Introduction to Yoga: Session 3

man-3687274.jpg

Introduction to Yoga: Session 3

Idea: Movement as Nutrition

This idea has been informing my work for almost a year, since being introduced to the work of Katy Bowman. I highly suggest her book “Movement Matters” and checking out her website: Nutritious Movement (click to link). Essentially, Bowman invites us to think of movement as distinct from exercise, which we perform in one hour blocks at the gym. Instead, she encourages us to engage in movement throughout the day, in ways that nourish us, such as dog walking or dancing in our living rooms, and that those movements will then nourish us.

Layers not Levels

I find it useful to think of modifying yoga poses through the notion of layers, not levels. Levels taps us into the strong, yet covert cultural idea of competition. We are trained to reach towards the highest level through meritocracy and capitalism. This is often subconscious. Instead, reimagining yoga as a series of layers that you apply when appropriate (readiness, capacity, energy, etc) will help you to carefully consider where you should be in a pose based on comfort in your body.

My invitation is to practice within your own comfortable edge. See poster below to self assess.

Comfortable Edge .jpg

Sensory Meditation

Practice Noticing through your Senses… come to your senses frequently as a technique to ground, to centre, to practice being in the present moment.

This meditation as a practice is simple. Find a comfortable position, either lying, seated or standing. Relax your joints, calm your mind and focus first on your breath. Once you have surrendered into this moment, allow your attention to rest on your senses.

Begin with your eyes. If your eyes are closed, notice residual patterns that can develop on the backs of your eyelids. If it doesn’t feel safe or comfortable to close your eyes, let your gaze (in yoga we call this Drishti) puddle on the floor in front of you. What patterns emerge as you relax your eyes?

Next work with your aural sense. Swallowing will help to open up your ears. Notice what you hear before and after you swallow. Listen to the sounds in the room, and listen for the sounds beyond the room. Listen even more deeply to hear your breath, and perhaps even your heartbeat.

Notice any scent that lingers in the air. Concentrate on opening your nostrils as you inhale, as though you were smelling a fragrant flower or meal. Take it in. Pause, and breathe in again, and see if you can sense any other smells that surround you, including any scents that may linger on your clothes or in your hair.

Next, swallow again, but this time notice any ambient taste that may be in your mouth. You may have brushed your teeth, just finished a meal or coffee, just notice what taste is there. Run your tongue over your teeth and roof of mouth. Does that change any sensation of taste at all?

Finally, notice your clothing on your skin. Feel how the fabric clings or drapes, and notice any areas of constriction or flow. Then notice any skin that is not covered. See if you can detect the sensation of air upon your skin, notice your face, hands, feet, any part of you that is exposed.

Now aim to take in all your senses at once, as a sense garden. Just as you may enjoy looking at a bank of diverse flowers, you may also enjoy the diversity of senses at once. Do any of your senses seem more developed? Can you imagine taking time to develop ones that you feel less connected to? What gifts may await you with a deeper sense perception?

Block between thighs for internal femur rotation

Photo Credit:  http://yogaforhealthyaging.blogspot.com/2016/05/featured-pose-mountain-pose.html   Tadasana, or Mountain Pose is an active pose. Begin by feeling the four corners of your feet, then apply some pressure into your feet as through rooting into the earth. This will provide a sensation of lifting upwards. Stack your joints; knees over ankles, hips over knees, shoulders over hips. Starting at the ankles, like a water line, begin firming muscle to bone, wrapping the skeleton with flesh, aiming in towards the midline of the body. Don’t over do the pose, but activate your muscles enough that you feel solid, rooted, grounded, with an uplifting sensation. Draw the heart upwards, as you neutralize the pelvis, standing without tucking the tail, nor flaring it behind you.  Let your head float, like a balloon at the end of a string, with a free neck and lightness in the crown.  An easy way to learn now to hold tadasana is to but a block in between your legs. This will give your body something to firm against. Applying inner thigh pressure to a block also has the added benefit of causing a subtle internal rotation of the thighs (femur bones) which widens the sacrum and creates a stable base with an upward sensation. I also suggest turning the palms to face forward as an internal cue to draw the scapula (shoulder blades) towards each other on the back body. This will open the chest and realign the thoracic spine.  Stand tall and proud, majestic like a mountain. Notice if your perspective shifts as you feel taller, and aligned.

Photo Credit: http://yogaforhealthyaging.blogspot.com/2016/05/featured-pose-mountain-pose.html

Tadasana, or Mountain Pose is an active pose. Begin by feeling the four corners of your feet, then apply some pressure into your feet as through rooting into the earth. This will provide a sensation of lifting upwards. Stack your joints; knees over ankles, hips over knees, shoulders over hips. Starting at the ankles, like a water line, begin firming muscle to bone, wrapping the skeleton with flesh, aiming in towards the midline of the body. Don’t over do the pose, but activate your muscles enough that you feel solid, rooted, grounded, with an uplifting sensation. Draw the heart upwards, as you neutralize the pelvis, standing without tucking the tail, nor flaring it behind you.

Let your head float, like a balloon at the end of a string, with a free neck and lightness in the crown.

An easy way to learn now to hold tadasana is to but a block in between your legs. This will give your body something to firm against. Applying inner thigh pressure to a block also has the added benefit of causing a subtle internal rotation of the thighs (femur bones) which widens the sacrum and creates a stable base with an upward sensation. I also suggest turning the palms to face forward as an internal cue to draw the scapula (shoulder blades) towards each other on the back body. This will open the chest and realign the thoracic spine.

Stand tall and proud, majestic like a mountain. Notice if your perspective shifts as you feel taller, and aligned.

Ujjayi or Ocean Breath

This is a really simple, succinct and brief explanation of Ujjayi or Ocean Breath. The woman teaching the practice does also refer to this as Breath of Fire, which, in my opinion, it is not. However, this may just be how she is describing the internal heat that it can produce. Breath of Fire is an entirely different breathing pattern and is not recommended for beginners. This Ocean sounding breath is safe for everyone, though it does take a bit of practice to get. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Peak Pose: Intro to Warrior 1

Warrior 1.jpg

Photo Credit: https://www.yogabycandace.com/blog/how-to-do-warrior-one

Our peak post in Session 3 was Warrior 1. I like the Yoga by Candace Site, as she has many informational graphics that do a splendid job of highlighting safe alignment points with clear photos. Check out her site here: Yoga by Candace or if you just want to see her educational graphic images, try her on Pinterest where they are all arranged for you. Have fun looking around.

Quote: Intention is the pathway out of habit.