Tag Archives: practice

Introduction to Pranayama, part 4

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Though many pranayama techniques are not that difficult physically, sustaining a practice and developing the mind can be tricky. Here are six pointers for getting started, and for improving, sustaining, and deepening your practice.

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Steadiness of body: The body must be comfortably motionless for a prolonged period of time, and yet support alertness, breath control, and mental focus. Asana practice is essential for pranayama, partly because it’s nearly impossible to maintain a balanced, still, comfortable sitting posture for any length of time without it. Just as importantly, asana activates and integrates the flow of prana, helps us develop the capacity to direct prana with bandhas (energy locks), trains the body to breathe diaphragmatically, and develops sensitivity to inner states of being. Preferred sitting postures for pranayama are sukhasana (easy pose), svastikasana (auspicious pose), and padmasana (lotus pose), but sitting on a chair is also an option.

Diaphragmatic breathing: Just as your sitting posture is the foundation for the body in pranayama practice, diaphragmatic breathing is the foundation for the breath. This is where deliberate training of the breath begins in earnest. Don’t assume that because you have been practicing yoga for years, you are breathing diaphragmatically. Our breathing patterns are typically subconscious—controlled by persistent habits that are out of our awareness.

Balanced lifestyle: Avoid too much or too little food, too much or too little sleep, and too much or too little mental and physical activity. Be regular in your lifestyle habits. A fresh, nourishing diet is particularly important.

Mental/emotional stability: emotional balance: “To get the benefit of pranayama, you must be steady in thought, speech, and action. Without some measure of contentment in life, pranayama brings misery.”

Regularity: In general, the benefits of yoga accrue from consistent, systematic practice for long periods of time. “If one practices pranayama continuously for a year, he is sure to attain wisdom,” writes Swami Rama, a modern master who demonstrated extraordinary control over his body’s autonomic functions. “With regulation of the breath,” he continues, “karma acquired both in this life and in the past may be burnt up.”

Inner focus: Success in yoga depends on this. Becoming sensitive to the flow of breath, the subtlety of the breath, and finally the suspension of the breath, leads you to awareness of the force behind the breath—prana. Awareness of prana is the thread that links you to deeper states of mental awareness, independent of the physical body and the senses. This is the beginning of mastering the mind.

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to be continued…

 

Love and Light!

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Plantar Fasciitis and Yoga

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Today I would like to share  with you what I know about Plantar Fasciitis, what is that, what you can do to feel better, and how yoga can help you in every day life. Many will think why this topic, why not diabetes or pregnancy or asthma…in one of my classes I got a woman, aged around 50, and I notices that she was mostly sitting in the class and her face showed signs of pain. So, I asked her what the problem? And she shared.. very important to have communication with your yoga students, you need to learn what is the health issue the person may have and depends on that, you as a teacher, can create an individual practice for such person. Its not fun just to sit in a yoga class and do nothing.

What is Plantar Fasciitis? Plantar fasciitis is a cause of pain under the heel. It usually goes in time. Plantar fasciitis means inflammation of your plantar fascia. Your plantar fascia is a strong band of tissue (like a ligament) that stretches from your heel (calcaneum) to your middle foot bones. It supports the arch of your foot and also acts as a shock-absorber in your foot.

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You are more likely to injure your plantar fascia in certain situations. For example:

  • If you are on your feet for a lot of the time, or if you do lots of walking, running, standing, etc, when you are not used to it or have previously had a more sedentary lifestyle.
  • If you have recently started exercising on a different surface – for example, running on the road instead of a track.
  • If you have been wearing shoes with poor cushioning or poor arch support.
  • If you are overweight – this will put extra strain on your heel.
  • If there is overuse or sudden stretching of your sole. For example – athletes who increase running intensity or distance; poor technique starting ‘off the blocks’, etc.
  • If you have a tight Achilles tendon (the big tendon at the bottom of your calf muscles above your heel). This can affect your ability to flex your ankle and make you more likely to damage your plantar fascia.

Small review to understand what we are dealing with today in our article. However, lets go to a part, what asanas you can do in this situation:

  1. Stretch lower keg, Yastikasana is very good for that
  2. Vajrasana – 2 times a day for a few minutes
  3. Supta Virasana
  4. Kneeling pose (sitting on flexed pose)
  5. One legged dog pose
  6. Warrior 1
  7. Adho Mukha Svanasana
  8. Utkatasana
  9. Baddha Konasana
  10. Tadasana
  11. Malasana with bend forward
  12. Viparit Karani
  13. Paschimottanasana
  14. Upavista Konasana

Other recommendations that you can do at home, are:

  • roll tennis ball under your foot daily
  • soak your feet in the hot water
  • put heating pad on the calves and after massage your calves
  • do not walk barefoot at home
  • wear shoes with support
  • take fish oil capsules, 2 capsules each meal

Take care of your health, love your body and stay healthy!

Love and Light!

Should you practice yoga when you are sick?

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When we’re sick, our immune system produces antibodies that are made up of energy-rich proteins and amino acids. The level at which you are sick directly correlates and determines the level of energy needed to fuel the immune system. Exercise can be counterproductive in the worst stages of a sickness as energy travels to the muscles for movement rather than the immune system for fighting off germs. In other words, the most important thing in practicing yoga, or any form of exercise, while you’re sick is to wait until you are past the worst stages (or first few days) and regaining some of your energy.

Its easy to write to stay away for a few days, dont do anything, just rest, its time you need to cherish to recover fully. However, its so difficult!!!

Yesterday I was waiting to stay alone , not because I would like have some peace, just me, sick me, NO!!! I was eagerly waiting to be alone, just to put mat on the floor and go my yoga practice. Gentle restorative practice with some pranayama, meditation and mudra.

I felt great after, but for  maybe one hour, and after…worse than before. So, as I was searching internet about should you practice yoga when you are sick?! Most of the articles will give you the answer: Of course, just do it. Gentle practice , it will benefit you. Only few , very few articles actually in a very rude way,( other way, it will be just pointless for a yoga practitioner to believe))) it said, just rest!!!

sick Read the rest of this entry

Thoughts on Yoga practice

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After practicing yoga for many years anyone will think, that it will be easier to stand on the mat for practice everyday. The truth is – still its difficult sometimes to open the mat for the practice. However, once you open the mat, stand on the mat in your Tadasana pose and bring Namaste in front of your heart, you are easily open to practice. Your mind, body and soul all start to sing in unison.

With every yoga practice, I realize more and more, that I know so little about yoga, about yoga postures, alignments, even with so much practice. As K. Pattabhi Jois said:” Practice and all is coming! Practice not one year, not even ten years, but much more, and all is coming!”

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Practice Yoga Nidra without falling asleep

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Yoga Nidra is best for physical and mental relaxation. It offers tools that help us break old thinking habits and encourage new positive thought processes—all for a calm and receptive mind. One caveat of working with yoga Nidra, however, is that you must remain awake and present in the practice in order to receive its full benefits.

It’s easy to fall asleep in yoga Nidra—you are resting on your back, with eyes closed and your body supported by props, listening to a soothing voice guide you into a state of deep relaxation. The big question, then, is “How do I practice yoga Nidra without falling asleep?”

When there is a quiet opportunity and an ideal setting, the body will accept the chance to let go and embrace sleep. In order to relax, we first need to make sufficient deposits into our “sleep accounts.” When our bodies are accustomed to resting, we are better equipped to remain awake during yoga nidra. Along these lines, if you find yourself always falling asleep in yoga nidra, it is a great indicator that you need more sleep. Only once sleep reserves are replenished can you then focus on practicing yoga nidra without falling asleep. That said, if you are unable to sleep and find that yoga nidra is conducive to a better sleeping habit, then go ahead and continue to use this practice as a sleep aide.

Shorter Practices

In yoga nidra, you may be asked (or you may ask yourself) to stay awake via an affirmation such as “I am awake and aware” at the beginning of the practice. If you feel that you are drifting off, reminding yourself of the affirmation may be enough to ward off sleep. If it’s not, you may waver between states of wakefulness and sleep, especially if the practice is 20 minutes or longer. This is why it’s helpful to begin with yoga nidra practices that are 5 to 10 minutes long. Once you can remain in a deeply relaxed state for that amount of time while following the guided yoga nidra script, you can then pursue longer practices—gradually working your way up to 40 minutes or longer.

Stick with the Same Practice for a While

There are many yoga nidra recordings available. Choose a practice based on length of time, teacher voice, and content (pick a script that you connect with). Familiarity with the script offers additional relaxation, allowing the journey inward to feel known and trusted, which helps some practitioners. Once you find a script that works for you, practice the same yoga nidra again and again. In this way, you will be able to grow comfortable with the script in its entirety over time.

When beginning a new yoga nidra practice, the most common experience is to drift in and out of consciousness—some parts you will remember, and others you will not. Although it is said that we receive the entire practice subconsciously, it is still useful to know what you are focusing on in a practice (for example, sensations like heaviness and lightness, or visualizations such as entering a forest or watching waves collide against a rock). One exercise that I do after yoga nidra is to reflect on my practice by journaling, writing down what I remember about it. This may include those parts of the practice I was alert for; what I remember about the body scan; any realizations about my experience (for example, feeling my body sweating when prompted to feel the heat of my body); my initial intention for practice; and anything else I find important.

A Physical Reminder

A physical reminder to stay awake will keep you from slipping into dreamland and potentially snoring away in class. Try this: Lying in shavasana with your arms by your sides, bend one of your elbows so that your fingers point toward the sky. The upper arm and shoulder rest on the floor and only the forearm and hand are in the air. Every time you doze off, your hand will fall toward your body or the floor and awaken you.

Setting a timer can also serve as a physical reminder to remain awake. (This is appropriate only for a private practice rather than a group setting, as it could distract others.) The timer should be at very low volume, barely audible, and set to the tune of bells, chimes, or gongs. The senses are enhanced during yoga nidra, and what might ordinarily seem an average volume level could be jarring or shocking while in a meditative practice. You do not want to be startled. I remember once being in a yoga nidra class that was set to live drumming. Very cool in theory, not so delightful in my experience. I must have drifted off, and I awakened to what I thought were the loudest thumps and bangs ever—I sprang right up, heart racing and fully alert. My whole body was propelled into shock mode. I use this as a cautionary reminder to set those timer sounds very low, or even on vibrate, so that they serve as just a gentle reminder to ask ourselves if we are present during practice. You may want to set your timer to go off after every five minutes or so, or just a single time during practice (the latter would be more appropriate for shorter yoga nidra sessions).

Change Your Position

Traditionally, yoga nidra is practiced lying on the floor in shavasana (lying on your back). But to prevent dozing off, you can vary the position in which you practice. One option is to lie on your side. It’s said that lying on your right side will induce a calming, restful sensation that may be conducive to the practice of yoga nidra—perhaps because when you’re lying on your right side, you are better able to breathe through the left nostril, which helps to keep the ida nadi, which corresponds to cooling passive energy, open and flowing. However, I would encourage you to choose whichever side feels more comfortable to you. In fact, it’s generally recommended that pregnant women practice longer yoga nidra sessions lying on their left sides so that the inferior vena cava (which brings blood from the lower half of the body back to the heart) is not constricted.

Some suggestions for propping the body while lying on your side include placing blankets under the body to pad the mat for a softer surface; placing blankets under the hip bones; a bolster behind the back to provide a sense of comfort and grounding (since the back is not on the floor); a folded blanket between the thighs and/or shins; feet on blocks; and more blankets under the head and arms to support shavasana on your side.

Seated yoga nidra is another option. In this case, sit in a chair with your feet firmly on the floor, or on blocks if the feet do not come comfortably to the floor. Let your hands rest in your lap, and keep your spine long. Use any sort of prop under the knees that will help you maintain a long spine with as little physical effort as possible.

Choose Energized Practice Times

Practice yoga nidra at a time of the day when you have a lot of energy. If that is right in the morning for example, you might rise a little bit earlier in order to make space in your morning for a practice. This way, you will not feel as much inclination to fall asleep during the practice.

We are each our own harshest critic. Do remember that falling asleep in yoga nidra isn’t a bad thing, but neither is striving to stay awake. As long as we use the practice to learn about ourselves, our habits, and our tendencies—rather than judging ourselves for not staying awake the entire time, not achieving “perfection,” or not seeing major transformations after just one session—we will move further and more quickly in our practice.

I hope these tips are useful in your yoga nidra journey, and that the fruits of your practice benefit you greatly. In the words of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois: “Do your practice, and all is coming.”

by Allison Schleck-Jeraci

Love and Lightyoga nidra