“May all beings everywhere be happy and free and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.” ~translation of Sanskrit Mantra Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu
This week, we will continue to explore the individual poses of yoga or the asanas by addressing the second energy center that is located at the level of the pelvis. It is called the svadhisthana chakra or the pelvic chakra. It also strongly relates to the planet Pluto. A practice for this chakra will be very fluid and energizing. Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Zest Things Up!”→
…we should progressively embrace what is real for us, so that we may find health and harmony. As you go deeper into yoga, remember that you are doing this study in order to remember yourself, to come home to all of you… – Rolf Gates
In our practices this week, let’s focus on the second ethical quality or yama known as truthfulness. As a moral principle, truthfulness or satya, as it is called in Sanskrit, asks us to convey truth responsibly. Like the other yamas, we should consider truthfulness in thought, speech and action.
Now that we have built our foundation for a steady yoga practice, we are ready to begin supporting our practice so that we can keep it going. In my experience, I have found that the best way to keep a steady practice is to form balance. Balance teaches us to be moderate and achieve evenness – it keeps you upright and steady. And, in order to form balance you need to establish pillars to hold up your practice. We will begin with the yamas and the niyamas. These are the yogic branches of abstentions and observances that can stabilize your asana practice.
“Yesterday is but a dream, tomorrow is only a vision, therefore look well to this day.” – Goswami Kriyananda
This week prepare your yoga days by designating a practice tag line for each day of the week. The labels not only provide a preset plan but also assure that during the week the practice will be variable and well rounded.
My quest for August will be to explore the teachings of Viniyoga. Over the years, I have found this particular style of yoga attractive because it represents the way yoga can serve as therapy. The method stems from the teachings of T. Krishnamacharya, T.K.V. Desikachar and, more recently, Gary Kraftsow. In a nutshell, Viniyoga “tweaks” the traditional poses in order to address specific ailments. Foremost, it works closely with the breath by presenting the poses in a vinyasa (or flow-like) manner.
Below, I have provided a short posture sequence for reducing upper back tension and/or the curvature disorder called kyphosis. Unfortunately, we are seeing this condition occuring more and more frequently with the increase in computer and cell phone usage. Left unattended, this posture bias can adversely affect breathing and other system functions. Continue reading “Putting the Kibosh on Kyphosis”→
Greetings! It is with great joy that I introduce Monday Meditation. I hope this endeavor will entice you to build a breathing/meditation practice into your daily routine. If you were following along last month, these weekly tools will continue to expand your practice. If you are new to the site or have never practiced meditation before, the technique below is a perfect way to get started.
After July’s Yoga Practice Challenge, I have fallen back into the meditation habit and it has done wonders! Once I complete my 6 minutes or so of daily breath work and meditation, I find that I have more energy and motivation to move onto whatever the day has in store. In addition, I have tried to incorporate one healthy observance into each week to enhance this vitality. If you haven’t been following along, check out the posts from last month to see what you have missed. To make things easy, I’ve provided audio recordings for you to follow along.
Since this monthly map for a daily meditation/pranyama practice was so successful for me, I plan to keep going. Each week this coming month, I will be introducing a new meditation or breathing technique. Our Monday Meditation series starts tomorrow!
Furthermore, and to expand the commitment, I will soon be introducing Friday Focus – my weekly objective for adding interest and freshness back into my own personal posture practice.
As a yoga teacher, I try to practice the postures daily but it doesn’t always work out that way. And why? Because I seldom have a set plan. Sometimes I will work with an audio recording, sometimes I will rehearse what I am teaching for the week, and sometimes I just resort to a standard sun salutation routine. What I truly need is creative, fresh motivation to get, joyfully, on my mat. If this is something you’ve been craving – join me. And, if you don’t have a personal yoga practice, that’s even better – this could be your start.
Strength building can be a frustrating process. But if you are looking to get stronger smoothly and safely, yoga is the ideal system for laying down muscle. There are three key factors to remember when building strength through yoga.
1.) Get Lean not Mean
Although it seems to be a contradiction that muscles can be both strong and slender, the basis of yoga is all about opposition. Yoga is different from weight lifting or other forms of strength training in that the actions connected to yoga alternate between lengthening and contracting muscle fibers. If you merely shorten muscle fibers through unopposed contraction, you will generate bulkier muscles. This brings to mind the typical muscle man who cannot lower his arms. These shortened fibers, although strong, are inflexible and unwilling to support the joints.
If you proceed in a yogic manner, building muscle strength through asana is safe. As you learn to support your body weight, you can adapt a challenging posture to make it more accessible. Use a chair or a bench to develop your plank or downward facing dog. Start on your knees when you begin side plank or use the wall to support more of your weight for any standing/balance pose.
Also, apply the “48 hour rule” as you progress through yoga. Take a more rigorous posture and gently work with it three times a week or every 48 hours. It takes approximately 24 hours to break down old muscles and another 24 to remodel new ones. With commitment, you will see a significant change in progress that leads to a strong, healthy and confident body.
3.) Play Dead
Every yoga session usually ends with corpse pose or Savasana. Although most of us love this pose for its relaxation factor, the posture is strategically placed at the end of practice for a reason. As the ultimate cool-down, Savasana gives the muscles the opportunity to completely relax so that blood can circulate more freely. When circulation increases, lactic acid can be released from the body alleviating future muscle soreness.