Thinking About Furniture…

Furniture is everywhere, in a multitude of styles, materials, colors, but is most of it really even necessary? Is it smart? Healthy? There is the status of having the latest or fashionable furniture all over the house, Another consumer thing.  Does Modern Furniture Design  promote healthy posture and body? NO, not most of it and not the constant use of it, the dependence on it because it limits how we move.

It is only on rare occasions that many western people move to the ground and up- picnics are about the only exception and more and more people are bringing chairs out to nature, picnics and soccer games too! 

There seems to be  ideas about ease and comfort,  as if moving up and down from the ground is a chore rather than a natural or joyful part of life.

Sitting all day in a chair at a desk causes all kinds of problems.  These modern conventions for “comfort “actually  cause weak muscles in the back and legs inevitably disrupting alignment, core strength and health.

If we rarely move down to the floor and back up those muscles become weak, the whole sequence of muscular movement, and balance used to sit on the floor are important for our continued  physical health.  Just consider your hips and the range of motion used to get to the floor and back up again.

Many of our elderly people, here in the west  have weak hips and legs and poor balance; this is in part, directly related to how we don’t use our bodies through mid-life. In the west we start limiting the range of motion beginning  with 1st grade, we sit for longer and longer periods on chairs and couches.

Two very good solutions for this:  Cutting off the legs off the dining room table and sitting on pillows, and putting your mattress on the floor. Doing these two things will assure you are going down and up from  the floor 4 or more times a day.  Also your ceilings will appear higher  (o; and room more spacious! 

 I always remember seeing elder people when I was in Tunisia; They would  move with so much  more agility and grace, lowering and raising from the floor with ease, and such great posture. Then returning to America, I noticed  people  strain to sit on the ground and middle aged and older people avoid it like it is dangerous!  What is more dangerous is not doing it and losing that strength and range of motion!

Happy New Year of Yoga Together!

Wishing Everyone everywere a peaceful New Year.

This time of year it is common to set new goals, start new habits. We often do this in isolation, which  sabotages us from the start.  Share your goal, recruit a buddy and support each other weekly or more often. Togetherness is why yoga classes, especially small community classes, are the best place to start and continue because you are not isolated.

True yoga is a non-competitive process!  The inner wiser self knows what is best and that health, energy and peace come from mindfulness in movement over time.  The wiser self knows that like life itself yoga is a process, a journey. The wiser self knows we are meant to be connected together with other humans.

The ego doesn’t want you to feel better, be connected or close with others, or to find peace.  The Ego says,  “I  have to be good immediately” “I have to already be flexible to start” and “I should do this on my own”. Below are excuses, direct from ego-  Excuses for not getting to  yoga are actually the true reasons to start and continue growing your yoga practice!

“I’m not flexible”— yoga helps you become more flexible over time!

“I’m out of shape-“– yoga helps you get in shape, and if you can breathe, you can do yoga!

“I’m too overweight”  regular yoga helps with weight loss!, so love yourself now as you are and begin.

“I’m too old”— You are never too old to reap the benefits of yoga!

“I don’t have the energy”– Yoga gives you energy! You may feel tired after classes or practice in the beginning but stick with it and you will begin to have more energy.

” I have this condition or injury..”  You are more than your conditions and injuries.  Talk with instructor, focus on all that you can do and grow your practice from there!

“I tried it once ….”  Try a different class or teacher give it a few weeks or months before giving up.– look for a class that is right for you – e.g. if your over 50 look for a teacher over 50, if your beginning go to beginner classes!

 For persons who have suffered accident injury or severe illness, be smart:  choose to do therapeutic ,senior, or gentle yoga to start.  A daily walking program can be an excellent starting point.  If you want success, do not be secretive or isolated in whatever you chose.  You do not have to do it alone.

To avoid  movement  is choosing to age faster, is limiting your future joy in:  dancing, playing with children, easily getting up from and down to the ground, or picnicking in the grass on a sunny day. 

The less you move the less energy you have, the less you move the less you are able to move and the more likely you are to become injured when you do move. The more strength and flexibility you have the less likely you will be injured and the faster you heal and recover from injury. Moving mindfully after injury is the best way to heal and regain flexibility.

The biggest mistake people make in yoga  is to forget to tune-in and honor your own limits- where you are at, today.

The second biggest mistake is to forget you are more than a mechanical body, that the mind, spirit and emotions all are involved. Yoga is more about training the mind than anything else.The physical moves or postures are just the tip of the iceberg, what is underneath is: discipline, practice,  change of attitudes, watching the mind, breath, concentration,  meditation.

Peace, Christina

Consider having an individual session to set and begin your next goal- reach higher!

Winter & Yoga

Dear Yoga Friends,

Winter is upon us and so is the “holiday Season”. Rather than get caught up or annoyed with the frenzy of consumerism that seems to dominate western culture, let’s be closer to each other.

We are a species profoundly interconnected and interdependent. Keep in mind modern culture promotes an unrealistic ideal of independence and self-sufficiency. This may be hindering our ability to be close. The truth is we all want closeness and connection.  I shared this article last year and in case you missed it, you may find it refreshing; closeness, togetherness coziness

    I hope you find time for leisurely walks this season.                         All around us, in the natural world is stimulus for us to understand our own nature, we are made of the same stuff:  Water, Earth (minerals), Fire (heat and combustion, digestion and burning of food for energy) Air (Breath) and Either (space). Appreciation of nature on a walk always lifts ones spirits. More about walking in this blog post walking the most under-rated exercise.

Remember to do your daily routine, even in the hustle of holidays, travel and visitors. Your practice, done consistently and mindfully has a powerful healing effect on all levels; physical, mental, emotional, energetic and a multitude of aspects deeper and more profound. Daily practice  allows us to face our life, to deal with our emotions and quiet the chatter in our minds. Our negative thoughts and suppressed emotions are toxic. By gaining control of the mind we can grow through conscious awareness of emotions the energy they have. True yoga is a well of strength and peace to draw from.  This well is filled through daily practice– asana and meditation.

“The more you sit in the self the more you will feel an energy that you have never experienced before. It comes from behind rather than in front where you experience your mind and emotions.…When you are no longer absorbed in your melodrama, but instead sit comfortably deep inside the seat of awareness, you will feel this energy from deep within.    …. Feelings, loneliness, fear are just things in the universe like cars, grass, stars, Awareness does not fight.  Within the self you will experience strength of your inner Being, even when the heart is weak…”   From the book Untethered Soul – Michael Singer

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”  Thich Nhat Hanh

Peace, Christina

_CLASS Schedule December January, all same except....
There will NOT be classes at RGCSL on Monday  Dec 25th 
or Monday January 1st 
(New Year's day there will be Primary Lead @ Stone Age Climbing Gym)
Consider joining the Wed. class- Versatile Vitality, 4100 Silver SE
 8:30am - 9:45am.(wonderful group,lovely space & easy parking)
or treat yourself to an individual session to design or 
refine your daily practice. 
 Gift Certificates available now.


Nov/Dec/schedule

Yoga Friends,

There will NOT be classes at RGCSL on Monday  Dec 25th (Christmas day) and on Monday January 1st (new year’s day). I will not be in los Lunas for classes on Tuesday Dec 26th.

During the holiday season, Please consider joining the Wed. classes at Versatile Vitality, 4100 Silver SW,   8:30am – 9:45am. It is a wonderful group, a lovely space and there is easy parking!
Or 
Treat yourself to an individual  session to design or refine your daily practice.
Here are blog posts you might enjoy: just click to read (o;

RECENT POSTS

STRETCHING THE SPINE IS NATURAL MOVEMENT!                                                           THE CUMULATIVE POWER OF YOGA                                                                                    A QUOTE AND 2 ARTICLES I RECOMMEND                                                            MEDITATION, MY JOURNEY…                                                                                                 RE-TRAINING YOUR BODY’S STRESS RESPONSE THROUGH YOGA PRACTICE          DANCE!                                                                                                                         WALKING IS THE MOST UNDERRATED EXERCISE!                                                              100 REASONS TO GET OUT IN NATURE.                                                                          YOUR YOGA, A HOME PRACTICE                                                                                  BRINGING LIGHT INTO OUR WOUNDED PLACES & SVADHYAY

Stretching The Spine Is Natural Movement!

     I have always delighted in looking at this album cover art! The woman looks comfortable in her body, full of vitality and enjoying a Hot Summer Day (a great song on the album). She has an openness, her heart is exposed, unguarded. She is experiencing the breeze, the sun and life! She is wholly present in that moment! 

Along the same lines;

I remember a scene in a visually stunning Chinese *movie. Many people were harvesting or tending rice, they were all bending forward, down. A breeze came up and one by one everyone stretched their backs (similar to the woman on the album cover). At one point all of them were in variations of this position. They were not rushed, they all seemed to be listening to their own bodies needs, stretching their spines as much and as long as each needed to before going back to work!       

Think about this for a few minutes…visualize it…

(* I wish I had a clip or remembered the film’s title, if you know, Please comment below!)            

…When do you enjoy a nice long stretch of your spine? When are you most comfortable in your body?

 I often hear people saying “I don’t backbend” or “I can’t Backbend”, and I see some students struggle with the easiest “backbend” postures. I wonder how much of this has to do with our modern lifestyle and our  mindset, and our emotional health (self love, acceptance), to to feel free and safe! 

Do rounded shoulders and hunched backs reflect our wounds, our heartaches?  Is it some kind of armor over our heart?

As a yogi, I say YES, it is our wounds and our armor both!

I and many people find emotions come up when backbending! Even gaining just a little new suppleness around the heart, has brought me to tears. This is not a bad thing! If I have grief or sadness, isn’t it best to acknowledge it, give it some space and time to release from my being?

“The deeper sorrow carves into our being the more joy it can contain” ~ Kahlil Gibran 

I was recently at concerts where the music was amazing, yet few people were smiling and very few danced. I thought of this poem;

O wondrous creatures, By what strange miracle Do you so often Not smile?~ Hafiz

I simply wish for everyone to love being in their body, exactly as it is. To feel comfortable and have a sense of vitality, aliveness.

I wish for everyone to enjoy embodied movement, embodied rest, embodied closeness.

These are some of the many reasons I am passionate about teaching yoga. This is also why I am teaching a Backbending workshop this October.

See you on the mat, Christina 

 

Columbia Records It’s A Beautiful Day, The cover was designed by George Hunter and painted by Kent Hollister based on the cover of a housekeeping magazine from around 1900.

THE CUMULATIVE POWER OF YOGA

Dear Yoga friends,

 

– 4th Wednesday (8:30am)  every month at Versatile Vitality will be Restorative – be guided and supported in Asanas were gravity and your breath do all the “work” (mostly release of tension) and move deeper into relaxation. Gain awareness of the subtitles, the subtle body!

Individual sessions are available to design or refine your daily home-practice

THE CUMULATIVE POWER OF YOGA
Practicing 1 day per week will produce very little benefit beyond the class time.
Practicing 2 days per week will almost maintain your present level of physical, mental and emotional fitness.
Practicing 3 days per week will incrementally advance your level of physical, mental and emotional fitness.
*Practicing 4 days per week will make your body more strong,flexible and your mind better focused. Anti-aging benefits!
Practicing 5 days per week will make you physically and mentally stronger. And much more emotionally balanced. a
Practicing 6 days a week will unfold your very best in you. 
The seventh day… rest!

Peace,

Christina

A quote and 2 articles I recommend

Dear Yoga Friends,

 

   Sharing a favorite Quote, 

“…moment to moment we can switch to the observer, to Purusha. The moment we look in the mirror we start judging. Many of us don’t like the hair, the nose, the face or color we have, but we are not our hair, nose, face or color. We are nobler and higher than that. We are Purusha, we are Shakti. 
 …self acceptance and self love are the first steps towards bliss.” ~ Dr. Vasant Lad
 

2 Articles I highly recommend … 

 This article really helps understand how we ardently pursue strength and suppleness yet avoid stress and injury!
Japanese wisdom-one minute a day  (ignore the title on this, content is good-  “At the heart of this method is the idea that a person should practice doing something for a single minute, every day at the same time” 

Meditation, my journey…

Deep breathing and focus on the breath is just one beginning practice towards meditation, yet,  Meditation is not this.

As an artist I could get “lost” in my work. Deep in concentration. I often get lost in ecstasy when dancing, I  lose track of time similar to meditation, yet this is not meditation either!

If you get lost in asana practice, nature,making music or art or gardening, you may have entered an altered state similar to meditation, many would call this meditation. I would call it a taste; there is vastly more.  

I had learned and share guided relaxation decades ago. I practiced techniques to “cool-down” students ending fitness classes. Now I do this in savasana and restorative yoga classes. Students greatly appreciate these moments of peace. The benefits of deep relaxation practice are numerous; calmer mind, increased energy, release of tensions in the body, Yet, this is not meditation.

In the early 1990’s I attended a meditation class taught by Deepak Chopra, He did a guided meditation that was a profound experience for me. I think of him often now, and have read his books, though for many years I didn’t practice meditation.

In the mid 90’s I met an extraordinary individual who was able to move and heal with energy. He spent many hours a day in meditation. At that time I didn’t understand the connection.  I was blessed to have had those years of friendship and healing with Jeremiah. He practiced meditation and many people received profound healing and guidance from him. He was a great teacher, a fountain of love. I met him when he was in his 40’s. He had survived a tragic accident at 19 years old.   After this injury (broken neck) he lived decades longer,surprising medical experts. He was genuinely at peace, even though his body suffered much pain as a quadriplegic.  He practiced meditation daily!  

In the late 1990s I was introduced to HeartMath biofeedback.  Direct measurements of the metabolic and systolic heart rhythms combined with techniques to calm the mind showed directly in the program’s feedback. I used this program myself and with children who had experienced trauma.  HeartMath  is great technology and the HeartMath Institute is growing in it’s scope. It is a marvelous tool to help in relaxation and self awareness and self control (emotional health, PTSD) 

This is not meditation, though it is a very good starting point for many people.

Discipline and daily practice opens up worlds of possibilities and awareness.

In 2009 I began study of Reiki, my Masters (teachers) instructed me to do it every day.  I did Reiki meditation and energy work on myself daily for a year.  This  form of meditation I was able to stick with. Within months I began to shift into more awareness and profound peace. After Level 2, I began working on others as well and “saw” everyone’s inner beauty and a flow of love.  Reiki meditation and healing opened up new sensibilities and awareness. I  continued Reiki training to (Masters) Level 3. I came to understand more of what Jeremiah and Deepak Chopra were teaching! Other healers and traditions from many cultures; meditation is at the center of their practices.

These experiences where a good foundation for true meditation.

In 2010 I had the opportunity to take over a yoga class which I had been attending. I knew from past training that if I was to teach yoga, I had to practice asana and silent seated meditation daily, which I began in the months before taking over the class.

I got to where I could sit still for an hour meditation, yet, I would only have fleeting moments where there was peace, where the mental chatter would subside.

These brief moments where so profound that I continued finding it well worth the hour of sitting every day!

Silent meditation showed me how noisy my mind was and even now, how noise my mind can be!

Now, often during the day no matter how “stressful” or what events are going on, I can return to that peace within a few conscious breaths. This allows me to stay authentic and present. When I have peace with-in I can be present to others in a meaningful way.

Have I experienced enlightenment?  

Yes! and no, and yes! It can be fleeting and can be found again in meditation.

True enlightenment is when that peace is carried out into every part of every day. 

Personally, I do yoga asana to quiet my mind and prepare my body for seated meditation.  When I began daily practice of both, I experienced amazing healing for my mind and body, and more… beyond words, language and description! I have also come to understand the energy that is within and around us.

 Asana can lift us out of discomfort in the body. Meditation can help us have peace even when the body is in pain.

 “Illuminated emancipation, freedom, unalloyed and untainted bliss await you, but you have to choose to embark on the Inward Journey to discover it.”          BKS Iyengar

“disturbances of the mind and emotions fade away, and we are able to see true reality.” BKS Iyengar


Peace, Christina

Re-training your body’s stress response through yoga practice

There are so many benefits of yoga that are scientifically proven. So why is it that many people don’t “get-it”; don’t stay with it long enough to get real benefits?

One main reason is that it takes time to “see” results. Allowing enough  time to get to know the subtleties within your own being.  Initially the changes are subtle and experienced within your mind and life, long before they are seen!

Another reason people often don’t stay with yoga is not finding the right class at the right level and where they have trust in the  teacher.   Be an empowered student, ask questions. Try several  classes, until you find the right one for you, and then practice at home also.

 I highly recommend reading this recent article from Psychology Today Magazine…

Yoga: Changing The Brain’s Stressful Habits,  by Alex Korb, Ph.D.

“Yoga can supposedly improve depressive symptoms and immune function, as well as decrease chronic pain, reduce stress, and lower blood pressure.  These claims have all been made by yogis over the years, and it sounds like a lot of new age foolishness. Surprisingly, however, everything in that list is supported by scientific research.

As a neuroscientist, despite my initial incredulity, I came to realize that yoga works not because the poses are relaxing, but because they are stressful.  It is your attempts to remain calm during this stress that create yoga’s greatest neurobiological benefit.

Your brain tends to react to discomfort and disorientation in an automatic way, by triggering the physiological stress response and activating anxious neural chatter between the prefrontal cortex and the more emotional limbic system.  The stress response itself increases the likelihood of anxious thoughts, like “Oh god, I’m going to pull something,” or “I can’t hold this pushup any longer”.  And in fact, your anxious thoughts themselves further exacerbate the stress response. The physiological stress response means an increase in heart rate, breathing rate, muscle tension and elevation of cortisol and other stress hormones.

The fascinating thing about the mind-body interaction is that it works both ways.  For example, if you’re stressed, your muscles will tense (preparing to run away from a lion), and this will lead to more negative thinking.

Relaxing those muscles, particularly the facial muscles, will push the brain in the other direction, away from stress, and toward more relaxed thoughts.

Similarly, under stress, your breathing rate increases.

Slowing down your breathing pushes the brain away from the stress response, and again toward more relaxed thinking.

 

After going back to my Dad’s yoga class a few times, I eventually came to the realization that not only can you practice yoga in real life, but, conversely, you could go to a yoga class and not really be doing yoga…. focused on something else entirely.  Without the sustained intention of focusing on the present, and calming the mind, going to a yoga class is literally just going through the motions.” Alex Korb, Ph.D.

Enjoy your practice!

Namaste, Christina

 

Dance!

 

I praise the dance             ~ Saint Augustine

I praise the dance, for it frees people
from the heaviness of matter and binds the isolated to community.

I praise the dance, which demands everything:
health and a clear spirit and a buoyant soul.
Dance is a transformation of space, of time, of people,
who are in constant danger of becoming all brain, will, or feeling.

Dancing demands a whole person,
one who is firmly anchored in the center of his life,
who is not obsessed by lust for people and things
and the demon of isolation in his own ego.

Dancing demands a freed person,
one who vibrates with the equipoise of all his powers.
I praise the dance.

O man, learn to dance,
or else the angels in heaven will not know what to do with you.

by Saint Augustine

 

 This Article by Madisyn Taylorof the Daily Om  eloquently says everything you need to know about dance-

Our bodies were made to move and flow and within our movement we find a deeper connection to our bodies and the earth.

As children, most of us were encouraged to dance on a regular basis, freely and openly, in whatever way felt best. A few of us may have retained or regained our ability to engage in dancing unselfconsciously, but by the time we reach adulthood, many of us have stopped dancing altogether. We may have hang-ups about our bodies, or we may fear being judged. Then again, we may simply have fallen out of the habit for so long that we don‚t even realize we never dance anymore. Whatever the case, there‚s no time like now to rediscover the healing pleasure of moving your body to music˜alone, as part of a couple, or in a group. Opportunities to dance abound, once you start looking for them.

If you haven’t danced in a long time and feel too self-conscious to start in a public situation, find some time alone to reintroduce yourself to the joy of listening and responding to music with your body. Turn the lights down low and remember that it‚s much more fun when you‚re not thinking about what you look like. It won’t take long before your body remembers how much it loves to move. Feel the music in your soul, feel the vibrations healing your body. Treat the time like a meditation session in which you agree to allow yourself to fully inhabit your amazing body.

If you feel awkward, remember that every culture since time immemorial has celebrated life and the body with dance. All people carry the memory of dance in their blood and bones. In other words, you were born to do this, it is in you already; all you have to do is start moving. If you prefer more interaction, take a class one night a week. In most cities, you can find everything from modern dance to African dance to ballroom and salsa. Whatever you choose, you won’t regret choosing to rediscover your birthright˜the healing, joyful thrill of dancing.

“In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions:… “When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop being comforted by the sweet territory of silence?”    Gabrielle Roth

    

And this article about dance…

https://ideapod.com/neuroscientists-reveal-number-one-exercise-slowing-aging-process/