Dec. 2016, Ahimsa and Standing Rock

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

One aspect of the eight limbs of yoga is Ahimsa – Compassion for all living things. Ahimsa means not to injure or show cruelty to any creature or any person. Practicing kindness, and compassion towards all living things.

We are all citizens of Earth.  A small number of people who have power and immense wealth live in so much fear and isolation that they act with outrageous insane greed. They’ve worked tirelessly for generation after generation to manipulate the rest of us to judge and fight among ourselves so we won’t rise to power.  Most of the manipulation is subtle and all of it pervasive, some of it costs lives, creates wars, poisons rivers and destroys ecosystems.

It tells us that one group of people, women, people of color, people of this or that religious faith, are somehow less than human, and that everyday violence against a group of people is excusable.

As a US citizen, at this point in history,  I will state where I stand.  I have been following what is going on at Standing Rock, ND.  This could be the beginning of positive change, or end horribly for the planet. I believe it is up to each us to make sure the outcome is positive change even though it isn’t easy change… even if it changes our holiday plans.

Please ponder the following;

  • This is an extraordinary example of organised, non-violent, peaceful resistance. Ahimsa
  • The historical context is vast. Consider, Kennedy, Cesar Chavez and Delano
  • A people deeply oppressed for 500 years is asking and trusting they will have help, Allies. That is us!   When I think about how truly brave this is… no words.
  • Though the DAPL hired security, police and Army Core of Engineers have been undeniably violent, these brave women, “protectors” are talking about forgiveness !
  • Americans who care about freedom and justice are flocking to Standing Rock to support the Sioux, just as justice loving Americans of an earlier generation went to Selma, to Jackson and to Delano.
  • At this time in the USA, when the rights of people of color, and the rights of people of various faiths, and the rights of all women are being threatened, native women are in true rolls of leadership for this movement.

At this time, with the current political climate, maybe it is the love of the Land (purple mountains majesty…) and the love of ideals of the US Constitution that will bring diverse women and men together, from sea to shining sea.

I believe this has started at Standing Rock.  I believe We the People are vastly more powerful than our “elected representatives and leaders”.

Patriotically & peacefully yours,

Christina

Schedule for December –  No classes at Rio Grand Center for Spiritual Living or Garden Gate December 19th – 27th.  No Individual sessions 19th-27th. There will be a Sub (or no class) at Versatile Vitality on the 21st. I will keep you updated here, on Yoga trail, and the Versatile Vitality schedule.  

Good News  -update –Army Corps Denies Easement For Dakota Access Pipeline -This is very good news. This is the power of well organized non-violent action by The Lakota People and many Allies! There are many same, similar and other issues to deal with and all of our participation is key!

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November, Yoga & Ayurveda

Dear Yoga Friends,

I recently was out in nature, enjoying  the stars and all the wonderful fall colors.  I was reminded of my nature. I was revitalized and refreshed.  Nature is truly great medicine for mind body and soul. I have written before about nature and walking, and you might wonder why  a yoga teacher is writing about these topics. It is because of Ayurveda!

Yoga and Ayurveda are sister sciences. Both systems have a common understanding of health of the body being dependent on the health of the mind.  They share virtually the same metaphysical anatomy and physiology, which consists of 72,000 nadis (subtle energy channels), seven main chakras (energy centers), five bodily sheaths and the shakti (energy).   Samkya is the philosophy shared by both.  Yoga and Ayurveda advocate for the regular, daily, practice of pranayama and meditation.(Dhyana 

The more I Understand the elements and subtle energies in every living thing, the  more inspired I am to be in the natural environment, eat healthier foods, and be aware of things that affect energy such as: time of day, season of the year, foods,  and  daily routines (Dinacharya).  Because we are made up of the same elements, being in touch with nature brings us in touch with ourselves, and can bring us into balance with our nature, and vital energy.

So, I know nature to be excellent medicine, counteracting all the unnatural light, perfumes, lotions, air fresheners, car exhaust, cleaning and laundry detergents, etc. and being indoors for most of the day,  it’s a recipe for dis-ease, illness.  We need sunlight to make vitamin D, (a very common deficiency now).

I have heard it said the best sure-cure for insomnia is camping, natural changes of light and temperature resets our body for restful sleep at night, and wakefulness in the daylight.

When we see nature’s beauty, we focus our eyes at different distances. Walking on uneven ground strengthens our balance.  Tracking birds and scanning vistas strengthens our eyes and our vestibular system, as well as calms our mind and inspires our mood…

So enjoy walks in nature my friends! Dawdle and be curious, find that sense of wonder.

active Namaste,  Christina 

Class Schedule

Mello-Monday & Fierce-Friday Yoga  at RGCSL 8:30-9:45am

Wonderful-Wednesday Yoga at Versatile Vitality 8:30-9:45am                       (4100 Silver SE)

Tuesdays & Thursdays in Las Lunas;  9-10am Water Aerobics, 10:30-11:45 Yoga – There will not be classes on Thanksgiving day.

~Individual Sessions~ available in November, Call to schedule

October Happy Mountian Yoga

Happy October!               Autumn poems  for you ~ Enjoy!                                          Dear Ones, remind me of this day when I do not smile!   Maybe it is the softer light of the overcast sky ,                                  or the moisture in the air that brings this day under my skin in a soothing magical depth.                                                                                I feel closer to ones who have passed beyond: are they sending us blessings?                                                                                                        Immeasurable, infinite beauty in the green leaves  of a wetter southwestern summer, nearing it’s end.   The colors rich and reflected, puddles are masterpieces, rocks are singing and the trees dancing the Earths song.                                                                      I cannot contain gratitude so vast, yet, is it enough to make up for  the days taken for granted,    This abundance my eyes missed because of the chatter in my smaller mind?        Oh, Dear Ones, remind me of this day when my eyes are dull.            ~ C Bouajila    

The sunrise sky casting a pink tint to the world, The day’s first light glows through the tapestry of still trees.  Golden light and scattered hints of yellow autumn leaves.                                                                    Bird songs mingle in harmony with silent air,                                          not even a slight breeze.                                                                                                                       Brilliant white potential surrounds this new day.        The city traffic begins to hum, and then a train whistle in the distance.                                                                                                           There are journeys ahead as the past sleeps on.                                        A familiar cat jumps from tree limbs to rooftop.                                    Oh deep gratitude! I am awake!                                   ~ C. Bouajila    

 Schedule;

~~ Albuquerque  ~~Monday & Friday 8:30-9:45am Yoga at Rio Grande Center for Spiritual Living.   ~~  Wed. Morning class . 8:30-9:45am  At Versatile Vitality-4100 Silver SE,87108, Plenty of easy, free parking.              

~~ Los Lunas  ~~  Tuesday and Thursday at Garden Gate, 10:30 Yoga, 9am Water-aerobics – *due to popularity of class please sign-up for session or to get on wait list. (Alb. students call ahead for drop-in at the Spa)       If your home practice needs a tune-up or a jump-start, schedule an individual session!                                                                                                   Peace, Christina

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September – grief and praise

Happy September Dear Ones,

Change is in the winds.  Children are off to school.  Mine is on the other side of the planet, far away for longer than ever before.  I have cried, already missing her, yet,  I praise the woman she’s become, and cry happy tears!  When we talk my heart swells and she makes me laugh, often.

For me, Autumn is a time for rest or wildness, or both.  Every autumn, I  am aware of my own domestication process,  school, learning to contain myself, sit still, follow directions, and hold back expression.   So, I  cry more this time of year, because I am  missing my wildness.  I want to dance with abandon, let tears roll, and laugh until my sides ache and eyes water. Not all the time, of course, but more, deeper.

As autumn deepens, it is a time of decay and dying,  to let go of what has finished it’s time. Some of what we let go of , we may need to grieve. 

I recently listened to these talks, Grief and Praise by a South American Shaman, Martin Prechtel.  His way of speaking is humble and funny.   I hope some of you listen and enjoy this as much as I did, at least read my  notes here.  He reminded me of the medicine of tears (and laughter). I am paraphrasing some of his talk here…

“The ability to weep is a gift. Laughter and weeping are relatives.   Praise and grief live in the same house, sleep in the same bed. Weeping is not depression, not sadness…it is lack of grieving. Tears loosen  medicine…This is why we feel so alive when grief is done…done properly…there is not a right way, but…you look a mess when you’re done and feel so alive~!  Grief brings you back to life. Grief is a form of praise of life, the gift of being alive.”

He talked about how important it is to praise young people, all their ideas,” praise them well, all the time, listen to them and teach them how to grieve properly.  Let then see you grieve so they will know how….. The ”tough” youth play out our illness, for us to see- they act flat- like they feel nothing….flat.” (he tells a funny story in the talk)

 When something dies it is important to grieve, or it is as if it was never alive. You can’t deal with it yourself; it takes a community…To grieve properly takes a lot of people, hundreds of people…  Praise is better that way too.  

“When the tears roll you have to listen to the person. Nothing to solve… they are in that place, listen to them, let it rock.. Same with happiness… let it roll… Grief makes people care for each other…We love expression in the village, the people watch out for you. People praise and grieve in such a way that the village holds them up while they do it”.  

Here is a prayer he spoke in native language, then in English, then explained it’s meaning                                        Long Line, Honey in the Heart, tears of Gods,                                                                 white roads, paved with the eyebrows of the moon, which is sea foam                             all color roads, which are paved with abundance from the tail of the morning star,    which is the deer.    No evils, 13 thank-you(s).

Do listen to the whole brief talks at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6h3JNOCTYc

Namaste,   Christina

Frog and Dragonflies   can you find the frog?                                 Alb Bio Park

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August @ Happy Mountain Yoga

 

 Happy August, Yoga Friends! 

It has been great to have the rains and cooler days here so far this month. 

Nature is good medicine!    Watch & share this for funhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bf5TgVRGND4

All classes on regular schedule for August plus adding a restorative class the on 16th, 5:30pm at The Garden Gate.
The Restorative Yoga class at Studio Blue was so well attended and such a sweet group. I will do it again soon!  
FYI – Individual sessions will be $75 beginning in 2017. So take advantage of low rate for the next 4 months to get support in designing your home practice! 
For more fun, showing you a bit of  “fence art”, which I created in my hood.  I am not fond of chain link. (construction and war zones) So, I had fun cutting and weaving in old fabric and rags. It is a much warmer, welcoming sight than plain chain-link, don’t you think?
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(Photo by Lloyd  of Lloyd Thrap Photography )

Namaste, Christina

June quotes

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Hello Dear Yoga Friends,

 Sharing a few Quotes you might enjoy:    

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

 

“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

 “The chemistry of mind is different from the chemistry of love. The mind is careful, suspicious, advances little by little…advices “Be careful, protect yourself” Whereas love says “Let yourself, go!” The mind is strong, never fells down, while love hurts itself, fells into ruins. But isn’t it in ruins that we mostly find the treasures? A broken heart hides so many treasures.”  ~ Shams Tabrizi 

Peace, Christina 

May and early June at Happy Mountain

Dear Yoga Friends , 
It’s the merry month of May!      

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“Flowers are love embodied. Look deeply at the color. Feel the vibrancy. Put your nose a little closer. Look deeply. Fall inside. Start your life over right here, right now, inside a flower. Make a new decision. Then feel again. Decide you are okay right here now. ” ~ Lao Tzu

May Reading    

“We all possess an acceptable level of proprioception that allows the body to move through life, but we’re now learning that high-quality proprioception can be an extremely important key to healthy aging. Researchers have recently uncovered a link between increased levels of proprioception and decreased levels of pain in the body. In other words, the more that your brain can sense your body accurately, the less pain you tend to experience. In addition, the more developed your proprioception is, the more skillful your daily movements will naturally become, reducing your chances of injury in the first place (and this becomes increasingly important as we grow older)”.          Link to article here  https://yogainternational.com/article/view/yoga-anatomy-what-every-teacher-and-practitioner-should-know-about-fascia

An Interesting article  /anxiety-yoga-and-brain-chemistry.html

A motivating article  /the-secrets-of-yoga-asana/

 Namaste,    Christina

     

 

What is Yoga, Really?

What Yoga Is,  and Is Not.

Know What you are getting into.  

YOGA IS:

    • Moving Meditation.
    • Focused Concentration and keen awareness of mind and body.
    • Control of the breath, Movement synchronized to the breath: Awareness  with the breath.
    • Vinyasa– a flow through a series of movements – One breath to one movement. An example is sun salutations. Vinyasa warms the body from inside and increases meditative focus, and awareness of the breath.
    • Asana– (“poses” and also the movement into, with-in and out of them) which lead to doing more difficult Asanas, creating greater freedom of mind and body.
    • A process. Each movement towards, with-in and transition out of an Asana is a journey towards mind-body integration, flexibility and strength with-in that asana, the unique way you find it within your own body.
    • Everyone’s individual body structure means there is great variety in how a person gets into, and looks in any pose.
    • Yoga is complex. This is why it is a process! Often a slow process, even with diligent daily practice.
    • Always a whole being (body-mind-emotions) experience.  Expect to change more than your body!
    • Physical asana is only one of the eight limbs of yoga Philosophy.
    • The goal of yoga is no less than Enlightenment -knowledge/understanding/insight which brings freedom. (Though better health or physical appearance are often the goal in the west)
    • The rewards are mastery over the mind and a strong, flexible, yet supple, body.
    • One theory of how physical Yoga was originally created is so that a person could remain in seated, still in meditation without being distracted by discomfort in the body.
    • Yoga has been attributed as great tools for religion, or spiritual growth, no matter what faith or philosophy a person believes. The practice of yoga as lifestyle is expanded understanding, compassion, inner peace and peaceful conduct, until eventually all of life becomes a moving meditation.
    • It is a philosophy. The branch of Yoga, Devotion, can be devotion in the religious sense, but this is a personal choice.

 

YOGA IS NOT:

  • Classes, (Just like any art form, you take classes but you practice on your own.)
  • A religion
  • Simple
  • Being a contortionists
  • A physical exercise class
  • A sport
  • A quick fix to anything
  • Something you master completely on any given day. (there is no finish line).

Know What you are getting into.   Find the class(es) and teacher(s) right for you.

Namaste,  Christina

How does our lifestyle affect our mobility?

 

Our mobility, health, physical, mental and emotional well-being are affected by the way we live.

 Lifestyle can be changed, and with understanding and patience it can evolve to support health of mind, body and spirit.

You may be pleased and surprised at the things you will be able to do with patience and practice. Being aware of daily activities and how to do them in such a way as to support health and well-being can make a huge difference.

 These are several factors inhibiting mobility which I have seen effect myself and most people I know:

 Outward focus focus on the job(s) at hand rather than keeping focus on the body doing the job.  In physical education and sports the focus is on the ball, with the team, and the competition. When introspection and body awareness are valued, movement becomes more fluid, safer, and meditative, leading to more useful mobility and reduction of stress.

Chairs – Think about it – sitting in chairs uses a very limited range of motion in the hips compared with sitting on ground, squatting, or on low cushions several times a day. In olden times and currently in many places, particularly in rural areas, people daily sit or squat on the ground or floors throughout their lifetime, not only when they are young.

chinese-women-seated-outdoors-mountainsMaasai-Assistantsmas033sitted

Cars – We walk far less than we did historically and compared to rural people. Walking is the most underrated exercise/ activity in modern culture. Many people don’t walk daily or for more than a few steps, many days of our lives, yet daily walking is great for our whole bodies including our posture. In many cities throughout Europe and places like New York, NY, people walk as their primary means of transportation. See my earlier post- Walking is the Most Underrated Exercise.

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Avoiding squatting & Seat-toilets –  Squatting uses a great range of motion in the hips legs ankles and feet Also squatting is the best way for the body to completely eliminate waste. There have been numerous studies showing that the more open position of the colon when squatting leads to easier elimination and fewer problems associated with it.

squat3 active

Shallow breathing- Yes, most all of us tend to do this! Deep breathing is essential to mind/body connection, physical performance, and true relaxation. Deep breathing and breath control are essential to progress in any physical practice. When I instruct new students to breathe deeply, more often than not, they do a fast shallow breath and hold it then exhale fast as well. Deep controlled breathing takes much daily practice.

“Sit still” – many of us are conditioned from early on to not move. After kindergarten, children in school move about very little for most of the 7 hour school day. e.g. no longer sitting on the floor, standing, stretching or free play.

To hold the body in one position, at computer, TV, phone, in a car, formed into a chair without some movement (especially of the spine) promotes poor posture and weaker core strength particularly when done over days and weeks and years (7 hour school day, 8 hour work-week).

Even infants and toddlers in car-seats and strollers need to move frequently (15+ minutes at a time I believe is a long time to “sit still” unless resting or sleeping, and there should still be room to move as the child intuitively will want/need to do).

children children2Those fidgeting children in school may have been doing (or trying to do) the right thing for their body!

Not resting –  when we are tired.  I love this picture! Restorative yoga, farm style!

resting – So much of the time people drink coffee or tea to keep going, when really they need a rest.     Quality rest is a benefit of an active lifestyle, remember how well you slept as a child after active playing all day?

We live in a culture of quick-fixes– We are way too easily discouraged. We expect instant and fast results, and tend to become discouraged if we don’t do something well within the first few days or weeks. Yet we all know that people don’t become masterful at anything without study and practice.

Because of all these trends in modern life, many people experience stiffness (inhibited movement)*, discomfort, and often even pain in the tissues of the body.  With lack of movement, there is also atrophy of the neural pathways; even your brain needs some re-training! *There are other factors also, such as age, injuries and illnesses that effect people’s mobility worldwide.

It may be disheartening to realize  how much we may have “lost”.

The good news is it can be gained back with patience and daily practice.

No wonder getting started is difficult! Do it anyway!  And accept yourself exactly where you are at, and enjoy the journey!

All the best, Christina

If you are interested in starting yoga, you may want to read this blog to know what you’re getting into What Yoga Is and Is Not.