Saturday, January 28, 2012

Courage vs. Fear

When we are fearful our bodies have a certain physical and mental response. Yoga can help us with this.
When we are faced with fear, Yoga Philosophy encourages us to practice the opposite.  If we are faced with a situation or thought which makes us fearful we can consider doing something courageous instead. Sounds easy in theory, but what can we do when our bodies shift into a state of fight or flight?

First approach:
1) Identify the fear, (ex. I am afraid of public speaking)
2) Try to accept it.  Perhaps the fear then subsides to a concern...
3) Do what you are afraid of anyway... (What is the worse that can happen?)

Second approach:
Look at an area where you are courageous, like skiing, and apply the courage that it takes to ski to something that you are afraid of. (Contemplate how when you first started skiing you might have been fearful, but the more you did it the more courageous you became.)

In addition, our bodies respond to our conscious and unconscious fears.  Our heart -rate quickens, our breath becomes shallow and isolated to our chest, and our body hunches over and rounds forward to protect our vital organs.  All as if we are preparing to be attacked.  Much of this physical response is unconscious, but if we can learn to become aware of our bodies response we can do things to change them.

Deep Breathing into the diaphragm/belly
Deep breathing increases the oxygen and blood flow to the brain.   Oxygenated blood cleanses the blood stream from stress hormones.
Chest opening stretches to counter the protective posture
Forward bends to surrender to the peace in this moment and offer a new perspective.

The above actions came be done at the times we experience fear, but we can also practice these actions when we practice yoga so that our body remembers how to respond.
Also, movements like spinal twists and side bends massage and soak the organs.  Especially, the liver and kidneys where toxins are stored due to habitual stress response.
When practicing Yoga visualize a small fear and then imagine a courageous behavior that you already possess. Imagine this while doing your physical Asana practice and reinforce the learning in our minds and bodies.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Yoga Mala - to Benefit (H)EAT

On February 12th, I will be participating in doing108 Sun Salutations with other local Yoga instructors and students to benefit (H)EAT a charitable organization which will supply heating oil and meals to Seacoast families in need (10,000 gallons and 10,000 meals). 
If you are interested in sponsoring me, I have a pledge sheet at Blue Moon Yoga or you can email me.  You can pledge a set amount or per Sun Salutation.  I plan to do all 108;-)

Here is a link to the event if you are interested in joining me: Yoga Mala

Nicolle Casey

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How The Diaphragm Works in Breathing

Thanks to everyone that joined us for Yoga class this week.  Here is an answer to Louise's excellent question.
The diaphragm is the primary muscle of respiration. It flattens out to expand the ribs and make room for the lungs during inhalation.  It domes up to form around the heart and lungs during exhalation.  Filling our belly as we inhale draws the diaphragm down increasing the space for the lungs to expand.  Contracting the belly pushes the diaphragm up which compresses the lungs and assists in eliminating the oxygen depleted air.  
Here is a link to a 3-D video which shows how the diaphragm works.
3D view of the Diaphragm
Notice the breath.  What message does it have for us?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy New Year!

I am continuing to teach the Yoga and Meditation class on Thursday evenings from 6-7:30pm. 
Thanks to all who attended this evening.  
This evening we focus on poses that clear the mind and meditation on inspirational passages as suggested by Eknath Easwaran. Eknath states that slow, sustained concentration on these passages drives them deep into our minds. And whatever we drive deep into consciousness, that we become." Or as the Buddha says, "All that we are is the result of what we have thought." 
Eknath compiled a book of passages from many Spiritual traditions.  The title of this book is God Makes the Rivers to Flow from the Sacred Literature of the World Chosen for Daily Meditation
Following is the Prayer of St Francis (which I shared in class this evening)
Lord make me an instrument of thy peace;
Where there is hatred let me sow love,
Where there is injury pardon,
Where there is doubt let me sow faith,
Where there is despair let me sow hope,
Where there is darkness let me sow light,
Where there is sadness let me sow joy
Oh divine master grant that I might not so much seek to
Be consoled as console,
be understood as to understand,
be loved as to love,
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
It is in dying to self that we are bore to eternal life
Here is another passage from the book:
Songs of Sri Ramakrishna
Dwell, O mind, within yourself;
Enter no other’s home.
If you but seek there, you will find
All you are searching for.
God, the true Philosopher’s Stone,
Who answers every prayer,
Lies hidden deep within your heart,
The richest gem of all.
How many pearls and precious stones
Are scattered all about
The outer court that lies before
The chamber of your heart!

New Class

I am now teaching a 1 hour, Yoga I - Vinyasa Flow class at 11:00am on Wednesday’s at Blue Moon Yoga.
The theme of our classes, for the next eight weeks will center on Yoga’s approach to emotions.  
This week we practiced focusing the opposite virtue (hope, joy, faith, acceptance, compassion,) for the times that our emotions interfere with our higher intentions or purpose and prevent us from doing what we have set out to do.
Thank you all who attended.