Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Digestion Issues: Get Your Supta On

Too much food at the annual July 4th cookout?  Feeling a little too full?

How about Reclining Bound Angle Pose?   Supta Baddha Konasana. When we  overeat, bloating can sometimes be a problem.  Why not try a Savasana that will help you relax and open up space around your abdominals to help relieve that way-too-full feeling.  This easy back bend is also a good chest opening pose to help with offering gratitude.  All you need is a bolster or sofa cushion, something to bind your ankles and a couple of blankets or afghans to adjust everything to your body's comfort level.  If you're not sure, just ask Debbie at the next class you attend.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Yoga Pearls

When we first come to our yoga practice, many times it's about health or exercise, then about breath, but eventually you bring all of you to the mat.  If you haven't laughed or cried on your mat, wait no longer.

Namaste, Debbie

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Invisible Relaxation

(Previously published in the July, 2011 newsletter)
When you need to practice restorative yoga poses, but your situation does not offer the best environment, you can move into invisible relaxation.   You may be in the grocery store checkout line, wondering why the line is not moving and what's going on.  Instead of raising your blood pressure and getting bent out of shape, you can follow a few simple steps to relax, instead. You can access this method anywhere, whether you are seated at your desk at work, alone or in a crowded grocery store checkout line.  
By Tia Tran [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Begin by paying attention to your body, especially the position of your spine.  Elongate your spine and allowing a soft curve in the small of your back.  Be tall and strong  and imagine yourelf gently being lifted by the top of your head.  Allow a soft curve to form in the small of your back.  Close your eyes or look down.  
Awareness  to your breathing is next.  Take a few long and slow breaths, keeping the spine elongated.  When your spine is lengthened, your diaphragm will function effectively and your breath will be easy.  Allow your shoulders to drop with your exhalations, and relax your arms .  If you are seated, they can rest on a table.  Soften your abdomen, release tension around your eyes and around your jaw.  If seated, relax your legs, feeling the support of your chair; if standing, feel your feet rooted to the floor, but don't tax your leg muscles.  We only want firm footing, so the rest of your body can let go.
Rest in the present and, be in this moment and in this place, as you inhale and exhale deeply.  Allow yourself to be a part of your current  environment.  Be aware of your inner feelings, of the sounds around you and beyond the room or building that you are in.  Sense the texture and feel of your clothes against your skin, what is happening in this moment and include it all in your relaxation.
Return when you are ready.  Begin by taking a few more long and quiet breaths and slowly open your eyes or raise your head, giving time to your eyes to adjust to your environment.  Continue with your work or activities, now feeling relaxed and refreshed.

Namaste, Debbie

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

So...What IS Yoga?

Yoga is a mind body discipline that originated in India more than 5,000 years ago. Hatha Yoga, practiced in the West, focuses on physical postures or exercises called “asanas”, breathing exercises called “pranayama” and meditation. These components of yoga bring the body, mind and spirit together in harmony.
As individuals have become more aware of yoga’s benefits, it has gained respect as a valuable method for managing stress and improving health and well-being.
Credit: LocalFitness.com.au
Via WikiMedia.com
Many physicians now recommend yoga practice to patients with back pain, cardiovascular conditions, arthritis, depression, and other chronic conditions.
In the Yoga tradition a central theme is “everything is joined or yoked together.” A student of Hatha Yoga will benefit from connecting mind, spirit and body as physical postures, breathing techniques and meditation are practiced.
The benefits of yoga for health and fitness have long been reported by many students of yoga, and now scientific research is confirming many specific benefits of a regular yoga practice.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Letting Go

(Previously published in the Aug, 2011 Newsletter)
By Photos Public Domain [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
In life, we have much to be grateful for:  good health, abundance, love of family and friends, shelter and so much more.  Sometimes on our life’s path, we encounter an obstacle—a difficulty or change—and we react by holding on.  In reality, quite often it is best to let go.  In the yogic tradition, this is the practice of pratyahara, which is the withdrawal of the senses, and pranayama or breath.
I have used the following poem in class to assist us in our practice and to help with releasing that which we cannot control.  It is an anonymous poem called Letting Go.
Letting GoTo let go doesn’t mean to stop caring;
It means I can’t do it for someone else.
To let go is not to cut myself off…
It’s the realization that I can’t control another…
To let go is not to enable,
but to allow learning from natural consequences.
To let go is to admit powerlessness,
which means the outcome is not in my hands.
To let go is not to try and change or blame another.
I can only change myself.
To let go is not to care for, but to care about.
To let go is not to fix, but to be supportive.
To let go is not to judge,
but to allow another to be a human being.
To let go is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes,
but to allow others to affect their own outcomes.
To let go is not to be protective,
it is to permit another to face reality.
To let go is not to deny, but to accept.
To let go is not to nag, scold, or argue,
but to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.
To let go is not to adjust everything to my desires,
but to take each day as it comes and cherish the moment.
To let go is not to criticize and regulate anyone,
but to try to become what I dream I can be.
To let go is not to regret the past,
but to grow and live for the future.
To let go is to fear less and love more.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Instructor Toby Boring: strength & flexibility

Toby, a certified vinyasa yoga teacher through the Ashville Yoga Center, has been practicing yoga for fifteen years (seven of those with Debbie Harvley), consisting of group classes and his own personal practice at home.
Toby grew up on a dairy farm in Tennessee, but currently resides in Greenwood, teaching yoga at Mat Works since his retirement in 2011.  Yes, he is a serious Clemson fan, in case you see his orange yoga mat and wonder!
His favorite thing about yoga is how it changes. He came in for the exercise, and ended up learning more about the breathing and balance poses. "They require strength and flexibility." Toby remarked. "You wouldn't think they would, but they do."
Any advice for the rest of us? "Get on the mat and just do it," he says.
And his favorite pose? "Triangle, because it requires strength, balance, and flexibility. A little bit of everything," he says.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Give Yourself a Challenge

(Previously published in the Sept. 2011 Newsletter)
In order for our yoga practice to grow, we must learn how to challenge ourselves both in body and mind.  During September, National Yoga Month, why not deepen your practice by giving yourself a challenge.  You may want to consider using some of the following techniques:
Move to the Edge when you are in a familiar posture by stretching a little deeper into your posture.  This stretching is a magic place known only to you.  By being in touch with your body, you can listen for when you've arrived at YOUR edge.  Release all distractions and focus on your body, as you explore your edge, posture by posture.
Add a Challenging Posture or two to your routine.  Look for the ones that give you a feeling of strength, power and self-confidence.  Think about the one that you usually avoid or the one that you've told yourself you can't possibly do--just try it.  Be in tune with your breath and how it helps you move your body to the edge with your new postures.  Let go of the negative emotions and allow yourself the opportunity to meet your challenge.
Visualization Offers Power in working towards a difficult posture. When you learn to use the power of the mind, you will be able to help your body move deeper into a pose, just by working to SEE yourself in a new pose or just deeper into an existing pose.  Just deepen your breath and work to SEE every detail of moving into your challenging pose.  SEE yourself smiling and holding the pose for a longer period of time.  Focus, breathe deeply and power up with this new awareness.
Pratyahara to Help Create Inner Focus.  This is the point in your yoga practice where you move from the exterior sensations to the interior, using the breath and mind to focus on the body.  The key is to observe your body and breath as a witness. 
Try these methods on your own, or ask me about them at the beginning of the next class you attend.
Namaste, Debbie

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Yoga Pearls

When you are practicing a difficult pose or a new one that you aren't familiar with, choose to move into the pose in a mindful way, with a healthy dose of ahimsa (non-violence).  Focus on a regular practice with a systematic approach and the pose will be attainable.  So many of us want to do the full pose immediately--NOW!  Perhaps it is not appropriate for us now.  Be patient.  Persevere.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Day & Teaching the Teacher

Today is Teacher Appreciation Day.  I offer much gratitude to all of our wonderful Mat Works teachers.

Today is also my last workday of this week.  Tomorrow is the first day of my advanced yoga studies teacher training at the Asheville Yoga Center.  I will have three days of instruction to further my knowledge base in yoga.

Being a teacher is very rewarding.  Knowing that I can apply my knowledge to help others is satisfying and healing.  As teachers, we can tire and we can become stale.  Taking time away from the work and continuing our education keeps us balanced and up-to-date, so that we have more to share with students--with all of the Mat Works Yoga community.

I've been waiting a long time to study with Gary Kraftsow, founder and director of the American Viniyoga Institute.  My class is "Therapeutics and Viniyoga".  We will study how to offer yoga therapy for the lower back, sacrum and hips; as well as the upper back, neck and shoulders.  These new skills wills allow me to assist many of our Mat Works students like Despina Yeargin, who needs daily therapy for neck and shoulder tightness and pain.

I look forward to continuing our yoga practice together.  This is a wonderful and healing community of dedicated teachers and students.  We are all blessed.