12/4/17 Weekly topic: The Seventh Limb of Yoga- Dhyana

Dhyana- the practice of meditation.

Do you ever wish you can control someones mind? Great news, you can! Through meditation you can control your own mind. Perhaps not exactly what you were going for, however, still a great tool to have. Meditation is a great way to reduce stress, anxiety, tension and rejuvenate the body, increasing overall health. The best part about meditation is it can be practiced by anyone, anywhere and a good majority of it is free.

The practice of Dhyana has been practiced for centuries, perhaps even millenniums.  Even celebrities like Jack Johnson, Moby, Oprah, Russell Brand, Ellen DeGeneres, Eva Mendes, Paul McCartney and George Lucas meditate.

Here are a few free sites to find guided meditations

Here are a few places in town you can visit for guided meditations

Take a moment. Take a breath. Give meditation an try.

11/27/17 Weekly topic: The Sixth Limb of Yoga-Dharana

Dharana is the state of deep concentration or intense focus.

How many times have you tried to focus on one thing, only to find yourself getting side tracked? With multi-tasking being a routine part of daily life and doing more with less, it is challenging to just do less. Set aside some time today, maybe 5 minutes or however long you choose, to do one thing.  It can be anything you choose, but try to focus only on that one thing.  If you are limited with time, set a timer and do not look at the timer until it rings. (Yes it will ring, focus on your task.) Here are a few suggestions of things to do;

  • Go for a walk, with no end point. No place to be.  No goal on how far. Just be the best walker you can be. Focus on how your foot strikes the earth. Notice if your arms move while you walk. Be aware of your body’s reaction to just walking. Focus on only walking. (This is surprisingly more challenging than you think.)
  • Wash a window or the dishes. Set no goals on how many windows or dishes get washed. Concentrate on the act of cleaning the one thing in front of you once it is complete, perhaps you have used all of your time or perhaps you have time to clean one more window or dish. Let your mind focus on the amount of cleanser on the item, the amount of wipes it takes to clean the item, the cleanliness of the item once it is finished.
  • Write a thank you card. Think about what you want to write. Notice how the pen scratches against the card. Pay attention to the formation of the letters as you write them. Place the card in the envelope observing how the corners of the card fit into the envelope. Inscribe the name and address on the envelope and affix the postage stamp and place the card in the mail. Ensure you complete all of the steps of the thank you card or perhaps the Dharana you just put into doing only one thing may not be complete.

Set a realistic time frame. Too much time and you may find yourself easily distracted or become bored. Too little time may cause anxiety or undue stress, if you run out of time perhaps you have more time to finish the task or perhaps you can come back to the task at a later time or decide not to come back to the task at all. Either way it is all okay, no one is judging you, no  one expected you to finish it all, your are not competing to be the best. You are only trying to acomplish thinking about the task in front of you, that is all.

Good luck with your Dharana challenge.  The more often you practice intense focus, the less murky life becomes. Let us know how you did.

11/13/17 Weekly Topic: The Fourth Limb of Yoga- Pranayama

Did you know you can significantly change your mood in less than a minute of intentional breath work? The practice of Pranayama also ensures that every cell in the body receives oxygen and nutrients.

Breathing techniques are known for creating Shakti (energy) and building heat in the body.

Beginner Pranayama

Kapalabhati – or Breath of Fire is a breathing technique used specifically for cleansing, and is a fierce focus on the exhale, pumping the navel. The inhale and ehale is done through the nose. Strengthens lungs, improves circulation, stimulates digestion, boosts immunity, improve concentration and creates warmth in the body.

Bhastrika – is a warrior breath pumping arms into air and striking elbows to ribs while saying: “HAH” from the belly. This breath helps move stale energy and increases circulation which help us break free our normal patterns that may block or obstruct our psyche. Benefits the digestive system and creates warmth in the body.

Anuloma Viloma – is also called the Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique. In this Breathing Technique, you inhale through one nostril, retain the breath, and exhale through the other nostril. Promotes optimum function for both sides of the brain and calms the nervous system.


Advanced Pranayama

Ujjayi– According to the ancient yogic text, Ujjayi can help protect you from a host of diseases by getting rid of excess phlegm, wind or bile. Ujjayi strengthens the Nervous and digestive systems. The breath is inhaled and exhaled through the nose. During the exhalation squeeze the muscles in the back of the throat as if you were fogging up a mirror or window. The exhalation will have a loud hissing noise.

Sithali – The breathing technique tongue hissing refers to the sound caused when air is drawn in through the protruding tongue folded into a tube or O shape. Inhale through the mouth drawing the air through the tube and exhale through the nose. This technique helps calm the brain, reduce blood pressure, nausea, anxiety and cool the body, beneficial for pregnant and menopause relief

Sitkari – pertains to the sound made by drawing air in through the front teeth-either tightly closed or slightly opened-with the tongue tip regulating the air pressure and sound. Exhale slowly through the nose as you bend forward to compress the stomach and express all the air from the body. Inhale slowly as you bring the body back to a vertical seated position, slightly tilting the head back to allow for a maximum amount of air to be drawn in through the opened air passage. Beneficial for the teeth and gums, energizes the body and relieves muscle strain.

Brahmari – Bee breath or Nasal Snoring is more difficult than the usual mouth snoring. Close your eyes, use your fingers to close your ears, inhale and exhale through your nose. During the exhale make a humming sound in your mouth and nasal passage. The humming should cause you to feel vibration throughout the head. This breath reduces sinus pressure, reduces stress, insomnia and body temperature additionally promotes healing in the body.

10/30/17 Weekly topic: The 2nd limb of Yoga

Eight limbs of yoga

Saucha (Cleanliness/purity)- choice of things as pure food, pure speech, cleanliness of the body inside and out.

Santosha (Contentment)- “Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” — Mother Teresa

Tapas (Heat, Perseverance)- develop a fire, a heat inside, a burning desire to better ourselves.

Svadhyaya (Study of One’s Self)-When we know ourselves, we can know our needs, and put in place behaviors to fill our needs.

Ishvara pranidhana (Surrender to the Divine)- is acting as best we can, and then relinquishing all attachment to the outcome of our actions, give up our egotistical illusion that we know best.

11/20/17 Weekly Topic: The Fifth Limb of Yoga- Pratyahara

Pratyahara is the withdrawal of the senses.  What does that even mean? You know when someone starts talking to you and you completely zone out, not hearing a word they said, not remembering what was going on in your head, and not seeing anything around you?  That’s almost it, in sorts!  So how do you practice that? I wouldn’t recommend you doing it at work or driving or during any important times, but I would suggest trying it out in small increments starting with 30 seconds and working your way up.

I think the best way to practice Pratyahara is with the eyes closed, and either in easy seated pose or in savasana (corpse pose.) Typically when you are finishing up a yoga class you end in one of these asanas and this is the perfect time to practice it. However, if you are easily distracted, like I am, you may want to practice it at home either when you first get up or just before bed. Once in position, close the eyes and turn your attention and awareness to your body. Notice the rise and fall of your chest, if thoughts try to sneak in take a deep breath and release those thoughts along with the breath, until all you notice is the air flowing in and out of the body. Notice you heart beating, notice your blood flowing through your veins, notice your cells receiving nutrients. Eventually the thought of the smallest molecule in your body floats away and you have that sense of being without senses.

It is common to fall asleep when practicing Pratyahara, if it happens don’t judge yourself and know you achieved Pratyahara for a moment. Concentrating on exactly nothing is a challenging task especially in today’s world of multi-multi tasking. If you do not achieve Pratyahara the first 10 times you try it do not get discouraged or judge yourself, the fact that you are trying to achieve the withdrawal of senses is challenging in itself. Pratyahara helps relieve stress by calming our sympathetic nervous system thus allowing the parasympathetic nervous system to engulf the body becoming deeply relaxed and open to the inner body reflecting to the outside the state of calmness and just being.

Lets zone in to zone out of our senses.