Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Birthday Week!

This week is B.K.S. Iyengar's 94 birthday!  Here he is at almost 94 practicing Sirsasana with his granddaughter.  When I look at this photo I immediatly feel the need to go upside down!  Inversions are a major part of the Iyengar method of Yoga. 

Inversions such Sirsasana, Sarvangasana,  Adho Mukha Vrksasana are all important to keep not only the physical body healthy,  but the mental body as well.  Everytime I go into a handstand,  my perception is completely reversed.  Everyone of us could use a little change in perception now and then.  To see life in a different light,  to access the part of you that is still a kid again. 

Today,  think about one thing that makes you feel young,  not only in body,  but in spirit and do it!!  Happy bday on Friday Guruji!!!

Join us at the Iyengar Yoga Center of Denver this for a special class taught by Craig.  It begins at 5:30 and we will be doing 108 Sun Salutations!!www.iyengaryogacenter.com

Friday, November 2, 2012

Gold medal for Ardice!

I forgot to post this a couple weeks ago. Ardice is on a senior softball team and they won gold at the Huntsman senior games! Go Ardice!!

Thanks for inspiring the rest if us to get up and get going!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Happy 90th birthday Jack!

We celebrated Jacks birthday yesterday. Let this event remind us all to live life to the fullest! So many people I know think its too late after 30, 40, and even 60 to have fun and accomplish new goals. (You probably know who you are!). It is never to late for anything you are willing to work for.

Do one thing today where you are more childlike. Be fearless, be honest, and laugh!

Friday, August 24, 2012

3 years of Abyasa and Vairagya

3 years ago today I was in a car accident.  Which was the 4th of a series in 10 years.  No wonder my chest has felt as though it was caving in the last 2 weeks.  It seems as though we hold onto emotion more than we may think.  Especially when the emotion is tied to a stressful event like assessment.  It is so crazy to think that it took me 2 weeks to figure out why my neck was tight,  why I could not breath,  why I had no patience with those whom I typically has limitless patience.  As I type this now,  I am not really sad or emotional.  I actually feel a sort of release,  a balance of emotions from the inside out. 

In the last 3 years,  I have gotten married,  passed my first assessment,  changed jobs,  gotten a puppy and am now getting ready to take my 2nd assessment in 5 weeks.   If someone would have told me all this would happen in 3 years I would never have believed them.  This assessment process is pretty amazing.  At first when you start it you think to yourself, "Really?!  You want me to do what?  You think I did that wrong?  I need to improve my observation skills? Who the heck to you think you are telling me how to fix myself, my practice, my teaching?"  So many emotions are brought up by this process.  As it goes on,  you begin to take the critics in such a way that it no longer feels like a war against you and the critics.  It actually does make you a better teacher.  At some point you get to the breaking point,  which is where i was 2 days ago,  and you are so bewildered.  You are not even sure if you can do anything right,  then......the light comes in the form of someone called Manouso?  Huh?  Really.  Manouso.  For years I have been frightened of this man.  Not just the man himself,  but the other people that go along with it all.  One more time,  if you would have told me 3 years ago I would enjoy an entire weekend taught by Manouso I would have begged to differ.  But listen people,  it was incredible.  Not just the teaching itself,  but the effect that it had on the mind, the body, the community.  Maybe it is not just him that has softened, but me who has changed.

This light we can call Sattva,  Illuminosity.  Bright white light that makes you feel as thought you could sit and just be,  or you could run a marathon (or clean your house for 5 hours.  That is the path I chose.... cause' you know I like a clean floor:-))  Back to the assessment stuff now.  

At first glance in the IYNAUS Assessment Manuel,  you might think that it is by chance someone came up with all this required knowledge,  required reading, and the list of poses.  But take a closer look,  go through the process and be prepared to be dazzled.  Well,  maybe not dazzled, but you get my drift.  It is as though they really thought this through as to what the sadhadka (student) was going to be going through each and every step of the way.  Even up to the terms. Abyasa and Vairagya.  Abyasa is the dedicated study of a subject no matter what, even after repeated failure for long indefinite periods of time.  Vairagya is the cultivation of freedom from passion and worldly desires.  Listen,  I know what you are thinking.  What else do I have to give up?  I already gave up most things I love.......drinking,  eating fried food,  most sugar,  even meat, dairy,  gluten.  (I have not given up any,  just a very moderate amount folks, just proving a point).  No, it is not about that stuff.  It is about your mind and how you move around this earth with other people on it.  It is about having compassion and patience for those who need it and creating boundaries with those who have none. It is about doing the yoga,  then practicing the yoga, then living the yoga.  I am still in between the first two.  

So all in all,  I am saying that after 4 years of this assessment preparation I have truly learned to that I have a long way to go,  but if I keep at this Abyasa and Vairagya,  maybe I will be even closer to what we all long for.  To be close to knowing who we are as a human,  a friend, a lover, a daughter,  a teacher.

Thats all for now!


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

News from senior yoga class

So, this is a picture of Ardyce. She is on a senior Colorado softball team ages 65 plus. This past weekend she pitched 8 games and they came in second at the western nationals. This event is for teams all across the USA. We are so proud of her! I can only hope I'm still rockin' it like that in a few decades!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


As I begin to practice Parsvottanasana more, I am coming to realize that this pose is definitely a gateway pose.  Gateway to Virabhadrasana I,  Parivrtta Trikonasana, Parivrtta Parsvakonasana, Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana,  Virabhadrasana III.  It teaches us to balance with our feet awkwardly placed.  While our hips are tight and not wanting to turn,  the buttocks really,  really want to hold our low backs hostage,  and then back to the feet thing!  So,  next time you practice,  remember this pose can be as much as a warm up as Dog or even the infamous Utthita Trikonasana,  you know the one us Iyengar yoga teachers always want to teach, teach, and teach more:) 

Watch this video carefully.  Listen to Geeta and her description of why the back leg is so important.  It really is true, being all in the front causes our ego to not be in check.  Bringing attention to the back of the body makes us more humble.  Think about it after your practice.  Leave a comment and let me know what your experience is!!

Geeta teaching Parsvottanasana

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Senior Sequence

This is the sequence from yesterdays class at Northglenn:

-Cat/Cow use breath and articulate the movement from the tailbone and the sternum.  
-Vajrasana-sit on heels with blankets or bolster, toes pointed back.  After 2 minutes,  lean forward, tuck toes under.  Repeat this 3 times.
-Tadasana with Urdvha Hastasana,  use belt around wrists to help keep the arms straight.  Only take the arms up  as much as you can,  remember, do not overdo! 
-Put belt around wrists again,  but this time back behind you.  Loosen the loop as needed for your shoulders.  Then,  bend forward into Uttanasana lifting the shoulders up away from the neck.  If you have a shoulder injury,  please stay upright and work on the shoulder blades deep into the back.
-Quad opener at the wall,  place your left fingertips at the wall.  Grab your right ankle with your right hand,  bring the knees close together,  draw the tailbone forward,  abdomen lifted.  If you have a knee injury,  place a rolled sticky mat behind your knee and use a belt to lift the leg.  Repeat this 2 xs
-Lie down on the floor on your belly.  Be sure to roll the thighs in and extend the buttocks to the heels for a long low back before beginning these!!
-Urdvha Mukha Svanasana,  upward facing dog.  Turn hands out to roll the shoulders back.  Come up on the knees and lift chest.  Maintaining a strong core,  lift the knees a few inches off the ground.  If you cannot lift the knees today, do not worry!  Just stay on the knees and work on the arm strength!
-Salabhasana,  Locust.  Lift your chest,  your arms and your legs off the floor.  Keep the legs straight,  abdomen lifted,  and please breath!
-Bujangasana, Cobra.  Place hands right beside the floating ribs.  Keep the legs straight and hip width apart.  Once again,  focus your attention on the buttocks,  move it towards the heels and then slowly coil your spine up off the floor.  Maintain even steady breath and smile a little.......Backbends make you happy!!
- Dhanurasana,  Bow pose.  Bow,  like a bow and arrow.  Bend the knees and grab both feet with your hands and inhale lift your chest off the floor by pressing your feet into your hands. Breath!!  If you have an injury and cannot grab your feet,  just repeat the last pose and know you are taking care of your body.  That is the hardest thing to learn in yoga,  to listen to your body,  take cues of when to back off, when to modify, when to push.  So listen and let your body be your teacher.
-Adho Mukha Virasana,  Pose of the child.  Time to neutralize!
-Lie down on the back,  place a belt around your heels and straighten out your legs to the ceiling to release the back some more.
-VIparita Karani,  Legs up the wall.

** I have run out of recent photos seniors.  Anyone up for being photographed again??

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sequence for ALL of us!

I am back on the blog wagon.  I have no excuse people.  I have been working a lot and not wanting to be on the computer when I get home.  I am the one who preaches balance to my husband. I sit here now watching Roxy and Wilson (Wilson is the new 10 week old puppy) they are sleeping now.  Sleeping because they know when to say stop.  The beasts know when to say when.  Maybe I should take a lesson from them.  It is not about work work work,  then crash crash crash.  Life it too short people.  Get outside,  even though its hot and enjoy what nature has to offer.  Remove yourself from the dredges of your couches and play in the grass and plant something that makes you happy.  Know that each time you choose to sit in stillness,  breath and take a few moments to sit in the grass and look at what is growing,  you have chosen wisely.

This sequence is for us all.  Do it mindfully in a quiet place,  unless you have a new puppy.....get over it and do it anyways.
(if you cannot remember the sanskrit,  remember the pose index over on the side of the blog)
Adho Mukha Virasana
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Utthita Trikonasana
Vira I
Vira II
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Baradvajasana I & II
Triang Muka Eka PadaPaschimottanasana
Chatush Padasana
Salamba Sarvangasana or Vipariti Karani
Supta Baddhakonasana


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Sequence from IYCD Level 1

Sequence from Level One:  Moral of the story,  breath,  take your time,  and keep you face, neck, and shoulders passive.
Jathara Parivartanasana (twist on the back legs outstretched, Legs bent) x 3
Adho Mukha Virasana to the side x 2
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Uttanasana x 2 one minute each
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Tadansana with brick in between upper thighs, close eyes,  observe the weight and space evenly over the 4 corners of the feet,  observe the breath,   allow the back of the body to descend while the front of the body ascends.
Urdvha Hastasana x 3 use breath inhale arms up up  up and lift from the ribs not the shoulders
Paschima Namaskarasana in Tadasana (do this and the above with the brick still in between the thighs)
Uttanasana with bricks for hands, concave and convex spine
Padangusthasana x 2
Paschima Namaskarasana in Tadasana
Urdvha Prasarita Padasana x 3 only to 90 degrees
Upavistha Konasana
Baddhakonasana x 2 (2nd time lean to one side and place your elbow on the thigh to descend the thigh,  then when coming back up keep that thight down. As Lisa said last Friday................the thigh that is descending is your dream and the other side is your reality,  so make them both your reality!)
Janusisasana with head to bolster
Viparita Karani

*I loved teaching this sequence today.  Everyone seemed to not only look as though their bodies felt better,  but everyones faces were so relaxed......what else can we ask for?  Integrated Mind, Body, Soul?  This is the yoga,  not just your body moving around in poses.  To integrate the breath into the poses so they feel effortless.  Maybe not at the beginning,  but as you keep practicing the poses will come,  the brain will be focused, and the face will be passive.  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Devki isms and other thoughts of getting grounded

Is it Chastise or CHEST-IZE?  
Is it comfortable or COMFOR-TABLE?
Shall we move up the spine or down?
Whatever it is we did,  we did with purpose.  After 3 days now,  I am finally getting grounded.  I not only needed to eat something hearty (thanks Becky),  but I needed to realize I am in control.  In control of my thoughts.  My feelings.  Let it sink in.  Let the yoga penetrate.  Allow the meditation to take you to that place of complete humbleness.  The sounds of the spine,  the root,  the heart,  the head...............they are all there.  All the time.  Whether or not we see them.  Whether or not we feel them.  Whether or not we even pay attention.  They are always there.  We are always able to get to that place.  Maybe it takes a weekend workshop with a humble teacher, maybe it takes breaking down all barriers.  Not just the physical barriers,  but the mental,  the spiritual.  It doesn't matter what you believe,  what higher power you believe in.  It matters that you open your heart,  your eyes,  your soul,  your body to the experience.  Thank you to our friend Devki.  Thank-you to myself for allowing those barriers to break away.  Now I can rebuild again and again and again to a better person.  A better friend,  a better teacher (even though after that I almost feel as if I have nothing to offer but gratitude to my teachers).  Thats it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Devki Desai

This past weekend a senior teacher from Puna was here. Not only was she compassionate, she was firm in her instructions and wove philosophy and asana well. From what others say who have studied at the institute she is a perfect balance of the 3 Iyengars.
With this, I say thank-you for everything. It has been hard to be inspired lately to blog. This assessment process tends to suck the creativity out of a person. It seems to streamline us so much we forget why we do what we do. So all-n-all, taking time to just practice is a must. STOP studying for second. Stop doing everything for a minute and take care of yourself. Do yoga. Meditate. Breath in and out.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Today I was thinking I was so overwhlemed.  Then I remembered that I am lucky enough to travel with my husband and my dog whenever we wanted.  This kind of freedom is pretty amazing.  I thought this picture represented that.  The dog at the ocean,  just as happy as can be,  tired,  worn out,  full of salt water.  I am hoping that as time passes by I can remember these moments when I am full of pessimism and worn out.  Remember that everyday is a new day.  We get the opportunity to re-invent ourselves when we choose.  We have the option of starting fresh everyday,  every moment if we want to.  

 I have always had this huge fear of inversions.  IN 2009,  I decided this was my year of handstand,  not just kicking up into it a few times here or there.   So everyday,  no matter what,  I kicked up into handstand.  Sometimes it was just downright messy and embarrasing,  but as time went on,  it got easier and easier.  To the point where when I kicked up Robert did not come in to make sure that I was upright and there were no holes in the walls.  Then as time went on I realized that it was not really that big of a deal. I would just practice and it became the 3rd pose I would do just because I could.  It was invigorating!  Then after my last car accident,  I realized that my neck issues were no joke.  I needed to take this serious and take the time to rehab and make things stronger and more stable.  So after many, many headstand push-ups (thanks Lisa) lots of arm work,  I was getting stronger.  Finally after about 7 months of rehab I could go up into Sirsasana (headstand) with no pain.  Now after 18 months,  I can do the pose.  Not just go up and wiggle around,  but I dont' sweat and curse every  teacher for telling me to take my thoracic spine in.  I can do it!

So the moral of this story is,  DON'T GIVE UP!  If you give up you just have to start all over again.  We may have minor set backs here and there, but never let fear get the best of you.  No matter what your age,  your goals,  or physical shape may be,  you always have something to work towards. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Fear, what fear?

Tadasana-stand with your feet hip width apart if you have arthritis in your hips or your balance is a little wonky today.
Urdvha Hastasana-Place belt around wrists to encourage the elbows to straighten and breath breath breath!

Adho Mukha Svanasana- Dog pose with chair to lengthen the spine.  Do this after the standing poses for 5 breaths.

Utthita Trikonasana-Triangle pose.  If this is still hard on your balance,  try doing the pose with your whole back up against the wall.  Do this twice on both sides.  Afterwards,  do the dog pose with the chair.
Vipariti Karani-Legs up the wall.  You can also place blankets under your hips for more of an inversion.  Make sure that your forehead and chin are on the same plane.  For extra relaxation,  place an eye pillow over your eyes, set the timer for 10 minutes and relax. 

**This sequence can be longer if would like to add in a few more standing poses,  or try to  balance away from the wall.  
**Here is a quote from B.K.S. Iyengar:  "Fear and fatigue block the mind. Confront both squarely,  and then courage and confidence will flow into you."
I loved this today when I was faced with this myself.  I even began to think more about 
Jack.  We all know Jack,  our Welsh friend from an earlier post.  He constantly inspires me to keep my butt moving.  Never complain and keep your spirit light and FUN!
Thanks Jack for the inspiration.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ustrasana.......a pose that brings joy to the face!

Today at the Rec center I taught shoulder openers and back bends. I went in for a second time this week not sure what I was going to teach. For selfish reasons I began to think about restoratives, but I remember back that a wise person told me to teach to the class (thanks Craig, Leslie, and mama Donita). So that's what I did. What a lesson I learned today from the Northglenn students! ( all of them.....of all ages)
Teaching today was such a joy. It made me happy, it made me feel better. Not just physically but mentally. For that I thank my students for continuously inspiring me to do more.

Here is the noon sequence. I will get the senior sequence on later today.

Adho mukha virasana
Adho mukha svanasana
Uttanasana, walk back and forth to dog a few times
Tadasana-all below done in tadasana
Urdvha hast asana
Urdvha baddanguliasana
Vira II
ViraI xs 2
Chatush padasana xs 4
Ustrasana xs 3
Full backbend, keep in mind for you shoulder folks stick with Chatush again
Adho mukha virasana with bolster
Dwi pada pavanmuktasana

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Changes are good

I wanted to take a moment this morning since I have not posted in a while.  I have changed jobs in the last two weeks.  It is such a great opportunity for me and I am so excited about the challenges ahead.  It made me think of my practice in a whole different way.  I was reading the Yoga Rahasya and it there was this quote from Guruji I wanted to share before I start my day:

 "Yoga is not doing what you like or what you can."
"I am neither a slave of the body, nor a slave of the mind.  For yoga,  you have to go far beyond will-power."

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sutra II.36

Sutra II.36-satyapratishayam kriyaphalasrayatvam

-When the sadhaka (student) is firmly established in the practice of truth,  his words become so potent that whatever he says comes to realization. (YESS!!!!!)
*Light on the yoga sutras explanation-Most of us think we tell the truth,  but truth is causal,  not integrated and cellular.  For instance,  if we say "I will never eat chocolate again",  as long as one cell of our body holds back and disagrees with the others,  our success is not assured.  if the stated intention is totally whole-hearted, not one cell dissembling,  then WE CREATE THE REALITY WE DESIRE.  It is not our mind,  but the inner voice of our cells which has the power to implement our intentions.

WHOA nelly!  After hearing of the yoga new lately,  which I am late on hearing apparantly,  this is a great sutra for us all.  Be truthful in your words.  Be truthful in you actions.  Be truthful in your thoughts.  Be truthful in your asana practice.  Just be truthful,  get the point?  It frustrates me sometimes to think that we do all this asana, we study,  we chant,  we do our best and then..............hole crap what was that guy thinking??  It happens to all of us at one point or another,  our words, thoughts, and actions do not match, which is why I do not judge.  I have not always been this truthful,  not always been one to listen to my inner voice, but this is all the more reason to delve deeper into practice and study.  To keep moving towards our goal.  You know the one that says......to yolk to bind to connect with our inner self.  The inner self that comes to the forefront to help us make better decisions, to be more compassionate,  to be content with what is at this very second?

As we all go through another week,  think on this sutra.  Study, chant it,  write it down.  Then journal about what it means to be truthful to you.  It may not be the same for us all,  but we all know of the importance of truthtelling.  Pretty sure ALL  of our mothers taught us this at one point or another:)

Sequence from IYCD this week

Here is the sequence from Tuesday at the Iyengar Yoga Center:

Adho Mukha Virasana-create length,  you will notice a theme in this class....
Eka Pada Pavanmuktasana-with partner to draw the outer hip away from should to create length again,  make sure that the straight leg on the floor stays active!
Supta Padangusthasana I & II-same thing goes in this pose too,  stay active through bottom let and continue to draw outer hip away from shoulder,  keeping the sides of the spine even and long long long!
Adho Mukha Virasana
Adho Mukha Svanasana with 2 partners-one using strap to bring weight back into the legs,  keep your legs straight by firming those thighs,  the other partner gently rolls the triceps in and towards one another then moves the shoulder blades in and up
Uttanasana-hands on bricks to maintain concave back,  be sure to keep hips moving back and lifting the ribs up and away from the thighs,  move chest forward
Trikonasana- Back foot at wall,  if you have ropes available,  use them for your back arm.  Hold on as long as you can while maintaining even sides of your trunk,  keep head in line with tailbone,  and lift lift lift you front knee cap to roll the thigh out and keep outer hip in
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana-using a chair first at the wall for the heel,  then press your right foot into the wall while maintaining a straight tadasana standing leg,  take arms over head to challenge the balance
Move away from the wall now!!
Same pose,  hold onto the big toe with your peace fingers,  lift the knee up keeping once again both sides of the spine long!  
Same pose again,  this time start to straighten the leg by pressing the toe into the fingers, pulling with the fingers and keeping the chest lifted.  If you have someone nearby,  ask them to see if your shoulders are in alignment,  I noticed that most of us (me included)  tend to crunch the side of the spine of the leg lifted. Balance and smile and be happy.
 Uttanasana-full pose
Prasarita Padottanasana-full pose
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Vipariti Karani-with support under hips

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sutra III.12

Sutra III.12
tatah punah santa uditau tulya pratyayau cittasya edkagrataparinamah

*When rising and falling thought processes are in balance,  one-pointed conciousness emerges.  Maintenance of awareness with keen intensity from one-pointed attention to no-pointed attentiveness is edkagrata prainama.

(I am taking this right out of Light on the Yoga Sutras by B.K.S. Iyengar because it is so awesome)

**At times,  consciousness is thoughtfully silent but then it suddenly gushes out into vibrant activity.  In a split second, this activity may be controlled and balance regained.  This control requires effort, and effort involves time.  By skilful practice, the depth of silence which at first apperas only in glimpses,  is made to permeate and fill the entire citta.  Then the feeling time disappears.  Past and future are reabsorbed into the timeless.  

***This sutra is exactly how my practice was this morning.  I sometimes cannot believe that it is me who is doing it.  Starting once again with the chant to Patanjali,  reading of this sutra and a little quiet time. Then the asana practice began.
  Most of the time my mind is constantly churning and jumping from place to place,  never staying in one place very long.  It is not only in my mind and practice,  but in life. Yoga teaches us not only to be flexible in the body,  but encourages our minds to focus,  to be attentive to the little things.  The little things being,  how does this asana pose affect my back,  not just my back,  but the lumbar on the right side.  Am I crunching and bending and forcing?  Or am I able to step back and go about it the right way,  the nourishing way.  
This sutra explains the 3rd transformation,  which is ekagrata parinama, the uninterrupted flow and intensity of attention.  When we all practice asana it is imperitive that we maintain this flow of uninterrupted concentration to keep our bodies safe and our ego out of it.  
 This week while practicing, whether at home or in class,  keep in mind this sutra.  Stay committed to yourself and your mind-body connection.  That is why we do yoga anyways right?  To know our true self and what we are capable of.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Steady and Comfotable?!

This was a week of closing doors and opening others.  At the senior center,  we lost 4,  4 are under the weather and 4 new students came to yoga.  This is a great time to be alive and to see the changes that are before us.  Some people become more entrenched in their current ways,  others see this is a time to open up and become whatever they want to.  They see this is a time that they can build upon the wonderful parts that are them.  I am so lucky to be able to witness the transformations!

Yoga is just a start for this.  People come to class because their back hurts,  or they had some surgery they are trying to recover from,  others are just simply curious.  There is a place for each of them in yoga as long as they are open to learning new ways of doing things.  Often times beginners do not want to use the props,  but in time they see they are not only a way to make asana practice safe,  they are there to encourage students to try things they never thought possible.  

This week in class,  one of my all time favorite students called me Boss.  It made me giggle.  Who would in a million years ever call me boss?  I guess in some ways I am at that moment to them.  Another student stuck their tongue out at me while I was preparing them for backward extensions.  My favorite this week was when someone else called me balanced.......if you know me at all,  you know that I do strive for this,  but just like most I have my moments.  

I thought on the comment,  balanced,  me?  Whoop!  I must have done something right in my own asana practice that morning.  It was a practice that began like most others,  chanting,  childs pose,  vajrasana,  dog,  uttanasana,  then some study of the sutras.  After studying that morning I did a practice of standing poses,  not pushing and straining, but made sure my mind and breath were always connected.  At one point,  the Vizsla came in,  sat down right in front of me, had a big sigh,  and went to lie down onto her little yoga blanket. 

As you move through your weekend,  please be attentive to your body,  your breath,  what is the state of your mind?  Let this be where all things come from,  a balanced place.

Sutra II.46  Sthira, sukham, asanam

** Posture should be steady and comfortable

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Senior Sequence to build bone health!

At the senior center on Tuesday,  we had program about bone health given by a nutritionist from the Vitamin Cottage in Northglenn. The facilitator talked about nutrition,  supplements and all the things you would connect with building strong bones,  but she also gave mention to stress, balance,  and breath. Standing on one leg helps to build bone density,  stress can lead to bone loss, and breathing can help us to stay calm while we are balancing!
It got me thinking about this "meditation in action"  we try to achieve in asana practice.  Thinking of the seniors that I teach,  balancing poses came to mind.  I am constantly on them about balancing,  not just standing on one leg at a time,  but balancing out the weight on both feet while keeping the mind one pointed while in the pose.   It is so hard to think about anything else while trying to balance, so maybe this is our answer to stress relief!  No longer thinking about the stressors you came into the room with,  but maintaining focus on the lift of the knee cap,  the four corners of the feet.  
Here is a sequence to keep you working on balance.  Be prepared to start and stop and laugh.  No longer thinking,  "I cannot do this",  but taking a breath and saying to yourself "I can do this!".  Be in each pose for at least 4 full breaths and do them 2 or 3 times.  Make sure to rest if you need to.  Keep the mind attentive and be joyful!

Sequence for balance
Tadasana at the wall,  press 4 corners of feet,  lift knee caps,  and draw the abdomen to the spine!
Urdhva Hastasana-same actions as in Tadasana add lift chest,  roll the triceps in toward one another and reach!!        

Utthita Trikonasana with chair-attention to pressing feet evenly,  and straighten those legs!
Balancing on one leg at a time,  keeping fingers at the wall the 1st time,  then after you get the hang of it,  start lifting one arm.  When you feel really confident,  turn around and face the center of the room and lift both arms!
Vipariti Karani-Stay for 10 minutes to reduce fatigue in legs. 
Adho Mukha Svanasana with the chair

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Lord Vishnu and the nectar

While studying for my first assessment in the Iyengar method,  we were asked to read a part of the Tree of Life by B.K.S Iyengar. Honestly,  it was about this time last year that I opened the book for the first time after having it for nearly 8 years.  Over the last year,  it has been a story I have read numerous times.  All the art work that depicts this story is beautiful and detailed.  Then while studying and chanting sutras from my next list,  the story was revealed again in the very first sutra! through the explanation of B.K.S. Iyengar in Light on the Yoga Sutras.  For those of you who know me,  this story is a perfect representation of the last 4 years of my life.  Without all this churning and practicing and breathing,  I would not be sitting here writing this from such a place of gratitude.   The story goes like this I will keep it short:

In the Srimad Bhagavatam,  there was a story of how the "nectar of immortality"  was produced.  The angels feared that the desire of the "nectar"  to the demons would over take them. The angels sought help from 3 Lords who went to Lord Vishnu for help.  He suggested the angels and demons work together to churn then ocean to bring out the "nectar".  They used Mount Meru as the churn-er,  Lord Adisesa (Lord Vishnus serpant couch)  as the the rope to turn Mount Meru. the angels and demons are the ones pulling back and forth on the serpant to get that mountain to move!  Many plants were thrown into the ocean to produce the "nectar",  these plants refer to the 7 constituents the body is made of.  Mount Meru represents the spinal column and Lord Adisesa represents the control of the spine for respiration.  So as the story goes on,  the mountain sinks to the bottom of the sea,  at this time, Lord Vishnu reincarnates to Lord Kurma (the tortoise) and goes under the mountain, lifts it up again so the churning can continue!  Isn't this exciting??  The first thing to come out of the ocean as a result was halahala which is a poison that represents exhalation,  thank goodness that Lord Vishnu took one for the team, he swallowed it.  The last, but not least was the "NECTAR".  Yeah! 

Sutra II.49
tasmin sati svasa prasvasayo gativicchedah pranayamah

Pranayama is the regulation of the incoming and out going flow of breath with retention.  It is to be practised only after perfection in asana is attained.

**  In Light on the Yoga Sutras,  he explains that the story above is an "interwoven explanation, symbolizes what takes place in the human body in the practice of pranayama."

***As you practice this week add in a little pranayama of your own.  Be reminded that the poses would not be possible without this prana=energy we produce at every moment!  Take time in your asanas to breath,  to breath, to breath some more.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Get out there and do it.

I work at a senior center.  Did you know that?  We thought it would be fun to have an un-resolution party filled with our most tempting snacks. (yes that will mean some chocolate for me) Most Americans vow to go on a diet,  exercise more,  be nicer to co-workers,  call their families more etc.  etc. etc.  The seniors at our center have lived through wars, depressions,  illness,  death,  the i-phone and still manage to march on without feeling the need to apologize or buy things they really don't need. 
I write this in response to my own thoughts of what should I change or do better in this new year.  I was not sure exactly where to begin,  so I just began with no pomp and circumstance to read a sutra  every morning and to meditate on them.  To not watch so much Today show,  not because I think the tele is evil, but I know my heart and brain will cooperate more if I can find a more peaceful way to start my day.  To create things,  not just of the tangible kind made of fabric or canvas,  but create a new thought pattern that involves moving closer to my center,  to my soul.  To make music again in the form of playing my clarinet again and chanting every morning while still in my PJ's.  By all this I mean to just live joyfully and hopefully spread it around to those I love.

Sutra of the Week:
tada drastuh svarupe avasthanam
Then, the seer dwells in his own true splendour.

*When the waves of consciousness are stilled and silenced, they can no longer distort the true expression of the soul.  Revealed in his own nature,  the radiant seer abides in his own grandeur.

**Light on the Yoga Sutras