Mindfulness and Letter Writing

letter writing for InCoCriMo
February is InCoWriMo month (International Correspondence Writing Month)

As well as being Valentines month, February is also InCoWriMo month, or, International Correspondence Writing Month (a movement striving to keep hand written letter writing alive!) and writing by hand is a great form of mindfulness and self care.

Admittedly, the convenience of emailing can’t be ignored but a thoughtfully chosen, hand addressed notecard or letter is guaranteed to brighten up any a mailbox

Self care through mindfulness and letter writing

Here are five great benefits of the handwritten note.

1 Mindfulness.  Mindfulness has become a much talked about part of a self care routine, and the act of focusing wholeheartedly on one activity is the foundation of mindfulness.  Paying attention to each word and phrase you write brings your full attention to the task in hand as you are absorbed in the process of writing.

there are great health benefits to using pen and paper

2 Digital Detox.  Putting your digital gadgets to one side for any length of time is seen as a very healthy thing to do. The recent resurgence in journaling has demonstrated that there are great health benefits to using pen and paper.

InCoWriMo letter writing month
February is InCoWriMo letter writing month

3 Learning.  There is evidence to suggest that physically writing helps in the learning process and supports information retention and memory.  Learning new things is always a great way of keeping the mind active.  If you are looking to learn more about handwritten notes then  To The Letter by Simon Garfield is an interesting study of the ‘Lost Art of Letter Writing’.

each word and phrase you write brings your full attention to the task in hand as you are absorbed in the process of writing

4 Creativity.  Letter writing is also a great way of incorporating creativity into your life.  Drawing, sketching and doodling add to the creative expression of the written words.  There are many books available to help explore creativity and letter writing.  Write Back Soon offers some fun & inspiring ideas.

5 Nurturing relationships.  Taking the time to select the right notecard and pen and spending time writing to a friend, relation or student helps nurture our emotional relationships with the real people in our lives instead of the digital friends we may spend too much time with.

Receiving is as valuable as sending

There are many great sources for beautiful stationery and cards and here are a few favorites from the handmade community of Etsy.  All with a yoga theme so perfect for your students and yoga loving buddies.

yoga poses, yoga art, yoga notecards
Colorful notecard set of 4 classic poses
Female yogi seated pose
Cute yogi meditating in cobbler pose
flow illustrations yogis
Beautifully illustrated cards that show the ‘flow’ of the poses
set of yoga notecards
Bright illustrated yoga notecards
Trio of yoga ladies
How fun are these yoga ladies?

So, whether it be a thank you note, a thinking of you letter or news filled card for the holidays we celebrate, consider sending a hand written note.

Here’s hoping your mailbox is bursting in February!

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Please know that as an affiliate for some of the items included in this post I may be paid a small commission if you buy something you link to from this post.  Also, as an Etsy seller myself, I have included links to Etsy stationery shops in support of the Etsy community.

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Classic Yoga Books from the Last Fifty Years

 

Classic yoga book, vintage yoga book, yoga books, yoga text, yoga reference
Six Classic Yoga Books from the last Fifty Years

I’ve just ordered Judith Hanson Lasater’s new book, Restore and Rebalance and am very excited to learn more about restorative yoga.  Being a paper kind of girl,  I love a new yoga book, and while I have invested some serious money on books in the past I’ve begun to get a little more selective in what I buy (for the sake of my bank balance if nothing else!)

It feels like new books are continuously published on the topic of yoga.  While it is always great to see new, beautifully photographed books on the subject I sometimes find that I’m not learning anything new as the content can be a little repetitive.

Hence, over my years of study and practice I have accumulated many older books about yoga, some of which were first published as far back as the 1950’s.  All of them still have something inspiring to offer and useful information for the yoga student or teacher.  As a teacher, they are great books to refer to when studying, understanding and preparing for practice or class.

Six classic yoga books worth tracking down

Here are six vintage books from my yoga library that I read and refer to often.

Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha – Swami Satyananda Saraswati (first pub.1966)

Copy of Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Swami Satyananda Saraswati
Classic text Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha first published in 1966 and still relevant today

I came across this book when I first started studying to teach.  It has an old school, textbook quality to it that I love and offers hand drawn sketches of the poses and great chapters covering pranayama (breath), bandhas (root locks), mudras (which includes hand poses) and shatkarma (purification practices) amongst others.  At the back of the book is a short, but useful, therapeutic index describing the practices suited to certain conditions.

Yoga 28 Day Exercise Plan – Richard Hittleman (first pub. 1969)

Richard Hittleman's Yoga 28 day exercise plan
The original 28 day yoga exercise plan !!

There are 28 day plans filling bookshelves and blogs but this one dating back to the sixties must be one of the originals!

Divided into 28 days, the book offers a short sequence of a handful of poses along with a page of ‘thoughts for the day’.  Accompanied by black and white photos of a leotard clad female yogi, I have dipped into this book often for inspiration and for its simple presentation.  I’ve often wondered about some of the alignment that’s going on i some of the poses but, over all, I still love this book!

Fundamentals of Yoga – Rammurti S Mishra (first pub.1959)

Fundamentals of Yoga by Rammurti S Mishra
Even yoga books published in 1959 remain relevant today!

I picked up a copy of this book on Ebay around ten years ago.  I was craving a yoga read that offered a new perspective on yoga from a time when the practice was still evolving in the West. (in this case, the 1950’s).  It is one of those books that makes me realize how vast the topic of yoga is.  There is always more to know and learn.  My favorite chapter to refer to is chapter 4, The Cittam (the mind).  It gives a rich and interesting perspective on the laws of the mind alongside interesting chapters discussing  the practices of tratakam (training the gaze) and pranayama.  Just as a note, it is an intense book and I can’t pretend to have read it cover to cover or to understand all of the material it includes.  But it does give a fresh perspective and understanding to topics you thought you knew.

…first published as far back as the 1950’s.  All of them still have something relevant to offer with depth in the subject and inspiration and information for the yoga student or teacher.

Yoga for the West – Ian Rawlinson (pub. 1987)

Yoga for the West - Adapting the ancient principles to the oder person's needs
An inspirational book that uses the ‘yoga stickmen’ in its sequencing that any teacher will be familiar with!

Racing up to the eighties with this one!  Yoga for the West describes itself as being a ‘manual for designing your own practice’ with the promise of ‘adapting the ancient principles to the modern person’s needs’.  It consists of a bunch of sequences with sketched stick figures that any yoga teacher will be familiar with.  I’ve used this book many a time to inspire vinyasa sequencing.  There are many variations, observations and pose descriptions to discover which are all useful for teaching purposes.  Well worth a look for the serious student, teacher in training or current teacher.

 

 Yoga for Physical Fitness – Richard Hittleman (pub.1964)

Chapter 'Yoga for the Housewife' from Yoga for Physical Fitness
1964 publication of Yoga for Physical Fitness with special chapter ‘Yoga for the Housewife’

A good friend of mine recently gave me a copy of this book which she had found during a thrift shop rummage.  Richard Hittleman was responsible for promoting yoga through books and TV shows in the West presenting the topic in an understandable and down to earth way.  This particular book was ahead of its time in some ways as he focuses on yoga for working people doing the sedentary kind of desk work that we still do today.  He also discusses breathing techniques and a couple of special conditions that are relevant to modern life.  However, it is also very much a book of its time (1960’s) as one of the chapters is entitled ‘Yoga for the Housewife’! – helping to guarantee a smile too!

 

Light on Yoga – BKS Iyengar (pub.1966)

Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar
The yoga classic Surely every yogi has a copy of this!

Lastly, Mr Iyengar’s absolute classic.  How amazing is it that this is one of the most well known and well used yoga books and yet it was first published in 1966?   Light on Yoga is still being published today and continues to be one of the most widely recognized yoga publications.

 

Despite their age, sourcing these books is still possible on Amazon.  Not all are currently in print but there are several opportunities to buy used copies.  Both Amazon and Ebay are great for used finds.  Secondhand bookstores, library sales and thrift stores are also well worth a look if you have the opportunity and inclination to rummage.  Many of mine are thrift store treasures!

 

 

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Why Yoga Teachers Should Write a Mission Statement

Mission Statements for Yoga Teachers
The value of writing a mission statement for yoga teachers

Why do you teach yoga?   We all have our own reasons for pursuing the teaching path with our own unique set of qualities and skills to offer.  A mission statement is a concise, descriptive statement of our own personal vision that details, in a few lines, why we teach.

Often used by businesses to describe what they stand for and do for their customers, a mission statement is a useful tool for yoga teachers.  It is a distillation of the qualities, values and talents you have and summarizes what you and your yoga teaching has to offer.

A mission statement is a concise, descriptive statement of our own personal vision that details, in a few lines, why we teach.

So, what makes a mission statement?

To start, simply list your personal strengths and qualities.  Be honest, but not modest, as you note down your skills.  Doesn’t need to be too spiritual or profound, just who you are.  Perhaps you are welcoming and sensitive to the needs of others with a great sense of humor thrown in.

Next, consider your core values.  You may want to inspire and create a sense of community.  Or, perhaps you are eager to support those with health issues and feel it is important to give back to others.

Choice of 3 PDF Mission Statements from etsy store yogaskinnystudio
Available to download from etsy store yogaskinnystudio

Evaluate your reasons for teaching and the unique combination of qualities and skills that make you, you.  Jot down your responses to these points in list format first and then summarize into your personalized mission statement.

For example, for our fictional yoga instructor…..

  • Energetic, loyal & reliable
  • Core values are building community & making a difference to the health and wellbeing of others.
  • Teaches because she/he is passionate about the benefits of yoga for all levels of student.
  • Approachable and tends to laugh about life with a positive outlook.

Based on this brief list of facts a mission statement might read something like this…

“My mission is to……..share the benefits of yoga with others and be part of a growing and supportive community that is inclusive and caring.  By teaching with creativity and humor I want to connect with and inspire others to practice and develop the skills to embrace the highs and lows of life”.

Updating your mission statement

Once written, keep your mission statement close to hand as a source of inspiration and motivation on those off days and refer to it frequently.  Making regular updates and tweak your statement over time to ensure that it still aligns with your values and beliefs.

…keep your mission statement close to hand as a source of inspiration and motivation on those off days and refer to it frequently.

Grab a notebook and pen and start working on your mission statement or take a look at yogaskinny’s  mission statement template available at yogaskinnystudio’s etsy store 

 

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Book Review – Living Your Yoga by Judith Hanson Lasater

Classic yoga text Living your Yoga
Living Your Yoga – Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life

You can often see how well loved and referred to a book is by the number of post it tabs that fan from its pages.   There are many like this on my own yoga bookshelf and one of the most liberally sticky noted books I own is ‘Living Your Yoga’ by Judith Hanson Lasater.

This relatively short book packs a punch in its 170 or so pages. It is dedicated to the spiritual aspects of yoga in our lives as opposed to the physical practices that we often associate with yoga in the West.  This book is more of a ‘work in’ than a ‘work out’.

 

Broken up into three parts of seven chapters, Living Your Yoga is a practical, easy to read book that digs in to ‘finding the spiritual in everyday life’.

Living your Yoga
Living Your Yoga by Judith Hanson Lasater

Part One focuses on awareness of ‘Yoga within Yourself’ made up of seven chapters including discipline, self judgement and courage.  Part Two ‘Yoga & Relationships’ examines yoga with regard to personal relationships discussing topics like compassion and control while the third and final part embraces ‘Yoga in the World’ with chapters such as service and love.

Living Your Yoga is a practical, easy to read book that digs in to ‘finding the spiritual in everyday life’.

In each individual chapter Judith Lasater presents essays discussing the topic inspired by the classic yogic texts of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita.  Her essays are easy to read and relate to and offer achievable practice suggestions along with a handful of mantras to support your own practice.

My personal, well used copy of Living your Yoga is a constant ‘go to’ and full of post it tabs, notes and underlining.   I dip into the pages regularly for my own dose of yoga inspiration and have found it to be an invaluable reference for class preparation.

Open book of Living your Yoga by Judith Hanson Lasater
Well used pages of Living Your Yoga

I can’t recommend this book enough for its easy to relate to content and down to earth presentation that is accessible to any level of yoga practitioner whether a beginner or a seasoned teacher.  The gifting time of year is upon us so why not give yourself a gift?

 

Please know that I’m an affiliate which means that I may receive a small commission for any purchases made via this website.

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Create a Simple Vision Board for 2018

Vision board
Create a vision board for 2018

If you’ve been looking at pinterest lately (and frankly who hasn’t?) then you will have noticed the popularity of vision boards.  Often incorporated into a journaling routine, vision boarding is a way of creating inspiration and visualization for the life you want.  As we fast approach a New Year now is the perfect time to create a vision board for 2018.

Vision boards don’t need to be complicated and are easily created.  Try not to be precious about producing a finished board and think of it as a work in progress.  Even if you start with just a couple of images you can always revise and add to your board over time.

Continue reading “Create a Simple Vision Board for 2018”