What if I’m the Storm?

Do you have people in your life that annoy you? Maybe they have a personality tick, or a habit, or a way of speaking that annoys you.

Or maybe it isn’t a person. Maybe it’s just a pet peeve that anybody can do and it sets your teeth on edge.

For me, it is humming. I can’t stand it if I’m at, for example, the grocery store and someone is humming while they are shopping. I know it seems ridiculous. What harm is there in people humming? The harm is I want to grab them and say, “Stop it!”

But these people humming aren’t doing it with the purpose to get a rise out of me. Neither is the person that annoys you with their personality tick. These people, the Pet Peeve People, are just going about their lives.

Is it really fair that they become the object of our wrath?   Of course not! Continue reading What if I’m the Storm?

Your Healing Journey on a Dime

As a society, we believe money makes the world go round. We believe money is involved with everything. Hence, we believe walking the healing path will be expensive. And if we don’t have the money, we can’t do it.

I’m here to tell you that, from my own experience, this isn’t true.

There have been many, many, many times in my life when I have not had extra money. And, frankly, those have been the times when I have needed the most healing. But, I’ve always found a way to heal, money or no money.

When it comes to learning how to live a healthy life style: mind, body and spirit – there are many free resources. And when it comes to living that healthy life style: eating healthy, moving your body, removing psychological blocks, loving who you are – there, too, we have many economical resources. You just need the time and patience to do a little research.

Continue reading Your Healing Journey on a Dime

Sighing is Healing

“Nothing can so pierce the soul as the uttermost sigh of the body.” ~ George Santayana

During a yoga class, a teacher said, “The body loves a good sigh.”

I did a big sigh and realized she was absolutely, 100% correct. I felt pretty good after that sigh.

When a yogi sighs in class, I can almost see the stress drain away from their body. They look a little lighter. And when I sigh in class, I, too, feel lighter.

When I’m teaching, I can always tell the pro yogis because they sigh. And those pro yogis aren’t always the ones getting into advanced poses.  To me, pro yoga  means that person gets the whole enchilada when it comes to yoga. They aren’t just there for exercise, or because they’ve been told it is a good thing to do for the body. Pro yogis understand they are there to release and heal.

And here’s the other important part. When these pro yogi’s sigh in class, it isn’t a quiet, dainty sigh. It is a sigh that starts as a huge inhale from the lungs and then asks the gut, “Hey, you want in on this action?” The sigh then releases as a full-throat, loud primal sound.

All of this led me to ask, Why do we sigh? Continue reading Sighing is Healing

Dristi – Our Point of Focus

There is a saying in mountain biking – at least I’ve heard there is one because I’ve never been on a mountain bike in my life. The saying is, “Where you look, that’s where you’ll go.” The idea is that if you look at the big boulder in front of you that is what you will run into.

I try to use this expression in yoga as well. It is all too easy to look at the floor when you are doing balancing poses in class. Students don’t want to look up because it is harder. But looking up, looking straight ahead is where you need to challenge yourself. It is where you need to look in order to work your mind/body connection. And it is true, that if you are doing dancer and you are looking at the floor, the floor is where you will end up. Furthermore, looking down means collapsing your spine a bit. By looking forward, you are keeping a long, neutral spine. At least in poses like tree.

It is so easy to take short cuts in yoga. Looking at the floor in balancing poses is one of them. But if you look at the floor, you will never fly off the ground. Where you look is so important, there is even a name for it: Drishti. Drishti is the yogic term for where your point of focus is for your eyes. Sometimes it is straight ahead. Sometimes it is up at your hands.

But Drishti is also a metaphor for life. Continue reading Dristi – Our Point of Focus

Yoga is for Everyone!

Eight years ago, I went through yoga teacher training. During that time, I was practicing yoga like a workout. I knew how to meditate before or after class started because of my training in energy healing, but the class itself was not very spiritual. Classes were all about “chaturangas”…

… and “knee to nose” ab workouts.

To be fair, I was in pretty awesome shape during that time. But life moves on.

Many people spend their entire yoga careers practicing with the goal of being physically fit. But, you can do numerous things to become physically fit. Yoga does more than that. Continue reading Yoga is for Everyone!

Breath IS part of the pose.

I think we, as yogis, often think of the breath and the pose as two different things. Because of this, the breath often gets left to the way side. Which is why I’m constantly reminding yogis in class to use their breath to stay centered.

Let’s look at this a bit. What if the breath is PART of the pose?  I think that this is the true way to practice yoga. That, instead of thinking that the pose is cake and the breath is ice cream, think of it as ice cream cake. And who doesn’t like ice cream cake? Okay, well, maybe you don’t, but I do. Mmmm…ice cream cake….

So, how do we incorporate the breath into the pose so it becomes part of the pose, just as much as putting your feet in the proper place and relaxing your shoulders? One way is to incorporate movement with the breath in the pose. For example, in most poses you can lengthen the spine with each inhale. The exhale can be placed in many places. Maybe exhaling while pressing the feet into the earth, or exhaling and going a little deeper into the pose.  It’s important to remember that these “movements” are micro-movements, more of an intention of movement than actual movement. For example: 

Dancer/Standing Bow: Inhale and puff up the chest. Exhale and kick deeper into the pose.  

 

 

Half Tortoise: Inhale into the back of the lungs expanding between the shoulder blades. Exhale and draw the belly button into the spine to stretch the lower back.

What about poses that you are truly stagnant? For example, balancing poses like Tree? You can use the same idea: inhale and lengthen the spine,  exhale and engage the abs or press the feet into the ground. But I think there is another use of the breath in a balancing pose like Tree.

Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor. ~ Thích Nhất Hạnh

The breath can be used as an anchor. It keeps you calm and steady. When in balancing poses like Warrior 3 or Eagle, focusing on the breath can help maintain the pose. It takes you deeper into the pose so you can be aware of every detail while balancing. The breath turns a balancing pose into a meditative pose. You can use the breath to keep the mind from wandering and taking you out of the pose.  

 

The wisest one-word sentence? Breathe. ~ Terri Guillemets

Finally, breath is a part of the pose because, in most cases, when you forget to breathe, when you hold your breath, you are not optimizing the pose. In most cases, if you are holding your breath, you are clenching your muscles. And, in most cases, if you are not breathing and instead clenching, you are most likely clenching your neck or jaw. Our body thinks that holding the breath and tightening these muscles will help keep you upright. In reality, you are just wasting energy. Instead, it’s important to focus on breathing and retrain the body to tighten the muscles you are actually using in the pose, such as the abdomen and leg muscles. So, breath is an important aspect of the pose itself. Just as it is important to make sure you have the proper pose alignment, it is important to make sure you are breathing.

I noticed every time I felt overwhelmed, I would hold my breath. I had to learn to stop, relax, and take long deep breaths, and within seconds I would feel more clear and ready to deal with the situation in a more loving way. ~ Gisele Bundchen

Let’s take the idea of breath a step further into the “pose of life.” In reality, our yoga practice is just a reflection of our day-to-day life. And our day-to-day life is a reflection of our practice. This is why doing yoga keeps us calmer off the mat. And this is why it is harder to relax in our practice when we are having issues in our day-to-day life. However, learning how to relax on the mat teaches us how to relax in life. And learning how to breath in a pose teaches us how to breath in life.

Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths. ~ Etty Hillesum

What if Bruce Banner did yoga?

For example, when you get into an uncomfortable pose, breathing helps to calm the body and breathe through the uncomfortable. If you hold your breath when you are uncomfortable in a pose, it just makes everything worse. The same is true for uncomfortable situations in life. Often times, in life, when we are faced with an uncomfortable situation we tense our muscles, hold our breath, our mind starts to spin and we forget to think. This just makes the whole situation worse. But if we remember to take three deep breaths we can find calm again. If we have learned on the mat that breathing helps keep us calm and in the moment, we can take that lesson to that real life situation. AND, just like a yoga pose, the uncomfortable moment will not last forever. So just breathe through it.

The quality of our breath expresses our inner feelings. ~ TKV Desikachar

Breath is the key to everything. It is the first thing we do when we come into this world, and it will be the last thing we do when we leave. It is with us every day, every moment, even though we aren’t paying attention to it. It is a powerful tool that no only keeps us alive, it helps us cope and it helps us stay focused. It is a signal when something is wrong and we hold our breath or breathe faster. It is a signal when something is right when we sigh with contentment.

Take some time to pay attention to your breath. Take some deep breaths and feel the love it gives back. Feel the life that comes with it. Feel the gratitude it brings. Just as breath is a part of the pose, the breath is a part of life.

Breathing is the greatest pleasure in life. ~ Giovanni Papini  

 

Did you like this post? Spread the Yoga Nerd love and share the post with your friends!

Have you joined yet? We have a lot of fun here! Become a subscriber and receive the weekly blogs directly into your inbox. Plus, you’ll find out what’s going on in my world in the Heatherland section of each email.  Join the Yoga Nerd community and subscribe below!

The Devil is in the Details

“The Devil is in the Details” – Problems or difficulties that result from the unforeseen nature of unexamined details. A catch hidden in the details.

Medical gallery of Blausen Medical 2014

Many moons ago, a chiropractor (who will remain anonymous) was trying to adjust my back and did something to my right sacroiliac joint. (To be called “SI joint” from here on out. If you don’t know what the SI joint is, click here.) When the chiropractor did the adjustment, it was very painful and I instantly felt a burning sensation. I went to a yoga class right after and it burned through out class. My SI joint has never been the same.

Over the years, it would get worse and then better. But over the past 3 months, it was just getting worse. I would avoid twists and that would help, but it just wasn’t going away. I finally decided I needed professional help. Continue reading The Devil is in the Details

Advice for Your First Yoga Class

I remember my first yoga class. It was horrible.

It was in a small room in the basement of a gym. The lights were turned down so I couldn’t see anyone for reference. I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know the poses. I didn’t know where to put my limbs or even where my limbs were in the darkness. I don’t even remember if the teacher was doing poses on the mat or walking around the room. All I remember from that first experience was darkness and confusion.

It was so horrible it took me about seven years to try it again.

Because of that horrible first experience, I have huge empathy for a new student. I want to do everything I can to make their first experience the best possible. I want them to come back. I want them to get a glimpse of the yoga that I love. But I also know, no matter how much I prep them and help them in class, it is probably not going to be a fun experience for them.

So, here is what I tell them. Continue reading Advice for Your First Yoga Class

Anchors in Yoga and in Life

An anchor is a symbol of stability and strength. I’ve been playing with the idea of anchors in yoga.  The idea of a part of the body being your anchor in a pose is just my theory. It is something that I feel myself in my practice. I’ve never read anything about anchors in poses. So, I’m going completely off the charts here.

To me, just like the symbol implies, an anchor in a yoga pose is somewhere in the body that provides strength and stability to the pose. From that anchor point, you are able to find stillness and deepen into the pose. It is where you root yourself down so you can be sturdy in your pose, so you can find ease in your pose. Continue reading Anchors in Yoga and in Life

Grounding Hacks

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about becoming grounded at a moment’s notice. Since then, I ran across an image of Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal dance move. The one where his feet stay flat on the ground but his body moves to a 45 degree angle.  It made me think of the benefits of being grounded. When I searched the video on YouTube to watch it in detail, I found this surprising video. I learned the dance move is a trick.

Now, maybe many of you already knew this. I did not. And, for some reason, I didn’t care. Even tricks can work for staying grounded. Continue reading Grounding Hacks