Friday, March 24, 2017

March 21 Restore

With the last bits of snow dotting our landscape, we welcome Spring.  We celebrate regrowth from the dormancy of the winter months.  The winter is vital for our next season. In winter, we hunker down to dream, envision, and plan.  We draw our selves inward for self reflection and introspection.  We also give our bodies time to rest, recuperate, and prepare for all the bursting forth that comes with spring.  Sharing a wonderful post from a yogi friend named Jesse. I read part of this in class and thought it perfect to share again with the world.

Nature is a lovely metaphor. With the coming of the Vernal Equinox, it's time for a rebirth. As the dark, cold days of Winter have breathed their final breaths for this trip around the Sun, the melting of the remnant snow takes with it anything which may have put a freeze on our lives. With growing sunlight each and every day, the life force energy impregnates the Northern Hemisphere, and we can sense the time is ripe for planting seeds.
Before you get to planting, take care to do a little Spring cleaning first. Wipe away anything which no longer serves your well-being, all the way down to the level of your thoughts. This week is the perfect time to do so, because with next week's new moon (the first of the Spring), there could hardly be a better time to set your intentions for the entire Spring! Don't let this year become another wasted opportunity to truly pursue your passions.
Once you've cleared the flowerbed of your mind, reach into your heart and pull out some seeds that you want to see flourish this Spring. If you really take care to water and nourish your intentions with love and devotion, you'll get to marvel at the beauty of the bloom-to-be. Don't just toss some seeds around hoping they land in the right spot and grow spontaneously; really till the soil so that the seeds can nestle in comfortably and take root deep within.
Weed out anything which fights for the right to grow against your soon-to-be flowers, and spend time checking to see that the seeds you chose to plant are given the best opportunity to thrive. Nature loves to grow as long as She is provided with the optimum environment! Proper nutrients are a must, so arrange for some proper feeding habits
I hope I didn't lose you somewhere along the metaphor. Even more so, I hope this message resonates with you enough to help motivate you to take charge over what grows in your garden ;) Happy Vernal Equinox everybody. May love fill the air so the whole planet can blossom!
Namaste ♡


The Poses

Belly Down with Hip Opener (Savasana)

Props: 2 blankets, neck roll or small pillow for head
Benefits: gently opens hips, lengthens leg muscles and tops of the feet, soothing for the belly, shoulder opener, grounding, lessens anxiety



Stack one or two blankets to the side folded in half. As you release to the floor, lengthen the body and then bend the leg at 90 degree angles to lay on the blankets to the side. Arms can come to goddess position, head turned to the side or stack hands as a pillow.  For those with tight shoulders, extend arms by the sides of the body.  When you need to turn the head, do so with a soft inhalation.



Bridge Pose
(adding energy, vitalization)
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)
Props: 4 blankets, neck roll, eye pillow, can also use bolster for more stretch
Extras: blanket for warmth


Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift butt and slide the stack of 2 or 4 blankets under the base of your spine. Find a comfortable position, then let the upper back release on the floor. Arms are relaxed at sides or resting on belly. Feel chest and belly rise with each breath. Roll gently to one side when done and inhale up to seated.

Reclined Bound Angle

Props: bolster, 4 blocks (or firm cushions, pillows or rolled-up blankets), 4 blankets and one extra blanket for warmth, strap and eye pillow

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. 
*This week's class featured a foot wrap, adding comfort and support for the feet, as well as a way to bring the feet in closer to your groin, opening the hips a little more.  Hope that you enjoyed.


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.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

March 7 Restore

I was going to change the photo for March with some shots of flowers just blooming but keeping the current weather in mind, snow is still apropros.

I am still digging the Becoming Wise CDs and now am on my second round of listening to them.  Krista Tippett's interview with Rachel Naomi Remen shares a story about the creation of the universe.  I tried to find the story online but could not locate it.  She refers to it as Tikkun Olam, Jewish teachings.  Here is my best retelling of this incredible story.

We are all light bearers.


In the beginning, there was only holy darkness, the source of life, and then in the course of history, at a moment in time, this world, the world of a thousand thousand things emerged from the heart of holy darkness as a great ray of light. There was an accident, as there usually is in Jewish stories,  and the vessels that contained the light of the world, the wholeness of the world, broke. And the wholeness of the world, the light of the world scattered into thousands and thousands fragments of light and they fell into all events and all people where they remained deeply hidden until this very day. The whole human race is a response to this accident. We are here because we are born with the capacity to find the hidden way to lift the light up and make it visible again, and thereby, to restore the innate wholeness of the world.  

The restoration of the world. A Collective task. It involves all people born, all present living and those to be born. It is not about healing the world, by making a huge difference, but by healing the world that touches you.

The Poses
Decompression Pose
Props: block, blanket
Benefits: increases tolerance for lying on your back, helps align the curves of the back, relieves compression of the vertebral bodies, re-hydrates the discs between vertebrae, helps the back to relax.
Lie on your back, hips and knees bent, legs hip distance apart, feet flat on the floor (*Foot Triangle), with toes pointed straight ahead.  Arms at your sides (10-12") away from the body, palms up. Lie in this position 5-15 minutes. May use a block between knees to keep legs apart.

Revolved Twist
Props: bolster, 2-4 blocks, 4 blankets, neck roll, eye pillow
Extras: blanket for warmth
Benefits: Allows breath to come in to the rib cage and belly more freely. Detoxifying. Can reduce high blood pressure. Relieves fatigue and insomnia.  Safe for a Prenatal twist.

This can be a very prop intensive pose but once you are in it, it is worth it.  Begin with right side of body, place the bottom of your right foot against the wall with leg extended. Left leg is bent at a 90 deg. angle and propped up with two blocks and a bolster with maybe a blanket on top. at least two blankets, S-fold blankets, and/or pillows placed along spine for support, lengthwise.  Extend your left arm out to the left side and lay it on a smaller stack of blankets either s-fold or triple-fold out to your side.  Right arm extends out to the right.  This means the left arm is at a higher elevation than right. Head can remain neutral to ceiling or turn to one side.   Extra blankets can be placed in spaces that need more support.  Neck roll for cervical spine and eye pillow.
*we are digging placing the arms in Goddess pose (not pictured) so try that one out as well. Place blanket support under arms. 

Legs up the Wall
Props: 1-2 blankets, strap, eye pillow, blanket for warmth, neck roll, a bolster for behind legs
Benefits: increases circulation and helps venous and lymphatic flow from the lower body; relieves swelling and fatigue in the legs; helps relieve muscular skeletal stress in pelvis; quiets the mind and can help promote ease in meditation and sleep.

Begin with using a double-folded blanket to be placed right above sacrum (see photo), setting it approx. distance 6-8" from wall (adjust in pose). Sit down on the blanket with one hip pressed right up against the wall. As you lower down, swing your legs up the wall. Once in the pose, you can adjust distance to wall, angle of legs to all, blanket and placement of legs all for comfort.  Hips and tailbone will be in space between wall and blanket. Arms rest by your side, palms face up or variation with Goddess arms (photo above).  
Variations: To ground legs, blanket or sandbag to hang from soles of the feet.  Strap can be placed around calves, so you lose the feeling of holding up legs.  Tight hamstrings or really uncomfortable with legs directly up the wall? Try a bolster angled into the wall to rest legs on, add blankets for more support or move hips further from wall.  Another variation is Legs up on a Chair or on a bolster with blankets on top to bring knees into a 90 degree angle.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

February 28 Restore

I am so so glad to be back in the swing of things this week.  Last week, I had a family emergency, that put my life as I knew it "on hold".  But now that I look back on it, life really was not "on hold" at all.  Life happens and that includes family emergencies.  I think my yoga practice helped me realize this enough, that I appreciated the time that I had supporting my family in this emergency.  My yoga practice most recently has been less about the physical and more about mindfulness, meditation and inspiration.  I still move, dance, rock it out while making that a smaller percentage of my practice.

OM
A Meditation
My friend and colleague, Jenny Lee, shared with me and the world an introduction to meditation that I have been practicing lately.  I now want to pass this on to you as my gift.  She is an excellent instructor and everything that she does is from the heart.  Begin with 5 minutes in the meditation practice, staying focused, present on just that time.  Check it out...

https://jennieleeyogatherapy.com

A Book Review
The second gift that I want to share with you is a review of the book, Becoming Wise by Krista Tippett.  I have been listening to this book on CD in my car whenever I get the opportunity.  I recommend the audio book so you can hear some of the personal interviews.   Krista's insights are timely for the state of our world, our lives.  She weaves in the stories told by her guests into her own reflections.  It is quite contemplative and each morsel brings me closer to myself and to others in our humaness.  She guides and invites you to delve deeper into Words, Flesh, Love, Faith, and Hope.  More than once, I have mentally bookmarked chapters to return to for further study.  A study in myself and the world around me.  This book seems so closely aligned with the Yoga Sutra 1.0, "With humility (an open heart and mind), I begin my sacred study of Yoga."

The Poses
Side Lean with Extended Legs

Props: bolster or 2 or 3 pillows or blankets
Benefits: Stretches the torso and provides a gentle twist which allows a release in tension in the lower back area.

Place bolster or the 2 or 3 blankets or pillows horizontally on your mat or floor. Lie on right side with hip at the base of the blankets or pillows.  Torso should rest on the stack.  Right arm rest on the floor with the palm up.  The left arm can reach over the head to increase the stretch.  Close your eyes and allow your body to relax and release any stress or tension. Slowly sit up and switch sides for the same amount of time.
Focus on your breath.  Breath into your right side allowing that gentle stretch to travel from the tip of your fingers down your lower spine.  Sense the left side of your body gently melting and surrendering to the ground beneath you.  All tension and stress being recycled by mother earth.  Sense the gentle letting go of your muscles and knowing that you are safe and supported.  Breath deep and exhale soft and long.

Wide Angle Forward Fold
Props: bolster, two blocks, 4 or more blankets, neck roll (optional)
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.
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.  Forehead can be resting on a neck pillow or turn side to side on props. Arms can be by sides of props, resting on legs or if using blocks under the props.  To lesson any strain in the lower back, sit on a single or double-fold blanket.  Stay for 20 minutes. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

February 14 Restore

Mudra
Jnana Mudra - Gesture of Higher Knowledge for Awakening Clear Seeing

This is a mildly stimulating mudra for awakening the clear seeing through the power of witnessing and enhancing one-pointed concentration as well as giving you the ability to discern between the limitless true Self and the limited personality.

Touch the fingertips of your index fingers to your thumbs on each hand, creating a round, open circle.  The pinky, ring and middle fingers all extend straight out.  Rest the backs of the hands on the lap or thighs and relax your shoulders as you hold the mudra.



  1. Notice how the breath is directed into the upper chest, neck and head.  
  2. Feel the fuller breath coming into the upper part of your lungs, creating an uplifting feeling. 
  3. Supported in this uplifting feeling, the attention is directed into the frontal brain, your area of higher reasoning. 
  4. Sense the space between the brows, as your center of clarity allowing you to witness all that arises in your mind. 
  5. Take several breaths to sense the silent space between your thoughts creating even more stillness in the mind and letting go of the need to identify.  Your true Self arises in this stillness and space.  
  6. Stay as long as your are comfortable. 
  7. Maybe adding an affirmation which you can say silently or out loud.  "Through awakening clear seeing, I experience the silence of my authentic being."
  8. When ready, release this gesture and rest in complete silence.
  9. When you are ready to go about your day, open your eyes slowly and gently.

(source: Mudras for Healing and Transformation by Jospeh and Lilian LePage)

The Breath
Straw Breath
Benefits: increase range of motion of diaphragm, aid in continuous and smooth movement of the breath, support complete exhalation and removal of toxins in the body, calming practice.
Props: narrow opening straw or just pursing your lips.

Begin in a comfortable position, either seated, lying down or even standing supported.  Inhale through the nose in a natural relaxed way, exhale evenly and naturally hrough the straw or pursed lips. The head position is neutral with the straw facing forward not down. A variation is to take the straw out for the very last bits of air releasing and exhale through the nose but it takes some practice to do this evenly.  Try 4-5 rounds at the beginning, returning to your natural breath between rounds.  


The Poses
Reclind Bound Angle
(Supta 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, 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  minutes.

Scissored Leg


Props: 1-2 blankets
Benefits: gently stretch the IT band along side legs, stretches the glute muscles of lower leg, facilitates breath into top side of body.

Place one blanket on the mat to cushion the lower hip and one folded blanket for head rest (keeping spine aligned).  Lower down to your side, extending the top leg down the mat with the foot on the floor and the lower leg out to the side with foot to the floor.  Arms can rest on top of each other while the head rest on the blanket.  May add another blanket or pillow between arms. Stay for up to 5 minutes on each side, maybe rolling onto your back to bring legs to the body between sides.

Mountain Brook Pose
Props: bolster, 2-3 blankets, block, neck roll, eye pillow
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 the bolster will your knees will be, one blanket rolled up where the bra line is (base of scapula), a block for the feet or the heels can come to the floor and a neck roll for the cervical spine.  Shoulders rest on the floor, arms to side with palms facing up.  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.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

February 7 Restore

I suggest reading this article in Yoga Journal on a Buddhist approach to dealing with difficult times that may be out of your control. It is from Tara Brach's book, True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart. Click the link for the full article.
http://www.yogajournal.com/article/philosophy/let-it-rain/

In a nutshell, RAIN stands for 
R - Recognize what is happening
A - Allow life to be just as it is
I - Investigate with an intimate attention
N - Nonidentification: Rest in Natural Awareness

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


Place bolster in front of you and a blanket on your lap with one end folded over. Before folding into the shape of childs pose, inhale to lengthen the spine. Rest your forehead on the bolster with space to breathe easily. Adjust blanket if it is too confining.  If you feel tension in the ankles or behind the knees, add another blanket.  Stay for up to 5 minutes. 

Supported Bridge Pose (2 variations shown)

Props: 3 blankets, neck roll, eye pillow, bolster, block
Extras: blanket for warmth
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)

Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift butt and slide the stack of 2 or 4 blankets under the base of your spine. Find a comfortable position, then let the upper back release on the floor. Arms are relaxed at sides or resting on belly. Feel chest and belly rise with each breath. Roll gently to one side when done and inhale up to seated.


Half Legs Up

Props: 2 blocks, bolster, 2 blankets, eye and neck pillow
Benefits: increases circulation and helps venous and lymphatic flow from the lower body; relieves swelling and fatigue in the legs; helps relieve muscular skeletal stress in pelvis; quiets the mind and can help promote ease in meditation and sleep.

Use the 2 blocks, setting one at a lower height than the other, place bolster lengthwise on the blocks inclined.  One leg will rest on the floor with a blanket covering and one leg will rest on the inclined bolster with blanket covering.  Arms can stay at your side, move to Goddess (shown) or hands can rest at belly. cover yourself for more warmth and add an eye pillow to shut out the light for deeper relaxation.


Monday, January 30, 2017

Yoga Therapy News

I am honored to be part of the Center for Integrated Health in Harleysville. I will make my Yoga Therapy debut there and presenting on the Emerging Field of Yoga Therapy and How Does It Benefit Me or Someone I love?

Here are the details for this upcoming informational and practice seminar.


Saturday, January 28, 2017

January 24 Restore

How cozy are these trees, draped in their blanket of snow

A light snow falls this morning
Tiny angel flakes sliding in from the west
I'm leaping, crouching, dancing about
Trying to catch these little buggers

Neighbors see this madwoman out there
Dancing with the crystals
And think, "Aww to be free, to catch a
Nugget on my tongue or warm mittens".

It's lovely from the inside too.
It just requires a little more stillness
And quiet.

 - Diane

The Poses
Reverse Frog Pose on the Wall
(No photo)
Props: few blankets, neck roll, eye pillow
Benefits:hip opener, lengthens spine along its natural curves, rejuvenates legs, brings circulation back to the heart, mild energizer.
Place 1 or 2 blankets next to wall so that your pelvis and upper body are laying comfortable on the blankets.  Face the wall and bring the legs up the wall. Slide the feet down until knees are bent at 90 degrees (your pelvis may be a foot or so from the wall). Turn your toes out and rest your hands anywhere they are comfortable. Stay 5 to 10 minutes for full relaxation while energizing.

Side-lying Twist
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.

Belly Down with Hip Opener

Props: 2 blankets, neck roll or small pillow for head
Benefits: gently opens hips, lengthens leg muscles and tops of the feet, soothing for the belly, shoulder opener, grounding, lessens anxiety



Stack one or two blankets to the side folded in half. As you release to the floor, lengthen the body and then bend the leg at 90 degree angles to lay on the blankets to the side. Arms can come to goddess position, head turned to the side or stack hands as a pillow.  For those with tight shoulders, extend arms by the sides of the body.  When you need to turn the head, do so with a soft inhalation.