Monday, April 25, 2011

School Vacation Week Yoga Teaching Schedule

Below is a schedule of the classes that I am teaching this week. I hope to see you.....
April 26-28th
Tuesday, Yoga II - 9-10:30am
Wednesday, Yoga II - Vigorous - 9-10:30am
Wednesday, Yoga I - 12:15-1:15pm
Thursday, Yoga II -  Vigorous - 12- 1:30pm

Celebrating Life and the Earth!

Here is the introduction wrote for last weeks Blue Moon Newsletter:

Dear Yoga Friends, 

The Easter Bunny is  coming this weekend and my son asked, "Mom, what does the Easter Bunny have to do with eggs anyway. They don't lay eggs." So we had a conversation about Spring time, and the rebirth of nature, and new life and how the prolific bunny and eggs are symbols of the new life and rebirth that takes place in Spring.

The earth is teaming with new life and it is a perfect time to celebrate the season of rebirth, Easter, and "Earth Day"!  

So, get outside, go for a walk, practice Yoga on the lawn. (I hear that the folks at the White House will be practicing on their front lawn, prior to hunting for Easter eggs this year.)

Anyway you celebrate, find a way to include our wonderful life giving Earth.

Nicolle Casey
Blue Moon Yoga Instructor

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Yoga and the Lymphatic System

For students in last weeks Noon-time class, following is a link to an article on the benefits of Yoga and the lymphatic system. Yoga and the Lymphatic System

Monday, March 28, 2011

Basic Yoga Practice with Heart Opening Poses

On the weekend of March 12th, I led two Yoga sessions as part of a Wellspring Network Chiropractic "Clear Day". (Learn more about the Clear Day and Wellspring below.) For optimal benefit, in the least amount of time, we stretched our spine in five different directions: up (to lengthen), forward, backward, side-to-side, and twist. In addition, we practiced poses, which facilitate an open heart.  It was a wonderful practice, which left us relaxed, open, and feeling connected as a community.  Several people asked me to send them the series of poses we practiced. So, here it is.

You can complete these spine stretches in as little as 5 minutes.  (Try it for a week and see how your feel!)

Mountain Pose – rooting all parts of your feet into the floor, tucking your tail bone slightly, lengthening your spine, lifting your chest and tucking your chin down and back so that the base of your skull is in line with the rest of your spine and finally lift up through the crown of your head. Lengthening as you inhale and deepening, rooting into the posture as you exhale. (Up)

Side Stretch - Arms over head and lean to the left and lean to the right stretching through one side from the foot (firmly rooted into the earth) up to the fingertips and contracting on the opposite side. (Side stretch)

Wheel Pose – Sweep your arms up overhead, extend up through your chest, chin and forehead, gently gaze up toward the ceiling and bend backwards arching your lower back. (Back bend and Forward bend)

Standing Twist  - Swing your arms from side to side behind your back, allowing them to be heavy and flop against your body.  We used to call this the washing machine when we were kids. (Twist)

Here are poses to facilitate an open heart. Some poses stretch the muscular areas of our thoracic spine and chest. Some poses strengthen our arms and hands. Our arms and hands support us, are an extension of our hearts and are often how we reach out to others. Some poses stimulate the heart chakra (the energetic center in our body located in center of our chest parallel with our heart).

Arm Sweep - Sweep arms up over head, hands in prayer pose, then draw your hands down to heart. Or  
Wide Arm Circles – Cross your arms low in front of your navel and draw them up over head, open them wide and draw them down and back along your side.  Then, continue, cross your arms low in front, bend your knees slightly and sweep up, again. 

Opening the Hand Chakras (as suggested by Wheels of Life – A User’s guide to the Chakra System by Anodea Judith, PH.D.) “Extend both arms out in front of you, parallel to the floor with elbows straight. Turn one hand up and one hand down. Now quickly open and close your hands a dozen times or so. Reverse your palms and repeat. This opens the hand chakras. To feel their energy, open your hands and slowly bring your palms together, starting about two feet apart. When your hands are about four inches apart you should be able to feel a subtle ball of energy, like a magnetic field, floating between your palms. If you tune in closely, you may even be able to feel it spinning.” Once you are complete with this experience, draw the energy in, with both hands, towards your heart, one over the other and receive.

Sun Salutation – There are many variations of the Sun salutation. Described below, is the one we practiced.  Begin in Mountain pose, swan dive to a Forward Bend, step back into Plank, lower down from plank to the floor. Move into Cobra (detailed below) then push up into Upward Facing Dog and the Downward Facing Dog. Step forward into Lunge with the left leg and step forward into Forward Bend with the right leg. Finally, bend your knees and draw your arms up over your head, bring them together in prayer position and draw them down in front of your heart.

Cobra – Lie flat on your stomach with your stomach with arms bent and palms placed face down by your shoulders. Inhale, and slowly lift your head, brush your nose and chin along the floor and extend up from your forehead, lengthening along the back of your neck. As you inhale, use your breath as well as your core muscles to continue to lift your shoulders, and back as far as you can go comfortably. Then as you exhale completely, relax down on to the floor and repeat, leading with the inhale.

Squat - with feet a little further than hip distance apart, hold and take a few breaths, then move to a seated position, bend your knees and place the soles of your feet on the floor. Then, slowly roll down onto your back.

Inversion - Draw your feet up in the air so that the soles of your feet are reaching towards the sky. Press up through the soles of your feet alternating one leg at a time pressing up through the hip. To finish, draw your feet down, so that your knees are bent, feet are flat on the floor, and your heals are as close to your buttocks as is comfortable.

Bridge – Begin with you knees bent, feet on the floor and heals drawn in to your buttocks. Then, lengthen you spin by elongating your cervical spin and flattening the base of onto the floor so that more of the base of your skull is touching the floor. Then, lengthen your lumbar spin and past it onto the floor so that there is no longer an arch or space between the floor and your lower back. Then, lengthen your spine as you inhale from your lower diaphragm, filling up your belly, diaphragm and upper chest.  At the top of the inhale, begin to exhale and peel your back off the floor, from the base of your spine, one vertebra at a time, lifting up through your hips rib cage and chest. Draw your shoulder blades together, tuck your arms down along the floor behind you and clasp your fingers together at the base of your spine.  When you have exhaled completely, inhale and fill your lungs and expand your chest a little further, then exhale and roll back down onto your back and begin again for 3 rounds.

Savasana - (Relaxation) – Lay on your back, knees bent and the soles of your feet together, and knees fall out to either side. You may use blankets or bolsters to support your hips and make this position comfortable.  Then, prepare to receive the experience of your physical practice, allowing the breath to flow in and out comfortably.

Pranayama (Breath exercise) – Is an essential element, especially for a heart opening practice.  We did not use our time in this session to focus on the breath as there was another session dedicated to breath work.  A future post will be dedicated to this topic.

Meditation – Traditionally the physical asana practice of yoga is to prepare our mind and bodies for meditation.  We did a brief re-centering practice to re-align with the initial intention of our practice but did not allow time for a formal meditation period. A future post will be dedicated to this topic.
The Clear Day is a daylong healing retreat.  The day includes 3 Network Entrainments (Chiropractic adjustments) as well as workshops on Yoga, Expressive Dance, and Breath work (SRI). They also had nutritious vegan food offered in a lovely setting, The Aryaloka Buddhist retreat center.  You can learn more about this mode of healing (Network Chiropractic) and the Aryaloka retreat center by clicking on the aforementioned topics in the section of my blog titled "Links that I like..."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Living Yoga: Feeding the Bliss Body

Living Yoga: Feeding the Bliss Body: "Last weeks class focused on the Kosha's. The Koshas is a Yogic term for the different energetic layers of our being. The five la..."

Feeding the Bliss Body

Last weeks class focused on the Kosha's. The Koshas is a  Yogic term for the different energetic layers of our being.
The five layers begin with our grossest energetic layers of mater and move out to our most subtle energetic layers.
The five layers are:
1) Physical,
2) Bio-energetic/breath,
3) Mental/emotional,
4) Wisdom,
5) Bliss body.
Each having it's unique set of characteristics and nutritional requirements (See the attached image compliments of iytyogatherapy). Each layer being affected by the more subtle layer within.

While teaching this class we discovered that in practicing Yoga together in the weeks past, focusing on each layer of our energetic body, we had been building up to connecting with the Bliss Body.  We had, within our community, been feeding all the energetic layers of our bodies what they needed to be ready to open up to this experience.  To be open to peace, the knowing of our natural Self, which is whole and connected to the source and essence of creation, unified and one with all.  This was truly palpable within class.
Yogis believe that when we practice Yoga, we are practicing with all of the spiritual masters who have come before us and have yet to come.  And, what I experienced was an accumulation of our practice as a community being feed into this class.  It was truly Blissful....
Namaste to all, (The light in me honors the light in you)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Tea Served in my Morning Yoga Classes

Good Earth Brand - Decaf. Green Lemongrass

White Herring - Apple, Cranberry Ginger

Yogi Brand - Indian Spice (Decaf.)

School Vacation Week Yoga Teaching Schedule

I will be teaching:
Monday Feb 28th, Yoga II, 5:30 -7:00pm
Tuesday, Mar. 1st, Yoga II, 9:00-10:30am
in place of Lisa Rockenmacher who will be on vacation.

I will be away during my usual class times on Wednesday. The following instructors will be teaching in my absence:
Sally Sugatt -Mar. 2nd, Yoga II, 9:00-10:30am
Alicia Rossman -  Mar. 2nd, Yoga I - Noontime Reset, 12:15-1:15pm
Both wonderful and seasoned instructors.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bhagavad Gita and the Practice of Yoga

The Bhagavad Gita is a story, a poem actually and the title translates as "The Song of the Blessed One".  My teacher has called it "a guide to peace of heart.  a love song to god, a psalm, to reality (both the darkness and the light)"
The story takes place on a battle field and is based on a conversation that takes place between a warrior named Arjuna and his chariot driver, Krishna (who is God incarnate).  Just before the battle begins between Arjuna and his evil cousin Kauravas and 100 sons of the blind King Dhritarashtra, Arjuna drops his sword and refuses to fight because he is overwhelmed with pity and dread for the probable death of so many brave warriors.
Krishna then stops time and begins a conversation with Arjuna about life, eternal life, duty, non-attachment, Self, love, spiritual practice and a deeper reality.
Arjuna's first question is whether or not to fight.  This can be considered a metaphor for the forces of good and evil within our own heart or mind.
Below is the introduction to Chapter 2 - The Practice of Yoga
Read this:
"As Arjuna sat there, overwhelmed with pity, desperate, tears streaming from is eyes, Krishna spoke these works to him: "Why this timidity, Arjuna, at a time of crisis? It is unworthy of a noble mind; it is shameful and does not lead o heaven.  This cowardice is beneath you, Arjuna; do not give in to it.  Shake off your weakness.  Stand up now like a man."
 Arjuna said:  "When the battle begins, how can I shoot arrows through Bhishma and Drona, who deserve my reverence:  It would be better to spend the rest of my life as a pauper, begging for food, than to kill these honored teachers.  If I killed them, all my earthly pleasures would be smeared with blood.  And we do not know which is worse, winning this battle or losing it, since if we kill Dhritarashtra's men we will not wish to remain alive.  I am weighed down by pity. Krishna; my mind is utterly confused. Tell me where my duty lies, which path I should take.  I am you pupil; I beg you for your instruction. For I cannot imagine how any victory --even if I were to gain the kingship of the whole earth or of all the gods in heaven-- could drive away this grief that is withering my senses."
Having spoken thus to Krishna, Arjuna said: "I will not fight," and fell silent.
As Arjuna sat there, downcast, between the two armies, Krishna smiled at him, then spoke these words....Bhagavad Gita, translation by Stephen Mitchell
Now, here is an opportunity for us to close our eyes and identify a personal life situation where we might be having our own inner battle between good and evil.....
Can we go beyond the normal modes of thinking by transcending attachment, loss or gain, failure and success?
Can we maintain a balanced state of mind through the practice of Yoga?
Can we practice being "okay with what is"

 It was perfect timing for me to read this passage, as I have had an internal struggle about how to connect with my extended family.  In the past I have tried to ignore the discomfort of our distance and disconnects, or I have tried to push through the obvious miss-understandings by offering myself in another way (thinking I must have done something wrong). But, neither has gotten me the result which I desire, which is a closer relationship with my family.  So I sit writing this with the discomfort of "being with what is" not ignoring that there is a distance between us,  and not acting from the place of feeling like I am not enough.   I surrender to a force greater than my own and wait to be moved with courage, strength and grace into action.
Then, there is the matter of letting go of the outcome and being non-attached to it's success or failure.  Is my heart strong enough for this.... What if I fail?  What if I say the wrong thing, make the wrong choice?  
Shake off the weakness, said Krishna. 

Namaste (The light in me honors the light in you)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day - Rumi

"When you do things from your soul you feel a river moving in you, a joy." Rumi