Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Three Simple Practices to Reduce Stress

Three Simple Practices to Reduce Stress

Pranayama, which literally means "to extend the vital life force," is an incredibly rich practice made up of many breathing techniques. There are many simple techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing and comfortably lengthening the exhalation that can be used at any time to transform your state of mind.
Most people's unconscious breathing patterns tend to be tense, shallow and erratic. This of course leads to tension and anxious feelings. There are several simple techniques you can try on your own as long as you are in good health and do not push beyond your capacity.

The three breaths that follow: relaxed diaphragmatic breathing, sitali, and gentle extended exhalation are excellent pranyamas to reduce stress and quiet the mind.

1. Diaphragmatic Breathing: The benefits of this breathing technique is the calming quality it has on the nervous system. This is a breath you can do at least once a day and at any time. To do this breath you can simply lie comfortably on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor about hip-distance apart. Place a palm on your abdomen and breathe comfortably for a few moments, noticing the quality of your breath. Once your breath feels relaxed, then gradually begin to allow the abdomen to rise on the in breath, and as you exhale, feel a slight contraction of the abdomen. Continue to practice this breath for 6 to 12 times.

2. Sitali Breath: This breath is known as the "cooling breath" because the act of drawing the air across the tongue and into the mouth is said to have a cooling and calming effect on the nervous system. In order to practice this breath you need to be able to curl the sides of your tongue inward so that it looks like a straw. The benefits of this breath can improve focus and reduce anger and anxiety.  You can do this breath twice a day or as needed during stressful times. When performing sitali breath sit comfortably with shoulders relaxed and spine naturally erect.  Slightly lower the chin, curl the tongue lengthwise, and project it out of the mouth to a comfortable distance. Inhale gently through the "straw" formed by your curled tongue as you slowly lift your chin toward the ceiling. At the end of the inhalation, retract the tongue and close the mouth. Exhale slowly through the nostrils as you gently lower the chin back to neutral position. Repeat 8 to 12 times.

3. The Long Exhale: This breath involves gradually increasing your exhalation until it is twice as long as your inhalation. This breath has a tremendous impact on reducing insomnia, sleep disturbances and anxiety. Begin this breath by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor hip-distance apart. Place a palm on your abdomen  and take a few relaxed breaths, feeling the abdomen expand on the inhalation and gently contract on the exhalation. With your palm on your abdomen, mentally count the length of each inhalation and exhalation. Once your inhalation and exhalation are equal, gradually increase the length of your exhalation by 1 to 2 seconds by gently contracting the abdomen. Continue to gradually increase your exhalation by 1 to 2 seconds every few breaths. Just bare in mind that an exhalation that is only slightly longer than an inhalation can induce a calming effect.

When you are connected to your breath you are connected to true self and experience a happier life. Through the practice of pranayama you can reduce all of the mental noise and achieve peace of mind and connect to your own inner light.

Here's to keeping your body at peace and your mind at rest!

Mary Jane ~ Feng Shui Master & Yogi

Monday, June 11, 2012

Yin Yang Space Designing
Balancing Your Lifestyle with Universal Energy
© Mary Jane Kasliner, AAS, BS, ACFSI, CP, RYT

Knowing the effects of yin and yang in different parts of your home goes a long way when choosing design features.

Nothing is wholly yin or wholly yang but rather a blending of the two dynamics. In other words, everything has some yin and some yang. This is what keeps energy in check and balanced. We see the shifts of these great polarities in nature all the time and on a daily basis with the time of day and seasonal changes. The position of the sun in the morning sky moves from the east to southeast and reaches its peak at noon emitting an energetic yang type of qi. As the sun moves its position in the sky during the afternoon hours, a yin qi energy imbues the space.
We all know that the sunnier side of the home activates our own yang energy and calls for activity while the shady side of the home seems to engage our quieter side, relaxation and yin activities. Once we understand the core components of how these interdependent polarities shift energy in nature, we can then apply these same principles to design.
Yin &Yang in Home Design
Take notice of everything in your space from the architectural shape, windows and ceiling heights, to the finer details of fabric, colors, patterns and materials. Most people tend to lean towards one polarity, and by doing so, create an imbalance in the space and their personal lives. The key is to inject a bit of both polarities (yin and yang) into the interior design to invoke a state of balance and harmony. Once you can recognize and understand the difference between these polarities in design you can have fun altering the qi energy of your home to balance your own personal qi.
Building shapes that are irregular and angular take on a yang quality. The greater the number of windows and size will also reflect this polarity. Ceiling height that exceeds 12 feet will shift the polarity to a yang dynamic. When these building features are present, then adding texture, drapery, moldings and downward artwork is necessary in order to balance the overly active qi.
Patterns that contain wavy shapes, arches, clouds or spirals are softer and yin in value. Square, angular, zigzag, diamond or star shapes take on a harsher yang feel. Taking note of the types of patterns that you choose for your home is important. Mix it up a bit and pull these opposites in alignment for a more balanced feel and aesthetic appeal.
Color has the greatest impact on the yin and yang within a space. It is able to do this by the sun's reflection of that color back into the room. Therefore, choosing the right hue goes a long way when designing a room with good qi flow.
Color also has a way to cause emotional reactions by people. By and large, your brighter colors (red, orange, or yellow) tend to make us feel more yang or active. On the other hand, pastels, muted colors, greens, blues, and earth tones shift the polarity to yin and exude a calmer energy. A good rule to follow is to keep the brighter colors in your active rooms (family room, kitchen, office) while calmer colors in the quieter rooms (bedroom, meditation area). Remember, a splash of yang color (red or purple) in artwork can be very effective in changing the energy for that space.
Depending on the material make-up of objects in your space will determine the movement of energy. Hard materials such as stone, ceramic, granite, slate, stainless steel, marble or glass will cause qi to accelerate. Softer materials like wicker, rattan, wood, upholstery, bamboo and carpets will soften the qi and slow it down. Choosing the appropriate materials for the purpose of the room will effectively balance the space and avoid any confusion for the human body.
Window Treatments
Modern architecture tends to design overly large windows that may span from ceiling to floor. If the ceiling is greater than 12 feet, then you are talking about a great deal of yang energy imbuing the space. To balance, choose drapery that runs the entire length (floor to ceiling) and has the capability to be drawn during the evening hours. Window coverage that is lined with softer fabrics will gravitate towards the yin polarity, while shutters and blinds shift to the opposite pole.
Stone statues, mirrors, wrought iron, and hardwood furniture represent yang qualities and bode well in social areas. Upholstered furniture, tapestries, floor pillows or large cushions soften the energy and invite the human body to sink into the furnishing and just let go.
Natural lighting and incandescent lights cast a uniform light source balancing the energy over a wide area. Using uplighters creates a yang effect by driving the energy upward. This works well in areas that do not receive enough light, especially in the northwest and north side of the home. Low wattage bulbs and candles work best in the bedroom. Strive for a calm yin feeling in this space to prepare the body for rest and relaxation.
Yin and yang are two interdependent polarities that drive the forces of the Universe and the human body. With an understanding of these polar opposites you can adjust your space accordingly and reap the benefits. Knowing the effects of yin and yang in different parts of your home according to room purpose and sun position goes a long way when choosing proper design features from a feng shui perspective.
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Happy Designing!

Mary Jane ~ Feng Shui Master & Yogi

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sacred Geometry in Homes & Gardens

Sacred Geometry is a science that explores energy patterns that create and unify all things. On every scale, every natural pattern of growth conforms inevitably to one or more geometric shapes. The ancients believed that the experience of Sacred Geometry was essential to the education of the soul. Let's take a look how to infuse sacred symbols in your home and garden.

Sacred Geometry in Home & Gardens
As you enter the world of Sacred Geometry you begin to see as never before the wonderfully patterned beauty of Creation.  The molecules of our DNA, the cornea of our eye, snow flakes, pine cones, flower petals, diamond crystals, the branching of trees, a nautilus shell, the star we spin around, the galaxy we spiral within, the air we breathe, and all life forms as we know them emerge out of timeless geometric codes. Viewing and contemplating these codes offers a glimpse into the inner workings of the Universal Mind and the Universe itself.

Ways to Infuse Sacred Geometry in and Around your Home
When sacred geometry is infused into building designs via proportions in the actual architecture, the building vibrates at frequencies that are aligned with life, thus supporting healing and well-being for residents or visitors. This is actually the best way to design buildings and homes but most architects do not work on that level. This is why Feng Shui works really well with sacred geometry, by incorporating the directions and auspicious colors and elements for each sector. So for example, a yang direction such as the south should have green color hues or fire hues and plenty of wood and fire elements. Plants being the perfect wood element,  provide sacred proportion through the fractals found on their leaves.

Adding Flowers, Crystals & Seashells
Fresh cut flowers, especially  sunflowers in a vase  or seashells in a dish is a simple way to infuse sacred geometry into your living space. The basic geometric spiral form that is found in flowers and seashells is called a toroid. This design carries blueprints or codes of creation forming sacred geometric fields that are very healing.
Crystals are another simply way to elevate the energy in your space. Because of their structure, crystals have the ability to hold a stable vibration. They can create an energetic flow that can best support the occupants of the space, especially if  placed in a sacred geometric pattern.

Sacred Gardens
The circle is a sacred symbol as it represents infinity, perfection and the eternal. This is a powerful shape that you can bring into your garden space. Embellish it with the elements of nature incorporating different flowers, rocks, spheres, garden art, a pond or stream. Make sure you add an enclosure so you get the feeling of a sanctuary. This can be done with natural materials to emulate the Garden of Eden. 

Think about creating a garden that will attract wildlife as this will bring in the elements of sounds. Birds singing and calling reassures us that everything is well. We are fascinated that they have their own language and that they can communicate with each other.

The concept of Sacred geometry supports life while attracting amazing energy to our spaces. This is very healing and supports supports us in evolving our consciousness and connectedness with all that is around us.

Mary Jane Kasliner ~ Feng Shui Master & Yogi