It never ceases to amaze me when people say things to me like, “you are so calm”, “I wish I was as laid back as you”, and “you have everything under control”.
I laugh under my breath.
I sure as heck don’t feel like I’ve got it all together. I would argue for days that I am much more of a Type A personality than a Type B personality. Do I hide it well? Maybe. My poker face keeps things together.
Yet, this week I sure didn’t feel like I was “put together” or “in control” at all.
Ready for it…
I was sick AGAIN!
Stomach flu resolved with minor queasiness and fatigue due to lack of food. But sure enough waking up to find I had that darn sore throat again, which followed with the nasty cough and sinuses that had never ending fluid flow (sorry, no disclaimer this week!).
I feel like I am out of CONTROL!
Quite literally sick for the entire month of March with little to no avail. What the heck???!!!
I am a control freak and have lost all control…of my body at this point.
I did not hesitate to get on the mat this week. Maybe I could gain some control.
And I did.
Yoga is the ultimate way to get back into your body…feel all the nooks and crannies…even just being mindful of your breath during practice delivers control…in a good way of course!
Yoga with Adriene’s wonderful 30-Day Yoga Camp provided a super practice of “I Am in Control”. What a power booster and energy reviver!
I most certainly benefited from a concentrated hip circumduction.
Okay my non-anatomy friends, rotation of the hip or small circles of the upper leg. Unsure if this table top yoga pose has a sanskrit name, I hopped onto my trusty Google to see what I could find. Essentially, there isn’t a “traditional” yoga pose to label and follow. Think “fire hydrant” exercise if need be but with full rotation at the hip. Nonetheless, it was effective in bringing some focused effort and control to my body.
My lovely practice pushed me but was essential in gaining some control back into my body.
I love you yoga…in a non-controlling kind of way! ;)
Rumble, grumble, gurgle…
Rumble, grumble, gurgle…
That was the sound of my GI (stomach) system this past weekend.
Where it came from and what caused it, I have no idea.
So, when it came to yoga this week, naturally I went searching for a yoga practice that could help with my digestion and stomach cramps. My initial search, of course, led me back to my touchstone, Adriene. She provided not just one but two essential practices to help me out!
Now, I realize, I’ve been pretty open, honest and quite transparent in 2016. I’ve opened up and written about many personal things. So folks, this one will be no different.
Disclaimer: I will contain myself to a point. But let’s be honest, sh*t happens. Bodily fluids haven’t bothered me since taking gross anatomy in university, but for some, its too much information! I’ll save some of the details but here is what unfolded.
I started with this practice first...
With not eating much yesterday, my energy was low and this practiced pushed my effort. In the end, I’m glad it was only 25 minutes! The pose that seemed to really speak to me was downward facing dog twist or revolved downward facing dog (Parivrtta Adho Mukha Svanasana). I can’t recall if I’ve written about this asana before but I know I’ve done it a couple times before. Essentially, it is a downward facing dog with the opposite hand reaching for the opposite leg (body is being held up by only three appendages).
Yoga Outlet states that the twisting of the torso massages and tones your internal organs, which helps to remove toxins and waste products. Cleansing these organs also improves metabolism, digestion, and overall well-being. Well, that is what I needed. So much so that…
I visited the bathroom not once during practice, not twice, but three times. Thank goodness that bathroom is only a quick run up the stairs because revolved downward facing dog got things moving!
I also took the time to try Wind-Relieving Pose. Yes, that is it’s real name.
It amazes me that I’ve done this pose and its iterations for years without knowing its name!
Silver lining to this discomfort ridden couple days…I found out more about yoga.
I don’t encourage you to give yourself GI distress just to find out more about the Wind-Relieving Pose, but yoga continues to teach me many things. Riding my body, of you know what, is just the side benefit!
Nothing like sitting and breathing and letting the body tell you what is what!
Not only does the breath bring you to the mat (mindfulness anyone?!) but the use of the amazing, physiological capabilities that provide our perception - the senses.
As we all know them, the five traditional senses are:
What you hear?
What you see?
What you taste?
What you smell?
What your skin feels?
The more scientific definition, which I equally appreciate is:
"A system that consists of a group of sensory cell types that responds to a specific physical phenomenon, and that corresponds to a particular group of regions within the brain where the signals are received and interpreted."
I had never thought of starting a yoga practice by using the various senses. I have previously designed and facilitated a workshop on simulating the senses in an indoor cycling class called Reinventing Your Spin Class: Conscious Change Through Creativity!. So why not use the same principles when designing yoga practice too? The foundation of the workshop I taught was based on the book, On Becoming An Artist: Reinventing Yourself Through Mindful Creativity, by Ellen J. Langer. A great read to spark some creativity!
I am always looking for ways to become a better speaker, facilitator, and teacher. This week’s practice, thanks to Do Yoga With Me, has opened the idea of using the senses to help audiences, clients, and participants to connect. And, I think I need to take another read of Langer’s book…a 2016 perspective versus the original 2009 perspective.
Linking the senses to yoga practice as a whole is an interesting topic. In my internet search, I came across two opposing perspectives with the incorporation of using the senses in practice. First, Deepak Chopra talks at length about Ayurveda and using the senses for health. When thinking of a class setting, the music hits the ears, the eyes witness the namaste symbol, the scent of lavender in eye pillows, the taste of water after a vinyasa flow and the touch of a yoga mat under ones’ toes. Now I am no expert in Ayurveda (actually I would call myself a beginner) but yoga is linked to Ayurveda to some degree.
Yet, my second search dropped me into the Yoga Sutras.
Here we go! So much I don’t know!
Pratyahara or Sense Withdrawal, is the fifth rung of the eight sutras. What it purports is to withdraw the senses instead of using them in practice (primarily in meditation). What was beautifully written as:
"The senses are said to follow the mind in the same way the hive of bees follows the queen bee. Wherever she goes, they will follow. Similarly, if the mind truly goes inward, the senses will come racing behind.”
My grand idea of using the senses in practice may actually be defeating one of the key parts of yoga.
Well, I won’t solve this one anytime soon. But interesting nonetheless.
How do your senses engage in your yoga practice?
You can imagine that I retreated to the yoga mat again this week. It has been an emotional and mental taxing kind of week as I continually reflect on the passing of my grandma.
I searched the Do Yoga With Me website to find the best way to practice and support myself. Initially unsure, I picked the Yoga for Anxiety video.
Thinking, "I'm not anxious!"
Yet, I was pulled to this practice. Rightly so, it was time to breath...
As Do Yoga With Me's, David Procyshyn stated,
"...this practice is all about getting things unstuck. Anxiety is often about holding on to stuff. So using breath and movement to push that stuff through. To feel much more relaxed and at ease."
Although, I don't really see myself as anxious, what David was offering was exactly what I needed. Releasing the tension and hold of grief.
It is time to get unstuck.
The dominant feature of this practice was pranayama, yogic breath. So essential to yoga as it is one of the foundational aspects found in the eight limbs of Patanjali's yoga sutras.
This practice began with focused breath through the "four quadrants" of the torso - the front stomach, the side ribs and the rear back. It was very beneficial and focused way to start. It foreshadowed what was to come in the rest of the practice.
We covered three notable breathing practices below.
1. Breath of Joy
A welcomed breathe, Breath of Joy was an amazing rush of oxygen. As Yoga International states:
"The Breath of Joy awakens your whole system. It increases oxygen levels in the bloodstream, temporarily stimulating the sympathetic nervous system, circulating more prana, and gently stoking agni."
Oh - agni again. Better yet, here’s a brief video that demonstrates it much better than my written words.
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.