By – Michelle Slaybaugh
expand the breath, quiet the mind and connect with our bodies we embark on a journey toward wellness. This health encompasses our physical state as well as our mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. To begin our exploration of breath yoga practice introduces many breathing techniques using rhythmic breathing to create relaxation or to energize. These exercises help us accomplish many things. By focusing on the breath we fall away from our surroundings and go within. This relaxed state opens our minds. The yoga breathing teaches us to breathe better and bathe our bodies with oxygen. This in itself will improve health. There are, however, numerous more rewards to be gained from yoga practice.
Yoga is for everyone. No one is too old, too young, too fat, too thin, too anything to enjoy the benefits of yoga. Goo Roo’s Marketplace’s approach to yoga is YOGA AS THERAPY. . Our studio sessions include daily practice of Salute to the Sun, The Fountain Of Youth, and customized session to meet member needs. Below are the articles responding to Goo Roo’s Marketplace Members questions. We hope you find them interesting and informative.
Guidelines for Practice During Your Pregnancy –
By Michelle Slaybaugh
Avoid heat yoga while pregnant. Avoid dehydration. Avoid inverted poses. It is important to note that pregnant women should not push stretches to the limit as they ordinarily would. During pregnancy the female body produces a hormone called relaxin that helps make the joints and ligaments more flexible for child birth. This flexibility can also lead to instability of the joints. Care must be taken to avoid falls and injury.
If you are at risk for miscarriage some caution against yoga practice in the first trimester. Thereafter, twists and forward bends with the legs close together should be avoided. Forward bends with straight back are safest for fetus. Using straps or bands is also advised.
REMEDIES FOR A SLEEPLESS NIGHT – By Michelle Slaybaugh
The absolute first thing you should try is using the essential oil of lavender. Three drops in the palm of hand. Rub palms together and inhale the vapors. Goo Roo’s Marketplace has a blend of massage oil called “Just Lavender” to introduce people to the wonders of this oil. I use it myself as a moisturizer and therapy. In the evening I will massage my feet with it, slip on cotton socks to give my feet a little spa time. An evening soak in the tub with a little of the blend will sooth away aches and soften the skin. More information is available on our website. Another way to bring about drowsiness is to lie on the floor on your back in Reclined Mountain Pose quiet music is helpful. Breathe slowly and deeply for 7-10 minutes lie on your back with arms at your side. Now place yourself near a wall or chair and place your legs up the wall parallel to each other or in the seat of the chair for 15 to 20 minutes……………Finally, begin on hands and knees, then rest the sitting bones on your heels and fold the body over your thighs with arms stretched overhead on the floor to Child’s Pose. Standing Forward Bend is also helpful.
Take a Second Time Around” in Yoga Instruction and Practice
In a prior article I described how my father took me to a great little shop/art gallery down a windy and dusty road, and how that led me to reflect on the advantages of going “off the beaten bath” – exploring the unconventional for new knowledge, skill development, and enjoyable experiences. My father said something else while we were in that “arty” little store that led me to reflect on another general theme. He said something to the effect of (I paraphrase) “There’s so much to see, it’s almost overwhelming – but if you take a second time around the whole store, you’ll see totally new and cool stuff.”
Yoga instruction can similarly feel overwhelming, with so much sensory input from multiple sources – some internal (within our bodies), and others external (within our environments). This can be true for beginners, new to such a myriad of sensations, as well as advanced practitioners challenging themselves with complex postures and pranayama exercises. The sixth of Patanjali’s Eight Limbs, dharana, refers to cultivating focus and perceptual awareness. We can put that concept into action, in both yoga practice and life, by focusing on one consideration at a time. We can then explore other aspects, and ultimately put it all together to build informative experience. Following that general process can help us to beneficially make sense of all of that complex information.
Stepping outside of yoga specifically can help to put this in helpful context; empirical, accepted science tells us that the human organism can only take in so much information – be it visual, kinesthetic, et cetera – at once. This is simply evolutionary, as human beings wouldn’t have survived to become who we are today if we were too distracted by every sight and sound to follow a lead on a viable food source, or take note of threatening skies to move elsewhere before an ensuing storm. Not to mention, life would indeed be overwhelming and over-stimulating if we naturally took note of every sound, smell, and image in our environments.
Each yoga practice situation is its own unique environment, with sensory information to offer for practitioners’ enhanced holistic health (in body, mind, and spirit). Yet, there is only so much of that which any given individual can beneficially perceive at one time. As yoga practitioners, one approach to meeting this complex dynamic is to key into the maximum amount of beneficial information we can at one point – discovering what that limit is and gently pushing it until it expands. At other points, we can constructively rest from such hyper-awareness by letting what sensation might come simply come to us (Savasana being a great point in standard practice in which to do that, for instance). This is balancing of sensory information by actively engaging with it sometimes, at other times letting sensation come, as it will. In so doing we can balance yin and yang energies, work and rest. As instructors, we can guide our students to practice that balance with all of our standard tools – imagery, carefully crafted verbal instruction, physical cueing, prop use, et cetera. We can also simply, and perhaps more subtly, lead by good example.
Another way to make the most of the sensory information we might receive in practice, given the difference between all there is to perceive and what we can usefully absorb at one point, is to pick a specific focus and be present with it at that moment. The next time, we can pick another focus. Ideally, that process will be additive – something learned and integrated the first time and the next thing added on to it on subsequent occasions. For instance, while executing Triangle Posture (Trikonasana), one could focus on maximally opening the chest (through purposeful torso placement in relation to the hips, and in the shoulders to the ribs) in order to have fuller breath in the posture.
Later on in that practice, or on the next day (and so on, some other time in the future), one could take Trikonasana again – yet this time focus on relaxing and flattening the feet, and connecting through them to the legs to establish a firmer (yet balanced and eased) base in the posture. The practitioner might not be aware of it, but – as an instructor and practitioner – I predict that he or she would have a slightly more open chest when approaching the posture with a different specific focus the second time. After that trial, I foresee that – just from that time of pointed and mindful focus – he or she would also have a firmer, yet more eased base of support in the posture, in addition to a more open chest (and deeper breath as a result). Some individuals do need multiple reinforcements of certain positive changes, them not occurring that quickly and easily. The above method is a good start to establishing those changes as permanent, however.
To me, such a process is along the lines of what my father advised me to do in that little shop/gallery; with more to experience than one can take in at one time, and more than would even be useful to, pick one focus for now and then “take a second time around”. True, we can also strive to take in and balance the most possible sensory information in our yoga practices (before becoming unproductively overwhelmed) at one time. We can alternate that with other times of letting ourselves feel, as we will, as a good overall balance of work and rest. Another option between those extremes is to fully attend, but only to so much at one point – with the awareness and acceptance that there is a next time to specifically explore something else. I believe we, as practitioners and instructors, are blessed with the fact that yoga is a journey that we can travel on all our lives. There is thankfully always another time to discover something new and amazing.
© Copyright 2015 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
Yoga for Sleep: Restorative Viparita Karani
By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed
At the present time, there is just a touch of fall coolness in the air in the Northeastern United States. As summer subtly wanes into early fall, the humidity level is dropping and the trees are beginning to reveal a hint of the brilliant fall foliage to come. I have always loved the fall. It is one of my favorite times of the year in the Northeast. The colors of the leaves when they are at their peak are simply breathtaking, and the swirling energy of the season is always invigorating and filled with promise.
Every year, the fall season sparkles with the crisp energy of hope and enthusiasm. This often translates into a new school year, training program or continuing education course of study for many of us. As the long, warm days of summer begin to shorten, many Yoga students and Yoga teachers find themselves rushing to fit into their busy schedules a variety of wonderful summer activities before the days shorten and the temperatures drop to a point where some of these activities, such as swimming or surfing, are no longer possible. At least not without a very thick wetsuit!
The combination of seeking to fully enjoy the final weeks of summer, in addition to added academic and professional goals and responsibilities, often generates an underlying feeling of anxiety. Unfortunately, the busyness of a full schedule can increase anxiety levels to a point where you may find it difficult to sleep. If this is the case for you, practicing some soothing, restorative Yoga poses will help your body and mind to calm down, which will allow you to rest in a place of quietude. Resting in a place of peace and quietude will support you to sleep more deeply and restoratively.
- Viparita Karani or Legs Up the Wall Pose
Viparita Karani is also known as Legs Up the Wall Pose. This is a simple and accessible Yoga inversion that helps to calm frayed nerves, quiet your mind and replenish your vital life force energy. Viparita Karani is usually practiced toward the end of a Yoga class or session. It is generally one of the finishing postures in a sequence of Yoga poses that is practiced just prior to Shavasana.
Some of the benefits of practicing Viparita Karani for five to fifteen minutes are: improving blood flow throughout the entire body, restoring tired legs and feet, alleviating headaches, easing tension in the lower back, calming anxiety, relieving insomnia, and stretching out the front of the torso, the back of the neck and the hamstring muscles. To practice Legs Up in the Wall Pose in a restorative fashion, you will need a folded blanket, an eye pillow or small towel and a weighted sandbag for your feet. You may also wish to place an additional blanket over your torso for a fuller sense of being nurtured and to stay warm, of course.
When you are ready to practice Legs Up the Wall Pose, place your Yoga mat perpendicular to a free wall in your home or Yoga studio. Place any props you are using on one side of your Yoga mat. Lie down on your side on the Yoga mat with your buttocks touching the wall. With an inhale; gently roll yourself onto your back as you raise your legs up the wall. Extend your legs fully and keep your feet slightly flexed.
If you are using a folded blanket, place it underneath your hips for added support. Place the other blanket snugly over your torso and rest the sandbag on your feet.
When you have all of the Yoga props positioned properly, place the eye pillow over your eyes and extend your arms out to your sides at chest height with your palms facing up in a gesture of release and openness. Sink into the floor or earth beneath you and breathe fully and deeply. Hold this posture for five to fifteen minutes, and then remove the props, roll to your right side and gently push your self up to Easy Seat. Pause for a few breaths to feel the blanket of peace and quietude enveloping you that your practice of this restorative Yoga pose has generated before moving into Shavasana.
October 17th, 2014
published by Goo Roo’s Marketplace with the express permission of Aura Wellness Center
© Copyright 2014 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division