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”

The Whole is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts

This quote from Aristotle is as appropriate today as it ever was.  When I came across the phrase recently, I saw it as an ideal way to explain the body’s synergistic design. More and more through yoga I am coming to realize that the individual components of our bodies were designed to work in collaboration to give us the greatest results.  And, I’m not just talking about the way that our muscles move our bones.

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At a gross level, each yoga posture was created to be accomplished by nearly every part of the body. And, when joined, these individual parts are most definitely greater than their total sum.  Amazing feats of strength, flexibility and awareness are generated when single elements are able to affect each other. For instance, in Purvottanasana (reverse plank), it is imperative that the action in the legs, torso and arms contribute to the posture.  However, it is when the inner body, the action of the bandhas and the principles of alignment are added that the most effective form of the pose develops.

As students of yoga, we receive a wide perspective.  Not only do we view ourselves as the body, mind and spirit but we also have access to something called the subtle body. This is the level where the deepest connections wind within ourselves. I feel that these unseen bonds are the true glue that unites our many physical parts.

The chakras are a good place to begin to understand the subtle plane and its tremendous effect on the entire body. If you have been following along with the posts these last few weeks, you know we have been exploring the inner workings and how they connect to the full picture that is our authentic body. The “whole” is definitely greatest when all the parts are identified, provided for and able to function as full contributors.

In fact, B.K.S Iyengar said it best: “Yoga is more than physical. It is cellular, mental, intellectual and spiritual – it involves man in his entire being.”

Aristotle & Iyengar.  Now that’s an interesting combination…

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YOLY Challenge #19: Turn On Your Heart Light

heart-1616504__180After skipping a week for the first time since beginning this blog, I admit I feel slightly freer. Not guilty like I thought I would. But happy that I can drive this caravan when and where I’d like to. Within limits – I don’t want to get stuck in the desert from whence I may never return. What I’m trying to say is it feels good to honor myself and make the choice to do what brings me joy.

Accordingly, this week we will lead with our hearts as we return to our Monday challenge. Through the anahata chakra we will energize our love of self and others by opening our hearts and letting our brilliance shine.

Here are some heart-warming poses to ignite your flame. Begin today’s practice with the first pose and add-on a new pose from the list each day. That way by Saturday you are doing the whole group of postures.

  1. Bhujanasana (Cobra) or Sphinx
  2. Supported Matsyasana (Fish)
  3. Virahbadrasana I (Warrior I)
  4. Parsvottanasana (Pyramid)
  5. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge)
  6. Ustrasana (Camel) – put blocks or a chair behind you for support.

As always, use your judgement and proceed within your comfort zone.

The Whirling Dervishes of the Subtle Body

dubai-728130__180This week begins our focus on the Chakras – the vortexes of energy that vibrate within our subtle bodies. For those of us that live in Sedona, a vortex is commonplace.  Energy swirls around us everywhere we go!  The subtle or pranic body, however, has its own system of vortexes to contend with.  As yogis, we strive to balance these internal energies by doing yoga, meditation and pranayama.

Prana flows as oxygen does, fueling our bodies with essential energy.  The esoteric pathways of prana are called nadis.  Nadis are the channels that direct the energy throughout the body. There are believed to be some 70,000 nadis located throughout the subtle body. Although they are not anatomically viewed, it is understood  that the nadis join to form three prominent passageways; the ida, pingala and sushumna nadis which are visualized as running from the left, right and center of the spine.5544f8e2c3960ea00ec8214db59ab5e9

The chakras are the whirling centers that collect and direct the energies that flow through the nadis.  There are seven chakras. They begin at the base of the spine and stack up to the crown of the head.

This week, I introduced the Muladhara or Root Chakra through a few key postures.  Hopefully, by now, you are feeling nicely grounded and firmly planted. Here are some other ways to balance your Root Chakra:

  • Use the essential oil Cedarwood – apply it as directed to the soles of your feet
  • Walk barefoot – a tough one to do in the desert!
  • Try gardening
  • Focus on your exhalations
  • Move more slowly – think about how you are connected to gravity

 

 

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YOLY Challenge #14: Getting to the Root

This week we will begin a series of “Chakra Challenges”.

chakras-310119__180Chakras are wheels or rings of energy connected to specific areas of the body. Although they are usually depicted as colored circles that line up along an image of the spine, chakras are not physiologically evident. Instead, they are part of a complex known as the subtle body. Along with the nadis (which we will revisit later in the week), chakras are pathways for the pranic energy that is carried within the body.

Specific yoga postures, sounds, colors, smells and emotions are attributed to each chakra.  Our challenges will focus on the postures and how they can regulate the chakras.

As we explore, it will be our intention to balance the energy at a specific chakra level. Certain chakras can be tight or closed off, restricting the flow of prana. On the contrary, some chakras may be too open, emitting too much energy.

We begin with the first chakra, the Muladhara Chakra or Root Chakra.thailand-1340898__180

Associated with the earth, this chakra is what grounds us.  If you are feeling insecure, unsure or fearful, you need to root.  This condition happens to all of us at one time or another.  Transitions, major changes or traveling have the potential to uproot us.

Here are seven postures for getting to your root.  Do one pose daily this week:

  1. Supported Savasana (Corpse)
  2. Virasana (Hero)
  3. Balasana (Child’s)
  4. Malasana (Squat)
  5. Utkatasana (Chair)
  6. Tadasana (Mountain)
  7. Uttanasana (Full Forward Bend)

“You are not separate from the earth, you are of the earth. As you go about your day, let the natural expression of the earth rise up through your body.  And then, from that groundedness, extend.” -Rodney Yee

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