Sunday, November 22, 2009

Moving towards Balance.

Photo by Ben Moon.

It is November in Squamish.
The rain is a massive and opaque shield between us and the sun. The sky has been falling without mercy for a week. However, we live in a world where there are two sides to everything, and where everything may ALREADY be balanced, so the rain also has an incredibly soothing effect. There is a rhythmic sound but also a quiet to the world. As if the earth were perspiring, it's musty fragrance is seeping from it's flesh. Half of me wants to incarnate into the dark ground and half of me wants to ascend on a beam of light to where my skin can drink the sun.
But I am here somewhere in the middle, after 2 sunny weeks in Boulder City, Colorado. What a wonderful trip!
So I find some way to "make the best with what I got", (as my friend Martin says about coming to a Yin Yoga class with a broken foot).
The practice of yoga continually takes my breath away - and gives it back fully - with a wave of appreciation. It seems the ancient yogis could diagnose almost any mundane affliction with some sort of magic yogic antidote.
So we know that the damp cold might bring our mood down and make us slump a little bit, caving in the sternum and compressing the lungs and heart. Shortness of breath may arise and a slackness in the center of our anatomical universe. Forward head and winging shoulder blades. Not to mention the increased time on the computer or in front of a screen. Innately, we know we need to pick it up.
Yoga is a practice of inquiry into the paradoxes of life. Often, it prompts you to look in two directions at the same time or to see opposite points of view. So simultaneously as we pick it up, we can see that this is a time of rest and quietude. The darkness asks our terrestrial bodies to rest, digest and contemplate.

Supported back bends on a bolster to start practice. Neck roll under the head to support the neck and elongate the back of the head right where the cervical spine meets the occiput. Take full pranayama inhales and exhales into the buoyantly lifted heart and chest area. If you have a sand bag place it on your thighs to ground the tops of your femur bones into the floor. This will release your hip flexors and calm your mind. Tune in to the rhythm of your body and breath. Ask yourself with a curious and gentle mind, "Do I have to control my breath or will it take care of itself?" 10 minutes.

Many Sun Salutations. Sweat and breathe whatever it is - out!

Standing poses to strengthen the legs and direct energy up the spinal channel.

Active back bends. Salabhasana, bhekasana, dhanurasana, ustrasana, urdhva dhanurasana.
For those of you who speak english as well, these translate to: locust, frog, bow, camel and upward facing bow or wheel postures. Back bending is proven to enhance mood, and aid in curing chronic depression.

Make sure you are back bending with a strong contraction of energy to the center. Be aware of the bandha areas and press out through your periphery. Create a container for yourself and then expand and free your central axis - the front of your spine.

Properly close yourself down for final relaxation:
Long holds and long breaths in the closing asanas (postures).
Eating too much dessert before the main course will ruin your appetite and skimp on the nutrients. As much as it is amazing to uplift yourself and open your heart and lungs, it is just as important to wind down well.
Postures like paschimattanasana, salamba sarvangasana, halasana, karna pidasana, viparita karani.
Forward fold, supported shoulder stand, plow, ear pressure pose and legs up the wall (inverted) poses. These postures increase blood flow to the brain, and calm the nervous system.

Meditate: Sit quietly with a not-too-loose and not-too-tight posture. Give your breath attention without asking for anything in return. If you stray, escort yourself politely back to your breath as if guiding a blind person down a busy street. Patiently be with your breath again and again. Ask yourself, "Do I have to control my breath or will it take care of itself?"

Savasana: sweet surrender.

Open! + Close. = Moving towards Balance.

It is a great time of the year to come to class and breathe in synchronicity with others who are experiencing the same thing as you.

We are all in this thing together, we ARE this thing together.

Enjoy the rain and I hope to bump into you soon.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A little clip of The Yoga Studio.

A big thanks to Alex Lavigne who made us a little video to give people a taste of Squamish and the little yellow room.

Check it out by clicking here.

I am enjoying Boulder, sunshine, stillness and learning from Richard and Mary.

Many ideas but for now, i am letting things simmer and observing the residue between the thoughts.