yoga – art of balance “life is a balance of holding on and letting go”
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.
Heart Chakra Meditation:
Appropriately for this Thanksgiving Day, we turn our attention to the Anahata, or Heart Chakra. If you have been following, today is the fourth day of the series, which originated with an older post I wrote on chakra balance
The colour associated with the heart chakra is green. Today’s meditation: “I listen to my heart and honor its connection to the hearts of others. I allow love to fill me up and guide me in all of my actions. I gracefully move to the rhythm of life.”
Some of the key concepts of this energy centre are: balance, love, compassion, relationship, breath, peace. The location is upper chest and includes the back of the heart space as well. Put into practice with the essential breath on my Yoga Mind cd
Nurturing The Spirit With Yoga
“It is not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary.” ~ Mandy Hale
According to the yogic system, it is the fluctuations of the mind that impose themselves on the body and thus bring about mental and physical imbalance. The remedy if you will, is a focused and dedicated practice of asana and pranayama to calm the agitated mind, or wake up the sleepy mind, and balance out our system, thus preventing disease. While this may mean that restoratives are called for, it may also mean that a stronger practice (like standing poses) is a better recipe.
As always, you need to start where you are. Usually we just do more of the same, whereas your practice should be organic. The balance between the more active and passive postures will vary from person to person, and season to season. Too much of the active practice can still exhaust you, too much passive can lead to lethargy. I usually teach both constituents in my classes but in private yoga lessons, the practice will specifically address the student. I also have two upcoming workshops which will give you some idea of how restorative practices can be used to enhance calm and support the immune system.
I find this interesting: “Lymph glands are scattered throughout the body, including between muscle fibres. The muscle is literally helping to pump the gland to effectuate lymphatic flow. Hence, inactive muscles impact on the lymphatic function” ~ Pete Egoscue
Always add relaxation. It is the integrating factor.
Nurturing The Spirit With Yoga
yoga for balance : The most important pieces of equipment you need for doing yoga are your body and your mind (I would add, and your breath) . Who are you when you begin your yoga mat time? Do you notice any imbalances or is it just when you start moving? Is there anything you can choose to do in the rest of your day to bring balance of any kind to yourself? We tend to think of balance in yoga as standing on one limb – yes, this is a part of it, however, I think the quote below sums the situation up nicely. In case you don’t know, BKS Iyengar passed away recently. His style is alignment oriented, as opposed to flowing from one posture to another. This is incorporated into the yapana® style, which you can find in my classes or work with me privately.
Balance: Evenness Is Harmony
Through yoga one can begin to develop a perfect balance between both sides of the body. All of us begin with imbalances, favoring one side or the other. When one side is more active than the other, the active side must become the guru for the inactive side to make it equally active. To the weaker side, we must apply attention. We must also show more care. We show keener interest to improve a dull and struggling friend than for an eager and intelligent one. In the same way you have to show yourself this same compassion and act on the weaker side of the body while taking pleasure in the achievement of the active side. ~ BKS Iyengar, Light on Yoga
yoga surrender quotes :
“yoga is a dance between control and surrender-between pushing and letting go- and when to push and when to let go becomes part of the creative process, part of the open-ended exploration of your being” – Joel Kramer
I think we tend to conceptualize ‘surrender’ with giving up, weighting the meaning with negatives. This quote brings to light that it is actually about balance. If all you do is push the envelope, you will likely experience burnt out. Here is where learning the more restorative and relaxing components of yoga help. on the other hand, if you lack drive, motivation, and strength, you may find more balance through energizing practices.
On one hand, we learn through repetition and practice. However, if we continue to do the same things over and over, we lose the elasticity and adaptability that comes from opening to transformation. I think this goes fro time on the mat as well. The exact same practice every day can be draining, and you may be missing out with being in the present moment with yourself. It really is a dance, and a balancing act to find where you need to persist and where you need to surrender.
sunrise yoga : Good morning! You did it! You woke up, got dressed, packed your yoga props and converged at this beautiful site in Jersey City. You were able to honour yourselves, and honour all the noises from the traffic, the random musician next to us and the daily drama of the mind in daily life. You started with a calm breath. You focused on learning the skills to work the knees in standing poses without overloading the joints, you gained stability. You allowed yourself to notice where you are off balance and that self-reflection is now helping you make nourishing choices off the mat the rest of the day.
By the end of the class, after our warmups and doing poses, you allowed deeper levels of relaxation through our restorative segment. By the time this photo was taken (as I watched the clock on my iphone, having left my watch home) you were in Savasana. Since we had worked the legs, this ledge worked perfectly to rest the entire back leg from knee to ankle. I folded your mats up under your heads to keep the foreheads higher than your chins. Your back softened, you sighed, you forgot where you were enough to connect with your inner core of peace. You did it this morning at sunrise yoga. See you next time
Yoga and stress: Are you “stressed out” ? Is your day “stressful”? In technical terms, stress is load. If you have too much load, you will break what you are overloading. It’s like over stretching and then tearing the muscle you are ‘trying’ to lengthen. The softer practices of yoga (and I am not saying don’t practice asana) are important and complementary to our busy – ness in so many useful ways. This advice by Thich Nhat Hanh is a nice reminder that the breath is the link between mind and body. Letting yourself think think think about all your stress will just make your body tenser. A mindful approach, a breath by mindful breath approach is something that yoga can teach you. If you have five minutes you can learn how to do do by downloading my Yoga Mind cd. That is what it is there for, and you can then take it with you to practice instead of letting things get out of hand.
We need to learn how to breathe and consciously diffuse a potential stressor, as well as how to mobilize our body so that it can let go of the tensions and learn how to quiet the mind so that our split second decision-making skills are clearer, these are all tools we can learn to use, so that our lives are balanced
The Path Of Happiness : Sometimes it appears as if happiness is like the sun on a cloudy day – hiding! Especially if you are sleep deprived. Where your yoga practice plays in is to balance out the overdoing.
the path of happiness
Extra tiring week? Stressful? Not sure if you are happy? Something that “feels good” and elicits a calm response in the nervous system is restorative yoga. Everyone seems to be concerned about stretching…you get a great release actually, and the opportunity to teach your nervous system to unwind. Think of balance as calming what is overly active and energizing what is not as strong as it could be. Find your happy place !
Even just placing the calves and feet on a chair or sofa, turning down the lights, and taking 15 minutes for yourself can help you reboot. It may not take away the stressful situations but at least make you less reactive. Soothed nerves can ease mental agitation.
Fatigue and anxiety often accompany breathing difficulties. With gentle stretches that open the chest more mobility is created in the spine, and the emotional tension that restricts your ability to breathe well is loosened up.
We spend a lot of time chasing – whether it is to run and catch a bus, make it to work, to a class, to an appointment. The mode we are in, we also carry towards happiness, chasing it, trying to purchase it, eat it, wear it. Even trying to get the one magic pose that creates it.
“Remember, happiness is a way of travel, not a destination”
Thursday truth: Word of the day: equanimity…breathing today for balance…facing the journey with equal amounts of focus and peace is a side benefit of yoga because sometimes the universe has different plans for us
Restorative Yoga Therapy Adds Balance To Your Practice !! I wrote this latest blogpost for the LOLE LOVE BLOG after teaching a Restorative Yoga Therapy Workshop ~ as it happens, I also teach the longer, Teacher Training module for the Leeann Care Yoga School, called : Being: Restorative Yoga Therapy. Check out my teaching schedule for links to the upcoming trainings or contact me to organize something in your yoga studio. It’s all about balance