Friday, September 24, 2010

Reconnect With Self

As you may have noticed when I write these blog entries, I refer to our "very busy lives." Isn't that the truth, though? We are constantly on the go. Busy busy busy. No time for that. Little time for this. And practically NO TIME for OURSELVES.

My intention is to help us recognize that sometimes we expel well too much of our energy by going going going.....doing doing doing! We need to remember (myself included) to slow down.

We work for others, we care for others. In these types of activities, we may forget to take care of ourselves. We can lose site of ourselves....even lose site of our visions and dreams when we are always working for or caring for others. In this home yoga practice, we will remind ourselves to RECONNECT with Self. In our lives, we may move away from our center. Today, we will reclaim that center, that balance, that connection with two poses: Marichi's Pose and Eagle Pose. Both of these are binding and twisting postures. They will highlight how you have to rely on self and focus on self to maintain balance and focus. You will also be aware of bodily sensations like breath, tightened or stretching muscles. When doing these poses, pay close attention to these sensations. It is a wonderful exercise that reconnects You to YOU.

Marichi’s Pose

Sit in staff pose. Sitting on the floor with your legs extended out in front of you, sit up very tall and flex your feet. Place your hands next to your hips. Push them into the floor to help extend your spine. Pull in your right heel underneath your hips. Make sure your right knee is pointing directly forward on the floor. Take your left foot and step over the right knee. Extend your right arm forward and then wrap that arm around the bent knee in front of you. Take your left hand and place it on the floor behind you; use it to lift your self up so you can extend your spine. Inhale to extend the spine and sit up very tall. On your exhale, draw in your navel toward your spine. Continue to twist in the left direction. Hold the pose. Be aware of the sensations of all body parts and how they make contact with other parts of your body. Ask yourself, “what des this feel like? What am I feeling inside? Continue to hold the pose. With each exhale continue to squeeze in toward your spine. Inhale, to sit up a little taller. Exhale, twist a little deeper. Continue to feel the sensations within your body. Hold for at least 10 breaths. Begin to move very slowly to unwind and come out of the pose. Return to staff pose with your legs extended out in front of you. Hold for five breaths. Allow the body to re-align itself. Do the same pose on the other side.

Eagle Pose

Stand tall in Mountain Pose. Take five full slow breaths. Inhale, extend both arms up over head. On your exhale, bring the arms down. Watch your arms and bring the right arm behind the left arm crossing at the elbows. Lift the crossed arms, and then wrap the arms around each other clasping the fingers together. Bend your hips to take a seat into Chair Pose. Keep the right foot rooted into the floor and lift your left knee crossing the left leg over the right leg. If you are able, wrap the big toe around your right calf. On your next exhale, squeeze the muscles of your body together. Lift your elbows slightly. Push your elbows forward slightly. You may feel a sensation of stretching across your upper back. Hold the pose for at least five breaths. On your next text inhale, unwind your arms and uncross your legs. Return to Mountain Pose. Do the same pose on the other side.

Please remember to provide feedback on your home yoga practice experience. Namaste.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Sigh of Relief

Have you ever encountered a challenge in your life, but then felt relieved after you successfully overcame the challenge? What is one of the first things you did? Perhaps experience a big sigh of relief, right?

What happens within your body when you sigh? Typically we have held some sort of tension in the body then when you breathe out, usually through the mouth, that tension is released. You may even make a sound: an audible sign indicating that the tension is no longer in your body. One may feel a sense of lightness, a weight completed lifted.

In our yoga practice, in order to move deeper into a pose, it may be necessary to experience that audible sigh of relief. Let's try this breathing sensation with the following pose:

Standing Forward Fold

Start by standing in Mountain Pose. Begin your Ujjayi Breathing. Remember, this flow of breath is typically through the nose; your mouth is closed. You will feel the dynamic breath move in and out of nostrils, but the effort of the breath comes from the muscles in the back of your throat. Once you feel a greater connection to the breath, begin your Sun Salutation. Complete a Series A (3 Salutations) to bring warmth and opening to the body.

Series A
Mountain Pose
Forward Fold
Chaturanga Dandasana
Upward Facing Dog
Downward Facing Dog
Forward Fold
Mountain Pose

After you have completed your warm up, return to the Forward Fold Posture. It is perfectly fine to be in this pose with bent knees. (There is no rule that says you have to be in a Forward Fold with straight legs!) In order to experience more release and straighter legs (if that is your intention) then you can use your dynamic breath – and a sigh of relief – to help you achieve that goal.

While in your Forward Fold, hold onto each elbow or the backs of your legs. This will create more weight in the body allowing you to go deeper into the pose. Pay attention to your breathing: breathe in through your nose, then, with a sigh, breathe out through your mouth. See if your body went deeper into the pose.

You can continue to move deeper by doing the following: allow your hips to lift a little higher toward the ceiling while at the same time feel the backs of your knees move toward the back of the room. These do not have to be big movements. Move gently and carefully into the depth of your posture. Don’t forget to sigh.

Physically, over time, this will create more length and flexibility in your hamstrings. Emotionally and mentally, think of this exercise as a way to experience release of tension; as a way to create more space in your heart and mind so you can move forward on your life journey.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Slow Down

As we get older, it seems that we have MORE to do with LESS time. (How did that happen?) We constantly try to cram too many things to do in our already business schedules. Often, we run out of time, and the daily list is rarely completed; more items just seem to be added to the never-ending list.

“If only there were more hours in the day,” we say to ourselves. “If only I could move faster to get all of these things done.”

Why not do the opposite? Appreciate the number of hours you have in the day and actually move slower to complete your to-do list. You might find that by taking the time to slow down, your mind is clearer, more rational, and can make logical decisions that lead to successful completions rather than running around constantly worrying rather than doing.

In today’s yoga practice, try moving through a simple Sun Salutation slower than you usually move. The idea is to move with a slower pace of breath. Start by standing in Mountain Pose and become aware of the sensation of breath. Once you have made this breath connection, begin an engaging series of Ujjayi Breaths to bring yourself to greater awareness of each inhale and exhale.

Continue to stand still and silent in Mountain Pose engaged in the breath and begin to pay attention to the pace of each inhale and the pace of each exhale. Breathe in a fashion where the pace of the exhale matches the pace of the inhale. Now, count the beats associated with the pace of the inhale and the pace of the exhale. For example, when you draw in one breath, you might find that it takes 3 beats. (Try counting slowly, like this….”one –Mississippi, two-Mississippi, etc.)

Once you have taken note of the pace of each breath, try slowing down the pace of the inhale and exhale so the rate is now 4 beats rather than 3. Try doing this two more times until the pace of your breathing effort has slowed down significantly. Now it is time to move. Still using this new pace of breath, begin your Sun Salutation. Each movement now coincides with the pace and rhythm of the Ujjayi Breath. You’ll find that you’ll move through your practice much slower.

The intention is to practice moving slower through the course your day. Pace yourself. Take your time. You may find that you are more calm and collected and able to get more done in your busy day.

Feel free to provide feedback on your yoga practice. Leave a comment to inspire others to also slow down.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Butterflies In The Jungle

Butterflies In The Jungle
Mini-Blog Entry from Peru
Written August 25, 2010

One thing I did not expect while traveling through the Amazon Jungles of Peru is the multitude of corful butterflies. Such a surreal scene: extremely tall trees surrounding the narrow beaten paths. The background sounds of birds, crickets, and monkeys. The plethora of mosquitos. The damp mossy ground. Then, the occasional blue large-winged monarch butterfly as if dangling from an invisible string manipulated by some unknown source in the sky.

Learn to expect the unexpected. It is so very easy to get stuck in our everyday routines and schedules. In your home yoga practice today, try a new pose. Instead of your regular routine, experiment with a new yoga posture. Try an easy one just to break your pattern. Or allow today to be the first day to begin teaching yourself a new and more challenging pose.

Start with a few Sun Salutations to find your breath, warm your body, and open your mind. Then move to your new pose. Try one of these if you haven't already:

Crow Pose
Bird of Paradise

Don't feel a need to master your new pose on your first try. Take pride in yourself that you gave yourself the permission to try something outside of your comfort zone. You might find that you'll change from a caterpillar into an amazingly brightly colored butterfly. Expect the unexpected.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Mini-Blog Entry from Peru
Written August 27, 2010

Today I had the wonderful experience of hiking to the top of Machu Picchu in Peru. At it's peak of 9900 ft, one is able to view the entire ancient Machu Picchu City. The trek to the top, to say the least, was quite a task. The entire climb consists of rocky steps that continue to go up rarely leveling until you reach the top.
Not knowing exactly how long the trek would take or how high the mountain top was (since it was hidden amongst the early morning clouds) I made my way upward by focusing only on the next step. I created a mantra for myself, "One Step. One Step," that I continued to repeat as I climbed higher and higher.
Although I was thrilled with the achievement I experienced after reaching the mountain peak, I was more content with the journey I took to get there. Maintaining my mantra kept me focused on only the next step. I knew eventually I would reach my goal as long as continued to move forward one step at a time.
Perhaps for your home yoga practice today, you can create a simple meditative mantra that will help you reach your day's goal. Make it simple, just a could of words. For example, "Move Forward," "I Can," or "Just Do It." Repeat it throughout the day. You may be surprised at how powerful a few words can be to help you find and experience achievement.