Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Row, row, row your boat...

 Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream, 
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, 
Life is but a dream.                                                         

Oh, the wisdom of a nursery rhyme! What a simple yet profound message about this adventure called life. 
Row, row, row your boat...reminds us to be mindful of the present moment. Which is not always easy but we do get better as we practice. There is nothing other than the present moment so if we don't pay attention we'll miss everything. No one else can row our boat for us, we must each experience life's lessons on our own. This is what our yoga practice is about. It brings focus and attention to the movements of the body and the breath and in turn promotes mindful awareness to the rest of our life. 
Gently down the stream...when the attention to the present moment wavers we drift into the flotsam and jetsam of life where are arms grow weary as we struggle with our troubles. It is vital that we go gently with the flow, not against the stream with resistance. Our problems arise when we drift away from the present moment, when we look back or too far ahead. Seeing where we are and learning to accept what is, moment to moment, with mindfulness will bring us back into the current. 
Merrily, merrily, merrily, is meant to be joyful. The result of rowing your boat gently down the stream is happiness. Now we can relax, perhaps even lie back in the boat, feel the lull of the water and enjoy the view!

Life is but a incredible dream. Yoga leads us to mindful awareness of this incredible dream. 
Our story this month for the sassy seniors; Rowing Gently Down the Stream. 

Heart Hug Twists
Kirtan Kriya 

The practice offered the same benefits as rowing a boat, we worked the arms, legs, core and back as we brought mindful awareness to each movement with the breath. Full, deep breaths that come from our core keep us centered, balanced and stable.
One of the goals of yoga is to promote body awareness. Body awareness and mindfulness of the breath are important to everyone especially seniors with memory issues. The more one practices, the more one's focus improves and as we bring these techniques into our everyday life we gain a greater appreciation for this incredible ability to move and breath and dream!
Mahalo we serve, 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Timid and Skeets get Stuck in a Briar Patch

It was hot and humid, the air still and stagnant. Soft grey clouds hung overhead, threatening a rain shower before the day would be done. Timid and Skeets sat upon the big, black beast as the Cajun One led them through the swampy bottomland woods. Could they trust him?

They were searching for the elusive place. History told of the ancients sharing treasures found there. Timid and Skeets gripped the burly beast, holding on with all their might. Perils lay all around. What would they discover?

The beast moved swiftly, it was husky and strong yet agile. It barreled over dry, fallen branches; it knocked down sturdy, green saplings. It plowed through wet, soggy sloughs. Skeets pitched side to side, "Maybe we should turn back," she cried. The Cajun One continued on. "This is the way," he claimed. Timid clutched tightly to Skeets, ducking under a dangling vine that almost wacked her in the eye. 

Suddenly the beast stopped, they were stuck in a briar patch. They couldn't go over it, they couldn't go under it, they couldn't go through it, they would have to go around it. They sat motionless. Not a sound could be heard in the swampy bottomland woods. Then came a buzzing, the dreaded maringouins! The venomous vermin began to swarm. Timid and Skeets batted at them as the Cajun One surveyed an alternate route.

The beast took off. Soon the path opened up into a wide meadow. The sun emerged, butterflies flitted from flower to flower and there before them was the elusive place. It was just as they had imagined. 

This yoga storytelling adventure reminded us of the yama Asteya, which is usually translated as non-stealing. The yamas are ethical guidelines that we strive to practice as yogis. While this yama may seem straightforward, don't take things that don't belong to you, it has several meanings and depth. To steal expresses lack of faith in oneself, not trusting our own potential to create what we desire. 

Trust can be tough! One of the keys to practicing Asteya is to trust that we already have everything we need. Though it doesn't always feel that way, we do have everything we need inside of us to do what we need to do; strength, flexibility, acceptance...whatever we might need in the moment. Asteya asks us to move through life with awareness, to look inside and trust. When we discover this elusive place inside of us and trust it, we suffer less. 

Thanks Pam and David, we enjoyed the time!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Core Strength Supports Me

Yoga builds core strength! Yes it does, inner and outer core strength. Your breath is a key element to working with your core. On the inhale the core softens and expands, and on the exhale it firms and contracts. As you breath out you compact the body's core allowing it to move as one unit initiated by the belly. The core is not one specific muscle though, but a range of muscles that work together to support your spine and pelvis. Your core provides balance and stability. 
Many people have a limited perspective on core strength. Think, "six pack abs". This is the rectus abdominus - the most superficial abdominal muscle that creates the appearance of a six-pack. We don't often think of the deeper transverse abdominus muscle which provides constant strength and stability.
Image result for transverse abdominis
And what about the respiratory diaphragm? This muscle is truly at the core of the body. The diaphragm is the core muscle that initiates every breath. It separates the thoracic cavity from the abdominal cavity. Our breath is our connection to life, and when this connection is unrestricted and strong, we are stronger, physically and mentally. 
The physical focus of our practice this month was a balanced approach to core strength. From a yogic perspective, our core is who we are; therefore the broader focus was finding a deep inner strength that supports everything we do. Our story; Core strength supports me. 
We began with belly breathing. You can do this siting in easy pose or reclining in relaxation pose. Place your hands on your lower belly and notice the belly rise on the inhalation and sink on the exhalation. Keep the inhales and exhales the same length. Let the breath be unrestricted and the belly relaxed. 
The belly is considered to be our center of power, our core. Breathing into the belly will bring focused strength into your practice. Imagine the inhalation as an act of deep inner core strength, and the exhale as an act of outer core strength. Stay here for a few minutes then try the following poses to build inner and outer core strength. 
Triangle to Floating Triangle; a simple but challenging pose

From Triangle move into Floating Triangle by bringing both arms closer together reaching out from the shoulders to the fingertips, palms facing, hold for 3 breaths. Return to standing and repeat on the opposite side. 
One leg Plank with a Crunch

Level 1; from table pose, inhale and lift the left foot, exhale and bring your knee in towards your chin pulling the belly in tight for a crunch. Inhale and straighten the leg behind you, exhale knee to chin. Repeat 5 times then switch sides. Remember the breath!
Level 2; from plank pose, inhale and lift the left foot, hold for 1 breath then exhale and bring the left knee to the left elbow for a side crunch. Inhale to extend, exhale knee to elbow. Repeat 5 times then switch sides.
Know that you can find deep core strength anytime. You have the ability to focus attention on the breath and guide the mind away from worries or other distractions. May you develop a strong and steady breath as you focus on a core strength practice that balances traditional fitness of abdominal strength with deep inner strength. 
Mahalo, we serve.