Monthly Archives: May 2013

Releasing Anxiety

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It happens. We get that notice from our boss that they want to meet, we get a letter from the utility company that we’re past due, we have a disagreement with a significant other that we are going to have to see later in the day, or any other non-clinical anxiety inducing incident that occurs throughout a given day, week or month. Here we are, stuck with the weight of something that feels so overwhelmingly powerful that we find ourselves tight in the chest, tied up in knots (not the good yoga knots), and full of non-clinical anxiety about what will or will not happen.

Of course, I would love to say that ‘living in the moment and being present’ are all you need to hear. Of course, I would like to say that you can overcome this by ‘Letting go’! OK, who am I kidding? These things aren’t so easily overcome and they aren’t so unimportant that we can just ‘let go’. So, instead, why don’t I let you know what you can do to help yourself?

That tightness in your chest? Let’s do some chest-opening yoga poses:

1. Cat/Cow pose  2. Fish pose  3. Chest expansion w/forward fold

Focus on the pose, you can come back to your worry in a minute!

Tightness starting to relax? Now, let’s move into soothing poses for our body:

1. Forward Fold  2. Child’s pose  3. Bridge pose

Focus on the pose, you can come back to your worry in a minute!

OK, the physical is starting to release, let’s work on the mind with a centering pose:

1. Easy seated pose with hands in anjali mudra  2. Balancing half-moon pose  3. Half Lord of the Fishes pose    4. Equal ratio breath

Focus on the pose, you can come back to your worry in a minute!

OK. Now that our body is soothed to some degree, and I mean, really focus on those poses! Let them twist, soothe and strengthen your body. Focus on the poses, start over with them if you need to, you can come back to your worry in a minute!

As I was saying, do the poses until you feel some of the tension in your body releasing; then, come sit down. Write out the worst case scenario. Next, write out what you could do should the worst case scenario play out. Really! Write it out! Look at it. Give yourself some options. Your worst case scenario should look something like this:

1. Boss called me into office    2. I could be reprimanded, or fired!     3. If I was fired, I could collect unemployment until I got another job. If I was reprimanded, I could change my behavior and/or actions to align more closely with what my boss wants to see out of me.  (see the options here?) And, added benefit; what if you were called in for a congratulations and find your worry was for nothing – you are golden!

Now, in this situation, I want you to think of the WORST POSSIBLE THING (WPT) because once we face that fear of the WPT, it has no longer has paralyzing power over us. If you feel that non-clinical anxiety creeping up again, come back to the poses. You don’t have to do them all, I recommend at least one in each of the categories of chest-opener, soothing pose, and centering pose. Then read what you’ve wrote again, add to it, take away from it – the point is to take some action for ourselves to relieve non-clinical anxiety and move into the right direction of feeling stable once again. Your options create your reality, step away from the WPT and give yourself a better reality. And, if you are suffering from a clinically diagnosed anxiety, please work with your doctor.

I wish the best to you in this endeavor! ~ Namaste

lincoln


MY PERFECT YOGA STUDIO

MY PERFECT YOGA STUDIO.

Beautifully said.


Questions Regarding Yoga

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Oftentimes, I get questions regarding yoga. What is yoga? Is it a religion? Is it exercise?

When I initially started yoga, I strictly did it for the health benefits and exercise. But as I have grown as an instructor and as I continue working toward my 500 Hours, I realize that yoga isn’t simply a religion or an exercise. I would say that yoga, through the many asanas and styles, as well as the founding principles – is a way of life that can be broken into little parts for physical, mental and spiritual health. Yoga allows the practitioner to go as far, or as little, as they want to. Yoga is a customized “entire-body” health practice.

Prior to my practicing yoga, I studied many philosophies and religions and felt a strong pull toward Buddhism. Throughout my yoga practice, I’ve learned that Buddhism as well as many religions, work hand in hand with the philosophies of yoga. The principles of the yamas and niyamas, for example, are often guiding principles of other religions. At the end of the day, to answer, “What is yoga?” I have to admit that yoga is a way of living in harmony with ourselves. It is a harmony with the life we lead, the air we breath, the body we are in and the calming and stilling of the mind.

I know that yoga helps us to find out who we are, if we let ourselves release the ego surrounding “we” or “us” and even, “I”. The goals in yoga are not to place ourselves in an elitist status as a yogi or to harm others, a commonly talked about theme in all sports which has effected even yoga, but to enhance ourselves and others around us; to protect, love and grow with one another.

And even if I say that yoga is a customized “entire-body” health practice, in the meantime, starting with yoga strictly for the exercise component and the health benefits is a fantastic way to begin!

Namaste


New Class

I’m excited! I will be teaching a new class starting the Month of June and I am looking forward to giving the gift of yoga to a new group of people! I was recently asked if I teach “asana” or “yoga”. That question sparked an interesting debate in my mind about the difference between the two. Asana is the actual posture in yoga practice. It is putting the body into a particular position for certain benefits, such as Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana) as shown here.

Yoga postures Parshvakonasana

Yoga postures Parshvakonasana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The difference between teaching asana and yoga is that yoga has eight limbs. Each limb corresponds with a way of living a life that brings a person closer to living yoga. The purpose of yoga is not only for physical health, but also a slowing down of the mental chatter, the monkey mind, that is ubiquitous throughout our daily lives. We are constantly moving, going, doing in this modern day and that “stuff” is a major contributor to our lack of self-awareness and mental well-being. A daily practice of yoga – and I don’t mean just asana, but the other forms of yoga as well, can aide us on our journey to live a more yogic lifestyle.

Here are the eight limbs, with a brief description of what each of the limbs means:

Yamas: our behavior toward ourselves

Niyamas: our behavior toward others

Asana: postures practiced

Pranayama: breath control

Pratyahara: withdrawal of the senses, turning inward

Dharana: stilling the mind with focus

Dhyana: meditation without a singular focus

Samadhi: transcendence, enlightenment

To you and your yoga journey today!

Namaste


A Never-ending Post

Today, I’m visiting with a post about something that will be never-ending for me:

Gratitude.

Oftentimes, I take for granted the life I have. I take for granted that I have a roof over my head, food in my belly and a place I can go to be safe and secure. I have friends and family whom I love and I am supported by an infinite source of compassion, intelligence and creativity by the very life I lead. Last time I posted on gratitude, I suggested writing down 3 things and putting it somewhere to be seen. This time, I am suggesting to just send out a “Thank You” to everyone, everything and even yourself! A big “Thank You!” goes out to all that I am, all that I will be and all that I learn, love and grow in to being.

I am expressing gratitude for even something as small as: puppy kisses.

Enjoy your day!

Namaste


Svadhyaya

On any endeavor to further discover ourselves, we come to a place where we look for answers from holy scripture – be it the Bible, Yoga Sutras, Bhagavad Gita, or many other worldly works of holy scripture and self-exploration. In the Sutras, we are reminded of the yamas and niyamas, the ten guiding principles to living a yogic life. Among those ten principles is the niyama, Svadhyaya. Svadhyaya is the practice of self-study; searching for the true self. We can begin this study by examining and understanding the words written in the Yoga Sutras, Bhagavad Gita, and other works. Often, the wisdom of those who have come before us appears outdated or no longer relevant because we live in a world where time is a blur and thought travels at the speed of light (as in the fact you are reading thoughts of someone else right now!). However, the challenge is not that the texts are outdated or the paths of virtue others have traveled are no longer available to us; the paths are different now but contain the same truths.

Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams – they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do – they all contain truths.
Muhammad Ali 

Whatever scripture a person studies, the path of yoga is one of self-study, growth, accepting change, and equanimity.  We, as yogis and perpetual students, will continue to learn and our learning will take us closer to our path. Studying anything that elevates our mind, our experience in this world and allows us to share joy, love and wisdom while turning away from the things that cause suffering and discontent will foster our growth both on and off the mat.

lotus mudra

Padma-mudra

Namaste


Yoga Nidra

Today, I am in need of Yoga Nidra. That is the type of yoga that falls into restorative. The yoga is from 30 minutes up to 60 minutes long; where the instructor talks the student through a guided exploration that basically turns into “awakened” sleeping.

I’ve trained in Yoga Nidra and find it remarkable that not many studios offer such a practice. The beauty of this practice is that the day melts away and there are no urgent movements, there are no poses, other than Savasana, to get into. Once you have settled into your full relaxation pose, you are ready to begin your practice. Slowing down the day, centering the breath and then listening to the body, Yoga Nidra is unlike any other experience in the various types of yoga and has been documented as emitting the same brain waves as deep sleep. My little one gets into it too!

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Namaste