Friday, April 24, 2015

April 21 Restore Series

I am not even going to comment on this weather. Not going there, no way, no how.  Okay, just a short commentary. I am going through a process of rethinking about our current cool weather.  Maybe we are not "owed" a spring of warmer weather.   I am trying to get out of the prevalent mindset of disgust at Mother Nature.  Now this may not be the case for those that their income relies on a warmer spring. The farmer, the landscaper, the carpenter, etc. may all need a normal spring for their livelihood. I've planted my vegetable garden (at least the cold weather plants) but my income does not hinge on getting the produce to market.  

But like anything there are cycles, ups and downs, and roller coaster rides.  We make plans to weather out the turns and twists.  We strive to find balance in what is thrown our way.  Where can you find your balance as you grab your winter coat for a few more days.  Maybe a walk outside, bundled up, to appreciate how nature is coping with the colder winds. What do the tulips do?  What about the birds?  Maybe this is the break you need to spend some time indoors to finish a winter project or read that book.  Find your own way to balance.

The Breath
10 Breaths

10 beautiful breaths brings you to the present, the here and now.  A great way to transition in a yoga class, or anytime in your life where a little space is needed before moving onto the next thing. 10 long inhalations, 10 long exhalations.  Feel your body expand with the breath in and feel it release and become centered.

The Poses
Surfboard

Props: blankets, including one for warmth, stuffed animals or eye bags for hands
Benefits: gently stretches the lumbar spine and para spinal muscles, and gives a release in the diaphragm, quiets the mind and comforting. Gives a sense of security.  

2 bolster fold blanket placed lengthwise on mat on top of each other. One blanket at end of mat for ankle support. Make roll for ankle support. Rest of that blanket fills in gap where shin does not meet the floor. Make sure no blanket is on knee. This supports the knee in the pose.  Top bolster folded blanket roll towards you in a wider roll to fit in chest and shoulder area. One more blanket folded so that its height is the same as the two bolster folded blankets. Come to all fours straddling the props, release to forearms and then fully recline on props.  Ankles rest on small roll at end of mat, shins supported by the rest of that blanket. Rest the rest of your body at hip crease on the bolster fold blankets and lay chest on wider roll of top blanket. Head rests on additional blanket at top, turned to the side. Arms come out to the sides, releasing shoulders down the back and away from the ears. Placing an eye pillow or stuffed animal in palms as they face floor is very grounding and comfortable. Additional blankets for pillows tucked in as needed with student to create boundaries or make more comfortable.
New Version includes laying tops of ankles over padded blocks for further draining of the legs.

Legs up Variation (with bolsters)
Props: 2 bolsters, 1-2 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.  10 to 15 minutes, dropping the weight of your body on the exhalations.


Friday, April 17, 2015

April 13 Restore Series


My head feels like a ping pong game.  This is my vata being off balance.  My dosha is normally very spacious giving me room to be present and take inspiration from all around me. Not so much right now. My mind still creates but instead of inspiration, it causes me perspiration.  Did I say my Dosha was off?  Is a Dosha akin to my mojo?  I suppose so, in whatever language/belief you may have, something is off balance.  

I recently attended the first of 4 weekend trainings to be a Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist at Moon Dog Yoga in Quakertown.  I have been introduced to Ayurveda previously but this in depth look at the science of life, has my head reeling.  Overall, I believe I get it but connecting the dots especially when you throw in more than a few sanskrit words, isn't happening.  Then I pause, take a breath, allow a moment of stillness to reside in me, and give myself a break.  Easy peeze, right?  

Dinahcharya - not Dinah Shore

I've begun to add a few more Ayurvedic routines into my day.  5:30 a.m. My day begins with an intention for the day right from my very own bed.  I first splash my face with cold water 6 times (not sure if Ayurvedic but it wakes me up and seems to reduce any puffiness). I then move on to scraping my tongue to remove Ama "Scraping the tongue daily removes any build-up on the tongue, which, if left untreated, can lead to bad breath and may house a significant number of bacteria. This simple practice is a direct way of removing Ama from your physiology. In Ayurveda, Ama refers to any accumulation of toxic residue in the mind-body. This can result from improper eating, poor digestion, or a reflection of an imbalance somewhere in the gastrointestinal system." http://www.chopra.com/ccl/the-benefits-of-tongue-scraping
and gargle with warm sesame oil.  So far so good. The neti pot is next on my routine,  usual for this well-pollinated time of year.  More sesame oil to coat just inside my nostrils.   The blip in this routine happens when I need to drink a warm glass of water with lemon in it.  I need to go down to the kitchen and boil water, cut lemons and then wait for the water to cool down.  The water with lemon is used to support elimination and can trigger peristalsis .  By the time, the water is ready, I am so over needing it.  A yoga practice and meditation follows the purging.  If it is a bath day for me, add dry brushing,  oiling the skin from head to toe, waiting for the oil to absorb and then my shower.  Whew, that is a full load.  (Abyhanga)

10:00 p.m. The evening routine is much more manageable and enjoyable for me. How about a yummy nighty night drink, Rasayana. Raw unpasteurized milk, boiled with cinnamon, saffron, nutmeg and coriander. Add some raw honey after cooled a bit and HEAVEN.  My feet get a lovely lavender oil massage and off I go to dreamland.

So back to the giving myself a break thing. I am trying out these routines and they are not set in stone. What works for me and my life right now?  What works to balance me, keep my mojo/dosha in check.  I want to bring love, light and life to myself. That is my true intention.  Just figuring it out for now folks.  Please google any of the above practices for more information, or send me a comment for further resources. 

The Poses
Supported Reclining Pose
Props: bolster, two blocks, neck roll, at least 5 blankets
Benefits: helps with insomnia, congestion, relieves tension between the shoulder blades and is beneficial for the kidneys. Can help reprogram your nervous system.
Build an incline with the bolster and two blocks, make it sturdy. A smaller rolled up blanket is placed at the lower end of incline to support lumbar spine. One double-folded blanket at top of bolster to lay the head on. And one long-rolled blanket with ends tucked under to support knees and keep legs in place.  Two triple-folded blankets on either side to rest arms on (if arms out to the sides) or two blankets placed on floor just above the shoulders for Goddess arms. 
Sit in front of bolster with tailbone resting on floor. Place rolled up blanket under knees. Lean back on bolster and place head on blanket and your neck roll in cervical curve. Let heels come to the floor (may add blanket for cushioning of heels or even wrap feet for extra comfort and warmth). Arms rest either at side or in Goddess position, palms facing up. Take several long, slow breaths. As you exhale sigh it out and drop the belly to drop onto the pelvis. Stay with the pose anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. 

Childs Pose - Straddle Variation
Benefits: calming, gently stretches lower back, nice transition from the days activities.  A good pose to do if you need a few minutes break from your daily work, easy to do and easily accessible.  Good for headaches.  Breathing is easier since muscles of the respiratory system are relaxed.
Props: bolster, 2-4 blankets, may use a chair, if difficult to reach bolster.

Place blanket single-fold on bolster draping down. Legs can stretch through chair or straddle or cross-legged.  Arms placed folded on chair in front of you. Rest forehead on arms. Tilt chin slightly toward your chest.  Close eyes. For comfort or lower back issues, sit on blanket, add rolled up blankets under knees if legs in straddle, or blocks/blankets under knees if cross legged. May add a blanket at sacrum for grounding.


Revolved AbdominalTwist
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.


Starfish Pose (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, 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

April 7 Restore Series

And the beat goes on....here I am post-cleanse.  I wish I could say that it was the miraculous transformation that so many have witnessed in their own cleanses.  Indeed, there were micro-changes.  I spent a lot of the time observing my physical reaction to limiting sugars, caffeine, processed foods and most proteins as well as my emotional and mental reactions.  Some of the physical observations were easy to spot, like less flatulence (we are all friends here, right?) while others not so much (lightness, energy).  What was apparent in my moods, were increased irritability by afternoon time, fixation on my cravings and beginning each day on a very positive note.

So would a cleanse be beneficial for you?  And which one? There are so many varieties of cleanses as there are diets.  My friend and colleague, Lisa Scarborough, is creating a program for wellness which will include a cleanse according to the Ayurvedic dosha system.  Read more on the Ayurvedic system from our friends at MindBodyGreen.com by Nadya Andreeva  http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-1117/Ayurveda-Dosha-Types-for-Beginners.html.  Once Lisa's program is ready, I will let you know.

Ayurveda is a holistic science of health, focusing on maintaining a physically and emotionally balanced state. Ayurveda began about 5,000 - 6,000 years ago when Indian monks were looking for new ways to be healthy. Revering their bodies like temples, the monks believed that preserving their health would help them meditate and develop spiritually. Over thousands of years of observations, they gathered all their conclusions and advice and preserved it for future generations. This collection of knowledge came to be known as the "science or knowledge of life" -- Ayurveda. 
 
How is Ayurveda different from modern medicine?

  • In Ayurveda, every individual is unique and there is no diet or lifestyle routine that works for everyone.
  • Prevention is key. Ayurveda focuses on providing specific advice and guidance on how to maintain physical and emotional health.
  • Food and lifestyle routines are considered the most important medicine. If you come to an Ayurvedic doctor with a complaint, you are more likely to leave with a recipe than with a prescription for pills.
How does Ayurveda work?
Ayurveda is based on the principles of three doshas. Doshas are the energies that make up every individual, which perform different physiological functions in the body: 

The 3 Dosha types:
1. Vata Dosha -- Energy that controls bodily functions associated with motion, including blood circulation, breathing, blinking, and your heartbeat. 

  • In balance: There is creativity and vitality. 
  • Out of balance: Can produce fear and anxiety.
2. Pitta Dosha -- Energy that controls the body's metabolic systems, including digestion, absorption, nutrition, and your body's temperature. 
  • In balance: Leads to contentment and intelligence. 
  • Out of balance: Can cause ulcers and anger.
3. Kapha Dosha -- Energy that controls growth in the body. It supplies water to all body parts, moisturizes the skin, and maintains the immune system. 
  • In balance: Expressed as love and forgiveness. 
  • Out of balance: Can lead to insecurity and envy.
Each person has all three Doshas, but usually one or two dominate. Various Dosha proportions determine one's physiological and personality traits, as well as general likes and dislikes. For example Vata types will prefer hot weather to cold and Kapha types are more likely to crave spicy foods than other types. Generally these are considered to be characteristics of each mind/body type:

The Poses

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.

Another Version of Opening up the Chest and Comforting the Belly


Supported Belly Wrap Pose (Minimal Prop)

Props: 1-2 blankets
Benefits: grounding, soothes abdominal organs, relaxes and relieve fatigue in the legs, opens chest

Open blanket so that you have a longer rectangle, fold this rectangle over approx. 4 times, smoothing each fold so no creases appear.  Lay on your belly with the blanket between your lower navel area and the breastbone, legs stretch out.  Arms and hands can form a pillow under your head or use a neck roll.

Wrap extra ends of the blanket over your back and add another blanket for grounding.  Stay for 5 minutes or however long to release into the earth.

Reclined Bound Angle
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.

Legs up on Bolster


  Props: bolster, two blocks, blanket, neck pillow, eye pillow  

Benefits: may help reduce swelling in legs, release tension in pelvis, gentle chest opener, relaxing, great for end of day, reduces heat

The photo demonstrates Legs Up version with two blocks placed under the bolster. Another variation is to keep the Reclined Bound Angle set-up as above and lay the legs on the bolster at that angle.  Legs will be at more of an incline.  Use as many blankets as you need to ensure that your low back is comfortable.



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.