Advanced IY Hatha, A Deeper Sense of Stilness

There are so many elements of Yoga and Ayurveda that support our health and journey on earth. Diet, herbs, mantras, meditation, pranayama, yoga nidra, the concepts of the gunas and so on. Advanced (or Level 3) Integral Yoga Hatha is one of the main elements on my journey that brings me back hOMe every time. It is such a comprehensive practice for personal transformation, working with all the layers of our being: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

I have been practicing Integral Hatha Yoga for 15 years now. A beautiful seed of grace was planted within me right from the point of my first practice, and it continues to be nourished and encouraged to grow by the Level 3 Hatha practice. I started at the beginners’ level and gradually, mindfully, and joyfully advanced in the practice. I absolutely love to practice level 3 Integral Yoga Hatha, and I enjoy teaching the Advanced Integral Yoga Hatha Teacher Training, which is coming up in August!

The level 3 practice consists of the same elements of levels 1 and 2: asanas (physical postures), yoga nidra (deep relaxation), pranayama (breathing practices), and meditation. Plus, there are new components: the bandhas (locks applied during pranayama), and new asanas and pranayama practices. We also do the inversions after the sun salutations and standing poses, in the beginning of the class. I love how we have more energy to invest in strong inversions, and thus experience the bliss of inversions right away, carrying it throughout the practice, which gives the class a wonderful flow.

The advanced practice of Integral Yoga Hatha can be quite strong, yet very meditative. This challenge is my favorite element of the class. Even though the practice becomes more complex and rigorous, there is an even deeper sense of stillness and internal awareness. I learn to  challenge my body with such mindfulness, that I can still discover the optimal flow of energy. Through the balance between right effort and surrender, I deepen my awareness of the unity of body, mind, and spirit. 

Integral Yoga Hatha Level 3 is my entry into intuitive living movement. The skillful and creative sequences take me smoothly from moment to moment, making it possible to witness the body and mind with loving kindness. Sometimes I begin my practice with either my body aching or my mind talking loudly, and sometimes  both! As I move through the sequence, I witness the body surrendering to softness and the mind is silenced. The unchanging witnesses expands, and the “little me” dissolves into the stillness and quietness of the now.

Ayurvedic Meal Planning

There are many benefits of making our own meals. We know all the ingredients involved in the process. We know the energy put into the process. We can make it balancing for our constitution and beloved ones. We can create a peaceful environment for eating. We save money, and the list goes on.

But within our fast-paced lives, we may end up just eating something processed or eating out. Ayurveda works by looking at the things we have control over. One very important aspect of this way of living, is that Ayurveda asks us to take responsibility for our choices, including our dietary choices. Through this, there is empowerment and we realize we can make a difference in the quality of our life, and how we feel based on our choices.

When you cook for yourself, you are exercising self-responsibility, and making the right choices for your health, both body and mind. Here are four tips to make cooking your own meals both manageable and fun!

  1. Plan your meals in advance. I personally plan my meals at the beginning of each week, in order to save time and reduce stress. But you can even plan it the night before, in which case you would set out the grains and legumes on the counter each night and soak the ones that require it. This helps you get on track when you start cooking the next day.

  2. Have a scheduled shopping time. It is beneficial to have a stock of staple items in your pantry, and to shop regularly. Grocery day in our household is Saturday early morning, which works for our schedules. If you can go daily, then that’s great! For many of us though, we might find the time  to go once or twice a week. Plan around your “grocery day”, so that you always have the ingredients that you need.

  3. Have your largest meal midday. This is ideal. A lot of our health issues today come from having large meals at other times of day, or multiple times a day. Here is how you could make a habit out of this ayurvedic guideline. Depending on your schedule, you may be able to prepare the meal in advance and then eat it at midday. I find that there are days when I have to make lunch right after I have breakfast or even before. I prepare the grains, the legumes, and the vegetables that take longer to cook. Then I leave the greens washed and chopped, and cook them once I arrive home. Also, if you don’t have time to prepare another meal in the early evening, you might have some leftovers that you could use from lunch. In fact, that’s what I do most days. I make a little more for the midday meal and use that for the evening meal and add to it as necessary. What changes from lunch to dinner is the veggies and greens. I usually take what is left from our lunch, combine it together and make a soup out of it. It’s ideal to prepare the meal and then eat it, but if you know this is not possible for you and the alternative is that you might eat out or eat something that’s processed, then this is a good choice. Cook enough food for both lunch and dinner and then supplement dinner as necessary with a different side dish. If you eat your cooked food within 12 hours from when it is ready, you are still getting most of the prana from it.

  4. Keep it simple. Eating simply is very important. It seems that food has become trendy, and people are more focused on using ingredients to make food look and taste exotic. Our digestive tract actually isn’t that fond of exotic ingredients. It really likes simple foods, and especially not too much variety at once, such as having five vegetables for one meal. For simple and delicious recipe suggestions,  I recommend one of my teachers’ books: Simple Ayurvedic Recipes by Myra Lewin.

Simple yet delicious!

Simple yet delicious!