Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Yoga Retreats - How to Choose The Right One

As a leader of tropical yoga retreats in Hawaii and Mexico, I’ve researched numerous resorts and retreat centers to find the locations most suitable for the clientele I want to draw. Retreat centers range from the rustic to the luxurious, from mountain to beach settings, and from remote to city center. Below are some considerations for what to look for in your search for the ideal yoga retreat.

Know what you want. Do you want to retreat into yourself or have a social outdoor adventure? Some centers have several groups intermingling at meals, at the pool, dance parties, or are centrally located in a town with street noise, music, etc. Others have space for only one group, or are in remote locations with no cars in sight. Many are in between. I’ve found that even if there are plenty of extra activities offered, one can always choose to abstain, stay quiet, take naps, receive bodywork, etc, as long as the setting is tranquil.
Creature Comforts:
Are you wanting an exclusive resort/5-Star hotel experience, or do you prefer the somewhat rustic or low-budget experience? Yoga retreats cover the full range and are usually priced accordingly. Spend some time researching what is offered and the quality of the accommodations before you sign up.
Is the retreat located at a center that caters to yoga retreats?
If not, they may not be equipped with yoga props or have the familiarity with how to best serve the yoga group’s unique needs.
Is it located at a retreat center or at a hotel?
Depending on what you’re wanting from your retreat, one of these is better for you. Would you rather be removed from the daily distractions of shopping, driving, internet and busy streets, or would you prefer to be in town where you can walk, bike, drive or bus to local attractions? Being at a retreat center where there’s plenty of acreage isolating it from the outside world can be very conducive to going inwards and focusing on your practice, personal well-being, rest and relaxation. Many retreat centers offer both, where you can choose to stay exclusively on their campus or you can elect to attend excursions to explore the local environment and attractions.
Are all meals included
? I have found that sharing meals with my retreat participants is a very bonding experience for the group. It’s a time when we can get to know each other and strengthen our connections. It is also a treat not to have to fuss with money and tips at each meal when it’s all-inclusive. However, if you’re more of the adventurous or solitary type, you may prefer a retreat not including all meals where you can go off to explore the local fare.

Are extra sight seeing trips included in the retreat price? Again, depending on your goals for your retreat, you may prefer extra adventures are included. If they are, you can be sure you’re paying for them, whether you attend them or not. If you want to explore the area around your retreat, then the extra adventures can be a blast and another great way to bond with your group while deepening your understanding of the local culture and environment. On our retreats, we like to make these extras optional and then the participants can decide which trips they’d like to attend and the facility will still offer a reduced rate for minimum group sizes. Some centers may have more than one group staying at a time, and they offer a different adventure each day for whoever wishes to attend.
What kind of yoga is being offered?
There are so many styles of hatha yoga taught these days, that it is important to know what style you prefer in order to avoid getting stuck with a teacher or style that is extremely challenging or unsuited to your nature. Most ideal is if you know the teacher you’re signing up to spend your week with. Next best is if you at least know that you like the style of yoga that they teach.

Best of luck and have a great retreat!

Robyn Smith, E-RYT is a certified Anusara Yoga instructor and teacher trainer from Arcata, California. She offers winter week-long yoga retreats in Yelapa, Mexico and Hawaii’s Big Island, and weekend summer retreats by the rivers of northern California. http://innerfreedomyoga.com/retreats.php

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Printed in the Arcata Eye newspaper on Nov. 25, 2009

Have you been meaning to start yoga for the last 5 - 25 years? Have your friends been telling you how great they feel after yoga class and nudging you to come along? Are you afraid you’ll be too tight to do it “right?” If you replied yes to any of these questions, you are not alone. Although millions of people are now incorporating yoga practice into their daily lives, many more millions are still interested but too intimidated to start for several reasons. As a certified Hatha Yoga instructor teaching in Humboldt County for the last 15 years, I have heard many of them. But mostly, I hear how much better people feel when they finally begin classes. I’d like to help you enjoy yoga by dispelling some of the myths out there that are just not true.

The Myths:

Yoga hurts

Yoga is for flexible people/pretzels

Yoga is standing on your head

Yoga is a religion that will conflict with my current beliefs

Yoga classes are too easy and I need a workout

Yoga is too hard and I just want to relax

Branches of Yoga

Let’s begin by clarifying that the kind of yoga we’re discussing here is called Hatha Yoga. It’s the physical branch of yoga incorporating postures and breath. Originally practiced as a way to open and clear the energetic channels of the body in order to achieve higher states of consciousness, it is now more commonly practiced as a form of exercise and as a great way to achieve optimum overall mind-body health. Some other branches of yoga are Karma Yoga (the yoga of service, ex. Mother Theresa), Bhakti Yoga (the yoga of devotional love, ex. the Hari Krishnas), Jnana Yoga (the yoga of Self-knowledge, meditation). Within Hatha Yoga, there are numerous styles, based on the wisdom of the individuals who developed them. Many of these are mentioned below.

Unlocking the Myths

Yoga hurts. If yoga hurts you, you are either pushing too hard, you are in a level that is too advanced, or you are not getting enough instruction to stay safe. In choosing a style and teacher, choose one that can address your physical limitations. In Anusara Yoga, we are highly trained to teach with good alignment and to offer modifications to those who need them. Iyengar Yoga also emphasizes proper alignment and the use of props to modify poses. More gentle styles of yoga are Viniyoga, Bliss Yoga, and Restorative Yoga. If you have injuries or pain in your body, consider some privates with a qualified teacher, or starting with Yoga Therapy Workshops to start unwinding your tension before you step into regular classes.

Yoga is for pretzels. Yoga will make you more flexible and relieve your stiffness. Sure, you may never be able to tie you legs behind your head like some people, but you will certainly find more ease in your body if you start going regularly. In our classes, we have a full range of flexibility levels, from the circus-acrobat teenager to the 70-something senior. Again, finding the right style, level and teacher who can help you with your limits is key to finding joy and relief in yoga.

Yoga is standing on your head. There are hundreds of postures that we can do with our bodies besides standing on our heads, from various standing poses, to sitting, to lying down, bending forwards and backwards and twisting. Inversions (going upside down) are not for everybody although they can be extremely therapeutic. You are always welcome to skip any poses that are not appropriate for you.

Yoga is a religion. Although it comes from India where Hinduism reins,

yoga is not a religion. It is a science and a philosophy for harmonizing our body, mind and spirit. It teaches what most religions share: there is a deeper essence that is bigger than our individual identity, and through the practices, we can connect more fully to that essence, or Self, which is eternal. Yoga, which often translates as union or to yoke or join, is about unifying the individual with that universal source/essence/spirit (or whatever you choose to call it). By opening, aligning, and clearing the body/temple, Hatha Yoga helps us to feel whole and to realize this great inner truth.

Yoga classes are too easy and I need a workout: Oh, not to worry! There are many styles of yoga that will ask you to work muscles you have never felt before. Some will make you hold poses longer, some will flow you more quickly from pose to pose, often with music, working your whole body, from shoulders and back to legs, hips and buttocks. Many people work up a great sweat in practice and have to bring a towel to dry off! Some styles that offer more of a workout: Anusara, Ashtanga, Bikram/Hot, Flow, Iyengar. Just start with the most basic level and make sure you are getting good alignment instructions, as when we don’t align our joints properly, injuries can occur.

Yoga is too hard and I just want to relax: Try Restorative, Yin, or Bliss Yoga. They are more gentle or completely geared for relaxation, holding poses (often supported with props) for 5 minutes each or longer. Just remember to find a qualified teacher who brings in good alignment.

Just as we each have our favorite flavor of ice cream, we will each find our favorite style of yoga, if we’re willing to do a taste test. And not only do we test the style, but we test the teacher. Ultimately, we will find that we must resonate most with the teacher and their unique presentation of their style. We may also find that on some days we prefer a more gentle yoga while on others, we crave more of a workout, or that as we mature in our practice, our needs change and we seek out a new style or teacher to fit those needs.

Yoga has been gaining popularity all over the world in the last decade because it works. It has helped millions of people improve their health and well being at very little cost. Overall, yogis notice feeling less pain, increased flexibility, more strength, reduced stiffness, less stress, more energy, more inner ease and joy, increased immunity and so much more. Now are you ready to start classes? Just find a level and a time that works for your schedule and take the leap into a new adventure!

Robyn Smith, owner of Inner Freedom Yoga, is a certified Anusara Yoga Instructor and Teacher Trainer who is fascinated with the body and its ability to heal and transform. She has a keen eye for alignment and loves to weave poetry and spiritual contemplations into her classes. She offers classes, workshops, trainings, Yoga Therapy and retreats in Arcata, Westhaven, and beyond. Find out more at www.innerfreedomyoga.com.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Isn't it amazing how we get so busy during the summer months, with garden and house projects, family gatherings, travel, weddings, music festivals and camping trips? I love how in the summer time, we’re called to spend more time outside communing with friends and nature and basking in the joys of life.

In Anusara Yoga®, basking in the richness of life is part of our spiritual practice. We endeavor to engage with the full range of life experiences as they arise in each moment. Like the tomato plants stretching towards the sunlight, we strive to drink in life's rich nectar through our whole body and the five senses: the taste of sweet summer berries, the touch of the warm sand between our toes, the delicate fragrance of the roses, the precious bird songs of early morning, and the outrageous visual displays of flowers and grasses shining in their full glory. When we let our senses guide us, we find that we can open to the present moment just as it is, and we feel more joy in our heart, awake in our body, and alive in our spirit.

With summer’s abundance of delicious scents, colors and tastes, it’s a perfect time to practice drinking in life through your senses. Next time you see a sunflower, take a moment to let its exquisite radiance pierce your heart. When you pop a blackberry into your mouth, pause to savor the rush of flavor hitting your tongue. Next time you’re at the beach, stop to let the ocean’s roaring vibration penetrate your being. Next time you’re in downward dog, open your mind to all of the senses simultaneously and notice how alive you feel.

This is fully experiencing life. This is fully living. This is yoga.

May you joyfully drink in the precious nectar of these final summer days as if they were your last. May you take this opportunity to practice opening to the full spectrum of sense experiences, without judging one as greater or lesser. May this practice open your heart with gratitude for the many gifts of this life, and may the gratitude of your heart touch everyone you meet.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ok, just to clarify, we are here to visit with family and friends, and Patrick is working on my parents' fireplace. It just happens to be the week of the M.J. memorial. Loving taking lots of yoga classes and being so warm every day and night!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Michael Jackson

We're down in LA during the Michael Jackson memorial. It's going to be huge! Many streets are blocked off. It's the night before and there's lots of buzz about town. What an icon.
How sad to have lost such a great entertainer and inspiration. And how sad that he was so poorly treated as a child and then so very troubled as an adult. Another reminder that the price of fame is often quite severe.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wow, it's already Summer and the last day of June! We are loving this incredible coastal sunshine. For me, the sun brightens my spirits and encourages my heart to shine even more brightly. I love how the sunlight is so generous, it shines on everyone, every plant and tree equally, without holding back. It makes me want to do the same.
As Rumi says: Your generosity is vaster than the sea. It doe not wait for tomorrow. No need to ask for anything. Does anyone ever ask the Sun for Light?
May we always recognize the sun's generosity in giving us this precious life, even when it's shining through the clouds.

Summer time for me is a time of celebrating the sensual joys of life and nature. With the fullness of the flowers and the expansion of the daylight, I find myself enticed outside, to play in my garden, to explore the wilderness, and to join in the company of friends and family in gratitude for the beauty and abundance we all share.

This practice of celebrating life is a key component in Anusara Yoga. We endeavor to fully engage with life in each moment. Like absorbing the sun's rays, we strive to drink in the nectar through all of our senses: the taste of sweet summer rasberries, the touch of the warm sand between our toes, the delicate fragrance of the roses, the precious songs of the early morning birds, and the outrageous displays of flowers and grases shining in their full glory. When we can truly open to all that life has to offer in each day, we feel more full on the inside; our inner radiance expands and gratitude pours more readily out from our hearts.

May you fully drink in the sweet nectar of summer. May it open your heart with gratitude for the many gifts of this life, and may the gratitude of your heart touch everyone you meet.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Spring Musings
I am quite pleased to see so much awareness in the media about "Greening" our lifestyles.
Please read below about some of our favorite ways to live Green.
What a glorious time of year this is!! Spring is in full swing! Inside, I feel an up-welling of excitement, a desire to expand my body and mind like the new plants sprouting from the earth. The teachings of Anusara Yoga remind us that we are the fullness and expansion that we see everywhere in nature right now. And, as we practice, we can unleash this uplifting feeling.
Patrick and I came back from a great weekend workshop in San Francisco, and Kendra is back from her Yoga Therapy training in North Carolina and we are all still feeling this great inner fullness of light. There is nothing like doing a bunch of yoga in a room with 100 people day after day, all with the same intentions to explore the body and mind open-heartedly. After each class, I found myself more expanded than the last. I noticed that the practice of exploring the edges of my body's abilities brought me a feeling of inner radiance that just keeps growing. I left feeling happy, connected and noticed that even with stragers, I was more kind and present. It really shows the power of the yoga to bring us to higher states of being, to the Self.
I think these musings on Inner Peace must have been written by a yogi:

Symptoms of Inner Peace:
(Watch for these signs of peace. Many hearts have already been exposed. It could reach epidemic proportions).

  • an unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment
  • loss of interest in judging others or yourself
  • loss of interest in conflict
  • loss of ability to worry (very serious symptom)
  • frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation
  • contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature
  • frequent attacks of smiling through the eyes from the heart
  • tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen
  • tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than from fear based on past experience
  • susceptibility to love extended by others and the uncontrollable urge to extend love
If you have all or most of the the above symptoms, be advised that your condition of peace may be incurable. If you are exposed to anyone exhibiting these symptoms, remain exposed at your own risk. These conditions of peace are highly infectious. --Unknown Author.

From our radiance, may we exude kindness and compassion towards others and this Mother Earth. May we treat others and this Earth like our best friends: with respect, with honor and with deep appreciation.

Much love from Inner Freedom Yoga

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

From the Isis Scrolls

Ask the Yogi! Yoga Therapy for Pain and Injuries with Robyn Smith.

In this monthly column, certified Anusara Yoga Instructor, Robyn Smith, will answer your queries about healing pain and injuries through yoga poses. Please send in your questions to robyn@innerfreedomyoga.com.

Dear Robyn,

I’ve been experiencing pain in my right shoulder when working at my computer for the last few months. I thought yoga was supposed to help, but now I notice downward dog and table position aggravate my pain. What do you suggest? Thanks, Anne.

Dear Anne,

Yoga can actually help your situation quite a bit. The funny thing is that the poses that can worsen your injury if done incorrectly are the same ones that can be the most healing if done with proper alignment and action. Downward Facing Dog Pose is a great example. Often in this pose, the lower and upper arm bones succumb to the pull of gravity and the shoulders and base of the wrists collapse, causing wrist and shoulder misalignment and thus pain. However, activating the muscles that oppose the gravitational pull can lead to great shoulder relief. To work in this pose properly, I would suggest first learning to apply the proper actions in the pose I call Half Dog. This is like downward dog on your knees.

Half Dog Pose: To start, set the intention to be kind to your self. This will create a sweet tone for your practice. Now, from all fours, place your wrist creases parallel with the front of the mat, align the middle of the wrist with the outer shoulder muscle, and spread your fingers out like a sunflower. Then allow your heart center to “melt,” creating a valley between your shoulder blades as you recognize your desire to heal your body. (Avoid collapsing fully here if that melting action easy for you). This opening of the back of the heart is the action you’ll need to recreate once in the Half Dog pose. Now walk your knees back about 8 inches and reach your hips back over your knees, so your thighs are vertical. To protect your wrists and shoulders, root down through the finger pads while strongly lifting up through the arm bones. Lift them up so much that your armpits get hollow (without letting them roll inwards towards your ears). Maintaining that action, allow the area between your shoulder blades to “melt” down towards the floor again as you stretch long from your hands to your hips. The opposing actions of the arm bones lifting and the heart melting, create great strength in the arms and upper back, while also opening the upper back. In fact, these actions, when applied daily in this and other poses, will realign your shoulder and may even completely resolve your shoulder pain, especially if your computer position is ergonomically correct! Once you can perform Half Dog without pain, attempt the complete Downward Facing Dog with the same actions. Please keep in mind that many people have an inner torso rotation which needs to be addressed before applying the above actions. This is where a yoga teacher with a trained eye becomes invaluable.


We often have to use under-used muscles to create proper joint alignment, working against our habitual postural or movement habits. When this happens, those under-used muscles get stronger and are more apt to hold the joints in proper alignment. In turn, when the joints are aligned, the muscles are closer to their optimal length and they are “happier!” They no longer “complain” from being over-stretched or over-worked from misaligned positions

Please e-mail me if you have any questions!


Robyn Smith is a certified Anusara Yoga Instructor, Integrative Yoga Therapist and Hanna Somatic Educator who has been teaching yoga since 1994 and helping individuals with chronic pain through Somatics and Yoga Therapy since 1998. She offers classes, workshops, teacher trainings, retreats and privates in Arcata and beyond. She can be reached through www.innerfreedomyoga.com or at (707) 440-2111.

Ask the Yogi: Yoga Therapy for Pain and Injuries

Originally printed in the Isis Scrolls.

In this monthly column, certified Anusara Yoga Instructor, Robyn Smith, owner of Inner Freedom Yoga, will answer your queries about healing pain and injuries through yoga poses. Please send in your questions to robyn@innerfreedomyoga.com.

Dear Yogi,

I always have trouble "feeling" the correct position that my body should be in for Plank pose. Usually my teacher comes over and tells me that my middle is sagging. But I feel that if I raise my middle, my butt also goes up and my lower back gets irritated. Any ideas?

- Janet

Dear Janet,

You are correct to be concerned about your lower back alignment in Plank pose. Plank pose done properly, activates your Third Chakra, the center of your individual power and confidence, and should feel steady and solid like a wooden plank. A sagging middle or a lifted pelvis in Plank pose is an energy drain, allowing your power to “spill out” from your middle. It suggests your core strength is not being used, or is not yet strong enough for the pose, potentially leading to wrist and lower back discomfort.

Good Plank pose alignment is exactly like good Mountain Pose alignment: your thigh bones should move toward the back of your legs and your tailbone should move toward your heels, toning your lower belly. However, in plank, the inner thighs and belly muscles have to work much harder against the pull of gravity to keep your lower back, legs and pelvis (the heaviest parts of your body) in good alignment! To rediscover your personal power and access these important muscles, I suggest finding them first in Mountain pose and then practicing Plank pose on your knees for a while (an easier version), before returning to the full pose.

Here’s How:

Mountain Pose: Come to a standing posture with your feet parallel and hip width apart. Place a yoga block on the narrow setting between your upper inner thighs. Slightly bend your knees and pull your block back with your inner thigh muscles, without locking your knees. Your legs should be straight. Feel how your sit bones expand and your lower back curve increases? This is an important action for creating a lower back curve. Now, keeping your block pulling back and more weight in your heels than usual, lengthen your curve by gently scooping your tailbone down toward your heels. You should feel your pelvic floor and lower belly tone and lift. These are the core muscles you will need to call upon for the full Plank pose. Now if you lift your arms up parallel to the floor, you’re doing a standing plank pose! Let’s put these exact instructions into Plank pose on the knees.

Plank Pose on the Knees: Come to Plank pose with a yoga block on the narrow setting between your upper thighs and your knees on the floor. Because of gravity’s pull, your pelvis and belly will want to hang toward the floor. To use your inner thigh and belly muscles for good alignment, inhale and lift the block with your inner thighs and feel your thighs and sitting bones lift and expand, increasing your lower back curve (see picture A). Now, keeping your thighs lifted, exhale to scoop your tailbone toward your heels with confidence. Feel your legs firmly hug the block and your sitting bones narrow. This strong movement should tone the pelvic floor and lower belly muscles and lengthen the lower back curve you had before. However, it should not be so powerful that it overrides the first movement: pushing your hips and thighs down or sagging, flattening, or rounding your lower back. Now try pulling your hands and knees isometricly towards each other. This action strengthens your core even more to prepare you for the full pose. You are now in the optimal position for the pelvis and back in Plank pose (see picture B). The block is a great tool to help activate your inner thigh muscles, but is not required once you have found them. I also recommend using a mirror at your side to check your alignment.

When you are consistent in your alignment and strength with the knees down, try the full Plank pose again to restore your individual expression of confidence and power. The instructions are the same as above with the knees lifted.

Take care and enjoy your new personal stamina and core strength!


Robyn Smith is a certified Anusara Yoga Instructor, Integrative Yoga Therapist and Hanna Somatic Educator who has been teaching yoga since 1994 and helping individuals with chronic pain through Somatics and Yoga Therapy since 1998. She offers classes, workshops, teacher trainings, retreats and privates in Arcata and beyond. She can be contacted through www.innerfreedomyoga.com or (707) 440-2111.



CONDITIONS SOMATICS CAN HELP: low back pain, bulging discs, sacro-iliac joint subluxation, sciatica, frozen shoulder, knee pain, limping, constipation, shallow breathing, headaches, scoliosis, TMJ dysfunction, carpal tunnel syndrome, bunions, poor posture, limited flexibility, stiffness, all the “itis” family, and many other conditions that may be the result of chronic muscular contractions.


HOW: Through neuromuscular re-patterning. Somatics tells your brain to stop sending the repetitive unconscious messages to your muscles and they relax.

CAUSES: Unconscious tension patterns can start from physical or emotional traumas or habituated movements associated with injury, stress or aging.

Thomas Hanna, P.h.D., founded Hanna Somatic Education based on his studies with Moshe Feldenkrais, Bio-feedback and Hans Selye’s stress response.

For more information on Hanna Somatic Education, see their website at www.somaticsed.com or www.hannasomatics.com.

“I’ve experienced chronic lower back pain for about 3 years, which no other therapy seemed to completely release. With 3 sessions with Robyn, and the exercises she gave me to practice at home, my pain is gone and I’ve been consistently pain free! “ -D.H.

“The somatic session gave me hope about my chronically tight shoulder and neck area. It greatly released in one session and I now have tools I can use to continue my progress.” -M.R.

The class Schedule


5:30 – 6:45 pm
6:00 - 7:30 pm*

Tuesday 9:30 - 10:30 am
Noon - 1:20 pm**
4:00 - 5:15 pm
5:30– 7:00 pm
1 - 2
Patrick - new time!
Wednesday 9:00 - 10:30 am
10:45 am - 12:00 pm
1 - 2
Thursday 9:15 - 10:30 am
10:00 - 11:30 am*
5:45 - 7:00 pm
1 - 2
Friday 9:00 - 10:30 am
10:45 am - Noon

1 - 2+

Saturday 10:00 - 11:30 am 1 - 2 Patrick - new time!

These two classes are held at The Westhaven Center for the Arts,
501 South Westhaven Dr. (Just 5 mins south of Trinidad, 12 mins north of Arcata).
** This class meets at Trinidad Town Hall.
All other classes are at the Community Yoga Center in Arcata.
See Location below.

All classes will meet on Federal Holidays unless noted.

A new year, a new blog!

Happy New Year!! We offer to you some yogic practices for enhancing your life this year:

Yoga Off the Mat: Practicing yoga in your daily life includes how you relate to yourself, to others, and to the planet. With the symbolic time of this "New Year," we can bring our yoga off the mat by taking the opportunity to reflect on the past and to set conscious intentions for the future.
To bring consciousness/awareness to your life is a central element of yogic practice. For me, I notice where I hold myself back with limiting beliefs and habits. I may tell myself I'm not good enough or that things aren't going right. Then, when I remember the Tantric teachings, I ask myself, "says who?" These teachings remind us that we are limitless, perfect and supremely intelligent. They tell us that we already have everything we need to flourish. We need only remember this truth and open to the abundant offerings of Grace, to see the perfection and beauty in ourselves and in the unfolding of each moment.

A New Year's Ritual: Make a list of any habits, burdens, beliefs, or attitudes that no longer serve you that you would like to release from your life. They are like stuck energy inside blocking your experience of inner freedom. On a separate piece of paper, write a list of new habits, beliefs and attitudes you would you like to magnify in the new year. Then make a simple affirmation summarizing each list. "I release insecurities and fear. I live with compassion, faith, and abundant joy." Build a fire and as you remember your affirmation for the first list, repeat the word "svaha!" three times, throwing the list into the fire. Watch it burn into oblivion, symbolizing the dissipation of this stuck inner energy. Do the same for the second list, offering your wishes into the fire to be taken up like a prayer of smoke to some higher spirit. Remember that you can continue to use your affirmations by visualizing a fire of transformation each time you find yourself stuck in limiting thoughts. ("Svaha," an ancient Sanskrit term of renunciation, is traditionally uttered with the gesture of making offerings in a fire ritual).

Thanks for all of your heart-filled offerings to us each year!

May your year be full of sweetness, beauty and joy!