Patience Grasshopper

Grasshopper

I'm a patient person, or at least that's what I thought. This last month of post-surgical rest has taught me that, while I'm patient with others, I don't always afford that same grace to myself. It made me think about patience with others, ourselves, and how it relates to our yoga practice.

We live in a fast paced society. Technology and the ability to connect with people all over the world is super awesome, however it has changed our expectations of how long things take compared to our expectations 20 years ago. No longer do we have one landline phone fixed to the wall in our house; gone are the days that if you were out, eating dinner or watching your favorite TV show, the phone-call could wait. Kids TV competitions had answers on a postcard with the winners announced a whole month later. Pen-pals would send a couple of letters a month. Shopping on a Sunday meant waiting for the shops to open on Monday! Things took time. Waiting was part of life and patience was something we got to practice daily.

Now we text and expect a response right away, emails arrive instantly and we often feel we must respond immediately. Shopping online 24/7, next day delivery, faster cars, credit cards, movies on demand, instant music downloads and the promises of adverts on TV to 'lose weight fast', have 'free next day delivery' and of course 'why wait for….. '.

We are becoming used to getting what we want immediately, right now, and feel impatient when things don't go as we planned. We're so used to instant and fast, that we cram our days full to the brim with no room to spare, and are intolerant of those who move slower than we planned. We feel agitated at a slow server at the supermarket checkout, and grow tense when we're behind someone driving below the speed limit. Impatience creates stress and anger that we share with anyone who dares to get in our way, and stresses out the people who are trying to meet our hurried expectations.

Not only are our expectations of others set higher and faster, we have less patience for the journey and work required to master any skill or to change something for the better in our own lives. We want to be good, (no, great!) at things straight away and we want to see the results of our new habits immediately.
How does this all relate to yoga? Sometimes we bring our fast paced, go-go-go energy to the yoga class, rushing through movements and transitions. We can be impatient in with ourselves when we want to be able to do a new pose immediately. Many abandon a daily meditation practice because they don't see the results right away.

Yoga teacher Judith Lassater said 'We are either in the flow with the speed of what's happening, or we are impatient'. Impatience is wanting to fast forward life; our minds are in the future rather than in the present moment. 

Being patient is not 'giving in' and it doesn't mean we shouldn't try to achieve things and have goals. Cultivating more patience is about being present on our journey, lowering our stress levels, reducing resistance to things that happen outside of our control, and increasing feelings of contentment and happiness.

Our yoga practice is the perfect time to practice patience. This week we'll focus on the speed of our transitions and we'll practice cultivating feelings of contentment for where we are in the journey rather than rushing to master a difficult pose. We'll learn some ways to calm the mind and stop our ingrained habits in their tracks, so that the next time you feel the sensation bubbling up you can stop and enjoy the moment. No longer will impatience be a cloud in your day (or the day of anyone who might have got in your way!).

Check back through the week for quotes, journal prompts and more!

Gemstones

The Surprising Benefit of Practicing Yoga in a Studio

10292017 tim marshall unsplash

 

For many years I was a 'solo-yogi', practicing at home as there was no studio nearby. One cold winters day I decided that if I wanted to have a studio nearby to practice in, then it was up to me to make that happen. I did my research, attended a yoga teacher training program, and opened Paradigm Yoga in Jasper a few months later.

There are many things that a yoga teacher training program prepares you for; poses, anatomy, history, theory, how to breathe and different ways to meditate. We even discussed the business side of opening and operating a studio. However there is one thing that I wasn't expecting, that wasn't (and can't be) taught, and that you can't make happen.

The studio has now been open for two and a half years, and in the last year I've noticed more and more the amazing personal connections being cultivated in the studio. There are true friendships being formed and a support system that I could never imagine.

We share our victories and excitement about adventures and family successes, and we shed tears and share the burden of when life isn't quite going to plan.

Some days we hear about an experience where yogic breathing found a place in daily life and that a stressful situation was handled with grace and ease instead of anger and irritation. Yogis who have struggled with insomnia share their joy at practicing techniques learned in relaxation and drifting off effortlessly into a full night of restful sleep. At times there are high fives at the achievement of a yoga pose that has been long out of reach, showing the increase in physical strength, balance and flexibility that is a direct result of a yogi's hard work and dedicated practice, and we hear about wonderful experiences during meditation. These are some of the most rewarding parts of being a yoga teacher. But I'm so thankful that together we have created a supportive and loving environment where it's also ok to not be ok, in which there is always someone who cares, who will listen and is there to give you a hug and support whenever you need it.

It's been just over 4 years since I moved from England to Texas. Anyone who has moved any distance, either across the country or across continents, knows that being away from family and friends can be hard sometimes, especially when really good or bad things happen.

Recently I hit one of those little bumps in the road where my body hasn't stuck to the plan of overall health and wellness. Rather than try to hide the anxiety & stress of a serious health scare, I decided to speak my truth and share what was going on with my yogi family in the studio. The love and support I have felt from everyone is overwhelming and makes me feel at last like this is home. While my family and long time friends are there on the phone, my yogi family have come through with the in-person support, love, chats, hugs, sweet messages and cups of tea.

I can not express the gratitude I feel for being a part of this community. What we have in the studio is a magic I never anticipated or imagined, born from the simple practice of rolling out our yoga mats together day after day. 

Every cloud has a silver lining, my current cloud has led me to a wonderful realisation about the studio, our yogi community, and this place I now call home.

xoxo

How do you start your day?

1.29.17 how do you start your day

The way we wake up in the morning sets the tone for the rest of our day ⏰

If we wake up and immediately begin to rush around (maybe even check our phones/emails/Facebook before getting up?!) it’s difficult to feel peaceful and calm throughout the day.

When we wake up giving ourselves enough time to get ready for our day, and include a positive morning habit, we can set the foundation for a great day ✨

Positive morning practices don't have to take long! Here are some ideas

  • take 5 deep breaths (maybe even practice sama-vritti by taking a slow, steady 4 count inhale & 4 count exhale)
  • write in a gratitude journal
  • spend a few minutes in meditation
  • 5 half sun salutations
  • set an intention of how you'd like your day to unfold

How will you start your Monday? How will you start every day?! Pick just one or two of the above, (or any other positive habit that appeals to you) to implement this week - just a few minutes every morning can set the stage for an amazing day!

You Are What You Think

 

You are what you think

 

In our classes this week our focus has been on noticing the nature of our thoughts, and the way we talk to ourselves. We've been relating these thoughts to watering the weeds or watering the flowers in a garden 

What are the weeds in your mind's garden? Weeds are thoughts of fear, anxiety, regret, envy, frustration, jealousy, sadness, guilt, or allowing yourself to dwell on thoughts of the past, wishing things had gone differently.

The more time you give these thoughts, the more you water the weeds, and the bigger they grow. Soon the path to the weed patch becomes worn and familiar making it easier to go there.

Take a moment to ask yourself why are we watering weeds when there are seeds of beautiful flowers close by?!

What do flowers look like as thoughts? Joy, kindness, compassion, love, and gratitude. Thoughts of 'I am enough', and 'this is a wonderful moment'. The more you water the flowers the more they bloom and blossom. When you do this repeatedly, the path to the weed patch starts to grow over, and a new path starts to form. Over time the weed patch starts to wither and wilt while your flower garden grows.

We have a choice about which path we take and which path we make familiar. 

I understand that sometimes we want to feel sorry for ourselves and make a beeline for the weed patch! but it doesn't serve ourselves or anyone around us to be in our small self. Notice when you want to do this and then take the shortest route to your flower garden. If it's one of those days where you just can't think of the positive, start with gratitude. Gratitude for your breath or gratitude for a friend, family member or pet.

So start listening to those little voices inside. Steer yourself away from negative thoughts and weeds and start watering the seeds of love, gratitude and confidence. Start to walk a new path and watch your flower garden grow.

 

Your mind is a garden, 
your thoughts are the seeds. 
You can grow flowers,
or you can grow weeds.

Clear Space, Clear Mind

have nothing in your house

Do you want to feel motivated, clear minded, focused, inspired, calm, and in control?

If you're shouting 'yes' at your computer, keep reading!

This may not be the case while you're reading this, but here in SE Texas it's a rainy Sunday. If you're like me you've spent the last few weeks of summer juggling your work and commitments with finding time to play outside in the nearest lake, water park or ocean whenever possible - sometimes at the detriment of my usually organised house! If you have kids home for the summer I can't even begin to imagine how much more work it is to keep your house in order!

However, the way we keep our living space can affect us (and our families) mentally, spiritually & emotionally.  Disarray in our living space can cause distress in our mental space. Imagine the state of your home as energy that's reflected in your mental space.  Which would you prefer in your head - chaotic, unorganized energy or a calm, clear energy?

So if you want to feel great, be happy, exude positive energy, and have a clear mind, make the most of your time indoors while its raining this week - do a quick scan of your space and find a few moments to clear up, organise, and let go of things that no longer serve you.

And if the rain stops and you need some fresh air - remember the clear space clear mind theory also applies to your car!

tidy house tidy mind

8 Reasons to Add Yoga to Your Busy Lifestyle

It has become a way of life to constantly run around with the feeling that we’re always playing catch up, leaving us with no time to do anything for ourselves. And, even when we do decide to do something just for us it usually sinks down to the bottom of our priority list. Days will go by until we actually get to time for ourselves and more often than not, with a cloud of guilt hovering over it.

When I heard this old Zen saying, something profound shifted for me and I understood downright the message of yoga practice and its assistance in our everyday life:

“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour”.

I hope this article will encourage you to find the time for the practice of yoga in your busy day.

8 reasons

 Yoga gives you space and time for “Me Time”

That hour that you’re going to spend on your yoga mat is an hour just for you! There are no kids, pets, boyfriends, girlfriends, no alarm clocks, no partner, boss, work colleagues, nobody seeking your attention. That is your time and your time only. To spend it on you. To pay attention only to you. Time spent on your yoga mat is likely to bring up and release ongoing dilemmas and personal issues that were yearning for a quiet moment to reveal themselves. Sometimes it’s all too easy to stay stuck in a rut because we don’t take time to think of the best use of our time and energy. Time spent with yourself gives you an opportunity to understand, let go, to release and relax, as it is necessary to occasionally distance ourselves from routine, so as to maintain healthy relationships with both people and material things.

 

 

Yoga keeps you flexible and mobile

Our sedentary way of modern life is making us less mobile. Desk-tight shoulders, sore neck, back pains, dodgy hamstrings or an old running injury to the knee are all the result of long hours spending in a chair at our work desk. We are not moving our joints and stretching our muscles as is necessary to keep them both supple and mobile. If our joints don’t work properly, they start pulling muscles and bones surrounding them distorting our body alignment. Most importantly, regular movement of the joints prevents joint fluid drying up. Depriving joints of the constant flow of fluid will leave them without healthy nutrition and oxygen. Joints will, as a result, wear and tear sooner, thinning the cartilage tissue and eventually that causes such pain that we might need to have a joint replacement operation in the end. Kevin Trueau was spot on when he said; “Most people have no idea how good their body is designed to feel.” Incorporating an hour of a good yoga practice into your busy schedule is essential to keep your joints and muscles in good shape!

 

 

Yoga reduces stress

A recent study looking into positive thinking stated that dreaming about the future calms you down, as it measurably reducing systolic (pressure on your arteries) blood pressure. Yoga practice provides nurturing space and quiet time to stop for a moment, relax and reflect upon your daily routine and priorities. Stress is a part of our human nature, but we come to yoga to balance it out. Meditation is a tool we use for that. When we have a healthy body, full breath and calm mind, anxiety fails to strike. Mediation as well as various yoga breathing techniques known as Pranayama, and also settling into physical stillness as in final relaxation at the end of yoga practice known as Shavasana, are reinforcing, calming properties necessary for a good sound sleep and rest. This will prepare us to cope better with stressful moments when they arise. Plus you’ll be more productive at work, more enjoyable company to be around, a better partner and more forbearing with your kids.

 

Yoga keeps you in check with reality

Yoga takes you into the present moment, the only place where life exists. Balancing postures in yoga practice are perfect examples. When we’re doing a “Tree” posture, balancing on one leg with arms above our head, there is no way we could think about shopping lists, to-do-lists, what’s for lunch, or anything else, because we would lose our focus and the concentration that such a posture commands and inevitably lose the ground, come out of balance and fall. Balancing postures demand your undivided attention and as such bring you straight into present moment.

 

Yoga practice takes care of various physiological systems in your body.

In yoga practice we can immediately notice the effect on three of these physiological systems, namely the nervous, respiratory and digestive systems. Sitting long hours in a chair folded forward, ploughing through daily tasks takes its toll on our nervous system but also, squashes our stomach and digestive system and compresses our lungs affecting the respiratory system.We use Pranayama, breathing exercise, and Asana, postures, to combat all three at the same time. In Asana practice, by moving body through the space and folding ourselves in all sort of peculiar poses we massage our digestive system. There are certain postures that are particularly beneficial for containing and even reversing Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or an upset stomach. Pranayama instantly soothes our nervous system and expands our lung capacity enabling more oxygen to enter into our body. Consequently, the more oxygen that flows to your brain the more clarity, focus, alertness and concentration it brings.

 

Yoga builds up your determination

We often think of yoga as relaxing, but it takes strength of mind as well as muscle to hold body in asana (pose) for more than two seconds. Most of the yoga postures are challenging, regardless of our level of practice (there is always space to bend deeper), and they are designed to push you to your physical limits. However, in yoga practice we start from what is comfortable first, and slowly work and progress towards deeper levels. On that journey we are travelling from the comfortable and familiar towards the space of unknown and outside of our comfort zone.

 

Yoga allows you to get in tune with the state of your body

Very closely related to the previous point is the fact that when you focus on what you’re doing in the present moment, being more attentive to your moving body, you start listening to it more carefully. When you have to start making choices you have to start listening carefully to what the body is telling you. Observing any response that the body and the mind refer back to us is precious, as we can react in time and investigate.

 

It creates harmony between you and the world around you

Regular yoga practice centres you and keeps you balanced. What yoga can teach you is to let go of things that no longer serve you. Being present and being ok with it, no matter what the particular moment reveals. It gives you confidence and realisation that you can actually achieve more than you think but without aggravation, unnecessary struggle and stress. And just sometimes we need to be reminded of it!

“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured”.

B.K.S. Iyengar

Thank you VidaYoga for this awesome article and for allowing us to share it here

Sitali Pranayama

SitaliDo you get irritated by the summer heat?

Do you sometimes feel flushed with anger?

Are you plagued by hot flashes?

Maybe it's time to practice this cooling pranayama that can soothe you in the time it takes to drink a glass of water.

In sitali pranayama (the cooling breath) the inhalation is moistened as it passes through the curl of the tongue. Sitali cools the body, adds moisture to the system, and soothes a pitta imbalance. Besides building breath awareness, this practice is also said to calm hunger and thirst. Sitali cools the body, adds moisture to the system, and, in the parlance of ayurveda, soothes a pitta imbalance, which is common in the summer months. It can also be used to reduce fatigue.

If you are unable to curl your tongue (it’s a genetic thing!) you can always practice sitkari where you breath in through your mouth with teeth gently pressed together, breathing out through the nose as with sitali breath.

Cautions for Sitali and Sitkari:

Because sitali and sitkari reduce body temperature, they are best practiced during hot weather or after a vigorous asana or heating pranayama practice. If you have a vata or kapha constitution, sitali and sitkari may not be appropriate during wintertime. No matter when you practice, be sure to take in air that is close to body temperature, since the breath won’t be warmed by the nostrils—if the air is cold, it may aggravate the lungs.

Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

Nadi ShodhanaNadi Shodhana Pranayama: alternate nostril breathing.

Nadi Shodhana is a simple yet powerful technique that settles the mind, body, and emotions.

You can use it to quiet your mind before beginning a meditation practice, and it is particularly helpful to ease racing thoughts if you are experiencing anxiety, stress, or having trouble falling asleep.

Chandra Bhedana Pranayama

Chandra BhedanaChandra Bhedana Pranayama ~ Moon Piercing Breath.

Chandra Bhedana is not usually among the formal techniques listed in traditional texts, though it is believed that this practice has the opposite effects of surya bedhana/sun piercing breath; it quiets the brain, calms the mind and cools the body.

This technique should be avoided if you have asthma, low blood pressure, cough, cold or respiratory problems. (If you have one of these conditions, we encourage you to continue the practice of breath observation that we begin our pranayama practice with).

Chandra Bhedana should not be practiced on the same day as Surya Bhedana.

This technique should only be practiced during the summer, and should be avoided in winter.

Surya Bhedana Pranayama

Surya BhedanaThis week we are introducing Surya Bhedana Pranayama ~ Sun Piercing Breath to our breathing practice.

Surya Bhedana pranayama can activate and energize the Pingala Nadi, which is associated with the right nostril or the "sun" nadi and the sympathetic nervous system.

Traditionally, Surya Bhedana is said to stimulate the brain, awaken energy in the body and increase body heat.

This technique should be avoided if you have any heart conditions/surgeries, or if you have high blood pressure. (If you have one of these conditions, we encourage you to continue the practice of breath observation that we begin our pranayama practice with).

This breathing practice should be avoided in the summer months and should not be practiced on the same day as chandra bhedana pranayama (moon piercing breath).

Sama-Vritti Pranayama

Sama Vritti

Sama = equal

Vritti = fluctuation

In sama-vritti pranayama the length of inhale and exhale are regulated to become equal in length.

Why learn to practice this technique?

Sama Vritti calms the body by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system and can be used to reduce stress and anxiety. The equal breathing technique helps focus the mind and can also be used in conjunction with meditation practice if desired.

Expand Your Yoga Practice with Pranayama & Meditation

meditation announcementThere is so much more to yoga than the physical poses but sometimes an hour is just not enough time to fit it all in!

From 14th March onward we are happy to be offering extended classes to explore some of the traditional practices of yoga to compliment your regular asana (physical) practice.
 
This will take place immediately after the 1 hour flow classes (excluding chair yoga), for approximately 15 minutes and will include:

  • Extended Savasana/relaxation (who doesn't love more relaxation time?!)
  • Pranayama (breathing practice)
  • Guided meditation

This part of the class is optional but highly recommended as a part of a rounded yoga practice. 

If you do not wish to participate in the extended practice:
There will be a single chime of the tingsha bells to indicate the end of the 1 hour class.
Gently make your way to a seated posture (you will not be prompted to do so by your instructor)
Take a moment of stillness and bring your hands to prayer at your heart to thank yourself for your practice  
Your instructor will bow to you (Namasté), feel free to return the gesture to close your practice.
Please leave the studio as quietly as possible so as not to disturb students remaining in relaxation.
 
If you wish to participate in the extended practice:
Remain in relaxation until there are 3 chimes of the tingsha bells.
You will be guided into a seated posture and through the Pranayama and meditation practices.

More information about pranayama and meditation, and why you should practice them can be found on this blog. Check back regularly as weekly updates will be added with additional information about the pranayama technique being practiced that week in the studio. 

As always, if you have any questions regarding public or private classes, or any of the information in this post, please don't hesitate to call, text or email!

Namasté

Shona

Sanskrit Word Of The Week: Pranayama


PranayamaPrāṇāyāma {pra-na-ya-ma} is the 4th limb of the 8 limbs of yoga as presented by Patañjali in the Yoga Sutras.

It can be translated as breath control or life force expansion. It consists of techniques designed to gain mastery over the respiratory process while recognizing the connection between the breath, the mind, and the emotions. 

Like any form of conditioning and training, Prāṇāyāma practices have beginning, intermediate, and advanced stages. What’s most important about the practice is to attend to them with patience, gentleness, and compassion.

Any level of practitioner can benefit from Prāṇāyāma and ike all yoga practices, it’s designed to meet us where we are.

What is Pranayama?

Breathe

How often do you stop and pay attention to your breath?

Do you notice even now that you’re only breathing into your chest?

Did you just take a big deep breath?!

Most of us have an incomplete breath pattern due to modern day life (stress, sitting, slouching, and habitual breathing patterns) but yoga can help!

Yoga is more than a physical practice of poses. Part of the practice of yoga includes pranayama which means breath control, or breath expansion. It is the process of noticing our habitual breath patterns and learning to control and/or expand the breath and consequently, your energy.

Through different pranayama techniques, you can learn to use the breath to calm yourself in stressful or fearful situations. You can use the breath to clear your mind and help you focus. On days where you’re feeling tired and sluggish, you can energize the body with the breath, whereas when you’re feeling the heat of the Texas summer, you can practice a technique to cool and calm the physical body and mind.

There are many different pranayama techniques, some are simple and some are very complex. Exploring pranayama can be a fantastic addition to a yogi’s practice.  It can empower you to change your mood, enhance your asana practice, and bring focus to your meditation.  It’s something you can practice anywhere, anytime!

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