Right in this Moment!

Whether your practice is yoga, meditation, mindfulness, journaling, golf, or other beautiful moving meditations, every moment is an opportunity to grow your practice. Yes, every minute. How? By paying attention to your thoughts, your breath, your energy (physical, spiritual, emotional, cognitive, etc.). Your entire landscape. It’s being here now. Right in this moment.

Look inside and ask yourself questions. What can I do to grow? I have asked myself this question and the answer is my destiny. I am moving my Friday yoga classes from the Township to the Sand Hills Wellness center. There, they are a better fit in mind and body. Not only will my teaching practice grow, but there will be growth opportunities for students. This is a quiet, supportive, nourishing space. The setting for new practices will avail, there are many yoga props for new practices (bolster pillows, straps, extra mats, etc.). Props will also better support current practices. They make poses more accessible for the body. The wall space will be something completely new for students (note: an entire yoga class can be taught using the wall). Standing poses using the wall will grow and deepen with better alignment and support.

If you haven’t signed up for classes at Sand Hills, what are you waiting for? Class size is limited. Join me today…right in this moment!

Contact: lyn.sirota@gmail.com or 732-241-7497

The Beauty of Balasana

Balasana (Child’s pose) is a beautiful, multi-functional posture that can provide a soothing, nourishing respite from the outer world. Yes, a mini vacation!

It is an asana (posture) that stretches the hips, thighs, and ankles. By having your brain beneath your heart, you receive the benefits of being in an inversion that isn’t too taxing on your shoulders or neck. It relieves back and neck pain when the head and torso are supported. The forward bend of the torso and positioning of the head can trigger the parasympathetic nervous system, the “rest and digest” feature of the autonomic nervous system. It can also tone the vagus nerve (which regulates the heart, blood pressure, digestion, etc.). Toning the vagus nerve is becoming a treatment for many issues, such as migraines, Parkinson’s, PTSD, epilepsy, and depression/anxiety to name a few.

Balasana allows you to check in with your body and breath. It’s restful and restorative. It can even be practiced in bed! It’s a wonderful tool to connect with your back body. While in this pose: Tune into your breath. Feel your back body rise with your inhale and lower with your exhale. Follow the breath up and down the spine. After several breaths, shift your attention and awareness to the ribs, feeling them widen with your inhale and soften with the exhale.

You may need to modify this posture for comfort. Or just like other yoga poses, listen to your body, and know when to back off.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • If it’s difficult to rest your buttocks on your heels, place a folded blanket between the backs of your thighs and your calves.
  • Try spreading knees wider apart. This can prompt a deeper stretch in the hips.
  • Cushion the top of your feet with a blanket or fold your mat for padding under feet.
  • Support your forehead with a firm pillow, block, or blanket. You can also stack your hands and rest your head on your hands.
  • Extending your arms opens the shoulders and chest.  Doing this makes the pose more active versus restorative. Note: see the featured image in this post. As an alternative, try resting your arms alongside your thighs, palms up, giving your shoulders a well-deserved break.

For more information on Balasana (Child’s Pose) click here:  https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/child-s-pose

 

Finding Your Mountain

Tadasana or mountain pose is a subtle asana (posture). Because of this, it may be underestimated or underutilized. By nature, it is a preparatory pose for standing postures. Toes and soles of the feet are rooted into the earth. The body is firm, yet softens. The gaze is fixed, and the mind is imagining a mountain, strong, tall, and majestic. A sense of stillness washes over the body.

The physical benefits of tadasana are numerous. Practicing mountain pose strengthens posture along with thighs, knees, and ankles. The mechanics of the pose and the stillness it creates prompts the body to rest, digest, and circulate. In a world where we find ourselves seated so much, this pose provides an alternative beneficial posture. The breath becomes fuller and stronger as a result and fully oxygenates our cells. Lymph moves and helps fight disease. The back and spine have the opportunity to lengthen for less compression.

In mountain pose we feel more aligned to the earth and more aware of our mind/body connection. We cultivate all of our senses. By focusing on our breath, we temper anxiety and increase focus.

Trying standing in mountain pose as a Mindfulness practice. Here is a link to some instructions on Tadasana. Just note that the palms should face in toward the body:

https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/5-steps-master-tadasana

It is said that the way we stand in mountain pose is the way we walk through life. Have you found your mountain today?

Mirror Yoga

By Guest Blogger: Jeffrey Starbuck

The ultimate place where we feel and experience yoga is within ourselves. When we do asanas (postures) or other practices, we feel it in our bodies, our minds, and our emotional fields.

A great practice for connecting more deeply with ourselves both psychologically and emotionally is mirror work. Yes, literally gazing into a mirror! This is done alone, with yourself, in front of a large mirror. The purpose isn’t to observe how you look, but rather to see what you feel. Try it.

1. Set aside 5 minutes of dedicated time.

2. Stand or sit in front of a mirror. Ensure you can see your head, shoulders, and upper torso.

3. Gaze into your eyes. Notice what thoughts and feelings arise. Any thought, any feeling. Simply notice. This practice could also be called “Mirror Meditation.”

4. Keeping in mind the adage, “The eyes are the windows of the soul,” simply continue observing anything and everything that enters your field of awareness. Especially negative, critical thoughts.

5. Keep returning your attention to the eyes.

6. Think to yourself, or speak aloud, “This is me! This is the person, of all the people I’ve known, that I’m most familiar with. The one I’m closest to!”

7. Notice any and all negative, critical thoughts, and practice letting them go. Let go.

8. Finish by thinking or speaking aloud, while looking into your eyes, “Perhaps I can learn to really love you. I would like that, even if I can’t do it now.”

Practice “Mirror Yoga” once a week. Or more frequently, there’s no downside.

Jeffrey Starbuck, LCSW, RYT, is a Renaissance Healer who teaches Integral Yoga,  meditation, and qigong, while also helping individuals move into deeper levels of yoga within themselves. He is the author of “Snapshots in Eternity: Stitching Together the For Corners of Existence,” a small book of sacred poetry available through Amazon. For more information: http://www.JeffreyStarbuck.com

What the Crack!

Wondering what that cracking noise is in the joints while practicing yoga or stretching?

There are a few answers to this. When a joint is moved in or out of its regular positioning, gas escapes from synovial fluid in the joint. Ligaments stretching and releasing can also create sound.

According to international yoga teacher, Judith Lasater, sound comes from tendons moving across joints or from arthritic changes in the joints.

While it is usually normal, do pay attention. If symptoms change or if pain/swelling accompanies the popping or cracking noise, seek the advice of a qualified health professional. Otherwise, consider that crack a hello from your body to you!

Sphinx is no myth

Sphinx pose as a yoga asana or posture is a gentle back bend. Practicing this pose helps strengthen the spine and stimulate the abdominal organs. It expands and stretches the chest, shoulders, and lungs. Sphinx helps improve blood circulation while relieving the body of stress. Gentle twists and quad stretches can be added and this posture can be taken deeper into other yoga poses as well like cobra pose and raised cobra. Sphinx helps firm up the buttocks too!

A Perspective on Letting Go

Forgiveness and the release of the past open the creative flow of life, supporting all levels of mind, heart, body, emotion, and spirit.  This energy flow determines the state of our health, our desire to create and procreate, our willingness to develop our gifts, and how we use or deny the life force that we are given as human beings. . . by choosing to let go of the past, our fears, and our negative patterns or reactions to life, we are suddenly funded with a resurgence of life force, which propels
us into a newfound way of being and a very different
way of understanding the world.

~Jamie Sams

Brain Yoga

You may have heard of eye yoga, aerial yoga, or even wall yoga. But brain yoga? Well, not in the true postural sense. However, yoga has many benefits to the body and the brain. Here are just a few of the many.

-Yoga benefits memory and helps ward off cognitive issues.

-Hatha yoga improves the brain function and processing (speed and accuracy).

-It prompts and enhances self-awareness and reduces stress.

-Yoga helps improve psychological health in the areas of anxiety, depression, attention deficit disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. There are studies that suggest yoga can produce effects similar to anti-depressants and therapy.

-Yoga helps with anger management and emotional resilience.

-The meditative aspects of yoga help to lower blood pressure, improve immunity, improve sleep, lower the risks of heart disease, and calm the nervous system.

-Clinical studies have shown that yoga stimulates skin pressure receptors that boost brain activity. This influences the production and release of hormones.

The benefits of yoga and meditation are far too numerous to list. Find your yoga today and make your brain happy.

Ahimsa

The term, ahimsa, is something you may have heard in a yoga class. The word is derived from the Sanskrit language meaning to practice nonviolence on and off the yoga mat.

Ahimsa suggests for us not to push beyond our physical limits just to please the ego. “No pain, no gain” is definitely not the yoga way! Is doing 108 sun salutations worth it if you wind up exhausted and sore instead of exhilarated? (Answer: no.)
The practice of mental non-violence is important, too. As we move through the asanas or yoga postures with ahimsa in mind, we can release negative thoughts we may have about our strength or flexibility in any pose. The idea is to move toward love and acceptance of our bodies just as they are in the present moment.

Embracing ahimsa, on and off the mat, can improve our own well-being. It can also have a positive impact on those around us.

This post was written by our guest blogger, Dianne Ochiltree. Diane is a certified 200-hour Yoga Alliance teacher. She serves as regular Teaching Assistant for yoga classes at Parkinson Place, a facility dedicated to clients with Parkinson’s disease; and teaches chair yoga at her home studio, Yoga from the Heart, in Sarasota, Florida. She is a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT). And a children’s author too! www.dianneochiltree.com

Yoga and Digestion

 

There is far more going on in a yoga session than meets the eye. The blend of yoga postures, or asanas, with deep breathing and twists, stretches, massages and moves intestinal toxins out of the body. This helps with gas, bloating and constipation that can lead to more serious digestive disorders like heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome, and pain. Many of the yoga postures that benefit digestion also help to flatten and tone the stomach.

Here are a few yoga postures that specifically target the digestive area:

  1. Vajrasansa (thunderbolt pose) properly aligns the body for digestion in this seated, kneeling posture. The buttocks sit back toward the heels. To enable ease and comfort in this posture, try putting a block under the buttocks or a blanket in between the buttocks and calves. This posture is wonderful after a big meal or any meal.
  2. Seated or reclining twists like Ardha Matsyendrasana (half lord of the fishes pose) or Supta Matsyendrasana (supine spinal twist) in combination with breath, provide a deeply targeted massage of the digestive region. Twists can also be done in a seated cross-legged position or in a chair with one leg crossed over the other. Twists squeeze out toxins from the body facilitated by deep breathing.
  3. Uttanasana (standing forward fold) improves digestion due to the compression of the abdominal area. It prompts circulation within the region and movement. It is also a multipurpose pose in that it calms the nervous system and allows for relaxation. Because the heart is higher than the head in this posture, there is a reversal of blood flowing to the brain.
  4. Balasana (child’s pose) Positioning the upper body to lay directly onto the thighs helps the digestive process as well targets the digestive region.

A strong, regular practice of diaphragmatic breathing, inherent in some yoga classes, moves the digestive organs giving them a steady massage. It activates digestion and burns away toxins. A regular yoga practice incorporating the above-as well as good food choices-is a great way to do something healthy and beneficial for the body and mind.