Hope in her backyard in Dancer Pose
We have all said it to someone, had someone say it to us or even said it to ourselves in a moment of self realization: You need to take better care of yourself, take more time for you and maybe even learn to say no.
We do in fact get too caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday living that we forget that if we do not pay attention to our personal needs and well-being there will quite simply be no us, no you, no me. Within this honoring, this mindfulness we are in-acting towards ourselves it has been very apparent to me that this act of selflessness needs to be coupled with an intention, awareness and consideration of those around us as well.
We often times get too caught up in our own "stuff" we forget that what we do, the choices we make and the things we say affect those around us.
Consciousness of who we are, what we are doing and how we live is something we must choose to do each day and then act or react accordingly.
I have found myself lately in situations that have been teaching me about my own consciousness and how I am in fact playing into others lack thereof. I ultimately care so much about my foresight has been that I will sacrifice myself for others to move forward. But I have noticed lately, more than ever, that there is seldom a return on this (when you are not truly honoring your own being). Now I know some of you will say “sure there is”. But what I have ultimately found is that the self sacrifice I am referring to is the one where we are in fact enabling those around us to stay stuck, even though they may get what they need: a ride, some money, help, or a hand out with our having asked, but within that process we end up sinking our own beings to help them stay afloat with nothing in return.
Many times we (the enablers) make choices and act in such ways because we feel we may be inconveniencing others and in return they may not want to buy something of yours or come to your party or help you when you are down and out. What we often times forget is that in doing such this, with these intentions and mindset no one wins. Sure that person is down on their luck, in a bind or struggle but if you keep helping them how will they learn, and if you keep helping them how will you learn? When we act I this way we are actually holding the other people involved back from growing, we are enabling their karma to never fully meet with them face to face because we feel bad or we want to help because we feel guilty or they pull out the victim card on us. And as much as we are trying to help them honor themselves by assisting them in making the right choices, helping them heal from a crisis, we need to turn that around towards us and ask ourselves if we are doing the same thing?
The truth is we all have problems; we all have rough patches, bumps and mishaps; now some come in the form of cancer, dis-ease, financial loss, martial or family problems, and self insecurities that may in turn become horrible self destructive addictions. But these are purely learning lessons, some very difficult, some sudden, or seemingly unfair, but if you can step back from them a bit and trust that everything is in its perfect place and a learning opportunity we will only move forward leaving no one accountable for our actions except ourselves. My life has screamed this for as far as I can remember. As a young child I felt the need to fix everything, in my teens I struggled with a paralyzing eating disorder and then early into recovery our first daughter Faith at 28 weeks gestation was diagnosed with a irreversible condition that left her with a short life spent in my arms (and my husband’s). I had to choose each time to not see myself as a victim, to not blame everyone around me and to not blame myself. I choose at each moment (literally) to see what the silver lining was, to see that life was teaching me, Faith chose this life and chose me and my husband as part of her path and we to hers. She gave me personally many great things that I am grateful for and she would have not given me them any other way. Just like your current life and situation is giving you something right now to grow from, to help change your life and work through your karma.
So when we learn to honor ourselves, and act in a self-less way, we need to ask ourselves this “am I helping or hurting”, these choices should hold us accountable to our actions, words and thoughts. Remember the lady in McDonalds with the coffee, I believe that this episode paved the way for people to believe that self integrity, self responsibility and accountability will not get you what you want, we now live in a society that would rather divorce than admit that they were wrong, sue every company, person and organization than step up and do a little hard work and grow. Much of the ownership in today’s society comes in all the wrong forms. Respect is bought, stolen, or cheated, we are taught that honesty will not get you far in life, and we are taught to be enabled from early on.
Simply put, when we learn to respect ourselves, see the greater good in ourselves and lead by example what seems so hard, unfair or impossible only becomes the biggest stepping stone in your karmic journey. Sink or swim, look around is anyone really pushing you under? For me (during my eating disorder) I found I was letting myself drown, and manipulating those around me to keep me afloat just enough not to have to change.
So go out and take better care of yourself, but in that process seek awareness and understand that we are only given what we need and have asked for ourselves through our own choices and actions.
Pigeon is a yoga pose we all love to hate. Its dynamics are intense and liberating at the same time.
Pigeon can aid in a laundry list of issues and symptoms, but for many, pigeon is a pose that we often just flop into with no real direction or understanding of how we should position our body and why.
Pigeon is about unlocking our deepest fears, traumas and anxieties, a pose that releases the pressures put on our lower two chakras.
These lower two chakras, the root and the sacral; house our relationships with ourselves and our relationship between you and me (one on one).
It’s our grounding potential: our needs for survival, intimacy, trust and stability reside here.
Furthermore, it's been my observation that we're a society in dire need of grounding, releasing and developing trust. Moreover, it will be difficult to trust others if you don't trust yourself.
Having spent most of my life in recovery, I never really understood what that meant until I myself realized that I did not trust myself, honor myself and (to be blunt) like or love myself in any shape or form.
The anxiety I'd feel in pigeon was the same anxiety I was feeling in life, in those tight uncomfortable situations, and as I practiced and journeyed down the road of recovery I began to notice a huge parallel in the two experiences.
To me a big part of yoga is allowing yourself to feel, and what I mean is not just coming into class, flying around your mat for 75 minutes and then laying down and calling it a day.
Feeling on your mat means that yes you get in touch with your emotions, but also feeling in your body what is actually going on both on a physical level and an internal level. As we better understand what a pose is trying to offer us we can then better appreciate the need for it and maybe even sustain a longer period of time in the pose.
To continue reading this blog post visit MindBodyGreen.com
We as yogis are versed in "Warrior I.” As a yoga teacher, functional fanatic and lifelong student, I have come across some very interesting variations to the traditional Warrior I.
When I teach the physical postures I try to give students a blue print to go off of. And before a student or teacher trainee learns any other postures with me, they first must understand the concept of neutral or Tadasana. In the West, we have an especially warped concept of good posture. Over the last decade teaching, I have found myself morphing my yoga practice and teaching into a more physically functional approach with a spiritual tradition wrapped in.
Whenever I introduce this concept to the public or new students I try to help people understand that once we can learn neutral, we then can learn un-neutral. A simple example would be a foot pattern besides neutral. Many people already have an external rotation on the foot with a collapsed main arch, so we need to approach postures with an understanding and re-educating of the foot to neutral, and then we can do other things. Understanding neutral can really help us function better in by getting us out of the rounded torso, tight hip flexors, the need for arch supports, fluffy pillow, and get back to knowing our bodies and what they really need.
With Functional Warrior I, students gain better insight into their body from a Mountain Pose perspective or neutral, and begin to see the blueprint of their bodies; what is tight, short, slack, strong or weak. From there, they can begin to heal and gain ground to what in yoga we call balance and what I suggest is finding the imbalances.
To read more on this topic visit MindBodyGreen, where Hope has this article posted.
1. Performing sit-ups will increase back health. In all reality there is very minimal research and true testimony to support this concept. The quality of actual core development you receive during core work on your back with full flexion of the lumbar spine in combination with excessive and repetitive disc stresses; this can in fact lead to lumbar damage in most people. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health states that repeatedly compressing the spine to levels higher than the NIOSH standards in a repeat fashion has been shown to increase the risk of low back disorders (Axler and McGill 1997).
2. Strengthening your back will aid in protecting your back from injury. You would think this to be true and many use this catch phrase to assure people that what they are teaching is helpful rather than hurtful. But it is important to understand that muscles work as a team and just because you are strengthening your back does not take into account that you won’t throw it out again or that your chances of injury will be lessened. Your back is a part of your unique core circuit and when I care for my own body and other people’s bodies, I try to make it a point to help people understand that they body should not be segmented into tiny little muscles or controlled areas, but rather seen as a unit. Think of back care as full body care. Many of times the need for back care is really an issue with the hip flexors, or sacrum, hamstrings, even the arches of the feet.
3. Stop crunching your vertebrae. And I mean exactly that. As a yoga teacher and educator in core health, I have seen huge success and head way for those who change their approach to back bending. Most of us lean back and call it a back bend, only to leave the back, particularly the lower lumbar and sacrum to suffer. Now that suffering may not be felt today or even in the next year, but that build up of negative compression over time will eventually lead to an unexpected pain or injury. Utilizing your pelvic floor and leading with your pelvis can allow you to feel a more complete spinal opening and also receive release in the groin, an area we have muscles attaching in and locating their opposite ends at our lower back and ribs. So stand up, find neutral, activate your pelvic floor and torso circuit and inhale raise your arms and leading with your pelvis lean back. Let your spine, neck and head follow in the action of the pelvis rather than the neck and head flailing back as a means to go deeper.
4. Strength and stretch simultaneously. When you work with back care do you find you have separate moves for strengthening and separate moves for stretching? If so, why? What if every pose was its own counter pose, what if what you were doing was able to work the entire body and the back reaps the benefits.
5. Our back muscles cover our kidneys which is an area all about detoxifying and letting go. You can do all the physical exercise you want, but sometimes the physical ailments you are feeling are of something much deeper. Look at your person body, mind and spirit. When I work with students one-on-one or in a group, I am constantly reminding them that their life and issues are not separate of their physical bodies. Our bodies are like a filing cabinet, and if they have not been emptied out in thirty years, well then, I think you get the idea.
6. Finally, in the end how you care for your back is really a mental change even more than a physical one. We as a society (this is just a generalization, not everyone) have a: give it to me now, quick fix attitude. And that attitude will reflect in our bodies’ responses to healing. If you want to improve flexibility, strength, or heal an injury, we need to start understanding and addressing that those things take time, both as the student and as the teacher to develop and maintain. A little goes a long way. Be detailed in what you are teaching and ask questions as a student. Just getting the movement done is not enough and just because something is hard or you are moving quickly doesn’t mean it’s healthy. So if your back could talk what would it say to you today?
Our voice is such a powerful tool as teachers. We can direct the class towards a certain feeling or experience simply by changing the tone of our voice.
Our voice is also our fifth chakra the Throat Chakra, our voice center, our center of communication, of speech, of being heard. And as a yoga teacher how you express yourself in your voice can and does make a world of difference in the effectiveness of your teachings. So speak up and speak out.
Watching the tone of your voice, and changing the inflection to help facilitate your point or emphasis on the pose or the message you are trying to get across can help by leaps and bounds when guiding students into a deep and meaningful practice on all levels.
By changing your voice tone you also help catch wandering minds and bring them back. Because if you don't seem very enthused to be there--why should they? We often see yoga and think "zen" and yes that is true, but also remember that you are creating a dialogue, so to speak with your students. So know that it is OK to laugh, to get excited, to show power in your voice and show sympathy, all through how you speak.
As a yoga teacher speaking up entails way more than you would normally think. As a yoga teacher you are asked to speak your truth, share your heart and empower yourself with the energy and knowledge that life is teaching you. To be a yoga teacher will push your boundaries more than you will ever imagine and it is unlike any other teaching because you are offering a part of yourself in a way only yoga can offer it.
I am a huge communicator and love the concepts of communication, public speaking, writing and expression on all levels. Yoga is a practice that thrives on this and to be an effective yoga teacher you really must be an effective communicator. And if for some reason you can't speak due to a cold or whatever that voice has to come out through mindful actions and breathing. If you don't seem too enthused to be teaching, don't expect your students to be too enthused to be on their mat with you.
So start your class off on the right breath and introduce yourself to new students, ask about issues or concerns, why they are in class (create that dialogue), use your voice and pitch while teaching to emphasis your point and direction and never to forget to offer gratitude and thank students for coming, for there efforts, and a little humbleness along the way never hurts as well.
So go out and be mindful, speak up!
Let me know how your communication is communicating!
Yin Yoga, a less popular style of yoga in the west is an approach that some may have never even heard of. One that in my experience, takes many a few times to really warm up to and even understand. Initially called “Daoist” yoga this style of yoga targets the deep connective tissues of the body (vs. the superficial tissues) and the fascia that covers the body; this Daoist yoga is to help regulate the flow of energy in the body. Paul Grilley, who brought this concept to the forefront, accredits three main teachers for this concept, one of which is Paulie Zink, who taught him Daoist Yoga. Many teach Yin Yoga today, one of which is Sarah Powers, a student of Paul’s; although she teaches very different than Paul, while taking a Yin Yoga training from him in Chicago, he noted her credit for aligning the name “Yin Yoga” with this style.
Yin Yoga postures are more passive postures, mainly on the floor and the majority of postures equal only about three dozen or so, much less than the more popular yang like practices. Yin Yoga is unique in that you are asked to relax in the posture, soften the muscle and move closer to the bone. While yang-like yoga practices are more superficial, Yin offers a much deeper access to the body. It is not uncommon to see postures held for three to five minutes, even 20 minutes at a time. The time spent in these postures is much like time spent in meditation, and I often talk students through the postures as if they were trying to meditate. While in a Yin class you might notice similar postures to a yang class except they are called something else, on a basic level this is to help the students mind shift form yang to yin, active to passive.This concept of Yin yoga has been around for thousands of years and some of the older text, such as the Hatha Yoga Pradipika notes only sixteen postures in its text, which is far less than the millions of postures practiced in today’s yoga. In addition, having read much of these text and also cliff notes from various teachers it would appear that these “postures” were more yin like to help promote meditation and long periods of pranayama and sitting. Now I am not claiming to be an ancient text yoga guru, but this is just an observation I have made.
So what exactly is Yin yoga?To Continue Viewing This Article by Hope Zvara visit MindBodyGreen Click
In the midst of frustration what else are we to do but lash out. Why would we rather have to figure out coping strategies to lessen the blow or better yet not be able to take it out on someone else? And like a food addiction we can so easily become addicted to anger, out bursts and worse off abuse. We say it’s not going to happen again, that it was just this once-because we were stressed out, annoyed or out of our element, but really we fear change. We fear that we will be different and that we will possibly have to work at it alter our lifestyle somehow and in some way. Wouldn’t it simply be easier to just give me a pill or zap me a few times and make it all better?
Isn’t that is so much our society-quick fix without the effort. So I ask you now to STOP! Stop with the lies, the anger, the violence towards yourself and all those around you. If you are to the point where you are hurting others in any way, I can guarantee you that you have been hurting yourself for years. So the change will have to be gradual and will put you in positions that will challenge you to go back to your ways or to challenge them and turn away. It comes down to your choice. We complain that we have no choices in life yet the ones we have control over, we’d rather not have. So in the midst of frustration here’s the thing, you can choose to change, alter your life, ruffle your feather in the hopes of a new look at the horizon. Or you can keep down the same path you have continually gone down over and over and over again with zero success, but it’s comfortable and easy and you basically don’t have to try.
Life is full of bumps and bruises, tears and laughs, questions and very few answers but this does not have to stop you from living, from the opportunity of change, from the life you keep saying you want and wonder why you never have. I know more people that I can count on all my hands and feet that say one thing and NEVER FOLLLOW THROUGH-heck I use to be one of them. But I’ve learned to say no, to admit when I am wrong (and boy is it hard), to speak up and go after what I know I am capable at in life. Why watch everyone else live the life you want because you simply don’t want to put the work in. Really that is what it comes down to. Give me all the excuses you want, I’ve heard them all because I’ve said them all and simply put-it’s all a load of crap. Am I perfect no, but, do I try my damdest and hardest to follow my heart, my gut my passion and you bet your bottom dollar I see my work paying off. And am I afraid to fall; no because I have told myself enough now that falling is part of the game, no shame, just necessary and a requirement in life.
So that anger, that frustration, it’s not your computer (would be an easy fix though), it’s not your Mom or Dad, your boss, your scale, your partner, your date book….it’s you. You have to step up and step out and welcome fear that makes you start living the life you have been dying to live. That fear, that worry that doubt is just a wake up that you need to keep moving, keep praying, keep believing and keep WORKING your ass off until you see yourself on the other end. There is no other way. I’ve been to the point in my own life that I chanced death all to many times, held death in my arms and still came out above it. So step up, step out and be somebody—YOURSELF!
You say yoga is not a part of the world of "fitness" but yet the most commonly practiced form of yoga is asana, and the last time I checked asana is something in which we use the physical body to
move, bend, flex, extend and twist. All of these things use the precious physical body that even yoga, yes
yoga can do more harm than good. I think have the reason the yoga community is under so much fire right
now and I don't think the "hyped" reason is the real reason for the manifesting
concerns- Is it safe? Is it effective?
Anyone and their auntie are teaching yoga and feel that if they practice kindness (which I do) that is enough (which I don't agree with). One of my first experiences in yoga I hurt my hamstring in Triangle.
My teacher was what I like to call a Weekend Warrior and didn't really know much more than her "routine" she did each week. It served a purpose, especially because she provoked me to teach, but she also showed me how not to teach.
The body is so intertwined with nerves, muscles, ligaments, tendons, fascia, chakras, organs and on it goes, how can someone point blank avoid the obvious that you could make an "issue" in someone’s body go frombad to worse in just one pose. That scares me and it should scare others too. I am constantly
sharing information with my student in the midst of inspiring, rich in nature spirituality and breath cues to remind themselves that part of being mindful is taking responsibility for your body and bring some awareness to it, and that means that you must know what the heck you are doing to your students; because
if you don't and they don't than who does?
It worries me that when students come to the mat and proclaim they have been teaching or practicing for X amount of years and then it comes time to start our class, they are the ones I am on top of like a hound dog more than anyone. I worry what else has gone wrong? And if they don't know what they are doing and why what does that say for those they are teaching? Take students complaining before and after classes about their exasperated issues like it's the new latte flavor at Starbucks. Never really thinking that, "hey this pain in my butt will never go away if I keep flaring my sitting bones out in Downward Dog, Forward Bend or Straddles. It's not uncommon for me to have to even explain what the sitting bones (ischial tuberosities) are and where they are. This simple awareness can help a class shift their awareness to being more mindful in some of yoga's "basic" staple postures. These types of discussions should be going on in a yoga class, Pilates
class any class. And if your heart is in the right place like you say then you are already on the right track, start learning this stuff so you can really help someone.