Tag Archives: Embodiment

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.

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

 

Your Yoga, a home practice

Yoga is an art.   As a kid I wanted to play guitar. I went to lessons. I didn’t practice between lessons.  My teacher kept saying “you can’t really learn without practicing at home”.   He told me this every week.  He could tell I wasn’t practicing. I think he got tired of going over the same bits over and over, which was all he could do because I didn’t practice. I didn’t progress much at playing guitar either; I lost interest and quit after less than a year of lessons.

Just as a musician must practice their musical instrument daily, or a dancer practice every day, yoga students who want to make progress will have to find the self-discipline to start a daily practice on their own.

The most important reasons to begin and continue a home practice

  • You get to know your own body , your own strengths and weaknesses.
  • You gain the mental and psychological benefits that are the whole original purpose of yoga, and will not come without daily home practice. You will learn more about yourself than  any books or workshops can ever show you, because you will be taking that inward journey every day.
  • You will have this touchstone, this place of anchoring every day, A true blessing in this ever-changing, fast paced and imperfect, sometimes crazy world we live in.

What is a daily “home” or “individual” practice?

Daily – Honestly, 5 to 7 times a week is GREAT!!!

Home – in your home, have a place for doing yoga, a place you like, it can be in any room, outside on nice days… Have a time for yoga; most people who don’t chose a specific time for yoga have trouble doing it 5 to 7 times a week.  I carved out time in the early morning, because too much can happen once my day is started.

Individual – Just you with yourself.  It can be done with or around others, but you are doing your yoga, no chatting, no interruptions, no TV, phone, no distractions!

Practice – is not a competition, not an exhibition, not a performance and not a race! Let it be stress-free. Cultivate a patient mind. Some days you’ll be slow and other days you will feel like being fierce. You will learn to honor where you are at.

 

How do you begin a home practice?  To start, you do what you can remember from class (so yes, do attend classes.) Take your time getting into and out of postures, and hold postures longer, to make discoveries and build strength.

  • Take some time, five minutes is good, to become aware of and deepen your breath.
  • Begin moving easily and repeat 3 to 10 sun salutations, to warm up the body.
  • Do standing poses – warriors, triangles, tree or others; switching it up is good.
  • Do child’s pose when you need a rest.
  • Do a few seated postures and one or two laying down.
  • Include one inversion.  Legs up a wall counts.
  • Always do savasana for a minimum of 8 minutes.

It is a great idea to get an individual session to design and refine your daily practice, after a few weeks, then at least once a year.

BUT...   “I don’t have time for it every day.” By making time for a daily practice the rest of your day will be more productive.  The rest of your day will be less stressful. These blogs discus how yoga does this in more detail;   yoga for beating stress      yoga as tool against fatigue

“I don’t care if I make progress I’m just doing yoga for maintenance.”  There is no such thing as maintaining, unless you are making progress.   Unless you are strengthening muscles in your body, and moving in your full range of motion 4-6 times a week.  Exercise is stimulus.  The changes to body tissue happens in the 24 to 48 hours afterwards.  You become weaker and more rigid after 48 hours.  This is even truer as you get older.  After the 48 hours… if there is no stimulus again your hard work begins to get undone.  Period, that’s it. (After months and years of daily yoga you maintain better flexibility if you do miss some days or weeks, your base-line has gotten higher).

“I do enough other exercise.” Great! But, by doing a home practice of yoga, you’re less likely to get injured doing other exercises and be able to do them longer as you age.

“I’m active  in my daily work (or life).”  Most often, in our daily routine, we do many repetitive movements, with the focus on what we are doing rather than the body and mind doing it.  We use limited amount of the many muscles, less range of motion and less systematic use of many muscles.  If your work is hard physical labor, less and/or “restorative” yoga might be what you need to practice at home.