Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Yoga for Sleep and Relaxation

How do we wobble?  Why can't we relax?  Why does sleep elude us?  Perhaps we need to take our yoga off the mat and into our sleep.

Find contentment.  Gandhi said, "We get caught in the peripheries of life.  Do not lose your center.  Hold fast to the peace in the middle.  Let go of the peripheries of life."  
Stop looking over the fence and competing, comparing, gossiping.  Why not fall in love with what we already have?  Someone looks at us cross-eyed, or doesn't acknowledge us, it can throw us off center and out of contentment.  We are disturbed when our plans do not turn out, or someone lets us down.  Noticing where we are by asking ourselves, "What is it?"  "Where am I?"  Why am I hurting or angry or discontented?"
Embrace contentment.  Embrace the wave of change. Embrace the peace and toleration of the extremes of life without wobbling.  
The practice of gratitude keep us from wobbling.  Follow peace.  If you find no peace, sit with it, get quiet, go for a nature walk alone, until you do.

Do you find it difficult to relax or have trouble sleeping?
According to the American Psychological Association, much of your stress may be attributed to: “ineffective coping mechanisms that appear to be ingrained in our culture, perpetuating unhealthy lifestyles and behaviors for future generations."
The fact that many Americans struggle to cope with their stress probably doesn't come as much of a surprise. We've all been exposed to the crushing burden of feeling that there is never enough time in the day to get everything done. Between juggling kids, work and other responsibilities, our to-do list can seem never-ending. Many of us spend our days running from one place to another, always trying to get ahead.
As a result, our mind can be so agitated from the day-to-day grind, that it can seem nearly impossible to get calm and relaxed, even in our downtime. This can leave us tossing and turning all night. But if you're able to shift some things around in your routine, there are plenty of simple things you can do to find relief. Whether it's spending more time outside, hanging out with friends by candlelight, or curling up in a soft chair at a local coffee shop, there are plenty of ways to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life. And since it's not always possible to change your external circumstances, it's carving out those few moments each day that can create big changes within, decreasing your overall stress. The practice of Yoga Nidra and other forms of guided relaxation, can release muscle tension, lower blood pressure, slow down the heart rate and regulate breathing.

​Ideas for helpful sleep and Yoga Nidra:
  • 61 Points for Meditation - starting with a the crown of the head "Relax and release" each body point imagining a cool blue light in each part from the head to the toes on each side of the body."
  • Mantra for Positive thinking (the mind must have something to think about)
    • "Breathing in, I breathe in peace; breathing out, I breathe out calm."
    • Body Scan Mantra
      • My arms and legs are heavy and warm. (repeat each section three times, then just the last three words three more times)  "Heavy and warm, heavy and warm, heavy and warm..."
      • My heartbeat and breath are steady and calm.  "Steady and calm, steady and calm, steady and calm..."
      • My forehead and jawline are cool and released.  "Cool and released, cool and released, cool and released..."
      • My neck and shoulders are letting go.  "Letting go, letting go, letting go..."
      • ​My fingers and toes are relaxed and at ease.  "Relaxed and at ease, relaxed, at ease, relaxed, at ease..."  
      • My belly and back are soft and supported. "Soft and supported, soft and supported, soft and supported..."
      • My hips and sacrum are free and easy.  "Free and easy, free and easy, free and easy..."
      • My mind is calm and at peace.  "Calm and at peace, calm and at peace, calm and at peace..."
      • My emotions are quiet and at rest.  "Quiet and at rest, quiet, at rest, quiet, at rest..."
      • My spirit is one with God.  "One with God, one with God, one with God..."
    • Tighten and Release
      • Each body part lift a few inches, tighten the muscle, and intentionally relax the muscle
      • Notice if you could be five to ten percent more comfortable and adjust.  I always recommend the knees higher than the hips while lying down and seated - the knees lower than the hips.
      • Soothe, soften, and allow
        • soothe with a quiet, gentle touch
        • soften with an exhalation - cooling breath
        • allow what is to be without trying to fix it or create change
    • Tonglen Meditation
      • Say a prayer of dedication
      • Breathe in the feelings of anger, discontentment, frustration, suffering of any type (or someone else's suffering)
      • Imagine it as a dark cloud or puff of smoke, heavy or hot air
      • ​Breathe out the letting go process by releasing the feeling and changing it to a positive emotion
      • Imagine it as a light, white, fluffy cloud of healing
      • Continue as long as needed until the darkness decreases and the light increases.
    • ​Focus, Flow, and Let Go
      • Focus on the breath - especially the exhalation
      • Flow with the breath - feel the chest and abdomen rise and fall with each in-breath and out-breath
      • Let go of each thought that arises
    • ​Metta Meditation (continue saying it over youself, then add in loved ones, acquaintances, colleagues, and even those people who have hurt or harmed you)
      • May I be happy and have the causes of happiness
      • May I be healthy in my body, soul, and spirit
      • May I be safe, free from harm
      • May I be at peace​
These are some of the techniques that I personally use​ to help me as I need to go to sleep or awaken before it is time to get up.  May you be blessed by these techniques.  Remember sleep and relaxation are healing to the body and mind. Too much multi-tasking robs us of the ability to be present and concentrate.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

BANISH Belly Fat! Let go of stress (fear), eat "live" food, sleep better, tone the core muscles, drink more water, breathe in and especially out slowly, and laugh!

Banishing belly fat is something all of us are interested in; try these poses at home or in our gentle/beginners' noon class at Tranquility Yoga in Owasso!

Start off on your back with anterior and posterior tilts for the lower back extension and flexion.

Move into bridge by lifting the hips and pointing the knees toward the second toes.

Bridge Pose on the Floor (shown above)

Spinal Balance (shown above)

On the exhale, elbow to knee (Spinal Balance "aka Bird Dog" with a Crunch)

Always use a blanket or knee pad, to protect the knee as you come into Gate Pose.

Gate Pose for lateral stretch (shown above)

Modified Side Plank (shown above)

Moving back to your seated position, move into a modified or extended boat.

Beginner's Boat (shown above)

Ways to Modify Boat (shown above)

UPP - Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (hands under a sandbag)

Movement with UPP (bend knee for back problems and use one leg at a time)

Transition with Downward Facing Dog and step one foot forward.  Blocks are handy to help bring the foot to the top of the mat.

Low Lunge (shown above in our studio)
Then Twisted Lunge (modified just place opposite hand on knee to twist)

Coming to a standing position in Mountain Pose; prepare for chair squats with left arm underneath and right arm crossed over.  

Super Brain Yoga (shown above)

Standing after doing the lunge on both sides, it's time to balance!

Karate Kid Balancing Pose (shown above)

Moving back to the floor on your belly, remember to not allow clenching of the hips to create back pain.

Half Locust or Superman for Beginners (shown above)

Full Locust (much more difficult, but no tension in the back)

Grab some props and let's relax!

Child's Pose to release any back tension (begin to slow down the breath)

Time to rest, relax, and restore!  SHHHHhhhhh....It's a nap.  No talking.  (:

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Yoga Etiquette for All

14 Yoga Etiquette Tips I Recommend in a Yoga Studio

1 ~Be Punctual to Every Class

Thank you for practicing with us and coming about 15 minutes before class begins! It is a blessing to have you.  While we realize traffic issues, babysitting problems, and job requirements may require you to be late occasionally.  Please make punctuality a priority.  Your understanding with parking as Brian recommends is also appreciated. He is wonderful to help you in any way.

2 ~ Mind Personal Hygiene  
Clean mats, clean bodies, and clean clothes all contribute to the Niyama Saucha or purity.  Thank you for coming clean!
3 ~ Minimize Conversation. Or Go silent altogether.
Please leave your conversations in the reception area and minimize in the studio. Some people enjoy a quiet time before class begins to get grounded and in the moment.  Be friendly, but use a whisper or soft voice.  Thank you for welcoming every one, and for using a quiet voice.
4 ~ Turn Off all Electronics before Class
There are no cell phones in the studio.  Thank you for turning your phone to silent or off and leaving it in the reception room cubicles.  We appreciate you understanding that we all need to find that quiet and stillness without interruptions.  Brian is happy to watch your phone if you are a physician or on call.
5 ~ Wear Appropriate Yoga Clothing
Yoga clothing is appropriate.  Socks are a little scary due to the polished concrete floor.  Lots of skin appeal may be more comfortable at home.  Thank you for being comfortably clothed for movement and respect for others.
6 ~ Remove Shoes Outside
The Tranquility Yoga Studio has a radiant heated (water pipes underneath) type of flooring.  Due to the moisture and the heat, we chose to use polished concrete instead of bamboo flooring.  Thank you for leaving your shoes outside the studio in the reception room cubicles.
7 ~ Go Easy on Perfume and Cologne
We are all somewhat sensitive to smells.  At Tranquility Yoga we use Young Living Essential Oils as fragrance to protect our people's issues with asthma and sinus problems.  Thank you for going easy on the personal fragrances.
8 ~ Enter with a Positive Attitude
When you enter, expect a wonderful class.  Your positive attitude is contagious.  Yes, I realize that some yoga poses are difficult and not your personal favorites, but your teacher has worked long hours to prepare the best class possible.  Modify as needed. Thank you for kind words, kind smiles, and kind appreciation.
9 ~ No gum, No candy, No food.
OOPS!  Gum was stuck to the studio floor early this morning after yesterday's classes.  Thank you for leaving your gum, your candy, and your food in the reception area or trash compactor.
10 ~ Respect the Teacher
Nobody is perfect.  However, our teachers are all well trained and with yoga certifications.  Please overlook when we say, "Use right hand instead of left," or "Please turn to one side," and we have already been there.  Thank your for respecting the role of the teacher in the sadhana or yoga practice.
11 ~ Observe Silence during Savasana
Nap time as some call it or resting in the last 5-8 minutes of class is the reward for your hard work.  Thank you for not talking during this time.  Snoring is permitted.  
12 ~Always Thank the Teacher
I learned this very important rule from my teacher at YSA.  Always, always, always thank the instructor.  We take it personal because it is "personal."  We put our very best into every class we teach.  Thank you for remembering the courtesy of saying you appreciated the hard work of teaching.
13 ~ Clean Up Immediate Area
Everyone is so good with this cleaning up, and it is a blessing to us!  However, if you are in a hurry to leave to make an appointment, let the teacher know before class.  We are always happy to help.  Thank you for your tidying up!
14 ~ Sign In and Pay without a Reminder
While this studio is attached to our home, it is Jeanne's full time job to maintain the bookkeeping, teach the classes, clean the restroom and studio, wash the cloths, and oversee the schedule of over 30 classes.  Thank you for signing in and paying without skipping out or trying to use an already expired card.  Your faithfulness with our practice here at Tranquility keeps us adding to the class times and making plans to add another studio.