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!