Did you know that you have an extra-ordinary super power that you may or may not be aware of? Yep, every one of us does. And, all we need to do to access it is to get more mindful.Continue reading “Do You Have the X-Factor? ￼”
As we continue to explore the poses and our breathing practices, we are expanding our level of awareness. We are learning to pay attention. We are discovering what it is to be in the present moment. And, it is in the present moment that we experience our true “state of yoga.” It is where we see our connection and remember who we are.
The fourth limb of the yogic system is pranayama or breath control. It is made up of a range of techniques that begin with simple awareness and continue on with more intensive control approaches.
Although pranayama is an integral part of yoga, the practice is not generally taught until a student is comfortable resting with their breath in either a supine or seated position. In this way, a student learns to relax completely in order to receive the breath.
Breathing practices give your mind focus – you virtually tune in when you pay attention to your breath. This can occur whether you are in a resting pose or actively performing the asanas. As many teachers will tell you, “if it is not with the breath, it is not yoga.”
A good way to begin the practice of pranayama is to focus on your belly breath: Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Discover Your Breath”
“Pranayama has slowly pried open some of the tighter places in my body and so provided me with new openings in my asana practice. This, in turn, affects my breathing and, so on and so on, asana and pranayama oscillating back and forth to each other’s advantage.” – Richard Rosen
Pranayama or breath control is defined by B.K.S Iyengar as: “… techniques to make the respiratory organs move and expand intentionally, rhythmically and intensively. It consist of long, sustained subtle flow of inhalation, exhalation and retention of breath.”
With the guidance of some of the world’s wisest yoga teachers, I have made it my quest to incorporate pranayama into my practice. Breaking down the art of breathing into separate stages has helped me to gradually meld it into my daily yoga routine. Over the next few weeks, I will share my personal journey towards pranayama with you. Here are the four main categories we will explore: Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Breathe”
“Just being low down in a room tends to clear the mind. Maybe it’s because being on the floor is so foreign to us that it breaks up our habitual neurological patterning and invites us to enter into this moment through a sudden opening in what we might call the body door.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
This week, we will begin to explore the individual poses of yoga or the asanas. This is the 3rd limb of the yogic system. Although it is self-evident that a steady yoga practice will involve the postures themselves, in the vast scope of yoga the asanas have a specific role to play. The intention of asana is to bring attunement (or greater awareness) to our instinctual responses. For that reason, many of the poses derive from animals who, by nature, are strongly instinctive.
The other main purpose of the asana limb is to balance the energy or prana within our bodies. Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Hold Your Ground”
“Feel the life force flowing from you and drawing into you from the atmosphere: from the rain, from the sky, from the air around you and the stars and the moon and the sun, and everything that exists that represents energy.” -Rudi
Our “pillar” this week is to do some “mind clearing.”
Each day, take the following steps for Creating a Dedicated Space: Continue reading “Establish A Steady Yoga Practice – Open Your Mind”
Have you tried time and time again to set up a daily yoga practice? Or, are you a current yoga student or teacher that is looking for a weekly incentive to spark your home practice or class sessions?
Establish A Steady Yoga Practice was designed to promote a lifestyle habit that can affect every aspect of your well being. It is a journey toward fulfillment; a quest to expand the horizon of your awareness. I have researched and spent many years compiling specific aspects of yoga that can be used as pillars of health and well being for body, mind and spirit. I know this sounds kind of like an infomercial but I believe these techniques are the building blocks for a steady, habitual yoga practice. They have helped me to be a successful teacher and have provided me with a more well-rounded personal practice. Suffice to say, I think that the practice of yoga is more than following a video on YouTube. Continue reading “Establish A Steady Yoga Practice – Invite Yourself”
As the summer solstice approaches, now is the perfect time for seeking solitude for yourself. Periodically remaining quiet increases your awareness and lets your mind rest.
Your challenge this week will be to receive solitude by spending time alone each day. Walking in nature or watching the sunset or sunrise are good ways to soak up some solo time. Also, consider your speech and how much you talk. Curtail your urge to speak a bit this week to bring more reflection and centeredness into your life.
Or, you can choose to be in solitude with others by practicing the concept of mouna or silence. A good time for this is just prior to or following a meal. Another effective time is the first thing in the morning or the last thing before sleeping. If you live with others, make this “silent time” a period for eliminating the television, computer, or any other device that produces sound. For 10-15 minutes (and ear buds plugged in do not count), try to keep the silence with reading, drawing or writing. Eventually, slowly phase out these activities and find a comfortable place to just be still together. During this time, consider your thoughts and observe what surfaces. This is a great prelude to meditation.
Performed on a regular basis, mouna becomes an important tool for generating increased awareness. The yama of asteya or non-stealing in the form of words, can also be a consideration for keeping the virtue of silence. When you practice silence, your thoughts become quieter, and, ultimately, you will find that you are able to pacify your emotions and soften your personality.
Enjoy the stillness!
For many years, the system of yoga was my “go to” method for health maintenance. After all, it is a terrific course for correcting imbalances in body, mind and spirit. Small episodes of pain and stress would come and go – there was always my practice to guide me through any discomfort.
Until this year. I experienced a rare facial nerve disorder (that I have still yet to diagnose). Although restorative yoga postures, breath work and meditation did help me to relax, the pain and other repercussions of this ailment forced me to search out a viable treatment.
So, I googled my options for healing. You could say that I went on a quest for healing.
Because my background is geared to yoga, I applied simple breathing and relaxation techniques to the acupuncture and Jin Shin Jyutsu sessions I received. At first, it merely helped me to stay calm with the uneasiness I felt in these new situations. However, as my comfort level increased, I realized that when I executed these yoga techniques within my treatments, I could awaken my body’s intelligence and amplify my level of awareness.
After a relatively short span of time, not only did my symptoms resolve for longer and longer periods but, in the end, they nearly vanished.
Nowadays, I continue to receive massage and Jin Shin Jyutsu, utilize aromatherapy and am slowly incorporating a stronger yoga practice back into my daily routine. I feel like my body is finally in sync again, a sensation that I had been missing for nearly a year.
Each form of bodywork I experienced has taught me how important the awareness of the present moment is to overall health. I am so thankful that I was able to apply the yogic principles of relaxation and breath work to amplify each modality’s effectiveness.
In turn, I have reapplied this new heightened level of awareness back into my yoga practice. In general, I am staying even more open minded. My body feels a new alertness and there is a deeper level of harmony moving within.
I had discovered that the underlying meaning of each of these modalities is the present moment awareness. And, that, even in the midst of pain, you can lean in, stay attentive and surrender.
Your challenge this week is to locate your own method for generating increased awareness. You may wish to look into one of the modalities that I have mentioned or maybe you already have something simmering on the back burner.
Please keep in mind that whatever you choose should grant you a deeper connection to Self. It should awaken you to your true nature. Only then will you be able to see things as they truly are and live in the present moment.
How do we keep ourselves physically challenged yet safe?
For yogis, this involves two key words – “sthira” and “sukha”. In sanskrit, sthira means strong, stable, steady in focus for mind and body. The ideal counterweight is sukha or that feeling of ease, relaxation and serenity – no matter how strenuous the pose may be. Once you are able to keep the concepts of sthira and sukha in balance, your practice will be at its utmost and your risk for injury greatly reduced.
For this challenge, apply sthira to the gentle flow below:
- Balasana with arms extended
- Supported Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
- Supine Revolved Belly Twist
On the following day, incorporate sukha into the more rigorous practice below:
- Adho Mukha Svanasana 1 or 2 minute hold
- Utkatasana to Utkatasana Twist
- Virabhadrasana I to III flow
Repeat the practices as needed on subsequent days.
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there…”. -Rumi