Skywatch Friday – 36

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Hello friends! It feels wonderful to be back after a long gap of five weeks for today’s Skywatch.

Since I went on a break, I’ve been busy traveling, capturing sky shots, exercising my brain and my mind, practising yoga and delving deeper into the art of breathing, as mentioned in my previous post.

For today’s Skywatch, I’m bringing you shots from my recent trip to Mumbai, which not only gave me a chance to view some of the best colonial-era architectures, amid the teeming millions and their seemingly boundless energy, but also some wonderful bazaars selling an amazing array of commodities in a city with an eclectic mix of traditions, customs, people and cultures. All this, whilst we’ve been enjoying the gorgeous views of the Arabian Sea from some of the best places in the city.

What I loved most about Mumbai was the energy and the pace with which it moves, the towering skyscrapers, reflecting the vast scale of the city that stride way ahead of most others in the country. The last time I was there, I was staying with a relative in one of the suburbs. This time, though, I was lucky to be staying in the heart of town with some of the most impressive sea-facing views from the 26th floor! I could just spend every waking minute by the window, soaking in the sight, watching people moving about in the leisure hours, as the waves ceaselessly crashed on the giant concrete blocks throughout the day.

The mornings usually offered a breathtaking sight of the distant towers against an azure sky, slowly clearing up from the haze and shining with the first rays of the Sun. Being mindful of the moment, I have been observing the minutest details, through each transition, for every moment has a beauty entirely of its own, that makes it so unique and yet so transient. As a way to capture them, I have also been taking shots of sky views from the different places within the city.

Below is the view of the Arabian Sea, that we woke up to, in the mornings. Notice the reflections in the waters, which kept changing through the course of the day.

Those are the the pigeons in flight at the Gateway of India, a popular and a very important place of historical and tourist interest, frequented by all visitors to Mumbai (we were no exception!).The boats, the skyline and the majestic monument all unmistakeably adding to the charm of this place.

img_6476Above, is the view from the Hanging Gardens atop a hill in the upscale Malabar Hill area. Notice the views of a section of Nariman Point and Cuffe Parade, beyond, in the far right. In the foreground, is a rather placid Arabian Sea.

Tree-watching is a favourite pastime that yours truly revels in, especially while visiting new places. I cannot help notice how the landscape changes and gives each place its unique topography. This one is during one such tree gazing moment at the Hanging Gardens. I was focusing on capturing a shot of the horizon in the distance, when I chanced to look up and notice how the Sun shone through the beautiful branches of this tree.

On our last day, we headed for the Girgaum Chowpatty, where we saw the evening unfold into dusk and at twilight when the lights came on, there was a steady influx of crowds, waiting to unwind and let go their hurried paces to savour time with the loved ones. This image tries to capture that hour.

As you can see, the sights were varied and very different, as they were all from different vantage points of the city.

So, how was your week and how did your sky look like? Do share your shots and join up for Skywatch. If you leave your link in the comments below, I would love to visit your blog to see the views in your part of the world too. In the meantime, relax and have a wonderfully relaxing weekend. Hoping to see you again soon. 🙂

(Linking this with #Skywatch Friday, where sky watchers post beautiful sky shots from different parts of the world.)

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Breathing: The Right Way

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Breathing in, I calm the body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is the only moment.   

I love this quote by Thich Nhat Hanh. If you asked me why, I’d tell you that’s all because lately, the science of breathing has taken over my life. Quite literally.

For the past 25 odd days, I’ve been on a break from active blogging and most of social media to devote time exclusively for reclaiming my health. For the most part, it has meant getting more deeply involved with yoga and breathing exercises, and meditation. During this time, I’ve experienced a sense of calm and energy, in a way that has never happened before.

We all know that breath is essential to life. It is the first thing we do when we are born into this world and the last thing we do when we leave. And, even though we know that in between that time, we take about half a billion breaths, we often fail to realize the extent to which the mind, body, and breath are intimately connected and how they influence each other.

Our breathing is influenced by our thoughts, and our thoughts and physiology can be influenced by our breath.

I have been already into yoga and meditation for almost a year, but somewhere along the way, I felt I was not getting the optimal benefits that I was so actively seeking out of the whole exercise. Over the past few months, our son, A has been falling ill rather too frequently, which has thrown me into a tizzy, with apprehensions and worries with regard to how his immunity has been compromised and how his body is struggling to fight infections, as a consequence. What was making things worse was the way I was dealing with stress and the regular everyday pressures of life, always multi-tasking and juggling far too many things than I could handle. During my yoga sessions every morning, I’d find that my breathing would often be shallow and rapid, and there was a certain shortness of breath – a typical fallout of the feelings of anxiety or frustration. All I was getting was an adrenaline rush, that was raising my blood pressure and pulse rate, revving me up to a state of high alert.

89b9d6f94a8c87481e37120faf5e5f1aI knew instinctively that I had to do something about this. My first step was to cut myself off from daily distractions and focus instead on practicing deep breathing daily, not just for the mandatory 30 minutes a day but twice a day. Taking an hour aside every morning to focus on oneself was not easy but one had to do it. That meant dropping most of the things that were usually high on my priority list, for the time being.

Now, when I look back, it was perhaps the best decision ever. I cannot stress enough how beneficial deep breathing proved in helping me to diffuse all that turbulence. Consequently, there was less reactivity on the emotional levels. Fitness and mobility were no doubt enhanced, but something interesting happened to me during these yoga sessions that I think I must share with you. Every day, I found myself slipping into a trance-like state while being immersed in the deep breathing exercises, particularly towards the end. To my surprise, it was happening rather effortlessly – something that made me look forward to these sessions rather eagerly. This surge of sheer bliss and happiness came from the sense of calm, staying with me through the course of the day, filling me with energy, a new-found vigour and positivity, far beyond what I’ve ever experienced earlier.

Today, I’m happy to share a few rhythmic deep breathing techniques, that are simple to practice daily and leave some very positive and lasting effects on the mind and body.

If you haven’t done already, try these two breathing exercises, every morning for 5 minutes initially, then gradually increasing to 10 mins. It is preferable that you do these on an empty stomach. Sit with your spine and neck erect, back straightened,  in a well-ventilated room. Ensure there are no disturbances around. Switch off your phone or keep it on mute. Bring a pleasant smile to your face, relax your facial muscles, gently close your eyes and take five deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly, (to the count of 10 respectively).

‘Nadi Shuddhi’ is very effective when you are feeling anxious, and helps by inducing a sense of calm immediately. To do it:

  • Hold your right thumb over your right nostril and inhale deeply through your left nostril.
  • At the peak of your inhalation, close off your left nostril with your fourth finger, lift your right thumb, and then exhale smoothly through your right nostril.
  • After a full exhalation, inhale through the right nostril, closing it off with your right thumb at the peak of your inhalation, lift your fourth finger and exhale smoothly through your left nostril.
  • Continue with this practice for 3 to 5 minutes, alternating your breathing through each nostril. Your breathing should be effortless, with your mind gently observing the flowing in and out of your breath.

If, on the other hand, you feel angry, irritated, or frustrated, a cooling pranayama such as ‘Ujjayi will immediately soothe and settle your mind. To do this-

  • Inhale slightly deeper than normal. With your mouth closed, exhale through your nose while constricting your throat muscles. If you are doing this correctly, you should sound like waves on the ocean.
  • Another way to get the hang of this practice is to try exhaling the sound “haaaaah” with your mouth open. Now make a similar sound with your mouth closed, feeling the outflow of air through your nasal passages.
  • The hissing sound, called ‘ajapa mantra’ (the ‘unspoken mantra’), serves three purposes: it helps to slow the breath down, to focus awareness on the breath and prevent the mind from wandering, and to regulate, by monitoring and adjusting the evenness of the sound, the smooth flow of breath.

Breathing regulates the thoughts which regulates the mind and brings us the sense of calm that we seek, when stress takes over our lives.

My take from the pranayama sessions is this: When the breath wanders, the mind is unsteady. But when the breath is calmed, the mind, too, will be still. My instructor always advises me to keep breathing deeply, always through the nose. She insists that I listen to its whisper, be aware of its’s texture and temperature. And, anyone who practices these daily will vouch for the fact that deep breathing is one of the best tools for improving your health and well-being.

In fact for a start, just try performing one of these breath techniques twice daily for only three to five minutes and see how you gain long-term benefits for both the mind and the body. And, if you do, do share your experiences. 🙂

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Are you also into yoga, pranayama or meditation every day? Or perhaps something similar that you practice every day, which you’d like to share here? I’d love to hear from you if you’re willing to share the key benefits that you’ve gained from practicing these.

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(Linking this with #mondaymusings.)

 

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Spartan Living – #WordlessWednesday 21

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WW Pic #21 –  ‘Spartan Living. 

Sharing a pic from my recent visit to a dwelling that everyone will be able to identify. Like the heart in the body, this is the place which supplied energy to the entire country, during the freedom struggle. Hriday Kunj. Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad.

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(Linking up with Wordless Wednesday.)

A Mother’s Instinct

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ac3b7e8bf43e877769e5e27fbf716cc2Last Friday, I was woken up by a rather strange dream. It must have been around 3 in the morning. Everything else stood still in those wee hours, except the ticking of the clock. It was difficult to tell if this was real or a dream. I remember telling myself that it must be my instinct, which had crept up to me at odd hours Continue reading

#Skywatch Friday – 35

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Another Friday comes and we all wait eagerly for the weekend to follow. Hope you all had a great working week! Mine wasn’t too bad either, just that things have been a little hectic with me trying to tie up a few loose ends as I set out to plan the blogging/writing projects for this year. Continue reading

#Skywatch Friday – 34

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With the first week of the year 2017 drawing to a close, I think most of us are still reeling under the load of work, whilst recovering from the hangover of the last weekend, as we bid farewell to the year gone by.

Nonetheless, I’m thankful for the short but wonderful break we all had, to wash away the blues and turbo-charge our minds and bodies that should last at least for a while. Continue reading

#Wordless Wednesday – 20

WW Pic #20 –  ‘The Hole in the Wall.  

(Shot through one of the many perforated windows at Sarkhej Roza– a mosque and tomb complex popularly referred to as the “Acropolis of Ahmedabad”, in the western state of Gujarat in India. Built as a fusion of both Muslim and Hindu principles of architecture, Sarkhej Roza has been a prominent centre of Sufi culture in the country.)


(Linking up with Wordless Wednesday.)

‘Living Fully’: My goal for 2017

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The countdown to the New Year began well ahead of time for most of us. We’ve all been planning to make a fresh new start, get into a fitness routine, drop that baggage, lose weight, get rid of old habits and change old ways of doing things. In short, we’ve all been looking at this time to start everything afresh. Begin a new chapter. When the New Year finally arrived, we were happy to bid adieu to the old and promptly, came out our New Year Resolutions. Continue reading

#Skywatch Friday – 33

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A Friday again and time for the sky shots. This is going to be the last #Skywatch post of this year for me as I take a short blogging break over the last few days before the year draws to a close and it feels kind of special putting together some of the best sky views from the weeks gone by. Continue reading

#Wordless Wednesday – 19

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WW Pic #19 –  ‘Angry birds on their way…’ 

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(Linking up with Wordless Wednesday.)