Revisit Your Practice.

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The news, suggestions, information, exercises and other items in this list are intended for informational purposes only. Not all exercise is suitable for everyone. To reduce the risk of injury, please consult your Doctor before engaging in any physical and/or therapeutic exercise program. Nothing is intended to be a substitute for professional medical care.

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Guided Tadasana: AUDIO

Help Your Health – The Weekly Review Fall Session 2018 – #6

General Class: Yoga for Flexibility Part I: The Upper Body

An important thing to consider when you move into flexibility practices is how flexible you already are.

Flexibility is the second of our four essential physical skills (Strength, Flexibility, Balance, and Agility ) because just as you need strength to move through the world you need flexibility to make all those movements. Several different muscles are stretched with every movement you make.

Some amount of flexibility is necessary just to do the simplest physical tasks – getting out of bed in the morning, washing your hair, getting dressed, walking down the street etc. Becoming more flexibly is like switching to looser, more comfortable clothing, which makes many of our activities easier.

Flexibility is also an important element of balance, as responding to uneven surfaces or unexpected obstacles requires moving quickly and easily.

About Flexibility
Technically, your flexibility is the range of movement you have around a particular joint.

This range of motion in any particular joint is determined by the following:
Size and shape of the bones that make up the joint
Mechanics of that particular joint
Condition of the tendons and ligaments attached to the joint
Extensibility of the fascia as well as the muscles that move the joint


Joints
Some joints have greater range of motion(ROM) than others;
ex: Shoulder Joint/ball and socket -large ROM -out/across/overhead/behind/rotating
ex: Knee/hinge joint -restricted to bending/straightening only
ROM can be affected by physical limits, how our skeletal is structured, health conditions, injuries etc.

Muscles and Fascia
When you do a stretching movement you are lengthening your muscles, the action has a temporary effect and after you stop the muscles will return to their resting length. If you continue to practice, example would be 3x weekly, you can make longer lasting changes in a muscle so its resting length is longer. This changes normally takes at lease 3-6 weeks to notice.

When you are stretching the muscles you are also stretching the fascia that surrounds and supports the muscle, this is a specialized tissue that surrounds all organs, muscles and individual muscle fibers in the body as well as bones, blood vessels, and nerves and it is the layer of tissue immediately under your skin.
Like muscles it can change in length both temporarily and permanently but because of its makeup it takes longer to change approximately 3-6 months instead of weeks.

This week we did a supported back bend with the block under the buttocks to stretch a long plane of fascia which runs from the tops of your feet up to the top of your throat. Years of poor posture with forward rounding can make this plane of fascia tight, restricting your ability to sit or stand up straight.

Tendons and Ligaments
A tendon is a tough issue that connects a muscle to a bone. This connective tissue is the continuation of fascia that attacks the muscle it surrounds to a bone.
A tendon is made of strong connective tissue, inherently less stretching than fascia or muscles so you should never try to stretch tendons. If you do you risk tearing which can cause inflammation.

Ligaments keep two adjacent bones close together to provide stability for the joint while allowing some movement at the joint.
Ligaments are made up of connective tissue similar to that of tendons, and like tendons, you should never try to stretch ligaments because it can tear them and injure the joint.
If you feel a stretching sensation near the joint back of immediately from the stretch.

Variability
Flexibility among people varies and often quite a bit, some people are naturally tight, some are naturally flexible and other are overly flexible. There are three factors that influence our flexibility:
The amount of flexibility in the stabilizing structure of the joint capsule and ligaments.
Muscle length or fascial tightness.
Diseases that affect flexibility -ex: Arthritis, Parkinsons, Scleroderma, etc.

Flexibility can also vary from joint to joint.

Further details covering the list below, will be explained in detail in next weeks Weekly Review

Part II of Yoga and Flexibility

How does Aging affect our Flexibility?

How Yoga Helps
Using Yoga for Flexibility
Techniques for Improving and Maintaining Flexibility

Protecting Your Joints
Healthy and Unhealthy Stretching Sensations
Joint Compression

General Class:
Restorative with the Breath:
 Legs on the chair/or up the wall: with/wo blanket:

1st -blanket rolled and placed across the torso at base of shoulder blades

2nd -blanket rolled and placed lengthwise along spine of upper torso including under the head but not under the buttocks
both, with arms in Cactus if possible or a variation of Cactus, can use a block.

Attunement:
Supine: Morning Wake-Up Stretch (see printable link below)
Hip Openers (Small Circles Together, Circles Apart and Large, In/Out Together)
Ankles/Wrists Flex-Extend -keep the legs and arms still and not moving in the same circles
Happy Baby (for many it is easier to use a strap across the feet)
Cobblers Pose (active and passive)

Prone: Child’s Pose
Cat n’ Cow
Balancing Cat-Hunting Dog Chair – Classic Static for 30 sec + Dynamic with challenge

Getting up from the mat to standing: from Child’s Pose to Prone to Down-Dog
-walk the hands to the feet and gracefully come up bringing the hands at the heart.
Make sure that the feet are wide so you can be stable, from beginning to end. Lead with your       heart when coming up and not your head, no self induced light-headedness.

Standing

1.Lateral Stretch -Reaching Overhead -hand on opposite wrist reaching across with outstretched arm as close to ear/side of hear
2. Rotational Twist -Interlaced Hands Overhead
3. Isometric pull with hands behind head interlace and the head/hands pushing and pulling
4. Isometrical pull with hands interlaced in front of chest -palms facing down
5. Eagle Arms
6. Cow Face
7. Steeple with arms behind body to FF -reaching upward and off the back
8. Crossing arms behind body/hold, to sliding apart and open/palms facing down to fingers touching and bending reaching upwards to palms coming towards each other and eventually touching.
9. Forward Fold & Half-Way Up x12-20

At the Wall:

10. Shoulder Slides to opposite palm with back on the wall and knees bent
11. Shoulder Flies to opposite palm with back on the wall and knees bent

Sitting/Supine on the Mat:

12. Picnic Table
13. Reverse Plank
14. Bridge with Block w/o Block Static/Dynamic
15. Seated Twist Series

Savasana with Bolster and Blocks – Enjoy!

Quote: Yogic Wisdom
“thoughts lead to actions, actions become habits and your habits determine your character an ultimately your character determines your destiny”

Dr. Wayne Dyer “ You do not attract what you want, you attract what you are.”

Music: Deuter General

Essential Oil: Breathe
Ingredients: Laurel Leaf, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Melaleuca (Tea Tree) Lemon, Cardamon, Ravintsara, Revensara
Primary Benefits: Maintains feeling of clear airways and easy breathing, especially when seasonal impediments to breathing are high.

Misc. Asana Information:
Printable Link to Morning Wake-Up Stretch on my website:
https://yogatherapyalacarte.com/2018/01/20/morning_wake_up_stretch/

Some details and information on fascia…..I am sending the link, not to suggest than you buy products, but for the explanations and pictures of the fascia in detail.
https://ashleyblackguru.com/what-is-fascia/

Help Your Health – The Weekly Review Fall Session 2018 – #5

General Class: Yoga for Balance Part II

This past week we have again been working on balance, challenging and stressing our limits of stability through ‘controlled instability’.

In your yoga practice we will be moving from simple to complex, progressing from known to unknown, static to dynamic, stable to unstable, eyes open to eyes closed and emphasizing quality over quantity.

What is Balance? (see WR #4)

How Aging Can Make a Change on Your Balance

Vestibular System
-this function gradually declines with age as the inner ear hair cells are unable to repair themselves and gradually die off. You can only compensate for these loses by working other aspects of balance, including your somatosensory system and your four essential physical skills

Vision System
-changes to the lenses of your eyes make it harder to focus quickly. Also cataracts, loss of peripheral vision, glaucoma and macular degeneration negatively affect vision.

Other Senses
-aging can gradually slow the relay f information between your brain and body affecting both your sense of touch (taking in information about he surface you’re balancing on) and your proprioception (where your are in a space)
-lack of sensitivity in your feet maybe having worn shoes too much in your lifetime
-sedentary lifestyle or lack of variety in movement

Strength
-muscle atrophy causes loss of strength over time

Flexibility
-muscles and joints become stiffer with age so range of motion is reduced leaving you not being able to move from one position to another
-being knocked off balance more easily and having a harder time moving back into balance afterward.

Nervous System
-age-related changes to your nerves causing the relay of information to be slower between your brain and your body, a slower reaction time can affect your coordination and speed of movement.
-the postural responses that keep you upright are a result of information sent to your brain from your eyes and inner ears, the pressure sensors on your feet and your proprioceptors and so our postural reflexes can gradually slow down.

How Yoga Helps
Fortunately balance is a skill that you can cultivate, and the modern asana practice is one of the best disciplines know for improving it. In addition, to working on strength and flexibly (which we will be doing after our week break) both of which are necessary for good balance – you can practice balancing itself in a wide variety of poses.
Plus the safely your yoga space allows you to challenge your balance in a controlled environment before youth on real-world challenges.
For the times on may fall – and it happens to the best of us – your practice will increase your chances of falling ‘well’. As many students have testified the their reaction times seems faster and they had the ability to choose how and where to fall. Often when they began to fall, they ‘caught themselves’ before actually going all the way down.

Balance Poses
-balancing is a skill you can learn and relearn, just doing these poses helps improve your balance. This part of your practice includes poses where you balance another parts of your body besides one or two feet, possible one or two hands, on your shins, on your sitting bones and so on….
-beginning with what is appropriate for your needs if your balance is poor and gradually adding more challenging postures and situations.

Standing Poses
-placing your feet and your body in different positions – Warrior I and Triangle
-improving your proprioception, sense of touch, postural reflexes and creation times s well as focus and confidence.

Sense of Touch and Proprioception
-practicing in bare feet improving the sense of touch on the bottom your feet, just spending more time with your shoes off
-changing the surface of the floor from wood to a thin mat to a foam surface further improving your sensitivity
-practicing with a mirror once and awhile or using the wall

Nervous System
-a regular practice improves blood flow to your sensory nerves receptor and increases space around your nerves

Confidence and Mental Focus
-practicing over and over sometimes when no one is looking
-moving through flow sequences trains your mind as you focus again and again on balancing
-meditation in movement forms along with the breath
-in class use the distracting environment of others near by just to focus more

General Class:
Restorative with the Breath:

Legs on the chair/or up the wall: with/wo blanket: 1st -across the torso at base of shoulder blades
2nd -lengthwise along spine of upper torso including under the head but not under the buttocks
both with arms in Cactus if possible or a variation of which is possible.

Attunement:
Supine: Morning Wake-Up Stretch (see printable link below)
Hip Openers (Small Circles Together, Circles Apart and Large, In/Out Together)
Ankles/Wrists Flex-Extend -keep the legs and arms still and not moving in the same circles
Prone: Child’s Pose
Cat n’ Cow
Balancing Cat-Hunting Dog Chair – Classic Static for 30 sec + Dynamic with challenge
Getting up from the mat to standing: from Child’s Pose to Prone to Down-Dog
-walk the hands to the feet and gracefully come up bringing the hands at the heart.
Make sure that the feet are wide so you can be stable, from beginning to end. Lead with your heart and not your head, no self induced dizziness.

Standing behind or Sideline of the Chair

Please have a chair within easy reach of your hands for balance safety.

When appropriate, do both right and left sides and always a version with eyes opened and closed, holding on and not.

Engage the muscles of the lower torso with the core strong, standing strong and tall.

1. Finding your Center of Balance

Do the following in sequence until you find where you challenge your balance and from there continue.

Each time going through the sequence with eyes open/Drishti and eyes closed, when necessary a hand on the chair.

Do not proceed to the next level until you can do the movement without touching the chair, eyes open.
The arm movements will challenge your balance with each movement, take a breath between, forgiving limbs.

Begin with:
1-hands hanging in neutral
2-hand on hips
3-arms level with shoulders/palms facing up
4-arms over head

Sequence:
1- Standing in Mountain Pose
2- With one leg slightly forward, knee bent but toes touching floor (stiletto heel)
3- Advanced: Same position as #2 but toes not touching floor

Shake it and stretch it out……

2. Chorus Line  Extended arms – swing leg forward and back
-flex/extend and circles with ankle on the forward swing
-do not bend torso, stay strong and upright, engage core

3. The Slide – Begin standing on one foot, bottom of toes and heel touching shin above ankle.
-sliding foot up and down the calf with only the toes/pointed touching the leg
-keep the knee externally open but the torso facing forward

4. Ballet Class – Standing in a strong Mountain Pose
– point foot/toes slide forward then out to the side
– interior rotate heel slightly as you continue the semi-circle and slide the pointed toes to the back (as if you would smudge fresh toenail polish-all five toes)
– go from pointed toes to toes curled under and be on the bottom of your toes -strong foot
– slightly soften both knees and bring the foot forward to the beginning point…continue
Advanced: Not touching the floor with the toes and not touching the chair to eyes closed

5. The Slide – Begin with the toes flexed and the bottom of the foot on the side/towards the front of the shin
-arch of the foot over the ankle
-as you slide the foot up and down the leg try to move the heel away from the shin so only the tip of the big toe is touching the leg

6. Raising one arm overhead while lifting opposite knee upward towards the level of the hip if possible
– if you need to touch the chair, do so with the same sided hand as the lifted leg
– go slowly for more effect with eyes closed, hold and breathe

7. Penguin for Balance

-Shifting like a stiff piece of wood or waddle like a Penguin from side to side.
1 – Shifting your weight to the right side, pointing the left foot, heel down to shift, point other foot continue….
2 – Add to the point, a flexing of the ankle(until toes are slightly off the floor), to point again to shifting
Advanced: by holding the flex longer and closing the eyes during the entire sequence

Continue from side to side. Do not bend the knees or swivel the hips. Feet should be wide apart as much as is necessary to keep the legs straight, strong and engaged.

8. Warrior I to Warrior III R/L Static + Dynamic
– to be repeated in class this session

9. Warrior II to Extended Side Angle to 1/2 Moon with Chair – Flow Static + Dynamic x6
– to be repeated in class this session

At the Wall:

Heel Lifts – Facing the wall lifting off the heels to stiletto foot.
– Advanced: on books or bottom step of stairs bringing the heels lower than the toes

Tree – Free standing or using finger tips on the wall for balance.

Sitting in a Chair:

Elevator – Sitting on the front third of the chair, lifting an increasing incremental amount off the chair to the first, second and third floors (skipping the remainder of the floors)
– with the 4th lift to the roof top and standing. x6.
– Advanced: on the way down stop at the same floors

Positioning: Feet (back verses forward), torso (leaning forward verses shoulders over hips) and arms (from being on legs/knees to freely neutral next to the body), placement gradually making these movements more challenging.

Sitting/Prone on the Mat:

Side Plank on Wall or Floor R/L
Boat Pose   Classic Alternative: On Forearms, Single Legs, Different Holds

Savasana with Bolster and Blocks – Enjoy!

Quote:
All conflict springs from the false perception of duality.
Living your yoga: You can only fight with someone if you see him/her as separate from you.
Today remember that the belief in separation is the root of suffering.
Choose to see the other’s point of view.
No one is really separate from you.              -Judith Lasater Ph.D.

Music: Deuter

Essential Oil:  Purity/Purify the Cleansing Blend from doTerra

Ingredients: Lemon Peel, Siberian Fir Needle, Citronella Grass, Lime Peel, Melaleuca (Tea Tree) Leaf, Cilantro Herb.
Primary Benefits: Refreshing aroma, replaces unpleasant odors and clears the air, protects against environmental threats.

Misc. Asana Information:
Printable Link to Morning Wake-Up Stretch on my website:
https://yogatherapyalacarte.com/2018/01/20/morning_wake_up_stretch/

 

Help Your Health – The Weekly Review Fall Session 2018 – #4

Yoga for Balance  – Part I

This past week and again later in this session, we will be working on balance, challenging and stressing our limits of stability through ‘controlled instability’.

In this yoga practice we will be moving from simple to complex, progressing from: known to unknown, static to dynamic, stable to unstable, eyes open to eyes closed and emphasizing quality over quantity.

What is Balance?

Balance is the ability to maintain a stable position. Regardless of age, maintaining your ability to balance is essential for safely and going about your daily life.

Our ability to balance is actually surprisingly complex. Your brain takes in information from various systems in your body to determine how to move you back into balance. You also have postural reflexes, automatically kicking in to keep your upright.

But even when all balance systems and postural relaxes are functioning perfectly, your body won’t be able to respond well to the information it’s receiving from your brain if you’re very weak and stiff.

Maintaining strength, flexibility and agility are key for maintaining your ability to balance.

Maintaining your ability to focus mentally in the face of distraction ‘cognitive distracting drills’, is also essential because in the real world there’s a lot going on, all around us.

Understanding what influences your ability to balance will help you see what you can and cannot do to improve your balance with yoga.

Vestibular System
-the three canals in your inner ears provide your brain with information about changes in the position of your head, triggering reflexes that allow your body to maintain a steady posture.
ex: turning the head, are you twisting, lurching forward etc.
ex: standing with your feet at different levels such as climbing

Somatosensory System
-your senses give your brain the information about the environment outside of your body so you know where and how to move.
ex: walking on slide ground or sinking into mud

Visual System
-to position your body relative to other objects in your environment including their depth, velocity and motion, using this information or orient yourself.
ex: using the horizon to tell what ‘upright’ is
ex: using the angles of the room
ex: if you have poor vision or are not wearing your glasses or contacts or have closed your eyes.

Touch
-the sensors of your skin allow you to feel the outside environment
ex: feel the type of surface your walking or balancing on
ex: maybe another part of the body is providing feedback about the ground
ex: practice Balancing Cat on a wooden floor versus a stack of blankets/foam padding
ex: strong wind pushing you slightly off balance or a wall you are touch for support

Proprioception
-the sensors in your muscles and joints allow your brain to feel from the inside how your body is positioned, how it is moving through space, and where the body parts are relative to each other. This sense allows you to walk around in the dark, as these sensors tell your brain where you body is in the space you then can know and work on how to make adjustments to move back into balance.
ex: close your eyes and touch your nose with your hand

Postural Reflexes
-these relaxes automatically correct the orientation of your body when it shifts from being upright, when unexpected events throw you off balance to try to prevent you from falling.
ex: bumping into something or someone
ex: everyday activities, getting dressed, reaching up high
ex: walking on the raised edge of a curb just for the fun of it

How Aging can make a change on your Balance (to be detailed in Weekly Review #5)

Using Yoga for Balance

-practicing with a non-judgement attitude, no negative self-talk
-noticing your thoughts taking a neutral approach and lets just see..
-remember if you begin to lose your balance just working to regain it is tremendously beneficial, so practicing, rather than just staying upright is your real aim.

How Often to Practice
every day, twice a day at different times of the day, every week, month, year…for the rest of your life, it’s accumulative.

How Long to Hold the Poses
-hold until you notice your leg or whichever body part is supporting you is just on the verge to begin to quiver and then try to hold for two or three seconds longer -rest a few seconds before repeating on the other side.
-you can then repeat the pose again gradually and eventually working up the hold for one to two minutes on each side

Balance Your Practice
-practice a wide variety of strength, flexibility and agility poses – standing, sitting, supine, prone, be creative

Mindfulness
-maintain your awareness while you balance, just don’t throw yourself into the pose
-focus on the sensations of being on and off balance and making whatever adjustments are necessary to steady yourself
– feel your alignment with every single pose that you do from arms to torso to head to feet
– take it to another level by working with more subtle alignment cues -shoulder blades, collarbones, expansion of ribs, or maybe the poses muscles trying to sense areas that you may not have noticed before and then eventually moving the area to see the effect.

Challenging Yourself
-always continue to challenge your balance and keep moving to the edge of stability
-begin to lose your balance by varying the poses you do with your vision, surface and amount of distraction – you alone in an empty room versus in a class atmosphere

Varying Poses
-progress from simple to complex poses and then inventing versions of existing poses
-progressing from dynamic poses to dynamic sequencing in a flow combining 2 or more familiar balance poses as we often do in class

Removing or Changing Vision
-taking the vision equation out of the practice going from focusing the stare/dristi, to eyes closed or possibly just in a darkened room.
-if you wear glasses notice the difference without the glasses – please hold on….
-changing the position of your head by looking up or down or turning your head R/L

Varying the Surface You Balance On
-practicing on a hard surface then gradually to a foam mat (as in the studio) or block or even a mattress
-outside on the grass, at the beach, an uneven surface with one foot on one surface and the other a different surface

Changing Your Environment
-practicing in a distracting environment such as the park or the beach, with a talkative friend or inviting some children and/or pets to join you
-adding cognitive distraction such as chanting

General Class:

Restorative with the Breath:
Legs on the chair/or up the wall: with/wo blanket: 1st -across the torso at base of shoulder blades
2nd -lengthwise along spine of upper torso including under the head but not under the buttocks
both with arms in Cactus if possible or a variation of which is possible.

Attunement:

Supine: Morning Wake-Up Stretch (see printable link below)
Hip Openers (Small Circles Together, Circles Apart and Large, In/Out Together)
Ankles/Wrists Flex-Extend -keep the legs and arms still and not moving in the same circles

Prone: Child’s Pose
Cat n’ Cow
Balancing Cat-Hunting Dog Chair – Classic Static for 30 sec + Dynamic with challenge

Getting up from the mat to standing: from Child’s Pose to Prone to Down-Dog

-walk the hands to the feet and gracefully come up bringing the hands at the heart.

Make sure that the feet are wide so you can be stable, from beginning to end. Lead with your heart and not your head, no self induced dizziness.

Class Sequence for Balance:
Standing

1. Mountain Pose/Tadasana with arms overhead, block between hands- eyes open and closed
2. Standing Forward Bend + 1/2 way Up Dynamic x10-20.
3. Warrior I Static + Dynamic x6
4. Warrior II or Extended Side Angle Flow Static + Dynamic x6
5. Tree Free standing using finger tips on the wall or not plus concentrating on your dristi/point of focus.
6. Warrior III R/L
7. Side Plank on Wall or Floor R/L

Sitting in a Chair:

1. Elevator with incremental lifts off the chair to the first, second and third floors with the 4th lift to the roof top standing. x6. Feet (back verses forward), torso (leaving forward verses shoulders over hips) and arms (from being on legs/knees to freely hanging next to the body) placement gradually making these movements more challenging.
2. Swinging -Moving the upper torso (from ribcage to head) beginning with the hands on the rib cage, progressing to elbows extended to the sides with the finger tips touching to the extended arms swinging from side to side. Increasing movement with the upper torso while keeping the hips stable and still.

Standing behind the Chair:

3. Penguin  -Shifting like a stiff piece of wood or waddle like a Penguin.

Shifting your weight to the right side, pointing the left foot, to flexing the ankle, to point again to shifting to the other side.. Continue from side to side. Do not bend the knees or swivel the hips.

Feet should be wide apart as much as is necessary to keep the legs straight, strong and engaged. Going from security by holding on to the chair to not touching anything, from eyes open to eyes closed.

4. Tandem Walking -heel to toe on a straight line or following the edge of your mat, go slowly its harder
5. Marching -in place, let the arms swing and pick up the speed
6. Dynamic Sequencing Flow R/L

-standing behind a chair with your R arm overhead -bring your opposite/left leg forward knee up -take it out to the left side – return to forward- place it to the rear with toes on the floor -hinge forward as you pick up leg into a Warrior III -hold/you can place one hand on the seat of the chair -then stack hip and shoulder lifting the left side.
-repeat using same side arm overhead and same side leg lifting
-this covers two different versions on one side and now repeat on the other side, holding the lifts to make this sequence more difficult

Sitting on the Mat:

8. Boat Pose Classic Alternative: On Forearms, Single Legs, Different Holds

Savasana: Reclined Supta Bhaddha Konasana – Cobbler’s Pose with Bolster/Blocks
5-10 minutes of complete relaxation in Supine  -nothing to do with balance but rewarding and oh so relaxing……

Quote:
Printable/Readable link to: ‘My Soul Is In a Hurry’ – based on a Poem by Mário de Andrade (1893 – 1945) original language of this poem was Portuguese this version is translated into English from German by Rolf Goellnitz
https://yogatherapyalacarte.com/news-2/

Music: Deuter – Bamboo Forest

Essential Oil: Wild Orange, Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit (see e-mail under separate cover)

If you haven’t placed your order yet for any of the above, just send me a mail at:  student@help-your-health.com

Misc. Information:
Printable Link to Morning Wake-Up Stretch on my website:
https://yogatherapyalacarte.com/2018/01/20/morning_wake_up_stretch/

There was a request for information about the shoes I recommend for various feet issues. They were recommended by my teachers from LMU who were mostly Doctors spending many hours on their feet:  Sanita Shoes.  There are various outlets and sites which offer them, just be sure to look for the originals.

Help Your Health – The Weekly Review Fall Session 2018 – #3

General Class: Core Strength

Before we begin reviewing the class lets first look into some details/tidbits and facts:

What & Where is the core?

-A soft body of organs and muscles beginning below the respiratory diaphragm and ending on the pelvic floor.

-Bordered: posteriorly by the lumbar spine and sacrum, laterally by the ilia/ilium of the pelvis and the ribs, anteriorly by the sternum and the pubis.

-Housing the organs of digestion, assimilation, elimination and procreation (the heart and lungs are the only organs located above it)

-Usually when we talk about the core we refer to the entirety of the torso between the sternum and the pubic bone. The abdomen is only one small part of it.

-The word abdomen describes the anatomical aspect of the area while the word belly describes the metaphysical of philosophic aspects of the abdomen.

-The abdomen can be generally rounded and yet strong, it does not need to be flat and hard in order to work well as strong and tight are not the same thing

-The belly is the site of an intuitive awareness that can be used to enhance life.
-Science agrees: the second brain is throughout the abdomen and the chest where there are neurological sites which respond to neurotransmitters the same way that the brain does. Let’s call it the “belly brain.”

Eastern Belly Philosophy: In the same region is the Manipura Chakra -the third Chakra at the energetic center located at the level of the navel where our agni/fire of digestion resides. This area is seen as the home of apana/female energy which is increased by exhalation and moves downward in the body.

-A Yogi practice: The Bandha (meaning ‘to lock-to hold-to tighten’) of this region is the Uddiyana (to fly like a great bird). engagement of the abdominal muscles. Exhaling strongly as the diaphragm ascends and the abs are strongly contracted toward the spine. The exhalation is held and the ribs are lifted up an out. so the abdomen appears hollow and the pressure on the organs is greatly increased.
One effect is encouraging the prana to enter the energy channel of the spine and create a higher state of consciousness as the chakras are stimulated. Another effect is to created an internal and eternal energy allowing us to use physical movement in concert with the breath to mindfully create lasting change.

What are its functions?

Structurally we will notice that this part of the body does not have many bones, except for the spine and some floating ribs, yet it contains many important internal organs that need to be kept safe and sound.

Without the bony structure to rely on, the entire area needs to be wrapped up tightly to maintain the integrity of its contents. It is best to think of our core musculature as a tightly wrapped package protecting the internal organs. Here you have muscles running across the body (transverse abdomens =TA’s), diagonally (external and internal obliques) and from top to bottom (rectus abdomens at the front =RA’s and quadrates lumbar QM’s and erectors at the back). Because of the way our core is organized (vertically, horizontally and diagonally), it allows a great range of movement in the trunk. bending forward, backwards, sideways, twisting and doing combinations of those.

So this is the first purpose of your core musculature – organ containment and protection.

Another function/purpose is stabilization of the top part of the body over the bottom part. It may seem like no big deal but actually being able to walk on two feet instead of four IS a big deal especially since the top part is heavier (head, rib cage, arms, top part of the spine, plus brain and organs). We don’t just want to stand but to move without toppling over and that is why the core part of the body needs to be stable to provide adequate support for the spin that takes on the bulk of the load. Since the bony support is lacking here, testability needs to come from both muscle tone and muscle balance from front to back and side to side and this is why no one muscle is more important then the other. They all have to work together to get the job done, especially when the body is in motion.

Another important element is that your core controls the positions of your pelvis which has the capacity to tip forward or back, depending both on your inherent structure and the way you use the body in the day-to-day life. Extreme pelvic tilting/tipping one way or the other can create problems over time, so can lack of mobility of the pelvis. Your core muscles are the ones that regulate both, how much movement is possible between the pelvis and the lumbar spine and where the position of your pelvis will end up on that spectrum. So we use our core musculature to consciously control the position of the pelvis during movement to train the body not to go into extremes.

And why should I work on the core?
Besides some of the reasons stated above there are the following: improved posture, increased protection and bracing of the spine/back, greater balance and coordination, greater power and speed.

A thought:
Health and exercise programs focus on movement to tighten and harden the belly with little awareness directed toward what feeling is alive there. We see the belly as a part of ourselves that needs to be strictly controlled. In a short period of time while watching the TV one sees advertisements for nausea, indigestion, constipation and diarrhea: all symptoms of problems with the belly. Perhaps these maladies are a general expression of the stress levels of modern day life.
Could it be that part of the problem stems from being out of touch with the ‘belly brain?’

General Class:

Restorative with the Breath: Legs on the chair with blanket: 1. across 2.lengthwise of upper torso.

Attunement:

Supine: Morning Wake-Up Stretch (see printable link below)
Hip Openers (Small Circles Together, Circles Apart and Large, In/Out Together)
Ankles/Wrists Flex-Extend

Prone: Child’s Pose, Cat n’ Cow

Class Sequence for Core Strength:

Prone
1.  Balancing Cat/Hunting Dog/Ruddy Goose  – Classic Static finding you ‘still point’ for 30 sec  +  Dynamic challenging the balance with extremity movement.

Supine
2.  Reclined Twist Static + Dynamic x6 R/L

Belly
3.  Dynamic A-Symmetrical Locust Pose x6 R/L Symetrical: Lifting everything.

4. Sphinx Plank Static for 30 sec + Engaging: Belly, Pubic Bone, Curl Toes Under, Lift Knees in sequence.

5. Cobra Pose Various versions with hands on mat – under shoulders, forward and behind/forearms on the mat and lifting 30 sec + Low to Up-Dog slowly with control.
to Down-Dog then walk the hands to the feet and come up to Tadasana – leading with the heart.

Sitting – Hero Pose on the Bolster with upper body arm swings (to support reclined and seated twist plus standing poses with a twist)

Standing
6. Triangle Classic – Alternative: Chair, Wall

7. Half Downward-Facing Dog Classic: Static Using the wall or the back of a chair.

8. Extended Side Angle Pose  Classic – Alternative: Chair, Wall

Sitting
9. Boat Pose Classic – Alternative: On Forearms, Single Legs, Different Holds

10. Sage Seated Twist Static & Dynamic

Supine
Savasana: Reclined Supta Bhaddha KonasanaCobbler’s Pose with Bolster/Blocks
5-10 minutes of complete relaxation in supine (only possible in my studio where I have the bolsters)

Miscellaneous: A little Yoga Philosophy (see below under quote)

Music: Deuter – “Space” – Endless Horizon

Quote:
The Yoga Sutras:

Sutra #1.3 United in the heart, consciousness is steadied, then we abide in our true nature —joy.

Yogah Chitta Vritti Nirodahah – Yoga is the uniting of consciousness in the heart.

The lotus flower has long been a symbol for the unfolding of spirituality.
It is one of the most elegant illustrations of the meshing of our humans and Divine natures.

The lotus seed is planted and grows in muddy waters, below the surface of the lake, far from the light. Though the light is murky and unclear, the flower blossoms by drawing energy from within. As the bud passes through the muddy waters, it lifts its face to the sunlight and finally emerges. Miraculously, not a trace of soil remains on the flower.

It lives in the mud yet is unaffected by it. This is an example for us to be in the world but not be adversely affected by it. The lotus flower teaches us that no matter how muddy the water of our consciousness may become, clarity can always emerge from our spirit if the Divine Light guides us – even if it is only one tiny lotus blossom at a time.

“I looked in Temples, Churches and Mosques. I found the Divine in my heart.” -Rumi

An exercise in experiencing the Diving Spirit within:

In a softy lit room, sit as comfortably possible to a mirror.
Take a few deep breaths in and let them out slowly.
Allow yourself to relax.
Take a moment to look at your own familiar face.
Allow thoughts to drift away. Bring awareness to your eyes.
Keep your eyes soft as you gaze deeply into them.
At first you may feel uncomfortable. (We rarely, if ever, look ourselves in the eye.) But the eyes are the windows of the soul, so take a look into your own.
Continue to relax and soften the gaze.
Find yourself going deeper within until you get a glimpse of the Divine Light that is every present.
repeat either to yourself or aloud, “I am a Divine Being.”
Start by doing this for one minute, and build to five minutes or more.
As you allow your eyes to close, be still and experience any feelings that surface.
What did you experience? Could you feel the depth of consciousness within?
Practice two times a day for one week and observe how your newfound feelings and thoughts influence and vision of your true nature and other people’s as well.

Each time you pass a mirror or think of yourself in any way, reaffirm, “I am a Divine Being.”

Essential Oil:

OREGANO from doTerra (see details etc. in weekly newsletter under separate e-mail)

Misc. Asana Information:

Printable Link to Morning Wake-Up Stretch on my website:

https://yogatherapyalacarte.com/2018/01/20/morning_wake_up_stretch/

 

Help Your Health – The Weekly Review Fall Session 2018 – #2

 

General Class: Sequence for Lower Body Strength

Restorative with the Breath: Legs on the chair with blanket: 1. across 2.lengthwise of upper torso.
(during which we did a Mantra Meditation exercise which we added to the Mindful Breathing )

Attunement:

Supine: Morning Wake-Up Stretch (see printable link below)
Hip Openers (Small Circles Together, Circles Apart and Large, In/Out Together)
Ankles/Wrists Flex-Extend

Prone: Child’s Pose
Cat n’ Cow
Balancing Cat-Hunting Dog

Class Sequence for Lower Body Strength: When possible do the Static (hold for 30 seconds working on 2 minutes) & Dynamic (x6 in/out etc.)

1.  Mountain Pose

2.  Standing Forward Bend  –  Classic  or Alternative: Chair

3.  Chair/Powerful Pose – Classic Standing or Alternative Wall (watch your knees in either position)

4.  Lunge -Classic or Alternative: Hands on Blocks, Back Extended Knee on Floor, with the Chair, Wall R/L

5.  Triangle – Classic  or Alternative: Against the Wall or Sitting in the Chair

6.  Warrior III – Classic or Alternative: Fingertips on the Wall or on the Chair, begin with the slow prep which we did in class.

7.  Boat Pose – Classic or Alternative: On Forearms behind, Single Legs, Different Holds or not.

8.  Locust –  Lifting All and Legs Only

9.  Bridge – Classic Static & Dynamic

10. Squats – Wall/Door Static & Dynamic

Savasana: 5-10 minutes of complete relaxation in supine – again practice your Mindful Breathing Mantra Meditation.

Miscellaneous: A little Yoga Philosophy.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, written between 400 and 200 B.C. are a spiritual path that was already many centuries old at the time the Sutras were actually written down. They provide 196 succinct lessons on the nature of the human condition, human potential and how that potential can be realized. Comprehensive, systematic and remarkably precise.

The Yoga Sutras organize the essence of all spiritual practices into a basic plan of living. You will find nothing in this ancient text that contradicts the precepts of any religion. Instead you will find a step-by-step guide to right living, a guide that complements the goals of any spiritual religion.

A spiritual practice is one that brings us full circle – back to the essence of our true selves., celebrating what is. It is the aim of all spiritual seeking to bring us home, home to the understanding that we already have everything we need.

The Yoga Sutras outline a plan for living that flows from action to knowledge to liberation. This plan, or path, has eight limbs which work more like spokes on a wheel than steps on a ladder.

The first four limbs are the limbs of tapas, or spirituality in action. They are the yamas and niyamas, or the five moral restraints and five observances of yoga. The yamas and niyamas are akin to the Ten Commandments and are the true foundation for the yoga student’s life. The next two limbs are asana and pranayama, the postures and yogic breathing. All combined they form out path of action as we deepen our practice. They are actions taken or not taken with our bodies.

We will cove the first part this week:

THE YAMAS

Yoga is like an ancient river with countless rapids, eddies, loops, tributaries and backwaters, extending over a vast colorful terrain of many habitats.
So, when we speak Yoga, we speak of a multitude of paths and orientations with contrasting theoretical frameworks and occasionally incompatible goals.

-Georg Feuerstein, Yoga Journal

In his book “The Deeper Dimension of yoga” he talks about the practice of helping to cultivate equanimity by reducing the conflict in your life and within yourself:
“ For as long as we pursue a lifestyle that falls short of these moral virtues, our energies are scattered and we continue to harvest the negative repercussion of our actions.”

Positive practices that you can cultivate in your life: B.K.S. Iyengar recommends the following:
“Yama is the cultivation of the positive within us, not merely a suppression of what we consider to be its diabolical opposite. If we consider the non practice of Yama in this way, we will be doomed, not to encourage the good, but to ricochet between extremes of vice and virtue, which will cause us nothing but pain and which have no beneficial effect on the world. Cultivate, the positive, abjure the negative. Little by little, one will arrive.”

#1 Non-Violence/Non-Harming (Ahimsa) the ‘fundamental’ Yama

#2 Truthfulness (Satya) in action, speech and thought

#3 Non-Stealing (Asteya) not taking that which belong to others, including both material and ideas

#4 Sexual Responsibilty

#5 Non-Greed (Aparigrah) -limiting possession to what is truly necessary and living a life of voluntary simplicity (ex: closest and switching the direction of the hangers to help you decide what you don’t need any longer because you don’t wear it)

Music: Deuter “Bamboo Forest”

Quote:
The Yoga Sutras: Sutra 1:33

“In relationships, the mind becomes purified by cultivating feelings of friendliness toward those who are happy, compassion for those who are suffering, goodwill toward those who are virtuous and indifference or neutrality toward those we perceive as wicked or evil.”

(The last part of this Sutra is referring to ‘indifference or neutrality’ towards the person, which does not mean that we refrain from working to change the wicked or evil act – think of Gandhi/Martin Luther King Jr.)

Essential Oil:

OnGuard from doTerra (see details etc. in weekly newsletter under separate e-mail)

Misc. Asana Information:

Printable Link to Morning Wake-Up Stretch on my website:

https://yogatherapyalacarte.com/2018/01/20/morning_wake_up_stretch/

 

Help Your Health – The Weekly Review Fall Session 2018 – #1

We need muscle strength just to move through our daily lives -to get out of bed, stand in the shower, cook, get in and out of the car… just being, so why not be strong!

In addition, strong muscles help to PROTECT THE JOINTS – your muscles taking up some of the weight and pressure, so the joints are not doing all the work themselves, that is why if you have ex: arthritis of the knee, working to maintain leg strength is so beneficial.

If we do not maintain this strength as we age, muscular weakness can lead to an inability to live independently. Also, muscle weakness can compromise our ability to balance, increasing our risk of falling, which can cause broken bones or other serious injuries.

Although we think mostly of the muscles alone creating strength, our bones support our muscles and our muscles use our bones to move us through the world. So strong healthy bones are an integral part of physical strength.

For healthy aging, muscle and bone strength are equally important.

This sequence is designed to strengthen all the muscles of your upper body (next week we will do the lower body), including the upper spine, shoulders, neck and arms by combining static and dynamic strength-building poses.

Weight bearing positions on your feet as well as other parts of the body such as hands, sitting bones and shins loads your bones, which naturally builds bone strength.

In addition, the muscle contractions you use to stay in a pose stimulate your bones to strengthen them more vigorously than weight bearing alone and the great variety of poses listed below, means that you are strengthening all of your bones.

Static and Dynamic Poses

Holding a static pose strengthens your muscles through ISOMETRIC muscle contraction PLUS you can add a conscious muscle activation to enhance this. If you gradually increase your hold over time, you will improve endurance as well as strength.
Eventually you can hold poses for 1-2 minutes.
ex: Dr. Loren Fishman 10 yr study on Osteoporosis 30 sec + showed improvement

Moving in and out of a dynamic pose strengthens you in a different way than staying in the full pose. As your muscles move in and you they are being strengthened through RESISTANCE TRAINING rather than Isometric contraction. PLUS they are being strengthened throughout a greater range of motion rather than just in the shape of the full pose.

Doing some of both is recommended either by mixing them together in one session or alternating them on different days. This week we have done a combination of both, static and dynamic, with many of the asanas.

Be mindful to practice your breath awareness during each static and dynamic pose, avoid holding your breath. Let the breath flow with the pose, opening/inhaling and closing/exhaling.

Focus on a sense of strength and vitality as you feel your muscles working by intentionally contracting muscles towards the corresponding joint. If you notice your wrist becoming sore, shake out your hands and wrist for a few seconds, choose an alternative version and/or only stay for a brief moment in the pose, gradually building up strength. Do not go to the point of pain, it is not gain.

Begin by holding the Classic Static version for 30 seconds and eventually working up to 2 minutes, if the pose calls for Right/Left then do this on each side, building endurance.

The Classic Dynamic version requires going in and out of the pose with the breath, 6x on each side.

If you are looking for more details on the below listed asanas, you will find various options on this website as well as in previous weekly reviews, and also on my DVD’s (available through me Vol. 1 & 2 for $30. or $20 each)

Nothing we have done this week is new work except for a side plank on the wall which I recently found and really enjoy myself, hope you do also.

General Class:

Restorative with the Breath: Legs on the chair with blanket across and lengthwise of upper torso.
(during which we did a Mindfulness Breathing exercise as explained below under Misc.)

Attunement:

Supine: Morning Wake-Up Stretch (see printable link below)
Hip Openers (Small Circles Together, Circles Apart and Large, In/Out Together)
Ankles/Wrists Flex-Extend

Prone: Child’s Pose
Cat n’ Cow

Class Sequence for Upper Body Strength:

1. Balancing Cat-Hunting Dog -Classic or Alternative: Either Hand or Leg Lifted, Wall Version – R/L

2. Lunge -Classic or Alternative: Hands on Blocks, Extended Knee on Floor, Chair, Wall R/L

3. Down-Dog -Classic or Alternative: Knees Bent, Forearm on Floor, Hands on Wall, Chair,

4. Up-Dog -Classic or Alternative: Knees on Floor, Knees Bent/Feet Up, Chair, Wall

5. Plank -Classic or Alternative: Knees Down with Legs Bent and Feet Up
Sphinx Plank: Sphinx with Knees Down

6. Dolphin -Classic: D-D with Sphinx Arms Alternative: Prone (with both moving forward and back)

7. Side Plank -Classic or Alternative: Gate, Wall Version – R/L

8. Warrior II -Classic Standing or Alternative: Chair, Wall – R/L

9. Extended Side Angle Pose – Classic Standing or Alternative: Chair, Wall – R/L

10. Chair/Powerful Pose – Classic Standing or Alternative Wall

11. Warrior I -Classic Standing – R/L

12. Upward Plank Pose – Classic Straight or Alternative: Picnic Table

Savasana: 5-10 minutes of complete relaxation in supine

Miscellaneous:

Mindfulness: the act of being aware of what you’re sensing and feeling so that you can become less consumed by negative thoughts and worries, having clear health benefits in reducing stress and improving symptoms of anxiety and depression by forcing one to focus on where they are at the present moment.

Mindful Breathing = Putting all your attention into your breath.

Research: 2016 study published in the journal PLoS One, found that practicing daily mindful breathing reduced test anxiety in college students.
A Stanford study published in the journal Science in 1017 stumbled upon the reason this technique may be effective: deep breathing appears to deactivate a handful of brain nerve cells that trigger anxiety.

How to begin:

1.Close you eyes and take a deep breath in through your nose, feeling your lungs fill up.
2.Hold for a second and then breathe out slowly through your mouth.
3.On the next breath, breathe in for 3 seconds, pause for 2 seconds and then breathe out for 4 seconds.
Try doing this for a minute and over time build up to 5-10 minutes. Eventually through the nose only.

If your mind wanders, that’s OK, just try to bring your attention back to your breath.

Next step:

1. Pay attention to a specific sensation ex: coolness of the breath as you inhale through your nose and the warmth of it as you exhale through your mouth or nose.
or
2. Visualize yourself ‘breathing in peace and calm and exhaling tension, anxiety, fear, or negativity’ (try to add additional word/words to the exhale)

Music:

Meditative New Age -Apple Music Experimental Transcendent tones to focus your inward gaze.

Quote:

“Gratitude” by Melody Beattie” Author 15 books including “Co-Dependent No More”

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life, it turns what we have into enough and more.
it turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unknown into perfect timing and mistakes into important events.
It can turn an existence into a real life, and disconnected situations into important and beneficial lessons.
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates of vision for tomorrow.
Gratitude makes things right.
It turns negative energy into positive energy.
There is no situation or circumstance so small or large the it is not susceptible to gratitude power.
We can start with who we are and what we have today, apply gratitude, then let it work its magic.

Say thank you, until you mean it. If you say it long enough, you will believe it.

Today I will shine the transforming light of gratitude on all the circumstances of my life.

Essential Oil:

Lavender from doTerra (see details etc. in weekly newsletter under separate e-mail)

Misc. Asana Information:

Printable Link to Morning Wake-Up Stretch on my website:

https://yogatherapyalacarte.com/2018/01/20/morning_wake_up_stretch/

 

 

 

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