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By Wendy Methvin, Jiva Yoga Instructor, RYT 200
Relax. The word itself can bring an immediate sense of calm, or oppositely, an awareness that you’re NOT relaxed! Ultimately, we all like the idea of relaxing because it often means you’re not stressed, nothing’s pulling on you, you’re in a calm state of mind, and you’re whole self is at ease.
How do we relax when we live in a world of perpetual motion? Our lives are constantly assaulted with “to do’s” – check social media, follow up on texts or emails, make or keep appointments, go places, do things. It can fill our minds and stress our bodies. Here’s some good news - yoga can help!
Whether you can easily relax if just given the chance, or you struggle to be still, practicing yoga will lead you to relaxation. Carve out some time, about 5 minutes, and take a mini-vacation to destination relaxation. Find a quiet spot where you can place your mat upon the floor. Plan to be in each sequence for about 10-12 breaths.
Begin in Easy Seat. Close your eyes. Notice your breath coming in and out through your nose.
Next, open your eyes and come into Cow and Cat, matching your breath with your poses. Inhale Cow. Exhale Cat. Move slowly, letting the full expression of breath happen in each pose. Repeat five times.
Make your way to Rag Doll. Let your upper body soften, as your legs begin to straighten. Send your sit bones upward and let gravity gently draw the crown of your head to the earth, parallel to the floor. Stay for five breaths in, and five breaths out.
Open your stance to Wide Leg Forward Fold. Breathe with intention, matching the length of your inhale to the length of your exhale. Breathe five breaths and heel – toe your legs together. Come to seated, return to Easy Seat.
Now bring the soles of your feet together and make your way to Reclined Bound Angle. Close your eyes. Bring your hands to rest upon your belly. As you inhale, feel the belly rise and say to yourself, “I am calm.” As you exhale, feel the belly naturally contract, and say to yourself “I am peaceful.” Repeat three more times. Draw your knees back together, wrap your arms around your bent legs and come make yourself small. Tuck your nose toward your knees. Breathe slowly, again 5 times each breath. With gentleness let your head return to the floor, then unwrap your arms and come to Corpse Pose. Resist any disruption be it physical (an itch) or mental (a thought that takes you away from the moment). Follow your breath. Count in your mind up to ten and then back to zero. It will lead you down the pathway to deep, restful relaxation. Try these simple sequences any time of day to set the stage for a complete mind-body-spirit relaxation. You’ll come away feeling refreshed and relaxed. Namaste.
Wendy Methvin is a certified yoga instructor with Jiva Yoga Center, writer, and owner of Yoga with Wendy
by Vicki Rioux Rickard
SOULFUL SUNDAY TALKS
Traditional Teachings and Inspirational
Quotes Shared During Sunday Yoga Classes.
The t-shirt I am wearing today says: DARE TO DREAM
The word for dream in Sanskrit is Bhavana. It has a beautiful definition. It means "Having the ability to see yourself in a positive way." Imagine two people with the same back pain. Person number one has severe back pain and comes into the doctors office and the doctor asks him how he sees himself without back pain. He tells the doctor he cannot imagine himself without backpain. He cannot see beyond he pain. Person number two comes in with severe back pain and the doctor asks him how he sees himself without the back pain. This patient says I see myself jogging, mountain biking, beach walking.. You guessed it - the person who was able to see himself in a positive way healed much quicker than the person who was not able to see himself in a positive way.
How do we cultivate the quality of bhavana? Two ways that we will practice today - chanting and blending breath with asana. Chanting strengthens your voice quality, brightens your mood and builds confidence which all of these practices develop the skill to see yourself in a positive way. The second way to build bhavana is by blending breath and posture. Doing the same postures each day gives the opportunity to be a witness to the strength you develop and the openings you create in your body which also lead to a more firm and upright posture and more confidence.
When I saw this shirt to me it read: Dare to think highly of yourself, dare to think of yourself in a positive way - so much that doubt has no chance of getting in ;)
An additional benefit from developing this quality of visualizing yourself in a positive way is that people around you naturally become stronger and more positive.
During balance poses: it's easy to visualize yourself in a positive way when you are balancing perfectly, apply bhavana when you fall out of the pose :)
Living in the Gap
By Jean Rioux, ERYT 500, LMT
Co-owner of Jiva Yoga Center
Somebody says something to you, or something happens to you and you instantly have a reaction. Reactions or words automatically happen, this is the moment you are “hooked” as in automatically reacting based on past not present reactions, patterns of destructive behavior that we keep repeating because we are unaware. This knee jerk reaction takes you away from being present. Being caught in the trap is the teaching of “Shenpa” which is translated as attachment. As Pema Chodron states it is the poison ivy metaphor-our fundamental itch and the habit of scratching- Shempa is the itch and it’s also the urge to scratch. The urge to smoke that cigarette, the urge to over eat, to have one more drink, to say something cruel or tell a lie.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lie our growth and our freedom”
Viktor E. Frankl
The Practice: The moment you recognize the urge to react vs respond, then pause, in this moment you are standing right in the midst of your natural intelligence. I like to think of this place as “the Gap”, it is the space between action and reaction.
The Gap provides space and that space is powerful. This space allows us to meet others where they are and be with them instead of our own thoughts and emotions. By listening to another based on clear listening and not adding our own personal interpretation (story) we empower the person that is sharing. No emotion lasts for more than 5 minutes, unless you add story to it.
3 Ways to practice the gap
The practice of Yoga cultivates an inner environment that encourages us to be intimate with what is arising moment to moment. This intimacy begins with the practice of attentiveness. Yoga allows us to sit in the middle of life’s moments (the Gaps), sweetly and courageously by being open and aware and feeling the power of pause resonate through our hearts and souls.
Yoga and Parenting
We all know yoga benefits our health, but did you also know that a mindful practice helps us parent? First, let’s look at how yoga helps children manage their feelings. My oldest child is the stereotypical first born. She is a perfectionist and often overthinks things. On one hand, it’s great. She is the first one to complete her responsibilities and she works hard at school and her extracurricular activities. However, she often puts too much pressure on herself to be the best. As a result, she often experiences mild to moderate anxiety. For example, at the beginning of the school year, she started complaining her tummy hurt every time she sat down to do her homework. At first, I thought maybe it was a digestive issue but after some parental sleuthing realized she was stressing about her workload. I began meditating with her for ten minutes before she started her work and the stomach pain vanished. Now, whenever she starts to experience the physiological effects of stress she knows how to get calm and centered.
Yogic breathing has also been instrumental for her and my other two children. From an early age, I taught each of my daughters how to ujjayi breathe by simply inhaling and exhaling fully through the nose. When my middle child falls—which surprisingly happens often—rather than crying or screaming, she takes a deep inhale and exhale. And my youngest daughter, who gets her short temper from my side of the family, is currently working on ujjayi breathing before lashing out in times of frustration or anger.
As a parent, yoga has been instrumental in maintaining my own temper. Whether my child has colored the walls with permanent marker, talked back or some other aggravating familial faux pas, I really have to make a conscious effort to not raise my voice or overreact by taking a moment and breathing. Also as parents, we each have different times in the day when the weight of having children feels heavy. Maybe it’s in the morning when you are rushing to get out the door. Or maybe it is the evening when practices, homework, dinner, laundry, bath time, etcetera seem like an insurmountable mountain. It could be, too, not a particular time of day but the stage your child is in—from the terrible twos to the teenage years. Either way, simple yoga poses like legs up the wall or a wide legged forward fold can help you generate positive energy and ground you.
Becca Edwards is a certified birth doula, holistic health coach, yoga and Barre instructor with Jiva Yoga, writer/blogger, and owner of b.e.WELL+b.e.CREATIVE ().