Posts filed under Anusara

Spread Your Wings; enjoy your day

Flying birds In all my studies of anatomy, philosophy, design and yoga there is the common thread of observing nature's pulsation.  This idea of contraction and expansion permeates our surroundings, our bodies, our minds and spirits.  When we are able to tab, connect, ride, touch or pulsate with the overarching pulsation of God, then we experience an authentic life that moves us closer to the sweetest experience of life itself.  I found this poem by Rumi, which evokes beautifully what all great teachers are trying to cultivate in us.

Birdwings by Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks)

Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror up to where you’re bravely working.

Expecting the worst, you look, and instead, here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.

Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes. if it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralyzed.

Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, The two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birdwings.

 

Posted on January 24, 2013 and filed under Anusara, Meditation, Spirituality, Yoga.

Becoming One From Many

It is so easy to live a fragmented existence, mainly  it is taught to us by society, by our parents, by our teachers, by our friends.   Behave this way when  in school, this way when adults are present, this way when these folks are around...so it  isn't a surprise that as adults we have to embark in a long quest to make our lives whole again.  It took years to fragment  who we were  into small compartmentalized fractions of ourselves and so it takes years to bring those pieces into who we want to be again.  In the meantime, a lots of those fragments get further broken, or polished, or painted.  The longer we wait to go back to the whole, the harder the process will be.  So wait no time and be, and remember it will take time and this process is a gift.  Here is a poem that explains this concept better than I could possibly do.

Love After Love

The time will come when, with elation, you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror, and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat. You will love again the stranger who was your self. Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored for another, who knows you by heart. Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes, peel your own image from the mirror. Sit. Feast on your life.

“Love after Love” from COLLECTED POEMS 1948-1984 by Derek Walcott

Posted on April 27, 2012 and filed under Anusara, Pop Culture, Spirituality.

Breath here.

I am not one to ignore messages from the Universe; and this week the message was loud and clear: BREATH.    I was teaching a twists-focus class this week;  as I taught,  I swear, I saw my students twisting and  the image of a twirling cloud came to my mind.  Next thing I know I am at the wonderful Dana Covello's class and she'd decided to sweep us into a Pranayama journey for 90 minutes that culminated into the sweetest understanding of Hanumanasana (disclaimer, even though my internal body fully manifested this pose, I wasn't anywhere close to the full pose-smile).  So when I came across a podcast  from Elsie's Yoga Class: Live and Unplugged Episode 93 focus on breathing (you must subscribe to her awesome free podcast), I decided to surrender to the powerful force of just listening to my breath. A clear message has emerged from this week's breathing exercises:  I am the fruit of my breath.

Remember this as you move into your everyday.  Please take a moment to observe your breath today and always.

Now, Universe, if you can just tell me what numbers to purchase in the lottery!!!

Posted on March 30, 2012 and filed under Anusara, Spirituality, Yoga.

Down Dog and Amp-Up You Energy Right From Your Desk

   It's three o'clock and it seems that your day at the office is just starting.  It's one of those days when coffee alone is not going to cut it.  If there were only a way to remove fatigue and revitalize your afternoon.  But wait there is such a thing: AH-doh MOO-kah shvah-NAHS-anna) adho = downward mukha = face svana = dog

or as we lovingly call it Down Dog pose.

Mr. Iyengar himself says that Down Dog "is an exhilarating pose."  From removing fatigue and eradicating stiffness in the shoulder region to toning your abdominal muscles and legs, Down Dog is a super pose.  However getting on the office floor mid afternoon could be time restricted or perhaps  just plain embarrassing.   In addition to other at-your-desk poses that I practice,  I like to practice this Desk Down Dog which bring some of those amazing benefits of the full pose, OK it is still a bit embarrassing, but you will make new friends with all the extra energy you will have.

Step by Step

 Facing the desk stand with the feet a bit wider than hip distance apart; 8" to 12 " apart.  Feet are parallel to each other.  Begin to inhale and exhale through your nose, allowing the inner body to stay bright and your skin softens.  Keep this breath throughout the pose.  Uji breathing if you know it.   [Stand on the side of your desk that offers more space.]

Bent your knees a little bit and place the palms of your hands on the desk.  Spread your palms, index fingers parallel or slightly turned out.  Keeping the palms of your hands firmly pressed on the desk, begin to walk backwards away from the desk till you create an L shape with your torso and legs (see sketch).   Keep breathing into your back body, particularly in the kidney area, so that you feel your lower ribs integrated into your body.

Then with an exhalation, push your top thighs back and stretch your leg bones down toward the floor. Straighten your knees but be sure not to lock them.

Firm the outer arms and press the bases of the index fingers actively into the desktop.  From these two points lift along your inner arms from the wrists to the tops of the shoulders. Firm your shoulder blades against your back, then widen them and draw them toward the tailbone. Keep the head between the upper arms; don't let it hang.  Can you keep the heart soft?  Imagine the heart as a drop of melted chocolate dropping down towards the floor!  Enjoy the pose for a minute or two.

When you are ready to come out of the pose, you can bend your knees and walk forward till you are standing again.  If you have extra time you can add to this down dog some other desk yoga poses.

Posted on February 1, 2012 and filed under Anusara, Uncategorized, Yoga, yoga poses.

Find + Abundance in your Day with these Free Services

One of the most re-occurring contemplations that occupy my mind is that of ABUNDANCE… I spent a whole summer trying to find abundance through butter; please ask me about it when you see me next. As we come to celebrate the harvest time, it could seem that we don’t have enough, and yet if we take the time to stop and become a receptacle of the always abundant power of the universe we can see how many amazing thing are always available to us.  On that spirit, I decided to share some of my favorite sites that are available to all of us that have access to the Internet.

Mint.com - The best free way to manage your money.

Mint brings all your financial accounts together online or on your mobile device, automatically categorizes your transactions, lets you set budgets and helps you achieve your savings goals.  This may be a scary thing to do, but it really pays off to have a personal secretary keeping track of your expenses and your INCOME!

elsiesyogakula.com - Amazing free way to practice Anusara yoga on the go

Elsie is this fabulous Anusara yoga teacher that has been my cyber teacher for years.  I absolutely love her Free Online Yoga Classes.  She also has a very cool App available for your mobile devices.

There are over 80 audio yoga classes on the site. They range from basic yoga/beginner yoga classes to more advanced yoga practices. The length of the classes also varies. Classes can be from 45 min to 90 minutes. The average class runs about 75 minutes.

You can find those classes easily via the categories on the side bar, as they’ve been split up for greater accessibility. Each class has it’s own post, that begins with a small intro article, a link to the mp3 file, which you can download or stream directly from your computer or mobile device and the corresponding sequence of classes highlighted by pictures.

Dropbox - Best free way to store and share electronic files online

My friend Xavier introduced me to this service.  For those of us that are not willing dedicate time to technology this is the perfect "cloud computing" site.  It is the easiest way to share documents of all kind among all your computers and with other people.

Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. Dropbox was founded in 2007 by Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi, two MIT students tired of emailing files to themselves to work from more than one computer.

Today, more than 25 million people across every continent use Dropbox to always have their stuff at hand, share with family and friends, and work on team projects.

Re-energize your workday - yoga at your desk

Sitting at your desk, working hours at a time and  creating repetitive movements can stop the flow of Shakti (a.k.a. it can suck the living energy out of you).  The tension of meeting deadlines, plus the constriction of typing and looking at a screen for sure creates tightness in my shoulders and thigh muscles.   A good way to counteract this effects is going regularly to a yoga class.  I also find that taking several yoga-breaks during the day is a fabulous way to stay in the flow all day long---lets face it, cigarette breaks aren't coming back, so if you are choosing a healthy lifestyle, don't get punish by it, take a yoga-break today! These are my favorite desk-asanas; please ask your yoga teacher for variations for your specific needs or contact me.

Sit with a straight back, making sure your feet are grounded on the floor-about hip distance distance apart.  Clasp your hands, and extend your arms forward. Turn the palms away from you and raise your arms until the palms face the ceiling.  As you inhale fill the torso with air from the bottom of the spine to the top of your lungs.  Expand the ribcage concentrically as you do so. Pay attention to to your back, we tend to forget to breath in this region.  Make sure the shoulders and sides of your neck are moving back.  Stretch and feel yourself growing taller as you reduce the stress in your head, neck, and shoulders. This posture lengthens your sides, and it just plain feels good.

Sit tall and place your arms in front of you at a 90 degree angle. Cross your arms so that the right arm is above the left. Interlock your arms and press your palms together with the tips of your fingers pointed upward. Feel yourself contracting.  Surrender to this feeling and begin to breath deeply while relaxing your shoulder blades.  This pose strengthens triceps, shoulders, and back muscles. It’s a good preventative measure against carpal tunnel syndrome.   If you know the full pose, add your legs by simply cross your legs and interlock them with one foot behind the other. Do the left arm above the right next.

Como Una Ola - breathing meditation

"Like a wave, your love arrived in my life," the song goes, "like a wave of limitless force..."  Como Una Ola, in case you were not living in Spanish speaking country in the 1980's,  was a great hit by Rocio Jurado.  The song describes the stages of a love affair, from its surprising arrival, its monumental growth and to its recoiling end.  In recent weeks I was inspired by the song (blame youtube for this) to practice a breathing meditation with focus on the limitless healing power of breathing. You can practice this meditation whenever you feel that you need to connect to the grace of the universe, or a mini vacation from a tough day.  Just set a timer and surf the wave;

Lie flat on your back on a mat or blanket, with knees bend.  Let the inhalation come down into your back body like the trough of a wave.  Feel how it flattens the back against the floor.  Let the wave fill your body, let it grow in your front body from the belly to the top of your longs.  With the exhalation let your body follow the wave's crest as it withdraws into the back of your pelvis and out of your tailbone...let the whole wave dissolve back to the ocean of grace, knowing that there will be a new wave.  When you mind wants to move to a different task, just bring it back to the breath, like a wave, "como una ola," and repeat the wave cycle as many times as you like.

Namaste.

Posted on March 1, 2011 and filed under Anusara, Spirituality, Uncategorized, Yoga.

Bound me up, bound me down

I'm fascinated by words that follow.    Last week I encountered the word boundary in many forms: while teaching,  while designing, during my yoga practice, while talking to my friends and ultimately listening to my teacher.  My yoga practice (Anusara) deeply involves the concept of freedom and its love relationship with boundaries.  Sometimes I feel the 1990's  film ¡Átame! is about yoga.  We are constantly asked to recognize the freedom in which we dwell, AND the best way to show that recognition is by creating boundaries that work for us.   So here is one of those examples of boundaries that I saw this week, probably not the most prevalent, but it is the easiest one for me to explain.   I decided to stop carrying every artifact I thought could help my day go smoother (it isn't very smooth when eight pounds of stuff follows you around, unless you are pregnant).   I started using the GRID-IT from COCOON.  This is a very open version of a zippered pouch.  In limiting the items that I can bring with me, I have expanded time and space, cultivating a fresh way to move with the belonging that make my day better (and knowing that I can choose what comes with me everyday, allows me to recognize my freedom everyday).  Bound away!

Posted on February 17, 2011 and filed under Anusara, design, Organization, Spirituality, Yoga.

Romance Your Yoga Mat (a.k.a. how to clean your mat)

This is a love story.  If you have practice yoga for any amount of time, by now you have develop a trusting relationship with your yoga mat.  Yes, you have blamed it for your short comings, you have step all over it, you have tried parting with it, you have even cheated on it, but your heart and practice always comes back to it.  So as any good relationship counselor will tell you, today is the best time to pamper this relationship and I suggest you start with a bath. Now lets face it, after the bliss of Savasana, picking up a spray bottle may be the last thing in your mind.  But as with any cleaning strategy, maintenance is your friend.  If you keep your feet clean and your practice isn't, lets say, a sweat fest, a quick spray and wipe once a week if you are an active practitioner (or every other week if you are a passive one) should be enough to keep your mat fairly clean and free from smell-inducing-bacterias.

I have tried various methods to clean my mat; from good 'ol soap (bad, bad, bad idea), to fancy prepackage wipes, I didn't find them very effective.  If you own an upscale yoga mat, chances are that the manufacturer has instructions for cleaning it (and you are welcome to follow those instructions), however after many trials I am telling you this works. Below I will provide you with my inexpensive, environmentally friendly recipe for a yoga cleansing solution (i.e., for the quick spray/wipe) and I am also including a deep cleaning method in case your mat need further cleaning.

Things you will need

for the yoga mat cleansing solution:

spray bottle

white vinegar (a natural bleach, disinfectant)

water (Universal solvent, ask any Alchemist!)

alcohol such as vodka (natural drying agent, ask anyone who drinks martinis)

Tea Tree Essential oil (any other antibacterial Essential Oil will work, Thieves is a great alternative for all of you Young Living lovers)

for bathing your mat:

yoga mat cleansing spray

a bath tub

two towels

drying rack (or two chairs, though you should really consider having a drying rack at home)

backing soda

scrubbing brush

This is what you do

So this is my formula for a yoga mat cleaning solution, which I have created after trying various versions.  There are products out there in the market to clean yoga mats, by all means try them out,  I am sure some are fantastic.  Whatever you use, make sure there isn't any surfactant (i.e., a fancy way of saying soap) in it or you will be sliding on your mat like an iguana on marble floors - not pretty.

To prepare the yoga mat cleansing solution mix in a spray bottle 1 part white vinegar, 2 parts water, 1 part alcohol and 1/1000 parts tea tree essential oil or Thieves essential oil.  [For example, 1 cup vinegar, 2 cups alcohol, 1 cup alcohol, ~15 drops of essential oil]  This is a very inexpensive way to create a disinfectant and cleaning agent that does not contains any type of surfactant and it is also great to clean windows/mirrors!  This solution works great, just spray it on your mat and use a cleaning cloth to wipe out the mat.  Let it dry and store away.

Now, if your mat is dirty, you may need more than a spray and wipe to get it clean.  Here is when the romantic bath comes in.  Now I have read that you can place your mats in a washer and clean it that way, but are you really going to waist a whole load in your washer to clean a single item?  You are green; wash it by hand, isn't doing things like this a side benefit of building all those muscle doing yoga?  To give your yoga mat a bath, you will need about twenty minutes for the bath portion and a space to hang to dry your mat for at least 48 hrs.  Set the drying rack onto a towel, this will save you time.  Take you mat and roll it out into your bath tub, the fitting may depend on the size of your tub and mat, so do the best you can.  Spray the yoga mat cleansing solution as described above, if the mat is really dirty, add baking soda (this may work for a date too, but that is a different post).  Fill the tub with about 1 to 2 inches of water and begin to use the good 'ol elbow grease with the scrubbing brush.  I will not show pictures of the resulting water, for the same reason I won't show pictures of ear candling;  it is disgusting.  You can repeat the spray, baking soda, water and scrubbing as many times as your mat needs it.  When you are satisfied, rinse the mat.  Here is where your muscles come in place.  You must wring out as much water as you can, this is also when having a significant other can come in handy, ask for help.  When you are exhausted, roll your mat and one of the towels together as shown in the picture.  You can step on this roll to get as much water out of the mat as possible.  You can even practice Ankle Loop - Anusara joke, sorry.   You can hang your mat on the drying rack for 48 hrs or so, make sure the mat is dry before you start using it again (remember the image of the iguana on the marble floors?)   You will feel so good and proud of your mat.  Keep cleaning it with the spray/wipe method and you probably won't need to do the bath more than once or twice a year.

A Winter Corpse

The winter months seem to move slower than the rest of the year, which I am always willing to emulate.  The darkness, I thought, was an invitation to contemplate in the solitude of my home.  And there is a lot of true in that.  My thoughts about winter shifted recently, when my friend Lafy invited me to a walk in the park with her (look at her, how can you resist?)  This new experience showed me that there is so much more active energy in winter than what I thought.  There in the woods, walking with friends, there was a clam, peaceful, almost inanimate scene, but the energy around us was inquisitive, playful, and inviting. This shift in perspectives is similar to what we may experience during Savasana (a yoga pose meaning corpse pose).  In the traditional pose, the body lays face up on the floor motionless, very much like a corpse or your drunk roommate in college.  By staying still for some time and keeping the mind quiet, one relaxes in a very conscious way.  According to B.K.S. Iyengar, one of the world’s foremost yoga teachers, this is a very difficult pose to master.  You can see why; even when we ask the body to stay still, the mind will move in all directions.  Sometimes, when I want to practice Savasana for a longer period of time (10-15 minutes), I try a more grounding version as the one I describe below.  This isn’t a replacement for the classical pose; one must think of this version as hiking in a winter wonderland with a great friend; something you may not want to do everyday, but you sure enjoy it every time.

Things you’ll need

comfortable clothing

~15 to 20 minutes total

a wall, everyone needs a good yoga wall at home and any wall would do!

a mat or rug to lie down

3 to 4  blankets (such as Mexican blankets or large bath towels)

a bolster (if you don’t have one read Create Your Bolster Substitute)

What to do

Roll up a blanket, burrito-style, and place it alongside a wall.  Lie down with the soles of your feet against the blanket.  Place an additional rolled blanket or bolster under your knees.  These actions will passively engage you calve muscles and allow the thighbones to move deeper into the hip socket (i.e., for Anusara folks: Loops activate!).  This helps release tension in the iliopsoas and allows the pelvis to rest more heavily on the ground.  Place a folded blanket or sofa pillow over your belly to release tension and weigh the hips down even more.  Rest your arms by your side, palm facing up; keep the arm closer to your torso for this variation.  Place a folded blanket under the head for extra support.  Your chin should be perpendicular to the floor and your throat should feel open and tension free - think CPR!  With each inhalation summon a feeling of gratitude and wonder, and with each exhalation allow the earth to fully hold each part of your body.  After some time you will feel grounded, this may take longer for some of us, and a bit uncomfortable at the beginning, so keep bringing awareness to the breath.  Be patient and you will feel the hand of Mother Nature holding you in space, while you relax.

Posted on January 14, 2011 and filed under Anusara, Yoga, yoga poses.