Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Sat Nam. The title of this is the kundalini yoga tune in mantra, or the adi mantra, and it means "I bow to the presence of God all around me and deep within me" (my translation). On my walk this morning while chanting this and thinking of our world and how our republican/democratic civil war is trying to stop or serve other nations and their wars, I wondered where God was, as most of us have. I prayed to God for God, as some of us do. And then I thought, "What if there is no God without, only within?", as a few of us might. If there is only God within what would the world be like - better or worse than the model of only God without? Could this be the true meaning of svadhyaya - which is taken as meaning the study of scriptures and/or the study of the Self? So the scriptures were someone's attempt at sharing their God within. The presence within them which is the same as the presence within me, only colored by their perception and not mine. I see strands of commonality. I cling to them and use them to help me share what's within me. Is this correct or incorrect of us, this sharing of our colored-in God pictures? Today I will believe only in the God within us all and see what shifts may come, if any. What would a yoga practice based on this look like? 1. child's pose 2. chakravakasana 3. kapplabhati 4. nadi sodhana 5. sitali 6. down dog 7. uttanasana 8. chest expansion x3 or more 9. headstand 10. handstand 11. forearm balance 12. bridge 13. up bow 14. supta baddha konasana 15. supta padangusthasana 16. shoulderstand 17. plow 18. maybe a fish 19. legs up the wall 20. unmani mudra 21. bija sanchalana 22. savasana
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Sat Nam. Tonight we had two requests: moving toward pigeon and opening the chest. Here is our sequence: 1. nadi sodhaana and sitali, 3-5 minutes each 2. The Lighthouse. This is an exercise I learned off a youtube video by James Knight. It's quite detailed and really must be seen to get correctly, so please look him up. Otherwise begin with wide leg child's pose, and a more open leg position in bharadvajasana 1. 3. Big reclining twist: This is like doing an open legged bharadvajasana 1. Sit with feet to the left, move left shin back to face wall behind you, move right shin over to face wall to the left of you, twist your body straight ahead; from this starting point twist further to the right and lie down at a diagonal, resting your forehead on your right forearm and stretch your left arm straight out. The asana is a huge side stretch. In between sides we did down dog for 5 breaths. 4. Lie on back with feet on floor. This is a Rodney Yee exercise which I have modified. Inhale and cross right ankle over left knee, exhale down. Repeat for a total of 6 repetitions. Take reverse pigeon on the last round. Switch sides. Next, inhale and cross ankle over knee, then hold ankle and exhale move foot down toward top of the opposite thigh into half lotus, inhale return ankle to knee, exhale down, for 6 repetitions, and on the last repetition straighten the bottom leg to reclining tree. Switch sides. 5. anantasana: side lying leg stretch; start with bottom leg bent and raise top leg, resting your head on the bottom arm; straighten bottom leg; hold top foot with hand of your bottom arm. Cross top leg to floor in front of you and bend bottom leg behind you to take hold of the foot for quadriceps stretch, and from here you can roll open into twist. 6. chakravakasana 7. pigeon, spending time with chest open, then on forearms, then all the way down; child's pose 8. reverse t-block backbend - legs straight or in supta baddha konasana 9. t-block backbend 10. t-block bridge with 1 block across upper back and the other lengthwise along the sacrum 11. supta baddha konasana without blocks 12. savasana These backbends were held from 3-5 minutes. Pigeons were held for about 3 minutes each side. Everything else was a minute or 2. 8.
Monday, July 28, 2014
Sat Nam. Last night was Chakra Yoga Nidra Night. The evening follows these steps: 1. Choosing a sankalpa: I chose eleven questions from various sources, including The Book of Questions, as well as writing prompts. The eleventh question is "What is my soul's desire?". Sankalpa is just that, your soul's desire, your spiritual resolve, in affirmation form. The questions shake things up in your mind to give you direction from within. We set the sankalpa aside for later. 2. Brahmari: Brahmari is a pranayama technique where you cover your ears (but you don't always have to) and hum on the exhale until there's no breath left. In English it's called the bumble bee breath because of the resonance you create by humming. It's like there is a beehive in your body. There is a channel, a nadi, which runs from the throat to the bindu visarga, a point in the upper part of the back of the skull, which has to do with unlocking potential for enlightenment. This is stimulated in brahmari. We practice for three to five minutes. 3. Unmani mudra: Unmani mudra puts into a bit of a trance. It's delicious! We begin in the now realized bindu visarga. Open the eyes without looking at anything in particular; your mind is focused at bindu. Then move your awareness along the back of the body and through the chakras. From bindu (repeat its name to really settle in there - bindu bindu bindu) lift your awareness to the crown, sahasrara. Then come back to bindu, ajna at the center of the back of the head, vishuddhi at the back of the throat, anahata at the back of the heart, manipura at the back of the belly, svadisthana at the sacrum, and muladhara at the tailbone. By the time you reach the tailbone the eyes have closed. They slowly get heavy as you go. For me this happens around anahata. then return to bindu and start again. Practice eleven rounds. In class we need to usually cut this down to eight. 4. Bija Sanchalana Now that we're all relaxed and aware of the chakras we chant their seed sounds, or bija mantras. We begin by moving toward the front of the chakras, the front of the body, or more like between the front and back body skin. Each sound resonates in its corresponding chakra, much like in brahmari. muladhara - lam svadisthana - vam manipura - ram anahata - yam vishuddhi - ham ajna - om sahasrara - silent om We practice nine to eleven rounds or whatever there is time to do. 5. 61 Points Primed for deep rest, we lie down and get comfy. We relax the breathing and recall sankalpa. After repeating it a few times, we let it go and follow our awareness along the 61 points, as outlined in various texts and websites. I recite them one by one and afterward repeat the names of the chakras. Then I use the bija mantra sound softly. They are left in silence for a few minutes. It's nice to stay here for twenty to thirty minutes. 6. Returning We were blessed last night with beautiful music from Susan and Eleanor on guitar and flute. They were the icing on the cake! And let me tell you, this entire practice is CAKE - right out of the oven, rich, warm, and deeply satisfying. Everyone took some time in silence before having the option to color their chakra charts or say their goodbyes. Last month Susan made tasty brownies, but neither of us had time to bake this time around. Practice this! Practice it a lot. When we are relaxed the subconscious is more receptive to new concepts, new sankalpas. This practice will greatly enhance your yogic life.
Sunday, July 27, 2014
Sat Nam. This sequence focuses on twists and inversions. It's based on my practice this morning after walking the labyrinth, hence the twists - the winding path - and the inversions - the way the labyrinth shifts perception! 1. kappalabhati, nadi sodhana, ujjayi - about 3 minutes each chest expansion x3 2. tree 1 3. surya nam. C. and A. x3 each, with emphasis on plank in A. 4. headstand 5. handstand 6. tree 2 7. uttanasana and roll to malasana to navasana to ardha navasana 8. supta padangusthasana sequence 9. Bharadvajaasana 1 and 2 10. ardha badha Padma paschimo. 11. shoulderstand, plow, fish 12. unmani mudra and bija sanchalana (or sitali if we're running short on time) 13. savasana
Friday, July 25, 2014
Sat Nam. There are still one or two dressings to be done, but we now have a beautiful labyrinth made of rose and red flagstone, with grass along the path, with birds flying low around it, with heart breaking beauty uncovered on each step. I'm loving it, of course. Today I finished reading The Secret History, by Donna Tartt. But is doesn't matter about the book, or whatever book I just read or movie I just saw. The labyrinth and the book and the movie are all reminders I have art to make, and mine is teaching yoga, I guess, though I'm hoping it's also writing something wonderful. I ask before I enter my winding path: How do I begin to write? Upon turning around from the center I have had the following answers come: Lose weight; then you will have the confidence to write. All we can do is be like the flower; for the short time we're here, give it everything we have. We can't solve today's crisis; we can learn about it and let it break our hearts open, and that will also teach us to be like the flower. What good are these things! That is not a question. It is only a question when I don't walk the labyrinth, read the book, see the movie, practice yoga, try to write something wonderful. Have the confidence to go outside and let life see me. "Drg darshana shaktyor ekatmatevasmita." Egoism is when the seer identifies with that which is seen. This is a klesha, or obstacle on the path of yoga. What about the birds singing and the flowers blooming, and that one wilting flower ready to release its cling to the stem? I am not any of those things. I am not the labyrinth. I am not even what the labyrinth traces. All these, and all the so-called answers I get turning from the center, are here to help me, as in the sutra which says something like for the enlightened one, none of this matters, but for those unenlightened does everything exist. I never even claimed enlightenment as my goal. I want awareness. I want to deal with my extreme sensitivity, not lose it. I am where I need to be then, in life. This is where my path has led me, right where I am. Is that enlightenment? It's not even enough for the day's crisis. Being where I am isn't doing anything for all those children of Central America being bussed here and threatened there. Here is where I shopped at the farmer's market today. Here is where I prayed. Here is where I watered the lawn in the middle of a major draught. One step up and two steps back. The labyrinth shows me this: all my steps lead somewhere. Carve a path and walk it. The labyrinth doesn't give me answers on its own. My subconscious supplies them. It just gives me time to listen. To watch my steps. I'm glad for the space in my day and my yard. I'm glad for my sensitivity, even though it often implodes in me seemingly out of the blue, leaving me = = dropped. The labyrinth reminds me I have time for that, and the flagstones lie waiting for me when I'm ready to come out. I already carved the path.
Monday, July 21, 2014
child's pose sequence: 1. wide knees 2. knees together 3. hands clasped 4.hands clasped the opposite way - each held for 5 breaths 5. down dog 6.vajrasana with toes tucked under 7. deep squat lift hips to soft uttanasana, upside down neck rolls roll up to tadasana 8. chest expansion x2, changing the interlace of hands on second one 9. surya namaskar C. x3 10. surya namaskar B. x3 - vira 1 with gomukhasana arms and held three breaths, to vira 2, triko, ardha chandrasana, chappasana, and back through to come out 11. dancer 12. archer to dancer 13. handstand 14. forearm balance 15. eka pada bhekasana 16. full bhekasana 17. pigeon 18. down dog 19. pigeon again, this time try for full eka pada rajakapotasana, first recreating eka pada bhekasana by bringing foot to waist, clasp elbow; then rolling the shoulder open into the full pose 20. mermaid 1 and 2 x10 each 21. down dog 22. child's pose 23. bharadvajaasana 1, clasping elbow of front arm with back hand 24. simple twist 25. supta padangusthasana 26. apanasana 27. supta baddha konasana 28. savasana Everything was held for about a minute. I did NOT explore my edge with this sequence. Instead I stayed in a range that felt good and stayed as long as it felt good. The exception was the first pigeon, which I may have held for more like 2 minutes. This was strictly asana with no pranayama or meditation. Maybe because I kept it light I had a summertime energy in me which sufficed!
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
My friend came in for private practice today, and this is what we did: 1.savasana with a blanket over belly and bolster under hamstrings - belly breathing with 6 second inhale and 6 second exhale 2. child's pose supported with a bolster and sandbag over hips - 6 second breathing 3. seated 6-3-6-3 breathing 4. legs up the wall sequence: wide, reverse pigeon, wide, 1/2 shoulderstand up/down/hold and lift to full shoulderstand, plow, roll down, twist, hug knees to chest 5. baddha konasana w/ back at wall and steamroll neck along wall turning head left to right 6. savasana with lower legs on chair, blanket and sandbag on low belly This sequence took about 50 minutes and can easily become a whole pranayama/restoratives class.
Saturday, July 5, 2014
1. kapplabhati and nadi sodhana - 2-5 minutes each 2. supported gomukhasana - seated on edge of bolster, take full pose, using strap if necessary for joining hands together, then release arms and fold forward, resting forehead on stacked blocks 3. dandasana for a couple of breaths between sides of gomukhasana 4. eka pada supta virasana 5. udarakarshanasana 10 rounds 6. virasana with gomukhasana arms and reverse prayer arms 7. uttanasana - ardha, bent knees, straight legs 8. bound tree 2 9. eagle at the wall - from chair at the wall, inhale extend one leg and raise both arms to the wall, exhale down x6 pairs, then eagle balanced at wall, then eagle without the wall 10. vatayanasana 11. tadasana 12. prasarita padottanasana 13. uttanasana 14. surya namaskar A. x1 to floor 15. cobra twist 16. bow 17. bharadvajasana 1 18. bharadvajasana 2 19. paschimotanasana 20. viparita karani 21. savasana This sequence is fun and good to do if you're in an asana rut as well as a digestive one! I wonder if one follows the other(?). Each asana can be practiced form a few breaths to a few minutes. When it's hot I like short holds and a couple of reps for energy. Sat Nam.
Friday, July 4, 2014
Sat Nam. This was my sequence this morning, when I woke up earlier than I wanted to and needed a little easy movement: 1. wide leg child's pose 2. knees together child's pose 3. supta padangusthasana a - bottom leg bent and top leg strapped, b - straighten bottom leg, c - open top leg to the side with a block against the hip to hold the leg up, d- both feet through the strap and open wide with no blocks to stop the hips 4. supported gomukhasana - seated on bolster full pose, then release arms and rest forehead on a block or two 5. down dog 6. eka pada supta virasana with bolster supta virasana 7. bharadvajasana 1 8. bharadvajasana 2 9. down dog 10. uttanasana w/ bent knees, ardha uttanasana, uttanasana 11. down dog 12. child's pose 13. savasana I did 7 breaths per asana.