meditation is simple

meditation is simple, as those of you who have purchased my Yoga Mind Cd have found.

We live in a pretty fast-paced lifestyle. Most of us feel like we wake up and hit the ground running, without a feeling of being rested. One of the ways to address the stress so to speak, is to find and utilize the tools of Yoga, not so much for the body, although yes, this is key, but also for the mind.

rule your mind

Science is showing more and more studies that mediation practice makes the mind clear, focused, and calm. It has this effect because it creates a change in brain wave chemistry, especially to the Alpha state, which is associated with relaxation. Silence is not something we are used to but it has many benefits

Meditation is simple

Meditation is simple

“When you talk you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new” ~ Dalai Lama

The term meditation conjures up someone sitting for prolonged periods of time. This very image can deter you from actually starting a practice. If you think “Oh I have to find an hour” you may still be procrastinating… This is a reason I love the restorative practices in Yoga, where you cultivate presence, and an opportunity to be, to watch, to stop chasing.

Mindfulness is a practice of observing without holding thoughts or judgements about what you are present with. It allows what you may be pushing away to rise up softly to the surface and allows for some inner silence and inner spaciousness. So sit, breathe softly, and as you breathe, just for a bit, repeat: Sitting and breathing softly I calm my mind.

Mickey Mouse in Meditation

yoga for sleep deprivation

yoga for sleep deprivation

sleep deprivation

sleep deprivation

It’s a snow day here in New Jersey…which means I get to rest more. Yes I did swiffer, and am doing laundry, but also I got to sleep in which is something I do not often do. Actually did not realize that over 60 million Americans suffer from sleep deprivation. Some of the side effects are also a little alarming, but I think once you understand that good sleep helps maintain a healthy hormone balance you can kind of figure that tipping the scale unhealthily can lead to cravings, triggers the stress response, higher risk of illnesses, and injury. “Just one week of insufficient sleep alters the activity of our genes, which control our response to stress, immunity, inflammation, and overall health” (infographic)sleep deprivation

 

 

Two of my favourite ways to add a little rest and relaxation to my day when my sleep is off, are to do 10 minutes of Viparita Karani or add 15 minutes of a relaxation practice. At least this way, you can practice switching off, which should ultimately improve your ability to sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That is somewhat scary but not so surprising. I find sleep hard to recuperate. My best tactic is adding a restorative posture like viparita karani and or a 15 minute relaxation break into my day towards dinner time.

The ananda maya kosha

The ananda maya kosha

ananda maya kosha

I am light

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to traditional yoga writings, in order for true relaxation to take place, the body and mind need to actually take a mini holiday so that the level of peace can be uncovered. This state of peace is covered by five coverings, or bodies, called Maya Koshas. Maya means illusion and Kosha means body or Sheath. They are like wearing different layers of clothing. Just like you remove clothes to take a shower, so we have to relax each of these sheaths to uncover the light of the pure self within.

ananda maya kosha

ananda maya kosha

This particular post is timed with an invitation to come to my group Restorative Yoga Class, it is a great way to systemically relax. The sheath called the Ananda Maya Kosha, means the body of joy. It isn’t like a temporary happy feeling that you get from a sugar rush, or a purchase. It is best described as a stillness or quietude that is content in and of itself, and usually only uncovered when the body is relaxed and the mind is meditative.

ananda maya kosha

bliss

Most of us do not take the time to allow and nurture this type of silence and inner stillness. Ironically, when we push ourselves with more and more effort, we are actually often depleting ourselves. Taking the time to uncover your true joy and silent inner core is where the deepest healing takes place.

Really relax

what it means to really relax

Great quote by Deepak Chopra: “Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It is a ways of entering into the quiet that is already there-buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day”

relax

“Real relaxation occurs only through our willingness to quit fighting gravity and surrender the weight of our bodies to the omnipresent pull of the gravitational field.  If we are continually bracing our bodies against the pull of gravity in an attempt to stay standing and functioning, how can we relax? By bringing alignment into our bodies, we begin the process of transforming gravity from an adversary against whom we must wage a losing battle into an ally and source of real support in our lives.  The real importance of alignment, however, is that it allows us to begin to relax into ourselves. If we have not brought a reasonable amount of alignment into our lives, we can never truly relax. If we did, we would simple topple over and fall to the ground” ~ Will Johnson

Sunday is sometimes a quieter day, but sometimes not. Especially during the holidays. It may be hard to carve out a few moments to just get in touch with real R and R. Check out my Yoga Mind cd for a few guided practices.

yoga art of balance

yoga – art of balance “life is a balance of holding on and letting go”

yoga : art of balance

yoga : art of balance

Even as a physical practice, yoga is an art of balancing the active and the receptive sides, the doing and the being. Some of the quieter poses like forward bends, offer the practitioner the opportunity to calm the nervous system and promote the ‘rest and digest’ mechanisms, and help with fatigue. Within that, forward bends can be active or restorative depending on what your intention is. If you are chasing a stretch, using arms to pull yourself forward, or stretching the wrong place (insertion of the muscle) then your forward bends will not have these qualities. In a restorative forward bend, in order to have these effects on the central nervous system, you will have to use props in such a way as to support safe alignment and comfort in the pose. As well, you would support the head as this will promote relaxation 

BKS Iyengar wrote “Actions mirror a man’s personality better than his words” – this statement is reflected in our physical practice. Movement with intention will differ from movement without it. Sometimes you have to give something up to get something else. Think of balance, and yoga, as an organic art form.

stillness and the calming of the mind

stillness and the calming of the mind

stillness and the calming of the mind

stillness and the calming of the mind

Look at a tree, a flower, a plant. Let your awareness rest upon it. How stil they are, how deeply rooted in Being. Allow nature to teach you stillness. ~ Eckhart tolle

Seasons are changing, as we feel the colder temperatures, part of us wants to keep moving to stay warm, the other part feels more tired, and wants to rest.

There is definitely a shift, and this should as well, be reflected in your practice, and in your diet. According to yoga’s sister science, Ayurveda, each of us, and as well, each season, is dominated by one of the three doshas (vata, pitta, kapha).

In Fall, vata is more dominant (notice the wind blowing the leaves off the trees?). Vata also governs movement in the body, such as activating the nervous system and the processes of elimination. Its qualities of vata are, not surprisingly, cold, dry, rough, light, changeable, irregular and moving. Vata is composed of the elements of air and space, and since it is associated with the nervous system, it can be reflected in our mental state. As you can imagine, if this element becomes so dominant in our psyche, we can become overwhelmed and out of balance. Are you may feeling unsettled, ungrounded ? We cannot ask Fall to settle down but we can make adjustments to maintain internal balance.

From salad, sometimes moving to root veggies. Remember to warm up for your poses, and choose a balance between boosting your energy, and restoring your energy. Relaxation is ever important, and an attitude that embraces the season – including some of its more hibernation based accents will get you far :-)

Yogatherapy for the parasympathetic system

Yoga for the parasympathetic system : Ah yes, TGIF ! Did you have a week of overthinking things? If so, your parasympathetic nervous system was likely shut down and your sympathetic nervous system was in high gear!. Did you even know that your autonomic nervous system had two branches?

Well, research is now showing the benefits of yogatherapy for stress management and disease prevention. According to a recent article by Dr. Timothy McCall,

“The SNS, in conjunction with such stress hormones as adrenaline and cortisol, initiate a series of changes in the body, including raising blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar levels. These changes help a person deal with a crisis situation. They mean more energy and more blood and oxygen flowing to the large muscles of the trunk, arms, and legs, allowing the person to run from danger or do battle (the so-called “fight-or-flight” response).

The PNS, in contrast, tends to slow the heart and lower the blood pressure, allowing recovery after a stressful event. Blood flow that was diverted away from the intestines and reproductive organs, whose function isn’t essential in an emergency, returns. In contrast to fight or flight, these more restorative functions can be thought of as “rest and digest.” They are also sometimes dubbed the relaxation response.”

Today’s tip: If you have time to put your legs up the wall or even lay down with the entire back wall of the lower legs on a chair, cover your eyes, and breathe so that you start to extend your exhalations. Or listen to one of my relaxation practices. 15 minutes goes along way to reboot and free up some creative energy for your weekend

parasympathetic

yoga relaxation techniques

Yoga relaxation techniques. I don’t know if everyone wakes up refreshed. Sometimes we sleep an agitated sleep, with tossing and turning. I think the best way to sleep well is to practice yoga relaxation techniques in the daytime. Even 15 minutes a day can make a difference. Setting aside the time is the first step. Now, some folks need a bit or a lot of movement before their mind can settle. In the yogic system, the postures are a spring board for the mind to relax. However, just doing an hour of movement without the still part does nothing – no integration, no balance, no learning. Yes, yoga relaxation techniques are learned – and then you need to practice them. You can find three different ways to set up for either a seated, or lying down posture on my Yoga Mind Cd. There, you will find breathing exercises, visualization techniques, and relaxation exercises. Any of these can accompany your practice or be practiced on their own. Refresh your mind when it is at its busiest through yoga relaxation techniques so that when you go to sleep, your mind remembers how to turn itself off. You can’t expect it to get there without a bit of guidance!

yoga relaxation techniques

Private Yoga Class With Your Partner

Private Yoga Class With Your Partner

How are you enjoying your weekend? This couple pictured here kicked off their weekend with a Partner Yoga Class. Want a great way to build inner peace for yourself and with your special someone? Book a semi-private yoga class with your partner. This was a simple savasana, with some under the knee prop support from the soft 3 minute eggs it just eases out the lower back…Now, that doesn’t mean that the two of you require the same things from your yoga practice. The nice thing about a partner yoga class is that it does meet your unique needs. I believe yoga should make sense to each person, and that each person has or may have, a different take-away. How great! You get to feel good and then talk about it and have a kind of special bonding. Basically, the average class is 60 minutes and you can contact me about pricing and so on. It is definitely the best of both worlds, spending time together with your partner, but also, having the personal internal experience that yoga brings us. Why wait for a vacation to do this? It is so accessible on a weekly basis.

Partner Yoga on a Saturday Morning.

Sunny Day Savasana

Sunny Day Savasana: Summer may feel relaxing but the extra light and heat coupled with more sitting (car? soccer watching? cycling?) plus walking/standing/running can often leave the body out of whack. More than a stretch, a passive way to restore balance is to set yourself up for a 15 minute savasana. For guided yoga based relaxation practices, download my YOGA MIND cd

Here is a photo where the back legs from behind the knee crease to the heels is supported. Guaranteed to please. I absolutely love to have my calves and feet elevated. I obviously have a lot of props and bolsters in my studio – you can substitute with blankets and or folded towels or cushions that are firm.

Sunny Day Savasana

For a personalized approach contact me. The benefits of relaxation (savasana) are numerous:

– savasana allows you to deepen your breathing,
– savasana reduces stress hormones,
– savasana slows down heart rate and blood pressure,
– savasana un-tenses your muscles
– savasana increases energy and focus,
– savasana combats illness,
– savasana relieves aches and pains,
– savasana heightens problem-solving abilities by turning down the thinking mind
– savasana boosts motivation and productivity – rest and digest !
– savasana increases happiness, by releasing dopamine, seratonin, oxytocin and other immunomodulators to change brain chemistry

so what are you going to practice ?