Spring has finally sprung for real here in New Hampshire! Everything is blooming, the trees are getting those tiny little bright green leaves that give us a hint of things to come and everything and everyone is coming back to life. This is one of my favorite seasons and the perfect time to get outside and enjoy all of Mother Nature's beauty. And it's a perfect opportunity to practice meditation. Here's how…Read More
No one wants the flu. That would just be crazy. I got it (again) this year and it knocked me out of work for a week! I had all the classic symptoms and it took my fever 5 days to break even with early treatment. So why on earth would I tell you that it has actually been a bit of a blessing??!Read More
Sun Salutations seem to be ubiquitous in yoga. You may think that they must be thousands of years old but the truth is they're actually a fairly recent development in our asana practice. So what's the value in this seemingly repetitive and simplistic series of postures?Read More
We're finally drawing to the end of winter weather here in New England and as I watch ya'll come into the studio I can tell it's taken its toll. Everyone seems to have been sick in the last couple of months (myself included!). Energy is low all around, even with the stirrings of spring. What to do to get yourself back in the swing of things so you can head outside and start to enjoy everything the warmer weather and the new season provides?
Spring is in the air (or at least it is on the calendar... gotta love New England!)! You may be feeling the stirring of wanting to get out side, in the garden or out on the hiking trail. You may even be thinking about doing some spring cleaning inside your home, releasing the clutter that may have built up over the long cold winter.Read More
Part of the true practice of yoga is being with the present moment exactly as it is. That's all well and good until the present moment isn't exactly what we'd like it to be!Read More
Just like your desk at work can get cluttered with all those papers and sticky notes and to do lists, your mind can get cluttered up too. That's why the "brain dump" can be so effective at relieving stress!Read More
I continue to hear from many of you that controlling stress and anxiety and taking care of yourself are a main focus for 2018. You are not alone! This is one of the wonderful things about marking a new year; we get to rededicate ourselves to something important.
Here's a simple breathing technique that might help. We tend to think that in order to help ourselves the solutions need to be complicated or involve a complex sequence of steps. The truth is that it can be as simple as conscious breathing. That's not to say that you'll never be stressed out again if you do this technique! As we all know, life happens! But what we can do is make sure our toolbox is full and our practice is steady so we can reach for the right tool in that moment of anxiety.
Here's how it works:
Lay on your back with one hand or both hands on your low belly just as you see above. Do your best to breathe through your nose, but know if you're a bit congested you can always breathe through the mouth. Close your eyes if comfortable and focus on your breath. As you breathe in, direct the breath down into the hand on your belly and allow your belly to expand so it lifts your hand up to the sky. As you exhale, let it all fall back toward the earth. Continue like this for several breaths. It may take a few tries to get your belly to relax enough to really fill with the breath. Don't get frustrated, just keep going.
That alone is a wonderful practice and could be complete in itself!
If you'd like to take it a step or two further, try this:
Shift one hand to your rib cage. Now when you inhale, expand the belly just as you've been doing but then continue that expansion into your ribs and the hand that's there. Feel the ribs move out into your hand. On the exhale, reverse the process. Ribs draw in first, then the belly deflates.
Repeat that several times.
If you'd like to go one last step further, shift a hand to your heart center or center of the chest area, just above your breastbone. Now breathe into the belly just as you have, the ribs just as you have and then see if you can find one last little sip of air under your collarbones. Again you'll exhale in reverse, so the chest releases followed by the ribs and then the belly. Do this for several breaths.
When you're finished, let the breath return to normal for several breaths before you roll onto your right side and come up to sit. Take a moment there before moving on.
This is called three part breath and is a wonderful way to help calm mind, body and spirit when life is a bit tense. You can do this in bed before you go to sleep or even when you first wake up in the morning. If you notice you get a bit light headed at first it should pass, but just let the breath work go if it gets uncomfortable and try again at another time.
When you finish the practice, pause to notice the difference in your body, mind and perhaps even spirit.
I see out there in the world through social media and other avenues that one thing people are looking to do with their intentions for the new year is bring stress and anxiety under control. Here's one of my favorite techniques from my yoga practice for doing just that:
Now is the perfect time for a little reflection. We tend to do it this time of year anyway, even if not in a formal way. Looking inward is a key part of the yogic journey. We must look at ourselves with eyes wide open if we wish to grow.Read More