Sunday, January 23, 2011

Twelve Commandments (reading new book called The Happiness Project)

One thing that I have always longed to do is join a book club. My precious daughter, Jennifer, belongs to one in Connecticut and has always encouraged me to join one. She enjoys it immensely even though she is a busy mom, wife, and R.N. Since I am a voracious reader and love to write as well, I joined a new club via Facebook that Tracy started.

Then, one early Sunday morning I decided to get up and read The Happiness Project. I thought that I should make my Twelve Commandments to fit myself and my life. This would be a great way to complement my book reading and comment on the blog. Read on at the end to see the funny thing that happened on the way to setting up my 12 Commandments...Whew! What a blessing!

Here are my twelve commandments for Jeanne Kay Doss (some are similar to Gretchen Rubin's in her book).
1. Stop obsessing about doing a good job. "Practice makes permanent, not perfect."
2. Let go of ego-attachments; they only cause suffering. "Liberation or enlightenment is not a thing to be attained or acquired. It is living in the moment from the most profound understanding and without egoic attachment to anything."
3. Live in the present moment without rehearsing the past or worrying over the future. "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."
4. Keep learning. "The more I know just reveals to me the more I don't know."
5. Live the Magic Triad. A kind smile, a kind word, and a kind touch. "Great Expectation 17 practices" Love others is one of the two great commandments that Jesus gave us.
6. Clean away! Some people don't mind that you are a "clean freak." Brian always says, "He knew the job was dangerous when he took it."
7. Grow old gracefully. "Grow old along with me; the best is yet to be!"
8. Stop worrying about what I think. "It can exhilarating or it can be frightening. You soon learn that you are not your feelings, that you can survive your feelings, and that you can empower yourself in healthful ways."
9. Pray more - give advice less to your older children. All five are adults and want to be treated as such. "The more I pray - the less I say makes me a better mom and bonus mom." God forbid that I should be a bad mother-in-law either. I always have wanted to be their best supporter and prayer partner.
10. Play like there is no tomorrow when it comes to my grandchildren. There will always be more on my to-do list, but it never compares to playing with Abby, Ben, Ava Grace, and new baby Hannah Emma Rachel Rebekah Claire Sophia. Stay tuned to find out what new baby Chiodo will be.
11. It is okay to be SO passionate about yoga. Even though some people think it is just easy stretching, I know how awesome it makes me feel. "Yoga not only makes you feel slimmer, it also changes you from the inside out so that you experience life in a whole new way."
12. Be Jeanne Kay Doss. I am not a fake and tell way too much of the truth way too often, but it is really okay to just be me. Pop always said, "Jeanne Kay, you are a Doss now. Be who you really are! Stop apologizing." I miss him every day for he had a unique way to make you feel that you were the only one in the room while he was talking to you.

If I could add one more it would probably be, like Gretchen's, a secret of adulthood...Laugh more often, live every moment as if there was no tomorrow, and love beyond words - just do it.

The new laughing moment came when I had this "aha" moment to write my 12 commandments, I had to log on to my g-mail account. I totally forgot I had one for Tranquility Yoga and had 21 MESSAGES! This might not seem huge to some people, but some of these people really WANT to have me teach them yoga. I never knew until today when I checked this account for the very first time. Please forgive if I have ignored your message; I will be calling you today to tell you how AWESOME yoga is and not be embarrassed on how passionate I am about it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Root Chakra - Chakracize with us for the next 49 days!

All seven chakras are strengthened, developed, and activated through yoga. Chakra yoga combines the two aspects of hatha yoga (which focuses on the health and welfare of the physical body) and kundalini yoga (which tends to be a more spiritual type of energizing).

The techniques of chakra yoga promote the flow of energy in the subtle body and nourish the chakras which are like energy wheels from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. When energy circulates freely through the body, positive effects occur and relieve us of blockages that we may have incurred in our lifetimes. To strengthen one of your chakras, you should follow the program for that chakra for seven days and then begin the next series for the next one going up the spine. This chakra cleansing takes 49 days as we have seven chakras. They are as follows: root chakra (muladhara), sacral chakra (svadhisthana), solar plexus chakra (manipura), heart chakra (anahata), throat chakra (vishuddha), forehead chakra (ajna), and the crown chakra (sahasrara).

Part I: Root Chakra (Muladhara)
Color: red
Four petals of the lotus flower
Mantra or sound: LAM (sounds like "lang")
Central theme: stability, the will to live, self-preservation, sense of trust and security, groundedness

Pranayama to begin: Inhale, pause, exhale (grow your breath to an inhalation with a count of 8, pause for 4, exhale to a count of 8) Practice for 3 - 5 minutes in an easy seated (Sukhasana) posture.

Warm-up exercises will make your muscles, tendons, and joints more flexible. The flexible spine is fundamental for the development of the chakras because all of the chakras (with the exception of the crown) lie along the line of the spine.

backward roll with blankets on the mat (Nose to Knees pose) and hands on shins or ankles
seated Cat/Cow, grinding Cat/Cow by circling towards the knees and exhaling by arching away, or hands and knees Cat/Cow (Marjaryasana and Bitilasana)
Butterfly or Cobbler's Pose (Baddha Konasana) with feet on block, then change to sit bones on block, then seated on the floor. You can incorporate the next pose while you open up the knees in opposite directions.
Neck Rolls - be very gentle. Begin with exhaling chin to collarbone and inhaling lifting chin and dipping head back. Then, right ear to right shoulder and left ear to left shoulder. Finally, taking your head in a slow, easy fluid circle counter clockwise and clockwise.
Deep Squat (often called Crow Squat in Kundalini or Prayer Squat - Malasana) with heels on a blanket if they lift off the floor.
Lying down, Apanasana or Wind-relieving pose with one knee at a time in towards your chest and the other leg extended on the mat.
Lying down Tree posture (Vrksasana) with heel of one foot into the groin of the opposite leg.

Using Mulabandha
Mula bandha is said to cut through brahma granthi, the energetic knot of our resistance to change, which lies in mula-dhara chakra. On the physical level, practicing mula bandha creates attentiveness in the supportive musculature of the pelvis. This increases the stability of the pelvis, and, since the pelvis is the seat of the spine, its stability creates a safe environment for spinal movement. Thus, mula bandha strengthens—and teaches the importance of—the solid foundation that should underlie any movement.Mula bandha also lifts and compresses the bowel and lower abdominal region. This creates a solid foundation, a platform under the breath that makes it possible to increase or decrease the pressure inside the torso and facilitate movement. The bandha creates lightness and fluidity; when it is properly applied, the body is less earth-bound and more mobile.
Through gradual refinement, mula bandha becomes less muscular and more subtle, energetic, and etheric (human body's energy field or aura). This movement from outside to inside, from mundane to rarefied, from unconsciousness to enlightenment, is the basic pattern of transcendental yogic awakening. On an energetic level, mula bandha allows us to feel, restrain, and then direct our energies toward enlightenment. On a physical level, mula bandha consists of a contraction, a muscular lifting-up in the floor of the pelvis. Although the pelvis itself is primarily a bony structure supported with ligaments, the pelvic floor consists of muscle fibers and fascia (connective tissue). These tissues intersect and overlap in complex ways.
- Jivamukti Founder David Life

Using mula banda or root lock, continue on with the following postures:
Sun Salute A and B (Surya Namaskar)
Warrior I and II (Virabhadrasana A and B)
Goddess pose (Utkata Konasana) and Temple pose (Mandirasana)
Extended Side Angle (Utthita Parsvakonasana)
Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Wheel Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana) using blocks against the wall
Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)

The root chakra lies in the area of the coccyx between the anus and the perineum. It corresponds to the base of the spinal column. It supplies the pelvic regions and large/small intestines with energy. The root chakra also governs the skeleton which gives us stability and the legs/feet a groundedness which binds us to the earth. The teeth, nails, blood formation, digestion, and the sciatic nerve are all influenced by the root chakra. There is also a close connection between this chakra the functioning of the adrenal and suprarenal (stress hormones - cortisone, adrenaline, noradrenaline) glands. The functioning of all the other chakras depends upon the proper development of the base chakra.

Positive Affirmations while in Savasana or Final Relaxation:
I trust in the power of life.
I feel at home in my body.
I am sustained and nourished by nature

This Muladhara chakra develops in childhood ages 1 - 7. Blockages can be initially caused by misfortune during this time of our lives. Sometimes it may be a feeling of neglect, abandonment, or abuse. Other times it can be incurred later in life by a move, divorce, death in the family, or some other trauma involving the family unit. A disorder or blockage may show up as issues with fear, lack of trust, disorientation, egoism, or lack of self-control, and it may be exhibited in the body as constipation, back pain, sciatica, or issues with the bones or veins in our legs and feet.

Beneficial effects for the body include the following:
strengthens our body's defenses
harmonizes the cardiovascular system
detoxifies and improves the functioning of internal organs
heals circulatory problems
may help correct orthopedic problems
strengthens our metabolism
increases retention of oxygen
retards the aging process

Beneficial effects for the mind include the following:
anxieties diminish
mood swings become less intense
mental fatigue and depression are improved
relaxation and inner peace are experienced
sleep becomes deep and restful
overcoming addictions is benefitted

Beneficial effects for the spiritual life include the following:
improved powers of concentration
sharper memory
elimination of negative thinking is increased
disappearance of boasting or self-pity
clarity of mind and spirit

I hope you will find our practice helpful and will try some or all of these yoga postures on a daily basis as we endeavor to cleanse our chakras for the next 49 days!
Jeanne Kay
P.S. I did a lot of research with this study on-line and with books that I have. A great source of my chakra study came from A Handbook of Chakra Healing by K. Govinda which I purchased at Barnes and Nobles.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Jive with the Big Five!

What's the number one reason you don't exercise?

If I asked my friends, colleagues, casual acquaintances, and/or people I meet off the street, I believe the following answers would appear:

I don't have enough time.
My job prevents me from exercising.
It makes me sweat, and I don't like that feeling.
The gym is too far away.
When I get home, I don't want to leave again.
I don't like exercising.
I am not fit enough or flexible enough.
I don't have the energy to do it.
I have an injury (knees, hips, shoulder, ankles, wrists,...)
My kids need me.
I don't have any money.

I just really don't like it, but I want to be fit, have long lean muscle, and look great!

I agree with all of those excuses. In fact, I have used all those excuses. When I weighed 221 pounds, I would have added, my workout clothes make me feel uncomfortable, and I am embarrassed.

However, "if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten or stay where you already are."

Yoga has so many benefits, and it can be done home (where I started back in the mid '90's), with a group of friends, outside when the weather is pleasant, and in our low cost studio. We would love to have you!

Our yoga/Pilates classes incorporate all five all these Big Jive Exercises, and we would love for you to join us on a regular basis. However, if you cannot, then incorporate them into your day in some reasonable way.

1. Squats.

Why Is It Important? Most trainers agree that squats are one of the best exercises you can do. Squats work your glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves all at once.

How to Do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart, toes facing straight ahead or angled slightly outward. Slowly bend the knees and lower hips towards the floor, keeping your torso straight and abs pulled in tight. Keep your knees behind your toes; make sure everything's pointing in the same direction. Do not go lower than 90 degrees. Do this move for 12-16 reps. In yoga we call it "chair pose" or "Utkatasana"

2. Push Ups

Why Is It Important? Push ups, like squats, are compound movements using almost all the muscles of your body. You'll work your chest, shoulders, triceps, back and abs.

How to Do It: Position yourself face down on the floor, balancing on your toes/knees and hands. Your hands should be underneath or a little wider than shoulders, body in a straight line from head to toe. Don't sag in the middle and don't stick your butt up in the air. Slowly bend your arms and lower your body to the floor, stopping when your elbows are at 90 degrees. Exhale and push back up. Variations include incline, decline, wall pushups or, for over-achievers, one-armed pushups. Do this move as many days a week as possible and add a rep each time you do the exercise. In yoga, we call it "Chaturanga."

3. Lunges.

Why Is It Important? Like squats, lunges work most of the muscles in your legs including your quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves.

How to Do It: Stand in a split-stance (one leg forward, one leg back). Bend knees and lower body into a lunge position, keeping the front knee at 90 degree angle and your back leg with a soft bend (not locking it out). Keeping the weight in your heels, push back up (slowly!) to starting position. Never lock your knees at the top and don't let your knee bend past your toes. Variations: front lunges, back lunges and side lunges. Do this exercise for 12 to 16 reps. In yoga we do these as part of our Sun Salutation C "Surya Namaskar" or in isolation as a low lunge "Anjaneyasana" with the option of the knee on the floor to modify or straight back leg.

4. The Plank.

Why Is It Important? The plank (or hover) is an isolation move used in Pilates and Yoga and works the abs, back, arms and legs. The plank also targets your internal abdominal muscles.

How to Do It: Lie face down on mat with elbows resting on floor next to rib cage. Push your body off the floor in a pushup position with body resting on elbows or hands. Contract the abs and keep the body in a straight line from head to toes. Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat as many times as you can. For beginners, do this move on your knees and gradually work your way up to balancing on your toes. In yoga we use the plank continually in various forms (side plank, inclined plank, forearm plank, walking plank,...), Phalakasana in Sanskrit.

5. Lat Pulldown

Why Is It Important? The lat pulldown works on the major muscles of your back (the latissimus dorsi), which helps you burn calories and, of course, strengthens your back.

How to Do It: If you are at a gym or have a home gym, sit on the lat pulldown machine and hold the bar with palms out and wider than shoulders. Pull your abs in and lean back slightly. Bend your elbows and pull the bar down towards your chin, contracting the outer muscles of your back. Do this exercise during the week using enough weight to complete 12-16 repetitions. If you don't have access to a gym, try a one-armed row with a dumbbell. Cobra pose (Bhujangasana), Upward Facing Dog (Urdvha Mukha Svanasana), Locust pose (Salambhasana), and Camel pose (Ustrasana) are all frequently used postures in yoga that strengthen the lats.

If you have a busy schedule, incorporating these five moves 3 times a week or more will help strengthen your muscles and bones, as well as burn more calories. Stretching afterwards with the counter pose is a must! The great thing about yoga is that you can add it into your everyday schedule with a home or class practice.
Remember to get some cardio exercise as well with a quick walk, slow jog, or power yoga class!

So, let's make the change in 2011 that we want to be! Come jive with our fab five!

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