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Posts Tagged ‘Yin’

Half Frog- Easy Yin Yoga for the Hamstrings and Groin

Posted on March 1st, 2017 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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Half Frog stretches the hamstrings and the groin. Because the pelvis is pushed forward by the Half Frog position, the stretch on the hamstrings and groin is easier and more effective than the half butterfly pose. The beginner will feel the hamstrings more than the groin, but as the student loosens up the groin is also stretched. This is an easy yin yoga pose, allow yourself to feel the pose.

Sit with legs straight and the other leg folded with the foot near your buttocks. the foot of the bent leg may be pointed or flexed. Open the legs to a comfortable width and lean forward. keep you torso over the straight leg to stretch the hamstring.  If you swing your torso towards the middle of your legs, the groin of the extended leg and the hip of the bent leg are stretched more. Be careful not to strain the bent knee.

Hold half frog 2-3 minutes on each side.

Excerpt from Yin Yoga: Principles and Practice by Paul Grilley

Find all of Paul’s DVD’s and Online Courses including Yin Yoga, Anatomy for Yoga, Chakra Theory and Bare Bones of Yoga HERE.

Use the code ILOVEYIN  for an extra 10% off

About Paul:

Paul Grilley began practicing yoga in 1979 after reading The Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananada. He moved to Los Angeles in 1982 where he studied and taught yoga for 12 years. In 1988 he read Theories of the Chakras by Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama. Paul and his wife Suzee have been active students of Dr. Motoyama ever since.

Paul started his studies of anatomy with Dr. Garry Parker in 1979. He continued his studies at UCLA where he took courses in anatomy and kinesiology. He earned a M.A. from St. John’s College, Santa Fe in summer 2000 and an Honorary Ph.D. in 2005 from the California Institute for Human Science for his efforts to clarify the latest theories on fascia and its relevance to the practice of hatha yoga. He enjoys reading science and esoteric literature, trying to find connections between the two.

Paul and his wife Suzee now spend their time administrating and teaching the Yin Yoga Teacher’s Training program both in the USA and abroad.

 

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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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DESIGNING YOUR HOME YOGA PRACTICE

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

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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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How to Bring Loving-Kindness into Your Day

Posted on December 3rd, 2016 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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By Sarah & Ty Powers

The word in Sanskrit for that quality of love that permeates our natural being is Maitri, translated as loving-kindness.

  • Make the aspiration today to bring Maitri more into the foreground in body, speech and mind.
  • Take loving care of yourself by pausing to breathe consciously right now, wherever you are, in a relaxed way, for 5 minutes.
  • As you move through your day, let go of any rushing in your activities, eat especially healthy, doing some yoga or taking a walk, in general being relaxed and self loving all day.
  • In speech, emphasize words today that are kind and beneficial, and fill your mind over and over with gratitude for this precious, mysterious life!
  • Enjoy a day filled with loving kindness toward yourself.

At the end of the day, laying in bed, reflect on the simple moments today where you felt soft and receptive, remembering how you experienced yourself, committing to be your own best friend and protector tomorrow, and the following days as well.

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.

This article was originally posted on Sarah’s Blog.

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 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.

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The Foundation of Steadiness and Ease in Yoga

Posted on November 4th, 2016 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

 

 

 

 

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By Sarah Powers

Patanjali’s linked concepts of “sthira” and “sukha” — steadiness and ease — can help structure your teaching. Learn how situating your instruction between these two poles can help your students find harmony.

In describing the qualities of asana with the adjectives “sthira” and “sukha,” Patanjali uses language very skillfully. Sthira means steady and alert–to embody sthira, the pose must be strong and active. Sukha means comfortable and light–to express sukha, the pose must be joyful and soft. These complimentary poles–or Yin and Yang co-essentials–teach us the wisdom of balance. By finding balance, we find inner harmony, both in our practice and in our lives.

As teachers, we need to help our students find that balance in their practice. Our instruction should assist them in an exploration of both sthira and sukha. In practical terms, we should begin by teaching sthira as a form of connection to the ground, and then move to sukha as a form of lighthearted exploration and expansion. In this way, we can teach from the ground up.

Manifesting steadiness (sthira) requires connecting to the ground beneath us, which is our earth, our support. Whether our base is comprised of ten toes, one foot, or one or both hands, we must cultivate energy through that base. Staying attentive to our roots requires a special form of alertness. Our instruction should begin there by helping students cultivate this alertness at the base of a pose. I will demonstrate this form of instruction for Tadasana, the blue print for all the other standing poses. The principles of Tadasana can be easily adapted to any standing pose you wish to teach.

In all the standing poses, steadiness comes from rooting all sides of the feet like the stakes of a tent. We need to teach students with high arches to pay particular attention to grounding their inner feet, and show students with fallen arches to move their ankles away from each other.

After rooting the feet, we move up, reminding students to draw the kneecaps up, the upper inner thighs in and back, and the outer sides of the knees back. This allows students to notice whether their weight feels evenly distributed between the right and left leg, the front and back of the foot, and the inner and outer thighs.

Next we should remind our students to adjust the pelvis, allowing the weight of the hips to be above the knees and ankles. This often requires them to draw their weight slightly back in order to allow the point of the coccyx to face down. In this alignment, the tailbone is not tucked nor lifted, but merely directed down between the fronts of the heels. Those with flat lumbar spines will need to allow the tailbone to move slightly back, moving away from tucking, while those with over-arched backs will need to encourage the tailbone to draw slightly in.

We should then instruct our students to lengthen the side waist, lift the top of the sternum and relax the shoulders down the back, aligning them over the hips and ankles. They should bring their heads above their shoulders, aligning the chin in the same plane as the forehead. Finally, they should relax the jaw, allowing the tongue to float freely in the mouth and the eyes to soften.

Once our students have attended to steadiness, the other qualities of alertness and comfort become accessible. They are now ready to bring their hands into Namaste position and reflect on their motivation before beginning their practice.

Encourage your students to view this grounded base as their home base, the foundation from which they can create, explore, and at times expand. From there, they can navigate to a place of ease or sukha. Just as steadiness requires and develops alertness, comfort entails remaining light, unburdened, and interested in discovery. By teaching this quality, we encourage a balanced equilibrium rather than impose rigid rules for alignment. This helps students develop a natural respect toward their bodies and themselves, while encouraging them to fully inhabit their bodies. They can then learn to move away from commanding their bodies to perform poses, and instead breathe life into them from the inside.

With sthira and sukha as the points on our compass, we can organize our teaching and help our students enjoy exploring their places of limitation and liberation in every pose. As a result, regardless of your students’ individual abilities, their practice can focus on celebration and refreshment.

At a deeper level, the way we practice and teach yoga poses mirrors the way we live the rest of our lives. As we reflect on our practice and our teaching, we can use yoga as a tool for developing greater insight into ourselves and the world around us. Sthira and sukha can then become not only tools for teaching or understanding yoga, but also principals that help guide the way we live.

Sarah Powers blends the insights of yoga and Buddhism in her practice and teaching. She lives in Marin, California where she home schools her daughter and teaches classes.

First Published in Yoga Journal Newsletter, September 2005

 

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.

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What is a Chakra? by Paul Grilley

Posted on January 19th, 2016 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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Chakras are spiritual centers in the brain and spinal cord where the physical, astral, and causal bodies are knit together and influence one another. There are several chakras: some are considered major, some minor. Some traditions focus on five chakras, others focus on nine . In this text we will focus on the seven major chakras.

The chakras are located within a special meridian that lies inside the spine. This meridian is called sushumna. The chakras are strung along sushumna like beads on a string. Sushumna is said to start from the coccyx and reach all the way up to an opening in the top of the skull. The opening in the top of the skull is called the fontanel. It is quite soft in infants and remains that way until the bones of the skull grow together some months after birth. This opening is called Brahman’s Gate. Brahman is the name for the Absolute, the source of all creation.

When trying to describe where a chakra “is,” one finds oneself in a dilemma. Common language suggests chakras are physically located in the spine, but the reader should bear in mind that this is both true and false. A “broken heart” is a real experience that indeed seems centered in the heart, but that is not where the feelings actually reside. The chakras have a physical correspondence, but they are more than physical. Bear this in mind when reading about “where” a chakra “is.” Don’t be limited by only physical conceptions.

Dr. Motoyama writes that chakras might be described as having a root and flower. The roots of a chakra are in sushumna within the spine, but the flower of a chakra opens out from the spine and into the body in a significantly larger but less defined region. Some people are more sensitive to the sensations in the flower region of a chakra, while others are more immediately drawn into sushumna. It is best to focus where you are most sensitive, but don’t forget that our experience of a chakra will deepen and change as we progress. Meditating on the root or flower of a chakra is only a starting point.

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

 

To learn more about Paul Grilley check out his DVD’s and online courses here at Pranamaya.
USE THE CODE SACREDCOW for 10% OFF at checkout

 

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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Paul Grilley discusses the Functional Approach to Yoga- Podcast

Posted on November 24th, 2015 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Stay tuned for Paul Grilley’s new upcoming program. To see more from Paul please visit:Paul Grilley info

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The Functional Approach and Yin Yoga- My Day with Paul Grilley

Posted on May 20th, 2015 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

PerfectlyClear

By Dearbhla Kelly

Paul Grilley and his teaching partner and wife Suzee. Our group comprised mostly yoga teachers from as far afield as Australia, Connecticut, Chicago, Montana, Orange County, and Los Angeles.

Best known as an innovative and brilliant Yin Yoga teacher, Paul has a masterful understanding of anatomy and his ability to convey his knowledge is superlative. He made anatomy practical and accessible by supplementing his use of a skeleton with live demo models from among the yogis present to illustrate particular concepts.
I was present for the last of a five day shoot and the focus was ‘functional yoga’, a method of teaching yoga that applies equally well to ashtanga as it does to yin. A functional approach is pragmatic rather than aesthetic, which is to say concern with which body part(s) the pose is targeting replaces concern with how the pose should look. A new concept for most practitioners of modern postural yoga.
Many of us have come up going to group classes and been taught alignment principles of varying degrees of strictness. Particular emphasis is usually placed on where the hands and feet are in relation to the rest of the body. Almost everyone is familiar with directives to articulate the back foot at an exact rotation and in an exact relation to the front foot in poses like Virabhadrasana I and II, or to sit with the seat touching the floor (or block), knees together, inner heels snug at the hips in Virasana. This approach can have the effect of making poses painful, or even undoable for students whose particular structure does not allow them to articulate their joints to such degrees.
Structural limitations show up when bones bump into each other at a joint (knee, hip, shoulder, spine, elbow) and restrict the range of motion such that no further movement is possible. No amount of stretching will change this; we are limited by our structure simply because when bone rubs up against bone there is nowhere else left to go. No amount of ‘letting go’ or ‘breathing through it’ or ‘releasing the emotion’ will change this.
A functional approach to yoga accomodates the diversity of people’s bodies by focusing on the target area of the pose (for example, glutes and outer thigh in pigeon) and allowing the arms and legs move whatever way is necessary to access the target area. In Paul’s words: “In a functional approach to yoga there is no perfect pose. Each hand and foot position helps or inhibits our ability to stress the target areas. The most effective way to do this varies from person to person.”
The radical inclusiveness of this approach is genius. All are welcome to the practice when we teach functionally. Yin yoga is everyone yoga. Thank you Paul Grilley.

use the code SACREDCOW for 10% at checkout for a limited time at www.pranamaya.com

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Dearbhla Kelly began practicing yoga in 1994 while studying philosophy in Amsterdam. She holds M.A.’s in philosophy from University College Dublin and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Currently based in Los Angeles, she teaches yoga, neuroscience and philosophy workshops worldwide.

Dearbhla is particularly skillful at marrying the esoteric teachings of yoga with the practicalities of everyday life, and integrating insights from current science to deepen our understanding of how yoga helps us find increased joy, wellbeing and freedom. She also finds great joy in doing yoga with children who have cerebral palsy. She has published articles exploring the aforementioned subjects in Yoga Journal, Huffington Post and other publications. See more about Dearbhla at durgayoga.com

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Yin Yoga and Stretching the Spine

Posted on February 9th, 2015 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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By Paul Grilley

When working a joint the first thing a yogi or yogini must decide is whether she intends to work muscle or bone. She must decide if she wishes to strengthen the muscles that stabilize the joint or stretch the ligaments to increase range of motion. In this article we explore the second option: stretching the joints of the spine through a specific yin yoga pose.

Two layers of the joints

A fundamental insight of Taoist analysis is to see the body as at least two layers. For different needs the body could be analyzed into many more layers than two but for a discussion of joint movement two is enough.

The two layers of a joint are Muscle and Bone. Muscle is the yang layer and includes muscle and tendon. Bone is the yin layer and includes the ligaments. With the proper yin yoga pose, yogis should train themselves to feel the differences between the muscle and ligament sensations.

The Neck

The following neck stretches are an effective way to start this process. Once a yogi has learned to discriminate the sensations of muscle and ligament in the neck with a certain yin yoga pose, then it will be easier to feel these differences in the rest of the spine.

Drop your chin to your chest and relax. This is a passive or yin stretch for the muscles and ligaments of the back of the neck. The muscles of the neck are on the left and right sides of the center line. The ligaments we are concerned with are on the centerline. A yogi can learn to feel the difference by comparing the sensations on each side of the spine with the sensations in the center.

Move the head to the right while it is still dropped forward. This yin yoga pose stretches the muscles on the left side of the neck making it easier to discriminate them. Moving the head to the left stretches the muscles on the right side of the neck. Bringing the head back to the center the yogi should be able distinguish sensations that are neither left nor right but in the midline. These are the ligaments.

Muscular stretches feel sharper and are easily locatable. Ligament sensations are deeper, duller and more attached to the bones. This is why Taoists use the expression “Stretch you Bones” to describe ligament stretches.

This simple yin yoga pose should be repeated many times. The distinctions may not be noticeable the first few times but with time and experience they become clear. Remember that it’s possible to feel ligament stretches when the head is moved to the left and right. But by exaggerating the stretch on the muscles it is easier to feel the difference between the two tissues.

Yin Stresses

Once a yogi has learned to feel the difference between muscle and bone the next step is to determine how much leverage to use when stretching them. Passively dropping the chin to the chest is a gentle approach to this yin yoga pose. The next most aggressive effort would be to contract the muscles of the neck to depress the chin deeper toward the chest. But the most aggressive stretch would be to use the hands to gently pull on the back of the head. This is the deepest possible stretch for the neck while seated.

Yang Stresses

All three of the above stretches are yin. The muscles of the front of the neck were used in second variation and the muscles of the arms were used in the third variation. But in each variation the muscles of the back of the neck were relaxed. This allowed the neck to round forward and stretch the joints. If while doing any of these exercises a yogi contracts the muscles of the back of the neck he is resisting the forward bend and preventing the stretch. This principle can be demonstrated as follows.

Gently drop the chin and place the hands on the back of the head as before. Now engage the muscles of the back of the neck and try to lift the head up. At the same time gently pull down on the head with the arms. The yogi is now in a tug-of-war with himself. His arms are trying to pull the head down but the neck muscles are trying to lift the head up.

 

To learn more about Paul Grilley, visit his website at 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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Yin Yoga and the Breath

Posted on February 1st, 2015 by Both comments and pings are currently closed.

By Sarah Powers

 

Yin YogaUsing our natural intelligence to focus on our breath and mobilize the distribution of prana throughout our body is called pranayama, which is an enhancement discipline that involves three aspects: inhalation (puraka); exhalation (rechaka); and the gap between, or suspension of breath (kumbhaka). By varying our respiration and holding our breath, we enhance the quality and mortality of the prana within. When practiced skillfully, yoga exercises for breathing have physical, energetic, and mental benefits. Physically, they help oxygenate the blood and strengthens our digestive, eliminative, circulatory, and respiratory systems. Energetically, a pranayama practice helps balance, concentrate, and harmonize the flow of prana within us. When our energy is imbalanced, our prana is dissipated and weak, often resulting in unpredictable and dissonant emotions that leak out in uncontrolled, chaotic ways. A yogi, on the other hand, is described as someone whose prana is contained within the center of her body. Her emotional life is rich and her mind is clear.

In pranayama, we attempt to reduce the amount of prana that leaks out and enliven the quality of energy existing within us. This is not possible without concentration. Our mind is closely linked to the quality of our prana, and our breath influences our pranic body. When we concentrate on yoga exercises for breathing to balance the subtle (or energy) body, there is a unifying effect on our overall state of being.

Through aligning our minds with our breath, we can experience relaxed alertness in the energy body and mind, a state that has extremely therapeutic effects on the body. The key ingredient is attention. As we watch our breath, we begin to tune in to our capacity for focus and concentration, qualities that arouse meditative awareness. Pranayama is therefore a wonderful practice to sequence before meditation, because it tethers the mind and prana within our body, amplifying our awareness in the present moment.

The breath can be thought of as the catalyst for inner circulation. When we engage in yoga exercises for breathing, we use our diaphragm in an unhurried and conscious way, we assist in enhancing the distribution of prana throughout our bodies. This style of breathing is called Ujjayi (“victorious”) breath and has a number of benefits. As we slow down the rhythm of each breath, it has a soothing effect on our nervous system. This in turn releases the tensions in our body, helping us to feel more relaxed. As we let go, we tune in to the sound of our breathing, helping to diminish the distractions of the mind and leading to more inner quietude. Focusing on yoga exercises for breathing helps increase our ability to concentrate in an effortless manner, preparing the body and mind for deeper integration.

Excerpt from: Insight Yoga by Sarah Powers.

 

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.

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