Friday, March 27, 2015

March 24 Restore Series

In our class this week, we discussed the use of touch in healing. Carmen has written a wonderful introduction to another modality used in healing that uses the power of energy.  Enjoy!


What is Reiki?


By Guest Blogger, Carmen Molina

Many people have asked this question.  Is it something
mystical, foreign, mysterious, spiritual, is it a religion?

Reiki is a Japanese healing method that was created by Dr. Mikao Usui in
or around 1914.

Reiki is a healing method that is used for just about anything.  You could
use it on people, food, plants, animals, projects, organizations,
situations, relationships, and the list goes on.

Reiki is a healing practice whereby energy is channeled through a
Certified Reiki Practitioner.

A Reiki Practitioner receives extensive training and receives a series of
attunements in order to be able to do Reiki treatments effectively.

It is transmitted from universal energy (Life Force) through the Reiki
Practitioner's hands onto the receiving person or thing.

The Reiki Practitioner uses hand placements along a person's body and
moves the hand placements onto another part of the body whenever she or he
senses that there is a shift in the energy flow.

The beauty of this treatment is that the receiver is fully clothed and
does not have to do a thing.  Just relax and absorb this healing energy.

The Reiki Practitioner does not use his or her own energy.  She or he does
not get depleted from their own energy when using Reiki on someone.

Reiki helps to enhance healing.  It helps relax muscles.  It helps healing
after surgeries, injuries, and it helps relieve pain.  It helps a person
regain a sense of "well-being".

Best of all, Reiki is not a religion, it is not a cult.  It is a way of life.
It is a natural method of healing.

Please note that Reiki is not a substitute for a medical treatment.


The Breath
Count of 5 Breath
Come to a comfortable seated position where your spine is elongated and your seat supported. Inhale for a count of 5, hold for 2 counts and then with a long exhalation let all of the air go.  Practice this breath for several minutes to balance the nervous system, gently energize the body, move the circulation and feel more centered. If you feel dizzy or short of breath, return to your normal breath pattern.

The Poses
Forward Resting Angle Pose
Props: bolster, two blocks, 4 or more blankets
Benefits: releases the pelvis which can help release tension in the buttocks, hips, belly and lower back.  Quiets the organs of digestion and elimination. Opens lower back area. As head rests on bolster, releases tension in frontalis where we hold stress in contracted state. Cooling and calming to overall body and provides a nice transition from day. Can help with sleep.

Depending upon the length of your torso, you may or may not need the blocks under the bolster.  A double-folded blanket folded over one more time adds height and comfort.  Place as many of these as you need on top of the bolster. Cushions and pillows are also good.  You will straddle the props bringing them in as close to your body as possible to support you as you forward fold.  Rub hands together to warm up the hands and gently cup them over the eyes and rest on the elbows on the bolster. Avoid too much pressure on the eyes.  To lesson any strain in the lower back, sit on a single or double-fold blanket.  Can add blanket rolls under the knees. Stay for 5 to 10 minutes. 
*note that for some students the breath can be constrained. Practice belly breaths to begin with.

Belly Down
Props: 2 or more blankets, neck rolls
Benefits: soothing to the nervous system, grounding, stimulates the
digestive system, gentle chest opener, lengthens the legs, ankles, releases the pelvis

Place a blanket for the chest to lie on as well as fill in the belly area and one blanket for a pillow. Lie belly down with legs extended, arms bent slightly out to the side. Can hold onto your neck roll to ground through the palms. Turn your head to one side and change direction when you need to.  Additional support at the ankles. Add a blanket over top for comfort and warmth.

Starfish Savasana
Props: 2 or more blankets, neck rolls, eye pillow
Benefits: soothing to the nervous system, grounding, gentle chest opener,  releases the pelvis

Lay a blanket on  your mat for extra comfort and warmth, blankets for the arms as well.  As you lay down, place your feet towards the corners of your mat and arms about 10-12 inches from your body, palms up. Add your eye pillow, and blanket on top.  We adjusted the legs with our Double Dutch for optimal release through the legs and pelvis.  Try a progressive relaxation, contracting and releasing different muscle groups.

Friday, March 20, 2015

March 17 Restore Series

The First Day of Spring my friends and if you look outside, a snowy one at that.  Oddly enough, I do not feel cheated. It is what it is and I embrace it with openness.  A theme of receiving weaved its way into my life this week and maybe some of my classes including our Restore series.  We practiced with receiving the breath instead of taking a breath.  How did that change the feeling in your body and mind to receive the breath. What sensations did you receive while practicing?  For me, receiving whatever comes my way, has been a shift in my attitude.   Some potential problems surfaced this week but I did not feel them as a problem only an opportunity.  I believe it was in the way I received.

I shared an affirmation with each of you at the end of class which I'll include in this blog. Post it to your mirror or in your car. Anywhere you would receive the message the most.

My heart is open to giving and receiving
I lovingly accept myself the way I am
I am worthy of love
I live in balance with others

The Poses
Childs Pose Variation
Props: bolster, one blocks, 2-3 blankets, neck roll for forehead
Benefits: Gently stretches the lower back, relieves shoulder tension and quiets the mind.  Give a sense of security. Feeling support and release. Gently lengthens the legs.
Extras:sandbag for sacrum

Place bolster on the mat lengthwise and lay a blanket over it. Make a smaller roll for the ankles and place at the other end of the mat. Also place a block at top end with a neck roll or eye pillow on top. Begin on all fours and lower  your upper body onto the bolster. Settle the tops of the ankles on the smaller roll and adjust the body so that the tops of the thighs rest on the edge of the bolster.  Lay the forehead on the cushioned block and place the arms to the side, shoulders dropping from the ears.  Soften your jaw and let the body sink into the supports and the floor. 

Revolved Twist with Extended Leg
Props: bolster, 3 blankets, 1 extra blanket for warmth and or laying on lower back to ground
Benefits: Gentle twist for the spine (quadratus lumborom) Releases stress on the back muscles and a stretch to the intercostal muscles. As muscles relax, breathing is enhanced.

Set one bolster lengthwise on your mat.  Depending upon your comfort, height can be elevated with blocks under bolster. Lay one blanket on top double-fold and one double-fold at end of bolster where your right hip will go. Sit next to bolster with your right hip touching it, bend knees, left or top ankle can lay in arch of right foot or other comfortable position for feet. For added comfort, place blanket between legs. Lengthen body over bolster, laying bent legs in one directions and upper body facing down on bolster. Arms drape down sides of the bolster.

Friday, March 13, 2015

March 10 Restore Series


Do you feel lighter this week?  I certainly do, without the layers upon layers over us and around us (think clothes and snow).  The longer days are certainly an added bonus.  Now to get to all of those winter projects I thought I would have time for.

Our practice this week was a perfect complement to the changing season. Try these out at home to ease into Spring.  Another way to transition is to journal.  Perhaps jotting down those ideas that you had created during the winter months first and then in the next few weeks, delving a little deeper into what you focus on and what you let pass you by.  Try the exercise below to aid you in your springtime renewal.



Please answer the following questions.
Then rate each question on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being completely true and 1 being completely false.
1.)  Do you know that you are the most powerful resource that you have?
2.)  Do you know that you are really capable of living your life closer to achieving more of what you want than what you don’t want?
3.)  What do you think would have to change to make those two above statements more true than not?
NEXT
4.)  List three things you would like to accomplish as a result to this unexpected and uninvited journey you are taking.
1.)__________________________________
2.)__________________________________
3.)__________________________________
Stop and take a break for a while. Come back to this list in the next hour to twenty-four hours. Circle the one on your list that is the most important to you.
5.)  Write it here: “I want to:
6.)  By doing the above, my life will be enhanced or changed positively how?
7.)  When we change something even for the positive we sometimes have to let go of something else. What will you lose as a result of making this change? What are you afraid you will lose? Sometimes the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change. Is this true for you?
8.)  It is important to me to make the change at this time because:(list as many reasons that come to your mind:
9.)  What are three steps you need to take to get started accomplishing this important life-changing step?
1.) __________________________________
2.) __________________________________
3.) __________________________________
10.)  How are you going to start those above steps?
11.)  When are you going to start them?
12.)  When will you get there, (set a finish date) creating this important life changing behavior, goal, or accomplishment?
13.)  What will you need to stay focused on your journey?
14.)  Who will be your support team? We all need a support team regardless of how small or big.
15.)  What might get in your way, prevent you or make this accomplishment more difficult than it needs to be?
Questions and journaling exercise compliments of Dr. Robin B. Dilley, author of In A Moment’s Notice: A Psychologist’s Journey with Breast Cancer is a licensed psychologist in the State of Arizona. Her eclectic practice allows her to cross diagnostic barriers and meet clients in their need assisting them to respond to life in healthy and empowering ways rather than react to life’s circumstances. 
The Poses
Supported Bridge Pose

Props: bolster or 2- 3 blankets stacked, neck roll

Benefits: gentle backbend, supports immune system, lengthens spine, chest opener to aid in breathing and abdominal support for digestive health, supports good posture

Set up the bolster or stacked blankets horizontally on your mat. Sit on the set-up and begin to carefully recline down onto the floor. Shoulders resting on the floor and arms by your side with palms up.  Knees bend and can rest together with feet as wide as the mat if your low back gets uncomfortable.


Elevated Twist (on bolster or blankets)
Props: bolster, 1-2 blankets
Benefits: Gentle twist for the spine (quadratus lumborom) Releases stress on the back muscles and a stretch to the intercostal muscles. As muscles relax, breathing is enhanced.  Aids in digestion. Good stretch for upper chest. 

Make a double fold blanket (bolster), place on your mat so that when reclined your lumbar spine rests on blanket or bolster. Bring knees to chest and as you release both knees to the right, extend arms out to the side, palms facing up.  Extra blankets may be placed between knees, along spine to support and ground the pose, on top hip to access the release into the pose. Stay for up to 5 minutes on each side. Transition to other side while bringing knees into chest. 



Friday, March 6, 2015

March 3 Restore Series

Could it be March already?  I think the calendar is lying as 10 inches of snow surrounds our environs and cuddles the earth in its warm snow blanket.    Our restorative practice this week included many comforting, anchoring poses.  Winter is the season to ground ourselves and return to protection so we can go inward and build up reserves for spring.  I think this picture of my youngest is a little too grounded but they had fun.


If you are nestled at home today enjoying the snow from inside, find some firm blankets and cushions or pillows and try these poses at home.  The more blankets the merrier.  And as an extra bonus, if you spent some time shoveling, it will help rest your back.

Bo Forbes, clinical psychologist, yoga teacher and integrative yoga therapist, shares in her newsletter, a reason to celebrate March 4th (Forth)  http://boforbes.com.  Inspiration as we transition to spring.

Happy Exelauno Day!

Today is March 4th, also known as Exelauno Day in modern culture (ok, a tiny portion of it, in this case those who’ve studied Greek or Latin in high school or college). Started by a classics professor at the well-known Roxbury Latin high school in the Boston area, the holiday was adopted for national observation. "Exelauno" translates both as "march forth" and "expel." These disparate meanings neatly parallel two modes of being.

The first meaning, march forth, evokes an impulse to race out into the world, to be seen and heard, to engage with others and with new experience. There’s a triumphant, expansive nature to this version of Exelauno Day. It connotes tapas or energy. It speaks to new life force after a period that may seem fallow and barren, even ridden with inertia (yes, I’m thinking here of our record New England snowfall and cold this winter).

The other translation, to expel, implies something different. It intimates that before we can march forth in a truly new way, we might need to cleanse. Yet this cleanse is not the stuff of green drinks and brown rice, of water laden with maple, cayenne, and lemon juice. This kind of cleanse refers to old patterns in the mind, brain, and body. Ways we’ve come to think of ourselves: undeserving, perhaps, or unworthy of the deepest kind of love. Patterns in which we’re wired to react: instant defensiveness, for example, when someone touches a soft spot of vulnerability. Habits of being in our bodies: always moving from flexible, already-open places, while shying away from those in which awareness has been asleep, often for decades.

As the days get longer and the light changes, let’s see, together, if we can hold these different essences at the same time. Let’s create the space for noticing and releasing what no longer works for us—a psychic Spring cleaning. And let’s also balance this cleansing with an outer-directed action. Let’s march forth, together. Let’s burst out from hibernation to explore new ideas, colonize new awareness in the body, and ignite new paths of study. 
The Poses
Mountain Brook
Props: 2-3 blankets, neck roll, one bolster
Benefits: counteracts the slumped position of our posture from sitting, computer use, driving, everyday activities. Opens the chest to help breathe easier. Improves digestion, reduces fatigue and can lift your mood.

Just like a babbling brook with boulders (soft ones!), imagine your body like the soft rushing waters laying over those boulders, smooth, flowing.  It will allow the natural curves of the body to be held up gently and the breath to flow.

On your mat, place one bolster where your knees will be. Add a blanket to rest your soles of your feet on and a blanket to rest on your pelvis to help ground the hips. Place a neck roll for the cervical spine.  Shoulders rest on the floor, arms to side with palms facing up or come into Goddess arms.  If ankles need support, use rolled-up blanket or dish towel.  Eye pillows can lightly rest on eyes or even be used on forehead (useful for headaches) or even on shoulders (wherever you need to release tension). To begin with stay in pose for 10 minutes working up to 20 minutes.  Great to use in savasana. Feel the heart open, the strain from holding yourself up all day evaporate.
Variations: Feeling cranky in the lumbar spine? Place blanket to fill the curves.  Want to feel more grounded while still opening the heart? Place rolled up blanket against wall and soles of feet touching blanket.  Need to feel cuddled? Swaddle your head in a blanket cradle.

Legs up Variations (on bolster)

Props: 1-2 bolsters, blocks, blankets, neck roll
Benefits: drains fluid from the legs, releases pelvic floor, chest and shoulder opener, back of legs get a gentle stretch.

Place one bolster horizontally on mat (for the knees) and one vertically (for the feet, ankes and lower legs). Arrange a triple-folded blanket horizontally (lumbar and thoracic spine area). Recline legs over the bolsters and lower the upper body on the blanket. Adjust so that the tips of the shoulder blades are right above the blanket. Add neck pillow under neck and move arms to Goddess position if comfortable for  your shoulders. Otherwise, they can go by your side or stack hands on top of your belly.  Cover pelvic area with a blanket or whole body and add a wrapy for shins so legs stay in Tadasana alignment. 10 to 15 minutes, dropping the weight of your body on the exhalations.





Reclined Bound Angle
Version with Legs Straight
Benefits: opens the hips and groin facilitating blood and energy flow to the urinary tract and reproductive organs. Opens the chest and abdomen benefiting breathing problems. 
Props: bolster, 4 blocks (or firm cushions, pillows or rolled-up blankets), 4 blankets and one extra blanket for warmth, strap and eye pillow


Place a block lengthwise under one end of a bolster to prop it up on an incline, add another block under bolster for stability. We used the wall in this week's class placing the bolster at a higher elevation. Place a double-fold blanket on floor next to low end of bolster and a long rolled blanket on top next to bolster (for sacral support). Sit with your back to the short, low end of the bolster. Place two blocks where your knees will rest (can top with a soft blanket or use other props as necessary for propping knees)  Bring your legs into Bound Angle Pose with the soles of your feet together. Wrap a blanket around your feet to create a feeling of containment.  Lie back on the bolster. Place supports under your arms so that they are not dangling and there is no feeling of stretch in the chest. Stay in the pose for 10 to 15 minutes.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

February 24 Restore Series


Whee feel the exhilaration!

This week's blog is the traveling kind.  I am still reliving my recent trip to Pura Vida in Costa Rica. You may or may not be readying yourself for a late winter/early spring vacation but these tips are useful anytime of the year that you are traveling.  The first is a yoga sequence that I created for the airplane.  Try these at home in your own simulated airplane seat (you know the one where your thighs touch your neighbors and there is no leg room to speak of).   Secondly, I will present some tips from our yoga wizards at Yoga Journal for what to do enroute and when you get to your destination to arrive and stay balanced.  Enjoy and if you are taking off on your very own journey, don't forget your journal.

Airplane Sequence
(try a massage for the feet and back with a tennis ball) 

Seated
*Breath 3-part* Sit up tall and align ankles under knees, hip distance
apart. Breath deeply in to the belly filling up, exhale and empty out.
Next breath into belly then rib section (feel expansion in the ribs),
exhale and empty.  Breath into belly, ribs all the way up to the clavicle
or even the throat, exhale from top to bottom. Repeat as many times as you
want. Stop if you get dizzy and come back to normal breath. Calms, aids in
digestion, moves organs.
*Neck Stretches*
*Cat & Cow* (Spinal movments with pelvic tilts) Opens up constrictions in
the back, gets the blood flowing, lengthens spine, opens up chest and
throat.  Sit with feet firmly planted on floor, ankles stacked under knees,
hip distance apart. Stack head over shoulders, crown of the head lifted.
Hands on knees, on an inhale, arch the back belly pressing forward,
lifting chin. Exhale and round the back, chin drawing into sternum. Repeat
at least 10 times more if you feel tight or it just feels good.
*Seated Twist* Same seated position as above. Bring right hand to left
knee, on an inhale, lengthen crown of the head up, on an exhale, twist from
upper back, repeat 3 times on each side.  Brings fresh blood to the spine,
rejuicing the discs, detoxifies (releasing airplane air), spinal adjustment
and aids in digestion (if twisting more from the belly)
*Seated Heel and Toe Lifts* get the blood moving in the legs, alleviate
stiffness, reduce swelling. Sitting in seat as above, lift heels at least
10 times and then toes. Move with breath, inhale lift, exhale release.
*Seated Hip Circles* Same seated position, slightly away from back of
seat. Circle in one direction, full breath for each rotation at least 5
times, then other direction.
*Figure Four* (hip opener) Same seated postion, place right ankle above
left knee or below, breath deeply for at least 4 breaths. Switch sides.
          Standing
          *Heel Lifts* Find a spot where you can stand holding onto a wall and on
          an inhale, lift heels, exhale return down. Great for swelling.
*Hip Circles*
*Side Bends* If possible, inhale arms or one arm to the ceiling, bend to
the side for 4 breaths, inhale center, exhale switch sides.  Even having
the arms by your side and bending to one side will lengthen the side body
and stretch it out.
*Warrior 1* Need a wall or back of seat. Face wall, hands at shoulder
height, step one foot back, front leg is bent at 90 deg angle, stretch out
back inner thigh through the heel, breathing full deep breaths. Switch to
other side.

There are so many others I could share with you but this should give you
an overall feeling of wellness, rejuvenation or allow you to take a nap on
the plane.  One of my students actually gets some of her fellow traveling
mates to do them as well.  Who knows who you'll meet!!!
Travel Suggestions

  • Your Gut - to prevent stomach upset (even if the food is delicious organic and whole) try Probiotics or flax seeds mixed into smoothies, yoghurts.  Bring some powder mix-ins like coconut water powder, seeds or dried fruits blended with local fruits and veggies for a smoothie on the road. Drink plenty of water or bring foods like grapes and celery with high water content.
  • Practice Like the Locals - find a local yoga studio to continue your practice, even if language doesn't transcend, the practice may.
  • Take-off and Landing - Find some time in the airport before your flight to move the spine and lengthen the body.  Does the airport have a yoga/meditation space or maybe a little nook tucked away where you can practice. After landing, see if you can carve out a few minutes to do some stretching and movement to get the circulation going. Legs up anything is very helpful after the flight to drain the legs and quiet the mind. Get out in nature as soon as you can to ground yourself as well. 
  • What to Pack - besides the healthy snacks, if you have room, your mat, perhaps a meditation image that serves you, essential oils to stay calm and relaxed through whatever travel adventure awaits you. They can also help in staving off viruses (orange, clove, birch and cinnamon oil).  
  • Routine - travel may seem anything but.  Bring with you a comforting routine from home. Maybe it is washing your face, or having a glass of water by your bed and a favorite book.  Maybe it is a shawl that you wrap yourself in.
  • Attitude - remember you are traveling to a place that is not your home turf and the reason for travel is because it is different. If things don't go smoothly, your practice will come in handy as you let go of expectations and receive what is happening.

The Breath
Lions Breath (Simhasana)


Sit comfortably either in Sukhasana (Easy Seat) or on your heels. Take a deep inhalation through the nose. Then simultaneously open your mouth wide and stretch your tongue out, curling its tip down toward the chin, open your eyes wide, contract the muscles on the front of your throat, and exhale the breath slowly out through your mouth with a distinct "ha" sound. The breath should pass over the back of the throat.
Some texts instruct us to set our gaze (drishti) at the spot between the eyebrows. This is called "mid-brow gazing" (bhru-madhya-drishti; bhru = the brow; madhya = middle).Other texts direct the eyes to the tip of the nose (nasa-agra-drishti; nasa = nose; agra = foremost point or part, i.e., tip).
You can roar two or three times. Then change the cross of the legs and repeat for the same number of times.
Benefits: Useful for people with bad breath, relieves stress and can be used when you need to ease a tense situation, relieves tension in the chest and face, move stagnation in sinuses.
(Yoga Journal)

The Poses
Seated Forward Fold (in Chair)

Props: chair or stool, bolster, blankets, neck pillow
Benefits: lengthens spine, centering, aids in relaxation response,
aids in moving digestive process, grounds through feet and seat

Bring chair or stool close enough to the wall where you can sit
in mountain pose and lean bolster at an angle against the wall.
Place blanket on seat of chair and one for the bolster. Add any support for your forehead so neck stays long.



Seated Twist (in Chair)

Props: chair or stool, 2 bolsters, blankets, neck pillow
Benefits: aids in releasing the spine, digestive process, remove toxins, maintain normal spinal rotation, releasing tension in shoulders and back. Opens chest.

Bring Chair or stool close enough to the wall where you can set in mountain pose with one hip along the wall side. Place blanket on seat of chair. In this pose, we set one bolster horizontally and one bolster vertically on top of bottom bolster. We added blankets and neck pillows to support the head in the twist. Outer hand on opposite knee, Inner arm and hand relaxed. Switch sides after 5 minutes or so.

Grounded Cuddled and Cradled (Savasana)

Props: enough blankets to cover, ground and cradle the head, eye pillow
Benefits: Comforting, supportive, keeps warmth in , grounding to feel head cradled and feet touching the wall or blanket, relaxes musculature and pelvis, gentle chest opener and lengthens spine and legs.

Facing wall place a rolled up blanket against wall which feet will rest on. Add any blankets to support low back and arms. Cover your body with a blanket for warmth. The head cradle is made using a blanket tucked around the crown of the head. Add an eye pillow.

Friday, February 20, 2015

February 17 Restore Series


Closing my eyes I transport myself to the warm greens of Costa Rica, the morning sounds of macaws, parakeets and one crazy rooster, and the ultimate sunrise which unfolded before the world everyday.  I am so grateful for this trip and all that presented itself.

One thing that presented itself was my impatience. As any vacation/retreat goes there is a transition to be made.  Without even realizing it, I was masking impatience for my transition to be over and to feel completely relaxed and in "vacation mode".  I think part of the transition was my stomach converting over to insanely good organic, fresh food.   The other transitional phase involved my mood.  I was still keenly aware of myself trying to fit in with the group dynamics rather than just being myself.  Patience was not present.  I kept thinking "When will the transformation begin?".

It did happen but it wasn't forced or planned.  Maureen casually asked me if I wanted to try out a Sound Healing session with Becca.  She mentioned that I could leave if it wasn't for me.  Well, two amazing hours later, I emerged like a butterfly from its cocoon.  I spread my wings and felt the sun's rays on my face,  energy coursing through every cell in my body.  Was this my transformation that I thought was imminent?  That thought did enter my mind but soon after I took some long deep breaths to find my presence and the present.  "I am here that is all." was my next thought.  Perhaps the transformation never ends and never begins, it just is.

The Breath
Kapalabhati (Warming Breath)  Brrr... it is cold out there, try this breath to move the circulation, remove stagnation and get the heart pumping.
Kapalabhati or “shining breath” is a yogic breathing technique that releases stress and toxins from the mind and body. It consists of a series of forceful exhalations followed by passive inhalations. Here is how to perform Kapalabhati*:
  1. Sit comfortably in an upright posture and rest your hands on your lower belly.
  2. Draw your navel to your spine in a quick motion, forcefully expelling all the air from your lung. The primary movement is from your diaphragm.
  3. Allow your lungs to fill naturally, with no effort.
  4. Perform this cycle ten times, then allow your breathing return to normal and observe the sensations in your body. Repeat these cycles of ten movements three to four times.
Contraindication: Do not practice Kapalabhati if you are pregnant.
The Poses
Wide-legged Supported Forward Fold

Props: bolster, two blocks, 4 or more blankets
Benefits: releases the pelvis which can help release tension in the buttocks, hips, belly and lower back.  Quiets the organs of digestion and elimination. Opens lower back area. As head rests on bolster, releases tension in frontalis where we hold stress in contracted state. Cooling and calming to overall body and provides a nice transition from day. Can help with sleep.

Depending upon the length of your torso, you may or may not need the blocks under the bolster.  A double-folded blanket folded over one more time adds height and comfort.  Place as many of these as you need on top of the bolster. Cushions and pillows are also good.  You will straddle the props bringing them in as close to your body as possible to support you as you forward fold.  Rub hands together to warm up the hands and gently cup them over the eyes and rest on the elbows on the bolster. Avoid too much pressure on the eyes.  To lesson any strain in the lower back, sit on a single or double-fold blanket.  Can add blanket rolls under the knees. Stay for 5 to 10 minutes. 
*note that for some students the breath can be constrained. Practice belly breaths to begin with.

Reclined Bound Angle, minimal support (Baddhakonasana)
Benefits: opens the hips and groin facilitating blood and energy flow to the urinary tract and reproductive organs. Opens the chest and abdomen benefiting breathing problems. 
Props: bolster or firm pillows,  or rolled-up blankets,  one extra blanket for warmth, strap and eye pillow

Set up blanket lengthwise on mat, add neck pillow to top. Place pillows or rolled up blankets on either side to support legs. Recline over bolster or pillow and bring soles of the feet together, with bent knees, open legs to either side.   Strap can be added to contain the legs and deepen pose.  Place around your midsection and other end goes around edges of feet. Tighten so that legs get a feeling of being held up.  Wrap a blanket around your feet to create a feeling of containment.  Stay in the pose for 10 to 15 minutes.

Nesting Pose
Props: blankets, bolster
Benefits; Nurturing, sense of security, well-supported pose to regulate the nervous system, good for when you are feeling anxious, keeps body in alignment, supportive for the spine, hips, shoulders, head.  Allows for optimal healing and sleeping position. nurturing, sense of security, optimal for sleeping

Create a big enough folded blanket to place between the knees to align the legs in Tadasana. Add a folded blanket to rest your top arm on. Recline on a side that is comfortable, resting your head on a blanket. A neck roll can go under the ankles for support.  Bolster can rest along spine for further support and grounding. Finally, cover yourself with a blanket from head to toes.  Sink down with each long exhalation.  Mantra to accompany pose "I am safe, I am supported".

Thursday, February 5, 2015

February 3 Restore

5 Minutes of Peace
Our household has grown to two cats.  Oreo and Maxine have not been the best of friends since Oreo's arrival 3 weeks ago but we feel that even these 5 minutes of peaceful coexistence is enough.  Enough to actually feel that it will work out okay for all parties.

Something else that doesn't come easy is practicing compassion for ourselves.  We are hard on ourselves and less forgiving for our transgressions. I think that if we are ultimately loving toward ourselves, we can be genuinely loving toward others with a completely open heart.  


What if you set your intention for the day with some of the Metta Meditations below?  Try these out, and possibly journal about how your day went, what was your relationship with yourself, others?  Write a meditation on a stick note and place it on your mirror for an extra reminder to be kind to yourself.  Love Ya!


This won't come easy to practice love and kindness to others and to self, but the key word is Practice.  First thing in the morning, set your intention to practice Metta Karuna.  Some of the following verses may help you in this endeavor.



Waking this morning, I smile
A brand new day is before me.
I aspire to live each moment mindfully.
And to look upon all beings
with the eyes of kindness and compassion.
May you, and all other beings, be happy and 
free from suffering.

Or meditate and reflect upon your heat, acknowledge how it feels (open/closed, receptive/defensive). Repeat this Metta verse.



May I be happy
May I be peaceful
May I be safe from harm
May I enjoy happiness and the root of happiness
May I experience ease and wellbeing in my mind, body and spirit

And after your asana/yoga practice, sit quietly and send affirmations to your heart, someone close to you, someone you have difficulty with, all beings everywhere.


May I/you be protected and safe
May I/you be healthy and strong
May I/you be happy and at ease
May I/you care for myself/yourself wisely




May I/you be at peace

The Breath

Sitali, the Cooling Breath
This yogic breath will help calm the mind and soothe the emotions such as anger, anxiety and frustration. Also good for fevers or when you feel overheated. Will give you a feeling of contentment. Regulates digestive and sexual energy and detoxifies.
Open mouth and curl your tongue like a taco. 
INHALE through the curled tongue. Close mouth and EXHALE through the nostrils. Continue this cycle.
Sit up with a straight spine on the floor or in a chair. Hands in gyan mudra ( pads of thumb and index finger touching)


Practice this breath for 3 – 11 mins bring contentment into your life.
The Poses


Supported Bridge
Props: 4 blankets, neck roll, eye pillow
Extras: blanket for warmth, strap for legs
Benefits: Expands the chest muscles, opens the lungs, balances the glands, quiets the nerves and releases tension in the nervous system, increases oxygen intake to the brain, can stimulate the immune system (thyroid)

Make two stacks of two double or triple fold blankets on top of each other.  Placed the two stacks end to end. Height and width of blankets can be adjusted for your body.  Sit down straddling one of the stacks and carefully lower yourself down onto forearms, swing your legs on to other stack and lie down. Neck roll is placed at top stack, lower shoulder and head to floor.  Neck is supported by neck roll and head is completely flat on floor with forehead and chin on the same plane.  Arms stretched out to the sides. The stacks of blankets should be long enough for the entire body to be resting on including the feet.  Option to put strap around calves if the legs are rolling outward.  Stay for up to 15 minutes. Roll off blankets slowly and bring knees to chest with some movement.


Supported Forward Fold (or Seated Childs Pose)

Props: bolster, blankets
Benefits: gently stretches the back, hamstrings, ankles. Grounding. May aid in digestions, feel more connected to breath and body and lessen feelings of anxiety.

Fold over one blanket to sit on and slide a bolster or stack of blankets under the legs behind the knee joint. Placing enough blankets on your thighs so that your head is supported with room to breathe through your nose. Bring your arms to a comfortable position. Stay with breath and let your body melt into the supported. 10-15 minutes. Stretch your body anyway that feels good after the pose is complete for you.


Reclined Bound Angle
Version with Legs Straight
Benefits: opens the hips and groin facilitating blood and energy flow to the urinary tract and reproductive organs. Opens the chest and abdomen benefiting breathing problems. 
Props: bolster, 4 blocks (or firm cushions, pillows or rolled-up blankets), 4 blankets and one extra blanket for warmth, strap and eye pillow





Place a block lengthwise under one end of a bolster to prop it up on an incline, add another block under bolster for stability. We used the wall in this week's class placing the bolster at a higher elevation. Place a double-fold blanket on floor next to low end of bolster and a long rolled blanket on top next to bolster (for sacral support). Sit with your back to the short, low end of the bolster. Place two blocks where your knees will rest (can top with a soft blanket or use other props as necessary for propping knees)  Bring your legs into Bound Angle Pose with the soles of your feet together. Wrap a blanket around your feet to create a feeling of containment.  Lie back on the bolster. Place supports under your arms so that they are not dangling and there is no feeling of stretch in the chest. Stay in the pose for 10 to 15 minutes.