Good Morning, good morning, watch how I start my day! Seriously, watch how you start your day. Slow motion or groggy, leftovers from the day before, or maybe with renewed energy. Watch yourself during the day. What is your peak, your valley during the day? Just become aware.
There are all kinds of goodies in this blog. Browse through and see what resonates with you at this moment. I offer some insight on Karma (not caramel for you sweet tooths out there!) for planting the seeds of change in your life. Try out the poses in the comfort of your own home as well.
Diaphragmatic Breath or Belly Breathing
The diaphragm is the primary engine of the breath. As we inhale, this dome like muscle descends toward the abdomen, displacing the abdominal muscles and gently swelling the belly. As we exhale, the diaphragm releases back toward the heart, enabling the belly to release toward the spine.
This breath can be done either lying down, seated or standing. Place one or both hands at your belly, inhale slowly and deeply either through the nose or through pursed lips and send that breath down into the deeper part of the belly. The abdomen will inflate like a balloon with the inhale, and deflate with the exhale. You will feel the belly swell against the palms of the hand.
Very calming breath for your nervous system and may also increase the amount of oxygen you get into your body. Begin with a few breaths and continue to increase. As in any breath, if you begin to feel dizzy or lightheaded, stop. Soon with continued practice, this may be the only way you breathe.
Legs up on the Chair
Props: chair, 2-3 blankets, neck roll, eye pillow
Extras: Sandbag, Webkinz stuffed animals
Benefits: relaxes the muscles of the lower back, legs, refreshes the legs, relaxes the muscles and organs of the abdomen. Blanket on belly or legs.
Place a blanket on chair so you don't feel the hard surface. If you need to elevate the body, you can place a triple fold blanket in front of chair, then place your hips on blanket to one side, swing the legs up onto the seat of the chair as you lower your upper body onto the mat or floor. Use a neck roll to support cervical spine. Place a blanket or sandbag on legs to ground you in the pose. Arms release to the sides with palms turned up. Use an eye pillow to shut out any light for ultimate relaxation. An eye pillow or some type of weighted object (I've used stuffed animals) can be placed in open palms to move and free up energy. Stay for up to 10 minutes. Your beginning practice may consist of only 5 minutes. Feel the legs drain, the stress melt away.
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.
Elevated Legs in Basic Savasana or Relaxation
Props: bolster, blocks, two blankets, neck roll, strap (not shown)
Benefits: reduces fatigue, reduces swelling in the legs and feet, soothes the nerves and eases mental agitation. Great for after a long day on your feet.
Place bolster lengthwise on your mat and stack a blanket on top for comfort. Can add blocks to adjust for height. Strap goes around the calves so legs do not fall out to sides. Support low back and neck with blankets and neck rolls. Allow arms to open to the sides with palms up. Breathe softly in and out, noticing the rise and fall of your chest. Allow for a little wiggle room to get comfortable and release hold on your muscles and tension. Feel the body sink deeper into this resting pose and the earth.
The Inspiration - KARMA
Good karma, bad karma, we've all had our share..... But really what is Karma and how does it affect us? The translation from Sanskrit, is that it simply means "action", anything we say or do or think. But the yogic definition takes it in a different direction. First, it as defined as the actions we are committing in the present; second, as the effect that our past actions have on our current character and life experience; and third, as destiny.
Have you ever seen the commercial where one person helps someone, and that person helps someone else and so on (I think it was a car commercial)? Well our actions have consequences. Have you ever been bummed out because of someone elses mood? The bigger picture in this cause and effect phenomena is that it transcends your own personal space and has a universal effect. Even on a micro level, waves of energy and matter can move things in the grand scheme of things.
Digging a little deeper into Karma, we go to the level of our subconscious. Patanjali, yoga scholar, says that our past thoughts and actions leave impressions in our subconscious. In Sanskrit, these are known as samskaras. These samskaras make grooves in our unconscious mind that serve to create our ways of thinking, our habits, and the way we look at the world. They determine how we act now and in the future. If there are samskaras that are not serving us, we need to change them. There are two ways to do this. Change our way of doing things, will create new samskaras and changing our samskaras will affect the way we do things.
Finally, the third principle of Karma in the yogic tradition, is that you always have a choice about how you think or behave even if things are not working out the way you want them to. The positive effort you make now, will pay off later. Think of the present moment as the harvest of the past and planting the seeds for the future.
So what can you do to plant the seeds for the future, change your non-serving samskaras and affect the universe positively? Read on for 5 practices as suggested by Sally Kempton.
- Start the day with a positive intention
- Get clear about your motivations (pause before acting to reflect upon your motivations for that action)
- Act for the good of others (do one thing kind a week, however small, for others)
- Break a bad habit (begin with baby steps and be gentle with yourself if you fall back in to your bad habit, try again and again)
- Make an offering (perhaps dedicating your practice, or when you do something positive, to someone)
source: Yoga Journal, March 2012
"People get into a heavy-duty sin and guilt trip, feeling that if things are going wrong, that means that they did something bad and they are being punished. That's not the idea at all. The idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings that you need to open your heart. To the degree that you didn't understand in the past how to stop protecting your soft spot, how to stop armoring your heart, you're given this gift of teachings in the form of your life, to give you everything you need to open further." - PEMA CHÖDRÖN
Labels: Diaphragmatic Breath, Elevated legs Basic Savasana, Karma, Legs on Chair Pose, Surfboard Pose