Making Space for Emotion

November 8, 2019 | Yoga

Ever feel like you’re moving at high speed through life, running to keep up with the endless demand of information, social commitments, family, work, text messages, emails (like this one – ha)? Everything we look at seems to have an extra ad, a personalized distraction to pull our focus in a different direction. Some stress is useful, helps us get out of bed or achieve personal goals. Daily levels of negative stress creates a constant state of movement. There is no time to be still, to let what we are feeling or thinking come into focus. Yoga has teachings about how to use movement, breath, and mental focus to make space for what is happening within our minds and emotions. The simple practice of slowing the momentum, taking an hour to pay attention to the body and the breath can help us shift gears to get out of the stress loop. But … Continued

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More Self-Compassion, Less Stress

August 3, 2019 | Yoga

I was a corporate burnout. I was working long hours, chained to my desk, fueled by caffeine, fear, and anxiety. For almost fifteen years, I soldiered on until I was on the verge of a mental breakdown. I catastrophized at 2 a.m. every morning, certain I would fail. I binged on sweets. Then I finally took a step to save myself. I went to my first yoga class. I knew I’d found something special. I began to find peace in the combination of movement and breath with yoga. I focused on being mindful, paying attention to my breath and body, on purpose, without judgment. This mindfulness brought focus, calm, and clarity in the moment. Yoga was slowly quieting my “fight or flight” nervous system and boosting my “rest and digest” nervous system.Yoga and Stress ReliefI studied the yoga philosophy of self-compassion. The word for this idea in Sanskrit is ahimsa, or … Continued

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The Purposeful Pause Experiment

April 22, 2019 | Yoga

All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson What if we looked at yoga not as a way to arrange our bodies into specific shapes, but as an experiment in the sensations we feel and how movement, breath and stillness change our energy? With that shift in perspective, yoga becomes much more accessible. Tight hamstrings and inflexibility are no longer “limitations,” only variables in our experiment. Other variables can be added like a strap, a block, a blanket, or adding purposeful pauses to allow us to experiment again. The Purposeful Pause Experiment In our culture, movement is prized over stillness. We are expected to keep moving: faster, forward, onward, upward. Yet living without pauses does not allow us to fully live in the present moment. Yoga is such an important practice for our mental and physical health because it allows us time to pause. … Continued

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The Warrior Poses | Finding Strength To Battle Anxiety

April 2, 2019 | Yoga

My late 20s have felt like a decade of suffering and depression.  Two (beautiful) babies, one soul-crushing marriage and a two-and-half year long divorce took every bit of strength and courage I had to keep moving forward.  When life is that hard, moving is painful.  Thoughts are jagged and exhausting.  I was so overwhelmed by anxiety and trauma that I was basically handicapped and homebound for about six months.   My mind, emotions, spirit and body were sick.   I started doing yoga in 2017 at Dragonfly 360 Yoga & Wellness.  At 27, my right leg was so weak that I couldn’t lift it to put on my pants.  My yoga teacher, Mike Camp, was able to work with that limitation while increasing my range of motion and strength.  A weekly yoga practice over the next year toned me up, physically and emotionally.  But my divorce was still dragging out.  I felt like … Continued

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Learning to Breathe

May 11, 2018 | Yoga Philosophy

Pranayama is the yogic practice of breath control. This Sanskrit term is made up of two smaller words; prana and ayama. The term prana refers to the subtle energy that pervades all things. Ayama translated as “to stretch” or to expand. The practice of controlling breath allows us to expand breath capacity and manage subtle energies.Pranayama is also the fourth limb in Patanjali’s 8-Fold path as described in the Yoga Sutras. According to the sutra 2.50 (bahya abhyantara stambha vrittih desha kala sankhyabhih paridrishtah dirgha sukshmah):“Pranayama has three aspects of external or outward flow (exhalation), internal or inward flow (inhalation), and the third, which is the absence of both during the transition between them, and is known as fixedness, retention, or suspension. These are regulated by place, time, and number, with breath becoming slow and subtle.” – translation from SwamiJ.comThe mechanics of breath involve the process of pulling in oxygen … Continued

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Relaxation 101: A Blog for Busy People

March 23, 2018 | Naturopathic Medicine

How busy are you?  Are you too busy to realize how busy you really are?  Take this quick quiz: Do you eat in the car or at your desk? Do you forget to eat or skip meals altogether?Do you take your supplements/medicine with you because you are too busy to take them in the morning?Do you think of your hair and your make-up as a waste of time? Do you bring a change of clothes with you for the variety of different activities you do?Do you online shop because going to the store is too time consuming? Do you start work before going in to work? Do you continue working after going home? Many adults will answer yes to the majority of these questions.  We are often busy with good things: busy at work, busy at home, busy with kids, busy with social lives and family obligations.  Being busy isn’t wrong in itself, but it can … Continued

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Yoga & Chronic Illness

March 8, 2018 | Yoga

The Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are widely regarded as the authoritative text on yoga. These “threads” (translates from Sanskrit for sutra) of wisdom offer guidelines for living a meaningful and peaceful life.  Recently Sutra 2.16 has been on my mind:“Pain that has not yet come is avoidable” (in Sanskrit “Heyam Duhkham Anagatam”).  By practicing yoga with meditation, postures, breathing exercises, we are practicing a form of preventive medicine for our minds. I had already been addicted to yoga by the time I discovered this sutra, but if I had not discovered yoga, this sutra would have drawn me to it.  I had this realization that I actually had control over my thoughts, and in this busy world we live in, anything we can do to help calm the mind and prevent future stress, pain, anxiety is worth looking at. Since most chronic illnesses are due to stress, we know that our bodies can … Continued

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Clear Your Mind of Suffering

February 9, 2018 | Yoga Philosophy

Abhyasa/practice and Vairagya/non-attachment (Sutra 1.12-1.16)The practice of yoga includes deep awareness of habit patterns (samskara). These habits of thinking, feeling, and reacting affect our capacity for joy. The unconscious habit patterns create filters over the reality of the present moment, with the potential of creating distress or suffering. In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the methods of yoga are described as a pathway to reduce the internal machinations that provoke suffering. Sutra 1.12 suggests that our thought patterns (vrittis) are mastered, regulated, or quieted (nirodhah) through practice (abhyasa) and non-attachment (vairagya).  The process of persistent, systematic exploration of thought patterns, fears, and false identifications allows for detachment from the filters that enable suffering.  Abhyasa describes the continuous practice necessary to clear the mind. It cannot be accomplished in one sitting. Clearing the mind requires discipline of consistent attention and time to develop the cumulative power of yoga. It is also true that old … Continued

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A Meditation Practice for Creating Conscious Habits

January 8, 2018 | Yoga Philosophy

 At the start of each new year, many of us dust off our good intentions – resolutions to eat better, exercise more, or let go of long time bad habits. Unfortunately, these old habits are strong. We’ve all got unconscious habit patterns that guide our actions rather than our conscious intention. This is nothing new. Thousands of years ago Patajali described unconscious habit patterns of the mind in the Yoga Sutras. Patajali identified the subtle impressions of our past actions, or unconscious thought patterns, as samskara. The word samskara translates from Sanskrit sam means joined together and kara means action or cause. One way to understand samskara is as neural pathways that form deep connections in our brains through repetition. The concept that “neurons that fire together wire together” reflects this idea.Some habitual thinking is useful. Often when the thought pattern is first employed, the purpose is to reduce effort or suffering. The problem comes when … Continued

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