Sunday, September 30, 2012

Life is a work in progress...learn to practice compassion.

Since my last post, (much too long ago) many life obstacles have gotten in the way of my yoga practice. It's easy to chastise myself for letting these things derail me. It's also easy to blame others for their "drama" that I allowed to invade my life and rob me of my yoga time. But that's not fair to me or to them. So I have to learn  compassion towards myself for not doing what I set out to do (my yoga practice) and realize that I chose to spend my energy being part of their drama.

That leads me to this week's blog post. Life is a work in progress. How easy it would be to say you were going to do something and then without fail do it consistently from that moment on. Imagine what that life would look like!  Actually, I can't imagine what that life would look like. Because it's the life "obstacles" that teach us the most important lessons in life and help us to search deeper inside.

Life is a series of events, adventures, misfortunes, blessings, good intentions, successes, failures, observations, stress, love, grief, humor, sadness, impatience, embraces, guilt, drama, rejections... you get my drift. Life is never what we intend it to be. We can get close to our intentions and often times see our greatest dreams come true. But still in the midst of all of that, things happen which we have no control. So we find ourselves adjusting our "plans" and moving forward.

When life throws you obstacles, learn to adjust and practice Compassion. In Yoga, Compassion ( a fundamental tenet)  teaches us kindness and caring toward others and ourselves. The practice of Compassion allows us to forgive when things don't happen as  planned. Compassion transforms the energy that we expend into positive expressions of love and caring. Practicing compassion isn't easy. It takes mindful intention - which is no easy task. When confronted with a life obstacle - stop, examine your thoughts for judgment or insensitivity, then breathe. Ask yourself, is this really a big deal? Or am I making it a big deal?IS this person just being human (like I am) in all our imperfectness? Smile, mentally wish them kindness and adjust your expectation.

This weeks sequence - Compassionate Forward bends (if you have any questions on the sequence please let me know I can help!!!!) Bolded poses for a shorter sequence or if you consider yourself more of a beginner.

Swastikasana - easy cross legs (3 ohms)
Tadasana - mountain pose
Urdvha Hastasana - Upward hand pose
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana - Hand to big toe pose (with strap or foot on a chair or both)
Trikonasana - Triangle
Parsvottanasana - intense side stretch pose with blocks under hands concave back
Uttanasana - intense forward stretch with blocks under hands concave back
Prasarita Padottanasana - wide spread apart foot pose with hands on block concave back
Adho Mukha Svanasana - downward facing dog pose
Sirsasana - head stand - (only if you do head stand)
Halasana - plow pose on chair (please use blankets and straps as you learned from me - safety is of utmost importance)
Dandasana - staff pose (if your back rounds sit on blankets)
Urdvha Hasta Dandasana - upward arm pose in staff pose
Urdvha Mukha Dandasana - upward facing pose with hands to big toes or using a strap in staff pose. concave back.
Upavistha Konasana - wide legged seated angle pose. Sit straight
Baddha Konasana - Cobbler pose - or bound angle pose. Grab around feet or use a strap around feet
Pascimottanasana - intense forward bend - use strap to reach feet with hands and keep a concave back
Savasana - corpse pose (10 minutes)


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Home practice - for me and for you!

Since I last posted I feel as if I have cleared a giant mental hurdle. I feel more positive and ready to move forward with my life. Not everything is perfect - that is certain. I'm still not teaching, the future of my studio is still up in the air, and my physical limitations prohibit many of my usual life activities. But in spite of these issues I've decided to jump back in to whatever normal activity I can muster (or endure at times)- albeit at a modified level.

I've begun to re-read Mr. Iyengars book, "Light on Life". It has inspired me to re-start my home practice. Not just in the sense of physical postures - Asanas, but also to practice awareness in my life. Observing who I am through my thoughts, words, and actions. How do they serve me? What can I learn? How can I affect the world through them? What can I practice getting rid of and what do I want to keep? Being vigilant and aware is difficult at best - but in doing so I can practice ways of finding peace within myself and ultimately having a "peaceful" effect on the world.

Asana practice is the way to look inside of who we are.While we start Yoga for the physical aspects, the residual effects are the deeper understanding of who we are at the core - our soul.  In the Iyengar yoga discipline, we create a detailed awareness of each movement - nothing is coincidental - every body movement is made with a purpose. These mindful movements and actions provide each student with brief glimpses inside as we penetrate the layers of our physical body and move toward our spiritual body. Practicing the postures with awareness, kindness and honesty open us to endless possibilities as we learn to overcome our actual and perceived limitations and lead us to the light of our life - our soul.

As a bonus to those of you who follow me on my blog I am going to start including a practice sequence with each posting. This weeks sequence is a standing sequence. Do as much or as little as you want (the  highlighted poses create a shorter sequence if you're time pressed) , please use props when you need them (let your ego go- this is the honesty and kindness part of your practice), but make sure that you always do Savasana (corpse pose) at the end for at least 10 minutes.

Standing Sequence
Swastikasana (easy cross leg pose)
Adho Mukha Virasana (downward facing hero pose)
Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing Dog pose)
Tadasana - (Mountain pose)
Urdvha Hastasana (upward hand pose)
Gomukhasana (cow face pose - arms only)
Pascimo-namaskarasana - (back of the body prayer pose)
Trikonasana - (Triangle pose)
Virabhadrasana II - (Warrior II)
Ardha Chandrasana - at the wall (half moon pose)
Prasarita Padottanasana - concave back (spread apart foot pose)
Sirsasana (head stand - only for those students who know how to do this)
Chatush Padasana - (four footed pose - similar to bridge pose but shoulders and head on the floor)
Salamba Sarvangasana - (shoulder stand - only for those students who know how to do this)
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana - with medium block under sacrum (Bridge the whole body pose - this is an acceptable alternative to shoulder stand)
Savasana - (corpse pose)