Shoulders are Made for Mobility Not Stability

I read something awesome in Yoga Journal online.

“Shoulders are made for mobility not stability”.

Last night I was doing a round of sun salutations and immediately felt a little sad that my arthritis in my elbows has weakened my chaturanga.  I was struggling.

I used to be so proud of my chaturanga and thought I had really strong arms.

So I set out on a mission to find out how to modify this pose so I can still salute the sun and not feel like an old lady.

“Shoulders are made for mobility not stability”. That’s it!

Now that I think about it, I was putting WAY too much weight on my upper body during the transition from plank to chaturanga. No wonder my elbows were screaming. It’s like my arthritis is an alarm system to say, “Hey! too much weight here!”  Thanks, arthritis.

We shouldn’t be putting all of our weight on our arms and shoulders. Well, I shouldn’t be, anyway.

The article I read explained while transitioning into chaturanga, “push back through your legs and feet.”

Hot damn! Just like down dog! Equal weight distribution.

What was I thinking hurting my precious body like that, in the past? I wanted so bad to be strong and to impress myself (and anyone watching). I put all this hurt on me, and then got mad at myself for not being able to do it anymore!

That’s not self-love!

SELF-LOVE is so important! Nurturing and caring for our bodies is so important!

I was actually mad at my shoulders and elbows for not working as good as they used to. The fact is I used to heap abuse on them, and was disappointed when they didn’t want to do it anymore!

The beauty of Yoga is that we can MODIFY!

Yoga can be yours; you do not need to do anyone else’s Yoga.

I still have strong arms, but now I am protecting my shoulders and elbows.

My first love will always be Gentle Yoga.

So now, when I do Yoga,

  • I say to myself: Equal Weight Distribution
  • I listen to my elbows and all my other joints when they “talk” to me
  • I keep a slight bend in my elbows when I raise my arms to the sky
  • I make my OWN SUN SALUTATIONS, I modify the poses for to work for MY BODY
  • I research online to make sure I am safe, when in doubt about a pose
  • I run my joints through their range of motion each day, with regular arm circles, ankle rotations, wrist rotations, Taking Great Care and keeping micro-bends in all my joints
  • Think Fluidity – Not Rigidity
  • My movements are a slow gentle flow

And I met a new Yoga love; Restorative Yoga!!!!

Melting in a pose for over 5 minutes is heaven!

Take care of your joints!

Peace out and Namaste

 

OK, So What is Life Coaching?

Did you ever watch Survivorman, the show on the Discovery Channel? Les Stroud is a survival expert and he strands himself in remote locations and survives with his knowledge, common sense and survival skills.

I watched an episode this weekend and discovered that this show is life coaching 101.

This man is equipped with the skills and internal tools he needs to survive in extreme conditions. Well, that’s kind of what life coaching is like, and a life coach shares the knowledge of tools and skills they have learned and developed in order to not only survive, but to successfully navigate through the wilderness and jungles of everyday life.

In the episode I watched just this weekend, Les stated the following, which I thought was brilliant.

“It’s often thought that there are black and white answers to what someone must do in a survival situation. But there never is. It will always be an ordeal fraught with variables and circumstances that will dictate what my next move is. Its equal parts preparation, pro-activity and reacting to whatever I have to face.”

This is everyday life as well. We don’t need to be in a jungle with fire ants at our feet and a rain storm on our head to know how challenging life can be. Just walking through our daily life requires a skill set and preparation and pro-activity, just like Les said. And whatever we have to face, we can stare at it and deal with it and do the best we can with the tools we have. The thing is, that when you get life coached, you get more tools!

Happy surviving.

Exist Comfortably Here

The reason I love yoga so much is that it gently challenges me to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. And if the challenge is too great for me, I can rest in child’s pose and try again later, if I wish. This process is comforting, gives me confidence and when I do lean into my tension and relax into a pose it teaches me the art of letting go.
My advice to anyone participating in yoga, do not feel pushed into any one style or be convinced that you need to excel and master power flows.  There is no destination in yoga.  Yes, you may get more flexible and get more comfortable in poses, but the key is to learn how to be comfortable in the present moment.
I recommend gentle Hatha Yoga first as a start. 
What you learn in your yoga class is what you carry with you in your daily life.
I did my first swing yoga class on the weekend and hanging upside down in a suspended hammock like device was a bit strange at first, and when my arms and head dangled a few inches above the floor, I heard my internal voice say “exist comfortably here.”
Thats’s it. That’s the lesson in Yoga. Exist comfortably here.  Even though your ass is in a sling and your world is turned upside down, you can still breathe, you can still focus and you can still survive.  Learn to exist comfortably in those moments. Know the challenging moments in your life are temporary, but acknowledge them, lean into them, and let go.  Before you know it your feet will be back on the ground and you will be wiser, stronger and braver than you ever were before.

“Exist comfortably here” is my new mantra and I welcome you to use it for yourself in those unexpected strange positions life sometimes puts you in.

Namaste

Creating Inner Peace by Leaning into Tension

We hold tension in our tissues, muscles and mind.

By gently leaning into that tension and learning how to breathe and be present and comfortable in that tension is the first step to inner peace.  When leaning into that tight spot, think of space, think of the vast sky.  Lean into the muscle or tissue tension for a few seconds, think of creating space, and then release back into a neutral place.  With gentle persistence by committing to our Yoga practice we will create space, we will release that tension and learn to be comfortable and learn to be present.

This works the same for tension in the mind.  If you have a scary or uncomfortable thought, lean into it, sit with it for a few seconds.  Then let it go, think of creating space. 

We don’t have to look outward anymore for relief.  That place of peace resides inside of us and can be accessed at any time.

On some of our more complicated days our inner peace can be challenging to reach, but be comforted to know it is there.  You can learn the methods to access your inner peace. 

Slow down your breathing, starting by adding a few more seconds onto your exhale.  As your breathing slows down begin to deepen the breath.  On your exhale add sound, start with the sound of MMMMMM.

Inhale naturally, exhale MMMMM.

Feel the inner peace this exercise accesses and sense the vibrational feeling of the sound through your lips and mouth.  This is bringing you closer to your relationship with your vibrational spiritual being.  This action is bringing you closer to uniting your physical self and your astral subtle body.

Enjoy it, connect to it and experience what deep relaxation means.

You do not have to do a whole Yoga routine or any Yoga pose for that matter.  Just try to connect with your body and yourself, breathe and be present.  That can be your Yoga for today.

Namaste

Slow Walking Meditation

I’m not really big on seated meditation for many reasons.  One being that sitting still is tough for me, especially if it is before a yoga practice.  I have to exert a lot of energy before I can practice non-movement.

So when I was introduced to movement meditation, it really grabbed my interest!

My first Yoga teacher who was from India taught me a technique for meditation called “Walking Meditation”.  It isn’t the typical walking mediation you read about when you do a google search.  You don’t have to walk any distance, go outside, or put on any shoes.  You walk in a small space (say your bedroom) at a snail’s pace.  Set your timer for 5 minutes and start to slowly walk.  Let your heel softly touch the floor first and then observe and feel how the rest of the foot reaches the floor.  I observe my surroundings and notice textures in the furniture that are in the room.  I notice and see things in my room I normally would not slow down enough to observe.  We walk so quickly through life.  This exercise really slows me down and clears my mind.  I start to feel an inner peace and some how, magically, an inner dialogue begins.  Once my mind clears, important and relevant topics surface, and I ask myself questions, and I receive answers from some where deep inside of me.  It is a wonderful practice and only takes a few minutes of your time.  Feel free to add minutes for deeper introspection.  Namaste

Ready to Yoga? Now Lay Down and Don’t Move!

I love Gentle Yoga.

Nothing against power flows, vinyasa yoga, and even the dreaded Bikram.  I love Ashtanga as well, especially when I want to feel strong and fierce, I bust out with pride during my Chaturanga and Warrior I.  I am fond of breaking into some Budokon, when I want to improve balance and roll from my Plow to Crow, and be a Flying Warrior.

For these strength building, power inducing Yoga practices I am very grateful.  They help define the muscles in my arms, pleasing my vanity.  They make me feel confident and young and give me goals and keep me strong.  My balance puts up a hell of a fight with gravity and makes me feel like a superhero.

But my heart belongs to Gentle Yoga.

Gentle is where I want to be every day.  I want to revel in the comfort of a Child’s Pose and feel the sweet release of a gentle Twist in Easy Pose, and melt into a tension eradicating Side Bend, and lose myself into a core strong Forward Fold, with a slight bend in my knees and elbows.  Shaking my head “no” to the tension and nodding my head “yes” to the release.

Ahhhh, gentle yoga.  Only Cobras, never Updogs.  Lying on my back for the majority of my practice.  That’s my kind of Yoga!

My vanity and pride have no place in my Gentle Practice.  I do not compete or strive or challenge.  I just am.  I place my body where it needs, where it wants to be.  My body just happens to want to be in relaxation, in a soothing, peaceful meditative state, with COMFORT as it’s main focus.

I even encourage a Yoga practice that consists of lying on the floor comfortably for the entire time without movement!  Just comfort.  Just be, and release.  Get used to being with yourself and find out that the peace and tranquility that you desire is found within.  Put a blanket under your knees and behind your head.  Find your COMFORT, embrace your “Me Time”, encourage your relaxation.  There is no harm in it.  It benefits you.  It is not lazy, it is nurturing.

Do a google search on “Yoga Nidra”.  Think of the Corpse Pose (Savasana) that we do at the end of Yoga Class.  Feel every body part relax one by one.

Now, my Gentle Yoga practice is a little more than just lying on my mat for an hour.  It consists of laying down, but doing spinal twists, we can do modified sun salutations, we can be Gentle Warriors and go to Side Bend City.  We can be a Locust and become a Boat.  I need movement, I crave it and it relaxes me.  It is all about finding out what floats your boat.

Gentle Yoga is my calling and is my heart.  Gentle Yoga is what I teach, talk about and encourage.  I do not know how many years left I will be able to Side crow and do the Fallen Angel, and next week I’m going to try to Eight Angle myself.  If I can do it, it will be on facebook.  Is that showing off, or pride, or a celebration of myself?  It is whatever you perceive it to be.  I will look at it with a sense of accomplishment.  Facebook can be a place for bragging and self esteem craving, and it can also be a wonderful inspirational place, that encourages positivity and breeds healthy connections.  You get to choose what it is for you.

Even though Power Yoga muscle-fies me and gives me the ability to walk a tightrope (that’s NEVER going to happen), it also starts a fire in my competitiveness and feeds my ego.  I think about the people a Yoga class, who look over at the person next to them and want to do better than them.  We all feel it.

Let’s try to squash that and just concentrate on ourselves.

When I walked out of a Hot Yoga class last month because of the sickening heat, I didn’t feel bad.  I felt empowered that I KNOW what is good for my body and I know what is right for me and I HONOR that.

I know you cannot know what you can do, until you try it.  When starting a new or challenging pose, you have to take a leap of faith.  A friend of mine probably had no idea that she could stand on her head until she tried it.  I, personally don’t do headstands and I can only do Cow Face Pose with a strap.

There is no shame in not doing or not being able to do all yoga poses.

There is honor in knowing what yoga poses are right for you.

You may have to try them all to find out, or you can just look at them and be like “No way I am putting my foot behind my head.”

That is OK.  In fact, everything is OK.  The glory is just being YOU.  Find out what you can do and what you want and like to do.  No one is forcing you to Crane or Crow.  Be the awesome you, roll up a blankie, put it under your knees and lay down on your mat.   Guess what?  You are now a Yogi Master and you don’t even have to get up.

That’s my Yoga, baby!  What yours?

Calm Down, Relax, and Don’t Take a Deep Breath

Okay, so you’re stressed, your breathing is labored, and you need to calm down quick, and what does every one usually say? Take a deep breath. Well I’m telling you not to do that.

What?? Calming your breathing isn’t difficult at all, once you realize that the universe does most of the work for you. And when you are anxious, stressed or panicky, the universe will be nice enough to do half of the job for you to help calm you down, but you have to work with it and not fight it.

The universe will fill you up with air, oxygen, and prana (the life force), as long as you make space for it. The secret is in the exhale. When you feel unstable breathing, the last thing you want to do is keep taking in breaths of air, you may spark hyperventilation. You do not need to force air into your body, it fills up on its own.

What you should do is begin with an exhale, let out all of your air, fully and completely, and leave the inhale alone. You will see, it does it all by itself. Most of the time, the job of breathing is done automatically. The only “regulating” you need to do is increase your exhale to make more space for that precious air that is just waiting to pour into your body. The atmospheric pressure says so. You can’t stop it unless you purposefully resist it. The universe wants to fill you with life so much, so let it. Keep making the space for your prana and make sure you exhale completely and make some room for it!

This simple interpretation has done wonders for me. Whenever I would get upset, worried or start freaking out about something, I would try to calm my breathing by deeply inhaling and then exhaling. I still felt that something was being held and resisted inside of me and never felt 100% relief. When I just begin with the exhale, and then surrender to the inhale, it is the greatest relief in the world.

🙂
Namaste
Happy breathing