Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Breathe

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“Pranayama has slowly pried open some of the tighter places in my body and so provided me with new openings in my asana practice. This, in turn, affects my breathing and, so on and so on, asana and pranayama oscillating back and forth to each other’s advantage.” – Richard Rosen

Pranayama or breath control is defined by B.K.S Iyengar as: “… techniques to make the respiratory organs move and expand intentionally, rhythmically and intensively. It consist of long, sustained subtle flow of inhalation, exhalation and retention of breath.”

With the guidance of some of the world’s wisest yoga teachers, I have made it my quest to incorporate pranayama into my practice. Breaking down the art of breathing into separate stages has helped me to gradually meld it into my daily yoga routine. Over the next few weeks, I will share my personal journey towards pranayama with you. Here are the four main categories we will explore: Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Breathe”

Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Combine Effort & Ease

“Focus your attention on your breath. When your mind wanders, simply return your awareness to the inhalation and exhalation. You don’t need to empty your mind or have perfect attention. It is the act of noticing mental distractions and bringing the attention back to the breath that lends the mind steadiness (sthira) and ease (sukha).”

How do we keep ourselves physically challenged yet safe? Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Combine Effort & Ease”

Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Seek Integration

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“As you bring your hands together at your center, you literally connect the right and left hemispheres of your brain. This is the yogic process of unification, the yoking of our active and receptive natures.” 

The definition of yoga is to yoke, or join together. This week, we start to explore the ways that we can develop a more integrated yoga practice. We will begin with three easy techniques for uniting the main components of yoga: Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Seek Integration”

Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Lead With Your Heart

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“Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.” – Rumi

A set of heart-opening poses may be the very most important piece of the yoga asana puzzle. Here are three reasons to lead with your heart:

#1: Emotional and Physical Revival – Psychologically, backbends can teach you receptivity, acceptance, compassion, and determination. Physically, backbends correct our tendency to hunch. Especially in this era of increased computer and cell phone usage, our “tech necks” and upper backs are in dire need of lengthening.

#2: Beat Bone Loss – The act of spinal extension or back bending can help to prevent or slow down the effects of osteoporosis or bone loss. Gentle back bends such as Salabasana (locust pose) or supported Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (bridge pose) were included in a long-term study of osteoporosis reversal (click here for details).

#3: Energizing – Back bends bring energy into our subtle heart centers. The heart or anahata chakra stimulates our love for self and others and permits our brilliance to shine. Often times in class following a back bend, I can feel my students’ positive energy level come alive.

Here are some heart-warming poses to ignite your flame. Try to incorporate one of these essential back bending postures into your yoga practice each day:
Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Lead With Your Heart”

Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Stoke Your Inner Fire

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“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates

To stoke our inner fire this week, we are connecting with our Manipura or Solar Plexus Chakra and the asanas that relate to this energy source. The solar plexus is the region that covers the mid-body and can be associated with the stomach or gut yet is literally a ganglia of nerves located behind the abdominal region at the level of the first lumbar vertebra.

The third chakra is related to our power, our intention and desires. The balanced movement of prana through this area gives us self-confidence, motivation and direction.

Find your intention by balancing your Manipura (solar plexus) Chakra with these powerful, energetic postures: Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Stoke Your Inner Fire”

Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Zest Things Up!

“May all beings everywhere be happy and free and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.” ~translation of Sanskrit Mantra Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu

This week, we will continue to explore the individual poses of yoga or the asanas by addressing the second energy center that is located at the level of the pelvis. It is called the svadhisthana chakra or the pelvic chakra. It also strongly relates to the planet Pluto. A practice for this chakra will be very fluid and energizing.   Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Zest Things Up!”

Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Hold Your Ground

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“Just being low down in a room tends to clear the mind. Maybe it’s because being on the floor is so foreign to us that it breaks up our habitual neurological patterning and invites us to enter into this moment through a sudden opening in what we might call the body door.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

This week, we will begin to explore the individual poses of yoga or the asanas. This is the 3rd limb of the yogic system. Although it is self-evident that a steady yoga practice will involve the postures themselves, in the vast scope of yoga the asanas have a specific role to play. The intention of asana is to bring attunement (or greater awareness) to our instinctual responses. For that reason, many of the poses derive from animals who, by nature, are strongly instinctive.

The other main purpose of the asana limb is to balance the energy or prana within our bodies. Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Hold Your Ground”