I have recently been teaching my clients how to incorporate mindfulness into everything they do; instead of an isolated activity that we practice on our mats. Mindfulness is a way of being that can impact every aspect of our lives, especially relationships with ourselves and others and how we relate to the world around us. Being in a state of present moment experience allows us to engage fully in our lives and process experiences without as much judgement and filters that often lead to misunderstandings and suffering. Being mindful shifts our awareness as we begin to hear the stories we tell us as just that…stories. By spending time in present moment experience, we strengthen our ability to be fully integrated and attuned to ourselves, loved ones and our environment.
One of the most effective ways to “be mindful” is to connect with our physical body. This is due to the fact that being present lights up the insula; a region of the brain that perceives body sensation. By simply focusing on our breath or feeling into our fingertips we shut off our mental chatter and allow ourselves to be fully engaged in the present moment.
Activity – next time you do the dishes allow yourself to focus on physical sesations. Feel your hands under that water…notice your breath as you stand there…feel your feet on the floor. Mental chatter will arise and when it does just notice. Welcome yourself back into the here and now.
To understand some of the terminology used in this post, please refer to my old post called understanding the science of yoga nidra.
I am pleased to announce the release of my new Yoga Nidra CD. This album was inspired by my trip to Peru…specifically my visit to Machu Picchu this past May. While spending time in this magical place, I was reminded of how external environments can have a powerful impact on feelings and sensations in the mind, body and spirit. A few months ago I was hit by a car as a pedestrian and have been in excruciating pain for the past few months. I was worried to go on my trip to Peru due to my physical condition but decided to go and instead of hiking the Inka Trail, opted for the comfortable train ride up to this auspicious place. I was amazed at how this place impacted me. Looking over Machu Picchu, I could actually feel my muscles releasing and letting go from months of holding and constriction. My body appeared to be stuck in a state of fear and would not let go of the fight or flight response that was released when I was hit by the car. Being around such an auspicious place appeared to release trauma that had been stuck in my body.
From experiencing how powerful our environment can impact physical sensations, I decided to include a visualization of a powerful, magical or awe inspiring place in my most recent yoga nidra recording. Visualization is used in yoga nidra to tap into our suble energy bodies of intuition as well as activating the manomaya kosha (mind sheath of energy). I think this visualization is a wonderful exercise to allow us to tap into our vijyana maya kosha (intuition sheath of energy) as well as allowing us to connect to our ananda maya kosha (or bliss body). When we are connected to our ananda maya kosha expansion encompasses us. It is important that we continue to find ways for us to connect with our divine being (true nature) and continue to find new tools and techniques for releasing stress and creating expansion (sukkha) in our minds and bodies. I am happy to share this experience with all of you and hope you enjoy my new CD.
It may be nice for you to find some time this week to either imagine yourself in a place that “takes your breath away” or go to a place that amazes you. Nature is always a place where I feel inspired and speechless. For those of us in Calgary, try to go to the mountains and marvel at their vast size and strength. If you are pressed for time, close your eyes and imagine yourself there…visualizing is a very powerful technique….enjoy.
If you are experiencing chronic pain or struggeling to heal from an injury, take some time to think about your enviroment and how it may be impeding or stimulating transformation.
Sun Salutations are a great way to warm up the body before moving into deeper holds (asana). This is a very energizing practice which grounds us and expands our awareness of sensations in the body. In this practice we are sharing gratitude for the sun and all that it brings us. Enjoy gentle variations or practice with intensity. Always remember to practice with compassion and awareness. The purpose of yoga is not a tight butt, but quite the opposite. The purpose of yoga is to expand your mind, body and soul.
Here is a link to my youtube channel. Enjoy this short 15 minute deep relaxation exercise. To learn more about Yoga Nidra, refer to my previous post.
One of my favorite therapeutic yoga classes I offer is prenatal yoga. There is something extremely magical about teaching to a class of babies and mothers. I often joke about who I am really teaching to, but the fact is both the mother and her baby are gaining benefits from the practice. Some benefits of prenatal yoga include improved flexibility, stress reduction and most importantly strengthen the bond between mother and baby.
Specifically, prenatal yoga supports the body in it’s transitions through each trimester. For Example, offering flexibility to the hamstrings and gluteus maximus which tighten in response to rapid growth of the uterus. Offering relief to the hips which often tighten during pregnancy due to balance changes and overcompensation in the ligaments supporting the vertabrae. There is also a very large emphasize on creating strength and stability in the body to counteract the increased elasticity produced in the ligaments of the body due to increased levels of relaxin. The pelvic floor is also a large area of focus for prenatal yoga. The pelvic floor helps support the extra weight created through pregnancy. It is also important to focus on the floor of the pelvis as it helps to hold the body in place and support the skeletal structure. There are many specific physical benefits that accompany regular prenatal yoga practice and each individual experiences specific areas of improved mobility and stability in the body.
Stress is a large component of our lives in the western world. The physical demands put on us, especially during pregnancy can make this magical time seem unmanageable and down right unenjoyable. A consistent yoga practice during pregnancy can allow us time and space to feel supported, comfortable and free of aches and pains. Pranayama (breathing exersizes) and Yoga Nidra (deep relaxation) are two very important pieces of helping women to slow down and de-stress during pregnancy. (please refer to my previous post about Yoga Nidra for more information).
Additional to working as a Yoga Therapist, I am also a counsellor working with children and families. In my work I see how important it is for parents to build a strong attachment with their children. The experience a child has in attaching to their primary caregiver, literally shapes their capacity and ability to build healthy attachments in the future. I like to emphasize attachment when teaching prenatal yoga. Strengthening the attachment with your child in stages of pregnancy is a profound gift to both the mother and her child.
I hope I have been able to highlight just some of the benefits to prenatal yoga. If you are interested in working one-on-one with me or attending my prenatal class, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope you all have a wonderful day, and thank-you so much for supporting my blog!