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 (Christmas day)
or Monday January 1st (New Year's day).
 No los Lunas classes on Tuesday Dec 26th. 
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/

Walking is the most underrated exercise!

Walking is the most under-rated exercise!!!

I was fortunate to grow up in a small town where we walked: to friends, to the park, to ice skate, for picnics on the grass.  I also walked several blocks to school.  Walking is great for many reasons, such as; focusing the eyes on sights at various distances, (vestibular functioning & eyesight) enjoying nature, trees, the sky,  fresh air, and using systems of muscular integration to propel the body forward and remain balanced.

Even if you are very active, if you are not walking regularly, you may not be resetting the body in an important natural way.

Humans were meant to walk. Walking is one way our body resets its natural alignment.  It is weight bearing exercise. Walking is natural movement that involves moving all of your muscles and tissue, increasing metabolism, lubricating the joints, increasing blood flow and oxygen to all the cells of the body, nourishing our physical being.

Walking energizes the body, as well as relaxes the mind: walking can even be a meditation. Walking can also be calming for the emotions, through appreciating beauty, nature, fresh air, sunshine, rain, seeing the people of your neighborhood; all this can lift your spirits.

Recently, I overheard a conversation between young people (mid 20’s) talking about numerous ailments, medications, and procedures, which hadn’t brought relief.  One young woman said “I wish I was in shape to exercise”, another responded “me too”.  I wondered if they considered a walking as a possibility.

I work with older people (up to 102 years old) some who don’t spend any time talking about ailments and medicine; because they are busy living life! They stayed active, they do daily walking.

In the past, (and for many people currently), our bodies are the primary tool of transportation, used with care and awareness for survival and longevity. Sedentary wasn’t an option! Now, the many conveniences of modern life: cars, furniture, chair-toilets, and media are enabling many people to be less mobile, less flexible, less connected and less aware.

Walking is enough to change the whole paradigm of the sedentary lifestyle.

A brisk daily walk, 30-45 minutes, is sound, healthy, preventative medicine.  It is that simple, yet not easy; breaking habits & starting new habits requires determination, commitment and an open, flexible mind).  Who knows, after this is a habit, you might find yourself enjoying yoga, dance, or a long hike!

It can be a real challenge to begin! Creating time may mean letting some things go…let them go!!! Invest the time to nurture personal health and peace of mind.  How does your self-talk, activity and lifestyle affect starting and continuing your walking routine??? Notice who are your allies for healthy Living??? Having walking buddies increases success! Who could be your walking buddy

 

100 reasons to get out in Nature.

  1. Fresh air
  2. Sunshine
  3. Exercise
  4. Enjoy the beauty of trees
  5. Enjoy the beauty of terrain
  6. Enjoy the beauty of the sky
  7. Enjoy the beauty of clouds
  8. Enjoy the beauty of stars
  9. Enjoy the moon
  10. Enjoy the moonlight world
  11. Focus your eyes at different distances
  12. Enjoy the beauty of plants
  13. Remember the cycle of life
  14. Enjoy the beauty of creatures
  15. Enjoy the beauty of birds
  16. Experience the environment
  17. Enjoy the beauty of breezes, wind
  18. Relax
  19. Get creative inspiration
  20. Enjoy the sense of smell
  21. Enjoy the sense of touch
  22. Eat, food tastes better outside.
  23. Get away from screens
  24. Get away from phones
  25. Get away from traffic
  26. Get away from day to day routines
  27. Possibility for adventure is high
  28. Remembering how change is a part of life
  29. See something new
  30. See something old
  31. Hear your own intuition
  32. Enjoy quiet
  33. Enjoy the sounds of birds
  34. Experience different temperatures
  35. Experience rain
  36. Experience snow
  37. Feast your eyes on colors
  38. Feast your eyes on textures
  39. Feast you eyes on patterns
  40. Explore
  41. Play
  42. Enjoy sunrises
  43. Enjoy sunsets
  44. Release emotions
  45. Enjoy the beauty of flowers
  46. Enjoy the smells of flowers and plants
  47. See life all around you
  48. Experience phenomena of the sky- rainbows, northern lights, shooting stars.
  49. Experience stillness or storms
  50. 50 to 100 enjoy all 50 things by sharing them in the company of different friends especially curious children!