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Waging Peace While Celebrating Life

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Fun

Fun yoga is an interesting way to learn yoga; adults and children giggle about with intermittent bursts of laughter! Fun Group Sessions are conducive to social expression with smiling faces. Poses (asana) from nature, specifically animal poses, are practiced with corresponding sounds.

Children naturally feel good about themselves and enjoy sharing with one another while adults feel like children again. Learning (svadhyaya) about our bodies through yoga develops inner strength, balance, flexibility and relaxation. Being a yogin, person who practices yoga, has benefits off the mat and into society.

Conscious practitioners like learning, and having fun while an awareness towards caring, compassion and kindness is enhanced. Fun poses remind us to be respectful of our animal friends, nature and interconnection. The benefits of practicing Fun Yoga are beautiful and bountiful!

Feeling Yoga Hugs (Bandhas) From the Inside

Generally speaking Yoga is a mind body connection! Specifically, being responsible, feeling strong, balanced, flexible, relaxed, focused, able to meditate and absorbing benefits is the purpose of practising yoga. There are five major areas to feel through our bodies for strength, balance and flexibility which provide poise; relaxed movement.

The five feeling areas are called locks (bandhas). When we squeeze or feel deeply these areas hug from the inside. The bandhas are located at the feet, pelvis, core (back & abs), neck and hands.

Let's begin with our feet. Feeling evenly through the pads of the feet, throughout the heels, outer edges, balls and toes while separating the toes wide helps the feet suction. This is known as Pada Bandha.
Mula Bandha occurs at the pubococcygeus with the pelvic floor muscles. By gripping, feeling suction and lengthening here a person's energy begins to rise (kundalini). The strength, balance and flexibility of the body reverberates up.

The abdominals sink back. The torso lifts. The spine lengthens. Udyana Bandha holds the body's core.

Continue feeling by lengthening the neck, contracting the front (anterior) muscles of the neck (sternocleidomastoid). Ensure shoulders are relaxed back and down while gently squeezing the muscles (rhomboids) which connect the shoulder blades (scapula); lifting the chest alligning ears over shoulders, leading with the heart not the head. Jalandhara bandha is obtained by holding this alignment, even while hinging forward.

Hasta Bandha occurs during hand supported poses where energy can be felt at the palms of the hands. Fingers splay wide; pretend to have a suction cup, Starfish or Geco grip. The weight of the body is felt to the tips of the fingers and lifts out of the wrists.

The body holds itself with ease while utilizing the bandhas. Feeling grip, lift, length and suction our body's strength, balance, flexibility and relaxation improves. Feeling the sensations of the body is our deepest sense of postural (asana) awareness!

Yoga Inclusive

I feel blessed in the great outdoors! Able to participate during any season in Montana, winter, spring, summer or fall by soaking in Vitamin D, an Ajna (6th) Chakra health association. Fully appreciative (of the weather) is a, Sahasrara (7th) Chakra happiness association!

Adventuring out alone, Manipura (3rd) Chakra Power association, and with friends, Svadishtana (2nd) Chakra Power association; to journey up mountains, across streams, over downfall and wildflowers, across spring fed ponds is exhilerating and serene. Listening to nature sounds, Vishudha (5th) Chakra health association, while enjoying road cycling, hiking, trail running, river floats and slalom boats with street ventures of barefoot walking, track running and marathoning, Muladhara (1st) Chakra health association. Loving, Anahata (4th) Chakra happiness association to Fulfill sweet & sweaty summer days!

Whatever the weather, yoga has been a pot of gold under rainbows*. Any time and place during the day or night it is comforting to strengthen, balance, stretch and relax through stillness hugs, body lifts and mindful holds. Yoga works wonders anywhere; even a spring fed pond before a swim, ride and run!


*"As a child
I was told and believed
that there was a treasure
buried beneath every rainbow.

I believed it so much that
I have been ...
chasing rainbows
most of my life.

...(Now I know)
that the rainbow
and the treasure
were (and are) both
within me."
-GERALD G. JAMPOLSKY, M.D. (edited by Katie A. Campbell)

Broccoli Spinach Stroganoff for Strong Bones and Healthy Blood

Vitamin D is important for calcium absorption to maintain strong bones. Try this Dish which includes nutrients such as Omega 3's, B12, Iron & Vitamin D. A good time to make this stroganoff is when Vitamin D absorption from sunshine is lacking; it's an health association for the 6th Energy Center, which includes smiling, brain power, vision/imagination/clarity and using intuition - not blaming!
Ingredients
1-2 C. water add more as needed (instead of oil enhances health benefits)
1/4 C. uncooked Noodles, Rice, Quinoa or other whole grain (endurance)
1/4 C. slivered onion (Quercitin)
2-3 C. broccoli (Calcium)
2-3 C. Spinach (Iron)
1/2-1 c. almond milk or other nondairy (has 45% calcium & 25% vita. D)
1/4 c. tvp (textured vegetable protein)
1-2 Tbs. nutritional yeast (B12)
1-2 Tbs. ground flax meal (omega 3's)
1-2 Tbs. turmeric (anti-inflammatory)
1-2 Tbs.vegetable bouillion (various vitamins)
1-2 Tbs. flour (to thicken)
1/2-1 tsp. salt (improves low blood pressure)
1 tbs. Miso after cooking (live cultures)
1 c. Greens (calcium & other various vitamins)
Preperation
Place water to cook pasta in a pan, turn stove to high. Place slivered onions, mushrooms and pasta in pan with cooked grain. Then place all other ingredients in pan, add more water or powders as needed for a consistent sauce. Place over greens and juice with lemon. Voila, your meal is ready to eat whenever you are!

Sport Specific Poses (Asana) Before, During and After Runs

Sport specific yoga poses are a creative way to make the most of yoga practice. Running and practising poses during a break, interval run or after sprint and endurance work help rest, stretch and strengthen the feet, legs, hips and back. Try a few favorites.

Malasana (squat pose), it's great for stretching the calves and strengthening the tibialis; therefore, preventing shin splints. Standing pigeon, stretches the hips and glutes while strengthening the quads increasing propriosception (balance), helping to protect the knees. Quad stretch or Dancer pose (Natrajasana) stretches the quads and hip flexors (ilio psoas) - especially needed after running mountainous trails. Standing twists are a great way to release and relax the torso helping prevent side aches. Standing hand to foot (Padanghustasana) or hinging hand to foot stretches the hamstrings group.

These are just a handful of great running poses to help the body feel prime. Choose a few or do them all adding in your favorites. One of mine is downward facing dog (adho-mukha-svanasana) because it stretches the entire back of the legs. So lift those tailbones high and sink heels down while lifting toes towards the shins, once again strengthening the tibialis (shins). If down dog is easy for try dolphin by lowering onto the elbows, kudos for heels to the ground in this pose!

Inversions save the day. Try Legs Up (supta-dandasana). Simply lay on your back and lengthen your legs up holding the legs, feet, strap or using the support of a wall. The reverse flow of blood is an excellent way for the feet and legs to feel well rested. Move into shoulder stand for an intense neck stretch, headstand for an intense head and neck strengthener and handstand (see blog titled Handstand (Adho-mukha-vrksasana; Downward facing tree pose) for spinal traction and strength; all benefiting the hips.

Pinca-Hamsasana (Swan Feather Pose) is the greatest inversion for strengthening the back. Begin in croccodile (nakrasana), then rest the torso on the forearms and lengthen legs up. Balancing prone butterfly; hovering helicopter - is a great transition by bringing feet together with knees out; then lift feet up while lengthening the legs for an inverted cobra pose. Honor and accept yourself completely!

A Handful of Poses for Sleep

These poses can be done laying on your back, supine or laying on your front, prone while in bed. Be inclusive, intrinsic, intuitive & conscious while feeling, breathing and listening. You may fade in & out of this presence, drifting off to sleep.
1.) Upright Legs or Upright Sitting (Supta Dandasana or Dandasana) - lengthen legs up while laying in bed & hold legs, feet or toes, rub up & down legs while stretching them towards the sky or sit upright, tailbone through to the top of the head aligning while lengthening legs long. Both poses can stretch the hamstrings group of muscles and back.
2.) Feet to Hands or Forward Bend (Apanasana or Pascimottanasana) - bring knees towards chest and hold the soles of the feet while laying on your back or hinge from your hips resting your torso on a stack of pillows. Feel the spine lengthen.
3.) Supine/Prone Twist (Jathra Padangusthasana) - bring knees towards the chest then place knees to one side, rest, then move to the other side and/or lay prone with knees to one side, head to the other, torso prone (belly down) on the bed � beneficial for the internal organs.
4.) Supine/Prone Tree (Vrksasana) - lay long on your back or belly with one foot placed in towards the thigh, up near the groin, switch sides, lay in pose for a similar amount of time.
5.) Supine/Prone Butterfly (Baddha Konasana) - rub feet together with knees splayed apart, opening/stretching the adductor muscles (inner thighs including groin) � rubbing feet together prepares the body for sleep.

Rest, relax and sleep with these beneficial poses to prepare you for a happy, healthy, wealthy and wise dreamland!

A Handful of Poses to Awaken

These poses can be done laying on your back, supine or laying on your front, prone, while in bed. Be accepting, feeling for what you have done, loving, listening, smiling and appreciating yourself and the world around you; helping you become more awake & aware.

1.) Supine/Prone Tree (Vrksasana) - lay long with one foot placed in towards the thigh, up near the groin, switch sides, lay in pose for a similar amount of time.

2.) Supine/Prone Butterfly (Baddha Konasana) - rub feet together with knees splayed apart, opening/stretching the adductor muscles (inner thighs including groin) � prepares the body to awaken.

3.) Supine/Prone Twist (Jathra Padangusthasana) - bring knees towards the chest then place knees to one side, rest, then move to the other side � beneficial for the internal organs, especially after a 12 hour fast when the stomach and intestines are relaxed. According to the article Fasting the Right Way, in the magazine Energy Times (Enhancing Your Vitality Through Nutrition Health & Harmony; June 2014), Campanile, MD, recommends a daily mini-fast of 12 hours to help with fat burning and increase metabolism, among other benefits.

4.) Feet to Hands or Child (Apanasana or Balasana) - bring knees towards chest and hold the soles of the feet or lay prone & bring knees underneath, place tailbone towards heels & rest head.

5.) Upright Legs or Sit Through to Upright Sitting (Supta Dandasana or Dandasana) - lengthen legs up & hold legs, feet or toes, rub up & down legs while stretching them towards the sky or bring legs through, to the front of the body, from Child to sit upright, tailbone through to the top of the head aligning while lengthening legs long. Both poses can stretch the hamstrings group of muscles and back.

Rise and shine with these beneficial poses to start your day the happy, healthy, wealthy and wise way!

Truthfullness (Satya)

One of the most important life lessons I have learned is 'honesty is the best policy'; remembering silence (listening) is just as important. The 5th power center of the pharyngeal plexus (throat) associated with communication, cooperation and consensus is also associated with listening. Interestingly, pleading the 5th, taking an oath of silence, does not implicate one's self with crime (as in the judicial system) because you have the right to speak as long as you do not harm (ahimsa) yourself or someone else. Of course, speaking up for truth and justice is a principle to be honored.

The 5th energy center is also associated with the color blue and the element of sound. If the energy (chakra) is imbalanced or blocked incorrect words and angry yelling can occur or you may not speak up for yourself. Therefore, take care of yourself with an Aroma-Restorative to heal and balance your energy (see Sessions page for a description).

Interconnected characteristics kindness, caring, and compassion associated with the 4th Power Center and clarity, vision and intuition from the 6th. Drawing from the heart and brow center can help a person speak kind and true. Meditating (thinking/praying) while listening to the sounds of nature will enhance the ability of the 5th Chakra. Therefore, speak up to share the good and true realities of life, remembering to wage peace!
Handstand (Adho-mukha-vrksasana); Downward-facing- tree-pose
While working for the Forest Service caring for wild-lands. The job entailed thinning trees in fire danger areas. This helps protect old-growth trees from ladder fuels which could start crown (canopy) fires. So, while felling trees we want the most oxidative to remain standing. I write this information because Handstand (Adho-mukha-vrksasana) is Downward-facing-tree-pose and while it is important to focus our breath, core strength is also integral to remain standing.

Yoga Journal magazine's July issue contains the article Defy Gravity. It states, �To ensure you have enough strength to work toward Handstand, first be sure you can hold Chaturanga-dandasana (Four-limbed-staff-pose) or Adho-mukha-svanasana (Downward-facing-dog-pose) for about 5 minutes.� Therefore, practice core strength, like flowing from Plank or Hover (Chaturanga-dandasana) → Side-plank (Vasisthasana)→ Reverse-plank (Purvottanasana) → Side-plank. Then, add variations like lifted leg and quad stretch, for the fun of it. Even try Explorer (Virabhadrasana) → side-plank → Crescent-lunge or Low-lunge (Unjanyasana) and around again, as many sets as you choose (try for 5). All excellent strength building poses.


When ready incorporate handstands into a session with handstand kick-ups. Usually, during Salutations with variations. From Downward-facing-dog scissor kick by bringing the leg, that would normally lunge forward (let's say the right), half-way up the mat and kicking the other leg (the left) overhead followed by the right leg and while the legs are overhead bringing the left leg down followed by the right. Continuing, from forward bend through Salutations, or any fun flow, with the left leg moving forward and kicking up the right leg etc. Now, if you haven't already started, your doing Adho-mukha-vrksasana!

Yoga Therapy

Yoga is a way of using our minds and bodies to feel good (therapeutic effects). Try cow's face (ghomukhasana) arms for shoulder flexibility and care. Use yoga breathing (pranayama) for energy and filtered air. Practice swan-feather pose (pinca-hamsasana) for lumbago and mind/body awareness. Yoga has been anecdotel for me, it can help you too.

Once, while snowboarding I fell off a rail and swiped my shoulder going down. My deltoids felt bruised (bleeding from the inside) and battered, of no use; possibly dislocated. Whatever the case, I was in grave pain. Usually, I can deal and end up feeling fine. This time, was different; I sat on the deck of the lodge contemplating calling an ambulance. However, I didn't want to go through the trouble if I could care for myself. So I sat in gomukhasana (cows face) arms.

The arm of my hurt shoulder hugging behind my back reaching towards my cervicle spine (neck) and the other arm reaching up past my ear bent at the elbow inching down my neck. I grasped my fingers together and held on despite the raging I felt throughout my shoulder. I sat in ghomukhasana imagining an ambulance driving to the rescue while the pose did it's work. Finally, ten to twenty minutes later I released my hands from the pose (asana). Blood gushed (pumped) through my shoulder; range of motion intact.


I didn't ride the rest of the day. I enjoyed the sunshine and the fact I made it through major grief. I felt happy knowing I could survive and continue to ride another day, a different hour; albeit, more cautiously.

I continued to use cow's face arms diligently. Especially, that day and when I felt pain throughout the week and months ahead I'd reach into pose. Saved by the beneficial (therapeutic) effects of yoga.

Ironically I felt protected from smoke while working to put it out as a Wildland firefighter, but had no control over inhaling it as a "civilian". Over the next decade the air was seasonally smokey. During this time, I jogged in the midst of smoke; I recalled yoga breathing, breathing in and out of the nose only.

I began using the technique while jogging. Snot poured out my nostrils, I became self-conscious but resolved to naturally filter the air I was breathing .

Initially, I felt claustraphobic like I wasn't getting a full breath. However, I kept practising and no longer needed an inhaler for the adult-onset asthma I had experienced. My difficulty breathing was now a non-issue. Simply, because I focused on pranayama (breathing), literally translated as "life force". The human body is truly its own best medicine.

Swan Feather Pose (Pinca-Hamsasana) a third example of yoga therapy came into my life after many months of misery. I awoke from sleeping unable to get out of bed. I was paralyzed. I literally couldn't walk. I'd been going through some extreme life changes. My life felt like it was caving in on me.
I moved to Studio 18A. Grateful, for the square footage and beautiful views for private trainings. A Partner Yoga Session was scheduled; my clients entered. I had been crawling to get around and upon their arrival was able to stand, although the pain was debilitating. I greeted these clients with a smile, pretending I was perfectly okay. I sank down into a squat, as I began verbalizing ques. The session was a relative success for I could stand while squating felt therepeutic. I went to a chiropractor and masseuse. Yet, my body did not feel alive and the sacral pain was prominent.
That year I attended a four day Yoga Therapy workshop. We breathed, chakra balanced, spoke about subtle energy and used hand symbols (mudras) to align and center along with gems, colors and aromas. We spoke about the process of healing and the importance of mind over matter. However, I was still feeling sacral pain and misalignment.
The final day of the Mind Body Conference we continually worked on asana. I was introduced to pinca-hamsasana. Many teachers could not move into the pose and some didn't even try. I continued to move in and out of the pose. The sacral pain ceased, I felt cured.
Please put into use the above yoga practices. The asana and pranayama improve strength, balance and flexibility. The healing process is truly amazing - Yoga can lead the way! As the saying goes, "movement is medicine..."

Chili...good choice for immunity.

Place in pan...

water (hydrates - improves mind/body function)

chopped (use blender if desired) onion (quercitin - anti-inflammatory)

tomato (cardiovascular health), zuchini is a great replacement for a green sauce instead of red

garlic (improves immunity)

add...
cumin (potassium - electrolyte - improves energy)
green (chili) pepper (metabolyte - burns fat)
optional salsa (various veggies)
optional TVP (textured vegetable protein)
beans, my favorite for a greater quantity of protein are adzukis (I cook a great big batch and freeze - less processed - fresher from Earth)
water (for desired consistency and flavor)
Nutritional Yeast
Bring to a boil and simmer it's ready to eat!

Add a tsp.-Tbs. of lemon to each bowl (improves digestion and vitamin absorption)

Thunderboldt (Utkatasana) Series

How to do it
Stand tall but relaxed with your feet hip-width apart. Visualize a vertical line on each side of your body that connects your ear, shoulder joint, and the sides of your hips, knees, and ankles. Lead with your heart not your head. Inhale and raise your arms; lengthen arms up overhead, with your palms facing one other. As you exhale, bend your knees into a squat position. Relax your shoulders away from your ears and lengthen your spine. Gaze upward. Hold the pose for three to four complete breaths. Squeeze abs & glutes (on the exhalation) while lengthening the lower back so that it doesn't sway. Tucking the tailbone under slightly may help you lower deeper into the pose.
Why it matters
With its basis in yoga's mountain pose (tadasana), the thunderbolt (utkatasana) strengthens the back, legs, shoulders, and arms. More than just an overall strengthener, the longer you hold the pose the more it helps to build overall stamina, improving metabolism and therefore fat burning.
Parts of this excerpt were taken from www.meyouhealth.com

Continue Strengthening and Balancing
How - To keep your Achilles Heel flexible and the shins (Peroneus and Tibialis) in shape and running all year long move from Balancing Mountain (standing on tip toes) to Moving Mountain (standing on heels). Then bend at the knees into a Low Squat (Malasana) - do not do this pose or any other if it causes undo pain. Next, from Thunderboldt (90o squat) above, move into a balancing squat by lifting one leg behind the body with a flexed foot - into a hamstring curl (Lightning Strike) then straighten and lengthen the leg behind while pointing the toes and squeeze glutes (buttox) keeping arms long overhead, in Wild Fire or Arrow pose and hinge at the hips into direction pose with hands and foot stretching away from one another in Direction Pose (Digasana) also known as Explorer III (Virabhadrasana Tri). Finally, bring the same leg in front while flexing the foot (Shooting the Duck, taking a picture).
Why - This strengthens and balances the front and back of the legs while providing proprioception, awareness of the body in space. Keep the knees aligning with the body so they do not bow out or collapse in improving knee function. This can be done every day for a minute or two with increasing sets and reps or time held while focusing on breathing and relaxing "grip"of the mind and body while feeling dynamic tension (strength) throught the muscles.

Flexibility

Why - After strengthening and balancing, improve flexibility in the back of the legs by practising Downward Facing Dog or Inverted V. Specifically, stretching the back of the legs all the way through the heels improves range of motion (ROM) and decreases risk of injury. Generally, stretching improves flexibility providing the body with a capacity for greater strength.

How - Walk the dogs in Downward Faing Dog by alternating heel placement towards the floor. Next, try placing both heels down. If this is easy for you, move into Dolphin placing forearms to the ground by bending elbows.

Yoga Philosophy (Principles)

The eight limbs of yoga are a processes of personal development which may affect or be affected by the moment, day, week, month or season etc. The effect(s) may be noticed from any of the limbs at any time. As in the way to make Buddha Soup.

On the last page of the book, Don't Just Do Something. SIT THERE A Mindfulness Retreat with Sylvia Boorstein, the way to make Buddha Soup for character development, is to "apply equal amounts concentration, calm, equanimity, rapture, investigation, energy and mindfulness." This method of application is applied to the ingredients of "morality, resolve, renunciation, effort, equanimity, truthfulness, patience, loving-kindness, generosity and wisdom". Interestingly the 'Method of Preparation' along with the first ingredient, morality, make-up the Eight Limbs of Classical Ashtanga Yoga.

The limbs include specific ethics and morals (yamas and niyamas). Such as, non-harming, honesty, non-stealing, resisting and non-jealousy. As well as, cleanliness, contentment, study, discipline and faith. Ironically, morality is the first 'ingredient' of Buddha Soup and the first two limbs of yoga.

Boorstein includes preparation characteristics, the other six limbs of yoga, for making Buddha Soup. First, prepare with concentration (dharna) a one pointed focus. Also, calm (pratyahara) in the midst of chaos using sensory withdrawl to be like a lotus flower in the mud and muck with flies and bugs swarming, crocodiles circling. Next, equanimity, the only method not a part of the seven limbs, understood as strength, balance and flexibility. Also, practiced physically.

The method for making Buddha Soup continues with rapture (samadhi) translated as "complete absorption" by Nicolai Bachman in his book The Language of Yoga. Rapture can be a second wind, a runners high, a dancers bliss or a meditators transcendence or simply feeling the effects from yoga. Investigation [pose (asana)] is practiced to learn about ourselves in the moment, for the day, as we progress or digress, eb and flow through the seasons of our lives. Energy [breath (pranayama)] is translated as life force taken from the root prana, a term for energy. Finally, mindfulness [meditation (dhyana)] is conscious living or sitting as the case may be.

Breathing (Pranayama)

Breathing in Sanskrit is known as pranayama literally translated as, "life force". Breathing improves focus, vitality and energy as well as brain and body function. Conversely, improper breathing may cause poor mind/body function and "space out". Proper breathing techniques can guide a yoga practice and provide energy, "life force", throughout the day. Simply, breathe consciously!

Cradling Baby

Once you are comfortable with the Pigeon Poses (see previous blog) try Cradling Baby. From Balancing Pigeon place the sole of your right foot at the crook of your left arm and your right knee into the crook of your right elbow. Interlace fingers and �cradle� your leg. Feel the effects. Breathe. This pose can be done standing or supine. Lengthen your spine while standing or laying back.

Cradling Baby increases flexibility through the hips, articulates the spine, and strengthens the stabilizing leg - improving balance while decreasing the chance of injury.

Pigeon Pose and Sitting Dancer

To prepare for Pigeon Pose try Balancing Pigeon (Pigeon on a Wire) by crossing the ankle of one leg over the knee of the other and squat. This pose stretches the hips of one side while strengthening the leg and especially the knee of the other. You can also do this crossed leg position in a chair (Chair Pigeon).

To help relax and release the hips by lying on your back try Supine Pigeon (Dead Pigeon) by placing knees up and feet on the floor near your tailbone. Then, cross the ankle of the right leg above the knee of the left. For a deeper stretch, reach the right hand in between your legs to hold hands under the left knee and hug the knee towards the chest. Feel the effects.

Now, try a classic version of Pigeon Pose which is done lying prone (facing down). Bring the right knee up to the chest and lift the torso while extending the other leg long. If you�d like to move deeper into the pose hinge at the hips and stack fists or hands under the forehead. If this is comfortable relax the forehead onto the ground and finally, extend arms while continuing to lengthen the left leg long in Gliding Pigeon. Breathe.

A variation of Pigeon is Sitting Dancer � Lift the torso, bend the extended leg and grasp your left hand near the left ankle for a front of the leg (quadriceps) stretch. To move deeper into Sitting Dancer place the left foot at the crook of the left arm and bend the elbow meanwhile reaching the right arm overhead and back, stretching the triceps, and grasping fingers. For a Full Sitting Dancer Pose reach both arms up overhead and back towards the lifting leg for a triceps stretch to both arms. Continue to arch and release through the back while stretching the torso, shoulders and triceps! Be sure to stretch both sides of the body equally. However, if you have a tighter side, stretch it longer.

Elongated Legs & Back

Legs Up Pose (Supta Dandasana) stretches the back of the legs while the wall and floor support the body. First, lay supine (on your back) and secure a neutral spinal position by placing 4 fingers underneath the small of the back while the sacrum is supported by the floor. Next, place legs up the wall and lengthen the legs until there is no bend at the knees while keeping the sacrum grounded. Finally, scoot closer to the wall while keeping a neutral spine and long legs. This pose is restful and reinvigorates the feet and legs.

Move into Supported Upright Sitting by side laying, pushing up to sitting and placing your back against the wall while lengthening the legs. This pose tones the abdominal walls while stretching the back of the legs. Now, try Upright Sitting Pose (Dandasana) by moving away from the wall and keep a neutral spinal position. Gently squeeze the rhomboids [muscles connecting the scapula (shoulder blades) and spine]. Lengthen through the neck, aligning ears over the shoulders, leading with the heart not the head. If you do not feel a stretch to the legs begin hinging at the hips while lengthening (not rounding) the spine into Sitting Forward Hinge (Pascimottanasana).

Sitting with legs elongated improves circulation, back strength, abdominal lift and leg flexibility. Once the hamstring muscles stretch and release the back can lengthen and elongate. In the final pose the back strengthens, while the abdominal muscles lift and the hamstrings (back of the legs) stretch. The meridians in the body relax and release, so a foot issue does not become a neck and shoulder problem or vise-verse.

Boat (Navasana)

Boat strengthens the core and hip flexor muscles. Begin in Balancing Boat by holding underneath the knees and balancing on your sit bones as if you were a banana seat. Balance, lengthen through the back and lift the chest aligning tailbone through to the top of the head. Work on this until there is no rounding through the back but a lengthening neutral spine. Release the hands and lengthen the arms for Strengthening Boat. To challenge yourself lengthen your legs one at a time or together; for even greater strength gains lengthen arms up overhead. To balance into a Stretching Boat grasp feet with your hands and lengthen arms and legs being mindful of lengthening into a neutral spinal position (asana).

Good-night Meditation

Begin, by lying in your bed at night settling into final relaxation (savasana) by lying supine (on your back) with your shoulder blades gently tucked and settled underneath with legs outstretched and the palms of the hands facing up with the arms out from your sides about 20*.Next, begin thinking about the colors of the rainbow; red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple evenly spaced from the tailbone to the middle of the brain or brow center.Furthermore, think of those colors as clockwise, rotating funnels emanating front and back indicating a healthy source of the body�s energy.More specifically, imagine the energy centers true location; the 1st (red) chakra is located at the coccygeal plexus (tailbone), the 2nd (orange) chakra is located at the sacral plexus (abdomen), the 3rd yellow chakra is located at the solar plexus (diaphragm), the 4th (green) chakra is located at the cardiac/pulmonary plexus (heart/lung center), 5th (blue) chakra is located at the pharyngeal plexus (throat), 6th (purple) chakra is located at the carotid plexus (brain center) and the 7th (white) chakra is located through-out the cerebral cortex (top of the head).Finally, feel the body as a harmonious whole � physically, energetically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.

"Health is the first wealth." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson says, �Health is the first wealth." My personal adage is striving to be happy, healthy, wealthy and wise. Yet sometimes I feel unsure, loose my self-esteem, gain weight and lose touch with personal and social connections.

Previously I have expressed living via the eight limbs (social ethics, personal morals, postural awareness, breath work, sensory withdrawal, focus, concentration and bliss). A support network living with similar principles is uplifting, provides motivation, dissipates worries and validates our reasons for participating.

Yoga builds trust in yourself as you gain strength, balance and flexibility. This also improves the trust of coworkers, partners, family and society at large. Win-win works both ways. I often inform clients - with Yoga, �you feel it where you need it�. Being part of a supportive, loving, caring environment is priceless.

Yesterday, I was thinking about motivation. I began reading Carolyn Myss� Wisdom For Healing Cards, that we use here @ Studio 18A. After every session I read a card, saying things such as, �Be Proactive, Choose to Empower Yourself, Transform Worrisome Thoughts, Act Rather Than Wait, Enhance Your Physical Health� and �Rely on Yourself�.

Also, contained within the cards was, �Expect a Miracle � something will come into your life that will serve your healing, so be open to it, and express gratitude when it occurs. Your goal: to know that the world becomes a vessel for the Divine when you see the Divine in all things. �Just as importantly, �Notice That Special Person � take notice of someone whom you�ve previously ignored. That person is your teacher, your special angel, and he or she will do or say something you�ve been waiting for, just because you�re recognizing the beauty of his or her spirit. �A supportive caring environment does wonders!

Assessments Are a Good Sign - No Matter the Indices

Knowledge is power. Ignorance may be bliss in the moment, but the power of knowledge and consistency helps us overcome our downfalls, realize our potential, track our progress and point out success. Recently I had a client question the importance of assessments and even the need for them at all. Assessments are a way of saying, �Here I am world. I am not hiding from myself or my pain. I will expose my problems and overcome�!

Assessments establish information for a person�s greater good. Without baselines, documenting improvements or unraveling pain, a person can get lost and discontinue sessions. For example, I saw a gentleman a few times for trainings that were difficult for him. We did not discuss his issues or decide upon another course of action. He simply did not return to the studio. Years later we spoke. He said to me, �Now I realize why it (trainings) had been difficult for me�. He had been diagnosed with a debilitating disease.

Even if a person has regressed, that information is better than no information at all. Assessments can show prehypertension, low blood pressure, a simple increase in pulse indicating nervousness or increased stress and point out weight gain or loss which may have gone unnoticed as well as indicate differences in posture, strength, balance, flexibility and more. Assessments may be held on days or even years when we haven�t been feeling well. But once you�ve learned movements, held poses and gained confidence a base line assessment has served its purpose as a comparison. It�s amazing what a little information can do!

There is a term in Sanskrit called svadhyaya which is translated as self-study. Assessments are integral to self-study, providing key information to unlocking the doors of health and wellness - proof of improvements and successes or issues and concerns. Assessments indicate the ebb and flow of life. Making choices based on the information contained in assessments is substantial; it improves and uncovers the knowledge of you.

Yoga Through The Day The Eight Limbed Way

Quite a few eight limbed writings were misplaced! The gist is choosing a 1.) a yama (ethic) and 2.) a niyama (moral) examples from the Sutras include the Yamas of ahimsa (not harming, compassion), satya (honesty, truthfullness), ashtaya (not taking, not stealing), bramacharya (not addicted, not controlling), aparigraha (not jealous, not possessive, not greedy) and the Niyamas of saucha (cleanliness, purity), santosha (peaceful, content), tapas (optimistic discipline, cultivating good), svadhyaya (self-study, studiousness) and ishvarapranidhana (believing in yourself and others), also 3.) poise yourself in a Pose (asana), if you happen to be sitting at a desk, begin working your way up, your body, by aligning toes with heals, ankles under kness, knees parallel with hips, hips with shoulders, ears with shoulders and chin perpendicular to the ground, 4.) Breathe (Pranayama); try basic yoga breathing (in and out of the nose only because it naturally filters the air, you won't give or receive a cold via airborn pathogens, and the technique improves listening once mastered), 5.) Relax (Pratiyahara) and feel tension dissipate 6.) Focus (Dhyarna) on the task at hand, 7.) continue thinking, Meditating (Dhyana) on responsibly happy, healthy, powerful, wealthy and wise ways to accomplish your needs which helps other people accomplish their needs, and 8.) while working, one pointedly, practicing conscientious living and awareness notice your good habits improve, Samadhi (absorption of superconsciousness). You can create your own examples as a plan for the future or as a way of journaling your journey!

Washing Machine

How to do it

Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Begin turning your torso from side to side, allowing your arms to swing freely and limply (think of them as empty coat sleeves). Make fists and continue the torso and arm movements. Your fists will lightly bump your hips in the front and back. Say (think) a mantra (affirmation), while "tapping" your fisted or blade hands. After one minute, relax your hands and slowly return to the starting position.

Why it matters

This pose allows your torso to move in a way that increases the flexibility of the spine. The twisting movement can aid with digestion, and the entire exercise helps to warm and energize the body.

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Wrist Rolls (Kriya)

Notice if you have strong wrists by placing your hands out in front of you at shoulder height. Then, use dynamic tension to lengthen through your wrists and improve alignment all the way to your fingertips. Consciously, be aware of your wrist position throughout the day or at least 1-3 times. If your wrists are loose strengthen or hold them in alignment and if your wrists are stiff stretch or roll them. Doing this daily will help prevent or decrease pain associated with imbalances!

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