Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Hatha Yoga - Ayurveda - Rod Stryker - Day 5

The Final Day

As I review my notes and see what I can recall from just over a week ago, I see the word MANTRA. All in capitals.

Thomas Ashley-Farrand breaks the word Mantra into its Sanskrit roots: manas (mind) and trai (device). It is very interesting that he says to truly study mantra, one must include a study of anatomy. Perhaps, this is to verify that the sounds are made in such a manner as to stimulate certain meridians or nadis (energy channels) in the body. Rod Stryker commented that "Mantra is used to still the action of the mind by focusing on an object, in this case the object in the mantra."

For those new to mantra, it is basically the repeating of a sound or phrase, usually in Sanskrit. Typically a mala (string of beads, usually 108 bead long) is used to count the number of repetitions of a mantra.

About 3 years ago, a student of Swami Rama's gave me a personal mantra. I tried using it for a total of about 3 months, and then abandoned it. Mala meditation just didn't seem to "work" for me. I was constantly distracted by the moving beads and unable to fully surrender to Source while repeating my mantra. Other meditation techniques brought me to far deeper states of inner awareness.

However, Rod was so "gung hoe" about mala and the use of mantra, that I will give it another try.

Here were some insights that he shared that will perhaps help you on your path:

1. The beads keep you just aware enough to stay present. Without them it is easier for the mind to "float" in various directions.

2. When repeating the mantra, over time the mantra may slip away and the mind rests. Allow this to happen. This is your connection to Source or Higher Awareness. When the mind begins to wander, come back to repeating the mantra. Remember: The mantra is simply a tool to reach this connection.

3. Japa is to repeat the mantra without stopping. The mantra must be silent in such a practice. The reason being that eventually you are not consciously repeating the mantra. Rather, you begin to "hear" it. In the case of Japa, do not use a melody, as you might when chanting the mantra aloud. Simply because it takes too long.

4. To begin the Japa practice, start by saying the mantra silently and stop when you feel inner awareness growing. Continue the mantra, if the mind gets distracted. Over time Nada or the sound of creation will arrive. From this place fully surrender. The more you listen within and let go, the easier it is to here the mantra arise out of this silence. It will arise non-linear, coming from a single point. One of the keys here is to not consciously think the sound when you hear it.

Pretty amazing stuff! Admittedly, I consciously think the mantra, and so far have not heard it. However, check out http://www.yogamag.net/archives/2004/6dec04/nada.shtml for a wonderful definition of sound and nada.

Finally, are you looking for a mantra? If you don't have a personal mantra, the Gayatri is extremely powerful. Or check out Amazon for various CD's on mantras. I highly recommend anything by Thomas Ashley-Farrand. His teaching method and knowledge are both of the highest caliber.

If you do experience the "sound" of the non-linear mantra, let me know. I'd love to hear about it!

Namaste,
Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/

PS On June 19, 6:30-8:30 pm, in Menomonee Falls, WI, I'll be holding a Mala Meditation training. If you are interested in attending, please email me at Kris@TotalHealthYoga.com.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Hatha Yoga - Ayurveda - Rod Stryker - Day 4

Day 4 was just over a week ago. I feel as if a seed has been planted and over time, with nourishment and reflection, the wisdom and knowledge grows inside of me.

Each day, Rod led us through a practice that focused on a different type of asana. Day 1 was laterals (side body, like in Parighasana--Gate Pose). Day 2 forward bends. Day 3 backbends. Day 4 twists, and day 5 extensions.

Twists have a great impact on the blood in the abdominal area. As you deepen a twist, such as Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose), the blood vessels are compressed. This squeezing action, breaks up old blood. When the twist is released, new fresh blood comes in.

Twisting asanas are considered one of the "secrets" to staying young. This is due to the stimulation of the organs.

Whenever entering a twist, know which part of the body is the stabilizer. Without a stabilizer, the body is simply turning. A turning body does not have all of the benefits that a twisting body has. It's the twisting action that cleanses and stimulates.

For example, in Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose), the hips and sit bones stabilize the pose. In a twisting shoulderstand, the shoulders are the stabilizers.

Folks with bulging discs are advised to avoid twists.

If you have back pain of any kind, check with your doctor first. With his or her okay, you may start your practice with simple standing asanas. When that feels okay 24-48 hours later, then add in standing twists. Again be sure the body is happy with this by checking in 24-48 hours later. The next step is to work with supine (laying on your back) twists. If after 24-48 hours, all is well, then you may introduce seated twists.

Seated twists are the most challenging on the spine due to the stability in the hips, the pull of gravity, and the effort of sitting on the floor. Remember to use a blanket to sit on if you find any rounding in the lumbar (low) back or it is difficult to sit upright.

"Yea, let's twist again, twistin' time is here ...."
Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com

Friday, May 25, 2007

Hatha Yoga - Ayurveda - Rod Stryker - Day 3

I was too ticked off on the 3d day to write "cleanly". So, days 3-5 I'll write as I best recall and the notes taken.

Why ticked off, you ask? Have you ever paid good money (over $600) for a class (5 of them meeting 2x/day, so about 10), and had the instructor show up late (almost every time from 10-30+ minutes late)? It somehow seemed dishonest to me for a Yoga teacher (following the ideas of honesty in the Yamas, I would hope) to not be on time for a class. Once in a while, I can understand, but this was pretty consistent--especially on day 3.....

The other side of the story: no one appeared to mind, but me. (I asked a few folks.) The afternoon's "intentionally" started 30 minutes late so we would have time to make notes on the morning session. For me the 2 hour lunch break was plenty of time to do that. With that said, even if the students are given extra time to work in class, shouldn't the teacher be there?

He was pretty good about answering questions outside of class time. Still bugged me that he wasn't even physically present during the paid for class times.

That night, I had time to reflect and feel my feelings about this. The next day, I took off my watch (joy in ignorance), focused on the questions he did answer with gratitude, committed to myself as a teacher to be timely (which I usually am), and focused on "going the extra mile."

Interestingly, because I was focused on "going the extra mile", on my way to class the next day I gave my protein bar (snack for later) to a homeless fellow. Oddly, if I had been just pissed off and grumpy (which I was the night before), this idea wouldn't have occurred to me.

Interesting how what we focus on can impact the lives around us as well as our own mindset :-)

****Now onto some philosophy from class.****

Rod had an interesting way of describing Adhikara. He defined it as "The process to better understand yourself." The idea being that the more you know who you really are, the less you suffer. On of the Niyamas in the sutras talks about the important of svadyaya or self-study.

Suffering comes from not knowing who you are. The steps, as Rod described, of ending suffering (one of the primary ideas of Buddhism) are as follows:

1. World: We look to the external environment to remove our pain. This doesn't work, as most of us know by now. The environment is temporary and cannot be relied on consistently.

2. Body: Some folks then look to the body. Exercising and becoming fit feels good and the body is the temple. We get massages and facials and all is well... for a while. Over time the physical body begins to deteriorate. It, too, is temporary.

3. Mind: Others turn to the mind. The more we know, the more education, the happier we will be. Some knowledge does bring joy, and some brings grief. Again, this doesn't always work, and for some, the mind, also, begins to deteriorate. Additionally, the mind can be quite fickle.

4. Breath: (In my own opinion, most folks today are in one of the first 3 steps. I'd venture to say 95% at least.) We begin to turn to the breath to find happiness. Unlike the first 3 steps, it is constant and stays with us. In times of turmoil or ease, we always have our breath.

5. Atman: Atman is your soul. This is going deeper and more permanent than even the breath. It is through the breath that we realize our soul. It's really an amazing process! Here disappointments disappear. From the individual soul, we come to realize and remember the universal or supreme soul. Now that's the real Yoga!

With all that the timeliness is ever so trivial.
Namaste,
Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Hatha Yoga - Ayurveda - Rod Stryker - Day 2

This was written last week after the 2d day of training in Wise Sequencing with Rod Stryker.

Why "Ayurveda" in the title of this entry? Rod makes great use Ayurvedic (Vedic medicine) knowledge and wisdom. A matter of fact, the recommending reading for this class is Yoga and Ayurveda by Frawley.

Here were my thoughts after day 2......

After practicing for almost 10 years, today was my deepest and easiest forward bend. Pashimottansana (seated forward stretch or stretching the West side) has like lying on a bed. I felt as if I could have stayed there for hours.

Perhaps, this method of sequencing (vinyasa krama) is really magical. Time will tell. Ever since injuring my low back a few years ago, I have been very careful in forward bends. Today I threw caution to the wind and decided to test out Rod Stryker’s thoughts on wise progression of asanas to see how my back would handle it.

The lesson: Wise progression of asanas can make or break a practice.

The 3 hour morning session consisted of talking about the true meaning of Yoga—adhikara and remembering the divinity that is part of you—and a forward bend practice. Then we broke for lunch. The 4 hour afternoon session was all sitting—other than 2 bathroom breaks and 10 minutes of asana towards the very end.

This is sitting on the floor! Chairs were available in the back, but I’m a front row kind of person—being short and all.

Amazingly, I’m very glad for this. I have been to a number of teacher trainings, and the biggest complaint I have is there is too much asana. As another gal today pointed out, we can practice on our own; we’re here to learn.

The lesson: What feels good, isn’t always what's best for you.

As wonderful as an experienced asana practice can feel, a big part of training is just that—training! To challenge my body & mind in various asanas won’t provide me with as much wisdom and knowledge that I’d like to gain from a workshop.

So, lecture and discussion is very important. For me, it just might be the most important. With that said, being led through a skillfully created flow of postures, really shows the theory put into practice.

In summary, sitting for 4 hours to review how to sequence a class, may be hard on the body, but to experience the sharing of great wisdom is worth it—to me, anyway. Overall, Rod is doing a decent job of opening with some philosophy in the AM, then asana, lunch, and the afternoon is mostly lecture and reviewing the morning’s asanas. [BTW, this continued to be the format for the full 5 days.] This really helps to get things in the body and then solidify them in the mind.

With that said, one technique that he suggests to activate the brain to retain more info—which I’m finding very useful—is after a practice, draw stick figures of the asanas and make notes about what you liked or didn’t like. Mr. Stryker makes this very easy by providing a list of the sequence.

Great idea, now if I could just be organized enough to know the asanas ahead and write them all down for my own students…..

The lesson: Work with the body and the mind, so eventually you can move beyond them both.

Namaste,
Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I've been - TAGGED


Just to show how internet / blog savvy I am--not..... Yoga Glam Girl tagged me and I had no idea what it was :-) Ah, there is always something to learn. Thanks, YGG :-) Here are my answers to the questions:
BTW, the photo is about 2 years old at a Yoga Teacher Trianing with Todd Norian in a barn in MA.

4 jobs I have held:

1. Favorite job every--being a stay-at-home mom!!!
2. Best paying job--software engineer
3. First job--newspaper route in elementary school :-)
4. Current job and passion--Yoga teacher (and student)

4 movies I can watch over and over:
1. Childhood favorite 1--Sound of Music
2. Childhood favorite 2--My Fair Lady
3. Good laugh--The Office
4. Just plain fun--Princess Bride


4 places I have lived:
(nothing too exotic here....)
1. Lombard, IL
2. Coral Springs, FL
3. Univ of FL
4. Wisconsin

4 Categories of TV programming I enjoy:
1. Comedy--can always use a good laugh
2. Educational--some pbs stuff makes me feel like I'm half-way across the globe
hummmmm, that's about it.
4 Places I have been on Holiday:
1. Best vacation ever--New Zealand
2. 2d best--Ireland
3. Cruise--Bermuda
4. HS tour--Europe (England, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy)

4 of my Favorite Dishes:
1. Seafood--was an semi-vegetarian (still had cheese and eggs) for years, but my body is thrilled to have the seafood back in it!
2. Popcorn--my "comfort" food
3. Avocado--during the "eat less fat" craze about 20 years ago, I cut these out. Now I have about 1 a week. My body thanks me :-)
4. Almost all Asian foods (Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese--not too crazy about Korean, sorry Korea...)

4 websites I visit daily:
NOTE: I don't do anything daily, expect pee, sleep and eat.
So, let's say "frequent" websites.
1. My blog
2. Blog friends' blogs
4. Google--always seems to be something interesting to investigate

4 places I would rather be right now:
1. hummmmm..... I really love the here and now. At the risk of getting too philosophical, this is the greatest place, because that's what's "real"--the Now. Yeah, I guess, I'll have to stick with the present moment. Thanks to Thich Nhat Hahn for really teaching me that (through his writings). Also, thanks to Louis Armstrong on the stereo. Life IS good :-)
Now I get to pick 4 other blogger buddies to do this meme:
4. Other folks I thought of have been tagged already. So, we'll leave it at 3.
Finally, the Rod Stryker Workshop info will continue into next week. Post most likely tomorrow.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Hatha Yoga - Ayurveda - Rod Stryker - Day 1

For the last 5 days I've been at a Vinyasa Krama (wise progression or sequencing) Workshop with Yoga Plus writer, founder of Para Yoga (previously called Pure Yoga), and renowned Yogi, Rod Stryker.

Over then next week or two, I'll share with you some thoughts on these 5 days. Some I wrote right after class, and some I'll write as I reflect back on the days.

As with any time you here someone's perspective about an event, these are only my thoughts and how I interpreted what Rod offered. It's like the game of telephone, eventually, someone hears the wrong thing and the message is skewed. I will be as accurate as possible.

Here goes.....

Training with Rod Stryker – Day 1

For the last 6 months or so, Rod Stryker has been writing the Asana column for Yoga Plus magazine. I really appreciate the “words of wisdom” that he adds regarding one’s asana practice.

Each time I read his article, it struck a chord with me. Something inside would want to shout, “Yeah! That’s it. I completely agree.”

In my opinion, if you ever find someone or something that resonates with a deep Truth inside of you, then meet them, work with them, study their works, or somehow learn more about these ideas.

So, I had no choice when Mr. Stryker was going to be in Chicago and I live in Milwaukee, but to drive down and see if I could absorb more wisdom and knowledge both for my personal benefit and for the benefit of those that I teach.

Today was my first day meeting Mr. Stryker in person. He strikes me as a very kind, wise, and knowledgeable person.

The subject of this 5-day workshop is Vinyasa Krama, which means wise sequencing.

There was a lot of info passed on via lecture and a wonderful manual that Rod created. We discussed the impact of various asana types, such as forward bends, back bends, laterals, twists, inversions, and extensions. The impacts on Gunas, Chakras, nervous system, Prana Vayu, and Doshas are different based on the types of asanas focused upon.

I had been taught in the past, to get as many types of asanas as possible into a daily practice—with maybe a stress of either forward bends or back bends. “Coincidentally” in the last several months, I have been swaying away from this for various reasons and have even begun writing a book regarding this very topic. Rod, also, suggested to move away from the “try to do it all” practice, and instead have a practice focus on one type of asana. This method provides an awareness of how each type of practice (and asana) impacts the body, mind, and energy (Prana).

I guess I’m not surprised to see that his words are still ringing with Truth to me.

Stay tuned for more workshop sharings :-)
Love,
Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Studying with Rod Stryker...

KRIS IS OFF STUDYING WITH ROD STRYKER IN CHICAGO, AND CAN'T GET TO THE INTERNET.

POSTING TO RESUME MONDAY!

Monday, May 14, 2007

What's the "right" Yoga?

Just now I read a posting at http://groundingthruthesitbones.blogspot.com/2007/05/opening-comments.html regarding the Yoga Journal Conference in Lake Geneva. When you read the post, you'll see that the one thing that all Yogis agree on is to disagree. Well, it might not be that bad, but it's pretty close.
Here is the comment that I left regarding the issue of "expert" Yogis having such differing opinions:
Somehow the different opinions from the "expert" Yogis has always given me a sense of comfort. The first time I was exposed to these differences, I was scared. My background was math and engineering--there must be a "right" answer. What I learned, was that if there was a "right" answer, then no one knew it.

Over time, I came to find freedom in these differences and realized that what feels "right" and good for me is what's right for me--not necessarily for someone else.

On different days, different moods, different times in my cycle, etc, the "right" answer changes. This keeps me on my toes and my awareness must be present to know what's right for now.

As a teacher, it helps to keep me humble and to know that I can never feel exactly what someone else feels. Our experiences are unique, and in seeing all of these different views from "experts", I know that each person is truly their own best teacher.

In summary, listen, learn, take what works for this moment, and store the rest. It just might be what's "right" on another day.

Love,
Kris

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Health - The role of stress



I love to read! At any one given moment, I usually have anywhere from 3 to 13 books started--all, except maybe one, are non-fiction. To bring this joy into my life while driving, this past week I've been listening to Bruce H. Lipton's CD, The Biology of Belief.

I'm only on CD 2 of 3 CD's, but this is some fascinating stuff! Very different than the chemistry and biology that I remember in school 20+ years ago.

Did you know that transplant patients are actually injected with stress hormones? This was new news to me. The injection of stress hormones in the body inhibits the immune system. That's right:

STRESS INHIBITS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM

With new and foreign tissue in the body, a healthy immune system would kick in and destroy this foreign tissue.

However, in the case of a transplant, you actually want this foreign tissue to be accepted into your system. So, the immune system must be halted. Stress can do that!

This is not a fault in the body, but rather a miraculous asset to the body. The immune system takes a great deal of energy to operate. It protects us from internal stresses, such as bacterial infections.

When there is an external stress that needs immediate attention, such as a car racing towards you with an inattentive driver, then the body's energy needs to focus on flight-or-flight--not some bacteria. The production of stress hormones is a gift in that they take the energy needed away from the immune system and uses that energy to prepare the body for dealing with saving your life from this oncoming car (or whatever the external stress might be).

Dr. Lipton does a GREAT job of explaining all of this is his book/CD, The Biology of Belief.

The problem lies in our current lifestyle of constant stimulation and external stresses. Running the TV all day, driving in traffic, being yelled at by your boss, packed schedules, etc. Some of this we can control, and some of it we can not.

What we do know is that when our body thinks there is an external stress, the immune system is inhibited. If that external stress is simply your neighbor playing their stereo too loud, you may know this is not vital to your existence, but how do you keep those stress hormones at bay?

This is where the Yoga comes in. External stresses exist. This is part of life. How we handle them and how quickly our energy returns to the immune system is what's important. Yoga is nothing shy of a miracle in the area of "de-stressing."

When you move with the breath, each movement becomes a mini-meditation. As you focus on the movement matching the breath, the mind learns to concentrate. Seated meditation takes this idea of concentration even further. Pranayama immediately impacts the nervous system and can be used to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (the relaxation response).

Try this simple breathing technique when "de-stressing". Take a comfortable seat. Close your eyes and take a few long and deep breaths. Focus more on your exhales than your inhales. Now inhale deep and lengthen your spine. Keep this length and exhale. When you think the exhale is done, exhale a little bit more. And one more time, exhale a bit more. Slowly relax your belly and allow the inhale to drift in. Do this 10-12 times. Exhaling. Exhaling a bit more. Exhale even a bit more. Then relax the belly and allow an inhale arrive. Stop if you have ANY dizziness or discomfort and return to a normal breath.

Let me know how it goes for you,
Take care,
Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com

Monday, May 7, 2007

Vegetarian Recipes - Oatmeal



Nothing like a warm bowl of oatmeal on a chilly morning. And the nutrition is a great way to start the day!



Even though it's Spring, here in Wisconsin the mornings have been in the 50's lately.



Here's a quick and healthy method to cook your oats in the morning or anytime. It's complements of a dear friend of mine, Karen:



Heat 1 cup of water to boiling.
Add to 1 cup of rolled oats.
Stir and cover for ~15 minutes.
Remove cover and, optionally, add maple syrup, cinnamon, brown sugar, or whatever you like.



Take a bite, close your eyes, and enjoy the gift of wholesome food from the Earth--and your local grocer :-)



Enjoy!
Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Menopause - Yoga benefits for Menopause


It seems that many students come in with similar questions or concerns. I'll be honest, I work on remembering everyones' names and faces. There's just no room in my brain for each ailment or health history as well. Not too mention the fact that in a group class to offer specific modifications for each person--back pain, arthritis, herniated cervical disc, SI issue, migraines, pregnant, manic, depressed, high blood pressure, low blood pressure... well, you get the idea--is close to impossible! So, over the years I've created a number of handouts for students that will hopefully empower them to make their own modifications, and understand their unique case and how it relates to Yoga.
I'd like to share my favorite one, covering Menopause and Yoga. Here it is:
During menopause, focus on cooling asanas (postures). The adrenals may be stressed causing irritability and anxiety. Backbends will help with fatigue and sleepiness. In general, a restorative practice is best at this time. A restorative practice involves staying in fully supported asanas for anywhere from 1 to 21 minutes. To see the most benefit, practice at least 3 times a week. However, once a week is better than not at all. For each practice, include at least 1 from the following groups. If time allows, add more. If at any time you experience discomfort, consult an experienced Yoga teacher to help with alignment and finding the proper support.

Centering – to calm the mind and bring awareness to the present moment

2-6 minutes: Take a comfortable seat and observe (without trying to change or judge) the breath. Notice it’s temperature, moisture, texture, speed, depth, etc.

2-6 minutes: Breath deeply into the belly, low chest, and upper chest. Inhale from belly upwards to collar bones, and exhale from collarbones down to belly. Breathe deep and steady throughout your entire practice.

Inversions – for the endocine system, increase blood to the brain, and soothe the mind

8-21 minutes: Supported Legs on wall. Place a few blankets at least 4” away from the wall. Lay w/ the sit bones between the blankets and the wall while the legs rest against the wall pointing toward the sky. If the hamstrings (back legs) feel tight, move the blankets and sit bones further away from the wall. The head and shoulders are lower than the hips.

8-21 minutes: Lay on your back with the lower body (legs and/or torso) on a stack of blankets anywhere from 3” to 6” high. Head and shoulders are off of the blanket(s). Play some soothing music and relax.

Backbends – aid the kidneys, nourish the adrenals, energize, and open the heart

1 minute: Lay on the belly. Clasp the hands behind the back or lay them on the back if you cannot reach to clasp. Keeping the legs strong and steady, on an inhale lift the heart center and head off the ground. Continue to breathe. When you are ready, come down slowly with an exhale. Do this 3 times. Your back must feel comfortable and without any pinching. See an instructor if you have trouble with this.

2-3 minutes: If you are an experienced Yogini, then take bow (dhanurasana) and supine hero (supta Virasana)

2-4 minutes: Lay on your back. Side body long and feet parallel and hip distance apart. Knees are bent. Push the feet into the ground and inhale to lift the hips off the earth. This is bridge (setu bandhasana) posture. You may do this as a restorative by placing a blanket or block under the sacrum and releasing into the support. Or you may make it more active, by clasping the hands under the body and lifting the heart with vibrancy. Hold while breathing and come down on an exhale.

5-25 minutes: Supported bound angle (supta baddha konasana). Create a stack of blankets into a wedge shape long enough to support your torso and head. Sit on the floor with your back to the bottom of the wedge. Lay back. Your torso should be at about a 45 degree angel from the floor. Make sure the neck and head are supported, as well. With bent knees, bring the feet and knees together—knees pointing to the sky. Now open the knees out to the sides, while the soles of the feet touch one another. Place a blanket, pillow, or foam blocks under the knees to ensure that the inner leg stretch is not too much. Lay the arms out to the sides and lower than shoulder height. Use blankets, pillows, or blocks to support the forearms. This will prevent too much strain on the neck and shoulder area. Place an eye pad or wash cloth over your eyes, maybe even play some soothing music, and enjoy!

Forward bends – release any tension from backbends and soothe the mind

1-3 minutes: Supported Head to Knee (Salamba Janu Sirsasana). Sit on the floor or on the edge of a blanket. Extend your left leg out straight and bend the right knee. Open the right knee out towards the floor with the right foot touching the inside of the straight left leg. Place a stack of blankets over the straight leg. Inhale as you lengthen the spine, then exhale and keeping a tall straight spine, twist to the left slightly and lay the torso on top of the blankets. Be careful to not strain the low back in this position. Switch sides.

1-3 minutes: Half plow (ardha halasana). Fold a blanket 2”-3” thick to support the shoulders. Lay on your back with the shoulders and upper back on the blanket and head and neck off of it. With feet on the ground, inhale and lift the hips. Slide the shoulder blades closer together and clasp the hands under your body. Push the arms down as you bring the legs over your head and support the feet on a chair. The neck and shoulders must not experience any strain or discomfort. If you have neck issues, shoulder issues, uncontrolled high blood pressure, or glaucoma, then do NOT do this posture (asana).

1-2 minutes: Standing forward bend (uttanasana). Stand with feet hip distance apart and parallel. On an exhale bend from the tops of the legs into a forward fold. If your hands do not reach the ground, then place them on blocks or a chair to support the surrender in the spine.

Breathing – too cool the body and mind
3-10 minutes: Take a comfortable seat and lengthen the torso. Either stick out your tongue (yes, I’m serious) and curl it (if you can), or gently bring the teeth together and open the lips apart. Inhale long and slow through the mouth without any strain whatsoever. Close the mouth (tongue inside to re-moisten) to exhale. Continue the inhales through the mouth and exhales through the nostrils. Bring all of your awareness to the breath. Be patient with a wandering mind and without judgment, draw the mind back to the breath whenever it wanders.
To being a woman!
Kris

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Guided Meditation


After class one night, I was talking with a student that has progressed amazingly fast. This is not a matter of just flexibility or strength, but more importantly her ability to remain with her breath and center while flowing with a group class. I commented about how she (at least appeared) to be very inwardly aware and challenging herself without pushing too hard.
Finding that balance between overdoing and not getting a lot out of class can be challenging for many. Again, you could even "see" how she really moved with her breath and stayed present. To be honest this took me years to attain!! And even today, sometimes it's an interesting yo-yo effect of going between being "in" my body and looking at something outside of it.
This lovely lady was kind enough to share what really helped her "get it" in Yoga: "It was the meditation part of our Yoga class that really 'cinched' it for me."
These are wise words. For over a year, I had taken Yoga classes with no form of meditation and didn't really see how Yoga was any different than a decent stretching class. When I established a home practice, I would skip any kind of centering as a "waste of time."
My body got a bit stronger and more flexible, but not so much in my head or heart. I've been studying Yoga for ~8 years. It had taken me almost 3 years to begin to "get it", to begin to really stretch, strengthen, and balance my mind and heart as much as my body.
Kudos to those that can learn this earlier, and kudos to teachers that help them get there :-)
If you'd like some guided meditations and visualizations, I have a CD that many have used and loved. Here are a few feedback comments:
"I use it everyday. It really sets the mood of becoming present." Patty F
"I love this CD. It is great! I use it all the time." Lisa L
"The heart flower is my favorite. It feels very soothing." Fridl S
"I really love the Planets. I use it whenever I feel stuck and need some creativity to flow. Molecules is great when I feel spacey and need some grounding. It's a really wonderful CD" Tina H
You can hear samples and order the CD at CD Baby.
Have a centered and peaceful day :-)
Kris K