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ONCE UPON A TIME – 2019 Kiss My Asana Offering #2 April 2, 2019

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in 31-Day Challenge, Books, Changing Perspectives, Fitness, Healing Stories, Health, Hope, Men, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Movies, Music, Pain, Philosophy, Suffering, Uncategorized.
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The “practice preview” below is part of my offering for the 2019 Kiss My Asana yogathon. I encourage you to set aside at least 5 minutes a day during April, to practice with today’s theme or concept as inspiration. You can practice in a class or on your own, but since the Kiss My Asana yogathon raises resources as well as awareness, I invite you to join me at a donation-based class on April 27th or May 4th.

I also challenge you to set aside a certain amount every day that you practice with this concept/theme in mind. It doesn’t matter if you set aside one dollar per practice or $25 – set aside that amount each time you practice and donate it by April 30th.

Founded by Matthew Sanford, Mind Body Solutions helps those who have experienced trauma, loss, and disability find new ways to live by integrating both mind and body. They provide classes, workshops, and outreach programs. They also train yoga teachers and offer highly specialized training for health care professionals. By participating in the Kiss My Asana yogathon you join a global movement, but in a personal way. In other words, you practice yoga. Or, as this year’s tag line states….

do yoga. share yoga. help others.

***

“Books help us slow down…. Books help us not to rush, books teach us to notice things, and books invite us or even make us sit down for a while.”

– from 2019 International Children’s Book Day message by Kęstutis Kasparavičius (translated from Lithiuanian by Daina Valentinavičienė)

Pretty much everything Kęstutis Kasparavičius wrote about books, in his 2019 International Children’s Book Day message, can be stated about yoga. There’s something that happens when you get on the mat, when you tap into the breath – even when you move with the breath. Like reading, practicing yoga is accepting an invitation to explore.

As someone who loves to read, it is heartbreaking to know that many people around the world (including approximately 43% of adult Americans, in 2003, or approximately 32 million, in 2013) demonstrate a “below basic” (14%) or “basic” (29%) literacy level. There’s no shame in not knowing how to read – and no shame in asking for help to learn or in asking to be assessed – however, not knowing how to read means you miss out on some of the greatest stories, some of the greatest adventures, and some of the greatest learning experiences. Simply put, there can be joy in reading and if you can’t read (or can’t read without frustration) you are missing out on some joy.

Just as I love to read, I love to practice yoga. So, it is equally heartbreaking to know that many people aren’t practicing yoga, because they have had a bad experience with yoga in the past and/or they are unaware of all the different ways yoga can be practiced. Bottom line, yoga is a personal practice and so there is a practice for every person. In fact, since there are over 7.5 billion people in the world there are at least 7.5 billion ways to practice any pose at any given moment. And, there can be joy in the practice.

International Children’s Book Day is celebrated every year on or around April 2nd. This annual celebration of children, books, authors, and illustrators coincides with the anniversary of Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday. Born in 1805, Christian Andersen was the author of short stories, poetry, plays, autobiographical novels, and travelogues. Ironically, he is remembered for the work that was initially overlooked: his children’s fairy tales. It took 10 years and an English translation for Christian Andersen’s fairy tales to be recognized, but ultimately they brought him success, fame, acceptance, and the opportunity to travel and meet writers he admired. Among those writers was Charles Dickens, who – like Christian Andersen – had also grown up without a lot of money and shared a concern for the less fortunate.

Hans Christian Andersen, the author of over 150 fairy tales, was the only son of a shoemaker – who told him stories from Arabian Nights – and an illiterate washerwoman. When his father died, Christian Andersen was 11 years old. Imagine, for a moment, receiving the gift of 1,001 variations of life and then facing the possibility of death stealing that gift. Imagine never having received the gift. How would you view the world, or yourself, without your favorite childhood stories?

FEATURED POSE for April 2nd: Pose Dedicated to the Sage Bharadvaja (Bharadvajasana), aka Stag aka Mermaid

Between the pages of “The Princess and the Pea,” “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” “The Ugly Duckling,” “The Little Match Girl,” “The Tallow Candle,” The Nightingale,” and over a hundred others, there is inspiration for a whole practice – and not just because of the poses, there are also life lessons and the opportunity for svadyaya (the internal observation of self study). Feel free to play and explore, maybe even get together with your kids and tell one of your favorite stories through the poses, like an interpretive dance.

I picked today’s featured pose, because it can be practiced at the beginning, middle, or end of a practice. Variations of it appear in a variety of practices (including in Pilates) and it can be a prenatal approved twist. It also allows the hips, back, and pelvic floor to tell a very interesting story about how we’re connected. Notice how you feel!

Sit on the floor or in a chair with both sits bones rooted to your supporting surface. If your hips are tight – if there’s compression in your low back and/or hip – sit up on top of something so that your hips are higher than your knees when the ankles are crossed. If you are sitting in a chair, make sure your feet are also grounded. Press down in order to extend up. Spend some time bringing your awareness to the breath. Notice how your body (especially your spine) reacts to the inhale, and then to the exhale.

You can move straight into the featured pose. If, however,  you want more movement in your practice, move through some sun salutations and maybe some standing poses, before practicing the featured pose. If you prefer less movement, but have really tight hips, practice a Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana) and any form of squat before the featured pose. All of the above may be practiced in a chair.

When you’re ready to practice the featured pose, hug your knees into your chest on an exhale. Take a deep breath in and separate your knees about as far apart as your hips or your mat. On an exhale drop the knees to the right so that the right foot is next to the left thigh. Right hip and thigh are externally rotated; left hip and thigh are internally rotated. Adjust the legs as needed so that the knees are comfortable and the hips are grounded. If you are in a chair, you might need to bring closer together and then tip them to the right. If the left knee is uncomfortable, you can always extend the knee. If you are leaning into one hip more than the other, place something under the grounded hip (unless you are practicing Soma Yoga’s Lighthouse and then there may be a slight lift). If you want more for the hips, place the right foot on top of the left thigh, close to the left hip. Again, make sure the knees are at ease.

Cup the knees with the hands and move through a seated cat/cow: Lifting the heart up on the inhale and curling into yourself on the exhale. Start the movement in the base of the spine – so that you explore the full range of motion in your hips and core.

After 5 – 7 rounds of breath, rotate your upper body to the right. Place your right hand behind your hips, for support or reach for your left hip. If the right foot is on top of the left thigh, see if you can hold the right big toe with right peace fingers. Left hand cups the right knee. Breathe here for 5 – 7 rounds of breath or set a timer and hold the twist for a couple of minutes.

From the twist, you can lower the upper body over the right thigh or (if it’s accessible) rotate the upper body so you can see the space behind your back and then fold, belly down. Another option, instead of the forward fold, is to bring the up body more to center – but while still holding the right knee with the left hand – and reach the right arm over the right ear, towards your left side. Pull the arms away from each other as you inhale (right arm up, left arm down) and rotate your heart and gaze up towards the lifted arm. After 5 – 7 rounds of breath, release to center and hug the knees in. After a few moments, repeat the pose of the left side.

Finish your practice with the heart opener / back bend of your choice, followed by Savasana – or “the Princess in the Pea (after the pea is removed)” Pose. Feel free to substitute a different final pose, but definitely give yourself at least 2 minutes relaxing in stillness.

Here’s some music if you choose the sun salutation route! Are you sure it’s “Just look at the world around you / Right here on the ocean floor” vs “Right here in your pelvic floor?”

### do yoga. share yoga. help others. ###

Little Puppy, Big Green Monster, Mice…Oh my! Children’s Books, Music, and Mantra, anyone? September 26, 2014

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in Books, Buddhism, Changing Perspectives, Daoism, Faith, Fitness, Healing Stories, Health, Hope, Karma, Love, Mantra, Meditation, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Music, Peace, Philosophy, Religion, Science, Taoism, Twin Cities, Writing, Yoga.
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Awareness comes in many shapes and sizes – and the opportunity to deepen your awareness is always one breath away. So…

 

TAKE THE DEEPEST BREATH YOU’VE TAKEN ALL DAY!


Now, deepen your awareness. Notice what you notice.

Sometimes, deepening your awareness is just that simple: take a deep breath and start listening to the sensations/information within you and all around you. Sometimes, you will find – as I often do – that you are surrounded by stories. Stories that can make you laugh, or cry, or think out loud. As I recently mentioned to some high school students in Hopkins, our lives, minds, and bodies are full of drama, hilarity, and sorrow. We just have to pay attention. Listen deeply to the stories, the music, the poems that are in you and all around you – and you will always be inspired.

Of course, if it were that “easy” to be inspired – all the time – we might not ever step outside of the box….You know, that box… the one we call our house or car or office or regular routines. Or ourselves. These boxes are made, metaphorically and physically, to extend and expand the same way our bodies do when we inhale. And, every time we inhale we are, literally, being inspired. Yet, it is just as easy to miss the inspiration as it is to notice it. Why? Because when we live in a world where we celebrate the times our “cup overflowth,” we are in fact, celebrating ourselves as the university professor with the overflowing cup.

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few. ” – Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki

Shoshin is the Zen Buddhist concept of “beginner’s mind” – which I associate with yoga’s practice of santosha, the niyama (internal observation). It’s when you show up with the awe and wonder of a child; when you’re just curious to see what happens if….

In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron talks about establishing regular “artist’s dates” with yourself. Doing something you don’t typically do – or don’t typically do by yourself – is a great way to empty your cup and then fill it back up again. Even if you don’t think of yourself as an artist, going on an artist’s date can give you a new perspective. And hat new perspective may be exactly what you need to go deeper.

The events listed below (for this weekend and next) will make great artist’s dates; however, I’m going to strongly encourage you to grab your family and friends.

THIS WEEKEND: Chitta vritti (“fluctuations of the mind”) is sometimes referred to as monkey mind, elephant mind, wild horses or oxen. It is also called puppy mind. My Tuesday classes already know what happens when The Little Puppy and the Big Green Monster meet yoga – everyone else will have to wait a bit. Meanwhile, anyone and everyone can join our own Mike Wohnoutka at The Little Puppy and the Big Green Monster launch party on Saturday, September 27th, 10:30 AM at Red Balloon Bookshop.

NEXT WEEKEND: Satya Seekers is hosting the Russill Paul weekend (Oct 3-4) in Eagan. Last year’s event was inspiring, energizing, and well worth the drive! If you want more information about the music and Yoga Nada, check out Russill Paul’s website.

ALSO, NEXT WEEKEND: Join Nokomis Yoga’s own Jinjer Stanton at Nokomis Beach Coffee Shop on Sunday, October 5th (2:00 – 4:00 PM) as she signs copies of her newly released children’s book, Mousenapped!, and her first book, Yoga For Every Room In Your House.

Hope to see you on and off the mat!

~ NAMASTE ~