Feb. 18 Restore Series

Ignoring irrelevant stuck back door, still wants in!

Habituation - an organism is taught to ignore irrelevant stimulus (This article from the New Yorker, Dec. 23 & 30, 2013, The Intelligent Plant, got me thinking). 

The longer days have brought to light the many ways my life is habitual.  The Ugly (in my opinion) - I wake up, I crave coffee (yes, even over yoga).  I notice my habitual way of dealing with our rushing to the school bus (totally non-productive).  And at the end of the day, my utter lack of mindfulness when preparing for bed.  The Good (again opinion) - ignoring the calling of coffee and opting for even a few light stretches and breath work to rise out of bed.  On the weekends, tuning into XPN's Sleepy Hollow (my sanctuary), and the nightly ritual of reading to my daughter.

Some of these things serve me and others do not.  A still and mindful practice, whether it be restorative, walking, cooking, you pick the activity or non-activity, may bring to light those healthy and harmful habits.  Once those are recognized, you can begin the process of change.  And yes, new bad habits may form but it is always a process, discovery, growth.  

So like the plant, always seeking with its root system what serves its whole being, we too need to search, try out and eschew what doesn't serve us and try, try again.

The Breath
Expanding Sphere Breath

Calm Your Class in One Minute with a Breathing Sphere
guest post by Jim Gillen
One of our favorite ways of teaching and encouraging children to breathe healthfully is by using a Hoberman breathing sphere – a popular children’s toy that’s basically a geodesic dome made of jointed segments. By lightly pushing or pulling it on opposite sides, you can make it expand or contract, accordion-style. The movement serves as a visual model for the type of breathing we want the kids to imitate by helping them see and synchronize their breath with movement.

How to Use A Hoberman Sphere

hobermansphere_videoThe teacher or other supervising adult may lead the group or – something we like to do – encourage one of the kids to lead, establishing the breathing rhythm. As the leader slowly expands the sphere, all inhale deeply and slowly through the nose, from the belly. The leader then pauses, emulating the short, natural pause that happens at the “top” and “bottom” of each healthy breath. As the leader contracts the sphere, all exhale through the nose just as slowly.
This efficient diaphragmatic breath is like watching the waves at the beach, with each breath swelling up from abdomen to chest and back down again.
The expansion-contraction cycle may be repeated as many times as necessary, but we find 5-10 cycles to be effective for helping the group calm and focus through this simple breath work.
Rhythm and slowness are two keys to using a breathing sphere effectively. By  consciously  slowing  our  breath, especially the exhalation, we can  facilitate the relaxation response even more and develop some control over how our nervous system responds to our environment.
In the classroom and school environments such breath work lends itself readily to focus and mindfulness, preparing students to learn. Speeding thoughts slow. The body as a whole relaxes. Body and mind become centered, grounded. Thus, many teachers, counselors and administrators start their classes off by leading students in breathing with a sphere. Some schools have even used these breathing practices at assemblies or over the school intercom to calm and focus their students.
Jim Gillen, RYT-500, is the cofounder of Yoga Calm, director of Still Moving Yoga in Portland, Oregon, and co-author of numerous education articles and Yoga Calm for Children: Educating Heart, Mind, and Body
*Since we did not have the Hoberman Sphere to use, we put our fingers together and created a pulse-like movement in and out.  Moving onto expanding our imaginary sphere outward with deeper breaths and then contracting in until finger tips touched again. 

The Poses
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.

Supported Lumbar Wrap Pose (Minimal Prop)
Props: 1-2 blankets
Benefits: supports low back, grounding, gentle hip opener, supports release and relaxation.

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 back with the blanket in the lumbar region, legs stretch out. Arms by your side, palms up.  Add a neck roll or blanket for head and cervical spine.  Option to bend legs with knees touching, feet wide to take any pressure off of the low back. Stay for 5 minutes or however long to let go. 

Nesting Pose to Reclined Twist
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".

Reclined 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. 




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