Energy of deep listening

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This week we drew on inspiration from Ganesha. Ganesha is a mythical creature from the Hindu pantheon. He is a boy with an elephant head. He is considered the remover of obstacles on your path. He is found at beginnings and thresholds. He is associated with the muladhara chakra, or root chakra, that houses the low spine, legs and feet. The muladhara chakra also relates to a sense of security, trust, groundedness, safety, belonging and home. When we have fear, worry, stress, it tends to drain energy out of us. When we are grounded and secure, we are more likely to retain positive, good energy.

There is lots of rich lore and symbolism around Ganesha. If you are interested, I encourage you to read more :) But this week, we simply focused on Ganesha’s big, soft elephant ears. Letting them remind us to pause, listen, be patient & start relying on our inner voice as our guide. That’s the power behind yoga and meditation: to help us start to orient from the inner space of our hearts.

This week’s practice of refreshing twists are like the twisting, turning nature of the elephant’s trunk …. and the sudden, surprising and unexpected twists and turns our own lives can take. So the practice is one of sensitivity, attuning, listening before reacting so you can come closer to what matters most to you.

Students felt their breath. They listened and softened. Sometimes they closed their eyes to help brighten their ears. Twists throughout, humble warriors, deep balancing twists, partner squat, deeply strengthening prone backbends. Weaved throughout an energy of allowing ourselves to become sensitive to the moment so we can live a really great life in this way. Namaste, Lynn

Shake off the Leaves

Shadows of the holidays fade away

Shadows of the holidays fade away

Shake off any debris, holiday excess, any deadweight and lets get spacious and invite in length and opening as we invite in the new year. That’s how we started class this week. Leaving behind anything not needed as we enter 2019.

This week’s class was about low back health. And we looked at 2 key aspects of protecting the low back. The first was lengthening. Working on lengthening the spine and using the legs, core and pelvis to protect the back. Practicing keeping the low back lengthening, we can reduce low back pain, we can reduce pressure on the disks, and we can watch for rounding. There is always going to be some rounding in daily living and even in yoga. Often what is happening is imbalances of muscles around the spine. And when muscles around the spine, hips and legs have some weakness, then the spine rounds to compensate. That leads us to the second key aspect.

This week we also focused on strengthening the hamstrings (and the glutes and their helpers). One thing that really keeps the low back from over-working is strong and pliable hamstrings. So in our sequence, I included some very specific hamstring strengtheners. Yoga often stretches the hamstrings, but they equally need to be strong. Class progressed though sun salutations, deep into standing poses. In half moon pose, I invited students to hover their bottom hand off the floor or block, if they wanted an extra challenge. By doing so, they strengthened their top side body, muscles under the ribcage that support the back. Warrior 3 founds students balancing in a pose that offers back strength and support. In tree pose, we “shook off the leaves” :)

Next came a prone backbend. Students squeezed their inner feet together, kept their palms on the earth outside their upper ribs and elevated their straight legs a little. A big challenge to the hamstrings. We did 3 rounds. Into a variation of dancer …. students stood upright, bent one leg, pressed their thigh back in space while kicking the bent leg heel to their butt. No grabbing the back foot with their hand. To stretch the hamstrings, parsvottanasana was included. After some core work and pigeon, we moved into a variation of bow pose. Yogis did not catch their feet with their hands. They bent their legs and tried to lift their thighs a little bit off the ground. No easy feat, but, yes, you guessed it ….more hamstring & glute power :) A solid savasana was offered and students relaxed into a deep well of being. Thanks for practicing, Lynn

You can heal in an Instant

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You can heal in an instant. That was my theme this week. We all know someone, or maybe we’ve experienced this ourself …. when a big stressor hits, we instantly feel sick or a gray hair pops out.

When we get tight & frustrated, we close down pathways of creativity and wellness. When we embrace concepts like “you can heal in an instant”, the power of the mind kicks in and we open those pathways.

It’s so easy to assume worse case scenario, and we’re all guilty of it from time to time. But this has been one of the most useful pieces of information I have ever received. It has shifted me so many times out of the muck and into a better day.

This is a practice of calming the mind and repairing the body. Before we got moving, I gave a little back story. About 10 years ago, I was in my last weekend of teacher training in Berkeley. It was a big weekend. We were in training on Saturday & Sunday, 10-7:00. I woke up that Saturday with a sore throat. I was in disbelief, denial ... this could not be happening! My last training weekend meant so much to me. I went ahead and got ready and drove to Berkeley early to take Abby’s class. She’s an amazing teacher and I’d been wanting to take her class. In her class that morning, she spoke of how you can heal in an instant . I took it so to heart and believed those words so completely, that I swear my sore throat went away for the whole weekend and never came back that next week.

So, I encourage you to stay aware and observant of different forms of healing that are available to you. This saying may speak to you or you may have your own healing rhetoric that uplifts or re-directs you. I offered one final thought on healing before we move into our asana practice. Bruce Springsteen has been on broadway for the last year. He said that when he was young, he had 4 aces. They were: youth, 10 years of band experience, a band that respected and understood his style, and a magic trick. Well, I believe in some ways I have that same magic trick. The healing I have to offer my yoga students has less to do with my own training, studying and practicing, and more to do with this magic trick, which is “us”. When we practice yoga together, there is a oneness to our energy, we become an “us”. And I think that is one of the most healing components of the yoga.

Thanks for practicing with me, Lynn

Creative Core

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This week the theme was “creative core”. A well known, well loved author and writing teacher named Natalie Goldberg said this quote: “All things that are born must die. In any case, continue with VIGOR!” So we did our practice with vigor :)

The focus of my sequence was to help us center within ourselves, so we can feel power within ourselves, so we can go forward and feel comfortable expressing ourselves with vigor!

After connecting with our breath, we moved into an outer hip stretch to start freeing areas of the hip and back that house the deeper core muscles. Opening sun salutations took us into balance, stretched our bellies, and woke up big muscles like the quads. The core was strengthened in a playful version of “messy dog”, then onward to partner dolphin pose to bring power & opening to the upper body.

We moved deeper into standing postures, some with dwi hasta (both arms) extended to challenge the core. We experimented with variations of plank pose, jump switch, and unique hopping in down dog. Lizard into an advanced arm balance brought us face to face with our flexibility and fearlessness. Two core sequences on the floor followed. Students placed themselves in upavista konasana, and then churned their arms in deep circles, leaning back to bring deep strength to the low back and abdominal muscles. Next from dandasana into paschimottanasana (straight legged seated forward bend) and we held an imaginary ore over our heads and rowed through rough water, creating deep circles and leaning back again to awaken strength in our low backs and deep belly muscles.

We closed with some subtle variations in pigeon to access different aspects of the hip as we coaxed it to relax with our breath and our alignment. Bridge followed, then a final pose of choice AND ….. sinking into savasana. Good work! Namaste, Lynn

Compassion

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Compassion was the focus of class this week. When we tap into compassion for ourselves, it expands to others. We moved through a flow that tapped into the compassionate energies in the body.

So whether they were directing that compassion towards themselves, another, a situation or an injury, I encouraged students to “notice how compassion guides you to move on the mat today”.

As students closed their eyes and settled into their ujjayi breathing, I asked them if there was a place in their life that might be a bit tender. I asked them to bring forth compassion toward that challenge or suffering without judgement. Inviting them to visualize holding it like a parent holds a little baby, tending to it, nurturing it. Then thinking of an intention of how they’d like to compassionately be with it on the mat. While students contemplated this, I asked them to put their right hand over their heart space and their left hand over their right hand … as a gesture of dropping into this seat of compassion and love.

We focused on hips today because hips can always use a little compassion and love :) We opened with the healing sound of Om, then moved into strength, balance and hip openers. Class was interjected with dancing orangatang, aka, handstand switching straight legs in the air, 2 minutes of free time, and a minute in forearm plank. Poses for the hips included: anjenayasana, lizard, humble warrior II, half moon, standing pigeon, and regular pigeon. Each class varies a little bit. Some classes included the playful and powerful combo of boat to chair. We said goodbye to the lovely yogi, Angeles. She has been a bright light to our community at Apple for many years. We wish her the best as she moves to Spain next week.

From my heart to your heart, Lynn