asana 3 ways -perking up practice time

Asana 3 ways

In the spirit of satya (truthfullness), I sometimes shop for clothing online. This makes me the recipient of a gamut of email campaigns, which I mostly delete. A couple of them have captivated me, not because I am lured into buying what they are selling. It has more to do with how they are approaching their merchandise. For example, “this skirt, 3 ways” or “instant wardrobe update”. So, what I am proposing today, is taking the principles of creativity, versatility and gaining a fresh perspective on something we already have, into our asana practice. Hence, “asana 3 ways”. 

Variations on a theme

In the fashion sense of using something different ways, there is usually a product – we are going to substitute asana – with how to wear it classically or low key, to work or slightly basic and out for an event, which is usually slightly snazzy. We are going to replace this with a basic variation to learn a skill, one with a little more subtlety, and one which requires a bit more work. I am going to propose we use props for this exercise. You aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel, just explore something from a different angle, self-reflect, observe, and get to know yourself, your breathing patterns, your tension packages and all that other good stuff. 

What yoga props you need for this asana experiment

I used the wall, a long mat, a travel mat folded folded in 4 then accordion fold, and a yoga strap.

helpful yoga props

yoga props for asana 3 ways

Let’s look at Tadasana, which teaches the art of standing and taking your place in the world. Planting the feet firmly can create emotional and physical stability. This being said, often the feet turn in or out which shifts the hips-shoulders-neck. Let’s try a supine variation of this asana 3 ways to help correct faulty posture. The main things we will explore are:

  1. Getting the feet parallel, lifting and spreading the toes with attention in the heels so that the pelvis can align
  2. Lifting the inner ankles to bring the legs to life
  3. Opening the chest

Variation 1- Getting the feet parallel. Lie down and use the folded mat under the heels, so that you can access the heels. This actually allows the top thighs to go back and the tailbone to draw in so that the pelvis aligns

how to practice an asana 3 ways

supine tadasana variation 1

Variation 2- Lifting the inner ankles. Placing the belt across the feet to lift the inner ankles into the outer ankles will actually also help to roll the groins back, lengthening and activating the legs

how to practice tadasana

using yoga props to access the ankles

Variation 3 – Opening the chest by placing the folded mat under the breastbone/thick ribs to free the emotional center, release shoulder blades down and away from neck and be able to lengthen the crown of the head

how to open the chest in tadasana

supine tadasana with arms overhead

Supine variations of asana allow us to access a calmer mind, without fighting gravity.

They do not necessarily make things ‘easy’. Try holding each variation for 30 seconds, then increase that time. Then try taking the skills with you as you practice standing up.

Enjoy.

Why restorative yoga?

Best benefits of restorative yoga:

Restorative yoga offers the practitioner an opportunity to explore different aspects and benefits of practice that are often overshadowed by more dynamic styles.

A restorative yoga practice frequently relies on the use of props, prolonged holding in safely aligned asana sequences, meditation, pranayama and relaxation. Excellent for active physical recovery, balance, stress management,a restorative yoga class can explore different safe alignment skills through therapeutic themes.

Let’s take a look at Child’s pose (balasana)

benefits of restorative yoga?

Active childs pose

This is often called a resting pose, and can certainly be that. The variation in the above photo is dynamic, and often used as a preparation for downward facing dog. The props are used to wake up the spine and the shoulders as well as encourage conscious breathing into the back body. In a vinyasa, holding the pose for 5 or 10 breaths can offer the practitioner a break from the activity of the practice. However, many students cannot actually ‘let go’ in the pose, whether due to stiffness or pain or just inability to perform it safely. So…is it really restorative?

Now take a look below. Here, props are used to bring the pose to the person, encourage release, and the arms are taken out of the equation. There is no pulling, but the arms lines, shoulders, hips and spine are safely letting go of tension.

I encourage you to uncover some of the benefits! Restorative Yoga Classes can be booked privately or check my Calendar  

strategic yoga prop placement

restorative child’s pose

Group yoga classes

Group Yoga Classes in September:

group restorative yoga classes

group restorative yoga classes

This season I’m kicking the restorative yoga classes up a notch, through the use of weekly themes and focuses on different categories of asanas. 

This is primarily because I notice a prevalence of folks who either come expecting to just lay out on a bolster and sleep, or are already burnt out and tired that they should really be coming more often (preventative measures) rather than 1&1/2 hours of “curative”. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all good, but discipline (tapas) pays off, especially with restorative yoga, since we do not always cultivate the softer forms of practice (meditation, relaxation, pranayama). 

Also, holding any pose for any length of time is either not helpful (if you do not have the alignment or trajectory of the pose in the first instance), or helpful if you are really in tune with proper prop placement and so on. Comfort is really learned too!

Many of you come to group yoga classes when you are already tired; have lower back pain, stiff shoulders, and tight hips. We will address all these issues in weekly themes during our yoga classes where you can learn sequences and alignment skills to complement your busy life and your active yoga practices. The sequences will progress as you learn them…right?! so come to class – or just book me privately.

The first week of the month will be devoted to supine standing poses, which are great to alleviate tension in the whole body. The second will be devoted to backbends and twists, to improve posture, circulation, the third to forward bends and light inversions, which have great benefits for immunity and overall calmness, and the fourth to peaceful practices and pranayama.

Look forward to seeing you in class, 

Rana

meditation for your muscles

meditation blog at ranawaxman.com

meditation

Meditation: For the mind and also for the muscles

Today I want to talk about using meditation for your muscles. I am preparing for my restorative yoga class, and came across an interesting article this week which focused on tight muscles and why not to actively stretch them. You can read it by clicking here; where the author says insightful things like “We have been conditioned to think of the tightness itself as the problem, thus the automatic tendency to try to stretch. But in reality, sometimes tightness is a result of the problem. In those situations, stretching is not the answer–at best it gets you nowhere, and at worst, it aggravates the problem. So the key to correcting the issue is figuring out why a muscle is tight. It might even clue you in to a problem you didn’t know you had….TIP: Not all tight muscles need to be or should be stretched;  sometimes the real problem is weakness not tightness. This needs to be considered when inflexibility persists despite consistent attempts at stretching.”

Why meditation for your muscles?

Where meditation comes in is that once your mind is calm, you get the space necessary to allow yourself to to move away fro “automatic tendency” and more towards a balanced and thoughtful approach that could include rest, postural changes or other modifications that are actually at the root of your tightness. So let’s allow our meditation to inform our muscles! See you on the mat or meditation cushion! Check out my Yoga Mind Cd for portable peace :-)

meditation ~ Rana Waxman Yoga Yoga Therapy

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

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.

meditation on social media

meditation on social media

yoga

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, I wrote my first of three blog posts (to be published elsewhere, will keep you posted) on social media and community building for yoga brands.  The modern yogi(ni) is Linked-in, Facebook, Twitter, Texting, Emails, Facebook connecting to twitter, the blog, Linkedin.  Joining groups (you know and don’t know), Liking and Un-liking pages, connections with people you know and their connections who you may not know…Comments from the groups you are connected to and know but not personally, connecting through cell phones and apps and sync-ing with your computer, your laptop, ipad…Sigh.  Incredible.  We have adapted to technology and it is unbelieveable how much we can connect just by learning what is available ….

The word YOGA is from the verb, yuj, meaning “to yoke, harness”(Feurstein). In the Upanishads, it also meant “spiritual endeavor” (Feurstein) and later, in the Bhagavad Gita – we are talking 3rd or 4th century BCE- it denoted “spiritual discipline” or methods of “self-realization (Feurstein).  Check out this beautiful verse from the Gita (Stephen Mitchell): “Strong in the practice of yoga, with a mind that is rooted in me and in nothing else, you will reach the Supreme Person that I am.” We commonly say YOGA means union, connecting…mind+body+spirit, because in this fast-paced world, they don’t always feel in the same place at the same time.

So I ask you, are you linked-in and plugged-in professionally and personally?  Do you actually turn your cell OFF in yoga class or just to vibrate? Or could you benefit from turning off cyberspace connections for a moment and tuning into the one link that unites body and mind=the Breath.  Go ahead, try.  Breathe in calm, breathe out tension…Feel YOGA’d-in….

spirituality

spirituality

cultivating spirituality through yoga: Sometimes you need to read spiritual literature and words to go deeper into your Self. this is a positive prayer for the New Year, thought I would share with you.

“May I be at peace. May my heart remain open. May I awaken to the light of my own nature. May I be healed. May I be a source of healing for all beings.” – Buddhist tradition

The English word spirit (from Latin spiritusbreath“) has many differing meanings and connotations, most of them relating to a non-corporeal substance contrasted with the material body. (source) We pretty much are spirit en-clothed in a body. Taking care of the body as a vehicle that carries the spirit is, in part what asana is practiced for. This being said, we are often, during the day, caught up in thinking and doing, to the extent that we forget to breathe, or connect inwardly. That is why simple meditation is good, it reconnects us.

spirittuality

“The highest capacities of the human being to see clearly are rooted in the simple experiences of being seen.  We cannot see without having first been seen. We cannot wake up without interacting with a consciousness that is awake. Spiritual practice in the contemplative traditions works with the rudiments of the capacity to see clearly, and then it builds them into all the extraordinary potentials always present in the seed of human being.” ~ Steven Cope

spiritual

 

holiday or freedom

holiday or freedom, what are we actually seeking?

freedom

I am wondering, as we approach Christmas and New Year when so many people go away, whether we are really looking for a temporary break from routine, or something deeper, true freedom. I know it is a deep reflection, but as I re-read some of Yoga And The Quest For The True Self,  by Stephen Cope, I came across an interesting chapter which I thought I would write about here..

“As we Westerners become more experienced with yoga and meditation, we will begin to become more realistic about their outcomes, A mere reduction in reactivity may seem a disappointment to those of us still engaging in magical thinking about Eastern enlightenment experiences. The increase of awareness and neutrality toward experience may be a bitter pill for those of us who were hoping for immersion in permanent oceanic bliss. But, actually, “a new freedom for well-considered and appropriate action” is a very wonderful thing. It means that we have increased freedom to choose..we become free to renounce actions that might undermine our most awake experiences of ourselves. And we become free to claim actions that express who we really are”

I think this is a great quote; even practitioners of yoga can get rather chase-y with practice (you may have heard me say this in my restorative yoga class). I think consistent practice, balanced practice, which includes relaxation gives us mini holidays for the brain/body, which add up to cultivation of a deeper sense of freedom. That is my take on it :-) follow on twitter #liveyouryoga

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.