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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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Yoga Therapy Tip of the Day

Posted on February 23rd, 2016 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Vajrasana

 

Vajrasana: Kneeling or Diamond Pose

By Sabrina Samedi

Advancements in technology are not only coming at us from both left and right field, but are competing for our attention on a daily basis- cue the introduction of the new slew of gizmos, gadgets, smart phones, watches, glasses and TVs that all promise to know what we really need in terms of communication, entertainment, relaxation- you name it and there is an app for that. Hence, there is no wonder that it is often challenging to let go in this modern age and invest in listening to our inner selves, trusting our intuitive truth and unplugging from the tech age by plugging into our soul’s desires and meditating.

Need a little boost to help you slow down, focus on your breath and surrender into a meditative state? Rest assured- there’s an asana for that! Vajrasana or diamond pose is an ideal yoga therapy asana for pranayama and concentration as it helps in stabilizing the mind and body. Vajrasana also serves as a wonderful alternative to sukasana as a meditative pose for those suffering for sciatica and severe lower back problems. While most asanas are recommended to practice on an empty stomach, diamond pose is an exception as it is aids in proper digestion, making it most effective after a meal. Thus, preventing acidity and ulcers. The benefits of this calming pose are limitless; vajrasana modifies the blood flow in the lower pelvic region: the blood flow to the legs is reduced and the blood flow to the digestive organs is then increased.

To practice vajrasana, begin by standing on your knees, as always in viniyoga, the flow of the breath is the primary focus. Therefore, we do not want to sacrifice pranayama to achieve a physical stance nor should one endure pain and discomfort while trying to breath into the releasing qualities of an asana. If standing on your knees is in any way uncomfortable and distracting, please place a blanket or two underneath your knees to ensure comfort and ease. Standing on your knees, on an inhale raise your arms up over your head and as you exhale, starting with a count of 4, use the entirety of the breath to bend forward bringing your belly to the thighs, your forehead to the mat and your arms behind you while your buttocks gentle rests upon your heels in child’s pose. As you inhale, again to a potential count of 4, lift your arms up over your head as you come back to stand on your knees. Continuing within the breath-centric rhythm of this asana flow, exhale the breath for the same duration as you bend forward, releasing your arms behind you, buttocks to heels, belly to thighs and forehead to the mat. Allow the breath to guide you through this subtle yet powerful movement. Upon the fourth cycle of repetition, to really surrender into the asana and open yourself up to the relief from anxiety,  as you exhale, bring your arms out infront of you, palms facing down and forehad to the floor as the belly once again comes to gently rest and let go on the upper thighs as the buttocks come to rest on the heels and remain in this restoring child’s pose for as long as you need.

Master teacher Gary Kraftsow diligently transitions you into this restoring as well as releasing dynamic modification of vajrasana in Viniyoga Therapy for Anxiety.

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Yoga Therapy Tip of the Day

Posted on February 2nd, 2016 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Bhujangasana

Yoga Therapy Tip of the Day

Bhujangasana: Cobra Pose

Too many lunch breaks compromised for dates with your keyboard? Feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders which is physically causing them to ache and sag? Feeling like you could use a little more self-love in your life? There is always a wonderful reason to introduce, integrate and invite heart-opening asanas into your practice on a regular basis with poses such as bhujangasana or cobra pose. Yes you are physically curling your chest opening, but more so you are activating the prana vayus.

The prana vayus indicates forward moving air; therefore, directing the vital life force energy into the body. Governing the intake of vibrations, frequencies and external energies, the prana vayus directs the reception of all types from the consumption of food, drinking of water, inhalation of air to the reception of sensory impressions and mental experiences.
Practiced on its own or as an integral part of sun salutations, cobra pose is known to strengthen the spine, stretch the chest, lungs, shoulders and abdomen while also soothing sciatica. As bhujangasana reintroduces a gentle pep in your step by relieving stress and anxiety, traditional texts also indicate that cobra pose increases tapas: the body’s natural heat, destroys disease and awakens kundalini.

Renowned teacher Gary Kraftsow does a wonderful job not only sequencing asanas to lift your mood, but he also invites a safe and energetic environment for self-exploration in Viniyoga for Depression.

Bhujangasana in Action

To go into bhujangasana, begin by lying prone on the floor, stretching the legs long towards the back of the mat keeping the ankles close with your toes, thighs, and pubis pressing firmly into the mat. Make sure your shoulders are over your wrist as your hands are close to your torso and evenly spread out on the mat and your elbows are snuggled back into your body. Using the strength of your back, on an inhalation, begin to straighten the arms to lift the chest away from the ground, keeping the chest expansive and shoulders relaxed down the back.  Remain in cobra for a few rounds of mindful breathing as you open your heart thought this gentle backbend. As gratifying as this pose is, please proceed with caution if you are pregnant or are dealing with back injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome and/or headaches.

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Yoga Therapy Tip of the Day

Posted on January 26th, 2016 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Vimanasana

Yoga Therapy Tip of the Day

Vimanasana: Chariot or Airplane Pose

The fact is that we are all human and we all get moody at times. Dependent perhaps on the weather, the circumstances throughout our day or weeks even, the score of a game, the outcome of a movie, the unfulfilled ending to a novel, the results of any experience we attribute value to can and does occasionally get the best of it. Once we identify the swing in our persona, we oftentimes try to get back on track through reflection, positive actions, affirmations, reminders of all we have to be grateful for, mediation and our yoga practice. Akin to our emotional well being, our physical well being is also recognized for undergoing turbulence and feeling disconnected to its natural tendency. In particular, our sacrum becomes quite moody as well. Especially in our asana practices, many asymmetrical asanas akin to virabhadrasana II, utthita parsvakonasana and/or trikonasana when not balanced with neutral poses such as virabhadrasana I, crescent pose and paschimottanasana can start to bothers our sacrum and generate a sense of discomfort. Practicing a symmetrical backward bend like vimanasana: chariot or airplane pose, is ideal to neutralize the hip joints: therefore, offsetting and reducing if not relieving any built up discomfort in our lower spinal vertebrate column.

To Get Into Vimanasana

To physically achieve vimanasana, begin by lying supine on the stomach with the legs together or slightly apart. To better understand which leg positioning is best and appropriate for your body consider in the direction of the legs in relation to pelvis when eventually lifted. The outward movement of the legs encourages the sit bones to move outwards as well and the pelvic rims ultimately move toward each other. By moving the legs closer towards each other so that the toes touch when lifted, the sit bones also move inwards and the pelvic rims move outwards. When ultimately lifting the upper body, with legs lifted together or farther apart continues to support a grounded sensation throughout the pelvis.

While laying on your stomach, the legs engaged and reaching long behind you, the arms are either down the sides of your torso, palms reaching up or if it is causing too much strain on the lower thoracic region and upper lumbar region of the spine to have your arms lifted at chest height, feel free to lower the forearms onto the mat. The elbows are bent directly underneath the shoulders and the forearms shoulder-distance apart.

To reiterate, vimanasana begins while laying on your stomach, the forehead rest gently on the mat or it if is more comfortable for your neck, turn your head to one side and place the cheek on the mat, your arms are down by your sides or elbows bent underneath your shoulder. Exhale completely and on your next inhalation, tighten the abdominal muscles while rolling shoulders back and down the spine and leading with the breath, pull the chest forward and up, the legs lift (feet together or legs wider a part) and if the arms are by your side they lift up and can spread out line airplane wings. While continuing to inhale, the head extends away from the shoulders and chin gently lifts up while still parallel to the floor beneath you. On a cleansing exhalation, lower the chest, legs and arms (if lifted rather than bent) beside your torso while relaxing the abdomen muscles and lowering the forehead or cheek (now in the opposite direction) onto the mat.

When inhaling to repeat vimanasana, keep in mind that the legs should not be lifting higher than the height of your chest to reduce any chance of strain on the lower back. Ease into and out of the pose, allowing the breath to guide your rather the physicality of the asana. Master Teacher, Gary Kraftsow guides you through this grounding, relieving, yet spine-strengthening pose in his Low Back, Hips and Sacrum Viniyoga Therapy practice.

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Yoga Therapy Tip of the Day | Salabasana

Posted on December 15th, 2015 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Salabasana

Salabasana= Locust Pose

Ardha Salabasana= Half Locust Pose

To practice self-care is to embody self-love and who couldn’t use more self-love in their lives. Whether it is responsibilities at home, deadlines and duties related to our jobs or maintaining social relationships that are our pivotal to our wellbeing, we are oftentimes short on time and effort when it comes to not indulging, but actually honoring ourselves by activating the heart chakra. As we open up the heart to readily and eagerly take in the vibrant energy of love, compassion and care not only towards others, but to ourselves we are also engaging the pran vayu. The pran vayu indicates forward as well as inward moving air; therefore governing the consumption, absorption and intake of such vital life force energy.

Locust pose as well as half locust pose are an ideal spine stretch along with a good back bend that increases flexibility and stamina of the body while simultaneously opening up the heart and upper chest. More importantly than physically achieving this back bend, is breathing evenly and smoothly through the pose. As with any posture done therapeutically and with awareness, the form is continuously secondary to the breath.

Yoga Therapy in Action with Salabasana

Keeping in mind that the movement follows the breath, to practice a dynamic ardha shalabasana sequence begin by lying on your stomach with your arms folded behind your back and your hands resting gently on your sacrum, palms facing the sky. Leading with the chest as you inhale your head also lifts and tilts to the left as you sweep the left arm forward into a salute position and lift the right leg up slightly with your toes pointing back and hips remain comfortably neutral. Your head returns to a central position as you lower your chest and head on an exhale while the left arm moves behind you and the right leg rests back down onto the  mat.

Continuing and moving into this backbend on the opposite side of the body reassures a sense of balance both physically and mentally by engaging both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. On your next inhale, shift your dristi and head towards the right as you sweep the right arm into a salute position. Still focusing on the gradual inhale, lift the left leg, toes pointing to the back. The head gently transitions back to center as you exhale, lowering the left leg and right arm behind you while simultaneously lowering the chest towards the mat. Now look towards the on your next inhale as you prepare for your next cycle of breath and repeat the given asana sequence.

To move into shalabasana, it is important to note that the focus here is on the breath and honoring the body into such a transition. When practicing locust pose, putting too much emphasis on the height or rather how high you lift your legs can place an unnecessary amount of strain on your neck and back and cause injury; therefore, counterintuitive to pose’s benefit of strengthening the spine. In shalabasana, your pelvis should be drawn firmly into the mat as your inhale and simultaneously lift both legs off the ground, toes pointing back and hips resting on the mat. Your chest also lifts on the inhale, your neck is neutral as the chin is parallel to the mat, gaze straight forward and your arms in this full variation are bent at elbows with your wrists directly underneath your shoulders. As you exhale, both your legs and chest lower down, gently placing your forehead on the mat.

While Shalabasana and ardha shalabasana are beneficial in minimizing if not circumventing feelings of fatigue, flatulence and lower back pain, please be mindful of moving into these asanas if you suffer from headaches and/or major back and neck injuries. Focusing on a breath-centric practice where the breath and function are the priority versus the form, reduces not only the risk for injury, but also the pressure or need to perfect the physical look of the asana.

One of the world’s leading yoga therapists and founder of American Viniyoga Institute, Gary Kraftsow  demonstrates various sequences catered to dealing with anxiety while providing ample support to keep you engaged, safe and receptive to the healing process in his DVD’s.

Save 10% on any program from Pranamaya with the PROMO code SACREDCOW

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Q&A: Gary Kraftsow On Yoga Therapy and Your Mood

Posted on February 22nd, 2011 by Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

yoga for depression and anxietyGary Kraftsow has been teaching yoga as a practice for healing the body and mind for three decades. He began studying with T.K.V. Desikachar in the 1970s, and has since become a leader in the field of yoga therapy. He talked to The Sacred Cow about the emerging field of yoga therapy, and, in particular, its use for anxiety and depression.

 

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