Category: Yoga

whirling dervish

Find Center……………….stay there…………keep moving……..

Over the years I have worked & studied with a variety of musicians, dancers, movement therapists and yoga teachers including Gabrielle Roth, Emily Conrad, Anodea Judith, Selene Vega, Shiva Rae, Dan Levin, Connie Miller, Jeffrey Hoffman and many of the Danskinetics teachers at Kripalu Center. My experiences with these teachers brought positive changes to my life and continue to inspire me every day.

Getting my yoga ‘off the mat’ was intimidating, exciting, and pleasantly stressful when I first tried it. Ugh. All those thoughts & feelings about what I was doing, and what “others” would think of me, and how come I feel so ‘stiff’??????? However, as far as a tool for ‘shifting energies’ around in the body, nothing beats this type of practice. And once we shift energy inside of us, wonderful things begin to happen in our lives.

Did you know that dancing was banned in certain cultures and civilizations?
It’s an interesting piece of history to check out.

Banish Dance Reluctance!
Go find a yoga/dance class in your area and try it!

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Tribal Dance

Dance, when you’re broken open.

Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off.

Dance in the middle of fighting.

Dance in your blood.

Dance, when you’re perfectly free.

rumi

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The Yogi, whose mind is in harmony,

finds rest in the spirit within and deep communion with the whole

Free from restlessmess her soul is like a lamp whose flame burns steady in a shelter where no winds blow.

Bhagavad Gita VI: 16-21

wind chimes

What happens when you add the element of sound to a hatha yoga practice? We’ve been exploring that in my classes for months now. After our centering and some preliminary pranayama, we’ve practiced ‘toning’ using various vowel sounds. During savasana, we’ve practiced toning the bij mantras for each chakra. I’ve noticed a remarkable difference in my students at the end of these classes.

The ancient yogi’s understood the world to be made up of vibration or sound. Vibrations exist outside the body and inside the body. Frequently our inner vibratory rate is mis-matche3d with the external vibrations. This creates imbalance, dis-harmony, chaos and of course stress. When we integrate the aspect of sound into our yoga, things begin to smooth out and harmonize……………..physically, mentally, emotionally & spiritually.

Don’t take my word for it though…………..discover the gifts of nada yoga yourself.

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………………dharma and karma and how that plays out in my life. The last time I pondered this polarity was here, in Arjuna’s tale in the Bhagavad Gita. Destiny, fate, call it what you will. We have ALL recognized the appearance of such events in our lives. Some of us recognize these synchronicities in their personal lives, and neglect to see same in their public lives. Others vice versa. Are you thoroughly confused now? You might be……..that’s the nature of polarities ( and dualities, too). It’s enought to make your head spin! Then you throw into the mix all the air sign people( Gemini, Libra, Aquarius) with whom duality & polarity are a daily/minute-to- minute struggle/agony they live with. Whew………………enough all ready. The futility of pondering duality is immeasurable.
Time to sit.

zafu

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In the beginning there was no existence.
Existence appeared and grew.
It became an egg.
The egg broke open.

Broken Egg

One if its halves was of silver, the other gold.
The silver half became this earth.
The golden half became the sky.
The membrane surrounding the white of the egg became the mountains.
The membrane surrounding the yolk became mist and clouds.
The blood vessels rivers.
The white became the sea.
And the yolk was the sun.

Indian Upanishad

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Tonite I’ll be facilitating another Yoga Nidra experience. If you’ve never tried this yogic practice I highly recommend you find a local teacher and do it! It requires very little from you. Just lie down, breathe, and listen closely to what the teacher is saying. The practice falls under the heading of ‘pratyahara’ or sensory withdrawal and the benefits are amazing.

Yoga Nidra means yogic sleep and it has had profound effects on those that practice it. Check it out…..or check back here for more information tomorrow. I’ll let you know how the participants do.
sleeping

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Consider this……………….

Man’s First Breath

The respiratory system is the only system of the body that we can take control of. We can: lengthen, shorten, hold, and regulate our breathing according to our will. Or, we can completely ignore it and it will still work.

You can’t do that with your digestive system, or your nervous system, or your endocrine system. The respiratory system is completely unique in that way.

Now consider the fact that the respiratory system is intimatly connected to your heart beat, pulse, and blood pressure. Logic suggests, that if we can control our breath we can affect our heart rate. Hmmmmm.

Let’s take it another step further.

It’s a known fact that when we are feeling fear, doubt, or uncertainty we tend to hold our breath. When we are living thru times of crisis, chaos, & turbulance our breathing patterns tend to shorten. What we do not realize is that when we constrict our breath in this way, the body retains the cellular memory of the fear, the doubt, and the turbulance. Energy gets blocked and we begin to reduce our ability to feel relaxed, joyful, and happy. It just happens.

Now multiply this over time and think about just how much of your life force energy you have repressed over the course of your life. Scary, isn’t it?

Over the year’s we’re addressed this issue in  our yoga classes & workshops. I’ve witnesses hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of people change their health, their outlook, and their behaviours just by practicing yoga breathing.   When our intention becomes the freedom from  the energetic holding patterns that prevent full aliveness.

If you’d like more information on it you might want to visit these websites……………….http://www.eupsychia.com/perspectives/defs/cell.html or http://www.breathwork.com/

 

What’s important to understand is that these practices benefit all of us, regardless of your personal history. Just the stress of daily living is enough for the body/mind to create these ‘holding’ patterns. So, find someone who facilitates yogic breathwork in your neighborhood and try it. The worst thing that can happen is that you’ll get a good rest and leave feeling completely relaxed. The best thing that can happen is that you’ll release some of the negative results of a life’s worth of holding.

Om shanti, om.

 

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zafuIn 2001, I had the great good fortune to meet Sylvia Boorstein, a meditation teacher from the Theravada tradition of Buddhism. I loved her at first sight. She was the epitome of The GrandMother archetype for me. Round, jolly, sparkling, and chock full of the kind of everyday wisdom that only comes from deep study and years of personal practice. I assisted her with her 5-day program at Kripalu Center and became enamoured of Metta Meditation as a spiritual practice. Every summer for the following four years I returned to Kripalu to assist, practice and learn from Sylvia all about metta and the practice of lovingkindness.

Metta Meditation is a practice that was given to the Buddah’s students whereby particular phrases are repeated over and over, as in a mantra practice. The difference is that the phrases are first oriented towards oneself, then directed towards someone else, and finally for the well being of All beings. Beginning with oneself is critically important as the following quote of Gautama Buddah suggests.

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”

Nice.

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We talk about the Edge in yoga class a lot. It’s a place that’s easy to find…..you’re on the mat, stretching, and then you hit the wall, you can’t go any farther. You’ve reached your edge. Everyone handles that spot differently. Some push, forcing their bodies to go further. Others, back off, fearing the sensations that occur there, worrying about injury or something like that. Regardless of what category you fall in, it’s an interesting place because it clearly shows you how you “do your life”……..pushing forward or backing off.

In Kripalu yoga, and in my classes particularly the lesson is to “explore” it. Discover, here and now, your relationship to the edge. The yoga lesson is to “be comfortable with what is”…..definitly easier said than done. If you are experiencing discomfort in the stretch, can you simply breathe into it and let it be okay? If you choose to back off and not approach the discomfort zone, can you let that be okay? Pushing past the edge is okay if you are edging forward slowly with mindful awareness and keen sensitivity to the sensations in your body. Forcing or pushing is definitly not okay.

How you do your yoga is how you do your life.

Did you practice yoga today?

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On the Tightrope

 

He said, “Come to the Edge.”
I said, “I can’t, I’m afraid.”

He said, “Come to the Edge.”
I said, “I can’t, I’ll fall off.”
He said, finally, “Come to the Edge.”
And I came to the Edge.
And he pushed me.
And I flew.
Guillaume Apollinaire
(1880-1918)

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