Monday, 22 April 2013

Yoga on Sunday? Blasphemy or Worship?

 About a week ago Sunday while I was visiting my Folks in Port Charlotte FL, I attended a Yoga class while my Mum and Dad went to church.  It occurred to me during my Practice that day that while Yoga is not a religion it offers me (and countless others) many of the things which attending a House of Worship offers my Parents (and countless others).  

What first drew me to Yoga was the pace of the Practice and the inner stillness it provided me in a way nothing else did.  I have always been one to constantly be looking onto the next, best thing and often missed out on the Present.  Yoga has taught me the Art of 'Being Comfortable in the Now'.  I believe that perhaps organized religions may offer something similar to their congregations by helping them to appreciate the blessings which are bestowed upon them rather than covet for more, whether that be more time, more possessions, etc.

Growing in my Practice has helped me to let go of judgement and embrace a more accepting and loving mindset towards others.  It has also helped me to understand that all events in Life (both good and bad) play a role in shaping my character and the character of others, that nothing is random and that how we deal with these events shapes the path our lives will take.  Having grown up attending United Church I remember that we were taught that God has a plan for each one of us, even if we don't know what it is or understand His reasoning that nothing is random, everything is Divine.

As I delve deeper into Yoga my faith in the Divine Nature of the Universe has been re-ignited and I have found Peace with some of the "mistakes" I have made in Life.  I see now how they have shaped me and through Yoga have learned to Love myself, skeletons and all...does this sound familiar..perhaps like I am Born-Again?

By comparing Yoga to Religion I mean absolutely no offense.  I merely mean to share with you what the Practice offers me and show how for Yoga Practitioners it is far more than a Physical Practice alone.  Yoga has offered me so much over the years (the above mentioned being only the tip of the iceberg) and if I could share it with the whole World I gladly would.  I am so grateful to have a Family who accept and love me for my differences rather than castigate me for not following the same spiritual path they have chosen.

Not much info today, just gratitude. Thanks for listening to my ponderings!  Please feel free to share below what Yoga or your Place of Worship has offered you..I love to hear stories of inspiration!

Eat Healthy, Be Happy!


Friday, 12 April 2013

Yoga for Travelling

As some of you know, I am now in my 4th week of travel (the past week or so have been so busy with visits that I haven't even had time to post!), with still another 2 weeks to go before reaching my final destination of Bali, Indonesia.  Most of my travels so far have been around my Home Province of Ontario, Canada, but I currently find myself in Beautiful Port Charlotte, Florida (which lies on the Gulf of Mexico side of the State) visiting my Parents before I leave North America.

During the course of my visiting Friends and Family around Ontario and making the journey down to Florida I have spent a lot of time in cars, on buses and trains and on a plane too (only one so far, but there shall be  many more before I get Home).  And though I am still continuing my attempt to practice Yoga daily during my travelling adventures, I have found that I am still spending a lot of time sitting while getting from one place to another.  And of course it's only natural that all this sitting has left me with tight hips and leg muscles.

So I have been using my daily 'Yoga Time' often to stretch out these areas with what I like to call 'The Adventuring Yogis Post-Travel Series' (I know snazzy name huh? LOL).

I usually do this practice once I have arrived at my destination for that day/few days but you can utilize this sequence during a stop-over or at any other time if you only have a few moments to practice.  See below for the sequence, try it out and please feel free to modify/add other poses in to suit your ability levels/practice needs. Please also remember that it is important to listen to your body during your Practice and only go as far as your Body wants to go..honour its's smarter than You! ;)

'The Adventuring Yogis Post-Travel Series'

**I have given a break down of each pose below, for anyone reading this without an existing Home Practice/Sound Knowledge of Yoga. 

1. 10 Full Belly Breaths

Sit cross-legged on your mat/floor (or any other way you can sit for 10 slow breaths comfortably), place right hand onto abdomen (need only do this if you are new to breath technique).  Sitting nice and tall through upper body (ears  lined up with shoulders, shoulders lined up with hips), close eyes and begin breathing in and out through the nose, pushing the breath into your lower belly (you should feel the right hand move with each inhale as the belly puffs out with breath).  Repeat for 10 breaths. *This exercise is great to do while travelling too, helps to calm the mind/nerves, etc.

2. Cat/Cow Pose - 5-10 Breaths

Come to hands and knees on mat/floor.  Wrists directly underneath shoulders, knees directly below hips, toes can be curled under or top of feet resting on mat/floor.  Inhale drop belly towards the floor as you lift your tailbone and press heart forward.  Exhale press pelvis  forward, round upper back and tuck chin towards your chest.  Repeat for 5-10 slow breaths (all breathing should be done in and out through the nose).

3. Child's Pose - with Wide Knees - 5 Breaths

From hands and knees, stretch arms out in front, with hands shoulder distance apart.  Take knees as wide as your mat (or if you don't have a mat, create a wide 'V' shape with legs, knees bent).  Sit your bum back towards your heels and rest your forehead on fists, hands stacked or the mat/floor.  Close eyes, practice deep, slow breathing in and out through nose for 5 breaths.

4. Downward Facing Dog - 5-10 Breaths

From hands and knees, curl under toes and lift hips up and back, creating an inverted 'V' with your Body.  Take a moment (or a few breaths) to walk one heel down and then the other.  Keep hands shoulder distance apart and spread your fingers wide.  Hold here for 5-10 breaths.

5. Pigeon Prep - 5 Breaths each side

From Downward Dog, lift your Right leg up and back behind you, bend your Right knee and place on your mat just behind your Right wrist (Right foot should rest in space between Left wrist and leg).  Stretch Left leg straight down the mat/floor behind you.  You can stay up on hands or lower to forearms or perhaps even the forehead if you feel up to it.  Hold for 5 Breaths before repeating on opposite side.  *Note - Hip of straight leg should not be resting on the floor.

6. Low Lunge - 5 Breaths

From Downward Dog, step Right foot forward and lower  Left knee to mat/floor (Left toes may stay curled under or press top of foot to floor).  Sink hips towards the floor and place both hands to Right thigh or to hips, hold for 2 breaths.  For last 3 breaths reach arms alongside ears, for a good side body stretch.

7. Low Lunge - with Twist - 3 Breaths each side

From Low Lunge (Right leg forward), bring hands together in front of your Heart.  Bring Left elbow to outside of Right knee, keeping hands in Prayer.  Hold for 3 breaths and then repeat on other side.

8. Legs-Up-Wall/Inversion (Shoulderstand/Headstand)

Bring short edge of mat to an empty wall (careful there are no pictures hanging there) or come to an empty wall.  Sit with one hip close to the wall and knees bent, feet planted.  Bring hands behind you and place them on floor, lean back on hands and swing legs up the wall.  Rest here for 10 breaths, moving feet/legs anytime you feel the need.  Close your eyes and allow the blood to recirculate.

**If you have an established Practice of your own and are feeling up to it then you might opt to insert a Shoulderstand or Headstand here at your own discretion.

9. Optional: 2-3 Sun Salutations

Ordinarily Sun Salutes  would come near the beginning of a Practice but because you may have been sitting for long stretches and could be quite stiff I recommend doing the above practice as a Warm-up to Sun Salutes. I also would not recommend adding Sun Salutes to this Series if you have arrived somewhere late at night or are planning to rest/nap/sleep right afterwards as they tend to Pep you up rather than wind you down.  They are a Great way to end this Series however if you have just arrived sleep-deprived somewhere and are expected at a Family-event or something.  They help to build heat in the body and get the circulation flowing again after being seated for long periods.

Add your feedback/comments on the series down below or share with travelling yogi friends!  If you would like more info on how to work Yoga into your Travel plans check the links below.  Let the World be Your Yoga Studio!

Be Happy, Be Healthy!