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October 7 Restore Series

My yoga teachings this week have followed last week's posting of grounding through the Vata season of Fall.  The rooting through the feet, the longer exhalations, and engaging our mula bandha from the navel area. I hope that each of you have been able to practice this in some unique places and times.  One of my unique practice times was last weekend while we were apple picking.  Situated in the beautiful hills of Boyertown is a wonderful orchard, Frecon Farms (http://www.freconfarms.com). The sun was out, the wind was blowing, picture a gorgeous Fall day with just the right amount of chill.  Now notice my daughter in purple.  


So not into being there.  I wanted to fly off the handle with some of her attitude, spin with the wind so to speak but as a few apples fell off the tree near us, I was reminded of the ground underneath my feet.  Firmly planting my feet in the earth, I took some deeper breaths. lengthening my breath out and felt my core.  But I wasn't rigid which would have exacerbated the situation.  We both felt the shift and off she went with her older sister to explore the rest of the orchards and release whatever she was holding onto like those heavy apples. Celebrate your own release from whatever you hold onto that doesn't serve you and feel the ground hold you up.

The Inspiration
Sat Nam Meditation


Sat Nam: The Kundalini Mantra of Awareness

The most prevalent of all mantras in theKundalini yoga tradition is at once very simple and very complex.  You'll hear this mantra used as a greeting, as a part of many kriyas and meditations, and as a closing to class.  You'll find it the "default" mantra, suggested by teachers as the mantra to have playing in your head constantly on each inhale and exhale.  It even headlines Spirit Voyage's Kundalini Yoga and Music Festival: Sat Nam Fest.
So what is "Sat Nam"?  What does it mean?
In very simple terms, Sat means Truth and Nam means Name.  You could translate it as True Name or Truth is my name.   It is a way of acknowledging that at our essence is the Essence.  The "Truth", which is bigger than any human truth, isn't a matter of right or wrong or even a concept that we can clearly articulate.  It is simply an acknowledgement that the Great Mystery is who we are.
As a greeting, saying "Sat Nam" is a bit like saying "I see your true nature" or "I recognize the divinity within you".
The vibration of the mantra itself is important.  "Sat" has a vibration that reaches upward through the crown chakra.  It is an etheric vibration, as the meaning of "Truth" here correspondingly isn't tangible but is more etheric.  If you meditate very carefully upon the vibration of "Sat Nam", you can feel the flow of energy moving from the Etheric (Sat) to the Material (Nam).  Nam is "name" but more importantly it is a vibration.  The word itself carries a vibration that makes the divine manifest into the earth plane.  So "Nam" is a grounding vibration, a manifesting vibration.  It acknowledges the Infinite made manifest as a vibration in this world.  So chanting "Sat Nam" reaches up into the etheric plane and pulls the vibration of Infinity into your awareness, your consciousness, and your physical world.
This mantra is more than what it means in translation.  It is an experience.  By chanting "Sat Nam" or meditating upon it with your breath, you call into your awareness the state of the vibration of truth.  You create an internal experience of what these words represent.  Truth, enlightenment, consciousness and above all awareness, comes into your experience.
Try it.  Saaaaaat Naaaaaaaam.
The Breath
Elevator Breath
(compliments of Rudy Pierce, gentleyogi.com)

The Elevator Breath is a simple, yet profound breathing technique. You can do it just about anywhere.

Inhale to a count of four. Then exhale to a count of four (same count as the inhale.)  Go at your own pace. No strain. Smooth and easy.

Then inhale to a count of five. Exhale to a count of five.
The breath can be held in or out for a moment in between the inhale and exhale.  If that doesn't feel okay then keep your breathing continuous.

Then Inhale to six. Exhale to six.
You can use the word “inhale” or “exhale” instead of the number one if it’s helpful, like this:
Inhale two, three, four, five, six.
Exhale two, three, four, five, six.
Inhale two, three, four, five, six, seven.
Exhale two, three, four, five, six, seven.

Continue for a few more rounds. You may increase the count to further lengthen the breath if you can remain comfortable. The number you count to doesn't matter; there's no goal of achieving any particular count.  It's your breath, your body.

Now release all control of the breath. Observe the breath as it self-regulates.
And notice how you feel….physically….emotionally….mentally. 

The Poses
Childs Pose Variation (Extended)
Props: 2 bolsters, blanket rolled up, block with neck pillow
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. 

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:  2 blankets, bolster, additional blankets for warmth and support

Again we changed this a little to make it lower, more grounded.  Place bolster horizontally on mat or floor.  Stack two blankets on top of each other lengthwise.  Recline head, upper body onto blankets.  Bring feet together in bandakonasana with support under the knees.  Arms can rest by your side with an eye pillow over the eyes and any other support under your neck.  As we have entered the windy fall, allow a blanket to hug in your body warmth.  Stay for 10 minutes, breathing into sensation.  


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Supported Forward Fold with Legs Extended (Paschimottasana)
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. Massage for the digestive system.
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Bridge Pose - Supported
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