Thursday, August 8, 2019

Riding the Wave with Breathe, Release, Feel, Witness, Allow

My son, Jeff, surfing the waves in California

"Riding the Wave requires a lot of energy and can make us fill depleted.  Refill your well with Breathe, Release..."

Center by finding a comfortable seat.  Lengthen up through the crown of your head as you root down into the earth with your sits bones.  Check in with yourself by asking, "How can I refill my well today?"  Listen to your inner voice.  Keep your breath steady and smooth as you begin to layer in deep diaphragmatic breathing with the belly area rising and falling with each inhalation and exhalation.  Observe yourself without judging or critiquing; just notice.  See if you can release tension from your forehead, jawline, neck and shoulders just 10% more with each exhale.  Imagine that you are an hour glass and the sand is in the bottom of the shape.  You can use your hands on your chest and abdominal area if that feels comfortable to you.

With the next breath in after the belly rises, feel the ribs expand outward by breathing just a little bit more.  On the out breath, release tension from the top downward.  Inhale belly rises and ribs expand outward, exhale first the chest and then the belly.  

Finally, on your next breath observe to see if you can lift the breath up towards the collar bones.  Belly rises, rib basket expands outwardly, collar bones lift.  Exhale from the top down.  Repeat several times as you say to yourself something soothing, "I am enough." "I am vibrant and resilient."  "I can do this work today."

Now we will add in Alternate Nostril Breath, also known as, Nadi Shodhana.  Using just your index finger and thumb of the right hand, close off your right nostril with the thumb and inhale completely with the left nostril.  Close off the left nostril with the index finger and release the thumb in order to breathe out the right nostril.  Inhale through the right side, closing it off, and exhale through the left.  New breath in with the left nostril, then closing off the left with the finger, exhale through the right.  Continue breathing this way for 1 - 2 minutes.

We sometimes call this second way of breathing, "Pre-test Breath," or "Pre-game or performance Breath."  Both hemispheres of the brain are balanced for concentration, accessing the Prefrontal Cortex for thinking and intuition, creating a feeling of completion.

Release tension.
Feel whatever emotion arises.
Witness with compassion - no judgement.
Allow whatever feelings or tension to let go.

BRFWA (acronym for this technique) and Alternate Nostril Breath create the ability within all of us to refill our well to tackle a new assignment, complete the next task, and stay in a calm demeanor.  When we ride the waves of intensity in our lives, we are better able to overcome the negative and tap into the positive energy.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Top Down
Bottom UP

In Yoga with meditation, with breath control practice, with movement, with centering, with tension release, we find what is sometimes called, "Top Down, Bottom Up," benefits.

The brain finds its way to the PFC or pre-frontal cortex with our centered mindfulness and breath; thus, it moves out of the emotional brain or "Fight, Flight, Freeze, Faint" of the Sympathetic Nervous System.  Our heart rates slow down, our blood pressure lowers, our thinking brain engages.

Several ways to get this accomplished is to find a comfortable seat and add in one of the following breath practices:

Alternate Nostril Breath - closing off the right nostril, breathe in through the left; close off the left nostril, breathe out through the right.  Breathe in through the right; close off and breathe out through the left.  Repeat for 1 - 2 minutes or more.

  • Centering
  • Brain Balancing
  • Excellent for Test Taking, Performance anxiety
  • Concentration
Letting Go Breath - Inhale through the nose, and exhale with sound out the mouth
  • Tension Release
  • Signaling to the Brain Stem and Limbic (emotional) Brain it is okay to let go of stress
  • By opening the mouth, it releases jaw and facial tension

Ocean Sounding Breath, aka "Ujjayi" or Victorious Breath
  • So Hum which means "I am that..."
  • Expansive for the lungs
  • Heat building in the body
  • Excellent for withdrawing attention from the outside and placing inside
Three Part Breath 
  • Builds Diaphragm as you use this VIP muscle to cause the belly to rise with each inhale
  • Causes the ribs to expand outward increasing our capacity for a full oxygen intake
  • Lifts the heart center and opens up the area above the heart
  • Centering
  • Focus
  • Concentration
  • Engages the Prefrontal Cortex of the brain where our discernment and intuition lie

Using the breath to center, engage mindfulness, concentrate, release tension then prepares us to work from the floor or earth upward with movement.

Top Down

Connecting with our feet on the ground and our crown reaching upward, we build movement into our practice that compliments our centered, breathing and mind calming activity.

Six Movements of the Spine
Lateral or Side Flexion

Sun Salutations
9, 12, or 17 movements that bring the spine into flexion (forward folding) and extension (back bending)

Balancing Postures
Standing on one leg or the other with Tree, Eagle, Standing Pigeon, Dancer, Warrior 3, Extended Hand to Foot Pose or Warrior 4 (not holding the foot), and many others

Warrior Flow
Warrior 1, Side Warrior or Warrior 2, Triangle, Extended Side Angle, Reverse Warrior, Revolved Triangle, Lunge Pose, and many others

Seated Postures
Boat Pose, Head of the Knee Pose, Wide Legged Forward Fold Pose, Pigeon, Windshield Wiper Knees, and many others

Final Rest or Savasana; when the head is below the heart, the body rests.

All of these bring together the Brain, the Body, and the Heart.  Mind follows breath, breath follows movement, movement follows mind...three part harmony.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Self-Care Says...

Self-care is about loving yourself enough to prove it to yourself by taking time and energy to better care for yourself.  It's one thing to say, "I love you."  It's quite another thing to show it.

So, how do you know someone loves you?
Perhaps, they talk to you.
Or maybe, they spend time or money or energy on you.
Then again, they enjoy being with you.

Yoga has taught me the gift of self-observation without judgement.  

To be frank, I have been my own worst critic.  The words I have spoken in my own thoughts to myself have been far from loving.  The words we speak are sourced from our thinking.  Many of these words come with a circular fashion.  We think it, and then we think it again.

In yoga, we call it a "samskara," or thought wheel; you might even consider it a "rut" or well-traveled road in your thinking.  The best way to get out of the rut?  One positive thought of the opposite nature at a time.

I am setting my "sankalpa" or intention today to be kinder to myself, to err on the side of love and not offense, to embrace my faults with grace, and to season my speech with love.

For you see, if we want to un-offendable, we must start first with our own self before it will manifest to others.  We are like lemons; when you squeeze us or put us in uncomfortable situations, whatever is on the inside will come out.

Start by not offending yourself.  Then, don't take offenses from others.  Anger comes from judgement, not love.  Stop the mad.  Stop the feelings of negativity.  Embrace who you are with infinite possibilities for good.

Use the breath, the "letting go" breath.  Inhale through the nose; exhale through the mouth, and make a sound.  


Say something nice to yourself.  

Write a letter or journal page to you.

Dear Jeanne,
"Today is the first day of a new week.  My intention is to be kinder to you.  My goal is self-care, and I am going to prove it.  One thought at a time.  One releasing breath at a time.  One word at a time."  Loving myself one breath at a time, Jeanne

We all want the four recipe ingredient for self care.

  1. Soothe yourself
  2. Allow yourself to be Seen
  3. Feel Secure in yourself
  4. Be Safe with who you are created to be 

That is the same thing others need to feel with us, too.  Soothed, Seen, Secure, and Safe.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Our Brains Are Not the Same!

Our Brains Are Not the Same!
The Brain Stem:  Fight, Flight, Freeze, Collapse (develops before we are born)
The Pleasure Reward Center (partially developed at birth) 
The Front of the Brain (will not be completely developed until about age 25)

Now make a fist...yes, a fist with your thumb inside.

The fist...
It is symbolic of your brain.
The Brain Stem, aka the Reptilian Brain, is the base of the wrist and hand. It is our survival center.  When we feel threatened or not safe, secure, protected, it reacts!  The base or neck of your palm and wrist represent this area of the brain.

The thumb is your emotional center of your brain where the pleasure reward center is located, along with the amydala (2) and the hypothalmus in the Limbic Brain.  The Limbic Brain is the emotional part of the brain, where we all feel anger, frustration, impatience, resentment, etc, with all of the positive emotions of joy, contentment, happiness,...

The fingers represent the cortex.  The frontal cortex is our Intuitive Brain, where we make decisions, use discernment, reason, plan, and think.

While healthy adults frequent the cortex area of the brain, teens (ages 11 or 12 through 24), live in the pleasure seeking or Limbic Brain.  Thus, they have an exaggerated stress response and do not always read faces or information correctly.  The neo-cortex part of their brains will not fully develop until they are in their 20's.

So, literally, their brains are under construction.  It is not just the hormones from puberty that make them react, it is their thinking.

Yoga makes a big difference for all of us!
When we breathe and pause and center ourselves, we move from the Reptilian Brain and Limbic Brain into the Cortex part of the brain where we can discern, think about, and consider.  

So, don't flip your lid! Pause and breathe.  Stop and think.  Slow down your reaction and instead be proactive.
Pause before you speak or text or write or react.
The breath, "Letting Go Breath," inhale through the nose; exhale out through the mouth with sound.

  • Releases strong emotion
  • Releases anxiety
  • Initiates relaxation response
  • Normalizes the rate of breathing and calms the mind

Yoga; it makes the difference.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Sloshing? Great Idea after a Bad Night's Sleep

Okay, I get it.
You didn't sleep well last night?
Especially for those of us who have a busy mind...
You feel like you have incorporated all the techniques you know of to finally relax and turn off your over-active mind.
Then, you worry that you will sleep past the alarm.
No Bueno.
So, you show up on the yoga mat and nothing feels rested.  Why not slosh?
New learning curve for me.
Perhaps I have practiced it before and just don't remember.
It looks like you are lying on the flat in a supine position for final relaxation or Corpse Pose with no bolster or blanket.
Now, here comes the magic!

Begin moving your feet, yes, just your feet.
The rest of your body just follows the movement of the feet.
Plantar flexion, dorsiflexion of the ankles ….forward and back, forward and back, forward and back.
The faster you go, the better you feel.

To me, it feels like chugging.
But, it truly worked this morning, and I plan to add it in to my yoga classes.
Yoga, it does a body good!

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Write Down this Vision; Clearly Inscribe It...

"The LORD answered me:
Write down this vision; clearly inscribe it on tablets so one may easily read it."  
Habakkuk 2:2

Some people might ask me, 
"Isn't it enough?"
All that training.
"Don't you know enough yet?"
Stay home and just teach.
"Why go all the way to the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts?"

And I will answer them every time, my vision:
"My dream is to make a difference."

I have this vision of being able to help kids of all ages, from preschool to teens to adults, who need the breath, the meditation, the movement to help release trauma from the past and current drama from fear issues of the present.  While I have an elementary education degree, early childhood education certificate, and administrator's master degree with specializing in curriculum development, frankly I don't know a lot about teens and yoga.

So, off I go to Kripalu again, and I will come back changed.  Each time I spend the money, take the trip, go for training I understand a little bit more.  The tools I have in my toolbox give me the ability to share the message of self-care as a priority, not as a luxury.

Breath practice.
Yoga movement.

Yes, it makes a difference.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

40,000,000 Americans Struggle with Anxiety

I have learned so much.
About anxiety.
About depression.
About autism.
About social phobias.
And the more I learn, the more teachable I become.

Yoga uses the breath on the exhale to release and let go.
When you cannot control your emotional response.
Remember to breathe out.

Yin Yoga and Meditation is on Saturday (and on Friday) at 10:45 am.  I am very excited about learning how to release anxiety, depression, …. with quieting and stillness.

Come be teachable.  Even if it doesn't relate directly to you.  Someone in your life will be dealing with it.  Just telling them to RELAX does not work.

Riding the Wave with Breathe, Release, Feel, Witness, Allow

My son, Jeff, surfing the waves in California "Riding the Wave requires a lot of energy and can make us fill depleted.  Refill y...