Tag Archives: Yoga

Your Yoga

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.

Bringing Light Into Our Wounded Places & Svadhyaya

Through yoga practice we find peace. This does not mean we ignore what is happening, and just hang out in that “happy place”!

It means we face life head-on!  We look at the hard stuff inside of us and outside in the world. That inner peace, is a reserve, so no matter what is going on outside,  you are coming from a place of peace, rather than fear, anger, hatred, greed or pride.

As yogis we discover another reality beyond hype and fear.   We chose compassion over and over.  We show up to create another reality beyond the divisiveness of racism, sexism, classism,  anti semitism. We look outside our individual socio-economic, racial, political, cultural bubbles to understand those we disagree with and those who we have been conditioned to see as “other”.  We have the courage to build bridges daily.

We continue to reflect and improve ourselves and how we interact in the world.  Svadhyaya – Self study,  Sva means “self’ adhyaya means “inquiry” or “examination” This is the 4th Niyama (Niyamas are one of 8 limbs of yoga) .

We heal our emotional wounds.  Often, especially in times of turmoil, we forget to go to the stillness and listen, to feel, to let our broken hearts weep, to grieve our losses.  Personally sometimes…. I felt so domesticated, so numb, so stoic, so inexpressive, yet, now  I am learning to tap into those wounded places and give them voice.  I have been finding where the old wounds live in my body and discovering ways to move/ wash/ breath  them out.  Doing this work is not pretty, calm or subtle, it is powerful, and can be fierce and messy, but it does not mean your hysterical or insane, you are just alive!

Here are some article links which I have chosen for you, who want to delve further, ( this is also recommended reading for those of you attending the Women’s Healing Yoga Journey on February 18th).

http://yogadork.com/rage-fear-sadness-fatigue-the-yoga-of-darkness

 
And finally, some  poetic  lyrics of Lenard Cohen’s  “Anthem” which comfort me in these times.(2017 in the USA)
The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.
Ah the wars they will
be fought again…
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up
a thundercloud
and they’re going to hear from me.
Every heart, every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in….
Namaste, Christina

Universal Morality and Personal Observances

I am writing from my own study and understanding of first two limbs of the Eight limbs of Yoga, Yama and Niyama. This is an introduction.  Further study of the Yoga Sutras is advised for continued learning.

 It is important when practicing these restraints and disciplines to be kind and non-judgemental of yourself and your progress.

 These are not things generally mastered, one by one,  these are  similar to lamp posts to guide your way at night or similar to a compass for your journeys. Yet, sometimes lessons will come from wandering off course and in the dark.

They are not mastered in any order, but studied and contemplated frequently.  These are ideals that speak to our highest self, but we are here as humans and will likely fall short, maybe even frequently.  It is better to have this moral compass, even if we forget to use it, we can learn from wanderings, learn from our errors… and then study them again with new insight. Mindful progress over time and progress is certain.

First consider all Eight limbs (in the usual presented order)-  not as steps, for it is best to think of them as 8 spokes of a wheel.

  1. Yama :  Universal morality
  2. Niyama :  Personal observances
  3. Asanas :  Body postures
  4. Pranayama :  Breathing exercises, and control of prana
  5. Pratyahara :  Control of the senses
  6. Dharana :  Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
  7. Dhyana :  Devotion, Meditation on the Divine
  8. Samadhi :  Union with the Divine

The 5 Yamas (Universal Morality) disciplines or self restraints that are primarily concerned with the world, and our interaction with it, in our day to day life

1. Ahimsa – Compassion for all living things Ahimsa implies that in every situation we should adopt a compassionate attitude and do no harm.

2. Satya – Commitment to Truthfulness 
Satya means “to speak the truth,”  and is based on the understanding that honest communication and action form the bedrock of any healthy relationship, community, or government.  Asking yourself before speaking, is it true? is it kind? is it necessary?

3. Asteya – Non-stealing 
 Take nothing that does not belong to you.  The practice of asteya implies not taking anything that has not been freely given. This includes fostering a consciousness of how we ask for others’ time, for example demanding another’s attention when not freely given is, in effect, stealing.

4. Brahmacharya – Sense control 
Brahmacharya  is abstinence, particularly in relationship to sexual activity. Brahmacharya suggests that we should form relationships that foster our understanding of the highest truths. It does not necessarily imply celibacy. It means responsible behavior, that we use our sexual energy to regenerate our connection to our spiritual self. It also means that we don’t use this energy in any way that might harm others.

5. Aparigraha – Neutralizing the desire to acquire and hoard wealth 
Aparigraha means to take only what is necessary, and not to take advantage of or act with greed.  Aparigraha also implies letting go of our attachments to things and an understanding that impermanence and change are the only constants.

The 5 Niyama (Personal Observances) The second limb usually refers to self discipline and also with our actions towards others in our day to day life.

1. Sauca – Purity 
Sauca is purity and cleanliness, outer cleanliness, daily washing etc, and Inner cleanliness for healthy,  functioning of our bodily organs and also the clarity of our mind.  Practicing asanas and pranayama are means for inner cleanliness.  Asanas tone the  body and removes toxins while pranayama cleanses our lungs, oxygenates our blood and purifies our nerves. Most important is t cleansing of the mind of  toxic emotions – hatred,  anger, lust, greed, delusion and pride.

2. Santosa – ContentmentSantosa is modesty and  being content with what we have. To be at peace within and content with one’s lifestyle, finding contentment even while experiencing life’s difficulties then life becomes a process of growth through all circumstances. We begin to accept that there is a purpose for everything – yoga calls it karma – and we cultivate contentment to accept what life sends us and flow with it.

3. Tapas – Disciplined use of our energy 
Tapas refers to the activity of awareness and control of the body’s energy.  Literally it means to heat the body and, by so doing, to cleanse it. This is the understanding that we can direct our energy to engage life and achieve the ultimate goal of  union with the Divine. Tapas helps us “burn up” the desires that stand in our way of union.  Other forms of tapas are paying attention to what we eat, to body posture, , eating habits, and breathing patterns.

4. Svadhyaya – Self studysvadhyaya. Sva means “self’ adhyaya means “inquiry” or “examination”.  All activities which cultivate self-reflective consciousness can be considered svadhyaya. It means to intentionally find self-awareness , even to the point of welcoming and accepting our limitations. Learning to be centered and non-reactive to the dualities, and to dispel self-destructive tendencies.

5. Isvarapranidhana – Celebration , devotion to the Spiritual 
Isvarapranidhana  is  contemplation on God (Isvara) It is the recognition that the spiritual is everywhere and  through our deepening awareness we can attune ourselves with our role as part of the Creator.  The practice requires that we make time, each day, to recognize that there is some omnipresent force larger than ourselves that is guiding and moving the the universe. this might be meditation, prayer ,study or service.

Peace in the New Year, 2017

2016, this too, shall pass. Whew!

Maybe this crazy time is meant to awaken us to new ways of being.

The darkest is right before the dawn.

Let’s be the dawning.

~~~~ Some ideas for creating deeper inner peace ~~~~~~~~~~~

~ Awake with a prayer or sense of gratitude for another day. Look at the sunrise or anything beautiful for a few moments before starting your day.

~ Be receptive, allowing, and curious. Be willing to forgo your schedule. Try setting this as an intention before getting out of bed; see it in your mind’s eye! Be ready for surprises; keep open to the freedom of the unknown. Change is the only constant.

~ Walk in the great outdoors – with curiosity and wonder! Walk tall, without fear into whatever arises.

~ A daily spiritual practice ~ You do have time! Try setting your phone timer for 2-3 minutes and focus on your breath, slowing it and deepening it, receiving nourishing oxygen from the Universe on your inhales, and Letting go of tension on your exhales. When you’re done, notice how you feel. Do it daily. This is meditation, one of the 8 limbs of yoga! ~ Spiritual practices are nourishment, elevating your vibration to help you have power to react creatively and constructively to what comes up in life.

~ Stay in the moment- Now is where life happens. The present is our point of power. To live in the moment is so fulfilling. This is liberation. No matter what is going on outside of you, open up to the possibility of experiencing freedom in this moment.

~ Lift your energy in a private session with me! We will discuss what is up for you and find new tools that support your moving forward. I offer yoga including breath work & adjustments, reiki, or a healing session using all of these.

Whole-hearted thank you for the support and co-creation this past year. I look forward to evolving with you in 2017!

Love, Love, Love Christina

***New evening class thursday 6pm Versatile Vitality, 4100 Silver SE Platinum building, 1st floor – lovely space – easy parking $9 drop-in !!!! multi-class bundle discount.
    
***Two gong sound bath healings with Sat Guru Kaur – Jan 21st saturday 6-8pm in Albuquerque, and Thursday Jan 26th 6:30pm at the Garden Gate Day Spa in Las Lunas.

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

June quotes

sky

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