Thursday, September 27, 2007

Herniated Disc

The other day, a student was diagnosed with a ruptured lumbar disc. Her doctor recommended therapy. Here are some additional ideas of things to do under the guidance of your doctor and/or therapist.

While pain exists:

1. Lay down when you can. Take some time to lay on the floor with the door closed and lights out. Ideally, lay on the floor (firm surface) with the calves resting on a chair. This gives the low back a nice break from working all the time.

2. Yoga practice doesn't mean just asana. Even though asana might be out of the question, breathing and meditation are still very helpful. This is Raja Yoga instead of Hatha. You can use a meditation CD and for some basic breathing start with soft Ujjayi breathing. That's the one where you tone the throat and a quiet sound is produced. Listen to the inhales and exhales. Do this for a couple of minutes. Then find a 1:1 ratio of length of inhale and length of exhale. Keep the same subtle sound the whole time. Do this for a couple of minutes. Finally, every 3 or 4 breaths start to lengthen both inhale and exhale by 1 count. Do this as long as you like while you still feel and hear a steady calm breath. This will help to ease the mind and thus the body. As you relieve some stress, the body will have an easier time healing.

3. Check with your therapist, but using alternating cold then heat can be helpful as well. In the case of using heat, make sure your therapist or doctor says it's okay. Cold is a safer bet at first. Cold reduced pain and swelling. Heat increases blood flow, but can increase swelling as well.

4. While in pain, stretching is not advised. Keep the low back as immobile as possible.

When pain subsides:

1. When the pain subsides, that is the time to start moving again. Start slowly in order to prevent a relapse. This will be a great lesson in patience! Begin with gently stretches such as supine knees to chest -- alternating and then together.

2. Also, building strength in the back and abs. For the back asanas such as locust (salambhasana) are very helpful.

3. For abs target the deeper stabilizing muscles--the transverse abdominus (TA) and the obliques. A nice one to start with for the TA is to get on all 4's (hands and knees). Curl your toes under and lift your knees off the ground just a few inches. Focus on engaging around the entire waist line as you lean slightly forward. Be careful of the wrists here. For the obliques, lay on your back with bent knees, and draw the belly down to the back causing it flatten. One leg at a time lift a foot off the floor and bring the lower leg parallel with the ground. Switch sides. Then do both at once. Keep the back flattened the whole time. After that feels good for a few days, then you can venture into the bicycle--both legs off the ground with one leg straight forward and one bent.

4. Also, work with posture--your therapist or Yoga teacher can help you with this.

The good news is that 85% of folks with ruptured discs recovery without invasive treatments (according to Mayo Clinic).


Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.learnyogaonline.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Are You My Guru?


I absolutely loved this book as a kid. It was fun and I liked that the bird found his mother in the end. (Hope I didn't spoil that for anyone!)

However, I question the number of Yogis I see searching for a guru to "tell them what to do."

I've never been to India and am not an expert of the subject of having or being a Guru. For the use of this post, I'm talking about a Guru not only as one who brings light where there was darkness, but as a knower of all things--including what's the best path for his/her students. Perhaps, there are such Masters in the caves of the Himalayas, but there are a number of international Yogis posing as Gurus--or at least their students have put them on this type of pedestal. My question is, is this such a great idea?

As a student, I find there is a fine line between showing respect for a teacher and following them blindly. Unfortunately, some of the most well-known and "followed" teachers have created a bit of a cult. They're not asking people to donate all their money--well, not directly anyway. But there is a mentality that they can cure anything and if you, the student, would just understand and obey (uh, I mean listen to) what they say, then everything would be fine and dandy. Heck, some even promise samadhi or enlightenment. Others say their alignment, and no one else's, is right for you.

What troubles me most, is how many people take to this. Is it the need for a strong parent figure in their lives? Is it the fear of making their own choices? Is it a lack of self-confidence?

As a teacher, I tend to back away when a student looks to me for all the answers. If you're looking for a Guru, I'm not it. Handling my own life is enough. I'm happy to share, guide, love, and accept you. But I'm not prepared to tell you what is right for you. Quite frankly, because I don't know.

In my opinion, a great teacher and true Guru helps students to see the beautiful person that they already are. A true Guru guides, but never insists. A true Guru suggests, but honors the student's right to decide. A true Guru, accepts the student as a person, even when they disagree. A true Guru, offers their opinion and encourages students to share their thoughts as well.

Remember, Svadhayaya or Self-study is the 4th Niyama from the Yoga Sutras.
No matter what path you take for Self-realization, in the end you have to go it alone in order to see that we're all one.
Then, you will realize that you were never truly alone.



Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.learnyogaonline.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Shoulder - Scapula - Align your scapula without pain in the upper back


Q: My upper back is very tight and starting to feel painful. I am careful to draw my shoulder blades onto my back but not to pinch them. Then I broaden, expanding just below the shoulder blades. Thoughts?


A: My thoughts on the blades is that you may be overusing the rhomboids and trapezius to draw the blades closer together. To open this area back up, I'd recommend Eagle Pose. There's so much focus in opening the chest, which is great and really helps posture, but anything can be overdone.

Next, to keep the shoulder blades "on the back" and prevent winging, use the serratus anterior. Here are some suggestions on finding this muscle:

1. Come on all fours into a Table Top position. Push through your hands and notice how the spine between the blades lifts and the blades move laterally. Now sink down (even collapse if you don't have a shoulder injury) and see how the blades come closer together. Explore back and forth a few times and then find the point where your shoulders feel engaged (as in the pushing version), yet the spine is not lifting. Doug Keller calls these "serratus pushups."

2. Stand facing a wall and place your right hand under the left arm pit so you can feet the side upper ribs. Bend the left elbow (pointing slightly towards the floor) and bring the left hand about a foot in front of the left shoulder, palm on the wall. Without moving the torso, push into the wall. Under your right hand you'll feel the serratus working. Bring focus to the muscle throughout a practice and see if you're using it. To strengthen even more, do push ups at the wall focusing on the serratus staying engaged and the mid back soft.

3. Finally, experiment with Down Dog. Start in Table Top and find the balance from exercise 1, above. Keeping serratus engaged, come into down dog. Notice that it is impossible to fall into the shoulder joints if serratus stays active. Pretty interesting stuff.
As an aside, Susi Hately Aldous wrote a fascinating article at regarding inversion and the shoulders.
Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.learnyogaonline.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Confessions


I feel the need to confess something that I'm not proud of. A month or so ago, I attended a Yoga Therapy Teacher Training with Doug Keller at a retreat center in Maria Stein, OH. At the center there was a labyrinth. (Not the one pictured above, that one is compliments of wikipedia.org). I'm familiar with labyrinths, but had never been on one.

I seized the opportunity and thought it was great. Throughout the workshop (3 days) I walked the path several times. Each time I got something different out of it.

"Coincidentally," the gal sitting next to me at the workshop had just come off of a seminar about labyrinths. She shared the idea of using the walk to the center as a time to surrender and let go. The return path is about receiving. Sounded simple enough. My past focuses had been different, so I decided to give her suggestion a try.

The walk in went very smooth. So much of Yoga is about surrendering, releasing, and letting go. "This is easy", I thought. Upon reaching the center, I felt cleansed and light. I sat for a while before the return trip out of the labyrinth. "An empty vessel ready to be filled," I smiled to myself. To my surprise, this was very difficult. My steps were not as sure as when I had entered the winding path. My stomach knotted up. How could this be? I'm always reminding students (and myself) to love yourself, nourish yourself, be open to the beauty around you and in you. It simply didn't make sense that I'd struggle on the path of receiving.

Not understanding why this was, I simply stuck it in the back of my mind. Then a couple of days ago I saw a U-Tube of Iyengar taking a full breath, and I mean FULL! This man took about 45 sec's for one inhale and another 30 for one exhale. Inspired, my pranayama practice that day focused on using a 1:1 ratio of inhale and exhale. No holds, no alternate nostril. Just long 1:1 breathing. Using the Ujjayi breathing made it even easier to watch my breath as this technique produces a smooth sound.

My exhales were like clear running water--smooth, serene, and steady. At first the inhales ran just as nicely. As I began to slowly lengthen the breath, the inhales became halting and "jumpy". It was as if something didn't want to accept the air. I could overcome this with force by drawing in through my nostrils--like sniffing a sweet perfume. However, one thing that I've learned in pranayama is to allow and guide the breath--never force. (A story for another time....)

The light in my brain turned on. I knew how to take not receive! That was it. I had worked hard to earn what I got--love, respect, a home, car, savings, etc. But an out of the blue compliment for something that I haven't actually worked on or an unexpected gift, is more difficult for me. A stroke of "good luck", makes me question. True unconditional love, fills me with fear.

Just this very morning, I was meditating and realized that I open the door of my heart, but then I run outside to see if anyone is there. The key, I think, is open the door of your heart, and then patiently wait for grace to step in. I've been chasing the butterfly, instead of allowing it to land on my shoulder.

This took a decade of practice to realize. Now that I see myself more clearly (Svadhayaya), a deeper journey is before me.

I knew that pranayama was a huge part of the practice, but little did I realize it would help me uncover a hidden block in my life.

Thank you so very much for indulging me by listening to this personal experience.


Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.learnyogaonline.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

History of Yoga


Being a student of Hatha Yoga for many years now, I figured it was time I read the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Whenever I'm at a workshop and the teacher mentions something from this text, I sit quietly feeling a bit guilty for not having read it.
So, finally I decided to get Brian Akers translation and see what it was all about. The Pradipika was written in the 1400's and the title means to shed light on the subject of Hatha Yoga.
The first chapter covers Asanas. There are 15 of them--none of them standing. It seems to me that in this day and age of cars, chairs, telephones, and TVs, Yoga had to add many other postures, including standing ones, so that people could comfortably do some of the postures in the Pradipika. Even simply sitting on the floor for any length of time requires flexibility, especially in the back body. I wonder how many people in the 1400's had back problems?
Chapter two is on Pranayama, which is recommended to only begin after mastering Asana. Even today there are teachers that say you need to wait to start Pranayama and others that talk about it the first day of class. I think the confusion has to do with what you define at Pranayama. Noticing your breath's qualities and length and using some Ujjayi breathing are quite innocent and (in my opinion) worthy of learning early on in a practice. Adding in the bandhas with full breath retention takes more finesse and awareness. Asanas is a great way to attain the subtle awareness needed for proper Pranayama.
Next is chapter three on Mudras. To be honest, when I think of Mudras, I think of Hand Mudras. The Pradipika talks more about full body Mudras. There are some useful tips for Mahamudra--a more advanced technique. Such as placing the "the tongue on the front teeth....This obstructs the upward motion of all the nadis."
I really had to let a lot slide, especially in this chapter. For example:
"As a beautiful and charming woman without a man, so Mahamudra and Mahabandha are pointless without Mahavedha." [Pointless without a man? Women's lib must not have been around.]
"Turn the tongue backward and insert it into the skull cavity." [Ah, so that's how to scratch the inside of the brain!]
"Gradually elongate the tongue by cutting, shaking, and stretching it until it touches the middle of the brows." [Did people really do this stuff??]
"Mix the lunar nectar released by this practice with cow-dung ashes and smear one's important parts. Divine insight is born." [Do not try this at home!!]
The forth, and final chapter, addresses Samadhi or merging with a single object. I found it to be a relatively esoteric description of how to meditate. There are some ideas on where and how to place the inner gaze. Being a practical gal, I would select a more modern day book on meditation if I was looking for guidance. Better yet, I'd find a teacher.
In summary, I can now listen to teachers reference one of the first books (if not the very first) on Hatha Yoga without feeling bouts of guilt. I'm glad I read it. I feel more well-rounded and a little more knowledgeable in the history of Yoga. I wouldn't recommend it for a beginner in Hatha Yoga--or the smearing of the cow dung might make them run for the hills!
I promise you can effectively practice Hatha Yoga without having to cut your tongue or find a good man.
Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.learnyogaonline.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Meditation - Finding your meditation object

Q: I'm not a "good" meditator. My mind keeps jumping around. What can I do?


A: Other than perhaps some monks living in the Himalayan caves, none of us are "good" meditators. That is, if a "good" meditation means that the mind is completely blank and no thoughts occur, or that you're completely aware of your connection with the entire Universe in every cell of your being the whole time.

The brain thinks, and thank God for that! Like it or not, our egos separate. Without this we'd be unable to function in society. I have read many accounts of some great sages and monks regarding their own meditation practice. Everyone seems to have times where there is a distraction (physical or mental) that keeps tempting the mind. The key is to not judge it or label it. (Some schools of thought advocate labeling, but I have found that more distracting.)

Think of your meditation as a practice for life. Just as your mind may be loud and trying to pull you in different directions, life can feel chaotic and demanding at times. A centered person is able to resist constantly get caught up in life's activities. They are able to enjoy all that happens while maintaining an inner knowing that there is connection and an underlying source behind all that we experience. Your meditation is a practice of consciously connecting to, or feeling, this source. It's a remembering of who you really are.

One of the keys to meditation is choosing an object to focus on that works for you. A typical place to start is to focus on the breath. Some people do better with a Yantra, Mantra, a physical statue to gaze upon, visualization, or even an idea (such as love or oneness). If you have used various objects, but the thoughts are stronger and keep bringing you away from your focus, then it might be time for a different approach.

Imagine that you are seated in the middle of your brain. As thoughts come in and "jump" about, watch them. Don't try to fight them or stop them. Stay focused on observing them. Like a loving parent watching over their children. YOU are the parent--the observer. Thoughts are NOT you. They are energy, but they do not define who you are. Thoughts are like children. You stay seated, while they run about. If a thought grabs you and pulls you down a long train of thoughts, this is like the child grabbing the parent's hand and pulling them along. Lovingly and without judgement, You return to the center. This is the practice.

Just as the Hatha Yogi doesn't do good or bad--they go to where they're at that day and work from there. Same thing when meditating. The Mediator, or Raja Yogi, doesn't do good or bad--they go to where they're at that day and work from there.

To enjoying where you're at,


Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.learnyogaonline.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Time - Do you save any for just you?


Do you tend to give to others a lot? Do you awake to feed the kids, walk the dog, or go to work? Is your day filled with answering questions, playing chauffeur, or serving others? Do you come home to clean the house, cook dinner, or help with homework? When you do take time for just you? If you're struggling to find time for yourself, here are some thoughts.

As soon as you unroll your mat (at home or in class), designate that time as "Just For Me Time". When you are on an airplane the flight attendant instructs you to put the air mask on yourself first, then help others. This is some of the best advise I've ever heard.


Your have to take care of yourself in order to care for others. It's that simple.


Yoga is a time for you and no one else. It's a time to rejuvenate and nourish your body, mind, and spirit. Once your cup is full, you'll have something to give. You can't give what you don't have.

If you don't feel comfort, joy, and happiness, how can you inspire that in others?

It's not selfish or demanding to have your practice all about you. In the end, that's the only way to offer to others. At the end of a practice, dedicate the positive feelings to someone in need. Sometimes that someone is you.

Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.learnyogaonline.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sciatica - Yoga Therapy

Have you ever experienced "a deep, severe pain that starts low on one side of the back and then shoots down the buttock and the leg with certain movements"? If so, according to http://www.emedicinehealth.com/, you might have sciatica. Any time you have deep pain, it is best to seek medical advise from your doctor. Please, use the information here as an aide and not as medical advise--which I'm not qualified to give.

With that said, if you have sciatica, the following exercises may bring you relief. Remember the cause of your pain will influence the helpfulness of these movements. Your doctor or therapist may be able to pin point the root of the problem. Dr. Jean-Jacques Abitbol, orthopaedic surgeon and founder of the California Spine Group, says that the six leading causes of sciatica are a bulging/herniated disc, lumbar spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, trauma, piriformis syndrome, and tumors. So, you can see why it's important to have a diagnosis made.

In the case of piriformis syndrome, the exercises below will have the most success (as always check with your doctor first):

Beneficial Asanas

Supine Hand to Big Toe Pose - Supta Hasta Padangusthasana

Supine Hand to Big Toe Pose, but this time cross the top leg just past your midline. Root down through the outer hip crease at the same time.

King Pigeon - Rajakapotasana while leaning forward. Be sure to align the sacrum, that is do not allow one hip to fall lower than the other.

Half Lord of the Fishes - Ardha Matsyendrasana

Cow - Gomukhasana

Asanas to be Careful with

Be sure that all forward bends come from the hip crease and the pelvic bowl tips forward.


Enjoy the healing and exploring!

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.learnyogaonline.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Migraine - How can Yoga help?

A number of therapeutic issues have come up in the last week, so we'll continue with a few more therapeutic posts in hopes of helping more folks find comfort in their bodies.



One of the joys of Hatha Yoga is to find great health in the body, which not only feels great, but also allow one to experience their more subtle energetic and spiritual bodies.



A severe migraine attack leaves little room for much else. I had a friend that came to visit and ended up having to spend over 24 hours locked away in a dark room until her pain passed.



Understanding the Migraine Headache



The Mayo Clinic says that "some researchers think migraines may be caused by functional changes in the trigeminal nerve system, a major pain pathway in your nervous system, and by imbalances in brain chemicals, including serotonin, which plays a regulatory role for pain messages going through this pathway." When the serotonin levels dip, the trigeminal nerve releases neuropeptides. These neuropeptides cause the blood vessels in the meninges (outer layer of the brain) to swell. This brings on a headache or migraine.



The trigeminal nerve is the largest of the cranial nerves. It originates at the brain stem and branches into three nerves. One of these is the mandibular nerve, which branches even further. The interesting part is that it innervates various areas such as the tongue, inner cheek, teeth, gums, lower lip, and chin. With this knowledge, it seems that dental issues, including TMJ, could aggravate migraines. So, alignment of the jaw and release of the tongue will be used in therapy.



Serotonin is sometimes called the "happiness drug", because it impacts your mood. Low levels can be felt as sadness or depression. Stress can lower the amount of serotonin in your body.






Your body produces this chemical in the pineal gland, which is known as the third eye by Yogis. This is why meditation on the third eye, or mid-brain, is useful in therapy.




Therapy for Migraine Headaches

Mountain (Tadasana) - Stand with parallel feet separated and directly below your hip joint. Lean slightly forward, back, and then side to side. Find the spot where the weight is balanced and hovering just in front of the heels. The sternum lifts up gently as the shoulder blades melt down the back. Drop the chin down and then lift it up. Do this a few times and then stay at the spot where the weight of your head feels the most held by the body. That is, align when the front and back neck muscles are the most balanced. Usually this brings the chin slightly down from parallel with the ground. Maintain the angle of the head as you slide it forward and then back. Again, find the center point. For most people, this will align the ears with the shoulders. Keep that, as you glide your head to the right then left. Find the center. So, now you have reached balance up/down, front/back, and left/right. The teeth are parted and the tongue rests at the bottom of the mouth. Soften your gaze and imagine a cool wash cloth being placed on the skin of your face--all the way to the ears. Relax as the breath slows and deepens. Stay for 6-9 breaths.


Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) - Place the head on a block to make it more restorative, and stay in the pose for 1-3 minutes.


Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana) - Find a 1:1 ratio of inhales and exhales. Hold at least 6 breaths. If you're comfortable, you can take plow or remain in shoulderstand for up to 21 breaths. (Note: Only do this pose after the body has been warmed up.)


Legs on Wall Pose (Viparita Karani) - Use this mainly as a preventative, to stimulate the pineal gland. If the migraine is already in full swing, this pose brings even more blood into the head, which can increase pain. Bring focus to softening all facial features, and allow the tongue to slip down and back in the mouth. Teeth remain gently parted. Remain in the pose for 8-20 minutes.


Pranayama to reduce stress - Take a comfortable seat and close your eyes. Notice the breath without judgement. Count silently and become aware of the length of your inhales and exhales. Lengthen the shorter breath until both inhale and exhale are of the same length. Only do this as long as there is NO strain at all. Remain at the 1:1 breath for 10 breaths. Gradually, lengthen the exhales until they are twice as long as the inhales. This is a 1:2 breath. Again, remain for 10 breaths. This is a great way to prepare for meditation.


Meditation on the 3d eye - Sit in a comfortable position and breath normally. As you close your eyes, notice the 2 lines of breath coming into the left and right nostrils. Keep the lines separate for a minute or two. Then visualize the lines meeting at the mid-brain--a few inches inside from the point between your eyebrows. Each inhale see the lines of breath joining at the 3d eye (mid-brain). Each exhale see them move apart a few inches beyond the nostrils. Continue in this manner for a few minutes. Eventually, keep all focus at the mid-brain. Imagine a spaciousness growing in this area -- like a radiating light. Stay here for as long as you are able (working up to 10-20 minutes).


Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.learnyogaonline.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!





*******************************


I AM NOT A MEDICAL DOCTOR. THESE SUGGESTIONS ARE NOT TO REPLACE MEDICAL CARE.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11

In 9/11 remembrance, a turning to good deeds



Christian Science Monitor has a great article about using 9/11 for doing more "good" in the world. I have always felt that in hard times, the focus ought to be on finding the silver lining. This keeps us from living in fear, anger, or sadness. So, take a moment and read the article. Find that silver lining--it's always there.



Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.learnyogaonline.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Lower Back Pain



Low back pain can be caused from a number of physical or emotional reasons, such as an imbalance between hamstring and quadriceps flexibility, an imbalance between abdominal and back strength, fears about money, guilt, or love.


For serious back pain, see your doctor for recommendations and diagnosis. For mild back pain, try the simple (beneficial) asanas first. Wait 24 hours and see how your body feels. Frequently, you won’t know if your body was ready for a movement until the next day. When your back feels comfortable with the ‘beneficial’ asanas, then you may move onto the ‘okay’, then the ‘be careful with’ asanas. Whenever trying a new asana, only go to 50% of your maximum until the healing process moves farther along.


Above all, honor, listen to, and follow your intuition. The most important lessons will come from breathing fully and listening to your body.


These are guidelines only and do not consider special cases or past injuries. Check with your doctor or therapist prior to starting new exercise programs.

Beneficial Asanas


Cat/Dog (careful in Dog to not sway the lower back towards the ground). Start on all fours in a Table top position. Exhale as you round the back. Drop the tailbone and crown of the head down. Inhale and arch the spine downward as you look forward and lift the sit bones.


Balancing Table. From all fours, extend the opposite hand and leg straight forward and back. Do this a few times on each side.

Downward –Facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Non-twisting standing asanas


Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

Supine hand-to-big toe pose (Supta Hasta Padangusthasana). To do this, lay on your back. Bring one leg up toward the ceiling. The other leg stays on the ground. Use a strap to reach your top foot or hold on behind the thigh. You can also do this in a doorway and rest the upper leg on the wall and the other leg goes through the doorway. Keep both thighs moving back. Take at least 9-12 long full breaths before switching sides.


Supine child (Supta Balasana). Lay on your back and hug the knees into your chest. Release the low back.


Corpse (Savasana). Lay on your back, knees bent, and the calves and feet on a chair. Breathe deeply into the back and melt the muscles on every exhale

Okay Asanas


Standing twists (if non-twisting standing asanas feel fine)

Supine and prone twists (if standing twists feel okay)


Locust (Salabhasana)


Widespread standing forward fold (Prasarita Padottanasana)


Standing forward fold (Uttanasana) (after Prasarita Padottanasana feels fine)


Sitting with support under the sitting bones

Asanas to be Careful with


Seated twists (do these after supine and prone twists feel comfortable)

Supported seating forward bends (keep towards the front of the sitting bones)

Asanas to Avoid


Aggressive seated forward bends



For more info, Yoga Journal has an article on the subject. Click here.

If the pain is from the SI joint (a doctor or therapist can diagnose this), then click here.


Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.learnyogaonline.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Meditation Techniques - Using the Light

Q: I see white blurry light when meditating with open eyes. At times tears form. Sometimes purple blobs of light come up. This can happen during a Yoga pose or when sitting. Do you know anything about this?



A: Let me start by saying it is not uncommon for people to see an inner light with eyes closed. I am not as familiar with eyes open. With that said, here are some things to consider:


Be sure you are breathing fully. Some novices hold their breath to get a "head rush" and see colors! This is NOT helpful or spiritual in any way. If your breath is comfortable and you are not forcing, then the light can be a deeper more energetic and positive experience.

There are two frames of thought on how you can use the light to deepen your spiritual experience. One is to meditate on the light as if you are moving closer to the source of it.


Another is to notice three distinct phases. The first is labeling the color, such as calling it "white". This is the grossest and most physical stage or dharana. Next is to focus on the light and the process of simply observing it. This is dhyana Finally, you absorb the light and merge with it. Here you have reached samadhi.

If you meditate with open eyes, tears can form from lack of blinking and the need to re-moisten. Or, it can be an emotional release. You will know best, as dry eyes are uncomfortable and emotional release feels..... well, releasing.

Finally, it is important to consider possible physical aspects of the color. I asked an eye doctor about this and she said, "Retinal nerve fiber processing can become overloaded from staring at a single object or space, creating the appearance of colors or spots. Blinking and eye movement restore retinal functioning. If the cornea dehydrates from reduced blinking, dryness and then swelling can certainly alter the vision."


Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.learnyogaonline.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Hatha Yoga

There was a post last week at Cupcakes and Yoga asking "What Kind of Yogi Are You?" For kicks here are my answers--feel free to comment with your own responses.


How do you choose a yoga class?
Pretty much I only attend workshops now, and usually its because I've read things that the presenter has written and found them inspiring.



What kind of water bottle do you bring to class?
I never drink during a regular practice. Rodney Yee once said that "drinking water during a practice messes with your energy system." I hydrate before and after only.



What song always puts you in the mood to bust out a yoga pose?
None. My Yoga is almost always in silence. Three Little Birds by Marley gets me dancing in the middle of dinner, but no music makes me want to "bust out a yoga pose."



What’s your favorite drink for rehydration after yoga?
It's odd for me to sweat during Yoga, but I always hydrate with water--about 20 fluid ounces to start every day.



What do you do before class while you’re waiting for your teacher to arrive?
Depends on the people next to me and what my body/mind feel like. Sometimes restoratives. Sometimes sun salutations. Sometimes I chat quietly.



Who are your closest friends?
My family.



It’s your birthday: What do you ask for?
Today? A working laptop and fixed car!



Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.learnyogaonline.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Something to Think About - Finding Balance

My kids had a friend over the other day. As I noticed how this child had changed over the years, it got me thinking: Where's the line between apathy and easy-going? When does being responsible and goal-oriented turn into rigidity and having a stick-up-your-butt?

The word Hatha actually means Sun and Moon. Yoga is to yoke or join opposites together. In class we talk about finding balance. Balance in standing postures. Balance of strength and flexibility. Balance between muscular and organic energies.

How about balance in our lives?

Not just in how we live or divide our time, but what about finding a place to be responsible and take action. Yet, also, take an easy-going attitude? If either of these mindsets takes over, we run the risk of falling over the cliff of apathy or rigidity (stick-up-the-butt-ity).

Something to think about....

Kris
www.TotalHealthYoga.com
www.LearnYogaOnline.Blogspot.com

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Benefits of Yoga - Standing All Day

Q: I'm a 58 year old woman who has a job where I'm my feet all day long. My back and my knees are starting to bother me and I have heard so many good benfits about doing yoga. Do you think this would be good for me?


A: Thanks for the inquiry. Posture is a huge impact of how our body handles standing often. Yoga brings great awareness to where the weight is on your feet and how the body aligns. This can greatly help with posture and thus how your body handles standing all day. We, also, learn about not collapsing into the body, but rather expanding. In Yoga, you work with rooting as well as lifting. This is very useful in preventing (or lessening) getting tired after being on your feet a long time. As for the knees, it's all about alignment and finding the proper balance in the surrounding muscles. Yoga postures use a mix of strengthening and stretching to find that balance.
I'd recommend finding an experienced teacher to help with these alignment principles.



Love Much,

Kris
http://www.totalhealthyoga.com/
http://www.learnyogaonline.blogspot.com/

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!