Tag Archives: yoga

Making Time for You!

IMG_1041Are you on a digital devises the majority of the day?  Whether it be your smart phones, lap tops, or any other hand held devise, in addition the television, many of you are constantly submerged with electronic stimulus.  It is now, so important, to turn off, to make time for you to recharge your own battery and reconnect to what’s most important.

It use to be that living in the fast lane was something to be looked up to, something to work towards and meant you were successful.  The speed of life has gotten so fast that if you don’t slow down and take time for yourself to fill our own tank, overtime you will putter out.  In fact, more and more of you find that you have less and less time and are experiencing high stress levels that will in time contribute to health and mental shut downs.

Down time is so critical for your body and most importantly, your mind.  Unplugging from your smart phone and digital devises will help to recharge yourself.  When you are constantly on the go, you risk losing track of what’s important in your life.

Setting time aside daily to recuperate and to reconnect with yourself is important so that your available to listen to your intuition, your heart, notice when you are stressed so you can manage it and build your spiritual energy.  Do this by making time to be quiet and let the body and mind be still.  It’s essential that you make this time for yourself and not feel guilty for doing so.  When you do make this time for yourself, you will be able to respond to stressful situations, rather then react. You will have a shifted attitude that resonates in the world around you and you will be more productive and energized in harmony.  Making time for yourself is the ticket to knowing your truth and your true purpose in this lifetime.

Integration and Renewal Techniques
Smart Phone Rules (this applies for any digital devise):  Set a time, for before bed, to turn your phone to silent (or off) and not use it after this time.  Allow a few hours before bed to be stimulus free.   Just like you brush your teeth upon waking and before going to bed, make this habit.  Your overall health will thank you for it!

Yoga:  This ancient practice will help you to integrate your mind and your body and help you to feel connected to the deeper parts of your mind and spirit.

Meditation:  Take 5 minutes a day to sit in a comfortable position with your spine long and breathe deeply, watching your breath and witness your mind, bringing your attention back to your breath each time your mind turns to thought.  This help to turn off the monkey mind, allowing you to focus more.

Take Mini Breaks:  Take 5 minute breaks to stretch or read something inspirational, watch a bird outside your window or take some deep calming breaths.  This will nourish you from inside out.

Time to Eat:  Make time to sit down in a peaceful setting and enjoy and savor your meals.  Take time to give grace for the meal your about to eat.

Take the Dogs for a Walk:  Go out into nature, feel the sunshine, breathe the fresh air, move and enjoy your surroundings.  Play with your pets and enjoy the love they give to you unconditionally.

Make Time for your Friends and Family:  Never get so hurried that you never make time for these important relationships.  Make quality time, where you can be present, giving them your full attention with your spouse, children, parents, family and friends, allowing you to connect more intimately.

Slowing down and making time for yourself is essential, especially in this day and age.  In order for you to be healthy minded and physically and spiritually fit, you must make time to recharge and connect with the whats most important in your life.  When you do this, you will feel a sense of balance and feel connected to everyone around you.  You will feel restored and maintain a level of energy that will enhance your life!

 

Pregnancy and Yoga

TIMG_3393hese guidelines are for the experienced Yoga practitioner with a normal pregnancy. Pregnancy is a very special time to become more in tune with the amazing process going on within and to learn more about oneself. Trust the process, slow down, and focus on each moment by drawing your attention to your breath. Notice when you bring consciousness to your breath allowing it to extend in a calm smooth pattern, the same will occur in the mind. The mind will become calm and one will feel ease, providing the opportunity to align with your true nature. Yoga Mala offers pregnancy guidelines, which I have included.

• If you are relatively new to Yoga, you should enroll in a gentle prenatal yoga class instead, or practice under the close supervision of a qualified Yoga teacher who has experience with pregnancy. • The pregnant Yoga practitioner can cultivate mindfulness of the new life growing inside her while preparing her body for delivery and postpartum recovery.
• Yoga practice during pregnancy should be modified to accommodate the growing baby and protect the placenta.
• If you experience cramping, bleeding or prolonged cessation of fetal movement, stop practicing immediately and call your doctor.
• Always practice as if the belly (your baby) were larger than it actually is. Adjust your pregnancy yoga practice to a lower level and intensity than that of your pre-pregnancy practice.
• Often in early pregnancy, the “listen to your body” principle holds little meaning because your body is still very accustomed to its pre-pregnancy state of conditioning. Your pregnant body does not really start to tell you what it wants until the fourth month or beyond.
• You want to minimize the risks of a rigorous yoga practice during pregnancy while you can still reap the benefits of the practice both during and after pregnancy.
• Intuition and Baby: If something does not feel right, or if your baby seems to object to a certain pose, do not do the pose. Every pregnancy is different. Tune into your body and honor how you are feeling, because every woman´s pregnancy experience is unique.
• Pregnancy is not the time to try anything new. If you do not have an existing practice, seek out a pre-natal yoga class specifically designed to be safe for your changing body during pregnancy. Pre-natal yoga classes are designed for the pregnant mothers changing body and will offer a safe and sound practice.
• Drink small quantities of water during practice to prevent dehydration and uterine contractions. Make sure the room is not too hot, as you do not want your body to over heat. Don’t try to work up a huge sweat.

First Trimester
The decision to practice yoga during the first trimester is an individual matter. It must be emphasized that Sri K. Pattabhi Jois advises women not to practice Ashtanga Yoga at all during the first trimester. This advice makes particular sense if one has experienced a miscarriage or when high-risk pregnancy factors are present. Since one generally does not know whether a pregnancy is high-risk until second trimester or later, it is advisable to take a conservative approach to one’s practice, beginning with the first trimester.

Second Trimester
If you have severe morning sickness, it is advisable to wait for the morning sickness to end (usually by Month 4) before resuming a regular yoga practice. If your morning sickness is not severe and you feel good practicing, try not to practice on an empty stomach. Drink small quantities of water during practice to prevent dehydration and uterine contractions. Make sure the room is not too hot. Don’t try to work up a huge sweat.

• Modify vinyasa between poses: No jumping, jump-throughs, jump-backs, chakrasana, or rolling. Step or crawl instead. If you have a petite frame, it would be advisable to eliminate the jumping movements as early as possible because your uterus may feel less cushioned from the impact than in someone with a larger frame.
• Ujjayi Pranayama: OK to do (Yoga Mala, 27), but be mindful of the strength of your bandhas, if you are a seasoned Ashtanga Yoga practitioner.

Bandhas
• Uddiyana bandha: Practice releasing uddiyana bandha downward in preparation for labor. Your belly needs space to grow; actively tightening and lifting the abdominal muscles at this stage is unnecessary. Sometimes, performing uddiyana bandha during pregnancy will cause nausea.
• Mula bandha: Mula bandha may be performed if you can engage the muscles near the cervix without causing uterine contractions. When the baby rises higher (e.g., Month 5 or 6), mula bandha may feel more comfortable to do. Suryanamaskara
• Sun Salutation A: In the forward-bending movements, keep the chest at least 80-85 degrees from the floor. Place the hands in front of the feet rather than aligned with the feet. Step rather than jump. When you first start to show or feel your belly just needs the extra space, start the sequence with the feet hip-width apart in samasthiti before you forward fold.
• Sun Salutation B: When stepping forward from downward dog into a lunge, allow the back heel of the back foot to lift off the floor (but keep the ball of the foot firmly planted) to avoid triggering uddiyana bandha and compression of the belly.   After your front foot is stabilized in the lunge position, set the back heel back down on the floor at the usual 80-85 degree angle to the front foot. Keep the back leg and back foot active and firm in the virabhadrasana position.
• Start the sequence with feet hip-width apart in samasthiti in Month 6 or whenever more space is required.

Omit the Following Postures:

• Extreme Twists, which may cause placental abruption: Utthita trikonasana B, Utthita parsvakonasana B, Marichyasana C, Marichyasana D, etc. (Yoga Mala, 87 “Pregnant women should not practice this asana after the second month.”)
• Poses that press the heel into the uterus while folding or sitting. Ardha baddha padmottanasana (Yoga Mala, 63) (Modification: don’t fold, and wrap the arm behind the back to grasp the big toe only if the belly does not feel uncomfortably tight in this position)
 Janu sirsasana C, Marichyasana B, Marichyasana D, (Yoga Mala, 104 n.44] 
 Garbha pindasana, (Yoga Mala, 104 n.44] 
(modification: sit in an easy cross-legged position and don’t roll)
 Seated lotus and half-lotus poses generally, unless you can keep the lotus very loose and not tweak the knees.
• Poses on the belly or that would compress the belly. Bhujapidasana, Kurmasana, Supta kurmasana, & Second Series poses of this nature.
• Forward bending (standing or seated) in general. When folding forward, keep the chest at least 80-85 degrees from the floor, particularly in poses that place the legs together. Focus on pulling up rather than folding forward. If you prefer, spread the legs at a wider angle but keep the chest lifted.
• Supta padangusthasana Omit (Yoga Mala, 101). This sequence of movements requires some time on the back and may encourage overcompression of the belly as one presses the leg to the face and then to the floor. If you choose to do this pose, do not force the leg to meet either the face or the floor. Instead, focus on extending the heel away from the hip while firming the inner thigh and straightening the leg.
• Setu bandhasana: Omit after Month 4 (Yoga Mala, 103-104). This pose requires exertion from the abdominal muscles (uddiyana bandha) to stabilize the bridge shape of the pose; risk of straining the neck, losing balance and falling due to pregnancy weight gain.
• Inverted postures: Omit headstand (Yoga Mala, 116 “Pregnant women should not practice this asana.” Referring to Headstand). If you choose to practice headstand and shoulderstand, make sure that you can maintain your balance, consistently build up the strength in the neck and arms to keep up with the weight gain, and that you do not have blood pressure problems. Since inversions will normally trigger uddiyana bandha during the entry and exit of the pose, there could be strain to the abdominal area. If you experience nausea or strain in the abdominal area while entering or exiting an inverted pose, do not continue with the pose.

Hand position in seated poses: To avoid compressing the belly, relinquish the traditional hand position of placing the hand around the middle of the foot. Instead, hold your toes or big toe while keeping the held foot as flexed as possible.
Navasana: Alternate each set with one foot on the floor while extending the other leg. Having one foot on the floor will help with balance and prevent strain on the lower back and abdominal area. If you feel any gripping of the belly, omit.
Once you get into your third trimester, omit Baddha konasana and wide angle poses: The muscles and ligaments in the groin and sacroiliac area are more relaxed during pregnancy, so be careful not to overstretch in these positions.
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana: As the belly becomes more prominent, move the leg to the side of the belly rather than the front. Work on lengthening the leg away from you rather than folding towards it.
Poses on the back: To avoid reducing the blood flow to the uterus, do not stay on the back for more than 3 minutes at a time. If you experience difficulty breathing, nausea, or dizziness while doing poses on your back, omit such poses altogether.  Final resting posture and/or savasana should be on left side, supported.
Backbends: In upward dog, keep the belly soft and move into the arch deliberately and slowly, concentrating on keeping the hands flat on the floor and the arms straight. If there is any undue tightness in upward dog, do not do full backbends. The placement of the placenta and the individual angle of your uterus may influence your ability to do full backbends, so don’t worry if you have to give up backbends. If you can do backbends comfortably, work into the arch slowly and do not try to make it perfect or tight. The belly should not feel tight or uncomfortable. Allow the psoas, frontal hip-bones, and tops of the thighs to soften. Pay attention to whether your lower back is tightening in the backbends. Due to the increased weight of the belly, the lower back naturally tightens over time to support the front of the body, so avoid inadvertently tightening the lower back during back-bending as well. However, even slight back-bending will help “pop” the spine and alleviate backaches from the weight gain. Skip drop-backs or flips, since there is a risk of overstretching the abdominal muscles in these movements. An alternative to full back-bending is the modified bridge pose.

Savasana: Lie on your left side in a fetal position to avoid compressing the blood flow to the uterus. Use a rolled towel or mat under your head to make the neck more comfortable. You can also place a rolled blanket or bolster between your legs and hold one between your arms to make your belly more comfortable.

Third Trimester
All of the above guidelines plus the following: The last 8 weeks of pregnancy are a time to encourage the downward flow of energy and the correct downward positioning of the baby’s head to facilitate labor.

Suryanamaskar A & B: Continue placing the hands in front of the feet in the forward-bending movements, using the fingertips rather than the palms to touch the floor in dwi and trini (the second and third vinyasas) and the like. If the belly becomes so large (e.g., Month 8) that it becomes too difficult to step forward in suryanamaskar B without straining the hip or front knee, omit suryanamaskar B and substitute suryanamskar A (total 7-10 A’s).
Hand position in seated poses: Instead of holding your toes with both hands, slide one hand up to the wrist or forearm of the opposite arm while continuing to lengthen the chest. Example: In janu sirsasana A, with right leg folded in and left leg extended, pull back the toes on your left foot with your left hand while holding your left wrist or forearm with your right hand. This modification allows you to maintain the hand-foot energy flow in the forward bends while providing support for the lower back.
Forward bends: Adjust legs to hip-width or wider distance to accommodate the growing belly. For the last 6 weeks of the pregnancy, omit navasana and other poses that involve a reclined position (where the knees are higher than the pelvis), which can work against optimal fetal positioning.

Inverted postures (headstand, shoulderstand): Inverted postures such as headstand and shoulderstand are strongly discouraged at this stage because they may adversely affect blood flow to the baby, place undue pressure on the placenta, and increase the risk of the umbilical cord becoming wrapped around the baby’s neck. One must consider that not all babies are “athletic” enough to extricate themselves as the amount of relative space in the uterus decreases; or perhaps in women who have had multiple pregnancies and the uterus is more spacious, it may be easier for the baby to flip around but remain in a breech position.

Labor and Delivery
Practicing Ashtanga Yoga before and during pregnancy can improve a woman’s stamina and confidence during labor and delivery. The progress of a woman’s labor is a very individual matter and depends on many variables, including the woman’s family history of delivery, the proportionality of the baby’s head size to the size of the woman’s pelvis, the position of the baby, and the amount of dilation and effacement existing at the onset of labor. Being healthy from yoga practice is likely to facilitate the proper release of the hormones necessary for a normal (vaginal) labor and delivery. The disciplined breathing techniques learned from Yoga may help somewhat with pain management. The conditioning gained from mula bandha may help you push the baby out more efficiently than without such conditioning. If you opt for pain relief, the practice of yoga may still help you sense the contractions sufficiently for you to feel that you are not relying exclusively on external cues to deliver your baby. Whatever happens, be open to the unexpected!

Postpartum
Wait three months after giving birth before resuming an Ashtanga full Primary Series practice. This waiting period allows your uterus to shrink without interference. Since Ashtanga Yoga directs energy upward, wait until all of the lochia has been expelled from your uterus to avoid causing cramping and prolonged bleeding. Another reason to wait 3 months is that the muscles, ligaments and joints are still soft from the pregnancy and birth, making you more prone to injuries during this postpartum period. When you do start practicing again, deepen the forward-bending movements very gradually. As early as is comfortable, resume the practice of mula bandha to firm up the perineum and prevent incontinence. Uddiyana bandha becomes easier to perform as the uterus shrinks down to its pre-pregnancy size. This is a great time to play and bond with your infant in Postnatal Yoga Classes.

Miscarriage
In the event of a miscarriage, wait at least one month before resuming yoga practice. Though you may feel the urge to work out your feelings of grief and loss through immediate yoga practice, your uterus needs time to return to its pre-pregnancy state.

The Aging Body & Yoga, by Sharon Denton

IMG_2636The beauty about the aging body and the practice of yoga is that there is so much we gain through years of asana, pranayama and meditation that it provides a new way of being.  Not better, just different.  The markers of how we are progressing in our yoga practice are different then they were when we were younger.  It’s not about how far, how deep one can go in a pose.  We are not the same body, same person, nor do we have the same needs.  Our hormones, biochemical balance, relationships, family, work demands, the way you spend your time has changed and honoring these beautiful transitions in life will bring contentment and ease.  Ask yourself, why would I not allow my practice to receive these changes and help me navigate through them?   It’s not wise or practical to think things are not going to change.  Recognizing this and the ability to adapt constantly to meet your needs is the hallmark of a yogi.  As we age, we long for different things from our yoga mats then in the past.

 

Yes, we do gain body awareness and flexibility through maintaining a yoga practice, but more importantly what we gain is a deeper profound knowing.  It’s through the wisdom of life experience on our yoga mats, we learn to be less reactive, inter-perspective, happy and satisfied.  Allowing the knowledge gained along the journey to seep in, we become seasoned and wisdom is gained.

 

Ask yourself, “Is my practice working?”  We must become a partner in life, willing to surrender to the trappings of youth to gain insight of age.  Our practice of asana, pranayama and meditation creates a mental flexibility that we did not have in our younger years.  Over decades and decades of practice, we learn about our patterns, tendencies, resistances and attachments and through the practice we learn how to overcome these and not allow them to have power over us.  In other words, we know thyself.   As soon as we recognize the dysfunction or pattern, stepping out of it, is getting rid of the effect it has on us, just as slowing down is the same as waking up.

 

It’s when we allow ourselves to clearly see these emotional, mental and physical patterns, and step away from them and align with that which serves us, we are no longer at the mercy of these patterns.

 

In the yoga practice we experience the inner witness, aka the knower or observer.  This witness can see from all perspectives and empathize yet abide with his/her true nature.  The inner witness is not aloof or disconnected, yet is fully present to the this moment without being disturbed by it.  We begin to see every argument or stressful situation from every ones point of view.  There is no judging, there is only understanding, empathizing and compassion towards all, at the same time maintaining our authentic true nature.  Over time, less and less do we only see on our own ego-perspective.  In alignment with our true nature, we experience joy in all the blessings around and experiences life fully, moving towards it, not away from it.

 

There is a beautiful simple contentment in knowing that the goal of the yoga practice is to live in the radical presence of an open heart, to become more ‘pourous’ to the moment, vulnerable to the possibility of evolution and change and respond to the spontaneous needs in our lives.  If we just trust the practice it takes us to where we need to go.   Allow your practice to be unique to your needs and it will serve you well.

 

www.sharondenton.com

Yoga is for Everyone…

 

IMG_1498Yoga is for everyone and always has been; All who come to the practice are welcome. The young have come to yoga to develop their potential, the sick have come to yoga to heal and get a fresh perspective and spiritual seekers come to find freedom from the material world and discover peace at the feet of God.

With all the technological devices we have access to today, it is more important then ever for each of us to develop a practice that realigns us with our true nature. Finding a teacher that will meet you where you are at, addressing your personal needs will help you to maintain a life-long practice and make the changes you want in your life.

We learn through conscious movement to use our bodies efficiently and effectively. In doing so we discover an inner harmony, finding more ease in the physical body. Over time, with a dedicated and disciplined practice, we will develop new patterns that decrease physical stress, promote proper posture, freedom in movement, comfort in body an overall contentment leading towards complete wellness. In order for this to happen, it’s important to adapt our asana practice to meet our skeletal and muscular structure. To evolve without injury, it’s important to work with asanas that increase our own unique movement potential. Remain curious, keeping an investigative eye throughout our practice of asana, keeping the inspiration alive, learning and evolving.

In Book 2, Verse 46 of the Yoga Sutras it says that asana must be steady and comfortable. In other words, have attention without tension. Have ease and joy, remaining alert, present, yet relaxed. We do this through the breath for when the breath is at ease and steady our body and mind will follow. When we practice, do the work in the practice with full attention while at the same time providing a beautiful resting place for God in our hearts. The key to working with our personal constitution is by looking at the conditions of our current condition. This changes day to day, and adapting our practice, setting appropriate goals to meet our needs for the day to regain or remain in harmony. Working with a teacher that understands proper sequencing to meet the needs of the students in the class or better yet, one on one or in a small group, is essential to learning this art. We all carry stress, tightness, and for some, even over flexibility, which can all cause pain in the body. Addressing our personal adaptations to find our variation in the posture/s will help to heal, strengthen and create balance.

Join me at Core Fitness in Clearwater Beach every Monday and Wednesday at 12noon and every Friday 9:30-11am. Private and semi-private sessions available. www.sharondenton.com, 312.925.YOGA(9642)

Tips for Developing a Home Practice with Sharon Denton

 

IMG_6991Just because you cannot make it into the studio doesn’t mean you have to skip out on your practice. The tips below will help you establish a practice available to you at home.

• Create a special place in your home for practice. If you have a separate room, use this space, if not, create a special corner in a room that is free from distraction that has energy within it that will support your sacred space. Set up a personal alter, a small place on a bookshelf will work, and place things on it that inspire you. This can be a picture of Jesus, Pattabhi Jois, other teachers, or a mentor/s in your life. Use candles, incense, mala beads and any other items that will provide inspiration and that you have gratitude towards. If your practice space allows you to face East, great, if not don’t get bogged down with details.

• If all you have is 10 minutes, this is better then none. Do what you can in the time that you have. Make time for your practice. Schedule it into your life, like you do with other meetings and appointments. It’s better to do a little practice daily, then a three-hour session once a week. It’s best to create routine by doing your practice the same time daily. It doesn’t have to be at any particular time. It’s better to find something that works for you and to become consistent and disciplined to your practice. Make sure to practice non-attachment and take rest from your asana practice at least once a week to give your body time to rest.

• Turn off phones and any device that may cause distraction. Procrastination leads to thinking which is the opposite of the goal of yoga. All of your ‘to do list’ can wait. Get on your mat and just begin with your breath. Those days that you feel unmotivated to get on your mat, ask yourself to do just one Sun Salute mindfully and then, do another and notice how, once you quiet your mind you’ll become more receptive to your practice.

• Ask your self how you are feeling? Be open to changing up your practice to accommodate your needs. If your feeling exhausted, then a Restorative Yoga or Yoga Nidra will be very helpful in rebalancing your energy. Other days, you could follow the Ashtanga format, beginning with Sun Salutes, standing postures, seated postures, backbends and inversions. You could design a sequence that leads up to the posture that you struggle with, allowing yourself to be playful and spontaneous. Just get on your mat and see where it goes and allow ample time at the end for rest. When your alone practicing, this will give you opportunity to play with postures and experiment with new ways to get into, and out of postures.

• Develop a silent sitting practice, in other words, a meditation practice. If, five- minutes is all you can commit to, start there and allow your meditation to grow longer over time. Add a minute per week till you get up to 20-30 minutes per sitting. Theoretically, we do all these yoga postures to prepare our bodies for sitting still in comfort. Sit however is most comfortable for you, even if that means using a chair. Sit upright, with an elongated spine up to the crown of your head. If you have a pranayama practice, do this before, as this will help you to focus and set the internal environment for your meditation practice.

• Take time for intention setting, dedication of offering your efforts up to God, someone or something. Try not to be attached to the outcome of your practice.

A New Year and Dining Out

Your Guide to Eating Out IMG_6646

  • Order from the appetizer menu where portions are better sized for one serving.

 

  • Choose baked, broiled or grilled options instead of fried or breaded varieties.

 

  • Estimate your portions to track how much you are eating.  An ounce is about the size of 4 dice and 3 ounces of meat is similar to the size of a deck of cards.

 

  • Ask for dressings, sauces and toppings on the side and choose vinaigrette- based salad dressings over creamy ones.

 

  • Drink low or no calorie water, herbal tea or black coffee rather then soft drinks and alcoholic beverages… It’s easy to drink a lot of calories without realizing it.

 

  • Ask for your water with “no ice”.  This allows your digestion “fire” to not be put out.

 

  • Pack snacks for your day.  Examples are nuts, seeds, fresh fruit and yogurt. So, when you begin your meal out, you are in control to eat a meal in moderation and enjoy your company.

 

  • If you end up eating an unhealthy meal, make the rest of your meals healthy.

 

  • Share treats with others.  Often how much you are eating is a bigger problem then what you are eating.  Take time to enjoy a single portion so that it truly satisfies you.

 

  • Drink plenty of water. Often our hunger is due to dehydration.

www.sharondenton.com

Silent Sitting….aka Meditation

SD_127Meditation, also know as dhyana, one of the 8 limbs of yoga, is the practice of relaxed breath awareness.  Meditation lightens the emotional load, creating needed distance from gloomy thoughts allowing for emotional stability and an inner focus.

There are many misconceptions about meditation.  Meditation is not about not thinking at all, or stopping your thoughts. Rather, it’s identifying with the part of your mind that is doing the watching….the part of your mind that is observing everything that you say, everything you see, everything you do.  This part of the mind is the essential part of ourselves to begin to understand, as it is the part of the mind that will rescue us anytime we ask it to.  For example, any challenge that you are put into, if you bring your awareness back to the breath and come back to this place of observer then you will free yourself from any pain of suffering you may be experiencing.

During your silent sitting, just watch, and when thoughts do arise, as they will, just watch them come and go, come back to watching the breath.  You can sit any way you need to in order to have comfort in your seat.  That can be in a chair, on the floor, or on a prop like a cushion, yoga block or blanket.  Adjust your body to get as comfortable as you can, extending the spine in length.  Feel the roof of the mouth align over the diagram, over the pelvis and feel the sit bones press down into the earth as gravity is received, lightness is given upward.  This will allow for freedom along the channels in and along the spine.  I heard Amrit Desai say one time, that you “become an empty vessel for God to move in- purging, clearing, cleansing, and letting go.”

Just quieting the monkey mind is a spiritual act, in that we can start to glimpse deeper into our own true, loving, selfless natures.  The more glimpses we get, the more we can remember ‘that’ is who we are, ideally lessening our dramas, and ego games.

The most famous sutra that Master Patnjali wrote about is in his first book, verse two.  It says, ‘Chitta Vritti Nirodaha’, which explains the importance of learning to stop, to end (Nir) how the mind turns things around.  This verse is talking about the seeds within our minds that cause this constant churning of the mind.  The whole point is how do we stop our tendency to see things wrong all the time?  We make things what they are based on the seeds within our mind….the impressions that we have taken in, allow us to see what we are seeing, which may be different from other people or animals.  This knowledge that what we see is being projected from the seeds of our own mind, provides us a better understanding of why we label, judge, attach to something, etc.  Then we can purify and clear away any negative seeds thru visualization, and loving attention given to all of life thru kindness and compassion to ourselves and to everything.  There is a bigger picture to all of this, and when we connect to this dynamic understanding, the true gift of yoga is realized.  It takes some time for this to even make any sense at all….It’s all a part of the journey.  Go at it with steadiness and ease, and as Master Patabi Jois said “all is coming”.

The mind is often compared to a cup of dirty water. When it is shaken, the water is cloudy, but when it is still, the sand settles down to the bottom of the cup and the water is clear.  The practice of meditation is like letting the cup of water, your mind, be still.  Another way to look at it, is, to see the reflection of your thoughts, your mind, as a still picture of the reflection of the moon across the lakes surface.  As the Old Testament says, “As the sensual eyes close, the spiritual eyes open.”

Through the practice of meditation, one can begin to maintain a state of consciousness where feelings of being separate from the others, thoughts, and feelings, are removed and the oneness of all of life is known.  When you live from this perspective of peace, you can only create peace in your presence.

Namaste.

 

Sabbatical=Renewal

IMG_3636White Orchid Yoga teachers often take sabbatical—traveling to Mysore India to study with Sharath and other teachers—a chance to learn, and to renew. Teaching Mysore style classes is much more demanding on the teacher’s body then teaching led classes of any other style of yoga. For this reason Mysore teachers take breaks to continue their studies and give their body rest. For five weeks, beginning on Monday November 4th until December 6th, I will be taking a sabbatical from teaching Mysore. Since I’m unable to go to Mysore, India at this time, I will be taking my time off here in beautiful Florida. You will see me in the shala practicing alongside of you. Jade Skinner will cover for me on Mondays and Fridays; and Ally Ford will be teaching on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Tuesday will be Open Practice. I will teach two classes during this time on the November Moon Days. Please join me on Sunday November 3rd and Sunday, November 17th at 9:30-11am for Lunar Flow. Practice, Practice, Practice…All is coming -Shri K. Pattabhi

Led Full Primary…..Why?

DSC_0099Once a Week… Vinyasa has become a popular name to describe many yoga classes, as the meaning of it is the ‘careful linking of the breath to our movement’. In Ashtanga Yoga, especially those of you who practice the traditional Mysore Method, vinyasa goes a step further by teaching the various number of linked breaths to movements it takes, to move through your practice. Because of the difficult nature of remembering and mastering the various vinyasa, weekly, guided-group classes are taught, in which all vinyasa are verbally counted and all students follow along accordingly. Every Mysore student should practice one led class each week. As one participates in a led Half or Full Primary, it’s important not to push past or take more postures, if you are not practicing all of these postures already. Listen to your body and move together as a group as the count is given. Take modifications as you need and practice up to the posture that you normally take in the Mysore Class. Once you reach you last asana, sit and observe the others in class and join back in at back-bending. By observing other students, whom have been practicing the Full Primary, you will learn so much. Traditionally, Mysore students take led practice on Friday or Sunday. Commit to taking a weekly led class and you will discover new ways to approach your daily practice.  Full Primary is held on Sunday’s at 9:30-11am. 

 

Moon Days WHY?

IMG_5431The Ashtanga Yoga practice cultivates a wonderful awareness of our own bodies and of the rhythms of nature. Resting on the Moon Days is a way to honor one of nature’s most powerful cycles.  The human body is primarily composed of water (50% – 60% on average), the moon phases affect not only the tides of the oceans and seas, but the currents of our own bodies as well.

On the Full Moon, our energies are waxing to a peak, and it is easy to fall out of balance towards too much vigor.  The days preceding up to the Full Moon causes an increase in body fluids (internal tide), which generally increases our energy.  This is the time of the month for activity, but, also you will see tension, over anxious in ourselves and others.  It’s less promblematic to practice on the Full Moon then the New Moon.  Although with the excess energy present within ourselves, if practicing on a Full Moon, one must be very careful not to over do it and get injured.

On the New Moon, our energies are waning to their calmest, and we may find it difficult to rouse ourselves.  The new moon is also the time when we feel depleted and sometimes depressed and emotional.  It’s important not to do anything vigorous.  The days preceding up to the New Moon, our body fluids are decreased, causing more dryness in the joints and therefore a greater chance of injury.  The peak of the New Moon (Dark Moon) is the best time to start new ventures and setting goals/intentions.

Another reason to rest on the Moon Days is even simpler: Moon Days provide practitioners with rest. Mysore practice requires dedication and a lot of hard work, so it’s healthy to have a couple of free days every month when we sleep in, rest our bodies, and feel refreshed when we return to practice.

We likewise rest from Mysore practice on Saturdays, and women are encouraged to rest from classes on the first three days of their monthly cycle.  So, rest, your body and mind will be healthier for it.