Friday, December 15, 2017

Sutra 1.2

Sutra 1.2
Yoga is the process of calming down the mind's constant chatter.  

In the western world, most people think of yoga as exercise. One small part of yoga is called asana or physical postures which in and of itself is much much more than just exercise. If you are practicing asana with focus you are effectively practicing yoga, however, if you are practicing asana and thinking about what you will be cooking for dinner, then you are not practicing yoga; you are basically exercising These physical postures can lead one to want to uncover the true purpose of yoga. This is precisely how it happened for me. 

Calming down the mind chatter does not mean we stop our thoughts or reject them or avoid them, rather it is simply not letting our thoughts take over our mind. A thought will come into your mind which then leads to another thought and so on until you are no longer in the present moment, instead you are "living in thought." A thought may come into your mind and then you begin to identify with that thought even if it has no bearing on what's real and once again you are "living in thought world." Learning to focus our mind can convey what is truly happening instead of being wrapped up in false thought patterns. If you have ever been so involved in a project or an activity where you were completely focused on what you were doing, your mind is calm and intent on the task, you could say you were practicing yoga. Athletes call it "being int he zone", martial artists call it "being in the flow" and yogis call it "yoga." The Yoga Sutras or The Eight Limbs of Yoga provide tools to help you arrive at this place of "being" in everyday life. 

This, my friends, is the secret to happiness. I know that is a bold statement, but I stand by it. When we get caught up in our thoughts and begin to identify with them it can lead to delusion, infatuation or obsession. When we come to realize we are not our thoughts we then begin to see the world around us with more clarity. 

Our sassy seniors now living in assisted living facilities come to understand this process a bit easier than those of us still living in the fast-paced material world. We don't have to wait until we are living in a quieter place before we begin to grasp this essential concept. We can begin right now. Our story this month is: "Yoga is the process of calming down the mind's constant chatter."


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Inner Peace

Happy holidays ... time for festivity and spending time with loved ones! However, all the hustle and bustle can cause many of us to experience anxiety and stress. Our healthy habits and inner peace get misplaced. Fortunately, we can find refuge in the ancient wisdom of yoga. The goal of yoga is tranquility; a centered, calm place of peace where we can let go of the stresses of the day. 
Peace is not a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. Inner peace is the ability to stay mentally, emotionally, and physically steady even in the midst of turmoil. Maintaining inner peace can be challenging during the holidays. Yet it is essential to our well-being so that we can interact with our loved ones and the community in a healthy way. 
Here are a few thoughts on how to remain centered and calm during the flurry of the season.

  • Tune in; take a few moments before you begin the day for quiet contemplation. You can follow this with gentle yoga poses that circulate a healthy energy flow in the body. 
  • Remember the reason for the season; no matter what big business says the most important gifts come from the heart. Spending time with loved ones is a gift itself!
  • Create comfort; transform your space into a warm place where others feel welcome. Relaxing music, candles, soft pillows all set a stage. 
  • Eat well; but be mindful of what you consume. There is no need to deprive yourself just remember to make healthy choices. 
  • Take time for you; when you feel good you give off good vibrations. Practice yoga, go for a walk, soak in the tub...
Our story this month; I am centered and calm. 
We begin our practice with child's pose. Child's pose is often used as a resting pose, a place where you can take a break between challenging poses. It's also a great pose for beginning a practice, it allows us to connect with our "center" that calm place of inner peace. 
Child's pose 
Begin on your hands and knees and bring the big toes to touch, then sit back on your heels. Inhale and lengthen the spine, exhale and fold forward allowing the chest to rest on your thighs. Extend your arms with the palms facing down, forearms and forehead touch the ground. Lengthen from your hips to your shoulders and out through your fingertips. Let the upper back broaden as the lower back softens, tension melts away from the shoulders, arms, and neck. Keep the eyes closed and focus on the breath. Inhale and notice the back of the body opening as the lungs expand, exhale and the front of the body releases. Connect with your center, stay here for a couple of minutes. To release the pose gently walk your hands back until you are sitting upright. 


Child's pose centers,  calms, and soothes the brain, relieving stress. Since child's pose is a resting pose it is important to make whatever modifications you need to feel comfortable. Here are a few suggestions:

  • If you have difficulty sitting back on your heels, place a folded blanket between the back of the thighs and calves. 
  • Bring the knees wide apart.
  • Rest your forehead on a block or blanket. 
  • For a more restorative pose, rest your arms alongside your thighs with the palms facing up.   
Cautions; do not practice child's pose if you have a knee injury. Pregnant women should only practice the wide knee version. 

May you have a happy, healthy holiday season!


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Sutra 1.1

Yoga is an ancient practice rooted in Eastern spirituality.  The history of yoga is vast and rich with ancient texts, personalities, and disciplines.  One of the foundational historic text on yoga is known as the Yoga Sutras.  "Sutra" is defined in Sanskrit as a set of rules or aphorisms on a specific subject. Patanjali was a sage in ancient India credited with writing the Yoga Sutras, 195 aphorisms (words of wisdom, direction, and inspiration) that teach how to live a meaningful, fulfilling life. Despite being written over 1,700 years ago, the Yoga Sutras remain as relevant to the modern yogi as their ancient counterpart. There have been hundreds of translations from this age-old Sanskrit text.  Over the next several months to a year, I am going to discuss a few of the sutras considered most relevant to today's yogi and share them with you on our blog. 

One translation of Sutra 1.1: "With humility, we embrace the sacred study of Yoga." Let's break this statement down.

With humility... the dictionary describes humility as "a modest or low view of one's own importance; humbleness." A few synonyms of the word humility are: shyness, demureness, docility, nonresistance, and unpretentiousness. When I examine these words what comes to mind is childlike and pure. In other words, we could begin the first statement as: "With childlike purity" or "With an open mind and heart"...

We embrace... the dictionary describes embrace as "an act of accepting or supporting something willingly or enthusiastically."  A few synonyms of the word embrace are: cultivate, follow, affirm, take on and act upon. Let's translate this as: "cultivate"...

Sacred...the dictionary describes sacred as "considered worthy of spiritual respect or devotion."  A few synonyms of the word sacred are: cherished, divine, and revered.  Let's translate this as: "divine"...

Study... the dictionary describes study as "a state of contemplation." A few synonyms of the word study are: deliberation, consideration, commitment, and reflection. Let's translate this one as: "commitment"...

Of yoga...the dictionary describes yoga as "a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India."  A few synonyms of the word yoga are: harmony, equilibrium, union or unity. Let's use the translation "unity"...

And so, putting all of it together we now have our story for this month...
"With an open mind and heart, we cultivate a divine commitment to unity."

Our sassy seniors joyfully wave colorful scares in celebration of our divine commitment to practice in unity. We open our hearts to understanding unity of the body, mind, and spirit. Our hearts blossom to the realization that we are all one. 

You may say I'm a dreamer
but I'm not the only one.
I hope someday you'll join us
and the world will be as one.
- John Lennon


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Joyful Gratitude

We've often heard that happiness contributes to well-being. That's what we all want right, to be happy and well? Happiness is not something found outside of you. Happiness is already inside you, waiting to be discovered. Yoga can help us discover the joy that lives within us. How does it do this? By reducing our stress. Yoga increases our resilience to stress and awakens a sense of joyful gratitude. Most of our stress is caused by thoughts of something that has happened in the past or might happen in the future. Yoga helps us come into the present moment. As we move the body and become aware of the breath we let go of stress. 

This month we tune into the joy of being alive, grateful for the ability to move the body. We focus on the movements of the in-breath, opening the heart and lifting the arms, these movements cultivate a feeling of joy and gratitude. Our story; I am filled with joyful gratitude. 

We open with Breath of Joy pranayama. Breath of Joy energizes, uplifts and cleanses. It is a breathing practice that awakens your whole system. It increases oxygen levels in the bloodstream, circulates energy and detoxifies the body. It strengthens the arms and shoulders and makes you smile. 

A word of may become lightheaded. Find your rhythm. Breath of Joy is not recommended for anyone with untreated high blood pressure or any injuries of the head. 

Breath of Joy: Stand with feet hip distance apart and parallel, knees slightly bent. Inhale one-third of your lung capacity and swing your arms up in front of the body, bringing them parallel to each other at shoulder level, with the palms facing up. Continue to inhale to two-thirds of your capacity and stretch your arms out to the side at shoulder level. Inhale to full capacity and swing your arms parallel and overhead, palms face each other. Exhale completely with an open mouth audible "ha", bending the knees more deeply as you forward fold swinging your arms down and back behind you. Slowly and gently return to standing. Repeat several times and SMILE!

We invite you to take a moment to be grateful for your practice. Be grateful for whatever you may be experiencing. Be grateful for all you have accomplished and all who have helped along the way. Be grateful for where you are on your joy-filled journey. 

Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu...May all beings be happy, free and JOYOUS!

Bottom of Form

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Available now on Amazon!

The Impossible Dream; a Yoga Storytelling Adventure, our kid's yoga story book has successfully launched.  We are so excited...may The Impossible Dream travel far and wide and may children everywhere realize that, "Nothing is Impossible!"

The Impossible Dream is available for purchase here on our blog, just click on the Amazon link. If you go to Amazon directly use the entire title for the search, The Impossible Dream; a Yoga Storytelling Adventure. The book is also available on our website, we would love for you to visit.

If you purchase a copy for yourself please leave a review at Amazon. Remember, Christmas is just around the corner and The Impossible Dream would make a great gift! If you purchase the book as a gift we would welcome a review from the recipient too. Thanks in advance for the complimentary reviews. We are forever grateful.

p.s. The book will soon be available for schools and libraries to purchase through Ingram/Baker and Taylor. Woohoo!

Please "like" and "share."

Kathe Hudson and Melanie Moyer
Yoga Teachers, Storytellers, Authors

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Coming Soon! Our Book!

The Impossible Dream
A Yoga Storytelling Adventure
Kids Yoga Story

Here's a sneak peek at the cover...

Annabel Jones is our amazing illustrator. She is a sweetheart; we couldn't have found a more perfect fit, a fellow librarian who conducts Storytime!

and a sneak peek at the back cover promo...

     Once upon a time...deep in the swamplands, a young man embarks on an extraordinary adventure. Night after night he has the same strange dream until he can no longer ignore it. Find out what he discovers on his daring journey.

     The Impossible Dream encourages kids to express themselves through story and yoga. This book intended for ages 5 to 10 includes a full description of yoga poses. Make the story come alive as you go on a yoga storytelling adventure!

and a sneak peek at what the professionals are saying...

"As a parent in a bilingual family, reading The Impossible Dream with its beautiful message to my children helped reinforce our French language skills. As a library director in a bilingual province, I'll be sure to carry The Impossible Dream on my shelves. As a yoga teacher, I'm very pleased to have this valuable resource available to teachers and parents to encourage children to develop their physical literacy skills while learning about Acadian history."
Jenn Carson, Director of the LP Fisher Public Library
creator of, author of Physical Literacy:Movement-Based Library Programs

"When you flex the mind and the body, everything is possible."
Johnette Downing, Louisiana Roots Music and Books for Children 

"Keeyaw WOW! Nothing is impossible! Educators and former librarians Kathe Hudson and Melanie Moyer awaken the power of storytelling with a Cajun retelling of a classic folktale. Learning becomes effortless play in this lively tale written in rich language. The body comes along too combining story with yoga to inspire us to follow our dreams on a joyous journey of self-discovery. HOORAY for The Impossible Dream!"
Sydney Solis, founder of Storytime Yoga®

"The authors of this delightful story have captured an old tale and wrapped it into a Cajun version that will entertain, for true. They certainly won my Cajun heart."
Cheryl Floyd
Heal Your Life® Teacher/Coach

a sneak peek at our intention...

Through the magic of story and the wisdom of yoga it is our sincere hope that children everywhere will remember, "Nothing is Impossible!"

For more information visit us at

Please "like" and "share"!
Mahalo, we serve.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Body Appreciation

We often complain or criticize our bodies when in fact our bodies are amazing creations. Your body produces 25 million new cells each second. Every 13 seconds, you produce more cells than there are people in the United States. If you stretched out the 300,000,000 capillaries in your lungs end to end, the line would extend from Seattle to San Diego or about 1,300 miles. With the 60,000 miles of blood vessels inside the average human body, you could circumnavigate earth two and a half times. Our muscles are actually incredibly more powerful than they appear to be. Human strength is limited to protect our tendons and muscles from harming themselves. This limitation can be removed during an adrenaline rush, during which some people have lifted boulders or even cars off themselves. 

"I am in awe of my body." - Henry David Thoreau

Your relationships with other people through out your lifetime - with your parents, spouses, children, friends, and teachers - will shift as time passes and situations change. As long as you are alive, however your body is always with you. You body is designed to guide you, keep you safe, and bring you full vitality. It has seen you through love and loss, pleasure and pain, challenge and growth. It is the vehicle through which you create and manifest your thoughts and dreams into reality. Your body deserves to be appreciated for every experience it has given you, and every way it has supported you. 

Our story this month is "I appreciate my body." We encourage you to ask, "How do I feel?" rather than "How do I look?" when practicing yoga. 


Give these two Warrior poses a try, they are a gift to your body.

Warrior I: from mountain pose, take a big step back with the left foot; turn the back foot to a 45 degree angle. Square the shoulders and hips to the front of the mat. Inhale and lift the arms overhead, lengthening the spine. Soften the shoulders down. Exhale and bend the right knee. Make sure your knee is directly over your ankle not in front of the ankle; you should be able to see your toes. Come out of the pose by lowering the arms and straightening the front leg. Step back up into mountain and repeat on the opposite side. 

Warrior II: from mountain pose, step back with the left foot. Turn your back foot to a 90 degree angle by picking up the toes and pivoting on the heel. The shoulders and hips are square to the side of the mat. Inhale and lift the arms to shoulder height lengthening the spine, palms facing down reach out through the fingertips, exhale and bend the right knee, knee over the ankle. Gaze out over the fingertips of the right hand. Come out of the pose by lowering the arms and straightening the front leg. Step back up into mountain and repeat on the opposite side. 

Pranayama; Energy of the Breath

Pranayamas are yogic breathing exercises. Ancient yogis observed the power of the breath and its ability to increase one's life force. They developed these breathing techniques to increase life energy and maintain health as well as create a calm, clear state of mind. 

The word "prana" refers to energy and "yama" means regulation or control. Pranayama is often considered breath control. Prana is the breath yet more than the breath. It is the energy or life force that keeps us alive. Practiced correctly, pranayama brings health to body, mind and spirit. Here are a few of the many benefits to the practice of pranayama. 
  • Calms and rejuvenates the body and mind
  • Improves focus and concentration
  • Increases energy
  • Boosts the immune system and the nervous system
  • Slows down the aging process

As we age we often become shallow breathers. Therefore, we always practice deep breathing with our Sassy Seniors. This month we took deep breaths in and deep breaths out as we blew on bright, sunny pinwheels...our story; Breath is Energy. 

Fifi and Mel
In order to breathe properly you need to breathe deeply into your abdomen, not just your chest. Breathing exercises should be deep, slow, rhythmic and through the nose. In yoga there are many forms of breath control. Here are a few yogic breath techniques to try and you won't even need a pinwheel!

Equal Breathing; this is just what it sounds like...a steady even breath where the inhale is equal to the exhale in duration. The breath is slow and steady. Begin regulating your breaths to three to four seconds in and three to four seconds out. Equal breathing calms the mind and brings a sense of balance to the body. 

Ujjayi; this is a form of breath control that is commonly practiced in yoga. Ujjayi is an audible breath. It is often called "ocean breath." Breathe in and out through the nose as you slightly constrict the throat. Again the breath is slow and steady, three to four seconds in, and three to four seconds out. Ujjayi tones the immune and nervous systems, improving focus and so much more. 

Alternate Nostril Breathing; this form of pranayama looks and feels funny but it has many benefits. Use your right hand to alternate closing off the nostrils. Lightly press the thumb on the outside of the right nostril, the index and middle fingers rest on your third eye, inhale through the left nostril only. Now close off the left nostril with your ring finger, release the thumb and exhale through the right nostril. Repeat the process inhaling through the right and exhaling through the left. This makes one round. Remember...slow and steady. Begin with three rounds and increase as you get comfortable with the practice. Alternate nostril breathing brings balance to the body and the mind; it lowers the heart rate and relieves stress. 

Happy Breathing!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017


The practice of yoga is a deeply transformative experience that can change our life. If we decide to embark on the journey of yoga as a way of life, not simply as an exercise, transformation will materialize. Transformation can sometimes be difficult but the reward is unsurpassed. Yes we can transform our bodies by regular asana practice, but we can transform our entire life when we practice yoga off the mat every day. We can transform any limited belief about ourselves into awareness of our divine potential. By diligent awareness we can stay kind even in unpleasant situations, we can be considerate even when we feel harassed, and we can be truthful even when it hurts. This is living our yoga!

Transformation is not always difficult. Transformation can be a joy and a pleasure as natural as turning flour into mouthwatering bread or cake, raw vegetables in to a flavorful soup or turning dried tea leaves into an aromatic brew. 

Shirley stirs up a cake!

This month our Sassy Seniors transformed flour and sugar into cake. We sang as we stirred, "If I knew you were coming I'd have baked you a cake." I continue to learn a lot from these seniors. Every day is a new day for seniors with memory problems. Every moment is a new moment for them. While most of us struggle to stay "in the now" they quickly let go of the past. While some of us have a hard time forgiving they never seem to hold on to a grudge. While we may sometimes forget to be grateful they often smile and say thank you. - MM

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Burning Enthusiasm

Tapas often translates as discipline, however literally it means to burn. It evokes a sense of fiery discipline we can envision as burning enthusiasm. This  niyama refers to the focused and disciplined use of energy to actively pursue the aim of yoga; realization of the inner light of awareness. Tapas creates a flame which sustains and illuminates. With focused and disciplined enthusiasm we burn off physical, mental and emotional impurities that keep our inner light from shining bright. 

Our story; I practice with enthusiasm. 

Tapas is a tool for transformation. Because tapas has such a fiery connotation, it conjures an image of a hot, difficult yoga practice. Yet we don't want to burn out in the process of awakening! Perhaps it's the self-discipline to set aside a time to simply practice regularly. Then again, it could be the focus required to stay with the breath and see what arises in a long held posture. And we all know it takes focus and discipline to refine our negative thoughts, words, and habits both on and off the mat. 

As we move through life, we come to realize that any positive change or transformation we wish to make, requires a certain amount of consistent sustained energy...burning enthusiasm. From a yogic perspective, this is the practice of tapas!

We chose a yin yoga practice as our physical focus this month. In a typical yin class the postures are generally held for 3 to 5 minutes. It takes focus and discipline to stay in a pose for any length of time, as the mind and the body often complain! Yet when we practice with enthusiasm we can overcome outward discomforts and connect with something deeper within. Here are a couple of postures to try, if you are new to yin yoga begin with a 1 minute hold and add time as your enthusiasm for the practice begins to burn. 

Bridge Pose; Begin lying on your back, bend knees and bring feet close to the body hip width apart, arms alongside the body, palms facing the floor, inhale to prepare and exhale as you lift the hips and arch the back keeping the knees parrallel, the weight of the body is on the shoulders and the feet, hold the pose and breathe freely, exhale and release the pose by rolling the spine down slowly as you pull the belly in. 

Sphinx Pose; Begin lying on the belly legs stretched out hip-width apart. Arms are bent, elbows under your shoulders, forearms on the floor and parallel, middle fingers forward. Inhale and press your forearms into the floor lifting the head and chest. Press the pelvis into the floor and engage the legs, lengthening the spine. Gently pull the shoulders back, lifting the heart. Let your face and eyes soften, drawn the chin in. Hold for several breaths. To release, exhale as you lower to the floor, bring the arms alongside the body and turn your head to the side and rest. 

Mahalo, we serve. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Divine Devotion

We like to add an element of playfulness to our practice with our Sassy Seniors. This month we used doggie finger puppets as parts of our centering, as we sang along to "How much is that doggie in the window?" These seniors with memory issue often remember songs from back in the day!
Dogs can be remarkably devoted to those who care for them, which led us to consider Ishvara Pranidhana, divine devotion. Our story; I am devoted. 
Devoting yourself to something larger than your self can transform your yoga practice and your life. A major component of yoga is study of the self, however if we are only internalizing we run the risk of becoming egocentric. Ishvara pranidhana is an ideal counterpount; we study the divine within ourselves, the divine within all beings, and the Divine source within all things.
Devotion implies trust,  being open to the divine plan, how and where life takes you. Such devotion gives rise to grace. Devotion is an attitude that you carry with you, that you live your life with. Seeing the divine in all, being open, and gracious. 
Ishvara Pranidhana is one of 5 niyamas in the Yoga Sutras and is considered the zenith of the niyamas. It encourages us to live with wholehearted devotion to all of Divine creation, to see the light in every person, animal and inanimate object. Some may choose to practice Ishvara Pranidhana through daily prayer or meditation. By stilling the body and the mind we can connect with the Divine and open to grace. One can also practice by simply pausing to feel grateful. By sprinkling life with devotion, each and every moment can be transformed.  
It has been said that we live in an age in which all humanity has fallen away from grace. Ishvara Pranidhana initiates a shift of perspective that helps us receive grace, the grace of being alive. Because it connects us to the divine source it shifts our perspective from our narrow individual concerns. Awakening a devotion to the Divine source of life opens us to the divine in every moment, no matter what happens. 

Mahalo, we serve. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017


According to the yoga sutras, when contentment and gratitude are present, unexcelled happiness pervades our being.  This feeling of contentment is not the same as what we feel when we have everything we ever wanted in life in terms of possessions, a partner, and an ideal job.  Those things can all change.  True contentment comes from the understanding that who we really are at our core is that light of awareness that all being share. 

Gratefulness is a feeling of great joy with who we are and what we have. Ponder all that you have to be grateful for such as health, friends, community, and life. Think of the millions of people around the world who have so much less in comparison, yet are happy nevertheless.  {Nicolai Bachman}

We have learned a lot from our Sassy Seniors.  Even though they are dealing with severe memory issues, they still radiate contentment.  They are grateful for each meal served and savor the mealtime experience.  They appreciate the simple act of holding hands.   They are ever so grateful to receive a smile or a hug.  Those that can still walk do so with exuberance.  One man who no longer communicates plays beautiful music on the piano.  Another sings along with every song on our Yoga for Memory Care playlist.

Our Story; I am content. This month we found contentment as we sang along with Que sera, sera

"Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be"

Virginia and Ena find contentment.

We can all learn a few tips from these elders whose minds no longer serve them in the traditional sense but instead seem to have overcome the part of the mind most of us battle with; the ego mind of judgment, and discontentment. 

In South India there is a heartfelt way of expressing one's appreciation. Instead of saying "thank you," they say "Santosha (I am content.)"


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Eclipse Your Fears

Crescent Moon Side Stretch on a sunny day!

The U.S. is in for a rare astronomical treat on August 21st. It is the first total solar eclipse to cross the entire U.S. in 99 years. Everywhere the moon's full shadow hits the earth, bright daylight will turn to twilight. The sky, if it is clear, will shine faintly with stars. Winds will surge. The temperature will drop as much as 10 degrees. Birds, it has been reported, become frantic in advance of the encroaching darkness and then, eerily, turn quiet. For a brief few minutes, the sun's light, needed for life on earth, disappears.

This is a powerful time for yoga. A few moments of complete darkness during the day reminds us of our place in the cosmos - that we are a part of something much bigger than ourselves - one of the primary lessons in the Yoga Sutras.

 "An eclipse strips away all your worries. You feel connected to other people - regardless of where they are from or their political views. It transforms you." {Kate Russo} 

Our story this month is "I am Courageous." To celebrate the sun, moon and earth being in perfect alignment we are practicing a Sun, Moon and Earth Salutation Tuesdays in August at Gold's Gym in Breaux Bridge, 9:30 a.m. with the exception of August 22nd. With gratefulness I will be experiencing first contact on the Oregon coast. 


Moon Salutation

Begin in Mountain Pose, inhale rounding the arms overhead and bring your palms to touch.  Exhale and side stretch for Crescent Moon to the right; inhale back to center. Exhale to Goddess Pose, taking a wide stance and lowering into a squat while keeping your knees in line with your ankles. Inhale and straighten your legs, adjusting your feet, exhale as you transition to Extended Triangle Pose on the right. On your next inhale turn both feet to face right then exhale as you move your hands to the floor on either side of your front leg for Intense Stretch. From here, bend your front knee and find a High Lunge. Inhale, turn your back toes out, and shift your hips down and over your front ankle, coming into Side Lunge on the right. Walk your hands and feet to center and come into Low Squat. Transition to Side Lunge to the left and repeat the same poses on the left side, but in reverse order. End in Mountain Pose bringing your hands to your heart. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Cultivating Patience

"Adopt the pace of nature...her secret is patience."
                                     - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Flowers blossom beautifully when they are ready. 
Patience is being open to each moment and allowing things to unfold in their own time. Practicing patience allows us to let go of expectations and be here now. The physical focus of our practice this month is hip-openers. Cultivating patience is necessary to allow tight, stiff hips to open, soften and relax. Our story; I practice patience.
We live in a world of immediate gratification. We want everything right now! Yet, there is no way we can force flexibility. It takes patience. Impatience increases the possibility of poor decisions and in our yoga practice this can cause injury, and as most of us know impatience in our life causes stress. The physical practice of yoga gives us the opportunity to focus on patience and transfer the wisdom we receive into all aspects of our life. 
Here are a few things we might consider as we practice patience. 
  • Take a moment to check in; connect to the space, the body and the breath. What sensations do you notice? What thoughts do you notice?
  • When transitioning from one pose to another, remember that transitions are as important as the poses themselves; stay connected with your body and breath during transitions. 
  • Become aware of your gaze and try to keep it steady.
  • When in the pose find a place of balance between effort and ease. 
Yoga helps us cultivate patience in our practice and our lives. When we practice with patient persistence, transformation occurs. It is not about the pose but what we learn about our self while reaching for the pose. Yoga teaches us to be kind to ourselves, to let go of judgement and competition with ourselves and others. Be patient and your life as well as your yoga practice will unfold beautifully, each in their own time. 

Here are a couple of hip-opening postures to patiently practice with persistence, enjoy and allow them to unfold in time!

Om shanti

Wide Leg Child's Pose; begin sitting on your heels toes touching, bring the knees wide, inhale and sit tall, exhale and fold forward from the hips extending the arms out in front of you. Stay here for several breaths. To release the pose slowly return to sitting tall. 

Pigeon Pose; come on to all 4's. Slide your right knee between your hands. Extend your left left straight back, with the front of the thigh, the knee, the shin, and the top of the foot resting on the floor. If your right hip does not rest on the floor use a pillow or rolled blanket for support. Press down on your hands as you roll the shoulders back and down, lifting the chest and the chin ever so slightly. Stay here for several breaths. Push back into all 4's and repeat on the other side. 

Friday, June 30, 2017

Walking the Royal Road

There are many paths one can take on this adventure through the jungles of space and time, however in yoga they all start at the Royal Road. The Royal Road begins with 8 steps. These 8 steps lead one down a pathway of conscious transformation. The most difficult part is taking the first shaky steps on the path, but if you do perhaps someday it will lead you home.
Patanjali's 8 steps, called "The Yoga Sutras," lead aspiring yogis on the path of a beautifully balanced and holistic life. If one decides to embark on this journey, improved health, greater awareness and mental clarity are a few of the changes that will most likely occur. The further one travels along this road the more profound the changes. 
The Royal Road is a path that can lead to self-awareness. Focusing on becoming more mindful in our thoughts, words, and actions can help us to make better choices, and bring us closer to living an enlightened life. 
The following is a brief summary of the 8 steps. 
Yamas; moral restraints
Niyamas; moral observances
Asana; steady posture
Pranayama; control of vital energy through breath work
Pratyahara; releasing attachments
Dharana; concentration
Dhyana; meditation
Samadhi; self-awareness, enlightenment
The yamas and the niyamas are universal truths. The yamas are often considered "thou-must-nots" and are the guidelines of our relationships with others. The niyamas are "thou-musts" and they give us a foundation on which to build our relationship with ourselves. 
The next steps are asana and pranayama. Asana strengthens and purifies the body leading to radiant health. Pranayama, control of the breath, awakens vital energy which can lead to higher levels of consciousness. 
Practicing asana and pranayama may very well set you on the path to the Royal Road. The yamas and the niyamas can keep you steady and grounded on the path. Finally you may want to explore the inner world of pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi, that can ultimately bring about self-awareness, peace, and joy. 
Continuing on the path of the Royal Road will help us to develop awareness while keeping us focused on the journey, allowing life to expand joyfully.
The Sassy Seniors joined our adventure through the jungles of space and time. Our story; Walking the Royal Road. 
Science has now proven that yoga is good for the body and the MIND!
Scientist used to think that the brain always degenerated with age. However, now we know the brain and nervous system are continuously regenerating. The brain's ability to change is known as neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the brain's capacity to create new neural pathways.
Creating new neural pathways strengthen new ways of being. Areas of the brain that are active in cognitive function are active during movement. Yoga can help train the brain!
For seniors with memory care issues, focusing on the gentle movements of yoga; lifting the legs, opening the arms, flexing the fingers, and taking deep breaths help build new neural pathways. These simple movements enhance seniors' ability to perform daily activities, allowing life to expand joyfully.  
Om shanti

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Forward Bends and Backbends

Our spine moves in four different directions, flexion; folding forward, extension; folding backward, rotation; twisting from side to side and lateral flexion; side bending. This month we are focusing on two of our spinal directions, forward bends and backward bends. In yoga a backbend provides a nice counter pose to a forward bend, practicing both creates a balance in the spine. Executing both forward bends and backbends can balance out not only our spine but also our emotions. 

Our story this month; I am strong and flexible. 

Forward Bends create length and space in the spine, counteracting compression. Forward bends are relaxing and calming. After a hard day, we can surrender into a forward fold and release whatever we may need to let go of. Alignment is key. The action is to fold at the hip crease, bringing the top of the pelvis forward. Lengthen the front of the body as you fold. Props are your friends. Use blocks in standing forward bends if your hands don't reach the floor easily. Bolster your seat with blankets for sitting forward folds and grab a strap to reach your feet. Don't force it. Forward bends are not about how deep you can go but rather how deeply you can release. "Less is more."

Backbends improve your posture by bending the spine in a direction it isn't use to. It can also help open the shoulders and strengthen the back. It's best to warm up the body before executing backbends by stretching the shoulders, quads, and psoas. Backbends are rejuvenating and energizing. If we are feeling tired and slow, joyfully sinking into a slow backbend can bring our exuberance back. As backbends open the chest and upper body they stimulate the Heart chakra allowing us to open more fully in our lives, our emotions, and in our relationships. 

Our spines offer us an incredible combination of strength and flexibility. May you be strong and flexible in body, mind, and heart. 

Cobra Pose is a deep upper backbend. This pose is more difficult than it looks. Lie down on your belly. Feet are flat and separated a bit. Press the hipbones down into the mat. Energize the legs by pressing the feet flat, tightening the thighs and stretching back through the legs and feet. Press down on your hands as your lift the torso. Roll your shoulders up and back while energetically pulling back on the hands. Hug the elbows in. Keep the back of the neck long and gaze at the ground. Pay attention to how you feel in this pose and allow yourself freedom and joy. 

Head to Knee Pose is a seated forward bend that helps calm the mind. Sit on the ground with both legs extended straight in front of you. Bend the right leg and place the sole of the right foot against the inner edge of the left thigh. Inhale and lengthen the spine. Exhale and fold at the hip. Catch hold of the left foot with both hands. If you cannot reach your foot use a strap.  Although the pose is called Head to Knee Pose, movement is forward toward the foot, not downward to the knee. Take a few slow deep breaths. Allow the mind to become calm. Slowly sit up and repeat the pose on the other side.