Pose Breakdown – 15.07.18 – Standing Mountain (Tadasana)

Standing Mountain, or Tadasana in Sanskrit, is one of the five foundational poses that has evolved for me over time.  In my first ever Yoga class, I remember standing with my shoulders hunched forward and feeling as if time was being wasted.  As I grew in my awareness of my physical body, I began to discover dynamic tension.  Dynamic tension asks us to investigate the pulling of our muscles in opposite directions.  My Standing Mountain went from letting my shoulders hunch forward and my mind becoming bored to a posture that brought beads of sweat to my forehead.

Challenge ourselves to stand upright, feet hips distance apart and spread our toes wide.  Pressing into our mat with our entire foot we begin to activate dynamic tension and disobey gravity here.  Soften the knees enough for a tiny bend (no one wants to be that person at a wedding that falls over from our knees being locked out) and let our belly be pulled in toward our spine.  As our shoulders roll back, let our fingers become active in reaching toward the floor.  The crown of our head reaches skyward allowing our spine to lengthen.  Continue to cycle our consciousness through these different points of emphasis.  Hold the posture for five full breaths.  How do we feel?

Feel free to repeat for fewer or more breaths as we feel necessary.  This posture can also be completed in a chair at home, work or even in our car (please keep both hands on the wheel though if driving).  Always investigate and ask how we feel :).  Who knows what we might learn about our body.

Health Benefits (http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/mountain-pose/

  • Improves posture
  • Strengthens thighs, knees, and ankles
  • Firms abdomen and buttocks
  • Relieves sciatica
  • Reduces flat feet

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Tuesdays @ Thomasville YMCA – 9.16.14 (Asteya – Stealing from the Earth)

I will immediately claim a deficiency in this aspect of Asteya.  I like MY stuff.  I worked hard for MY stuff.  One day though, MY stuff will move on to someone else or rot and decay.  

Possessions are defined as “the state of having, owning, or controlling something.”  I especially do not like the word controlling.  In a Performance Yoga post, we discussed how it is frustrating when trying to control the brain.  Possessions can bring that same level of frustration.  Ultimately we are given or have purchased them and are now tasked with either caring for them or destroying them.  There is stress here.  It means that we will be careful and consider the next person to possess the item or we will allow stagnation to form and the item will be useless to future generations.  We are on loan to this earth just as our possessions are on loan to us.

Stealing from the Earth
Mantra – I am on loan.

We forget that we are spirits having a human experience.  We are visitors to the human experience; we are visitors in the fullest sense of the word.  We are visitors to this land, to our bodies, to our minds.  To fully appreciate this reality is to accept that nothing on this physical plane does or can belong to us.

We use the term “I,” “mine,” and “my” with almost everything … my house, my car, my clothes, my kids … we can even say, “I had a flat tire.”  The ownership of things is steeped deep in our language and cultures and makes it hard for us to appreciate the extent to which nothing really is ours.  This guideline asks us to view everything in our possession as something precious that is on loan to us.  And for the time that it is on loan to us, we are asked to care for it.

The bounty of the earth is for the community, not the individual.

Book – “The Yamas and Niyamas” by Deborah Adele

Tuesdays @ Thomasville YMCA – 9.9.14 (Asteya – Stealing from Others)

It is easy to think of “nonstealing” as simply the avoidance of taking possessions that are not ours.  It goes much deeper than this.  The concept is the same, as stealing develops a mistrust and stress.  We are a crafty species and will steal out of jealousy and necessity.  This is a delicate line to toe.  This line asks to contemplate integrity and what it means.

Asteya, or nonstealing, calls us to live with integrity and reciprocity.  If we are living in fears and lies, our dissatisfaction with ourselves and our lives leads us to look outward, with a tendency to steal what is not rightfully ours.  We steal from others, we steal from the earth, we steal from the future, and we steal from ourselves.  We steal from our own opportunity to grow ourselves into the person who has a right to have the life they want.

Stealing from Others
Mantra – I am a forklift.

When we compare ourselves to others, we either find ourselves lacking, which makes us feel somehow cheated, or we find ourselves superior, which leaves us feeling somewhat  arrogant.  Our attention on others from a place of discontent within ourselves can lead us to live vicariously through others or to try to control, manipulate, or manage them in order to boost our own sagging ego.  We may find ourselves trying to “trump” or “one-up” their stories and successes and experiences by coming behind them with our own more fabulous tale.  It is all an attempt to make ourselves feel better about ourselves.  Thief.

Or perhaps we steal from others by not paying attention to them or discounting them.  In all the instances where we steal, we have made the situation about us, not about the other.  When we feel unhappy with ourselves or our lives, we have a tendency to drag people down with us or make snide comments that come from jealousy.

“Be a forklift; you should always be lifting people up.”  The question we can ask ourselves in our encounters with others is, does the other person feel uplifted and lighter because they have been with us, or do they feel like something precious was taken from them?  Have we brightened their day by taking a moment to listen, to sincerely compliment them, or simply to smile?

Book – “The Yamas and Niyamas” by Deborah Adele

Performance Yoga – 9.8.14 (Vividness and Beach Visualization)

Our “Performance Yoga” class has introduced the idea of visualizations.  In our next series of classes, the five key components to visualizations will be shared culminating in a visual meditation.  Time to get past those negative thoughts on the mistakes that we make and enjoy the present :).

Vividness – a vivid image is one in which the imagined events are realistic, and multi-sensory, and as detailed as possible. The closer the image is to the real thing in terms of thoughts, emotions, senses, and actions, the better the transfer should be to actual performance. The key is to use as many senses as possible (e.g., see the action, feel yourself moving, hear the sounds, smell the smells), and to try and recreate the feel of the movement as if you are actually doing it (“feelization”). For instance, Sport Psychologist Dick Coop suggests golfers incorporate two levels of visualization on every shot; first create a mental movie of the way you want the ball to fly (ball flight to the target) and second, translation of that picture into an image of how the body should move in order to hit the shot (rhythm and feel of hitting a solid shot or putt). Key is to create a vivid, detailed, and confident image.
from “Teaching Athletes Visualization and Mental Imagery Skills” by David Yukelson, Ph.D. Penn State University

Modified from … http://www.innerhealthstudio.com/visualization-relaxation.html

Imagine you are walking toward the ocean…. walking through a beautiful, tropical forest….
You can hear the waves up ahead…. you can smell the ocean spray…. the air is moist and warm…. feel a pleasant, cool breeze blowing through the trees….
You walk along a path….coming closer to the sea….as you come to the edge of the trees, you see the brilliant aqua color of the ocean ahead….
You walk out of the forest and onto a long stretch of white sand…. the sand is very soft powder…. imagine taking off your shoes, and walking through the hot, white sand toward the water….
The beach is wide and long….
Hear the waves crashing to the shore….
Smell the clean salt water and beach….
You gaze again toward the water…. it is a bright blue-green….
See the waves washing up onto the sand….. and receding back toward the ocean…. washing up…. and flowing back down….. enjoy the ever-repeating rhythm of the waves…
Imagine yourself walking toward the water…. over the fine, hot sand…. you are feeling very hot….
As you approach the water, you can feel the mist from the ocean on your skin. You walk closer to the waves, and feel the sand becoming wet and firm….
A wave washes over the sand toward you…. and touches your toes before receding…
As you step forward, more waves wash over your feet… feel the cool water provide relief from the heat….
Walk further into the clear, clean water…. you can see the white sand under the water…. the water is a pleasant, relaxing temperature…. providing relief from the hot sun… cool but not cold….
You walk further into the water if you wish…. swim if you want to…. enjoy the ocean for a few minutes….. allow the visualization relaxation to deepen…. more and more relaxed… enjoy the ocean….
Now you are feeling calm and refreshed…
You walk back out of the water and onto the beach…
Stroll along the beach at the water’s edge…. free of worries… no stress… calm….. enjoying this holiday….
Up ahead is a comfortable lounge chair and towel, just for you…
You feel peaceful and relaxed…. allow all your stresses to melt away….

Donation-Based Class – 6.28.14 (Tricia Creasey Foundation)

I was privileged to teach a donation-based class this morning for the Tricia Creasey Foundation.  There was an amazing energy throughout the class.  Below is the meditation …

“What if we could trust life like we trust the breath?  What if we could take in all the nourishment of the moment and then let it go fully, trusting that more nourishment will come?

Just like the breath gives us nourishment, so does life in the form of homes, work, relationships, routines that bring ease, beliefs, stances, and images of ourselves.  There is nourishment until we get attached to these things, often unconsciously, and then disturb ourselves with expectations, opinions, criticisms, disappointments, all because we forget to trust life, exhale, and let go.  Like the breath when it is held too long, the things that nourish us can become toxic.

Aparigraha invites us to practice divine play, experience full intimacy and contact with the moment, and then to let go so the next thing can come.  It is how our competency grows and how we become more who we are capable of becoming.  I have a grand piano that I enjoy playing.  But when it is time to eat I don’t carry the piano to the dining room.  Why would I want all that weight on my shoulders?

And yet, often we do try to carry the piano to the dining room table, so to speak, trying all different ways we can think of to find some kind of permanence, something to hold on to.  But the nature of the realm of Aparigraha is impermanence.  Everything changes.  Nothing stays the same.  If we can fall back to the breath and watch the belly rise and fall with each inhalation and exhalation, we can feel the truth of the transience of all things.”

Book – “The Yamas and Niyamas” by Deborah Adele