Heart openers with mantra

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This week we practiced heart openers with mantra. Mantra means a vehicle for the mind. It is a word or phrase that can soothe the mind and help the mind focus. The heart is usually associated with concepts of love, compassion & forgiveness. One definition of love is a universal identification with all beings, not just one. When you experience that kind of love … you’ve reached yoga :)

We did poses that opened the center of our hearts. Not just big backbends at the end of practice, but backbending shapes within standing, balancing and hip opening poses. Student picked a mantra that resonated with them. Usually one word or a phrase. Students were asked to think of an area where maybe their heart was closed off, and where did they want to open their heart? I offered up some suggestions:

I believe, I can, I will, I accept myself, I trust myself, I am enough, fearless, as ease, strong, ready.

We connected with our ujjayi breath and yogis chose a mantra. They were encouraged to pick something even if it morphed into a different mantra later in class or later in the day. I wanted them to have the experience in this class of working with mantra and seeing how it helped or shifted them. Sometimes mantra has the powerful way of making space for insights, relaxation, peace.

Poses included anjenayasana, big goalpost arms in cresent, humble warrior 1, warrior 2, parsva konasana & triangle. We added a backbend in our tree pose at the end of a balancing sequence of eagle and dancer. In pigeon, we clasped our hands behind our head to open the chest space. The closing of practice included camel poses, purvotanasana and a second round of the beautiful, heart-opening anjenayasana. Some yogis chose the option to place a block under the bottom tips of their shoulder blades in savasana to continue with the gesture of heart opening. Thank you for a lovely practice …. namaste, Lynn

Reciprocity

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Hope you guys are having a fun St. Patricks Day. This week the theme was reciprocity. We listened to the feedback in our foundations, be it hands, feet, shins, belly.

We focused on the Earth element, the most dense element. It’s a really wonderful, stabilizing force. The practice was one of noticing the reciprocal relationship we have with Earth. As we press down, root down, get grounded . . . we feel the rebound response of the solid Earth beneath us holding us up, offering up support, structure and expansiveness into our bodies.

Its just healing to touch the Earth and connect. We have all felt that at the beach or on a hike …. touching sand, rock, water, leaves. Feeling that energetic exchange.

Students kept their focus on whatever was touching the ground. That awareness/intelligence of the Earth’s reciprocity. This kind of practice is a great remedy for over-thinking. When you really feel into the silent strength of the Earth …. you notice how calming & quieting it is for the mind and nervous system.

Asanas included: surya namaskar; standing poses; the balancing poses: half moon to revolved 1/2 moon, tree & dancer; Temple pose playing with toe placement; supta virasana to open quads & increase flexibility in the knees and hips & to tone the arches of the feet; bow backbend to feel the belly communicate with Earth; pigeon, shoulder stand, fish & a deep forward fold to feel the back of the legs release into the support of the Earth. Some core was sprinkled throughout and yogis got the chance to take 2 minutes of free to time to explore a pose of their choice. Thanks yogis for a deeply connecting practice, Lynn

Bellow breathing

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This past week in class we explored bellow breathing. Bellow breathing really opens the chest, lungs and mid back. It’s good at clearing out any physical or mental fogginess or stagnation. Throughout the vinyasa practice, we brought bellow breaths into several poses and specifically into one breathing exercise.

Students centered themselves with their breath. After setting intentions and singing Om, we practiced our first bellow breaths. Students sat in sukhasana. On the inhale, they stretched their arms straight out to their sides and a little behind them to really open the chest; on the exhale they rounded their backs a little and touched their palms together, arms stretched in front of them and their face turning toward the floor. They did 8 rounds, and each student chose a pace that suited them. Next, we took the arms overhead with hands clasped in steeple mudra. It’s hard to hold the arms and hands like that if you have tightness in the shoulders. I encouraged students to notice how their shoulders and upper back opened up over the course of the practice as they took steeple mudra several times.

Our flow was less traditional this week. We went into standing poses before surya namaskar B. We did a temple-triangle flow in which we took bellow breaths in temple pose and then into steeple mudra overhead. Yogis opened their hamstrings in parsvottanasana, opened their backs in cobra variations, got grounded in a Warrior 1 flow with bellow breaths, plus some deep twists such as cresent twist and chair twist with steeple mudra. Challenging transitions kept strength pulsating throughout the practice.

Students listened to the feedback of their bodies in yoga poses to see what was being asked to be noticed, so they could act in a way that supported those needs. We all accumulate tension in our bodies, and sometimes its because we’re not listening to those cues. We deepened into standing pigeon and half moon & later into crow, pigeon, camel and boat.

Towards the end of class, we practiced kapalabhati breath… another form of bellow breathing. Students kneeled, and I explained the whats and whys of this technique. We did a practice run, and then 3 rounds of 30 breaths per round. After each round, we held our breath for about 3 seconds and then let it out with a big exhale. Working with the bandhas in that way of retaining the breath and energy and then letting it out allows you to flood your body more strongly with breath to create some great energy moving through the body. A nice savasana allowed students to quiet down, slow down and receive deep rest. From my heart to your heart, Lynn

Side Body

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Class this past week focused on opening the side body to energize and enliven the body, mind and spirit. The intercostal muscles underneath each rib are part of your respiratory muscles. When they are open, you can breathe more deeply.

In class, we created an environment in the body to breath deeply and to bring in health, freedom and an openness to new possibilities. The ability to breath lets us feel and be sensitive and open to our practice, the new day, the new year. We approached practice following the breath as the teacher.

Students took deep inhales to feel their ribs expand. We did two breathing exercises with our hands on our ribs, and then our hands on our heart to feel where and how the breath moves through the body. Students noticed when the ribs opened that the intercostals got a deep stretch which lead to wide open breathing which energized and enlivened the body!

Poses included lots of side bending! Within a vinyasa practice, yogis felt how cobra backbends were great for opening their ribcage. They found in plank pose if they pressed their heart forward, pressed their heels back, lifted their belly away from the floor … then they could expand the back of their lungs. As students practiced exalted warrior and exalted triangle poses, I asked them to feel space open up between every rib.

Free time mid way through class allowed students to chose a pose that helped them get longer and stretched their side body and ribs. Many chose handstand variations, but a variety of asanas were explored. Second half of practice included side plank, Goddess, gate, thigh stretch, pigeon, backbends and closing with a side stretch in janu sirsasana plus a closing supine twist with abs. To deep, nourishing breaths, Lynn

Balance

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This week we explored balance. Balance looks different in each of us. You may not be able to see balance, but sometimes you can sense a person is connected with their center. Last week we explored the energy of deep listening and tuning into our inner voice. Our inner voice, our inner balance knows when we are vital, healthy and in deep harmony.

We explored balancing poses, but we also explored balance in a broader fashion. Students looked to balance their in breaths and out breaths. They aimed to balance their bodies from right to left, front to back. Balance was sought between strength and rest, movement and stillness. They noticed where they were putting their effort, and if redistributing brought more balance inwardly or outwardly.

I reminded yogis that they will always feel a little bit of natural wobble, a little bit of natural instability. But to remember that the wobble is part of the fun :) Additionally, to tell themselves: “ I can breathe steadily in the midst of wobble and instability. I can relax even where there’s a little discomfort ”. Poses included gate, warrior 3, dancing Orangatang handstand, dwi hasta parsva konasana, half moon, side plank, standing pigeon, as well as playful attempts at bird of paradise. Students finished their practice with flowing bridge and an opportunity to do upavista konasana with a bolster. Some chose no bolster, others took the restorative option, and tucked 1 or 2 blocks under a bolster to prop it to a height where they could hug it and rest deeply. Namaste, Lynn