An Event of a Lifetime

I like it when an email comes in from Shutterfly saying “your memories from this week last year…” Looking back usually evokes many joyful emotions and I am reminded of God’s blessings in my life. Physical reminders of God’s faithfulness in the past can remind us to trust Him now and in the future. The photos from my daughter’s wedding recently arrived. I am going to savor the moment now and in years to come.

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Preparations On the Big Day

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Our photographer, Jordan Kubat did a wonderful job of capturing all the special moments.

Lindsay found fantastic hair and make up artists, Elite Makeup Designs, who helped everyone look their best.

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The Elegant Nature Wedding

I’m not surprised my daughter’s priority was to get married outside in a beautiful nature setting. We eventual chose scenic Spanish Hills Country Club for the site of the wedding and reception.

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Unique Floral Designs took expert care with the florals and helping to interpret our vision.

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All Occasions Event Planning directed the entire affair, so everyone was able to enjoy the wedding to the fullest. As the guests arrived, they were serenade by a lovely string quartet.

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I was overcome with emotion as my husband and daughter walked down the aisle.

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Lindsay and Ben wrote their own vows to each other. They were beautiful; sharing their hearts gave everyone a glimpse into their loving relationship and their quirky personalities.

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We did it! Husband and wife, united in love!

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Each member of the bridal party shined!  I’m proud of these wonderful young adults. The bridesmaids were pleased that they were able to select their own individual style gown from the same Mulberry color palette at Azazie.

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Happy parents!

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Joyful family!

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Proud Grandparents!

Party Time

One of the best things we did was to add an extra hour to the reception time. It gave people time to dance and relish the moment. Our DJ, Nicholas Whitzler – Impressions San Diego, was a marvelous MC and he kept the hits coming! Another good idea was purchasing flip flops at the Dollar Store, so the ladies could kick off their heels. We had a box full and they were all used.

Lindsay-dancing

The wedding cake from Viktor Benes Bakery received many compliments. We went with the strawberry cream filling. Delicious!

With all our loved ones around us, the evening couldn’t have been any better.

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With a grateful heart,

Linda

Remember the wonders He has done, His miracles, and the judgments He pronounced. – Psalm 105:5

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Feeling Uplifted with Upward Plank

I don’t usually like spending a lot of time in front of the computer but the past few weeks, I had to for various reasons. I can feel the extra tightness in my shoulders and upper back. When I need to re-balance my body after a long day of working at a computer, I like to do Upward Plank Pose.

Practicing upward plank can be a great way to counteract the negative effects of desk-slouching, driving, and other forward-facing actions that can cause rounded spines. ¹ Purvottanasana opens up the whole front side of the body and it is invigorating!

 

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Benefits 

Upward Plank is a very good yoga and Pilates exercise for improving your posture, building strength and flexibility. It stretches the shoulders, chest, abdomen, forearms, tops of the feet, and ankles; while strengthening the arms, shoulders, upper back, legs, glutes, and wrists. Practicing this skill regularly, builds core strength, and increases energy levels.

How to do Upward Plank:

Sit up with your legs stretched out straight in front of you, your feet together and spine erect.

Bring your hands several inches behind your hips, shoulder width apart. Rotate your palms so your fingertips point in the same direction you are facing (toward your feet).

Draw your shoulder blades together, lean back and support the weight of your body with your hands. Do not bend the arms.

Breathing in, raise the pelvis up toward the ceiling keeping the whole body straight and long. Your chest is lifting and the spine is in one straight line.

Keep your knees straight and bring the feet flat to the floor. Point the toes towards the ground and let the head fall back. Your hands should end up under your shoulders.

Hold the pose and continue breathing. As you exhale, come back to a sitting position and relax.

Do not practice Upward Plank Pose (Purvottanasana) if you have carpel tunnel syndrome, a wrist or shoulder injury. ²

Upward Plank (also called Reverse Plank or Incline Plank) requires a lot of strength. Beginners can take some of the weight off their arms by practicing with their hands on a raised solid surface like a step or sturdy bench. If the intensity of the pose is too much, try Reverse Table Pose instead. Reverse Table has similar benefits.

For the Challenge

More advanced students can come into One-Legged Upward Plank Pose (Eka Pada Purvottanasana) by extending one leg off the ground and up into the air. Just remember, take it slow and don’t push the pose too far. Safety and form is first and foremost.

 

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My head is turning towards the camera in this One-Legged Upward Plank Pose; but normally, you would hold your gaze straight up.

 

Have an uplifting week, Linda

 

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD. – Psalm 31:24

 

Please visit my website: http://www.lindaeichberg.com

©All Rights Reserved. This blog is not intended to take the place of professional medical advice; consult your doctor before starting any new physical activities.

 

Footnotes:

  1. https://www.yogaoutlet.com/guides/how-to-do-upward-plank-pose-in-yoga/
  2. https://lifenlesson.com/upward-plank-pose-and-its-benefits/

Pain Prevention For Your Knees

It is not uncommon for my fitness clients to ask how they can alleviate their knee pain. Pain prevention may be as simple as doing a few quadriceps stretches. The quads can be a source of knee problems. The quadriceps provide support and mobility for the knees, when they are tight, you can experience knee soreness.

In general, it is important to have a well rounded exercise plan that includes stretching. Stretching is essential for optimal joint and muscle function. Even if you are only taking a walk or short jog, it is key that you stretch your quads if you want to preserve your knees. I learned this the hard way. In my younger years, I was a jogger and had aching knees just from skipping my quadriceps stretches.

 

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Lunge and pigeon quad stretches work deep and excellent options to the typical standing quad stretch.

 

Yoga and Knee Pain

Strengthening the quadricep muscles can also be helpful to those suffering from knee troubles. Warrior poses are often useful, says Dr. Sydney Pardino. “In these poses, the front leg is bent, while the back leg is straight. In a well-aligned warrior pose, the knee is positioned vertically over the heel – this is an excellent pose for strengthening the vastus lateralis, the largest and most powerful of the quads.” 

 

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Alberici Sisters – Warrior Pose modification

 

Yoga is a form of dynamic stretching that takes a muscle through the full range of motion. The practitioner moves slowly from one pose to another, which makes it ideal for those who are new to a fitness program or who have knee discomfort. ¹

Yoga and well as Pilates can correct postural alignment which will improve your gait, taking stress off the knees. Knee pain may be a sign of a serious problem. See your orthopedic doctor or Chiropractor if you experience pain or swelling that lasts for more than a few days or if you are unable to put your full weight on your leg.

Blessings in health, Linda

 

“For who is God besides the Lord? And who’s the Rock except our God?”  – 2 Samuel 22:32

 

© All Rights Reserved

Footnote

  1. https://deserthealthnews.com/stories/advantages-stretching-knee-pain/

 

Why We Cry in Yoga Class

It is a rare occurrence but I have had students cry in my yoga class. I have cried in yoga class. The tears are not from any physical pain caused by the yoga postures, so why does this happen?

Yoga and Emotional Healing

“The body remembers everything and holds unprocessed tension”, Melody Moore, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and registered yoga teacher says. “When we move our bodies and breathe, it gives us an opportunity to work out that tension. As it releases, so too does the emotional story or baggage.”

Karol Ward and other therapists maintain that the body holds on to feelings, even if it seems the mind has dealt with them. “So if a person has the opportunity to relax that area, whatever has been held there can come to the surface,” Ward says. “The body wants to complete the emotional experience.” ¹

 

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Awaken Your Body – Movement is Medicine

Certainly, one of the reasons we go to yoga class is to release tension but understanding that memories, and the emotions attached to those memories, are held, even trapped inside our muscles is a revelation. The stretches and exercises we do in yoga release pent-up emotions, adding another perk to the holistic benefits of yoga.

Some say crying is more common in hip-opener poses like Pigeon pose. That is the pose I was doing when a repressed memory and emotion flooded to the surface and had me weeping.

 

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Pigeon and laying pigeon pose

 

“The yoga mat is our own personal island where any emotions we feel—joy, dread, exhilaration or despair—can all surface safely here without judgement. A good yoga practice taps directly into our core and reality of what’s happening in our lives, so it can be an emotional release depending on what we’ve been denying or holding in. It’s a fabulous place for sweet release and surrender which leads to healing.” – Kathryn Budig, (yoga author & instructor)

 

Yoga and the Psyche

I think, when you soften your heart and body you find your true spiritual essence and improve your yoga practice. Yoga teacher, Marc Holzman clarifies this; “We wear thick, protective, armor. Our survival tactics are well in place and have accumulated over a lifetime. After a deep practice, when you least expect it … even when you’ve had an ordinary day … some of that armor melts. The thick outer shield softens and gives way to a softer more vulnerable layer. We surrender just a little bit. We give up the fight. Emotions can easily make their way to the surface.”

Mariana Caplan, Ph.D., and author explains, “The body contains the memory of the whole life we have lived,” so many emotions—sadness, fear, anger, arousal—can pop up in class when you’re not as focused on your day-to-day demands.

If you ever do find yourself crying in yoga class, remember this is healing, let the tears flow in gratitude and take Caplan’s advice. “The body just needs to release sometimes,” she says. “Allow it to happen and don’t make too much of a story. Let it be and trust it’s a positive thing.” ²

Best in health, Linda

 

“Let your favor shine on your servant. In your unfailing love, rescue me.” – Psalms 31: 16 (NLT)

 

© All Rights Reserved

Footnotes

  1. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/21073097/ns/health-fitness/t/moved-tears-workouts-waterworks/#.WnILoiPMzm0
  2. https://www.self.com/story/crying-in-yoga-class

Exploring Your Dynamic Energy With Revolved Triangle

What if I told you, you could receive $10,000 if you practiced yoga on a regular basis. Would that motivated you? I received a $10,000 discount on the purchase of my long-term health care plan because I had a regular yoga practice. Keeping you healthy will lower your health care rates and keep you from burdening the health care system in general so everyone benefits! This is National Yoga Month, what better time to start?

Revolved Triangle is one of the most expansive stretches I know for the lower back. This pose blends two different dynamic energies as you root down into the earth with the legs, and send energy up through the extended arm.

Finding Your Reach

Revolved Triangle Pose (Parivrtta Trikonasana) provides generous rotation in the mid torso but this pose isn’t all about twisting, it is also a balancing posture that engages your legs and core muscles for support. When alignment is correct, this asana can create strength and flexibility in the back, hips and hamstrings and establish balance both physically and energetically. It can generate a steadiness of mind and a sense of extension as you ground one hand to the earth and reach the other to the sky.

 

Revolved Triangle Pose – Instructions

  1. Using the length of the yoga mat, step your feet about 3½ ft. apart, opening into a wide leg stance with the heels in line with each other, toes pointing forwards. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them actively out to the sides palms down.
  2. Adjust your left foot in to the right at a 60 degrees angle and turn your right foot out to the right 90 degrees. Align the right heel with the left heel. Feel as if you are drawing up energy with your pelvic floor. Firm your thigh muscles as you lift your abdominals. Turn your right thigh outward, so that the center of the right kneecap is in line with the center of the right ankle.
  3. Lengthen your spine and raise the left arm up and turn your torso to the right. Square your hips with the front edge of your mat. As you bring the left hip around to the right firmly ground the left heel.
  4. Turn your torso further to the right and lean forward over the front leg. Place your left hand on the floor (or a yoga block) adjacent to the big toe.
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Almost there! – A modified version

(Sometimes I’ll strike an impromptu yoga pose without a mat but please use a yoga mat for your practice.) 

  1. If your balance is stable and you feel you can twist deeper, finish the pose by moving your hand (or block) to the baby toe side of the right foot.

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  1. Keep your head in a neutral position or turn the head and gaze up at your top thumb. From the center of the back, between the shoulder blades, press the arms away from the torso and lengthen. Bring most of your weight on the back heel and the front hand.
  2. Hold this pose for 4 to 10 deep breathes. With your exhalation grip your core muscles and release the twist. Slowly and with control, bring your torso back to upright as you inhale.

Tip: You can place your left heel against a wall for extra stability.

Repeat for the same length of time with the legs reversed, twisting to the left.

Therapeutic Applications: Constipation, Digestive problems, Lower backache, Sciatica, tight hips or hamstrings and Asthma. ¹

As a yoga instructor, I recommend Revolved Triangle for tennis players and golfers to stretch their overused muscles. Use caution, perform this pose only with the supervision of an experienced teacher. Consult a doctor if you have back, hip or spine pain, or injury.

Best in health, Linda

 

“He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.” – Psalm 23:3 NLT

 

My heart and prayers go out to the victims of the latest hurricanes, Irma and Maria. The American Red Cross is on the ground in Puerto Rico and has already mobilized more than 250 tractor-trailer loads of relief supplies to help Puerto Rico including 9,000 comfort kits as well as several thousand tarps, flashlights, batteries, blankets and hand sanitizer. Please join me in the effort. Donate here.

 

Footnote:

  1. https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/revolved-triangle-pose

 

© All rights reserved

The Power of Intentions

A long line formed outside the door of the fitness room. With yoga mats in arms, the group whispered excitedly to each other as they waited for the teacher to usher them into class. It took a couple of seconds for it to register, they were all waiting for me and my class and what God would reveal through it. 

 

 “When the deepest part of you becomes engaged in what you are doing, when your activities and actions become gratifying and purposeful, when what you do serves both yourself and others, when you do not tire within but seek the sweet satisfaction of your life and your work, you are doing what you were meant to be doing.” – Gary Zukav

 

Life Like Yoga

Yoga is good physical fitness, but it is the mind is where all yoga postures begin and expand. In my classes, I usually start the session by having my people center their mind and set an intention for their class. We start simple, focusing on sustaining deep and resourceful breathing. From there, we can move on to more specific intentions like mastering a pose, healing an injury, releasing physical and emotional tension or improving flexibility and alignment.

Your intentions whether conscious or unconscious, positive or negative will prove themselves in the end, taking you in their direction. Like a signal or message transmitted from us, intentions are always being served.

 

Alignment – Agree With the Soul’s Wisdom

 As long as your intentions are in agreement with the spiritual energy and wisdom within the soul, your intentions will have power! This energy will bring bring your desires closer to you. You’ll be surprised how much support flows to you when you bring a greater spiritual meaning to your physical experience. This invariably involves harmonizing your intentions with how you can best serve others while still being true to yourself. An authentically driven person lives in love.

 

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Desire and Destiny

Don’t put off living. Do what makes your soul sing! Only you know what you desire more than anything else in life. Powerful actions are shaped from that knowing. As your desire is, so is your intention and your destiny.

Intention is much more powerful when it comes from a place of contentment than if it arises from a sense of lack or need.  In his book, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, the Law of Intention and Desire, Deepak Chopra lays out five steps to setting powerful intentions. This is a brief summary:

  1. Meditation takes you beyond the ego-mind into the stillness of pure consciousness. This is the ideal state in which to plant your seeds of intention.
  2. After you set an intention, let it go—simply stop thinking about it. Continue this process for a few minutes after your meditation period each day.
  3. Stay centered, abstain from being influenced by doubt or other people’s criticisms. Your higher self knows that everything is all right and will be all right, even without knowing the timing or the details of what will happen.
  4. Relinquish any attachment to a specific outcome because attachment is based on fear and insecurity. Have an unquestioning belief in the power of your true self. Intend for everything to work out as it should, then let go and allow opportunities and openings to come your way.
  5. Your intention will set the power of the universe in motion. Trust it. Don’t listen to the voice that says that you have to be in charge or obsessively vigilant to accomplish your purpose. The outcome that you try to force may not be as good for you as the one that comes naturally. Release your intentions to bloom when the season is right.

 

It’s all God’s anyway. He already knows what we want and need. The Scriptures put it like this…

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” – Romans 8:28 NLT

My attention for this moment is focused on being grateful for right now, full of praise and wonder, growing more in the understanding of myself and God. I make my intentions with thankfulness, acknowledging my current blessings and what is to come, as if I am already in receipt of it.

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Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

Many Blessings, Linda

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” – Matthew 7:7

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

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My heart and prayers go out to the coast of Texas and the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Join me in supporting them through the Red Cross and Foursquare Disaster Relief.

 

© All Rights Reserved, Linda Eichberg – 2017

 

 

Celebrating with Both Big Toe Pose

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF YOGA

Yoga is a 5,000-year-old physical, mental and spiritual practice; the United Nations General Assembly declared June 21st as the International Day of Yoga.

Yoga is an invaluable gift! More than just exercise, yoga is the exploration of the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and nature. “It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being.” – Narendra Modi

 

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Both Big Toe Pose – Ubhaya Padangusthasana

 

Spotlight on Both Big Toe Pose – Ubhaya Padangusthasana

 How to do Both Big Toe Pose – To hold this pose, you will first need to breathe and calm your mind. The object is to find a balance of energy in the legs and spine. Sit down with your legs bent. Grab your toes with two fingers; use your sitting bones as your grounding point. Without letting go of your toes, straighten your legs up. Elongate your back, lift your breastbone and lengthen through the hamstrings.

Energy Flow

Feel life force extend through your head and feet. Keep your heart lifted; don’t let your rib cage collapse onto your stomach or round your back. Hold for six deep breaths or longer and enjoy this energizing yoga posture.

“Every posture has important principles of structure, alignment, and kinesiology. But learning to cultivate internal energy flow is just as important as mastering these mechanical aspects,” – Ganga White

Happy yoga day and May God bless you with His life-giving energy.

With gratitude, Linda

 

“For He who is Almighty has done great things for me and holy is His name.” – Luke 1:14

 

Visit my web site!

 

© All rights reserved

Dean Martin’s 100th Birthday!

Dean Martin would have celebrated 100 years on June 7th. His wit, humor, talent and style are renowned around the world. And his talent and fame still transcends the generations.

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Dean Martin with two of his Golddiggers, the Alberici Sisters, backstage at the MGM.

Some of you may already know I had the honor of working with Dean Martin as one of his “Golddiggers” for almost two decades. And yes, he was a cool as he appeared to be on television.

The Vegas Years

When The Golddiggers we were not making TV appearances with Dean, we were touring the world with our stage act. Some of our first gigs were at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, where we opened for Petula Clark and then again for Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme. I still remember how extremely protective Edie was of Steve when we were around. I don’t know what she was thinking but her reaction was pretty funny. After all, we weren’t those kind of gold diggers.

In the 1970’s, in between taping television shows, we were frequently head-liners with Bobby Goldsboro at the Thunderbird Hotel. The Golddiggers were also the opening act for Joan Rivers and regulars at the MGM Grand with Dean.

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The “king of cool” was always charming and generous in sharing his funny banter with us.

 

Vegas was very hip and glamorous in those days. In the 1980’s Dean Martin and The Golddiggers became a regular act at Bally’s Las Vegas, breaking box office records. More than just work partners, like a family we shared special occasions like birthdays and Christmas together, even some heartbreaking times.

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Celebrating Dean’s birthday about 32 Years ago! Dean Martin and The Golddiggers at Bally’s, circa 1985 – 86. From left to right: Patti Gribow, Maria (Alberici) Lauren, Dean Martin, Robyn Whatley and Linda (Alberici) Eichberg

 

Dean’s Softer Side

Dean was sensitive and caring. When we were performing at Bally’s in the 1980’s, I had a medical emergency and had to be hospitalized. Dean was so sweet; he surprised my mom and my husband, who had to fly in and stay with me in Vegas, by paying their hotel bill. He also called and sent me the most beautiful red roses, two dozen! He was a gentleman, a class act all the way. The Golddiggers were too, what pros! Twenty minutes before show time they found out I was on my way to the hospital. In that short time they were able to re-choreograph the show and cover my solo’s. No one in the audience was the wiser.

Dean Martin Ann Margret Collage

The phrasing and delivery of Dean’s quips are so clear in my mind. He had the perfect comedic timing!

 

The Dean Martin Show Years

We put together some television clips of songs from The Dean Martin Show along with some of our fondest photo memories. I hope our heartfelt birthday tribute to Dean brings a smile to your face! Enjoy a look back at a sweet time in television history.

 

Happy 100th birthday Dean!

Love, Linda and “Your Golddiggers”!

Dean Martin & The Golddiggers backstage at the MGM with the Alberici Sisters

Dean Martin and The Golddiggers, circa 1975

 

Read about our adventures with Dean Martin, The Golddiggers and the ‘Legends of Las Vegas’ in our book Beyond Our Wildest Dreams, available on Amazon!

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© All rights reserved

Finding the Balance to Stay Strong and Carry On

 

It may seem that I’m sitting on the rock, but look closer and you will see my body is floating, hovering above it.

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Floating Stick Pose – Utpluti Dandasana

The goal of this exercise is to explore how changing your center of gravity affects how well you can balance. It would be almost impossible for me to support all my body weight, as I am in the photo, if I didn’t find the perfect spot to place my hands to balance evenly front to back.

When I put Floating Stick Pose into one of my yoga fitness classes, it invokes some giggles because at first, my students think it’s impossible to do. But once the foundation of the fulcrum is placed in the right spot, it is possible.

Exploring Balancing Poses

Most of the women I teach like to follow me as I go through my yoga postures, this is fine, but sometimes I need to challenge them to find their own way in balancing postures. Balancing poses cannot be achieve by just watching, you must listen to your own body and discover the way. It is not only how far you stretch into a yoga pose that matters but also how you engage your body’s dynamic energy. 

Benefits

Balancing requires that we tighten our core, and lengthen outward, as a result it tones the whole body.

Working to stabilize a balancing posture burns calories and improves cardio vascular function.

Holding your balance teaches the interplay of concentration and focus.

In learning to balance, you will perfect control and develop an understanding of lines of energy.

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Balancing Stick Pose -Tuladandasana

Other names for this posture include warrior three pose, one-legged pose & balancing staff pose.

“If I am loosing balance in a pose, I stretch higher and God reaches down to steady me. It works every time, and not just in yoga.” – Terri Guillemets

Soul Yoga

Balance is the foundation of all movement and helps to develop coordination and grace that carries over to everything you do. Finding the right balance and the right purpose is one of the secrets to a long fulfilling life and when life’s storms come, you will know how to stand. 

“Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away.” – Barbara De Angeles

Mindfulness, prayer and meditation releases God’s wisdom into our circumstances. If we continue to feel for the vibration of our true essence as daughters of God and align our thoughts to Him, we will find balance and energy.

I reflect on the many blessings God has given me and my family. His blessings are my inheritance. I am here for a purpose. God is within me.

With gratitude ~ Linda

 

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” – Matthew 7: 24 – 25

 

European Adventure Part 4 – Hungary

BUDAPEST

Budapest at last, the final stop on our Danube river cruise. I was very excited to see the homeland of my maternal grandparents and walk the streets where my Magyar ancestors walked. My great grandfather was a judge in Budapest and I was eager to experience it’s history and culture.

Budapest-Parliament-on-Danube-by-Linda-Eichberg_1

One of the most striking sights on our cruise in to Budapest was the incredible Parliament building shooting up from the bank of the Danube! The Gothic style exterior, coupled with the Renaissance Revival style of it’s dome, gave promise of the wonderful visions to come.

Our first land tour was a bus ride trough the city, a very interesting overview where we saw memorials, statues, parks, the Turkish baths, famous buildings and more. It wet my appetite to see more. I was so glad we extended our stay in Hungary. We did some shopping near our docking spot and before we knew it, it was time for dinner.

After dressing for dinner, I took in the perspective from our balcony. The Budapest University of Technology and Economics was sparkling on the water. It’s the oldest institute of technology in the world.

Budapest University of Technology and Economics

 

Our first night, we were treated to an amazing night cruise on the Danube. Budapest is stunning at night.

Liberty Bridge

 

The next morning, we said our goodbyes to the crew of the Avalon Expression and checked in to the very chic InterContinental hotel. Within walking distance of our hotel there was a lot to do and see. As I came around a corner to the sight of Saint Steven’s Basilica, I was awed by its monumental presence in the distance.

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This Neo-classical wonder drew me in like a magnet to take a closer look.

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My travel companions had no desire to see the inside of another church so I ventured inside alone. It was stunning!

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Budapest Jewish District

I enjoyed the walking tours best, especially the Budapest Jewish quarter tour. I recommend it for anybody who wants to get an insight to Jewish Budapest. During the tour, you will also discover the cool party district of Budapest and the “Ruins Bars”.

While we walk my companions and I learned about Jewish memorials, fascinating old buildings and experience the unique, special atmosphere of this multicultural district of Budapest. Especially interesting was hearing the history of the Budapest ghetto and the Hungarian holocaust from an expert in Jewish history.

I thought The Great Synagogue or Dohány Street Synagogue was spectacular. My photo only shows a small portion of the exterior so you can see the architectural detail, topped with copper onion domes. The Great Synagogue, in Moorish revival style, is one of the largest Synagogues in the world!

the-great-synagogue-budapest

 

The interior of the Synagogue was also very grand and impressive. It can hold nearly 3,000 people with it’s two levels of seating.

the-great-synogogue-interior

 

The Jewish Museum and the Holocaust Memorial Center

Next to the Great Synagogue is the Holocaust Memorial Museum. Here we saw Jewish religious objects and historical items like the uniforms worn by the Jews in concentration camps. It’s heartbreaking, almost 600,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered by the Nazis and Arrow Cross Party.

From there we made our way to the Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Park, named after Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg who saved the lives of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews. The park honored Jewish and non-Jewish alike, righteous heroes who sacrificed their lives or put their lives at risk to save victims of the Hungarian Holocaust. The memorial also reminded us of all of the hundreds of thousands of Jewish martyrs and labour-camp inmates who died unknown. It was clear that Hungarians were ashamed of their past alliance with Nazi Germany. The persecution, suffering and murdering claimed over half million Hungarian citizens. 

tree-of-life-holocaust-memorial

One of the stand-out’s in the park is a large metal sculpture, the “Tree of Life.” Also called the Weeping Willow Tree Memorial. Engraved on each individual leaf is the name of one of 5,000 victims or families. At the front of the Tree is a black double archway memorial with the words – “Is there a bigger pain than mine?”

Experiencing the Synagogue, museum and memorial park was a deeply moving experience. If it wasn’t for the uplifting stories about the many Holocaust heroes, our professional guide disclosed to us, it would have been very depressing.

Kazinczy Street

The neo-renaissance Orthodox Synagogue was another landmark we saw. It stood imposing on Kazinczy Street along with the old buildings. We ended our tour experiencing a ruin pub or ‘ruin bar’. That was fun and memorable.

ruin-bar-budapest

Szimpla Kert, Ruin Bar

The rickety furnishing, multi colored interiors, and hipster crowd make these ramshackle properties popular.

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The legendary Szimpla Kert is the best-known ruin pub in Budapest. It holds a mix of eclectic styles and an a vibe of urban life. The dilapidated edifice also boasts a distinct charm.

Nightlife in Budapest

The ruin pub phenomenon is a big part of Budapest’s unique nightlife. Fine dining and music is also plentiful. What I enjoyed that night was right at our hotel. We had a fantastic location on the Danube.

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Debbie, Alison and I, enjoying the night life

The InterContinental had a stylish bar and restaurant with a spectacular views of the Buda Palace and Chain Bridge.

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Peter, Steven and Joey at one of the InterContinental restaurants.

 

In the background, Castle Hill and Saint Matthias looked magical in the shadows of dusk.

 

The glow of the Buda Castle at night

 

The half day tour of the Buda Castle complex offered wonderful vistas and photo opportunities. The famous Chain Bridge spans the Danube below.

 

Castle Hill is a great place to pick up souvenirs. I bought a lovely table cloth for my mother that was embellished with colorful embroidery. The Hungarians do excellent needlework and embroidery is a popular textile art in their communities. My Hungarian grandmother use to make beautiful clothes for me and my sisters.

 

Take a closer look at the gothic details in the architecture of Saint Matthias!

 

Inside Parliament

The day before we left we took a fantastic tour of the interior of the Parliament building. The guide was filled with fascinating historical information. I enjoyed the stories about how the Hungarian crown jewels were lost or stolen a number of times. For a while they were held in the U.S. at Fort Knox.

The National Assembly of Hungary was not in session so we had the unique opportunity to see their legislative chambers.

Assembly hall of the House of Magnates

 

The council chambers were gilded with gold so was the Main Hall and it was magnificent!

Steve and I standing at the Main Staircase of the Parliament building.

 

Across from Parliament is the Budapest Museum of Ethnography. It was a beauty with astounding artistic and architectural appointments!

 

On the way back to our hotel, we stopped at the Shoes on the Danube Memorial on the Pest side of the Danube Promenade.

Shoes on the Danube Bank Memorial

It was a stark and sickening reminder of the cruelty of the Arrow Cross terror where 3,500 people, 800 of them Jews, who were shot into the Danube River during the dark winter of 1944 -1945 at the end of World War II. That winter the Danube was known as the Jewish cemetery. ¹

“…what I saw was worse than anything I had ever seen before, worse than the most frightening accounts I had ever witnessed. Two Arrow Cross men were standing on the embankment of the river, aiming at and shooting a group of men, women and children into the Danube – one after the other, on their coats the Yellow Star. I looked at the Danube. It was neither blue nor gray but red. With a throbbing heart, I ran back to the room in the middle of the apartment and sat on the floor, gasping for air.” ²

This trip unveiled so much of man’s inhumanity to man during World War II but also the courage of the many brave hero’s who overcame the evil. There was an abundance rich history, local color, art and beauty. I highly recommend this European river cruise down the Danube from Prague to Hungary. Avalon Waterways was marvelous!

See also:

European Adventure Part 1 – Czech Republic  

European Adventure Part 2 – Germany and Cesky Krumlov

European Adventure Part 3 – Austria

 

Many blessings, Linda

 

“I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord for He has been good to me.” – Psalm 13: 5-6

 

References:

1. T. Zane Reeves, Ph.D., Shoes Along the Danube: Based on a True Story (Durham: Strategic Book Group, 2011)
2. Zsuzsanna Ozsváth, “From Country to Country: My Search for Home” in Alvin Rosenfeld, ed., The Writer Uprooted: Contemporary Jewish Exile Literature (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008)

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