Skip to Main Content »

Pranamaya

The Best in Yoga DVDs.

Posts Tagged ‘Meditation’

Tips to Help You Embody Self-Care

Posted on April 28th, 2016 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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.

Share

Cultivating a Home Yoga Practice

Posted on April 13th, 2016 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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.

Share

Embracing Self-Love via Self-Care

Posted on February 24th, 2016 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

fireheart

To Care For Yourself is to LOVE Yourself

By Sabrina Samedi

The month of love, or rather the month of being visually stimulated with an abundance of oversized heart-shaped and bright pink color-coated candies and balloons in almost every shop you walk into nationwide is coming to an end, but that does not mean you should stop showing yourself true love! Love is always in the air with us. Between modern-life schedules, responsibilities, chores and deadlines we are often putting on our own Cirque de Soleil juggling act; thus, setting aside time for ourselves gets lost in the shuffle. We are here to help you slow down (even if it is for five minutes) and prioritize self-care because to care for yourself, to nourish your mind, body, spirit and soul, is to practice self-love and such a graciously manifested affection cultivates nothing but healing powers.

Have an Appetite for Life.

Yes, sometimes we think of routines as the monotonous and soul-crushing enemy to creativity, but let’s shift our focus away from any preconceived notions and stereotypes and remind ourselves of the importance of balance. The routines act as the skeleton, strong foundation of our days and how we build ourselves up from there is OUR choice. This is where you can tune in, listen to the truth of your heart and even let your inner child play. Perhaps your day is occupied with domestic chores- we all eventually have to attend to such housekeeping responsibilities and it has to get done, so why not make it enjoyable instead of using the presence of such tasks as the fuel to the cranky attitude fire? Play your favorite song while you’re folding the laundry, dance around the house as you put the clothes away or dry the dishes. Let your movements be playful. If you have to be up early for work and are more of a night owl, rather than lament the world for your sleep-deprived state of mind, why don’t wake to song of mother nature-the sound of ocean waves or birds chirping- I promise there is an app for that! Wake up to something that will remind you that you are grateful to be alive. Stuck in traffic? Not a problem, use the time to call a loved one you haven’t heard from in a while (while using a hand-free device of course) or use the time to practice breathing techniques that keep you calm and centered. It’s all about how you look and treat the situation more than the situation itself and once you overcome an obstacle or previously-identified frustration, you gain more appreciation for your demeanor, your character, your learning process and wisdom. Noticing growth and appreciating the learning process is an act of self-love.

Nourish Your Mind, Body and Soul with Goodness.

Let your perspective push you or rather help you stand strong in believing in the beauty of life. Our thoughts have the ability to root us down into our intentions and help us grow or push us down into the light-deprived dungeons of our doubts and fears. Therefore, the direction we go in simply boils down to our sense of gratefulness: start and end your days by reminding yourself of all that you are grateful for. Empower yourself by being grateful for your brilliant mind, compassionate soul, warm heart and strong body. Gratefulness is a game-changer as it shifts our scattered and sometimes rushed movements into feats of mindfulness. In all that we do, let us remember to be mindful- be present in that moment, be cognizant of how such a mental-body awareness in our attitude and our perspective is cultivating an empowering rather than a defeated stance. You are capable of achieving your dreams, living authentically to align yourself with your intentions, but honor yourself by being grateful for your efforts each and every day. While you nourish your mind and soul with compassion, nurture your physical body with the same state of presence. Eat the rainbow, the gardens and all the treats that sustain you; be kind to your body by tuning into how you feel. If you over-indulge in a few too many chocolate chip cookies, then be mindful of the after-affect feelings to prevent such discomforts and forgive yourself. Forgive yourself almost immediately for the bumps along the road to well-being because guilt and shame are not invited to join you on your self-guided self-care retreat. Nurture your spirit by keeping the internal dialogue with yourself kind- you are enough, please remember that. Compassion along with gratitude can not only help you survive the tough days, but such vital essences give you the strength and determination to thrive going forward. Tune in to see what you are craving and why and feed yourself soulfully: consume what feels good and does good for your body.

Keep Up to be Kept Up.

The old adage is true: a body in motion stays in motion and let’s keep our bodies moving and grooving to the best of their abilities. However, let us first ask ourselves what type, style or level of motion is good for us in this present moment (as the day before or the day after your body might feel and move differently; thus do not judge yourself if how you move today is more or less energized than yesterday). If you are suffering from an injury or your mind is cluttered with scattered thoughts about your to-do lists for the next week, then maybe it’s time your movement reflects your needs. Tune in and take note if the voice you are listening to is that of the inner self, the soul or the ego: yes, you’ve identified that you want to move, but are you honestly too drained for a 90-minute sweat fest? If so, then honor your body by stepping away from the ego and move from your heart instead. Clear your head and soak in some vitamin D by taking an energizing walk outside or maybe a stroll in the crisp air and under the moonlight is better served for you to get the creative juices flowing. Cleanse your body of any tightness and stretch or perhaps let go, release and surrender into a Viniyoga practice. Allow the breath to guide you- not just in the physical yoga practices, but as often as possible in daily life. Let such a powerful and vital life force cleanse the toxic stale air out of your lungs and flourish your mental and physical body with rejuvenated energy. To help get you started with your practice, 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 your practice, but deepen your yoga education.

Slow Down and Smell the Roses. (I prefer Sunflowers, but you get the gist)

Yes, it might seem counter intuitive to my suggestion to get the body moving, but remember, life is filled with balance. I’ve mentioned tuning in quite a bit, but what is tuning in? Tuning in is self-discovering, it is listening to your inner self, it is trusting your intuition and that ‘gut feeling.’ To begin to deepen the journey of self-discovery and become more familiar with what we truly need and desire, we oftentimes have to slow down, close our lips and open our ears and our minds to receive the energy and intuitive voices from within. Close your eyes, deepen your breath, still your physical body, let go of your thoughts and let your subconscious body guide you in the right direction. Even if it’s for a few minutes every morning before devouring a delicious latte or a few simple moments before slipping away into your dreams, take the time to mediate. Not only does meditation aid in helping you feel more connected to yourself and appreciate life more, but such a mindful practice reduces anxiety caused by stress and makes you happier. We are here to support you on your journey within; thus, we have meditation courses and DVDs available to get your practice started.

 

Share

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.

Share

Dhi Is A Word Every Yogi Should Know

Posted on November 6th, 2015 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

IMG_9345.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Chanti Tacoronte-Perez  MA

In school we learn the A, B, C’s or the important aspects of a variety of subjects, however we seem to have missed out the Dhi’s. Dhi is a sanskrit word that means true knowingness, which we can interpret as a gut feeling or highest truth. I will argue that this “illuminated wisdom” as Yogarupa Rod Stryker calls it can be developed from a young age, yet the tools that allow us the freedom as children to play and deeply listen like: music, painting and dancing have been cut off. When the arts or the humanities have been severed from our upbringing then as children and adolescents we have less time to explore and express ourselves from within.
Dhi as Stryker (2010) eloquently states is “more than our personal barometer or inner voice of morality––more than what helps us distinguish right from wrong…It is the inner voice of higher wisdom that knows and is capable of guiding you to do precisely the right thing at precisely the right time. In effect, dhi is the light of the inner teacher that dwells within you. Intuition is your way of hearing it (p. 253). In other words it is through the honing of light of the teacher that we can begin to clearly hear intuition.
In Rod Stryker’s Book The Four Desires, he describes a method to develop a relationship with that part of you that already knows. To make this relationship blossom, and to trust your own intuitive voice it take dedication, time, practice and eventually the courage to act from the voice of Dhi. Yet, how is it that we can learn to live in this world with all our humanness and be able to listen to that inner guidance? The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali states that “by mastering samyama [meditation in its various stages] prajna [the light of wisdom] dawns” (as quoted in Stryker, 2010, p. 253)
Personally, creating a relationship with my inner teacher has come through my own creative practice in addition to my established meditation ritual. For many years I spent time after meditation asking a single question, taking time to listen and then writing down the answers. This method then morphed into stream of consciousness writing, poetry as well as drawing images that would come when the words wouldn’t.
As we grow into adults that space that may have been filed with a trust for who we are in the world and our finest desires, may have been stuffed with facts, expectations, calculations and unfortunately someone else’s truth. It is my hunch this is why creativity is making a comeback; it’s important to spend some time in the realm of creativity, meditation and inwardly focused — to allows for the time and space to listen deeply and develop the Dhi muscle. When we know how to listen then we have the strength and courage necessary to live our lives and make all our decision from the guidance of that intimate part we now know.

 

chantiart

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chanti Tacoronte-Perez is the innovator and artist behind www.yantrawisdom.com she leads retreats and workshops internationally and has an upcoming retreat in Tulum Mexico – 7 Days of Dhi – Fearless Living

Chanti has had a paintbrush in her hand since she can remember. In 2002 she graduated from Hampshire College with a Bachelors in fine arts, (oil painting) as well as a specialization in special education. In 2005 she began to deepen her studies in The Sri Viddya Linage with Rod Stryker founder of Para Yoga. The Tantric teachings she encountered eventually lead her to the discovery of Yantra painting.

The Yantras and their symbology inspired Chanti to dive deeply into the practice of creatively healing. Chanti has recently completed her Masters at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Humanities with an emphasis on Depth Psychology. Chanti is a guide in weaving the practices of Tantra, Yantra painting and Depth Psychology; she mentors students to awaken to their purposeful creatively-engaged life.

Sva Bhava Artwork created by Chanti

Share

So Hum Meditation with Sri Dharma Mittra

Posted on September 7th, 2015 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Sri Dharma Mittra explains the So Hum meditation. So Hum is said to be the mantra that we are born with. It is the mantra of the breath. In many traditions this will be the first mantra that a student is given, because as it were, he or she already has access to it. It is said that the mantra can be heard if you listen closely to the sound of the breath. Using this simple technique can bring a sense of clarity, balance, ease and even bliss. If you are interested in beginning a practice of Japa meditation this is a great practice to begin with. The word Japa means repetition and usually refers to the repetition of a mantra.  Once you are comfortable with this simple practice it may be time to move on to other practices that use this mantra following the breath like Ajapa Japa meditation part one. At some point you may even begin to notice the sound of the mantra repeating itself. This is a great sign that you are beginning to embody the resonance of the mantra.

This clip is from Dharma Mittra’s Maha Sadhana level 2 DVD from Pranamaya. Use the Promo code SACREDCOW for 10% at checkout.

 

Share

Yoga Therapy Mini-Workshop -Warrior One

Posted on September 5th, 2015 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Visit our website at www.pranamaya.com to find out more about Gary Kraftsow, Viniyoga and Yoga Therapy. Use the Promo code SACREDCOW for an additional 10% at checkout. From www.viniyoga.com yoga therapy is offers the below as a description of Yoga Therapy and its benefits.

Yoga Therapy, derived from the Yoga tradition of Patanjali and the Ayurvedic system of health, refers to the adaptation and application of Yoga techniques and practices to help individuals facing health challenges at any level manage their condition.

The general long-term goals of Yoga Therapy include:

reducing the symptoms of suffering that can be reduced
managing the symptoms that cannot be reduced
rooting out causes wherever possible
improving life function, and
shifting attitude and perspective in relationship to life’s challenges.

Viniyoga ™ is a comprehensive and authentic transmission of the teachings of yoga including asana, pranayama, bandha, sound, chanting, meditation, personal ritual and study of texts. Viniyoga ™ (prefixes vi and ni plus yoga) is an ancient Sanskrit term that implies differentiation, adaptation, and appropriate application.

tasya bhūmiṣu viniyogaḥ
Sutra 3.6, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

The American Viniyoga™ Institute uses the term Viniyoga™ to refer to an approach to Yoga that adapts the various means and methods of practice to the unique condition, needs and interests of each individual – giving each practitioner the tools to individualize and actualize the process of self-discovery and personal transformation.

The practices of Yoga provide the means to bring out the best in each practitioner. This requires an understanding of a person’s present condition, personal potential, appropriate goals and the means available. Just as every person is different, these aspects will vary with each individual.

Share

10 Steps to Staying Inspired and Manifesting Your Intentions

Posted on January 19th, 2015 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

moody_girl

Staying inspired isn’t always easy. Sometimes just completing our daily mundane tasks- taking care of our kids, going to work or school- can seem like a grind. So how do we stay inspired to attain the goals and dreams that we have set for ourselves?

1. Imagine:
It is said that “Imagination leads to experience” and it is one of the first steps to begin to shift our positive thoughts and aspirations into form. Creating a vision board is an excellent way to begin to shape what sprouts from our imagination into being. A vision board is a picture collage of all the things you would like to manifest. Be as specific as you can about what those things are. If you want a new car, find the actual make model and color of the car you want. If you are dreaming of an exotic vacation find pictures of the hotel you’d like to stay in and the things you’d like to do while you are there. If you desire a loving relationship find photo’s or words that invoke this for you. Place the board in a place where you can see it everyday. Take a moment each day to look at what you’ve created, knowing that you have the ability to make it happen. Pay attention to synchronicities in your life, it may be the universe conspiring to help you!

2. Be Grateful:
Gratitude is central to being a happy and inspired person. We all have something to be grateful for, even if at this very moment the only thing that you can think of is the breath you are breathing right now. Create a gratitude journal. Every night before you go to bed make a list of 5 things that you are grateful for.

3. The Company You Keep:
Sometimes you need to let go of relationships that don’t serve you. You are not being served if you consistently feel drained after being around certain people. In your friendships and relationships are you always giving more energy than you receive? Do you feel valued? Are you in a circle of friends that thrives on drama and gossip? Who are the people you look up to? Spend more time with them. It is said that you are the average of the 5 people that you spend the most time with. Sit with that for a moment and think about whether you need to make any changes. Surrounding yourself with people who are positive, proactive and uplifting will help you to stay connected to your own goals. Who are those people in your life? If you don’t have any, find some!

4. Make an Action List:
List five things at the beginning of the week that you can complete to move closer to your goals. Don’t be afraid to do things that seem big- like making a cold call or sending an email to someone you don’t know. List 3 things you can stop doing this week that waste time and resources i.e. internet, channel surfing, spending too much or gossiping.

5. Meditate:
Set the tone and foundation for your day by spending at least 5 minutes meditating upon waking. The practice of consistent mediation has cumulative effects and allows you to develop the ability to remain centered in the midst of turmoil.

6. Daily Exercise:
No matter what your preferred movement form is. Get out there and do it 30 minutes a day! I prefer yoga and meditation because it brings awareness to your thoughts and can reveal mental constructs that may be blocking you from moving forward. If you are new to yoga you can try a free Yin Yoga class for beginners with Sarah Powers.

7. Mindful Eating:
Be mindful of not only what you eat (hopefully 60% organic), but how you eat. Do you offer a blessing for your food? Are you talking on the phone or watching TV while you eat? Are you rushing through your meal? Do you eat too late at night ? You are not only what you eat, but HOW you eat. Incorproating the science of Ayurveda can be an eye opening way to use food as medicine and practice daily self care rituals.

8. Thirty Minutes of Silence Before Bed:
How often during the day are we ever really silent? We are constantly barraged with images, information, distractions, sound bites, feedback etc. Take time to decompress from it all and just be silent, write in your journal, meditate, make a cup of tea and just BE. In order to be truly happy we must cultivate the ability to be alone with ourselves and our thoughts- with no distractions.

9. Deep Relaxation:
It is important for us to be able to deeply relax. We mostly think of that as sleeping, but there are a few exercises that we can do that bring us into a state of deep relaxation. The practice of yoga nidra is done lying on your back, on your bed or on the floor. Your eyes remain closed as you remain perfectly still and are guided though an exercise. This is a wonderful exercise for anyone who has trouble sleeping. It can be done any time of day and is deeply restoring. And because it is so deeply relaxing it is a great place to plant an intention. All of your internal resistances soften and you now have fertile ground to manifest your dreams from. I have used this method many times to achieve goals and it is very effective.

10. Commitment
Make a commitment to yourself. If you can’t commit to yourself, it’ll be hard for anyone to commit to you in any capacity. Challenge yourself to incorporate the nine steps into your life for 41 days. If you slip, start from day one. I guarantee you’ll see changes by day 42.

Share

What is Yin Yoga?

Posted on July 11th, 2014 by Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Conventional yoga wisdom holds that nothing prepares your body for hours of seated meditation as well as regular asana practice. But when I began to explore more intensive meditation sessions, I discovered to my chagrin that years of sweaty vinyasa and mastery of fairly advanced poses hadn’t made me immune to the creaky knees, sore back, and aching hips that can accompany long hours of sitting practice.

Fortunately, by the time I got serious about meditation, I’d already been introduced to the concepts of Taoist Yoga, which helped me understand my difficulties in sitting. I found that with some simple additions to my yoga practice, I could sit in meditation with ease, free from physical distractions. Taoist Yoga also helped me see that we can combine Western scientific thought with ancient Indian and Chinese energy maps of the body to gain deeper understanding of how and why yoga works.

The Tao of Yoga

Through deep meditation, the ancient spiritual adepts won insight into the energy system of the body. In India, yogis called this energy prana and its pathways nadis; in China, the Taoists called it qi (pronounced chee) and founded the science of acupuncture, which describes the flow of qi through pathways called meridians. The exercises of tai chi chuan and qi gong were developed to harmonize this qi flow; the Indian yogis developed their system of bodily postures to do the same.

Western medicine has been skeptical about the traditional energy maps of acupuncture, tai chi, and yoga, since no one had ever found physical evidence of nadis and meridians. But in recent years researchers, led by Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama in Japan and Dr. James Oschman in the United States, have explored the possibility that the connective tissue running throughout the body provides pathways for the energy flows described by the ancients.

Drawing on Motoyama’s research, Taoist Yoga weds the insights gained by thousands of years of acupuncture practice to the wisdom of yoga. To understand this marriage—and to use it to help us sit with more ease in meditation—we must familiarize ourselves with the concepts of yin and yang. Opposing forces in taoist thought, the terms yin and yang can describe any phenomenon. Yin is the stable, unmoving, hidden aspect of things; yang is the changing, moving, revealing aspect. Other yin-yang polarities include cold-hot, down-up, calm-excited.

Yin and yang are relative terms, not absolutes; any phenomenon can only be yin or yang by comparison with something else. We can’t point to the moon and say, “The moon is yin.” Compared to the sun, the moon is yin: It’s cooler and less bright. But compared to the Earth (at least from our perspective), the moon is yang: brighter, higher, and more mobile. In addition to being relative, a yin-yang comparison of any two objects depends on the trait being compared. For example, when considering location, the heart is yin compared to the breastbone because the heart is more hidden. But when considering substance, the heart is yang compared to the breastbone because the heart is softer, more mobile, more elastic.

Analyzing various yoga techniques from the perspective of yin and yang, the most relevant aspect is the elasticity of the tissues involved. Yang tissues like muscles are more fluid-filled, soft, and elastic; yin tissues like connective tissue (ligaments, tendons, and fascia) and bones are dryer, harder, and stiffer. By extension, exercise that focuses on muscle tissue is yang; exercise that focuses on connective tissue is yin.

It’s certainly true that whenever we move and bend our joints in yoga postures, both muscle and connective tissues are challenged. But from a Taoist perspective, much of the yoga now practiced in the West is yang practice—active practice that primarily focuses on movement and muscular contraction. Many yoga students like to warm up with asanas that infuse the muscles with blood, like standing poses, Sun Salutations, or inversions. This strategy makes sense for stretching and strengthening muscles; much like a sponge, the elasticity of a muscle varies dramatically with its fluid content. If a sponge is dry, it may not stretch at all without tearing, but if a sponge is wet, it can twist and stretch a great deal. Similarly, once the muscles fill with blood, they become much easier to stretch.

Yang yoga provides enormous benefits for physical and emotional health, especially for those living a sedentary modern lifestyle. Taoists would say yang practice removes qi stagnation as it cleanses and strengthens our bodies and our minds. But the practice of yang yoga, by itself, may not adequately prepare the body for a yin activity such as seated meditation. Seated meditation is a yin activity, not just because it is still but because it depends on the flexibility of the connective tissue.

The Joint Stretch

The idea of stretching connective tissue around the joints seems at odds with virtually all the rules of modern exercise. Whether we’re lifting weights, skiing, or doing aerobics or yoga, we’re taught that safety in movement primarily means to move so you don’t strain your joints. And this is sage counsel. If you stretch connective tissue back and forth at the edge of its range of motion or if you suddenly apply a lot of force, sooner or later you will hurt yourself.

So why would Yin Yoga advocate stretching connective tissue? Because the principle of all exercise is to stress tissue so the body will respond by strengthening it. Moderately stressing the joints does not injure them any more than lifting a barbell injures muscles. Both forms of training can be done recklessly, but neither one is innately wrong. We must remember that connective tissue is different from muscle and needs to be exercised differently. Instead of the rhythmiccontraction and release that best stretches muscle, connective tissue responds best to a slow, steady load. If you gently stretch connective tissue by holding a yin pose for a long time, the body will respond by making them a little longer and stronger—which is exactly what you want.

Although connective tissue is found in every bone, muscle, and organ, it’s most concentrated at the joints. In fact, if you don’t use your full range of joint flexibility, the connective tissue will slowly shorten to the minimum length needed to accommodate your activities. If you try to flex your knees or arch your back after years of underuse, you’ll discover that your joints have been “shrink-wrapped” by shortened connective tissue.

When most people are introduced to the ideas of Yin Yoga, they shudder at the thought of stretching connective tissue. That’s no surprise: Most of us have been aware of our connective tissues only when we’ve sprained an ankle, strained our lower backs, or blown out a knee. But yin practice isn’t a call to stretch all connective tissue or strain vulnerable joints. Yin Yoga, for example, would never stretch the knee side to side; it simply isn’t designed to bend that way. Although yin work with the knee would seek full flexion and extension (bending and straightening), it would never aggressively stretch this extremely vulnerable joint. In general, a yin approach works to promote flexibility in areas often perceived as nonmalleable, especially the hips, pelvis, and lower spine.

Of course, you can overdo yin practice, just as you can overdo any exercise. Since yin practice is new to many yogis, the indications of overwork may also be unfamiliar. Because yin practice isn’t muscularly strenuous, it seldom leads to sore muscles. If you’ve really pushed too far, a joint may feel sensitive or even mildly sprained. More subtle signals include muscular gripping or spasm or a sense of soreness or misalignment—in chiropractic terms, being out of adjustment—especially in your neck or sacroiliac joints. If a pose causes symptoms like these, stop practicing it for a while. Or, at the very least, back way out of your maximum stretch and focus on developing sensitivity to much more subtle cues. Proceed cautiously, only gradually extending the depth of poses and the length of time you spend in them.

The Yin Difference

There are two principles that differentiate yin practice from more yang approaches to yoga: holding poses for at least several minutes and stretching the connective tissue around a joint. To do the latter, the overlying muscles must be relaxed. If the muscles are tense, the connective tissue won’t receive the proper stress. You can demonstrate this by gently pulling on your right middle finger, first with your right hand tensed and then with the hand relaxed. When the hand is relaxed, you will feel a stretch in the joint where the finger joins the palm; the connective tissue that knits the bones together is stretching. When the hand is tensed, there will be little or no movement across this joint, but you will feel the muscles straining against the pull.

It’s not necessary—or even possible—for all the muscles to be relaxed when you’re doing some Yin Yoga postures. In a seated forward bend, for example, you can gently pull with your arms to increase the stretch on the connective tissues of your spine. But in order for these connective tissues to be affected, you must relax the muscles around the spine itself. Because Yin Yoga requires that the muscles be relaxed around the connective tissue you want to stretch, not all yoga poses can be done effectively—or safely—as yin poses.

Standing poses, arm balances, and inversions—poses that require muscular action to protect the structural integrity of the body—can’t be done as yin poses. Also, although many yin poses are based on classic yoga asanas, the emphasis on releasing muscles rather than on contracting them means that the shape of poses and the techniques employed in them may be slightly different than you’re accustomed to. To help my students keep these distinctions in mind, I usually refer to yin poses by different names than their more familiar yang cousins.

The One Seat

All seated meditation postures aim at one thing: holding the back upright without strain or slouching so that energy can run freely up and down the spine. The fundamental factor that affects this upright posture is the tilt of the sacrum and pelvis. When you sink back in a chair so that the lower spine rounds, the pelvis tilts back. When you “sit up straight,” you are bringing the pelvis to a vertical alignment or a slight forward tilt. This alignment is what you want for seated meditation. The placement of the upper body takes care of itself if the pelvis is properly adjusted.

A basic yin practice to facilitate seated meditation should incorporate forward bends, hip openers, backbends, and twists. Forward bends include not just the basic two-legged seated forward bend but also poses that combine forward bending and hip opening, like Butterfly (a yin version of Baddha Konasana), Half Butterfly (a yin version of Janu Sirsasana), Half Frog Pose (a yin adaptation of Trianga Mukhaikapada Paschimottanasana), Dragonfly (a yin version of Upavistha Konasana), and Snail (a yin version of Halasana). All of the forward bends stretch the ligaments along the back side of the spine and help decompress the lower spinal discs. The straight-legged forward bends stretch the fascia and muscles along the backs of the legs.

This is the pathway of the bladder meridians in Chinese medicine, which Motoyama has identified with the ida and pingala nadis so important in yogic anatomy. Snail Pose also stretches the whole back body but places more emphasis on the upper spine and neck. Poses like Butterfly, Half Butterfly, Half Frog, and Dragonfly stretch not only the back of the spine but also the groins and the fascia that crosses the ilio-sacral region. Shoelace Pose (a yin forward bend in the Gomukhasana leg position) and Square Pose (a yin forward bend in the Sukhasana leg position) stretch the tensor fascie latae, the thick bands of connective tissue that run up the outer thighs, and Sleeping Swan (a yin forward-bending version of Eka Pada Rajakapotasana) stretches all the tissues that can interfere with the external thigh rotation you need for cross-legged sitting postures.

To balance these forward bends, use poses like Seal (a yin Bhujangasana), Dragon (a yin Runner’s Lunge), and Saddle (a yin variation of Supta Vajrasana or Supta Virasana). Saddle Pose is the most effective way I know to realign the sacrum and lower spine, re-establishing the natural lumbar curve that gets lost through years of sitting in chairs. Seal also helps re-establish this curve. Dragon, a somewhat more yang pose, stretches the ilio-psoas muscles of the front hip and thigh and helps prepare you to sit by establishing an easy forward tilt to the pelvis. Before Savasana (Corpse Pose), it’s good to round out your practice with a Cross-Legged Reclining Spinal Twist, a yin version of Jathara Parivartanasana which stretches the ligaments and muscles of the hips and lower spine and provides an effective counterpose for both backbends and forward bends.

The Flow of Qi

Even if you only spend a few minutes a couple times a week practicing several of these poses, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how different you feel when you sit to meditate. But that improved ease may not be the only or even the most important benefit of Yin Yoga. If Hiroshi Motoyama and other researchers are right—if the network of connective tissue does correspond with the meridians of acupuncture and the nadis of yoga—strengthening and stretching connective tissue may be critical for your long-term health.

Chinese medical practitioners and yogis have insisted that blocks to the flow of vital energy throughout our body eventually manifest in physical problems that would seem, on the surface, to have nothing to do with weak knees or a stiff back. Much research is still needed to explore the possibility that science can confirm the insights of yoga and Traditional Chinese Medicine. But if yoga postures really do help us reach down into the body and gently stimulate the flow of qi and prana through the connective tissue, Yin Yoga serves as a unique tool for helping you get the greatest possible benefit from yoga practice.

Read more about Paul Grilley and his Yin Yoga and Anatomy of Yoga DVD’s and online courses: http://www.pranamaya.com/teachers/paul-grilley
This post was originally posted on yogajournal.com

Share

How to Meditate If You are a Hatha Yogi

Posted on July 10th, 2014 by Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

It’s my experience that people who are tied to movement need unmoving mediation even more than others. We all have strengths and weaknesses, and commonly our strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same coin.

If you are very strong in movement, and it is wise to exploit that, but it is also wise to explore it’s opposite.

What sitting meditation does, that no other practice does, is island the mind. It takes the attention away from any hypnotic crutches–music, movement, chant, etc. and offers us the challenge of seeing our thought-habits in their nakedness and working from there. It is always a challenge. It is often frustrating. It commonly reveals to us who we really are, and that can be discomfiting.

For all of these reasons, meditative practice is called Raja Yoga. It is the king (raja) of transformational practices, the one that gives the greatest boons, and–although it is simplest–is often the most difficult.

Make your Raja Yoga simple. Do it first thing in morning. Set your alarm. Sit until the alarm goes off. Set the alarm again. Write gratitude thoughts to fill the (somewhat!) emptied mind with nutrition, until the alarm goes off again. Wa-lah! You have completed your meditation for the day.

This blog post originally appeared on http://prasanayoga.com/ thank you to Eric Shaw.
Photo by Lesa Amoore

Share