Creating A Home Altar
I have a special place in my home devoted to my spiritual practice. My altar includes photos of my teachers (yoga and family) and some objects that inspire me: statues of Lakshmi, the goddess of abundance, and Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, some rocks, crystals, and trinkets I’ve collected, and a Catholic prayer card given to me by a dear friend. I like to spend a few minutes in front of my alter every day contemplating my life and my practice, but what I’ve learned over the years is that this physical space I’ve created in my home is really just a reflection of the altar within me. Every object, every photo is simply a manifestation of that which lies deep inside. I carry it with me always.
In Sutra 1.28, Patanjali explains that mental stability can be gained through meditation on an experience had in a dream or deep sleep. When we dream, we are uninhibited by our conscious minds and can therefore tap into deeper states of intuition, free from doubt. We may become aware of the underlying beliefs that influence both our perceptions and actions; these realizations can liberate us from our invisible chains.
One-Legged Handstand Prep
Simulating a challenging posture in a more accessible relationship to gravity lowers the stakes and gives us a chance to experience the essence of the pose in a form we can more readily digest. Rather than drowning in effort, we can perceive what’s actually happening. This gives us an invaluable understanding of what’s required to practice the pose when the stakes are raised. One-Legged Handstand Prep is an especially interesting preparatory pose for Handstand because it teaches a few key actions that, when embodied, help us connect to a deep inner support. Below are four different incarnations of One-Legged Handstand Prep that will help you clarify your efforts and strengthen your inversions practice.
MNDFL in the City
I want to introduce you to a beautiful new space where you can literally find the calm in the midst of the chaos. MNDFL is opening their door to New Yorkers and inviting them into the heart of a meditation practice. The minute I stepped foot into their gorgeous, serene space, I knew I had discovered something special.
New Year. Real You.
At the beginning of every year there’s usually a lot of hype around trying to be the “new” you. While I totally understand the motivating power of New Year’s and support any path towards positive change, I have to be honest and admit that any attempt to chase after the “new” me has always left me feeling a little worse. It was around this time of year—deep in the trenches of February—when I would surrender to that invisible force working against me, pulling me under as I tried to swim in earnest towards the surface. Change, however clear or necessary, seemed impossible and I could never for the life of me understand why it was so difficult to manifest the results I so desperately craved. Everything—my happiness, my wholeness, my sense of self—was riding on my success, and so I would put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to deliver results. But after years of “New Year. New You!” disappointment, I arrived at a place where I could no longer endure the overwhelming feelings of shame that washed over me as I proved to myself (yet again) that I, Chrissy Carter, was a huge failure.
Live Your Questions
Every year I spend five days at Heathen Hill in upstate New York to study with one of my teachers, Rodney Yee. It’s a very special week, not just because I get to enjoy time with my friends (the same group returns every year), or because I love the magic that is Heathen Hill, but because I get to be a student. My role as a teacher is to give, and this precious time with Rodney helps me refill my well.
Work It Own It
I’ve always loved wearing high heels, a confession you might not expect from a yogi, but there’s just something about slipping into a beautiful pair of shoes that makes me light up. Maybe it’s because high heels are such a refreshing change from the flip-flops and stretchy pants I wear everyday. When I strut down the street in a pair of killer heels, I feel feminine, sexy, and adventurous.
The Sacred Ritual of a Home Practice
I live for my morning cup of coffee. Sometimes I get excited about going to bed at night just because it means I can wake up and drink coffee. When my alarm goes off, I climb into my terrycloth robe and shuffle downstairs, my dog Ellie at my heels. I savor every part of my morning ritual, from the first whiff of the ground beans as I scoop them out of their tin, to the quiet sitting while I wait for my coffee to brew. I take my mug to the couch and prepare for the first sip, which feels like my own private moment with God. Ellie puts her head on my lap and we sit there in silence in our little church by the window.
The repetitive nature of Surya Namaskara creates an interesting opportunity to observe where we place our attention. We begin by focusing the mind in order to wake up within a familiar context (dharana, or effortful concentration), which invites us to slip into a meditative connection with our practice (dhyana, effortless concentration). Surya Namaskara is often misunderstand as an opportunity to “check out,” but the temptation to merely repeat the sequence in the same way we always have can be a major obstacle to any kind of genuine union of mind, body, and breath.