yoga poses to encourage calm

yoga poses to encourage calm

Yoga poses to encourage calm enable the brain to focus, not on fighting gravity, but surrendering to it. One of the ways we achieve this is through supporting the head. A forward bend with the head supported on a block, for example, allows the brain to recover from mental fatigue, gain mental clarity, and can be held for a more extended period of time. Great benefits are reaped, such as a reduction in blood pressure, and lowered heart rate, which are all very soothing to the nervous system.

yoga poses to encourage calm

yoga poses to encourage calm

Paschimottanasana, or seated forward bend pose, is a lovely spine lengthener, assuming you can get the thoracic spine to expend. Sometimes very tight hamstrings pull the pelvis and the result is more struggle than surrender. When done comfortably though, it is a pose that benefits the digestive system, and stimulates the reproductive system, a long with producing calm. Whereas it may be hard to support the head on a block, you can always use a horizontal or vertical bolster. For those of us who cannot rest with that, sit on a blanket stack and bring a chair over to rest the head. Breathe and relax. Properly supported, a restorative forward bend can really encourage calm.

Restorative spinal twisting asanas

Restorative spinal twisting asanas are both calming and important for creating a healthy spine.

When I think of twisting, I think of opening a water bottle. You cannot just twist the cap off, something has to hold the bottom steady in order to move the lid. In restorative yoga, the same principles apply, although we are not working against gravity to maintain the fixed base.

Restorative spinal twisting asanas are calming:

The relaxation, or calming effect of the pose comes from relying on prop placement where you (uniquely) require it.

Restorative spinal twisting asanas are important for the vertebrae:

The mobility improvement to spinal joint flexibility comes from extending the thoracic spine or wringing out the spine. Much like a water bottle, the lumbar, or lower part of our body, is not intended to be torqued. In this way, we are involving opposite movements, the spine is straight,while pelvis and shoulder girdles stack up like shelves. I found the sandbag helped to relax the shoulder opposite to the legs, since it tends to roll forward.

restorative twing asanas Rana

You can see this in the bellow variation of Jathara Parivartanasana (basic stomach turn) which is a great restorative twisting asana to unwind from stress, a lot of walking, standing, or sitting. I also find it helpful to digestion.

We will explore this in class today at 4 in Jersey City!

Tension Taming Yoga

Tension Taming Yoga

A Mother’s Day Restorative Yoga Workshop to Tame your Tensions

Mother's Day Restorative Yoga Workshop

Mother’s Day Restorative Yoga Workshop

Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate the women in our lives who teach, guide, and support us with their love and direction to become the best variation of ourselves. Restorative yoga honors the peaceful and relaxed place in our minds, bodies and spirits, from which love emerges. Why not luxuriate in a practice geared to support you where you are by using the strategic placement of yoga props to help you align, rejuvenate, relax and heal? 

Mother's Day Holiday

Mother’s Day Holiday

Lower back pain and tight hips and shoulders plagues many of us, even when there is no structural impingement. Hours commuting, computing, lifting, and overall stress and tension can accumulate and irritate the lower back. Let’s focus on calming the tissues with a practice that promotes healing the body, calming the mind and soothing agitated emotions, all of which will help shift the inner status from tension to blissful  ease. Whether you are a mom, an aunt, want to bring your mom, or just want to come and send your mom loving Reiki energy from your peaceful inner place, you are all welcome to join us.  Makes a great gift, a lovely opportunity to spend time together, or just give back to wonderful you.  

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 Practice For Self-Respect

Yoga Practice For Self-Respect:  any practice can be a yoga practice for self respect with the right attitude !

self respect

Yesterday a newcomer to my restorative yoga class said “I am terrible at yoga”. Wow! Powerful statement, one that I am taking up in today’s notes. I found this mini info-graph about self-respect which I thought I would share as well.

self respect

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can see how in a group where you are doing a vinyasa practice there might be a sense of having to keep up. Personally, I have learned, if I ever do this type of yoga, to go at my own pace. It can seem largely competitive, far from the intentions of the yoga system, which is designed to still the mind and prepare it for contemplation and positivity.

If you are this person, “kill the negative self talk. It’s a bad habit, period”. Also, “stop comparing yourself to others. It’s not fair, it never will be. Focus on yourself”. It is called a ‘practice’ so sometimes you just have to keep at something to improve your skills or get to where there is an organized and cohesive feeling tone in the way your body-mind perform. Here is where you “stick to your goals. You deserve to experience your own integrity and loyalty. Be loyal to yourself and do what you say you will do”.

self-respect

The girl in my class actually felt wonderful leaving, and it seemed like her perspective had changed. She was relaxed, and I think, had experienced yoga brought to her, rather than having to chase it. It had perhaps become an example of “doing something you love”. So if yoga isn’t giving you this feeling, join me, because it is a great way to cultivate a healthy self-respect in the right environment

self-respect

#liveyouryoga

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.

getting yogaminded for the new year

getting yogaminded for the new year.. As the New Year approaches, the focus is always on making resolutions and commitments and doing a whole lot that sounds like reforming oneself or just making new decisions. It almost complicates a simple process. I like the expression Yoga Mind, I used it for my Cd and frankly, am loving the expression “yogaminded” now.
“Don’t make the same mistakes twice” ~ right!? We do anyway. I do not feel like yoga has prevented me from falling or failing, but it does give a framework for starting each day afresh, with a beginner’s perspective, and sometimes, when I am graced, I make better choices instead of opting for old patterned paths.

I think it fair to say that the best way to start fresh is to feel and experience being refreshed. Relaxation, of some kind is crucial and yet, often, quite ignored until we crash land, burnout, lash into someone, react and get pulled in. I for one like at least one full restorative yoga practice in my schedule (not just to teach but as well, to practice). It lends balance and calm. That Yoga Mind I cultivate leads towards all the things I should likely resolve to do more often. So this New Year, get yogaminded and unclutter your big list with just one resolution…

yogaminded

yogaminded

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

Therapeutic effects of yoga

Therapeutic effects of yoga include enhanced immune system functioning

Therapeutic effects of yoga

Restorative yoga

“stress has a negative impact on the immune system and prolonged exposure increases susceptibility to disease and leads to physical and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Practicing yoga and meditation as a means to manage and relieve both acute and chronic stress helps individuals overcome other co-morbidities associated with diseases and leads to increased quality of life” STUDY

The immune system is a miracle to me. In case you are wondering what that is, “the immune system is a system of biological structures and processes within an organism that protects against disease” (SOURCE) Restorative yoga poses are highly effective at reducing stress and therefore in creating a healthy immune system. The supported poses decrease the chasing aspect which is sometimes present when students “stretch” because these asanas (poses) are done with the strategic support and placement of yoga props which thus nurtures the body and induces the “relaxation response” while reducing the “stress response”. Together, these two effects protect and help to strengthen the immune system. Once your system is compromised, the practice changes, so the best tip is to be preventive with your health. I meet students who specifically do not do this type of practice yet will readily agree they are not able to relax. The number one reason they give to avoid the practice is they think it will be too easy. HMMMM. It’s definitely not the same as jumping around, but it is also quite challenging in its own way. Perhaps your misconceptions are keeping you from optimum health!!