Saturday, December 12, 2009

Kapalbhait Pranayama

December 12, 2009

Kapalbhati is often called breath of fire, or bellows breath. However Kapalbhati is actually made up of two sanskrit words 'kapala' meaning skull or forehead, and 'bhati' meaning shining or cleaning. Combined kapalbhati means an exercise that makes the skull shine and/or brain clean. Regular practice leads to a shining face with inner radiance. By the age of 25 many people start to show the first signs of aging and stress that are marked by little wrinkles in the middle of the forehead. Regular practice of kapalbhati of 10-20mins will help keep the forehead radiant, shining out your inner essence instead of showing signs of a stressful life.

**Kapalbhati should not be practiced by those suffering from heart disease, high blood pressure, or hernias.

How to practice Kapalbhati Pranayama:
Before you begin it can be helpful to blow your nose a few time :). In this breathing technique we will be breathing in and out through the nose rapidly.
  1. Sit in a comfortable seated position allow yourself to feel grounded while maintaining a long spine, the length in the spine should help create more space for the lungs. Hands rest gently on the knees. The face is soft.
  2. Inhale deeply through both nostrils, filling the lungs 3/4ths the way full. Then exhale forcefully through the nose while pull the abdominal muscles toward the spine. The air will be push out by the contraction of the diaphragm.
  3. After you exhale forcefully the body will inhale naturally if you just relax and allow the lungs to automatically expand filling with air.
  4. continue to exhale sharply through the nose, followed by an automatic inhale.
Begin with 15 respiration cycles. After completing 15 quick exhales followed by 15 automatic inhales, pause and breath deeply in and out allowing the body to rest. This is one round. Start the practice of kapalbhati pranayama with 3 rounds of 15 respiration cycles. you can then increase to 3 rounds of 36 respiration cycles. Remember to pause between each round and take long slow deep breaths allowing the body to rest.
After you have completed the pranyama practice close your eyes, allow the breath to flow freely and feel what effects the pranayama exercise had on your being. How do you feel, physically, mentally, and emotionally? What is the over all feeling tone of you, right now? Don't go mental, feel your way into this. Keep your awareness anchored on the different sensations of the body and the breath.
Benefits of Kapalabhati:
Kapalabhati Pranayama has many many benefits, some of which I have listed below. One of the most important benefits of kapalabhati is the cleansing effect it has on the lungs and the entire respiratory system. We live in an environment that is full of toxins. The smoke, the exhaust, the pesticides...all of these toxins make there way into our little alveolar sacs (there are 300 million alveoli in adult lungs) which are composed of a single layer of epithelial tissue. The alveoli are considered the functional unit of the lungs. And it is these alveoli sacs that become full of toxins over time. This can lead to respiratory problems as simple as asthma to as complex as lung disease where the cells die because of all the harmful toxins. Through this breathing technique the avioli get cleaned! How exciting. here are some other benefits:
  1. Kapalabhati cleanses the lungs and the entire respiratory system.
  2. The body gets an increase in supply of oxygen to all the cells.
  3. The blood gets purified.
  4. The digestion gets fired up.
  5. Core muscles get toned and strengthened.
  6. Prepares the mind for meditation.
  7. Stops the need from gossip.
  8. Improves the function of the 72,000 nadis (energy channels) that run through the body.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Camping for a cause workshop

On Septmeber 12, 2009 I taught two wonderful workshops at the Utah Girl Scout Lodge up big cottonwood canyon. It was so beautiful, we practiced on a hudge wooded deck that over looked a big blue calm lake. How divine.
Fearless Flow Workshop Dscription: This was a dynamic class with a flowing sequence of postures moved by the breath with multiple variations so you can play your personal edge. We focused on letting go of stress and tension so we became fearless, on and off the mat, while we created heat in the body. Some you experience was recommeneded.

The fearless flow workshop was a hit! We did a very dynamic practice that brought us face to dace with our physically fears within the confines of our asana practice. Can we transition netween balacnincing poses? Do we have the strength to hold our warrior poses longer? Do we have the courage to listen to our body and soften out when we are pushing into pain? Can we accept whereever we are in a pose with an open and compassionate heart? We also addressed our fear off the mat. Discussing how we can use the work that we do on the mat in a way that can help us confront and over come our fear in our every day life. This workshop was so great I felt like the students took a lot away from the practice. There are many scary and unpleasent things that come up in life, and yoga is a tool for us to have when it is time to confront that which scares us.
Receive Receive Receive Workshop Description: this gentle flow allowed the students to receive the amazing gifts of yoga without the strenuous activity. Emphasizes where made on slowing down, relaxation, and meditation which provieded an oppurtunity to connect to our body by following the sesations and quality of the breath. We learned modified postures, breatihng techniques and I guiede the group into a deep relaxation. Students of all levels were welcomed to enjoy this workshop.

The second workshop was so peacefull, we eneded with a long guided meditation. Thinking back to it I can still feel the summer breeze and the smell of the fresh outdoors.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Loving Kindness Meditation

This loving kindness meditation is a 2,500 year old meditation which uses a repeated phrase which will cultivate feelings of loving kindness to yourself and others. Begin by repeating the phrase over and over for 15 minutes once or twice a day. Don't get defeated if this meditation seems heard, awkward, or brings up frustration. Be patient and kind to your self and continue with gentle persistence.

Sit down comfortably. Take breath into the parts of your body that are in contact with the earth. Allot yourself to get connected as you plug back into your self. From this connection create length up the spine as you lift the pallet of the mouth and bring the top of the ears slightly back, chin parallel to the floor. Allow the shoulders to roll onto the back but don't lose the length in the side body as the hart opens and radiates outward.

Let your body relax all unnecessary tension and holding, consciously allow yourself to be at rest, let the mind be quiet letting go of plans and preoccupations. Enjoy the silence and stillness in the mind and body.

You first begin this meditation with yourself because without the ability to cultivate loving kindness for yourself it is nearly impossible to do so for others.

May I be filled with loving kindness.
May I be well.
May I be peaceful and at ease.
May I be happy.

Continue to practice this meditation for days or weeks until the feeling of loving kindness radiates out from you. Just this is a wonderful practice for you to cultivate a loving relationship with your own sweet self. Then you can begin to introduce others into your loving kindness meditation. The practice is the same. You sit and become still. You repeat the same phrase about yourself for a few minutes and the you can choose someone in your life you love very easily. You picture them in the mind and repeat the phrase to them. May _____ be filled with loving kindness....Again practice this for a few days having your meditation include people who it is easy for you to cultivate loving feelings for. Then you can continue to expand the people in your meditation including: friends, neighbors, people you pass on the street, everyone, animals, the whole earth, all beings...You can even practice this meditation with people who you find it very hard to get along with.

This is a great meditation that can be developed to practice anywhere sitting, driving, walking, waiting in line at the grocery store, and in many other situations.

This loving kindness meditation brings love and calmness into your life keeping you connected to your heart.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Authentic Self Yoga

It's official Authentic Self Yoga is a Legal Liability Company.

The reason I choose the name Authentic Self Yoga is because yoga offers tools. The practice of asana (posture), meditation, and pranayama (breathing techniques) are all tools used to dive within yourself in order to help you experience the truth of who you are. It does this by helping you shred tension, stress, attachments, mental constructs, ignorance, and the ego in order to reconnect with your true self. that Self which you have always and will always be, but have forgotten in the mess and confusion of life in this modern world.

Its like having a smudged foggy mirror with in your soul. The dirtiness of the mirror inhibits the soul's reflection. Through these different tools that the science of yoga offers, you can clean the mirror so it can fully capture the essence of the should and radiate it outward. Totally honest, totally beautiful, totally you. When you connect to your authentic self. life is easier. You are no longer trying to uphold and live up to other peoples expectations. Because you know who you are, you know that it is your truth, and as long as you live authentically to your self in a way that does not hurt the world or others, than that is wonderful.

In yoga you never stop evolving. You never reach a point where you know all the poses, you discovered who you are and that is that. No ever day, every asana brings new light and awareness into you life. I haven't been practicing yoga for very long and it has touched every aspect of my life for the better. My mirror isn't completely clean yet every day when I roll out my mat I dust of a little more and i can feel my inner essence shining out. i cant wait to see where the evolution of myself through the help of yoga takes me in 5 years, 10 years, 50 years.

I enjoy this mystery and magic of yoga!

Monday, October 26, 2009

snowflakes=unique asanas=unique

As I watch the snowflakes dancing, i am reminded of their uniqueness. Every asana (yoga posture) should have this same uniqueness. Not just unique from person form person, moment to moment, but every time you get into a pose it should be unique.

When a new student starts to practice yoga, they learn the different poses and the alignment. Then when the teacher says virabhadrasana 2 (warrior 2) the student immediately assumes the position, knee over ankle, back leg internally rotating front leg externally rotating, rooting the the fee, knee over ankle, shoulders on the back, side body long, and reaching out through the finger tips. And then they stay, they hold the pose, this is the same warrior pose they come to in every class. The student starts to develop this idea that they "know" this pose, and they "know" where they are in the pose.

But where is the uniqueness, the playfulness, the mystery?

I used to practice like this, and I see many students practicing like this. But now when I practice asana I work at discovering each unique pose. The way I do this is by moving into the pose softly. This means that when a teacher says virabhadrasana 2 I don't go into my deepest warrior and become stiff and hold. Instead I just go in a little bit. Then I slowly more by body into alignment as I so this I focus on the sensations that arise in the body. I keep breathing and I continue to go deeper. As I do this I try to forget about what my warrior pose looked like last week, or even yesterday. Because it is a new day and a new pose. The pose I do today is going to be unique I have never done a warrior two like this before and I will never do the same warrior two again. It might look similar, but it is different. The energy is flowing different, the sensations feel different, and I shine out in a different way.

Practicing like this makes yoga SO FUN. It takes you out of the mind and gets you super interested in what is happening right NOW, in you body, and then moving accordingly. Practicing like this also insures that a student wont get stuck. that they wont plateau, because they are no longer going into the same pose and stopping, they are continuing to evolve, continuing to push, to play on the edge of flexibility and strength.

This uniqueness exists in every pose. it doesn't matter the difficult, if its upside down, standing, or lying on the floor. All that matters is you don't reach a point in the pose and think "I am just going to hang out here", instead you think with a curious mind "where is this pose going to take me today?" Let this be our intention in our practice, get out of the mind, of assuming you know where you are going, and drop into the heart and go on a adventure. Just like a snowflake floating down from above.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Feel with your Heart

We live so much of our life in our mind. We over analyze, our mind spins around with thoughts. We get attached to the thoughts, we get hooked. This is living anchored in the ego, in the mind derived sense of self.

What I suggest is that instead we anchor into our hearts. In order to do this we have to soften and open. We have to break down the walls around the heart, we have to let go of the accumulated stress, and habitual tensions. And then we can honestly feel from the center of our heart. We can feel the different sensation in the body. This is how I love to practice yoga, from the heart.

I come to my mat, I soften my heart, and then I drop into my heat and feel. As i move into a yoga posture I bring my awareness to the different sensation that are arising. i see how I can move differently to increase the sensations. When I practice like this it is safe. Because I know if i listen to my heart truthfully it will never guide me into a pose that I am not ready for. However if i am practicing anchored in the mind, i analyze and judge. I look around the room and I can feel my mind wanting me to push my body so i can look like my neighbor, or my teacher. This is a sure way to get hurt because I am no longer following the truth of my heart. Instead I am following the ego.

Practicing following the heart on the mat is a great way to develop intuition off the mat. Intuition isn't a gift that some people have and others don't. No, it is a skill that we have forgotten because we don't live authentically from the heart. We have good reason not to trust and follow what the mind says. But if we can learn on the mat to soften our heart, to be truthful, to follow and trust the sensations that arise, we can take that honest internal listening off the mat. Then when we are out living our life we can continue to live and act from the heart, truthful, honest, and playful.

This is a practice. It is hard. It isn't something you switch on. It takes awareness. It takes a lot of forgetting to follow the heart, noticing you forgot and starting again. I feel this cycle every time I practice asana. I always have the intention to let go of my ego and practice following the sensation. But multiple times throughout the class I catch my ego mind taking off, then I come back to my breath to my sensations and I begin again. The more you do this, the more you develop your ability to notice when the ego takes over. And the gap becomes shorter and shorter until, and you inhibit your heart fully for longer and longer periods of time.

many blessings.

Friday, September 18, 2009

"a state of wholeness"

Connect to our inner sweetness, to the feeling of wholeness.

I believe that whenever you are fully, whole-heatedly present in the moment you are in...that is yoga.

Its the feeling of oneness with the divine, the connection to your core. It is the experience of deep peace and love that is present in all moments, you only need to become present to experience it.

I believe that asana (yoga poses), pranayama (breathing techniques), and mediation are great tools that allow us to enter into the present moment, however they are not ends in themselves. instead they are a means in which to experience the truth of who you are, the oneness with the divine.

That is what I am interested in. I am interested in witnessing my thoughts, sensations, and breathe, so I can come back to this basic truth of non-dualism. Author of the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali uses the word yoga to mean "a state of wholeness" and when you practice yoga, and when you live your yoga, you are in a state of wholeness where you can experience your own authentic self. Embracing your inner sweetness.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hopi Elder Spoke in 2000

Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relations?
Where is your water?

Know your garden.
It is time to speak your truth.
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for your leader.

Then he clasped his hands together, smiled, and said.

"This could be a good time! There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly. Know the river has its destiniation. The elders say we much let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eeyes open, and our heads above the water. And I say, SEE WHO IS IN THERE WITH YOU AND CELEBRATE.At this time in history, we are to take nothing persoanlly. Least of all, ourselves. For the moment that we do, that we do, our spiritual growth and hourney comes to a halt. The time of the lone world is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration."

I thought this was very moving and inspiring. I believe one way to push off the shore is through the practice and cultivation of yoga.

So...close your eyes, turn your awarness to your breath and observe the beautiful energy that you are. Allow a gentle smile to rise across your face. Notice how this gentle smile tickles the back of you brain, and set an intention in the altar of you heart to live your yoga so we can celebrate this great gift of life together.

Intention and Testimonials

Testimonials & My Intention

My Intention It is my intention as a yoga teacher to help you bring more health and vibrancy to your body, ease and alertness to your mind...