Restorative yoga poses: I chose this photo because in the Yapana® method, which is the style of yoga I teach, we call restorative yoga poses, the “being” poses.
Restorative yoga poses, “being” poses are asanas where the body and mind are supported, there is no struggle to hold or resist against gravity. This quiets the breath and thus supports a yoga mind and a feeling of rest and digest along with relaxation and recovery. The stretching is more passive than in the dynamic poses, and we use strategic prop placement so that the posture is brought to you and therefore has more of a therapeutic component. As I have written before, it isn’t just laying on a bolster, even though we do use them. There is an alignment involved, and actually, the better the body is supported, the more extraordinary the experience of peace will be. This is crucial. You don’t want to be constantly fidgeting because you are not comfortable, you are looking to just feel peaceful in all the categories of yoga poses.
Restorative yoga poses can be backbends, forward bends, twists, inversions and a few others that hopefully, by now you are curious enough to contact me for more information.
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
yoga: touch peace
Today is a day to touch the peace within using the breath as guide. Breathing softly in and out through the nose, while being aware of your breath, even for a moment or two, can help you access your inner peace.
I teach an array of people from athletic to desk-bound, so many different bodies, unique needs. The common denominator is just carving out some peace for oneself. I call it cultivating the Yoga Mind – yes that is also the title of my CD. There are certainly ways to do yoga poses that open and strengthen, but the softer sides of practice can help with the mind and emotions, perspective and attitude. You can always catch yourself thinking or worrying, and then re-set by returning to your breath. The breath is your tool for cultivating your peaceful inner core.
Just writing a birthday card (Papyrus) and inside is this mini quote…below. It is so sweet that just breathing and reading it, I feel better. Hope this for you too!
“Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration. Like a hummingbird, we aspire to hover and savor each moment as it passes, embrace all that life has to offer and to celebrate the joy of everyday. The hummingbird’s delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation” (papyrus)
Yoga For Stillness Amidst Chaos
What is it that makes you feel calm when things are pretty stressful ? I think the point is not to be perfect but to have tips and tools at your fingertips to calm yourself down, find your inner peace (you may lose it again!?). Sometimes your yoga practice has to be almost snuck into a chaotic life. Do it no matter what is going on. This is a beautiful poem by Thich Nhat Hanh:
I establish myself
in the present moment.
I know that this is
a wonderful moment
When you do get to a physical practice, the reason restorative yoga is gaining in popularity is that, in part, speed is sometimes un-grounding. Set a realistic pace that has both lightness and firmness on and off your yoga mat today and see how this translates to your nervous system. True sometimes we need more “energy” but it is more a question of finding balance…
If you like listening to an ipod or other device, there are some breathing and relaxing tips on my Yoga Mind Cd that you can carry with you and hopefully you will “walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet”
Keeping your spirits up ! Sometimes we need to relax, sometimes we need to re-balance and other times we need a bit of cheering up. Did you know that yoga based breathing exercises can speak to each of these? Create a tool box for your own transformation with a more personalized yoga practice – you can contact me in Jersey City for details
Yoga – Tension Tamer
It’s hot summer and tempers can flare. Sometimes an active yoga session is less desirable than a restorative one. That’s why you need tension taming tools in your yoga practice toolkit.
Here is a great set up for mindfulness and is also a great way to practice pranayama lying down. We positioned a bolster with a shelf of folded blanket so that the forehead is higher than the chin, shoulders cascade. Small of the back is snuggled right up to the end of the bolster. Student on right side needed a little extra blanket support for lumbar. I especially like this variation because it opens the chest, so if you sit rounded over a computer a lot (or driving), it will give you a little extra something special.
For those with very busy minds, you have to look upon this pose and the time spent in it as a practice to soothe tension, without actively chasing any thoughts away. Your best bet is to acknowledge thoughts and emotions without getting lost in them; remain a calm witness on a journey. Naturally, the first few minutes, the mind may fight you off, so see if you can just make up your mind to be in it for 5 minutes or more, to really feel the effects of settling in and settling down
Yogatherapy for the Subscapularis:
Yoga Therapy for the Subscapularis: In case you here the cue “open the heart” – I find the cue not as informative as seeing anatomically how the chest and arms work together here are some tips and a great infograph to put join yoga mind body and spirit. This infographic is cool – it shows muscles, has some mind/body self-reflections/spirit and also gets into the meridians. Yoga Therapy for the Subscapularis ! If you are someone whose shoulder blades ‘wing’, or, you have tight pectorals, and can never understand the cue ‘ keep your shoulder blades seated on your back’ this is a muscle group you can investigate and look towards strengthening.
Too much tightness in one area can simultaneously create tightness (and pinching) in another. There are a few ways that yoga, used therapeutically can address this. A restorative backbend can nicely open the front lines of the body while allowing the back body to re-pattern, plus you get to facilitate breathing.
Muscle metaphor questions to answer:
-What are you hiding or keeping private?
-Is there something that you need to reveal?
-What do you feel in your heart as opposed to your head?
-How are you receiving and sending messages about your life to yourself and others?
-ow is your communication and circulation within your soul, or in your daily activities, literally or figuratively?
“The purpose of pranayama is to make the respiratory system functin at its best. This automatically improves the circulatory system, without which the processes of digestion and elimination would suffer. Toxins would accumulate, diseases spread through the body and ill-health becomes habitual” ~ B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Pranayama
Do you have tension in the neck, shoulders and lower back? Do you complain about headaches, poor sleeping habits, fatigue, stomach aches and high levels of stress ?
Maybe you do not breathe well. Part of a balanced yoga practice frees muscular restrictions which impede healthy breathing. I have some basic breathing practices on my Yoga Mind Cd and am available for private yoga classes to address your particular needs. There are also a few articles I have written online with practices you can check out.
Using Your Yoga Practice To Move From Spirit is seeing practice as meditation in motion, mindful movement. Sometimes life is full of challenges, and we have to call upon some inner grace to get through it. Relaxation is the antidote to stress, it will help you find that grace..
The lotus flower grows from the bottom of streams and muddy ponds to rise above the water and bloom. At night, it closes and sinks below the water, just to resurface again, untouched the next day, Fully grounded in earth, yet aspiring towards the divine, the lotus flower lives in the muddy water, yet remains unsoiled.
Time on the yoga mat is meditation in motion, mindful movement.
The “P” in practice can either be “push push push” or “patience patience patience”. Generally I like to tell students to go gradually and navigate a pose, considering where they are at in the present moment, what the cues from their breathing indicate, and what the general physical feedback is telling them. There is a skill to using yoga props that not only makes the asana approachable and possible but also, increases the benefits and your ability to learn how to be peaceful in a challenging situation because you aren’t fighting so hard to maintain alignment etc. If you have never tried Restorative Yoga therapy wow, here too is a most intelligent and awesome way to cultivate safe flexibility and the rest and digest attitude that the nervous system so needs
In case you missed it, here is a link to my last post for Yoga Travel Tree, titled : “Too Much of a Good Thing: Can You do Too Much yoga?”
I always take the approach that yoga is a system, with different components – eight limbs. Any kind of physical practice should feel like it is opening you, not yanking or pulling or compressing. And breathing – whole category! Please check out my cd, YOGA MIND for tips on how to set up and some complete practices that can accompany you. As for developing focus and other side benefits, they evolve like wisdom. Nothing like private yoga class instruction though, very different from group !