Saturday, December 9, 2017

PRATYAHARA

“Pratyahara itself is termed as yoga, as it is the most important limb in yoga sadhana.” - Swami Sivananda

"Just as a tortoise withdraws its limbs, so when a man withdraws his senses from the sense objects, his wisdom becomes steady." -Bhagavad Gita


8 LIMBS OF YOGA

Yama  –   reflections of our true nature – qualities we must embrace to know Self

Niyama  – evolution toward harmony – practices that align us with our highest nature

Asana  –  comfort and steadiness in our physical being

Pranayama  –  control of life force energy (prana)

Pratyahara  –  encouraging the senses to draw within

Dharana  – focusing of consciousness inward

Dhyana  –  meditation –  the continuous inward flow of consciousness

Samadhi  –  bliss, the union with Divine consciousness

Pratyahara
The term “pratyahara” is composed of two Sanskrit words, prati and ahara. “Ahara” means “anything we take into ourselves from the outside” and “Prati” means “against” or “away.” “Pratyahara” translates to “gaining mastery over external influences.” When pratyahara is compared to a turtle withdrawing into its shell—the turtle’s shell is the mind and the turtle’s limbs are the senses.


IN CLASS - PRATYAHARA TECHNIQUES

Internalizing with Ujjayi Breathing focusing on the inhalation and the exhalation.

Shanmukhi mudra is a yogic hand gesture that represents closing the six gates of perception – the eyes, ears, nose and mouth.

Bhramari (Bee Breathing) with Shanmukhi Mudra – one most powerful internalizing pranayamas.

Yoga Nidra, a systematic 4 to 8 stage guided relaxation technique promoting a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping.

Friday, December 8, 2017

4 Ways Yoga Can Support Other Therapies


1. Yoga assists in the creation of the therapeutic bond, the safe and sacred space where therapy will take place. (Yoga offers rituals and practices including the lighting of a candle, the use mudras, breath techniques called a pranayama, imagery of sanctuary or of peace called a bhavana, soothing universal tones called a mantra, or cleansing breathing techniques called a kriya).

2. Yoga provides a slow invitation to move back into a felt sense of living in the body. (This begins with the subtle cueing the teacher or therapist offers to her client, allowing him to acknowledge sensation in his face, for example, or his hands after guiding a practice, without ever saying, “It’s safe to feel your body,” a concept your client’s mind may immediately resist).

3. Yoga begins to still and focus the mind for the work of therapy.

4. Yoga has a tradition of holding poses, sometimes until the body begins to tremble. (The ancient yogis believed vigorously shaking released tension and intrinsic memory stored in the body-mind).
Adapted from Amy Weintraub - Yoga Skills for Therapists

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Union

The Egyptian Yoga called Sma or Sema like Indian Yoga is concerned with union.  The union of the dualistic Higher Self  with the dualistic Lower self, leads to Non-duality, the One, singular consciousness.





The Lower Self can be:
- The Lower Kingdom
- The Lower Chakras
- Papyrus
- Set

The Higher Self can be:
- The Upper Kingdom
- The Higher Chakras
- The Lotus
- Heru

Is Ashe and Prana the same thing

"Oludumare/ Olorun is in all things as the ashe is the primal essence of all things. It is not the tree, the rock, the statue that African ancestors revere and worship but the deep energy that brought about its being. In maintaining the “nature religion” the ancestors were able to keep and also strengthen the very real connection between all things and human beings."

Karade, Baba Ifa. The Handbook Yoruba Religious Concepts (Kindle Locations 415-418). Red Wheel Weiser. Kindle Edition.


To me Ashe sounds like the same thing as Prana.

Prana is  the Sanskrit word for "life force" or "vital principle." Prana comprises all cosmic energy, permeating the Universe on all levels. Prana includes energies present in animate and inanimate objects.

Friday, December 1, 2017

8 LIMBS OF YOGA - ASANA

What many of us call ‘yoga’ - as actually only the physical practice of yoga poses.  If we wanted to be accurate we could be instead call the physical practice of yoga ‘Asana’. Asana is how many of us have come to yoga. However, Asana is just one small aspect of a much deeper and richer practice of what is know as the Eight Limbs of Yoga.


8 LIMBS OF YOGA - with help from Nischala Joy Devi

Yama  –   reflections of our true nature – qualities we must embrace to know Self

Niyama  – evolution toward harmony – practices that align us with our highest nature

Asana  –  comfort and steadiness in our physical being

Pranayama  –  control of life force energy (prana)

Pratyahara  –  encouraging the senses to draw within

Dharana  – focusing of consciousness inward

Dhyana  –  meditation –  the continuous inward flow of consciousness

Samadhi  –  bliss, the union with Divine consciousness

MORE ON ASANA

"In yoga, an asana is a posture in which a practitioner sits. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali defines "asana" as "to be seated in a position that is firm, but relaxed". Patanjali mentions the ability to sit for extended periods as one of the eight limbs of his system, known as ashtanga yoga.
“Asana is steadiness and comfort. Sthira-sukham asanam. In one of three terse aphorisms on the subject, the Yoga Sutras say, Sthira-sukham asanam—asana is steadiness and comfort. Steadiness and comfort describe an inner state of being as well as the experience of the physical body in an asana pose. It is a state of being “seated” in ourselves, of the body being comfortable with the mind, and the mind being comfortable with the body. In this way, the body can support the expansive state of a beautiful, clear, calm mind.” – Sandra Anderson

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Simple Yoga Poses for Back Pain

Here are some simple things for lower and middle back back.  Spend 1 to 5 minutes in each position.

CONSTRUCTIVE REST - ARDHA SAVASANA
with slow deep breaths concentrating on breath in belly and then 360 degree breathing all in and out of your nose.



PELVIC TITLS


SUPPORTED BRIDGE POSE - YOU CAN USE A PILLOW OR TOWEL UNDER YOUR SACRUM



SUPPORTED SHOULDER STAND - SHOULDER STAND - OR LEGS UP THE WALL




LOW CROCODILE POSE

SPHINX - EVEN BETTER IF YOU CROSS YOUR ANKLES AND TURN SIDE TO SIDE LOOKING AT YOUR TAIL BONE




SAVASANA - SUPPORTED SAVASANA



Sunday, August 27, 2017

10 Qualities of a Yoga Therapist

(inspired by notes from Integrative Yoga Therapy Module 2)

Life is very short.  Our time is this incarnation is fleeting.  When we die our possessions will mean nothing, All we can take with us from this life is who we are as a person.

And who are we as people? What is our intention for this life?  These are things we need to work on and discover on and off the mat.  How do we discover? I suggest body maps, morning pages, dream journaling, yoga nidra, meditation, pranayama, asana, intuitive art making, and music,

My intention as a yoga therapist is to heal myself and  guide others to their own personal healing through art and yoga.  My intention feels very clear to me.

I believe we should not let life push us around like leaves in the wind.  Let's make a difference in our own lives and the lives of others.  Let is contribute to individual and global healing.

Our life is a reflection of our own healing.  One way to approach life is to focus on healing and the intention towards health.  Maybe all we really need to do is this life is to heal. Life is in fact a healing journey.

My journey of healing includes healing from rape, molestation, depression, missed opportunities, lost loves, betrayal, false starts, injuries and chronic pain.

When I decided to become a Yoga Therapist I chose this profession to work towards my own personal healing as well as be of assistance in the healing of others.

One definition of a yoga therapist is:
"A yoga therapist receives fair compensation but also cultivates an attitude of selfless service: a vision of healing larger than their own personal goals, wants and needs. Through this vision, the therapist recognizes their contribution to the healing of other beings, as well as, to community of all humanity."


Seva/Selfless service helps us sand off our rough edges.  I think it wasn't until I became of service by teaching yoga did my low level depression fall away.  Being of use, doing things of meaning is what keeps me loving life.

Because Life is so short we need to spend every moment we can moving towards total health (personal and global). In order to achieve this degree of health we need tremendous compassion in life.  This Compassion is not just for others but includes compassion for ourselves.

One of the most compassionate things we have can do in life is our own practice of Yoga.  This Yoga with  a capital Y includes all 8 limbs - Yamas, Niyamas, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.

Another act of compassion is to share Yoga Therapy with those who are interested and not push it on those who are not.

What do I think are the qualities of a Yoga Therapist

1. Ability to Deeply Listen
2. Compassion
3. Selfless Service
4. Therapeutic Application of Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Scripture (Yoga Sutras, Gita, Vedas etc..)
5. Gratitude
6. Presence
7. Patience
8. Sadhana - A Yoga Practice of one's Own
9. Integrity
10. Love