Tag Archives: awareness

August 2017

Dear Yoga Friends,

A short letter and blog this month, because I really hope you read the articles I am sharing links to below!

Schedule

Is the same except Restorative yoga! Monday August 28th, 6pm at Versatile Vitality! Space limited so come early!  cash or checks only. $9 drop in (or one class on your multi class pass)

   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

 

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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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

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