Healing and becoming whole with nature, beauty and yoga's wisdom.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Gratitude and Forgiveness Meditation




   A couple of weeks ago I taught an open level vinyasa flow yoga class at Bamboomoves Yoga in Englewood, New Jersey on Thanksgiving Day. Being that Englewood is my hometown, teaching on a high energy day like Thanksgiving gave me a little extra rush of joy that's pretty much indescribable. At Bamboomoves we had a full house of eager to practice students. There were some people present I've known most of my life in addition to the daily crew who brought family and friends.

   What stood out most for me was the lovely energy that filled the room at the end of class as the class rested in a heart opening restorative yoga pose. Here I guided everyone into a Gratitude/Forgiveness Meditation. I'm taking the time to post this guided meditation because I was inspired by this group meditation. Also because the teachings of gratitude and forgiveness have helped me tremendously. Although there's times I may forget to embody gratitude and forgiveness, I've come to learn there's always another day to start again.


    Gratitude/Forgiveness Meditation


    Recline on your back with your arms extended at heart height. Palms face up. You can also try the folded blanket under the arms and behind your shoulder blades option as shown in the photo above. Extend your legs with your feet hip width apart. Let your knees and feet turn out. If your lower back feels tension place a folded blanket or pillows under your knees to ease your low back body.

   Close your eyes. Let go of your last conversation and relax your body. Notice the tidal quality of your natural breath. Let go and rest.

   Gratitude, being thankful opens you to attract abundance. Forgiveness connects you to your highest self. Finding forgiveness is a step towards gratitude and abundance because you need to let go of resentments, anger, fear and all that's negative to make the space to receive the many gifts that await you. From this open and receptive space is where you can create. Creations that will serve you and many more. If you hold onto resentments and anger you block your positive flow. Clinging onto judgements creates a very thick wall around you. You hurt yourself, those around you and possibly strangers. Letting go and forgiving yourself, your enemy and whatever it is that ails you will remove this wall and overtime change your situation.



   Visualize what you are ready to forgive.

   Rest

   Visualize what you are grateful for.

   Rest

   Visualize abundance and joy.

   Rest

   Visualize what you can give.

   Rest

   Repeat to yourself "I will stay open. I will stay open. I will stay open and not get stuck within one opinion and sit in judgement."


   Deepen your breath, make easy movements to transition into sitting in a comfortable crossed legged position. Sit for a few moments in silence before you go on with your day.



   *Special thanks to Dada J.P. Vaswani from the Sadhu Vaswani Mission in Pune, India and his teachings on Gratitude and Forgiveness. The next International Moment of Calm is August 2nd at 2pm for 2 minutes where you can join many people around the world get quiet, forgive and receive plenty of freedom as a result.



Monday, November 20, 2017

My Thanksgiving Week Yoga Teaching Schedule




     There's always something to be grateful for. Let's celebrate it. If you have some free time this Thanksgiving week I would love to see you and your loved ones on the mat. If not have a Happy Thanksgiving!





Tuesday   9:15 am   Level 2/3   1 hr and 30 min   www.birchwoodcenter.com   Nyack, NY


                12 noon   Gentle Warrior   1 hr and 30 min    www.bamboomovesenglewood.com    Englewood, NJ   
                 



              
Wednesday   11:45 am   Gentle Plus Yoga   1 hr and 15 min   www.birchwoodcenter.com   Nyack, NY 





Thursday   9:30am   Gratitude Yoga Flow Open Level (level 1/2)   1 hr and 30 min   www.bamboomovesenglewood.com   Englewood, NJ





Friday   9:30 am   Level 2/3   1 hr and 30 min   www.birchwoodcenter.com   Nyack, NY 




Thursday, November 9, 2017

Bandhas/Inner Locks Inspiration



 

     To understand the bandhas, our inner locks, we must tap into our energy body. The fastest way there is to sit still, close your mouth and deepen your breath through your nose. Eventually you can pause for a brief moment at the bottom of your exhales while contracting your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles as well as bowing your chin down to your chest. This action of contraction are the bandhas. However the work is refining your breath and finding the subtle muscular work needed to find your inner locks. This requires plenty of time studying with a skilled teacher and your imagination.


      This Bandhas post is inspired by my teaching last week about the inner locks at Ramapo College of New Jersey's 200hr Yoga Teacher Training special Bandhas Study class. Below are a few notes on our 3 most sought after inner locks:


Mula Bandha- 

   
     Mula means root or foundation. It is located within the perineum. A beginner way to find it is to contract your pelvic floor muscles. Overtime the contraction is more central within the perineal body and less focused within the anus and urogenital muscles. The benefits of engaging mula bandha is our exhale, our downward wind called apana vayu meets our inhale, our upward wind called prana vayu. This meeting creates that wonderful and healthy yoga bliss zone state that keeps us coming back for more yoga.


Uddiyana Bandha-


      Uddiyana means flying upward. To find it contract your abdominal muscles in and upwards after a complete exhalation. This lock sits within our fire center, our third chakra. This bandha burns the impurities that weigh us down and replenishes our well. Engaging this lock strengthens the core body and massages the heart.



Jalandhara Bandha-


      Jala means a net or web. To find it drop the chin to the chest. This energetic net catches the nectar, amrita that drips down from the crown chakra. This nectar would be burned within the fire of the belly if this lock is not engaged. Jalandhara bandha regulates blood flow to the heart, neck and head. Similar to mula bandha, engaging jalandhara bandha encourages the upward wind, prana vayu to meet with the downward wind apana vayu. This union balances our energy in a beautiful way.



Monday, November 6, 2017

Bandhas Yoga Study at Ramapo College of NJ

Containing your Inner Light


     After taking your first few yoga classes you will start recognizing the Sanskrit words that are being used. Words like prana, namaste and Om are most likely said during class even if your teacher chooses not to speak much Sanskrit. Eventually you will hear "engage your bandhas." This is a popular cue that means way more than squeezing your pelvic body, abs and dropping your chin down to your chest. However doing all that squeezing on the bottom of your exhales is a good place to start. Over time those bandha contractions become more subtle and the energetic result of engaging your bandhas creates a distinctive and positive energetic shift.

      To start the definition of bandhas is locks. More specifically the energetic locks that can be found within our body by controlling our breath. Traditionally bandhas were considered powerful and advanced Tantric practices that were done for positively affecting your body's subtle energy and not for structural support while standing in Warrior poses and beyond. Classically it is only called bandha work if it is practiced in a seated position with a purpose of energy management by way of breath work.

      However I'm guilty of so many times in class saying "engage your bandhas" as a quick cue to encourage my students to contract their pelvic floor, abdominals and neck muscles while in more difficult postures. I guess you can call an "engage your bandhas" cue while in a Warrior pose, a bandha like movement or simply a pelvic, abdominal and possibly a neck contraction. Trust me, there's a benefit to the quick and easy "engage your bandhas" cue whether you are seated in its cross legged origins or sustaining a Warrior pose. We will talk more about this distinction and the specifics of the bandhas, their energy body anatomy, benefits and easy to understand ways to teach and practice bandha work this coming Friday Nov. 10th 6-9pm at Ramapo College of NJ within the Krame Center. This special Bandha Yoga Study class is part of Ramapo College of NJ's 200hr Yoga Teacher Training and is open to drop in students.

    Please visit www.ramapo.edu for more information.
 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Bandhas/Inner Locks Yoga Study Fri. Nov. 10 at Ramapo College of New Jersey

Containing your Light


         As your yoga practice progresses you will eventually hear your yoga teacher say "Use your bandhas." You're not alone if you heard this and internally asked yourself "What?" Yoga philosophy teaches that we have 5 layers of being called the Koshas. The first layer is the physical flesh and bones part of us and the second layer is our life force which is referred to as Pranayama Kosha. This life force or you can call it vital energy can be described as the energy which resides within our breath and heartbeat. Within this life force/pranayama layer of us is where we can start to talk about our bandhas, the inner locks. The bandhas are energetic locks we can turn off and on to let's say contain and refine our use of our vital energy.

        I do love the subtle energy body teachings of yoga and I'm happy to share that on Friday Nov. 10th 6-9pm at Ramapo College of New Jersey within the Krame Center in Mahwah, NJ I will be leading a very special teaching on this information where we will discuss and explore the koshas, vayus, mudras, chakras and yoga postures as a means to deeply understand the bandhas. This 1/2 lecture and 1/2 easy to follow physical posture practice is part of Ramapo College's 200hr Yoga Teacher Training. This special class is open to drop in students. Please join us if you are interested.



       Please visit www.ramapo.edu for more details 


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Vayus/The Inner Winds Breath Artspiration

Vyana Vayu-governs circulation and is present within the entire body.

 
     As you practice yoga postures you quickly realize the need to stretch your breath. Perhaps one of the first Sanskrit words you learned was prana. Often prana is described as the breath but it's a little more than that. It means "life force" or you can call it "life energy." It also includes energies present in inanimate objects. In living beings prana is considered to be responsible for all mental and physical functions. Prana has many characteristics and there are 5 types called the vayus which are well worth understanding to deepen your yoga practice.

    On Friday October 20th 7-8:30pm I will be leading a Yoga Study Circle focusing on The Vayus/The Inner Winds at Birchwood Center for Yoga and Massage in Nyack, New York.

    During this special class we will examine the 5 Vayus with easy to follow seated and on the back exercises. We will also discuss the many benefits of stretching and directing your prana into different areas of your being while on and off the yoga mat. Since the Vayus are energy and maybe an abstract topic to digest I've created some Vayus Artspiration with a few notes to ease your understanding of the 5 Vayus. Enjoy and please visit www.birchwoodcenter.com for more information and to register for this special Yoga Study Circle class.






    Prana Vayu is the basic vayu from which all other vayus arise. Prana Vayu resides within the chest and moves upward into the third eye. It governs intake, perception and inspiration. Imagine a newborn baby taking its first breath. This is a beautiful example of Prana Vayu animating a being. Prana vayu is like food that nourishes and supports us and then assists us in moving forward and onward. If we are unable to absorb Prana Vayu the body will die. Disturbed Prana Vayu leads to illnesses of the breath, senses and mind







     Udana Vayu like Prana Vayu is an upward movement that enables us to speak and sing. It is associated with the throat chakra/vishuddha chakra. Besides communication Udana Vayu's upward moving wind inspires thoughts, words and actions from a higher perspective therefore a balanced Udana Vayu propels one's transformation. When Udana Vayu is unbalanced illnesses occur in the throat, neck and head.







     Apana Vayu is responsible for exhalation and for the downward and outward movement of energy found in elimination of wastes. Apana Vayu resides in the lower body, specifically within the intestines and the root chakra/muladhara chakra. Think below the belt bodily functions such as toilet needs, sexual and childbirth rely on Apana Vayu's strength. When Apana Vayu is unbalanced disease within the pelvic body can arise such as bladder, pelvis, colon, urinary and reproductive issues. Because of Apana Vayu's outward movement it is also associated with the body's defenses and immune system.







       Samana Vayu is the inner wind that is responsible for digestion of what we consume. It assimilates emotions and information in the gut and mind in addition to absorbs breath in the lungs. Samana Vayu's home is within the stomach and intestines. It works with our fire energy center, manipura chakra located in the navel. Think of Samana Vayu as the gatekeeper inner wind. It assists in separating what we need and don't need when it comes to digesting food, ideas and emotions. When Samana Vayu is unbalanced digestive imbalances arise such as gas, bloating, slow digestion and super fast digestion that leads to loose bowel movements.






        Vyana Vayu is found throughout the entire body and its origin is located at the heart center, anahata chakra. Vyana Vayu is involved in the functioning of the heart and lungs. This wind moves energy up, down, side to side and expands and contracts outward to the outer edges of the body. Vyana Vayu governs the circulatory, lymphatic and nervous systems. Vyana Vayu is the wind that gets us to sweat and radiate our inner light. When you want to connect to Vyana Vayu's strength think about that post savasana afterglow feeling when your mind and body are balanced. When Vyana Vayu is unbalanced a lot can go wrong physically because this wind encompasses the entire body.



Saturday, October 14, 2017

Vayus/Our Inner Winds Breath Work Yoga Study Circle at Birchwood Center, Nyack, NY




   If you find pranayama, mudra and chakra yoga studies interesting you will enjoy the next Yoga Study Circle I will be leading at Birchwood Center for Yoga and Massage in Nyack, New York Friday October 20th 7-8:30pm.

   This special class will focus on the Vayus-Our Inner Winds. Here we will examine the 5 Vayus with easy to follow seated and on the back exercises. We will also discuss the many benefits of directing your prana/life force into different areas of your being while on and off the yoga mat.

   Please wear comfortable clothes and visit www.birchwoodcenter.com to register for this special class.