cultivating presence

Cultivating presence through yoga is a multi faceted process. I mentioned mindfulness the other day and suggested an exercise on my Yoga Mind Cd to help you along on the journey.

Eckhart Tolle is a wonderfully inspired and inspiring author on the subject of presence and the present moment; “Emotion in itself is not unhappiness. Only emotion plus an unhappy story is unhappiness”



Alertness, awareness, mindfulness are all words that require us to be with – be present with- experience. If you can be quiet enough inside to recognize what is happening (whether in your head, your body, your environment) you can react less and respond more. “Awareness is the greatest agent of change” (Eckhart Tolle, A NEW EARTH)

It is, of course, way more common to have a scattered mind, where, although the brain is active, it is unfocused typically, and just basically follows one thought after another. This creates stories and layers of confusion in the mind, as well as doubts and fears. On the other hand, the calm state, or sattvic state (you may have felt in touch with this after deep relaxation) will foster seeds of awareness, discrimination, positivity and an equilibrium which is less inclined to react and more inclined to respond (from clarity).


Transformation Through Yoga

Transformation Through Yoga : Here is a lovely quote by BKS Iyengar:  “transformation is sustained change, and it is achieved through practice”.

People show up to practice yoga for many reasons. It is nice to come to your mat with an awareness of who you are, but it is also an on-going journey to discover this, to uncover this.  Often the transformation you seek may be possible, but only if you put aside, or work on, beginning with a neutral position. For example, if you always shift your pelvis anteriorly or conversely, posteriorly, then all your poses will be affected. To achieve some kind of transformation, whether it be to have less restrictions in the lower back, or hamstrings, you have to find a neutral hip position first.

Transformation is a process that gets us out of limited self-concepts, and brings a sense of fresh energy to our lives. I believe, as a yoga therapist, that yoga provides tools for transformation both in terms of the physical (posture,pain) and the mental and emotional components. However, you sometimes have to give something up to gain something new.

My recommendation is to explore the limits of your comfort zone, not to induce pain, but to tap into greater depths of your being. In this way, you open yourself up to increased energy and awareness, as well as the possibility of transformation.
transformation through yoga

Awareness: Funny

This girl is apparently doing a thinking meditation…LOL

Awareness is basic but if you have trouble going deeper through sitting practices, there are other ways to set up. Certainly breathing practices and relaxation techniques not to mention restorative yoga practices will help you calm the over thinker in you especially in times of speed and stress.

Do you find it hard to ‘get there’? Contact me for private yoga lessons for a personalized approach :-)  or invite me to give a workshop at your yoga studio :-)



7 Easy Steps To Start A 15-Minute Relaxation Practice

7 Easy Steps To Start A 15-Minute Relaxation Practice

Featured on MindBodyGreen

7 Easy Steps To Start A 15-Minute Relaxation PracticeToday I thought I’d write about the jewel of yoga poses, savasana, also known as corpse pose or relaxation pose, a posture of classic importance both on the mat and off the mat. Judith Lasater says that The antidote to stress is relaxation. To relax is to rest deeply” – J. Lasater, Relax and Renew

We all know that racing around from one activity to the next can build up into a frenetic and stress-based approach to life. In this “place” we do not usually have much appreciation of life, and fatigue edges out our sense of peace and objectivity. A relaxed person copes better with everything. At the end of a yoga class, it’s necessary for the body-mind to integrate and assimilate all the energy from the flow of postures, breathing, and everything that was generated. It’s also a great stand-alone practice, and one that’s accessible to everyone.

The great thing about savasana is its simplicity, although you can spiff it up with a few pillows or cushions, a chair, or bolster for those of you who have stiff backs. Also, savasana is excellent yoga therapy for everyone. In fact, take a look at some of the benefits of regular practice and check off the ones you may want to add to your recipe for life and healthy, balanced, living.

A regular practice can improve your breathing, reduce stress hormones, slow down heart rate and blood pressure, relax your muscles, increase energy and focus, combat illness, relieve aches and pains, heighten problem-solving abilities, boost motivation and productivity, and can increase happiness by releasing immunomodulators to change brain chemistry.

Sound good? Well, usually the hardest part of trying anything new is setting aside time for it, and removing your expectations (and your shoes). In the beginning, or even for those students who have regular yoga practices, you may have days when the mind just does not want to cooperate. That’s ok. Practice anyway. Build to a 15-minute zone. Start where you are, but do start. You may want a timer, a “do not disturb sign,” try to turn off cellular phones, etc. Common sense stuff.

To help you initiate your practice, here are seven simple steps to get you started:

1. Get ready by settling in on the floor, with any support you require. I recommend a neck pillow (forehead slightly higher than chin).

2. Invite stillness and silence as if they were old friends, with grace and gratitude.

3. Relax the body, moving your awareness up from feet to head, then down from head to feet.

4. Ask your breath to settle, as you allow the body to take the support that is under it.

5. Continue to be aware of your breath; thoughts and emotions may surface — that’s ok — but don’t follow these with drama.

6. Without pull or push, receive the inhale and let go with the exhale.

7. Keep feeding the calm waves of breath and let your mind relax into this state.

Remember, it’s called a “practice,” so practice!


Photo Credit:

Published March 12, 2013 at 6:52 AM
About Rana WaxmanRana Waxman Rana Waxman is a registered Yoga Therapist.  Her own love of Yoga began in the late 1990’s and she has been teaching ever since.  Rana’s extensive background in somatics and practice as a licensed massage therapist, have earned her the nickname “the muscle whisperer”.  She is well-known in her home city, Montreal, as being a pioneer of bilingual Yoga TV, with her show, “Yoga Chez Vous” which translates to “Yoga At Your Home”.  Rana believes that Yoga is a system which is accessible to everyone, although not a one-size fits all practice.  Her specialty is seeing the unique needs of each individual and tailoring the yoga practices that will help empower her students to lead meaningful lives off the mat.  Rana is a regular contributor to MindBodyGreen, Greenster and Elephant Journal, and CaféTruth and is often called the “Modern Yogini”.  Her inspired style blends, vinyasa, kinetic skills, alignment and restorative work.  Rana sees and teaches Yoga as an unfolding meditation in motion, leading to improved performance, posture, and peaceful positivity Follow Rana on Facebook and Twitter.

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More from Rana Waxman on MindBodyGreen

3 Methods For Practicing The Art Of Active Patience
Yoga and the Art of Listening To Your Body
How To Make Self-Reflection Fun
Use Mantras to Focus Your Mind and Change Your Life
Why You Need to Carve Out Time for Silence