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Archive for February, 2017

FULFILLING YOUR DHARMA

Posted on February 28th, 2017 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Buddha_pranamaya

 

 

By Gary Kraftsow

We all have certain fundamental responsibilities and obligations to fulfill in life. As parents, we have a responsibility to our children. As adult children, we have a responsibility to our elderly parents. As husbands and wives, we have a responsibility to our mates. As social beings, we have responsibilities to our employers, employees, society, and government. As students, we have responsibilities to our teachers . And, as teachers, we have responsibilities to our students.

These responsibilities must be fulfilled—they constitute a personal dharma from which there is no honorable escape. They are the basic requirements that give our lives the order and cohesion that hold us together and that support us on our journey through time. To see the truth in this we need only observe how rapidly our lives begin to fall apart once we become unable, or unwilling, to fulfill our basic personal responsibilities.

Beyond these personal responsibilities, there is also an ultimate dharma—a responsibility to that which we all share in common, to a univesal common good. This is described variously according to different traditions, the common thread being the fulfillment of our highest potential as human beings. The ancients suggested that the first step toward fulfilling this ultimate aim lies in the fulfillment of our personal responsibilities. All too often we use our ideas of the spiritual realm as an escape from the real situations of our lives that face us day to day. And thus they taught “dharma rakṣati rakṣata,” which loosely translated means “as we take care of our responsibilities, we will be taken care of.”

Excerpt from: Yoga for Transformation: Ancient Teachings and Practices for Healing the Body, Mind,and Heart by Gary Kraftsow.

 

KraftsowGary Kraftsow

Gary Kraftsow, the leading proponent of viniyoga therapy in the US, has been a pioneer in the transmission of yoga for health, healing, and personal transformation for 30 years. After studying in India with T.K.V. Desikachar and his father T. Krishnamacharya, Gary received a special diploma from Viniyoga International in Paris. In 1999 he founded the American Viniyoga Institute where he is currently director and senior teacher of the Institute’s teacher and therapist trainings.

To learn more about Gary Kraftsow, check out his DVDs here at Pranamaya.

 

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Dragonfly- Yin Yoga for Groin and Hamstrings

Posted on February 24th, 2017 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

 

 

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Yin Yoga is becoming one of the most popular styles of yoga. Yin Yoga as taught by Paul Grilley focuses on the target area of a pose as opposed to the superficial shape of a posture. In dragonfly the target areas are the hips and groin.

Lie down on your back with your buttons close to a wall and your legs extended up the wall. slowly spread your legs apart and slide your feet down the wall. The wider your legs, the deeper the stretch, so adjust yourself accordingly. the close your buttocks are to the wall, the intense the stretch will be so adjust your distance accordingly.

Your legs do not have to be completely straight in the beginning, but as flexibility increases they will get straighter. Do not rush. It is the stretch that is important not the aesthetics.

Hold Dragonfly at the wall for 3-5 minutes.

Excerpted from Yin Yoga: Principles and Practice by Paul Grilley

Check out Paul’s best selling Yin Yoga, Anatomy for Yoga and Chakra Theory DVD’s and online courses. Stay tuned for his new online program Yin Yoga a Functional Approach for Every Body with Paul Grilley. Find all of his programs here and Use the code ILOVEYIN for 10% off any purchase.

 

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Chakravakasana- Yoga for a Healthy Back and Spine

Posted on February 21st, 2017 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

 

A classic for an exceptional reason, chakravakasana not only promotes healthy digestion and elimination, but this dynamic asana aids in releasing any pressure along the lower, middle and upper back by increasing spinal flexibility and abdominal strength. When led gracefully by the breath, chakravakasana  embodies a stretch-like motion that loosens the joints and muscles while concurrently setting a strong foundation for a flow sequence.

Begin to unravel any tension along the spinal column by coming to all fours: the spine is in a neutral position while the wrists are directly under the shoulders and the knees are hip-distance apart and aligned directly underneath the hips. If there is too much pressure building on the hands, wrists and/or knees that prevents you from finding the healing release of this majestic asana then please feel free to entrust the help of props such as a chair and blankets. To create a greater sense of support, cushion the knees with a blanket and to alleviate the pressure on the hands and wrists, place the forearms on the seat of a chair, again with the bent elbows aligned beneath the shoulders.

As you generously take in a deep inhaling breath, stretch forward, gently lifting the chest while the chin remains parallel to the mat to reduce any unwarranted compression on the cervical spine. As you inhale forward, the sacrum widens and a soft arch develops in the thoracic spine. As you exhale, engage the naval to spine connection and lower back into child’s pose so that your hips stretch back and your buttocks come to rest on your heels. Again, the inhaling breath will guide you back through a neutral spine position and then forward leading with the heart and chest. Maintaining the steady pace of your breath, deeply exhale to let go of all tension and curl the thoracic spine where the naval to spine connection is prevalent. Led by the rhythm and control of your breath, versus a desire to achieve a certain aesthetic quality of the pose, repeat this sequence a few times to a count of four on both the inhalation and exhalation to truly ring out any unnecessary tension and welcome a sense of guided movement therapy to the body.

Growing from acute discomfort to chronic illness, back pain is unfortunately becoming quite prevalent amongst modern-day goers. To aid, ease and alleviate this physical, mental and emotional burden of pain, Gary Krastow offers a sublime flow of sequences in his Viniyoga Therapy for Back Pain.

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DESIGNING YOUR HOME YOGA PRACTICE

Posted on February 15th, 2017 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

how to create a home practice

by Paul Grilley

Guiding Principles:

As you develop your own sequences of poses, please keep these ideas in mind:

1. Every yoga pose is bad for somebody. Everyone’s anatomy and history are unique, and this means that each pose affects each person differently. Usually the difference is trivial , but it can sometimes be significant and harmful. Do not become fixated on “mastering a pose.” The poses are meant to be therapeutic, not to challenge your pride. Some poses may be uncomfortable but result in a healthy response, but other poses might just be bad for you.

2. Forward bends are yin. They bring the head level with the heart making it easy to pump blood to the brain. The heart muscle is relaxed and the blood pressure all over the body is reduced. Forward bends harmonize chi flow along the meridians near the spine, which is calming and sedating.

3. Backward bends are yang. They stimulate the nerves and invigorate the yogi. Backward bends do not need to be held as long as forward bends. Experiment with doing more backbends for shorter periods of time rather than longer holds.

4. Time of day and season are important. A more yang practice with shorter holds might be desirable in the morning or on a cold day. A more yin practice might be appropriate in the evenings or on a warm day.

5. The more yang your practice, the greater your variety of poses should be, with shorter durations and more repetitions. The more yin your practice, less variety is needed and the emphasis can be placed on just a few poses.

6. It is fine to practice yang exercise before yin, or yin exercise before yang. Just allow adequate adjustment time when going from one to the other.

7. Use pillows, blankets, and bolsters to support yourself if you find poses stressful. Yin yoga should never be a strain. If you find yourself unable to relax, you are being too aggressive.

Excerpts from: Yin Yoga: Principles and Practice — 10th Anniversary Edition by Paul Grilley.

 

To learn more about Paul Grilley, visit his website at www.paulgrilley.com and check out his DVD’s and online courses here at Pranamaya.

 

Paul Grilley:  A well-known master of yin yoga, Paul brings a thorough grounding in Hatha and Ashtanga yoga as well as anatomy and kinesiology to his teaching, which integrates the Taoist yoga of martial arts master Paulie Zink and the Chinese meridian and acupuncture theories of Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama. Paul’s book, Yin Yoga: Principles and Practice, explains how yin yoga can teach us to relax, be patient, be quiet, and focus on the skeleton and its joints—a necessary counterpoint to today’s more ubiquitous muscular yoga.

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6 Steps to Building Your Capacity in an Uncertain 2017

Posted on February 3rd, 2017 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

 

 

 

 

meditation by robert sturman

by Tracee Stanley

How can you find stability and clarity and when everyone around you is in a constant state of reactivity to every tweet, every post, every news article and every friend who has a differing opinion? The answer is that you must build your capacity. Build your capacity to hold everything — all of what you perceive to be good, bad and more. What exactly does that mean? It means remaining stable in the midst of chaos. It means riding the ebbs and flows of life and not getting caught in the undertow. This is not apathy or some form of magical thinking, but seeing things as they are, not how you wish them to be…and being okay.
Build your capacity for discernment, to see what is true and what is not. Build your capacity to know what to do, when to do it and how. If we can see clearly and cultivate stability we will know what actions to take and we can navigate life and it’s obstacles with more ease and grace. But we must have the awareness, strength and steadiness to accept and process what is in front of us.
This kind of powerful capacity often awakens in you when you least expect it. It happens when you have to dig deep to walk into the room of a dying loved one to say goodbye. When you have to take part in an intervention with a friend or loved one who desperately needs help. When a friend calls you as their last hope because they are ready to take their own life. You find a deep reserve of energy and space; a place you might not have known existed within you. You resolve that you are not going to be swayed; that you can and will be strong and clear. And then you find that you are being guided by your inner knowing and you withstand something that you may have previously thought was intolerable. You not only withstand it, but you excel in the doing of whatever needs to be done. I am asking that you not wait for tragedy to strike, but that you build the qualities of capacity, strength and stability now. The more we exercise the muscles of building and maintaining capacity in the everyday, the more stable we will be in what others might call the worst of times. If these first few weeks of the new presidency are any indication, we will all need to build our capacity no matter what side of the aisle we are sitting on.
Here are some simple ways to begin to build capacity:

1.Create a media safe zone in your home.

Designate a room in your home that is media free. If possible, allow your bedroom to be the place where you can retreat for silence and reflection. This will not be a place to escape to but a place to be present with your thoughts and feelings. Place a journal on your nightstand and journal every morning and night for 10 minutes.

2. Be present with what you are feeling.

Part of becoming more stable and grounded is acknowledging what it is that you are experiencing — without shame or judgment. When you hear “bad news” you may feel something arising within you. Just stop whatever you are doing and breathe. Let the feeling of whatever it is bubble to the surface. Don’t push it away. Now notice that it has a texture or essence; maybe even a vibration that accompanies it. Ask yourself — what am I sensing right now? When was the last time I felt like this? If you can begin to trace back to the very first time you felt this way it may be helpful for you to see how much of what you are experiencing has to do with the current “bad news” or with a prior event in your life.

3. Discern between your thoughts, feelings and emotions.

As you continue to become more awake to what you are experiencing you can begin to more easily recognize the nature of that experience. Is a thought, such as “This really makes me mad when people do x,y, or z?” Is it a feeling or sensation, such as “I feel my whole body becoming hot and tingly?” Is it an emotion, such as “I feel anger arising?” Notice where you feel it in your body. Be with it. See what is there are perhaps it even has a message for you. LISTEN. Go to your safe zone and journal.

4. Cultivate the opposite.

When you feel something arising. Imagine the exact opposite. Remember you are not imagining the opposite situation. For example you are not imagining that your preferred candidate is now president. You are tapping into your emotion and imagining the opposite emotion. So if you are feeling helpless close your eyes and sense what you are feeling in the body. Now imagine feeling powerful. Take yourself back to a time when you felt powerful, if even for a moment. Remember how it felt. Where do you feel that in your body? Vacillate you attention between where you feel helpless in the body and where you feel powerful. Notice that it is very possible to have them both present within you at the same time. Remember that energy follows attention. Notice what you choose to pay attention to. Take a few moments to journal in your safe zone.

5. Dissolve everything.

Set your timer for ten minutes. Sit in a chair or on the floor with your eyes closed. Notice your thoughts, feelings and emotions arising. Each time anything arises, imagine and feel whatever it is being subsumed and dissolved by light. You are not labeling anything good or bad you are just dissolving everything that comes into your awareness. Feel yourself becoming more and more spacious. Feel yourself grounded and stable. Remind yourself that whatever happens, you can handle it. After the 10 minutes has passed, take 5 minutes to journal.

6. Commit to a daily ritual of meditation, long walks, periods of silence, yoga nidra, journaling or self-inquiry.

The more you are able to find moments of silence for reflection and contemplation the more capacity and stability you will build for yourself. Others around you may become drawn to your stability and ease. Share with them whatever tools worked for you.
This is a time that we must each become self-aware and resilient. We must get to know ourselves. In doing that we may begin to understand more about others, bridging the gap between good and bad, and right and wrong. Maybe if we can all commit to building our capacity we can find a way to live together in harmony, to find solutions and to be more responsive and less reactive. And when action is called for in any moment we will know how to use our energy and attention for the greatest effect.

 

Tracee Stanley is a Meditation and Yoga Nidra teacher in Los Angeles. You can download a free meditation from her until 2/12/17 at Pranamaya

Photo by Robert Sturman

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