Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Shoulder Workout

Danna Faulds is a gifted poet and yogini. In her book, One Soul, she writes the following:

Two Myths Take a Hike

Atlas is always shouldering his load.
You know that feeling -- the weight
of the everything pressing in, suffocating.

And there is Sisyphus pushing the
boulder uphill, over and over. Two
poster boys for ceaseless effort.

But what if (now here's a radical idea,)
the way of transformation is not a
long or tortured change?

What if it's just being here, this moment,
now, complete and whole? What if you
could whisper in Atlas's big ear, "It's
time to let go. Really. The heavens will
not disappear if you put your burden down."

Imagine him thinking about it. Imagine
him believing. See him set the load down,
straighten up, stretch, smile, stride over to
Sisyphus and say something you can't hear.

See the stone roll down, and Sisyphus
choose not to follow. You are the witness
to the shouts of joy, the head shaking
wonder and relief -- you mean it's this easy?

Imagine the spring in their step, the lightness
of their laughter as they climb that hill and
disappear from view.

What it we all took time to put down our responsibilities? During an asana practice, put down the weight of "having to do it all", of thinking everything will fall apart if you simply take a break and allow yourself to simply be in the moment.

When you do this, notice how the shoulders relax as the blades slip down the back.

Due to gravity, our most typical actions, and tension of feeling the heaviness of the world upon us, many people carry their shoulders in poor alignment. Release the tension, watch your actions, strengthen what's weak, and stretch what's overly strong or tight.

It's all about balance.

Properly aligned poses to strengthen the shoulder girdle:
Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II)
Trikonasana (Triangle)
Parsvakonasana (Side Angle)
Phalakasana (Plank)
Vasisthasana (Side Plank)

Find some great stretches with:
Tadasana (Mountain) with the hands clasped behind the back
Binds with various poses such as with Trikonasana (Triangle) or Parsvakonasana (Side Angle)

Love Much,


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

Friday, May 16, 2008

Chakras - Second Chakra

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about the first or root chakra which brings about stability and grounding. While it is necessary and important to have a sense of safety and security, it is just as vital to be free and mobile. This is where the second chakra comes into play.

The second chakra or energy center is located in the low belly and encompasses the organs with in the pelvis. If it is off balance or the energy is not flowing in a healthy manner then you may experience the following: chronic low back pain, sciatica, ob/gyn issues, pelvic pain, sexual potency, urinary troubles, blame, guilt, money problems, power and control in a one-on-one relationship, creativity issues, troubles with ethics and honor in relationships

To return a flow to the second chakra you may find the following useful:

Meditate on water; imagine drinking it, bathing in it, floating on it, standing in the rain, and returning the the womb.

Using awareness and breath, open the hips with some hip openers (stick figures of lots of poses) or click on 'slideshow' here.

Remember to finish all practices with 5-10 minutes laying on the floor and relaxing the spine.



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

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Acceptance - Forgiveness - Finding a loving heart

The other day I was reminded why I got divorced almost 8 years ago. Let's just say, my former husband and I have extremely different values. When it comes to raising two kids, this shows up a lot!

To accept someone the way they are and accept myself, has been a journey that still continues. Yoga is a big part of that journey. To be honest, part of me wanted to punch this man in the face, but the other part knew I needed to deal with my feelings in a healthier way. This is not always easy, and I definitely have days (or weeks!) where the punch in the face sure looks good tempting.

Either way, at some point, we all have to live with our own emotions and thoughts. In order to allow my feelings to flow and find openness (if not love) in my heart for this man, I found the following practice useful.


Take a seat and focus on the inhales and exhales. This will bring you to the present moment. If a thought comes into the mind not related to the breath, simply say "breath" as you return focus to it. If an emotion is strong, feel it and notice it without the accompanying thoughts. See the emotion as a vibration and not a definition of who you are or the "fault" of someone else. Just a vibration or form of energy. Stay with this 3-10 minutes.

Asanas (Postures)

Warm up the body by moving the joints. Do this to the rhythm of your breath.

Move slowly through a couple of sun salutations with the intention to have the breath lead the motion every step of the way. Ujjayi breath is advised if you are very comfortable with it.

Crescent pose (Lateral Mountain). From standing with toes pointing forward and inhale the left arm overhead; right arm at your side. Exhale and reach the top (left) arm far to the right; the hips may sway slightly to the left. Repeat on the other side.

Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I) with the hands clasped behind your back. Visualize a bright light shining in all directions out of your heart center as the bottom of the sacrum releases away from the low back. Repeat on both sides.

Standing half frog (standing on one leg with the other leg bent and holding onto its foot behind you) or Dancer (Natarajasana). Again focus on the openness and freedom in the heart. Let it shine with a sense of love, forgiveness, and compassion.

Take a short rest laying on your back with the knees into the chest.

Do some abdominal strengtheners, such as leg lifts or bicycle.

Either come into the following: sphinx, prone half frog, and bow; or use: downward facing dog, king pigeon (and any variations you like), downward facing dog.

Take child's pose or a bowing position.

Triang Mukha Eka Pada Paschimottanasana with a twist and then forward bend; or Ardha Matsyendrasana with twist and then forward.

Supine with the knees to your chest. Spend a few minutes feeling the back melt into the earth and grow broad.


Love Much,


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

Monday, May 5, 2008

Chakras - First Chakra

After a long massage, my body felt like melted wax and there was a low hum flowing through my limbs. Sally, the massage therapist, handing me a tape about energy centers. "This is really good. I think you'd like it. Feel free to borrow it and let me know what you think."

This was the first time I was exposed to the word chakra and to be honest I thought it was a bunch of phooey. Almost 15 years later, I not only find chakra work beneficial, but can sometimes feel the movement of energy within my energy centers.

Anodea Judith says, "the original meaning of the word chakra as 'wheel' refers to the chariot wheels of the invading Aryans [who were entering India on chariots]." on page 9 of Wheels of Life. Today chakra typically refers to seven energy centers in the body.

The first and lowest of these centers is located at the base of the spine affecting the pelvic floor and legs. It provides a feeling of stability and grounding. Walking in thick mud would stimulate this chakra. Whether or not you like the term chakra, you will most likely see that feeling your feet literally sink into the earth would provide more grounding.

As an experiment, picture an elephant using as many of your senses as possible: smell the natural odor, feel the thick and rough skin, see the trunk swaying and the heavy body steps firmly along a path, taste the dryness in the air, and hear the chewing of grass. Now stand up or come on all fours and walk like an elephant. Experience your weight being dragged down and the firm planting of each foot. After a minute or so, stop and notice how grounded and stable you feel. If nothing else, you most likely will be able to sense your feet and legs more.

In Yoga, we use forward bends to stimulate the first chakra.

Working with the first chakra, also known as Muladhara, provides grounding, survival, support, stability, security (mental & physical).

You can work with this area via forward bends, massaging the foot, focusing on a rich and deep red color, using the affirmation "I am worthy & deserving", animal protein (eggs, dairy, meat).

A hint that this chakra could use some attention would be if you have weight issues, hemorrhoids, constipation, sciatica, degenerative arthritis, knee troubles, feeling unsafe or unable to provide for your needs, inability to stand up for yourself, or feeling unworthy or as if you don't belong.



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