Balancing Summer’s Heat Through Yoga

Young woman practicing morning meditation in nature at the park. Health lifestyle concept.Any activity in the summer can get strenuous. These are the months when our bodies generate the most heat. To combat the warmer temperatures, we eat refreshing fruits, seek the shadiest spots and relax near the water with a good book. Inherently, we are searching to balance summer’s intensity.

The practice of yoga and ayurveda can also help to alleviate any excess heat that we experience in these months. Continue reading “Balancing Summer’s Heat Through Yoga”

Tips to Stay Disciplined

photo-1510894347713-fc3ed6fdf539As you bring more self-discipline into your practice, you will increase your level of confidence. This “I can do it” attitude leads to greater contentment. Ultimately you will find that when you persevere in your practice (and your life), you feel more balanced, purposeful and joyful. A little work will release your attachments and free up your consciousness for higher realizations.

Just like the daily practice of yoga, the process of writing requires discipline.  As I continue to edit my book, I have found some crucial ways to keep focused. Here are my tips: Continue reading “Tips to Stay Disciplined”

Are You Ready to Harness the Energy of the Sun?

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Happy Solstice Day!

This is the ideal time to honor all of the light we have accumulated!

And, the perfect occasion to announce my next journey.

Over two years ago, I started this blog to stay connected with my students. My initial intention was to provide information to supplement our classes and create new challenges for building a steadier practice for myself and fellow yogis. This effort has lead to nearly 170 blog posts.

Now I am beginning a new adventure and a personal goal – to accumulate and condense all of the information I have created for this blog and turn it into a book. A book I hope students and teachers will use as a planning resource and a guide for building stimulating personal practices and classes. And because it is being generated from this blog, its title is “Yoga Posts: Building a Steady Practice One Week at a Time.”

As of today, I have finished assembling all of the research, experience and words of inspiration I have held near and dear to my heart over the past 25 years of practicing and teaching yoga. I have decided to format the book into a year of challenges based on the eight limbs of yoga – each limb being a “post” that will support a steady yoga practice. Therefore, the book will be comprehensive but digestible, practical but philosophical – a tool for many users.

What’s Next?

Continue reading “Are You Ready to Harness the Energy of the Sun?”

Support A Steady Yoga Practice: The Art of Sitting

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“Perfection in an asana is achieved when the effort to perform it becomes effortless and the infinite being within is reached”. – Yoga Sutras.

Learning to sit peacefully with the breath is founded on the postures of yoga. Yoga asana is performed so that the body is able to sit comfortably  in stillness. Pranayama or breath control is the fuel that sustains us to stay steady in our bodies and minds.

In the practice of yoga it is important to find a restful seat. Using a wall, a chair or other props to keep your spine upright is suggested if your hips or back muscles are weak or tight. Another method for learning to sit on the floor is to gradually introduce the muscles to the practice.

Here are my tips for crafting a comfortable seat: Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: The Art of Sitting”

Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Elongate the Breath with Four Simple Techniques

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The great sea
Has sent me adrift,
It moves me as the weed in a great river,
Earth and the great weather
Move me,
Have carried me away
And move my inward parts with joy.  – An Eskimo Song

Now that we have created breath awareness and discovered some new ways to expand our breathing vessel, let us address the quality of the breath. This week, I will introduce some simple techniques of pranayama or breath control.

Here are four methods for elongating the breath:

#1 Ujjayi Breathing

This approach can be described as a slight deepening of the normal breath.  It is best done from a supine or seated position in which your body is nicely aligned.   Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Elongate the Breath with Four Simple Techniques”

Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Expand Your Vessel & Truly Breathe

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“Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralysed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds’ wings.” ― Rumi, The Essential Rumi

As students of yoga, we eventually learn how to connect with our breathing. We come to understand that the simple act of inhalation and exhalation can be enhanced when our posture is aligned. As we physically straighten, we open ourselves up to experience a fuller range of movement in the upper chest/back, ribcage and abdominal areas.

In an attempt to expand our vessels for the breath, here are three key strategies:

#1 Counteract “Techno – Hump” 

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Using computers and cell phones can adversely affect our breathing function. The head forward position can lead to a spinal curvature disorder called kyphosis which compresses the movement of air by collapsing the chest.

Here is a short posture sequence for reducing upper back tension and straightening the body:

Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Expand Your Vessel & Truly Breathe”

Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Discover Your Breath

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As we continue to explore the poses and our breathing practices, we are expanding our level of awareness. We are learning to pay attention. We are discovering what it is to be in the present moment. And, it is in the present moment that we experience our true “state of yoga.” It is where we see our connection and remember who we are. 

The fourth limb of the yogic system is pranayama or breath control. It is made up of a range of techniques that begin with simple awareness and continue on with more intensive control approaches.

Although pranayama is an integral part of yoga, the practice is not generally taught until a student is comfortable resting with their breath in either a supine or seated position. In this way, a student learns to relax completely in order to receive the breath.

Breathing practices give your mind focus – you virtually tune in when you pay attention to your breath.  This can occur whether you are in a resting pose or actively performing the asanas. As many teachers will tell you, “if it is not with the breath, it is not yoga.”

A good way to begin the practice of pranayama is to focus on your belly breath: Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Discover Your Breath”