Happy-U Bloggity Blog

Holistic Approach to Positive Psychology & Yoga

Find your Flow with the SACRAL CHAKRA

Sacral Chakra = Svadisthana

Today, we’re focusing on the second Chakra, the SACRAL Chakra, or Svadisthana.

When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with emotions, creatively stagnant, inadequate, ashamed of your body, having issues with your sexuality, guilty, or powerless, your Sacral Chakra needs some tending to. This area of your body, including your sacrum, pelvis, hips, lower abdomen, & lower back, deals with issues of PLEASURE, INTIMACY, DESIRES, EMOTIONS and CREATIVITY.

As we move up the Chakra system, each one becomes a little more “sophisticated”. That is, once our basic survival needs are met in the Root Chakra, we are ready to start dealing with how we FEEL about ourselves and the world around us. When the Sacral Chakra is balanced, we feel happy, creative, passionate about life, sexually satisfied, and generally trusting of others.

When we hold on to emotional junk, it gets stored in the hips. So if you find yourself with extremely tight or rigid hips/low back, you are likely holding on to something emotionally that is causing you to tighten. I think of the hips as the body’s junk drawer… we collect a lot of crap in there and need to clean it out every so often. If, on the other hand, you’re feeling overly emotional, overly sensitive, or overly concerned with your body/sexuality, you may notice that your hips are a bit more open, and you may want to cool down the Sacral energy in your body.

So how do we balance it?

Flow with the rhythms of life…

Here are the stats on the Sacral Chakra…

COLOR: Orange (wear more orange when you need emotional or creative support)

ELEMENT: Water (emulate the movements of water; dance, walk, or run; drink more water)

LOCATION: Sacral area: hips, pelvis, low back, low abdomen (hip openers, i.e. Pigeon Pose; low back stretches, i.e. Cat/Cow will move the energy through)

PHYSICAL SIGNS OF A SACRAL CHAKRA IMBALANCE: Tight hips, tight/painful low back, reproductive issues, rigidity with regard to movement

ISSUES: Lack of Creative Energy, Emotional Instability, Fearful of Change, Obsessive Attachments, Addictions, Powerlessness (focus on “going with the flow”, trusting the Universe & those around you; connect to your sensual nature, honor the divine in your relationships)

YOGA PRACTICE: Open the hips, stretch and mobilize the low back, engage and strengthen your lower abdominal muscles, focus on moving fluidly.

AFFIRMATION: “All of my desires are perfectly balanced, and I flow easily with the rhythms of life.” 🙂

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The Universe has spoken! The answer is…

…COURAGE!

I was walking the Furry Happiness Guru this morning, pondering this morning’s blog post. I was in the midst of thinking I should write what I’ve learned about COURAGE,  but I tried to stay open to organic inspiration, and — bam! There it was:

 

 

I am not even kidding you. Seriously. I was walking along thinking about writing about COURAGE and there was a little LION in the middle of the sidewalk. WHAT??!!? Ridiculous!

So consider this post divinely inspired… the Universe wants me to pass this message along today. And by virtue of the fact that you’re reading this right now, you were meant to hear it! Man, I love this stuff…

~

So, we’ve already talked about Happiness being a form of Courage, but what about other types of courage? What IS courage anyway, and do we really ALL have some?

I’m in the midst of a Positive Psychology Immersion with Robert Biswas-Diener, one of the premier positive psychologists in the field. We recently did an entire class on courage, and here’s what I learned…

First… Courage is NOT about having NO fears. It’s about being willing to FACE your fears and move forward in spite of them. In fact, research has shown that people who demonstrate the most courage, actually experience the most fear!

 

Next, it turns out that there are two kinds of courage:

1) General Courage (which would make anyone afraid- i.e. running into a burning building)

2) Personal Courage (acting courageously in a situation that’s scary for YOU, but might not be for everyone- i.e. flying on a plane if you’re afraid to fly)

So just because your particular fear isn’t experienced by everyone, it doesn’t mean you’re courage is any less valid that anyone else’s!! If you’re afraid of dogs and you walk down the street passing dog after dog, that’s brave! It might not be for everyone, but it is for you, so you should acknowledge your courage.

Very commonly, we tend to have what’s called Courage Blindness, which is our inability to classify something as BRAVE, either because we think that it happened automatically and anyone would have done the same thing, OR because it’s personal versus general courage.

 

 

Thirdly, there are 3 types of courage:

1) Physical Courage (i.e., saving someone from a burning building)

2) Civic Courage (i.e., testifying in court against someone you saw performing a crime)

3) Moral Courage (i.e., hiding Jews in WWII)

 

And finally, there are four key features to courage:

1) The act has to be intentional.

2) There must be some perceived threat.

3) The outcome has to be uncertain.

4) There is some moral dimension to it* (this one isn’t always necessary)

Can you recall a time when you were BRAVE? It might be something big (like electing to have a surgery), or it might be something relatively small (like posting pictures of yourself wearing questionable fashion trends for the world to see). Rather than downplaying your courage, try celebrating it! Studies show that it creates inspiration and positive emotions. Celebrate your little victories, and your big ones too. Be a LION OF BRAVERY!

The Universe wants you to 🙂

 

 

 

 

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A Trip Down Memory Lane… What was I thinking?!?!

I was sitting and pondering the yoga theme this morning… as I often do… and found myself ruminating on where I was 10 years ago. Thinking about what my routines are now, and how different they were back then. What’s important to me now, and what was important (or not important) to me then… How content I’ve been at different times in my life. For some reason, my fashion choices were at the forefront of my mind… Hmmm, what was I wearing in 2002? Talk about excess, sheesh…

Did my shirts really  need to be SO short? I’m pretty sure all my “going out” clothes exposed at least 6 inches of my midriff. Classy..

 

Did my makeup need to me SO heavy? I remember either wearing NO makeup, or about 3 full pounds of it. It was a phase..

 

Did my heels really need to be SO high? I’m already 5’8″, did I really need to wear 4 inch heels ALL the time? Now, I look at a high-heel and it hurts my back just to think about it.

At the time, I never really thought about excess. I was at a time in my life when I was going out almost every night, drinking 2 or 10 apple martinis in a sitting (gag), chain smoking cigarettes (double gag), and then trucking it 20 NYC blocks to get to an audition or temp job or Broadway Dance Center or wherever it was I was going on the daily. I would run on practically no sleep during the week, but would sleep all day long on the weekends. I think if you had said the word Brahmacharya to me, I would have thought it was some form of STD I should be afraid of.

~

And here I am now. Huh, it’s funny, isn’t it? I look back at myself then and it does NOT look like a life I’d want to live. But I was so happy! I really was. I loved that phase of life at the time. It was fun. I think I really was experiencing Santosha (unbeknownst to me at the time). But what I identified as ME then is so very NOT ME now. Am I really a different person? No, I’m still Karson. But so much of my has changed. Would I be this version of myself if I hadn’t been that version then? No way. It’s by looking back at that time now, that I can even have an understanding of what Brahmacharya or Santosha IS, or really, anything for that matter.

~

So random as it sounds, today I’m grateful for all the versions of me I’ve experienced in my lifetime. All the parts of myself that I have let go in order to to be exactly who I am today. I am content with my life exactly as it is– and has been… belly shirts and all 🙂

 

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Here come da’ Judge

Here come da Judge!

I went grocery shopping today and I accidentally bought SMOOTH peanut butter. That’s a problem, because I like my peanut butter CHUNKY. Chunky, oooey, and gooey. I had quite a conversation in my head as I judged this inferior peanut butter. I also judged my own sanity in making such a stupid mistake. I came up with a whole back story about how my brain matter must be leaking out of my ears, and this is just another example of my idiocy. Only an idiot would buy SMOOTH peanut butter (sorry, if I am talking to you:). 
 
 I’ve been taught not to judge thy brother (or sister)

Although sometimes that’s hard to do…

But judging thy PB & J samwich seemed safe enough.
 
Until I realized that after just a few seconds of judging, I became a full-out Hater.
 
Of MYSELF, not the PEANUT BUTTER.
 
When that lightbulb went on, I was reminded of what I learned from my treasured teacher, Life Coach Iyanla Van Zant
 
It’s judgements, not people, experiences, or funky peanut butter that causes upset.
 
“A judgement is a thought, feeling or experience in which you feel or believe something other than what happened, 
should have happened,” Iyanla says. 
 
I am reminded of this week’s Niyama, SantoshaContentment with what is. Through practicing Santosha, there is no need to judge. I am content to just have peanut butter. Chunky is no better or worse than smooth.
Either one makes a great snack.

Two of my favorite things…
#1 A Corgi, #2 Eating Peanut Butter.

~Jan 🙂

 

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This week in yoga: SANTOSHA :)

The 2nd of the Niyamas: Santosha = Contentment

It’s 6:30 in the morning… I’m sitting on the couch writing this blog. The dog needs to be fed. I’m loosely thinking about what time I need to leave the house to get to the yoga studio. What needs to be done before I leave? I’m looking up photos to use for this post and my brain is collecting ideas about what to write. I better pack some food in my bag today. It’s raining– did I leave the window open upstairs? What am I writing about again? Oh yes… I realize I am focusing on Santosha this week. Ok… I decide to stop, and start again…

It’s 6:30 in the morning, the world is still quiet. I’m sitting on the couch with my feet up on the coffee table- laptop on my lap- still in my pajamas. My husband is asleep upstairs and the Furry Happiness Guru is dreaming peacefully by my side. The house smells of coffee and cinnamon, and there is a faint trickling sound of the rain outside, which doesn’t happen very often, so I’m glad. I am in my “office”, writing what comes to me, in a free and relatively unstructured format, and in 2 hours, I’ll be teaching a yoga class talking about this very topic I’m writing about… That’s pretty awesome. I sure do have a lot to be grateful for. I am content. I am experiencing Santosha.

This week, we are focusing on Santosha, or contentment. It’s about accepting what is, not longing for anything more. It’s a deep, rooted, unshakeable sense that all is as it should be.

I think we’ve been trained in our culture to always long for more… media manipulates us to feel like until we get those new sneakers, that faster car, the iPhone5, that we’re incomplete and lacking. Santosha reminds us that we have everything we could ever need in this very moment; all we need to do is acknowledge it. As long as we think some external source will bring us joy, it eludes us. It’s not about the “when I get ____” I’ll be happy, it’s about being perfectly content right in this very moment.

Although I may be focused on where we’re going, the Furry Happiness Guru is CONTENT to be exactly where she is in the journey 🙂

Remember Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz? She had to go on one helluva journey to realize that she already had contentment right was she was. Santosha brings us there with far fewer flying monkeys (we hope:)).

 

As you move through this week, consider the following:

~To what degree do you experience Santosha in your daily life?

~How often do you express gratitude for what you have? If you attend my yoga classes, you know that I ALWAYS end my classes with the same phrase: The more grateful we are for the things we have, the more things we have to be grateful for.

~Can you distinguish the difference between contentment and complacency?

~ How could you live in Santosha with your body? Rather than longing for what could be or “should be”, can you find contentment with being exactly as you are?

~How restless are you? Restlessness is a sign that Santosha has evaded you.

 

The quote for this week is from Lao Tzu:

🙂

 

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Get Grounded with the ROOT CHAKRA

Today, we’re focusing on the first of the Chakras, the ROOT Chakra, or Muladhara.

When you find yourself getting worried about: your finances, your job, your home, your family, putting food on the table and a roof over your head, your Root Chakra needs some tending to. This area of your body, including the base of the spine, the legs, & feet (for this reason, also sometimes called the Base Chakra) deals with issues of SURVIVAL and BASIC NEEDS.

It makes sense… the parts of you connected to the earth helps to keep you rooted, so you don’t get too in your head or or up in the clouds. When we go through big life changes, i.e. relocation, change in relationship status, new job, new baby, etc., the Root Chakra starts acting up. When it’s overactive, we feel lethargic and heavy. When it’s deficient in energy, our fight or flight is overtaking us… we’re incapable of commitment and planting our roots.

So how do we balance it?

Connect to the Earth

Here are the stats on the Root Chakra…

COLOR: Red (wear more red when you need more Root)

ELEMENT: Earth (get your feet in the grass or the sand; garden; get outside; go for a walk or run; connect to nature; eat more vegetables)

LOCATION: Base of the body (strengthen & stretch your legs, particularly your hamstrings. Tight hamstrings are an indication of a readiness to run away, and flexibility is a sign of comfort, peace, and security); also the skeleton & joints (watch your posture).

PHYSICAL SIGNS OF A ROOT CHAKRA IMBALANCE: Tight hammies, joint & skeletal problems; heaviness or sluggishness; OR flightiness or spaciness.

ISSUES: Survival, Safety, & Security (focus your attention on abundance to feel more stable; exercise your gratitude practice)

YOGA PRACTICE: Notice how gravity supports you during your practice. Lengthen the backs of the legs. Do standing postures to strengthen legs and build up base energy.

AFFIRMATION: “I am perfectly protected in every way, and all my needs are met and provided for at every moment.” 🙂

Muladhara Chakra

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Why Smiling When You’re Sad Can Make You Feel WORSE!

So, you’ve probably heard the advice that if you are in a bad mood, the best thing you can do is smile. That by smiling, you actually help yourself to feel better. Act the way you want to feel, right?

It turns out, this is only partially true!

Studies have found that if you smile with your mouth only (aka Awkward Photo Smile), you actually can make yourself feel WORSE. This is because there’s a lack of integrity between what is true (you feel like shit) and what your face is trying to do (look happy). It causes a discord within you, and that feels even worse.

 

Me, holding my newborn baby sister = Fake Smile

 

However, if you smile with you mouth AND your EYES, (aka a Duchenne Smile), it DOES in fact send a trigger to your brain to feel BETTER!

 

Me, holding my newborn baby iPad = Real Smile

 

It’s TRUE! Studies show that getting a new iPad is more smile-worthy than getting a new sister!

I’m just kidding…

Okay, okay, here are some better examples…

Julia: Fake Smile/ Real Smile

I don’t know who this guy is, but Fake Smile/Real Smile

Furry Happiness Guru: Fake Smile/Real Smile

 

So if you want to feel BETTER, smile with your EYES. And if you want to feel WORSE, smile only with your mouth, and get even grumpier!

And just for fun, I came across this quiz you can take to see how good you are at discriminating between a fake smile and a real smile. If you want to take it (both to test this skill AND get an ego boost from seeing some pretty odd looking people who participated in the experiment), click below. I scored a 15 out of 20, how about you?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/mind/surveys/smiles/index.shtml

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Friends with a sweet tooth, REJOICE!

Dudes. Duders. Friends. Peeps. Let me bring it down now a minute… Consider this a public service announcement.

Are you listening?

Y’all know I’ve been on a serious quest for figuring out the best food program for ME (please see my posts on trying be gluten-free and then trying NOT to be gluten free), and in doing my research, I have found a gem. A true, sweet, delicious gem, that satisfies my sweet tooth and (get ready) is GOOD for me! Not “good for me” like a piece of spinach is good for me– more like “good for me” like 50 pieces of spinach, but instead of tasting like spinach, it tastes like a gummy bear with a rainbow of magical unicorns flying inside it who are all covered in sweet sweet jam.

No, I’m not high.

I found… JuicePlus+! This stuff is awesome.

Here’s the skinny: how many of you ACTUALLY eat the recommended 7-13 servings of fruits and vegetables in a day? Really think about it. Because I’m vegan, and even I don’t eat my full servings of fruit and veg every day. It’s almost impossible. How about your antioxidant purples and blues, like blueberries and wine? Okay, okay, maybe you get that part because I threw wine in there, but just in case, JuicePlus+ covers that too.

Yes, I’ve pulled that card before too…

Basically, JuicePlus has three “flavors” of chewable supplements: Fruits, Vegetables, and Vineyard, and a serving of each (4 yummy gummies) fills the gap between what you ACTUALLY eat, and what you SHOULD eat every day. It’s not a replacement or a vitamin, it’s just straight-up vine-ripened produce, ground down and turned into these yumm-o little candies, so you get your nutritious blends of fruit & veg fibers with each delightful bite. AND, unlike most chewies, these are made without gelatin, so they are 100% vegetarian! Woop woop!

And they’re great for your veggie-hating little cherubs, too!

Yeah, yeah, they have a little sugar in them, but it’s organic cane juice, NOT high fructose corn syrup. I don’t know about you, but that’s better than ANY dessert I pull out of my cabinet when I need my post-dinner sweetness. And I kid you not, I have not needed to buy one dessert food since I started on these chewy miracles. Boo-yah. (Yeah, I went there)

Anywho, we found this stuff at the IDEA Fitness Convention this summer, and my mom and I have been hooked ever since. We loved it so much, we’ve even become official endorsers of the product and sell it through the HAPPY-U site. For reals, if you know us, you know we are NOT salesmen… we have no desire to push this on anyone. But if you know us, you ALSO know that we love all things sweet, delicious, and healthy, so this must fall into that category for us to get into it.

If you’re interested in reading more about JP+, click below! We’ve already shared it with lots of friends (and both of our families), and not ONE person hasn’t loved it. You can order right through our site, or e-mail me at karson@happy-u.org if you wanna know more about it. I can hook you UP!

CLICK HERE 🙂

The End.

And you’re welcome 🙂

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Happiness is a form of courage

Leafing through one of my professional journals today I came across this quote,
 
“Happiness is a form of courage.”
~Holbrook Jackson, British writer (1874-1948) 
My eyes zeroed in on the word “Happiness” and then my brain got totally confused by the words that followed, Happiness.” Is. A. Form. Of. Courage.
 
What? Not “Courage brings about happiness,” or “Forms of happiness come about from courage.” but,
 
“Happiness is a form of courage.” 
 
I thought about it for a moment.
 
How long have I let that old,worn-out superstition steal MY happiness? Too Long. NO MORE!
 
Happiness IS a form of courage, 
and my life is perfect,
and I AM HAPPY.
(scary to say, but I did it!)
 
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This week in yoga: SAUCHA :)

 

For the love of Brahma, keep your mat clean & pure!

___

As we shift this week from focusing on the Yamas to the Niyamas, we turn from the external to the internal; from how we relate to the world around us (i.e. non-harm, truth, non-stealing, non-excess, non-attachment; aka the Yamas), to how we relate to ourselves.

This week, we turn to the inner work…

We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.
When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.
~Buddha

SAUCHA, means PURITY, and it is the first of the Niyamas, or moral observances. Saucha comes in many forms…

purity of the body, inside & out

How stoked was THIS girl to get this modeling job?

purity of thought

Meditation can help calm down what’s INSIDE your head.
Outside? Get a bigger hat.

purity of the moment, i.e. being present and not forcing the moment to be anything other than what it is (please see the cellphone-toting yogini up top).

Go-Go-Gadget SAUCHA!

purity of communication

Clean up your language… or else!

purity of your relationships

100% pure love 🙂

So, this week… let us find ways to clean & purify our bodies, minds, and spirits. Go to a yoga class. Clean up your diet. Get a good foot scrub. Take a bath. Clarify your boundaries & time management. Write in your journal. Look someone in the eyes when you talk to them. Speak kindly to yourself.

And then, just notice…

This week’s quote comes from Krishnamurti:

“I enter fully into each experience, and I come out fully from each of them too.
I put the whole of me into all I do, and… out of all I do.”

See you on the mat, Namaste 🙂 XO

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