Week 30: The Struggles of Rest
Aaa-haaaa. *Sigh* And relax! Or do you?
This weekend I was on a late night airplane flight and was trying to get my son to relax and fall asleep. He was perfectly positioned on my lap in corpse pose (Savasana) - thank goodness for the last row on the plane and three seats!- so my logic was he is sure to fall asleep. Oh my, did he fight it with tooth and nail!
This got me thinking a bit more about corpse pose, yoga in general and embracing rest. How often can we physically place ourselves into the correct yoga position, however, mentally we are not able to do the pose?
Yoga is much more than the physical. I can perform many of the poses but if my mind is off in any way, forget about reaping the benefits.
Looking back at my son's situation, really he was more interested in the latches on the folding tray, the person sitting a row in front of us and the lucky chance to prance down the aisle as if he was a model on the runway!!! He was not ready to relax into his sleep.
So next time I'm blessed with a moment to practice corpse pose, I'm going to take the time to mentally relax (even if it is for only one minute!) and the physical relaxation and much needed rest will follow.
Ready to practice corpse pose anytime! :)
Week 29: Paper From the Past
My husband and I just recently purchased a new computer. We were transferring files and I came across an academic paper I wrote in about 2001. I was fortunate to take an academic class on yoga. At the time, I was focused on athlete health and probably the topic of the paper was chosen because I was training too much (at the time I was competing in triathlons). If you've got time, take a read of my paper on Overtraining and Yoga - just click the link below.
June 2004, Convocation from graduate school
Week 28: Ha-Tha
I have written briefly about yin and yang with yoga but it wasn’t until this week when reading, Insight Yoga by Sarah Powers, that my understanding of the two concepts expanded. Rather than me trying to summarize what I read, I will just directly quote what Sarah provides as a great overview in her book. She writes “…a skillful yoga practice can allow both sides of our nature to be inhabited, the receptive, allowing side (yin) and the dynamic engaging qualities (yang).”
...the yogic term for any physical-based practice, Hatha, reflects [yin and yang] these two distinct yet unified energies. Hatha can be broken into its two parts: ha, meaning the warming, sunlike manifestations (from the sun god Surya); and tha, meaning the cooling or moon elements (from the moon goddess Chandra). Hatha yoga is a marriage of ha and tha, a balanced equilibrium of yin and yang energies. The terms yin and yang reflect these same coessential opposites.
Sarah continues to write:
"Yang yoga practice primarily targets strengthening and lengthening muscles, which of course also improves the health of the organs and bones as well as the circulatory and respiratory systems."
"...[yin] practice...is mainly stationary and allows many of the muscle groups to soften, while exposing the joints to pressure as the skeleton is pulled apart..."
"Yin and yang are adjectives that describe the way chi manifests itself...". In most cases, each pose can be practiced in either a yin or yang way depending on what physical demands are put on the body. I had never thought that poses could be both yin and yang. It is remarkable how the body can be flexible and yet strong. Depending on how the body is directed, it can focus more on yin or yang. Love it! My yoga practice has now grown in the multitudes!
Now I need to be more aware of what type of direction I am going with each respective session - more yin or yang. I've noticed classes listed as one or the other. I'm excited to try both.
I'll keep you posted as to how it goes - yin and yang,
Are there day to day experiences that you hold sacred?
And if so, why are they so special?
Yesterday, I dove into my local swimming pool with vigor and zest. I have a hard time explaining what it is about swimming that is so fantastic. It is high on my list of sacred experiences, just like yoga. Both physical activities are refreshing, calming and invigorating all at the same time. There is a certain amount of technique and biomechanics to each that requires me to think gently. Breathing is essential to both, particularly the timing of each breath. I find myself extremely introverted with each but yet still aware of my surroundings. And both are literally in my bones, for a lack of better words. I've been doing both for over two-thirds of my life.
I admit, swimming and yoga can easily bump out most any other activities in my life with the exception of other flow experiences such as being with friends and family (combined together with these physical activities, even better!), enjoying a healthy meal that is tantalizing my taste buds, sleeping in warm flannel sheets, and reading an interesting book. It has become apparent that swimming and yoga are two of my flow experiences. If you are not familiar with the term flow, read on...
Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the "father of flow" and the "optimal experience". I've read two of his books, Flow: The Psychology of the Optimal Experience and Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life. And highly recommend both.
I believe that finding flow in your life is SO important. And I believe it or not, I didn't mention work on my list of flow activities. It was purposely done. I wanted to separate it from the rest. As one day I hope to add "Yoga Teacher" to my resume. It will fit perfectly with my current job because I DO experience flow at work and am very grateful for that!
Finding flow in yoga and life,
Aspiring Yoga Teacher
I've practiced yoga since I was a pre-teen and have always found it to keep me centered. I will be a teacher one day and this is my journey to discover teaching and practice.