Looking for These Sources…

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Please help! Despite the intellegence of the internet, I cannot locate the source of these beautiful and profound yoga quotes that I recorded in my journal long ago.  I would very much like to attribute them to their original authors.

If you are familiar with the following quotes, please leave me a comment…thanks!

#1: “Yoga is not a destination to be reached, it is a place where you simply are. The method is the goal.”

#2: “Take this opportunity to begin to shed your outer layers – your coverings. Find the way back to center: through flesh, muscle, bone. To the river that underlies us, solid and fluid. Lean softly into your experience and give it your whole attention.”

#3: “The technique a teacher passes on are petals on the flower, but the stem is inside you. No one can show you what that looks and feels like. They can help you learn and show you what they have found useful, but the inner teachings are going on all the time – the little discoveries that can only be made from within as you compare the you that was with the you that is awakening.”

#4: What is the purpose of yoga practice? To open the heart. Measure your success in your postures not by how far you go but by how aware you are in each moment. What makes you feel most alive? Most present? Most whole?”

 

 

YOLY Challenge #52: Discovering the True Path

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For the final installment in our Year of Living Yogically Challenge, let’s look to the next step on the path. Continuing your development and expanding, still further, the horizon of your awareness requires study. Svadhyaya is the sanskrit term for self-study. And, as we have learned, increased awareness brings you true happiness.

Your final Living Yogically Challenge is to set up a weekly session for paying attention to yourself. One day per week, journal your observations. Record your habits, your behaviors and your perceptions to tune into your self-awareness.

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.” -Lao Tzu

As the Yoga Posts’ facilitator, I am also looking to the future and what this blog will become. If you have any suggestions for yoga topics or information that you would like to see posted on a regular basis, please leave me your comment. If you are new to the blog or want to see where the Year of Yogically begins, click here to start.

Until the next time…

Namasté, Kim.

YOLY Challenge #51: Time For Solitude

stadium-165406__340As the summer solstice approaches, now is the perfect time for seeking solitude for yourself. Periodically remaining quiet increases your awareness and lets your mind rest.

Your challenge this week will be to receive solitude by spending time alone each day. Walking in nature or watching the sunset or sunrise are good ways to soak up some solo time. Also, consider your speech and how much you talk. Curtail your urge to speak a bit this week to bring more reflection and centeredness into your life.

Or, you can choose to be in solitude with others by practicing the concept of mouna or silence.  A good time for this is just prior to or following a meal. Another effective time is the first thing in the morning or the last thing before sleeping. If you live with others, make this “silent time” a period for eliminating the television, computer, or any other device that produces sound. For 10-15 minutes (and ear buds plugged in do not count), try to keep the silence with reading, drawing or writing. Eventually, slowly phase out these activities and find a comfortable place to just be still together. During this time, consider your thoughts and observe what surfaces. This is a great prelude to meditation.

Performed on a regular basis, mouna becomes an important tool for generating increased awareness. The yama of asteya or non-stealing in the form of words, can also be a consideration for keeping the virtue of silence. When you practice silence, your thoughts become quieter, and, ultimately, you will find that you are able to pacify your emotions and soften your personality.

Enjoy the stillness!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balancing the Body’s Basin

Today we address a more delicate subject. A part of our anatomy that is not discussed often but plays a huge role in our day to day lives. Commonly known as the pelvis, it’s the “basin” for many biological systems and the root of our support. Not only is the pelvis the foundation of our stability but it is home to our organs of elimination and reproduction – thus the sensitivity.

As a structure, the pelvis is more like an architectural feat rather than a mere bony skeleton.

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It shelters and provides entrances and exits for a vast number of muscles, ligaments and nerves that feed and bring movement to our upper and lower bodies.

Therefore, the pelvis needs to stay fluid. Not too tight yet not too loose. The stability of its frame and the musculature within is easily off balanced. Pelvic distortion can lead to chronic hip misalignment, lower back pain and scoliosis. Strain or misalignment at the spine base can also lead to pelvic floor abnormalities affecting both women and men. Muscle weakness or even tightness can bring about urinary incontinence, urinary frequency, cystitis, irritable bowel syndrome and prostate problems.

Luckily, yoga can help stabilize the pelvis, engage, strengthen and relax pelvic bowl muscles. A study performed at the University of California San Francisco studied urinary incontinence and found that participants who practiced specific yoga postures experienced a 70% reduction in this abnormality. Some of the postures included in the study were baddha konasana (bound angle pose), salamba setu bandhasana (supported bridge pose) and utkatasana (chair pose).

In addition, the yogic practice of mūla bandha is helpful in generating awareness and encouraging blood flow into the hips and pelvic floor or perineum (the perineum can be thought of as a hammock of muscles between the sitting bones and the pubic bone). Although mūla bandha (along with the other bandhas) is considered an advanced yoga practice, it can be more simply characterized as a set of pelvic floor contractions much like Kegel exercises.

In Tias Little’s book Yoga of the Subtle Body, he describes one basic technique for engaging mūla bandha:

Sitting in a cross-legged position, “align the center of your skull over the center of your pelvis. Be sure to release your jaw and tongue…begin by relaxing the tissues in and around your pelvic floor. Take several long, slow breath strokes. Once your breath has settled, exhale deeply and, at the end of the exhalation, contract your perineum (or pelvic floor) rhythmically in a set of seven pulses, in what amounts to a catch and release action. Then take a long inhalation brushing your breath against your spine. Repeat 5-10 times.

A beautiful description for a delicate subject.

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YOLY Challenge #50: Open to Receptivity

For the month of June, which is traditionally the month of love, we will get to the “heart” of what matters, our Self.

But first we need to open the door to receptivity.
doorway-981803__340To be receptive is to accept a signal, an idea or even another person into your life. For receptivity to occur, it is imperative that your heart and mind be open. This ability to see things differently requires flexibility. Not everyone is amenable or disposed to receiving what others have to share. Therefore, in order to fully receive, you may have to give up something that you already possess.

This is especially fitting for yogis who want to prepare and purify themselves to receive the teachings of yoga. Releasing your subjectivity, blockages and negativity will give you space for a lifestyle that is happier, healthier and compassionate or love-filled.

At this point in our Year of Living Yogically, we know that there is more to the system of yoga than the postures themselves. Time and again, the posts refer back to the Eight Limb System of yoga which includes:

  1. Yamas (restraints)
  2. Niyamas (observances)
  3. Asanas (postures)
  4. Pranayama (breathing)
  5. Pratyahara (sense withdrawal)
  6. Dharana (concentration)
  7. Dhyana (meditation)
  8. Samadhi (contemplation)

Maybe you have already incorporated some of these techniques into your own practice.

This week your challenge will be to review the eight steps and find the area(s) that you feel need enriching. Simply use the Topic bar on the right to click on the category you would like to read more about. Understanding each step in the eight-fold system will help you become more conscious of your true nature.

We have two weeks left in this journey. The next challenges will be the icing on the cake that will, hopefully, feed you for many years to come.

Namasté friends!

If you would like to start at the beginning of this year-long challenge please click here.

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YOLY Challenge #49: Amplify Your Awareness

For many years, the system of yoga was my “go to” method for health maintenance. After all, it is a terrific course for correcting imbalances in body, mind and spirit. Small episodes of pain and stress would come and go – there was always my practice to guide me through any discomfort.

Until this year. I experienced a rare facial nerve disorder (that I have still yet to diagnose). Although restorative yoga postures, breath work and meditation did help me to relax, the pain and other repercussions of this ailment forced me to search out a viable treatment.

So, I googled my options for healing. You could say that I went on a quest for healing.

And, along the way, I discovered acupuncture, aromatherapy and Jin Shin Jyutsu. Together with the modalities of massage and yoga, these therapies have paved the way toward my well-being.

Because my background is geared to yoga, I applied simple breathing and relaxation techniques to the acupuncture and Jin Shin Jyutsu sessions I received. At first, it merely helped me to stay calm with the uneasiness I felt in these new situations. However, as my comfort level increased, I realized that when I executed these yoga techniques within my treatments, I could awaken my body’s intelligence and amplify my level of awareness. butterfly-492536__340

After a relatively short span of time, not only did my symptoms resolve for longer and longer periods but, in the end, they nearly vanished.

Nowadays, I continue to receive massage and Jin Shin Jyutsu, utilize aromatherapy and am slowly incorporating a stronger yoga practice back into my daily routine. I feel like my body is finally in sync again, a sensation that I had been missing for nearly a year.

Each form of bodywork I experienced has taught me how important the awareness of the present moment is to overall health. I am so thankful that I was able to apply the yogic principles of relaxation and breath work to amplify each modality’s effectiveness.

In turn, I have reapplied this new heightened level of awareness back into my yoga practice. In general, I am staying even more open minded. My body feels a new alertness and there is a deeper level of harmony moving within.

I had discovered that the underlying meaning of each of these modalities is the present moment awareness. And, that, even in the midst of pain, you can lean in, stay attentive and surrender.

Your challenge this week is to locate your own method for generating increased awareness. You may wish to look into one of the modalities that I have mentioned or maybe you already have something simmering on the back burner.

Please keep in mind that whatever you choose should grant you a deeper connection to Self. It should awaken you to your true nature. Only then will you be able to see things as they truly are and live in the present moment.

Best wishes!

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YOLY Challenge #48: Be Strong & Serene

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How do we keep ourselves physically challenged yet safe?

For yogis, this involves two key words – “sthira” and “sukha”.  In sanskrit, sthira means strong, stable, steady in focus for mind and body. The ideal counterweight is sukha or that feeling of ease, relaxation and serenity – no matter how strenuous the pose may be. Once you are able to keep the concepts of sthira and sukha in balance, your practice will be at its utmost and your risk for injury greatly reduced.

For this challenge, apply sthira to the gentle flow below:

  • Balasana with arms extended
  • Vrksasana
  • Supported Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
  • Supine Revolved Belly Twist

On the following day, incorporate sukha into the more rigorous practice below:

  • Adho Mukha Svanasana 1 or 2 minute hold
  • Utkatasana to Utkatasana Twist
  • Virabhadrasana I to III flow
  • Sarvangasana

Repeat the practices as needed on subsequent days.

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there…”. -Rumi