of awareness, or in yogic terms, the koshas. By cutting through the business of the mind and straight into the body and spirit, practitioners typically experience overall enhanced sense of wellbeing and of moving closer to their true nature. Regular practice of iRest has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and to facilitate the healing process from trauma and reliance on substance use. Also referred to as divine sleep, often times meditators will fall asleep and wake up to feel rejuvenated (I too have experienced the claim that a 40 minute meditation session feeling the same as four hours of restful sleep). When I am leading an iRest practice and hear snoring, I know I have done my job. For more info check out www.irest.us.
Kaypacha: The incomparable and laid back astrologer and spiritual practitioner. From his bio, his "approach to healing spirit, mind, and body through emotional release and Kundalini yoga utilizes astrology as a healing art." I enjoy a look into the cosmos through his weekly astrological forecast a at the Pele Report.
Mindfulness: The act of paying attention to the present moment, on purpose, just as it is, not what the mind says it is. Can be practiced through a formal meditation in which practitioners set a specific period of time and an intention to come back to presence when attention wanders. Mindfulness can also be practiced informally through everyday activities.
Koshas: A Sandskrit term referring to the five sheaths awareness.
Kripalu: A yoga tradition as well as the name of a wondrous retreat and education center nestled in the Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts. I completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training and iRest level 1 certification on the mystical grounds of Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health and my husband and I had a chance to escape there for an R&R retreat before the birth of our first daughter. As a approach to yoga on and off the mat, Kripalu holds the distinction of being for every body and compassionate self-inquiry. These intentions are palpable as you traverse the building and grounds at the retreat center. More at Kripalu.
Pranayama: A sanskrit term translated to "controlled breath." We might notice that we tend to walk through our day shallow, irregular, at times rapid breathing. This type of breathing is communicating to our mind and spirit to be alert to danger and in turn contributes to our feeling stressed out. Practicing intentional breathing exercises, especially focusing on the lengthening the exhale, on a regularly (daily) basis can help to reset our stress response so that we walk through our days with more ease. There are several types of pranayam practices with additional intentions, for example Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) which has been said to bring balance to the two hemispheres of the brain and Kapalabhati (rapid exhalations) which practitioners find to be invigortating. More on this topic at Kripalu.
Reiki: an ancient Japanese healing art that involves a trained provider placing their hands over or on your physical body to channel healing energy where it is called to. A certified provider has undergone several “attunements” during which reiki healing energy is passed from a Master to a student, thereby allowing the student to become a new channel for healing energy to pass through and onto their clients to promote healing at all levels of the body, mind, and spirit. Reiki has become an integral part of my own self-care and healing practice. Now that it is part of my life, I cannot imagine the depths of healing and clarity I have experienced without it. But it is up to you to decide for yourself. Anyone can be trained in reiki and it is relatively affordable (for example, level one certifications cost on average $150 and are over the course of one weekend). There are three levels of certification including a Master Reiki certification and likely a reiki provider in your area. Learn more at The International Center for Reiki Training.
Yoga: A sanskrit term meaning to "yoke" or "join." Traditionally used in the context of joining different levels of awareness (body, breath, emotions, mind, spirit) through the practice of movement, postures/poses (called asana), and structured breathing practices (pranayama). According to the tradition that I was trained in (Kripalu) by bringing mindful awareness to any movement, including breath, by definition you are practicing yoga. No spandex or ability to stand on your head required.