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.
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.
In 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”
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?
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.
We’re entering into another eclipse ‘season’. Oh my. On Saturday, March 3 there will be a lunar eclipse at 13Virgo which is the mid-point between my natal Mars & natal Saturn. It’s definitly a hot spot in my chart! I’ve learned that making absolute predictions doesn’t really work……it’s the essence & energy that’s important to understand.
Eclipse’s were feared in ancient times………they always seemed to bring about the death of the king or some other major change. Just imagine looking into the sky and seeing the moon (or the sun) disappear!
Eclipse’s always come in pairs so on March 18 we’ll have a Solar Eclipse at 28Pisces a much easier degree for me personally.
Breathing, relaxing, and practicing yoga is a good way to move thru stressful times. I’ll remember.
……………………………………to be continued.
The average human breathes 13-15 times a minute or 21,000-21600 times in a 24 hour day.
21,600 breaths per day = 7,884,000 breaths per year
7,884,000 breaths per year = 946,080,000 breaths in 120 years or the life span of a healthy human according to yogic texts.
The yogi measures a life not by years but rather by the number of breaths one is allotted to each lifetime.Logic suggests then to slow it down, and make each breath longer if one wants to live longer. In this way we actually conserve energy and increase our vitality and increase our chances of experiencing bliss.
“Breath is mind in action……
The implication of this technology is that we are not helpless victims of a given emotional state.
By altering the flow of nasal breath, the body chemistry gradually changes and unwanted emotional and physiological states slowly disappear”
Harish Johari, author of Breath, Mind and Consciousness.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna lays out a plan for Arjuna which begins with the instruction to “find his dharma”, or true purpose.
On the way to his dharma, Arjuni , a highly skilled warrior, found himself on a battlefield , prepared for battle. Facing him was an army of opponents including family, friends, loved ones, and others that he cared for. And, of course, the enemy.
Finding our true selves and/or our true purpose can be a life long pursuit or recognized in a flash of intuition. Both are challenging at best. Here’s the counseling that Krishna shared with Arjuna.
1. First, discover what your dharma (purpose) is.
2. Then, do it full out, hold nothing back. Give it your full attention.
3. Next, let go of the ‘fruits of the action’ or said another way, detach from the outcome.
4. And finally, dedicate your actions to the greater good of all beings.
Om shanti, shanti, shantihi.
ps. you might want to consult with an astrologer for more information on this topic.
I just love this picture of Krishna. I yearn to sit under a tree, play some music, and have that wonderful backdrop of mountains behind me. My preference would be the harp though…..I don’t have the right stuff for the ‘wind’ instruments! Picture found at: http://www.roerich.org/collections.html
Tonite I have my ‘beginner’s’ class once again and my intention is to lead them in a sweet, gentle vinyasa to “Awaken the Spine”. Have you noticed how many back aches are out there????
Greetings to all!
I’ve been wanting to begin a blog and it seems like today is the day. The time is 1:38pm on Sunday, February 18 and it’s Chinese New Year…..an auspicious time for beginnings.
I am calling this blog, The Teacher’s Diary and it’s my intention to share with you some of what I’ve learned (and continue to learn) as a yoga teacher. There’s a fine line between being a teacher and a student and more often than not I learn more from my students than they learn from me. More on that in the weeks to come.
For now, it’s enough for me to learn how to set up this blog!
Enjoy & Happy New Year!