Category Archives: health and wellness

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?
fence art 1
(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.

401_Gridlock cropped walkingscarrying, emma photo

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.

I DON’T DO YOGA!   I PRACTICE YOGA!

I DON’T DO YOGA!   I PRACTICE YOGA                                 !02250002a

Just as a runner does not do a marathon, he or she spends hours, days, months and years training in order to run (do) marathons. Dancers don’t just wake up one day and perform complex choreography with ease, they practice daily for weeks, months and years.

This is why, as a yoga teacher, I get weary of hearing “I can’t do that” or “I can’t do yoga”. I am weary because I couldn’t do 98% of what I do now when I started, either! I did not get to where I am now by magic; I wasn’t at all flexible when I started, my posture was poor, and my core and many other muscles were weak. Fortunately, I have had great teachers and attended many helpful workshops and trainings. I have been to classes ranging from horrible to excellent.

Mostly, I work hard at it every day with my mind as focused as possible every moment of the practice.  And when I find a good teacher,  I stay with him or her so that they know me and know what is hard for me. (Because I try to avoid what is hard. Yup, I do this too!)

The other reason yoga teachers get tired of hearing “I can’t do that” or “I can’t do yoga” is that we know it is not true.   We see people practice yoga who let nothing stand in their way. Personally, I have practiced yoga with a person missing an arm, another person dealing with multiple sclerosis, and people recovering from cancer treatments and surgeries.

The main reason I am weary of hearing this (and I suppose most other teachers are also) is because it is a self-fulfilling-prophecy.  It keeps you from starting and inhibits progress when you do start.

If you have ever tried to teach a kid to swim or ride a bike you know exactly what I am talking about. All those attempts when they didn’t believe they could do it didn’t bring success! Yet once they start to believe even slightly “maybe I can do this”, the attempts become successful.   This isn’t just true for kids!!!   It is true for adults as well.  I and my yoga friends often talk about why we struggle with certain poses, for example I was (still am) frightened of arm balances and handstand poses. I know the problem is in my mind – my thinking “I can’t do this” or fear “what if I fall, and get hurt”. Intellectually I know this is ridiculous because I can do these with a spotter or teacher standing next to and supporting me, and I have fallen and not gotten hurt.  It might be ten or one hundred more attempts before I believe I can do it and/ or get past fear enough to actually succeed.

So keep trying, keep practicing, there is no finish line.

All the best~ Christina

Asana is only the “tip of the iceberg”

Hello Yoga Friends,
Asana (postures) and movement you do in yoga class is one of Eight aspects or limbs of yoga: I wrote another blog which is an article to introduce you to the   8 Limbs of Yoga.
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Asana is only the tip of the Iceberg,

  The best benefits of yoga cannot be seen with the physical eyes. The best benefits can’t be seen in any picture! And real benefits of yoga began with-in the first weeks of daily practice!

For example, this pose took me over 5 years of daily practice, as well as 45 minutes warming up to do for this photo. What is the greatest benefit is beyond words and is related to many benefits through the practice  

yoganidrasana, 2016 

 Peace, Christina