Living Yoga by Sarah Powers

By on May 25th, 2016 — Comments Off on Living Yoga by Sarah Powers

Answering the Call

FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS, retreat has been a crucial part of yogic life. All over Asia, whether in mountain caves or lush forests, seekers striving to free their minds recognized the importance of renouncing the worldly life, temporarily or permanently, in order to concentrate more fully on meditative practices.

Although there are still lone ascetics and communities of monastics, today most practitioners of yoga and Buddhism choose to remain in the world. As lay practitioners, we are blending the insights and openings we garner from these paths with the numerous responsibilities of a life that includes business and family. We live in a fast-paced digital era, but there is still no better way for devoted practitioners to encourage spiritual unfolding than to relinquish busy schedules and practical concerns and go on retreat. Whether we go for four days or three months, these periods of uninterrupted practice and quiet reflection allow us to melt away the distraction of compulsive busyness.

On retreat, we give ourselves (and everyone else) the gift of stripping away the mind’s obsessions and revealing what Buddhist sages call our undistracted and compassionate Buddha nature.

In both the Hindu and the Buddhist spiritual traditions, 99 percent of practitioners have a need for retreats. A gifted few, with an abundance of spiritual karma from past lives, realize enlightenment with a minimum of practice and exposure to the teachings. But most wise teachers do not recommend simply wishing and waiting for this; instead, they advise seekers to repeatedly go on retreat to strengthen their understanding and to rest in the spaciousness of uninterrupted practice. The last teaching the great yogi Milarepa gave his chief disciple was to turn and show his student his behind, deeply callused form long years of sitting on the granite of the Himalayas. Milarepa’s wordless message: You have to practice.

Embracing Silence

When I am about to leave on retreat, inevitably someone says, ” Have a good time!” This comment amuses me, for I know that their idea of a good time is mostly not what I will be having. When I simply want to let my mind roam and body relax, I go to a warm sea with my family and friends. But I have gone on enough fun vacations to lose the illusion that feeling content has very much to do with what is going on outside me. When I really want to face and disempower the habits of discontent that continually resurface no matter where I am, I go on retreat. While it is not always easy or fun, I have found that going on meditation retreats and facing myself in silence allows me to see my fears and attachments more clearly, to embrace them with compassion, and to grow in intuition and trust of my true nature.

Going on retreat gives us the opportunity to pay attention to three essential aspects of spiritual practice. First, we learn or revisit the tools of awareness taught within a particular tradition. These are the specifics of asana, pranayama, and meditation appropriate for our level of understanding and application. On retreat, we also have the opportunity to hear the philosophical teachings that underlie these practices. In a traditional class or workshop, there just is not the time to delve into these areas very fully. Second, retreats give us an opportunity to reflect on these ideas and practices. This contemplation often sparks an uncompromising and unsentimental yet more truly compassionate view of ourselves and our lives, which is often a necessary precursor to change. Third, retreats strengthen practice. On retreat, in the absence of the tasks and distractions of our everyday lives, we are encouraged not only to practice more, accelerating our understanding and unfolding, but also to sustain the lens of mindfulness throughout each day.

By going on retreat, we are able to practice living in a way that engenders clarity and compassion.

Once we’ve spent time on retreat, living with awareness day after day, we are more likely to catch ourselves and interrupt the habits of distraction when we return home. Instead of feeling irritated and restless when we get stuck waiting in a long line, for example, we may find it easier to turn inward with meditative awareness, appreciating the unhurried moments. By going on retreat, we get to practice living in a way that engenders clarity and compassion, the inner abodes of the awakened.

Unveiling Wisdom

RETREATS OFFER a theater in which our lives become the backdrop and our misidentification with the ego-self takes center stage. Sages have long spoken about an unchanging internal substratum of being, the true Self that is naturally full of bliss and love. They remind us that freedom is an inner alignment that neither comes into being nor dies, but is simply evoked by our quiet, undistracted, sustained surrender to its inner stream. But from childhood on we have learned to identify with other, less essential aspects of the self . We have been taught to find our sense of worthiness through our actions and the praise or blame heaped upon us by parents, teachers, friends. and mates. We have been trained to acquire knowledge about things but not about our innermost nature. If we are just quiet and still, a barrage of voices questions this strange behavior that does nothing to prove our worth.

So how are we to allow our inner wisdom to become unveiled? When we commit to an awareness discipline that places strong emphasis on watching the mind, like yoga and Buddhist practices, we take a first step. We go to teachers and learn new tools for working with our body, breath, heart, and mind. As time goes by, we practice and continue to receive teachings. Yet eventually we may feel a calling to go deeper, to put aside our practical and personal affairs for a time, to really dive in and see who we are apart from what we do -not just what we do for a living, but what we do as mothers, husbands, friends, and yoga practitioners.

Retreats allow us to see how illusory and impermanent such identities are, how we make and remake ourselves in every moment. Seeing this lack of solidity can be very unsettling at first, but it also provides a life changing liberation.

As our minds loosen their obsession with our practical affairs and everyday identities, we can open to glimpses of the inner peace that underlies our restlessness and discontent. And when the retreat is led well, we are guided further into this inner quietude. Our teachers give us pointers about the roadblocks that inevitably surface and about how to navigate them. When the ramblings of the mind rest in abeyance, we are allowed to peer into our unconditioned, true nature. However imperfect the glimpses may be, we will never again be the same. We now know that although it is often shrouded, within us lies a reservoir of ease, a source of well-being and inner wisdom. We realize that we simply need to learn to return to this wellspring within. And we see that retreats offer a safe vehicle that protects us from distraction on this inner journey.

Identifying Loneliness

FOR ME, RETREATS remain an essential part of spiritual unfolding. On one particular retreat in Burma, I encountered an emotional whirlwind that threatened to spiral me into deep despair and doubt. I had been away for a few weeks and was missing my husband and 8-year-old daughter immensely. I looked around and saw few wedding rings on the other meditators. I tormented myself, imagining I was practically the only one with attachments at home -no doubt the only mother with a young child. I deserved to be having a difficult time, I thought. I had come at the wrong time in my life. My family needed me; I should never have left them for so long. Even more, I felt I needed them.

A retreat is a superb opportunity to accelerate the release of conditioned, habitual ways of being.

This story ran obsessively inside me, and I became unable to focus my mind. I lost sight of the intentions that had brought me halfway around the world. I even considered leaving. After a few days of this, realizing I needed some help, I brought up my inner state with my teacher. I knew he too had a spouse far away, so I asked him about missing her. His reply went straight to the heart of my longing.

“Have you ever noticed that in their presence you also sometimes feel this yearning?” he asked. When I nodded, he continued. “In reality it is not them you are missing so much, You are missing you! You are missing being at home inside yourself, and you are displacing the feelings, blaming it on the absence of your family. This disconnected feeling remains with us, whomever we are with and wherever we go, until we are finally willing to stop chasing temporary circumstantial happiness. Once you touch your own inner reservoir of joy and contentment and learn to rest there, it won’t matter so much where you go or whom you are with. When the voices of discontent resurface, you won’t emotionally identify with them, and they will vanish as easily as they came. Only then will you experience true happiness. Of course, you will still have people you are naturally closer to, but the attachment to their presence will subside. You will carry them in your heart with you everywhere, in the place where your own inner radiance already shines.

After our conversation, I returned to my practice aligned again with my initial commitment to awakening, reminded that the retreat was a superb opportunity to accelerate my release of conditioned, habitual ways of being. I felt reassured that it would enable me to be more present and loving, and therefore a more compassionate and mature wife and mother. When I returned home and my husband and daughter sensed the changes in me, they became even more enthusiastic in their support of my retreat time. We had all confirmed that being committed to a spiritual life and being in a worldly life need not be in conflict.

Having had many such experiences of new insight and growth on retreat, I can think of no better way to uproot the weeds of discontent. When we start going on retreats, we can find the glimpses we get into the true Self to be a beautiful blessing and an incredible resource. Through the hours of meditating, we can come to witness our internal warring voices from a place of impartial interest, eventually realizing that no one can dispel the discontented false self except us. Certainly we need compassionate teachers to point the way and redirect us when we get derailed from our intentions but, they cannot do the work for us. Only dedicated use of the tools of practice, again and again, gradually transforms us. Instead of identifying ourselves as bad or wrong, we learn to disidentify from the charade of the ego-self and to begin the slow, gradual process of compassionately metabolizing these patterns into our larger nature, our authentic Self. More than any other practice I know, retreats are the way to make ourselves accident prone to the grace of presence.

First Published by Yoga Journal, April 2002

To learn more about Sarah Powers, visit her website at www.sarahpowers.com, and check out her DVD’s and online courses here at Pranamaya.

powers

 SARAH POWERS

An internationally acclaimed master teacher, Sarah Powers weaves the insights and practices of yoga and Buddhist meditation in an integrated practice that seeks to enliven the body, heart, and mind. Her yoga style blends a yin sequence of long-held poses to enhance the meridian and organ systems, with a yang or flow practice influenced by Viniyoga, Ashtanga, and alignment-based vinyasa teachings. – Read more HERE.

Tips to Help You Embody Self-Care

By on April 28th, 2016 — Comments Off on Tips to Help You Embody Self-Care

Be Your Own Sunshine

Everyday Tips to Help You Embody Self-Care Right at Home

 FullSizeRender

By Sabrina Samedi

Let’s face it, we may strive to nourish our soul with self-love and put ourselves as a priority on our to-do list, but as the perfectly flawed humans we are, we don’t always pass with flying colors on a self-care test. If you are crunched for time or can’t afford a trip to the spa, why not bring the bliss-inspired effects of self-care home with you?! Here are some tips to help you feel renewed and rejuvenated this spring season and hopefully every season.

1. Gratitude is the Best Attitude

  • Symbolizing the bookends to the chapters that fill our days, allow the essence of gratitude to energize and seal your day. Wake up thinking of one thing that you are grateful for and before slipping away into a dream state slumber, again think of one thing you are grateful for and utter those magic words- THANK YOU! I’m sure your gratitude list is pages long, but in case you have writer’s block and a post-it is seemingly the size of a daunting 8’ X 10’ canvas- just repeat any one of these prescribed stress-relieving affirmations that are more than enough to warm up your heart with no ill side effects, we promise!
    • My life is unique and wondrous and for this fact alone, I am thankful.
    • I am grateful for all the health, love, laughter and goodness that my life has revealed to me.
    • Any day I am able to feel the support of the earth beneath me and breathe in the fresh energizing air around me is a good day. I am thankful for these precious moments.
    • I am enough- I am grateful for everything that I am, I love every fiber of my being.

 

2. Breathe

  • Take a few minutes, even two minutes is enough if that’s all the time you have and breathe. Yes, it’s that easy. Breathe. We do it every second of every day, but how often are we actually aware of this magical cycle- mindfully taking in prana, vital force energy and exhaling all that does not serve us- letting go of emotional turmoil, doubting thoughts and replaying negative experiences in our heads. Elongate the inhalation, perhaps to the count of four, expanding your lungs to take in all the radiating positive life energy around you and match your exhale to the count of four as well releasing all that does not serve the growth and balance of our well-being. Take a few rounds of breath just like that- matching the duration of the inhale to that of the exhale. An uplifting sensation travels up your spine, through your heart center and towards the crown of your head as you inhale and on your exhale such an invigorating breath generates soothing effects as it travels out of your physical body as a bright light illuminating the spaces outside of yourself that you hold sacred.

 

3. Good Ol’ cup of Joe

  • The best part of walking up is coffee in your cup or in this case, on your face! You can use a coffee scrub on your face and your entire body. Coffee scrub has several renewing and immediate benefits that include: exfoliating and anti-inflammatory effects thus temporarily reducing cellulite, improving circulation, reducing eye-puffiness and cleansing away dry or dead skin spots; therefore, leaving your skin feeling smooth. Be mindful however, not to use day-old dry coffee grind leftovers as the consistency would be too harsh for the skin. Ideally, to create the coffee face and body scrub mix quality and fresh coffee grounds with natural ingredients such as honey, coconut oil or lemon rinds or peels to create a unique self-mastered blend that will leave your skin feel hydrated, nourished, moisturized and perky-fresh. And an additional goodie- your skin will smell fabulous all day!

 

4. Be Your Own Cup of Tea

  • Oftentimes, an old-fashioned cup of tea not only overwhelms you with serenity but magically and with certainty makes all your problems vanish into thin air– out of sight and out of mind. Served iced or hot, tea is always in season and the benefits are beyond refreshment. In relation to your physical health, tea helps to fight free radicals in the body and contains antioxidants projecting and boosting your immune system as well as your exercise endurance. Despite the caffeine in certain flavors, tea is hydrating to the body. Take a some much-deserved “me-tome” today and match your cup of tea to your mood and needs. For example, if you need help sleeping, a soothing batch of chamomile tea can do the trick, if you need a stress reliever STAT, a mug of herbal honey-lavender tea works like magic and in case you ate something that threw your belly off track and left you feeling nauseous, an herbal ginger tea is a great remedy while peppermint tea aids in digestion.

 

5. Aromatherapy Bliss

  • Be your own champion in relation to well-being- seek and promote a state of balance within your body, mind and spirit through aromatherapy! Aromatherapy, also occasionally referred to as Essential Oil therapy (it is ESSENTIAL to your well-being), is the magnificent blend of the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to harmonize your physical, mental and emotional bodies. Benefits of aromatherapy include its ability to reduce anxiety, ease depression, boos energy levels, induces sleep, strengthen the immune system, boost cognitive performance while helping to eliminate headaches. To get started in your aromatherapy practice, collect a few basic oils of your favorite scents aiming the scent with the perfect purpose. For example, lavender is ideal for relaxation while rosemary is often used to aid in concentration and lemon as a deodorant or to freshen the air. Rub a single drop of two of your desired on the palm of your hand or onto in the inside of your wrist, run your palms together and then gently inhale the scents. If you prefer to avoid oil-to-skin contact, then a diffuser works wonderfully. A ceramic passive diffuser is used to get the essential oil into the air without using heat and scents a small area without irritating those around you whom might be sensitive to such scents.

 

6. Eat the Rainbow

  • Fuel yourself with healthy, delicious treats! Tune in and hear your body’s cravings as a sign of reflective needs. If you have a jam-packed day ahead, make sure you give yourself more protein to keep you running on all cylinders or if you’ll be seizing the great outdoors for a majority of the day, plan mindfully and stay hydrated. Your body is here to stand strong with your, feeling it’s best rather than depleted. The Deep Blue Sea Blend is one of our favorite morning smoothie recipe coming straight from The Plantpower Way. Check out the delicious and healthy blend recipe below:
    • The Deep Blue Sea Blend brims with manganese, thiamin and vitamin C, this sweet, tropical island elixir supports a healthy immune system. The spirulina delivers the ocean within by providing potent detoxifying properties, phytonutrients and a high level of protein from the sea. Drink this blend and immerse yourself in the healing aqua waters of Hawaii. Aloha!deepbluesea blend
    • Ingredients
      • 2 cups chopped pineapple
      • 1 frozen banana
      • 1/2 cup raw coconut
      • 4 cups coconut water
      • 1/2 teaspoon spirulina
    • Preparation
      • In a Vitamix or high-powered blender, add all the ingredients, blend on high for a minute. Drink!

 

7. Catch Up on them Zzz’s

  • Cat naps are even acceptable! Beauty rest is pivotal here as it not only makes you feel better, boosts your mood and banishes those less-than illuminating under-eye circles, but getting the adequate 7-8 hours of REM sleep per night is an intricate part to leading a healthy lifestyle. Adequate sleep improves memory, stabilizes concentration and keeps stress at bay. Thus, go ahead and hit that snooze button.

 

Let your movement throughout the day be mindful. Thus, eliminating the results of burn out and injury by being honest with yourself. As you start the day with gratitude, use those morning minutes to check in with yourself, plan for your day and prepare in body, mind and soul. To keep yourself grounded and focused throughout the day, embody self-love through any one of the self-care tips and remember, your practice is here to support you! To aid in your self-care journey, we offer the timeless wisdom of master yoga teachers such as Gary Kraftsow and Paul Grilley via DVDs and online courses to not only enrich you’re practice, but deepen your yoga and meditation education.

Cultivating a Home Yoga Practice

By on April 13th, 2016 — Comments Off on Cultivating a Home Yoga Practice

Home Yoga

By Sabrina Samedi

For many of us, the time we spend on the mat whether it’s for a sweat-cleansing power flow, a nourishing vinyasa series, a healing yin yoga practice or for meditation, it is considered “me time.” Time to step away from all the hustle and bustle, noise and distractions of everyday life and step into our true self- it’s our dedication to our self: to listen and honor our mind, body, spirit and soul. Hence, self-care is the manifestation of self-love and such compassion should not be jeopardized simply due to the fact that you couldn’t make it to the studio for your meditation or yoga class.

Let’s face it,  we have all been there- starring at the jumbled yoga mat in the corner of our room as it dauntingly seems to whisper- breathe now or forever lose your peace. It takes willpower and commitment to practice yoga whether it’s asana-based, pranayama work or meditation with consistency. Classes at studios can add up and after a steady series of visits it can feel as if our center of zen is in a heated debate with our wallet and our wallet is in the lead as a victor as our zen turns into financial worries. Between work and running errands, time can restrict us to practicing before sunrise or well after sunset; thus, time restrictions are an honest determinant for when we can carve out studio space. It is quite harmonious and healing to share your practice with the gracious breath of community members, but often times it an uplifting challenge to remove and all distractions and simple focus on your breath, your body’s needs, and your strength without any inclination towards judgement nor competition.

Therefore, cultivating a home yoga and/or meditation practice is a great compliment to your community studio-based classes as well as a wonderful tool to utilize when traveling or when time and budget act as bumps along the road to tranquility.

Tips on how to create and maintain a home practice:

1. Hold the Space and Honor Yourself

  • Be kind to yourself as you would in any class. When a teacher suggests a modification and you tune in realizing that since your lower back has been aching lately, you decide it’s best to lower down onto your knees during a Chaturanga Dandasana or bend your knees as you lift into Ardha Uttanasana. Thus, you are listen to your body and are taking the instructor’s suggestion. You are your own guru- listen to the teacher within your soul and treat your body with compassion.

 

2. Strengthen Your Willpower

  • Your manipura or solar plexus is engaged here as you dedicate the same adherence to studio etiquette to your self– show up on time, no texting or taking calls while invested in your practice. The e-mails and pile of laundry can wait- there is no where else you need to be than right here, right now. Be present and flow with your breath.

 

3. Find the Right Flow and Style 

  • Getting a little help from our yogi friends is key here; while listening to your inner teacher you may still need guidance from a yoga instructor and rest assured we’ve got you covered. Invest in yoga DVDs and/or online courses that you’d be able to access from any platform (ie tablet, iPad, iPhone, etc) and find as well as explore the diversity of class styles and duration that pike your interest. For a vast and unique selection of classes and lectures taught by our own master teachers click here. Our collection includes: Yin Yoga, Yoga Therapy, Viniyoga, Vinyasa and Meditation.

 

4. Don’t Forget Savasana

  • Savasana or corpse pose is oftentimes considered the most important asana as this is where our bodies truly integrate all of the emotional, physical and mental benefits of the practice to our subtle and conscious bodies. You’ve exerted quite a bit of effort, energy and time. Thus, give yourself the chance to soak in the benefit and recharge your soul. Give yourself permission to let go and simple be- rejoice in the highest form of self-love: self-care.

 

Namaste! Thank you for sharing your practice with me and inviting me into your home. I hope you find this information insightful.

Energizing Morning Yoga Practice

By on March 5th, 2016 — Comments Off on Energizing Morning Yoga Practice

Not all of us have time for a leisurely 90 minute yoga practice in the morning even when we pride ourselves for being a morning person and jumping out of bed before the sound of the alarm takes over. Between sleeping, home and work life, it can be difficult to squeeze in time for ourselves. With this quick morning yoga routine, however, all you need is less than 10 minutes and a yoga mat to practice self-care- centering your mind, soothing your soul and energizing your body. Who can have a bad day after such a cathartic experience?

Remember to allow your breath to guide you through the asanas as we marry the breath to movement. With each inhale you are taking in prana- a vital life force, majestic in it’s rejuvenating qualities and with each exhale we release the toxic stale air of experiences, lessons, thoughts and feelings that no longer serve us. This is your “me-time,” the time you devote to your self-care because to care for your well-being is to actively practice self-love. Therefore, make sure to honor your body by not pushing yourself when you feel pain. Breathe through the poses, feel the stretch and tune in to the sensations of your physical body and listen…take note of how you feel- exuding maximum engagement while still at ease: you can challenge yourself to step closer to the edge of your comfort zone to take on a deeper release in your practice, but be mindful to back off when any sensation turns into pain.

 A Quick and Revitalizing Morning Sequence
Child’s Pose (Balasana) Child's Pose

An excellent start to your quick yoga morning routine, Child’s Pose wakes up your body by gently stretching out your hips, thighs, lower back, ankles and knees. This pose also increases circulation to your head and calms the central nervous system, which can reduce headaches and help you manage stress and tension.

Take a deep breath in and from a kneeling position fold your chest onto your thighs and your forehead onto your mat. Lengthen your spine and neck by extending your ribs away from your tailbone and your head away from your shoulders. Your arms can lay palm up by your side or gently protracted in front of you. Remain here for ten deep breaths.

bidalasana

Cat/Cow Pose (Bidalasana)
This second pose will warm up your spine and help release tension in your upper body, particularly if you have a stiff neck from sleeping.

From tabletop position, with your wrists beneath your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips, press your palms into the mat and keep a neutral spine. As you exhale, engage your abs as you round your spine up to the ceiling with your chin tucked towards your chest in a cat-like position. On your inhale, arch your back, letting your stomach relax and lifting your head and tailbone upwards for the cow position. Switch back and forth from Cat to Cow for 10 rounds.

 

Downward Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana) 

Downward Dog

The third pose in your quick yoga morning routine will stimulate your muscles and relieve stress in your neck and legs.

Place your hands a little wider than your shoulders, tuck your toes and lift your hips into the air, into an upside down V-shape. Your chest moves towards the thighs and your head remains relaxed. Roll your shoulders down away from your ears and keep your hips high and heels on the ground. Hold for 10 breaths.
Standing Forward Bend Pose (Uttanasana) Standing Forward Bend Pose
For an intense stretch in your upper back and hamstrings, exhale, activate your abs, and fold forward keeping your back straight. Your chin should be tucked towards your chest, your shoulders relaxed, and the top of your head extended towards the floor. Try shifting your weight forward onto your toes so that your legs remain as straight as possible and you release your back. With your hands on the ground, hold for 10 breaths before slowly rolling up, one vertebra at a time.

trikonasanaTriangle Pose (Trikonasana)

Your final pose in this quick yoga morning routine creates balance and stability while stretching out your legs. Widen your leg stance to about a leg-length from the standing position and turn your right foot out to the side. Your heel should align with the arch of your left foot. Move your arms parallel to the ground and stretch to the right, keeping both legs straight. Pivot the arms so they are in one line, moving in opposite directions, keeping your chest and torso long. Take 5 breaths and switch sides.

With just these five simple poses, you can start your day feeling empowered and ready to take on the world.

Pranamaya offers the timeless wisdom of master yoga teachers in a variety of Viniyoga, Yoga Therapy and Mediation practice DVD’s and online courses to enrich your practice and yoga education at your pace and on your schedule. We are here to help support you on your journey. 

Have a fabulous day!

 

Yoga Therapy Tip of the Day

By on March 2nd, 2016 — Comments Off on Yoga Therapy Tip of the Day

Dwipada Pitham

 

Dwipada Pitham:  Two-footed Bridge Pose

The breath is the soundtrack to your well-being. Let’s allow such a vital and energetic essence to guide us to surrender not simply into an asana, but to release all tension and allow relief to pleasantly overwhelm the body. Throughout our yoga therapy practice, the breath remains constant as the asana changes and even as the body slowly deepens into the sequence or pose through repetition, the breath should always remain the priority: the leading proponent to any movement. As we stay with our breath, we slowly relax into the subtle movements of the pose while embracing and enjoying every second of our yoga practice. Thus, cultivating mindfulness and inner peace.

A suitable alternative to sarvangasana or shoulder stand, Dwipada Pitham or two-footed bridge pose, activates the thyroid gland that is responsible for maintaining a healthy metabolism.
Begin going into this backbend by laying on your back, your knees bent with the soles of the feet on the mat, feet hip-distance apart with your arms by your sides, palms facing down and chin tucked towards your chest so that the back of the neck is neutral and long. As you take in a deep and gentle inhale, push into the souls of the feet and slowly, mindfully use the entirety of the breath to help lift your pelvis, articulating the spine, lifting one vertebrate at a time off the mat. Upon the exhalation, permit the complete duration of your breath to guide your spine back on the mat vertebrate by vertebrate.

One variation of dwipads pitham is to lift your arms over head as you simultaneously inhale the pelvis and spine up off that mat making sure that the pace of your movement matches the pace of your breath. The connection between the breath and the asana is akin to a dance with the breath leading and the asana consciously following along. We can’t help but feel grateful when engaging in such a breath-focused movement; therefore, increasing our awareness to our body’s needs and sensations while also aligning the physical body to our emotional and spiritual body.

Physically the asana stretches the front body, which opens and expands the chest; moreover, facilitating and improving the breath. Stretching the spine backward not only rejuvenates the spine, but relieves lower back pain while strengthening the pelvic floor muscles.

Viniyoga master teacher Gary Kraftsow guides you through a mindful breath-centric practice in his Viniyoga Therapy for Complete Back Care.