Wednesday, December 30, 2009
One of the main sutras in Ayurveda is "like increase like". During the winter (kapha season), when it is cold, damp, and dark outside, it is easy to feel heavy, lethargic, or depressed, like increase like. To help decrease kapha accumulation in your body, it is wise to keep your body moving, avoid naps, or over eating to minimize weight gain, depression, and the common cold.
This week I've been teaching the following sequence to help move away from the kapha conditions and toward vata (air, wind) to promote better circulation.
Part of class:
Supported pranayama with bolster (hold breath after inhale)
Cat/Cow to Downdog doing lion breath
Uttanasana on your tippie toes
Wide leg squats
Sun Salutes A and B (with twisting chair)
Warrior 2, Side Angle with arms bind
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana
Hanumanasana (low lunge prep)
If you don't know what these poses are...consider investing in my book called, Art of Sequencing as a reference! Stay tuned for more Winter suggestions next week.
Monday, December 28, 2009
If your life got thrown off balance during the holidays with social events, late nights, extreme weather conditions, or work commitments, its best to jump back into your normal routine as quickly as possible, before the new year! I'll be teaching my regular Monday-Wednesday schedule in Seattle, I hope to see you in class.
To help promote cleansing post-new year, here are a few ideas to get started:
1. Eat Kichadi (mung bean and rice dish) for a one to three days to give your digestive track a rest and strengthen your inner "agni" or digestive potential.
2. Take Triphala for six weeks, twice a day. Triphala is designed to promote your body's natural cleansing process. It's made up of three Indian herbal fruits: harada, amla, and behada.
3. Register for one of my winter sequencing classes at 8 Limbs Yoga Centers 206-325-8221 (January 23) or Twist Vinyasa in Edmonds 425-778-YOGA (January 24)
For more asana inspiration check out my Art of Sequencing book or Yoga for the Seasons DVD:
Monday, December 21, 2009
When you see bright light you see the darkness around it at the same time, and the more darkness you see, that much brighter the light becomes
May the darkness of today allow us to see the brilliance more clearly".
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
What can you do to stay healthy during the winter?
1. Increase your physical exercise
2. Stay hydrated with warm beverages
3. Add omega-3 rich foods to your diet
4. Rub sesame oil on your body before showering
5. Avoid foaming soaps - they dry out your skin
6. Apply honey to your face, leave on 10 minutes, rinse with warm water
7. Meditate, take time for reflection
8. Practice visualization exercises, draw from your inner muse
9. Moderation with sugar, alcohol, and coffee
10. Sleep like a bear - retreat
Yoga Retreats for 2010:
Thursday, December 10, 2009
With temperatures well below 30 degrees in Seattle, it's time to start the winter sequencing. Keep in mind that the winter flow is to help raise your core temperature and increase circulation, not to exhaust you! For starters, consider adding a strong vinyasa component to your practice to warm you up and lift your spirits, back bends to stimulate the kidneys, forward bends to stimulate the bladder, and breath retention after inhale to warm the lungs.
In classes this week here is what I will be emphasizing:
Supported pranayama with a bolster under the ribs. Lace your fingers together to hold your head our use a blanket.
Roll to the side with a bolster under the ribs, lateral bend
Supta Baddha Konasana with fingers laced around the back of the head, flow into abdominal crunch
Setu Bandha (bridge) in/out with arm movements
Navasana, roll back and forth on spine
Balance on all fours with R leg, L arm lifted, exhale pull both toward navel, round spine- repeat
Uttanasana (forward bend) to Utkatasana (chair)
Surya Namaskar (sun salutes): with raised leg in Uttanasana, step back to high lunge, plank with one leg lifted, Bhujangasana (cobra), plank, Down dog with one leg lifted, high lunge second side
Natarajasana Prep (dancing shiva)
Trikonasana (triangle) with lateral/neck focus, arm movements over head
Ardha Chandrasana (half moon) with back bend option
Prasaritta Padottanasana (wide leg forward bend)
Ustrasana Prep (camel)
Supta Virasana (reclined heros)
Sirsasana (head stand)
Baddha Konasana (cobblers)
Upavista Konasana (seated wide leg forward bend)
Pascimottansana flow rolling back to the floor, abdominal work
Thread the Needle with head turned to the side
Gentle Halasana (plough)
Stay tuned for more Seasonal Vinyasa tips. My DVD, Yoga for the Seasons, can be purchased on my website for more asana support during the holidays.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Please enjoy this section of a fall vinyasa class I filmed at Haramara Retreat center in Mexico. It would be great to include after a warm up that prepares for the hip openers, arm balances, and inversions. As fall is rapidly turning into winter (at least in the Seattle) it is time to add more inversions and arm balances to stoke our inner fires!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
1. Standing meditation
2. Uddiyana bandha
3. Kapala bhati breathing in Horse/Straddle
4. Prasaritta Padottansana variations w/twists
5. More Horse/Straddle and variations
6. Tadasana into a flow with side bend
8. Plank - to - Vasisthasana (both sides)
9. Bhujangasana (cobra)
10. Urdva Mukha Svanasana (up dog)
11. Adho Mukha Svanasana (down dog)
12. Drop down to your knees, Vajrasana (both sides)
13. All fours
14. Adho Mukha Svanasana- Uttanasana - Tadasana
15. Parsva Utkatasana (revolved chair) - Step back twisting lunge- Step back up
16. Parsva Bakasana (side crane)
18. Bakasana or Sirsasana II (tripod headstand)
19. Uttanasana - Tadasana (repeat other side)
20. Adho Mukha Svanasana - Plank - Dhanurasana - Parsva Dhanurasana
21. Gomukasana (original and modern version)
22. Supine...fill in the blank!
Have fun...if you need more support, check out my DVD, Yoga for the Seasons.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Join me in a spontaneous, short fall yoga sequence, surrounded by a luscious forest, in the heavenly Sanctuary at Breitenbush Hot Springs, 11/8/09. The full practice would include holding the postures for at least five breaths, three rounds of Surya Namaskar A & B, Mayurasana, Bharadvajasana, Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana, and Baddha Konasana before relaxation and meditation. More fall yoga sequences can be found on my DVD, Yoga for the Seasons, to help manage your Vata (ungrounded energy) all year round!
Next year I will be leading yoga retreats with 8 Limbs Yoga Centers at Breitenbush Hot Springs in April and July of 2010! More information is available on my website:
Friday, October 30, 2009
WHAT IS AGNI?
The yogis have a saying that a person is as old as their agni. A person’s relationship to the fire element is essential for efficient digestion, visual perception, body temperature regulation, clear complexion, courage, happiness, mental lucidity, affection, assimilation, absorption of food, processing of thought, and life experience’s.
As you can see, there are many ways in which agni functions within the body, mind, and spirit. During the fall and winter, be extra mindful of how you feed your agni to ward off the typical imbalances such as achy joints, insomnia, anxiety, mental instability, and the common cold.
Indicators associated with healthy agni:
• No discomfort (bloating, belching, indigestion, constipation) in the body after eating
• Normal skin color for your constitution
• The stomach fluctuates between the sensations “full” and “empty”
• Fecal matter is excreted at the habitual time of day forthe individual and is of the proper consistency (like a ripe banana)
• After eating there is no desire for food
• Plenty of laughter as laughter reflects good agni
• Fearlessness and confidence in personal relationships
• A person feels whole and content
If you are NOT dealing with healthy agni, considering looking for any of these culprits in your daily routine:
• Too much water before or after meals
• Poor food combining
• Ignoring the natural urges of the body to eliminate
• Lack of sleep
• Excessive sexual activity
• Mental disturbances
• Not enough attention to eating when eating
Asana Sequence to promote Agni (not limited to these poses, just some ideas to get you started):
• Virasana (hero)
• Mayurasana (peacock) Prep (elbows pressurize lower belly, relax lower back)
• Cat/Cow into Downward Dog - apply Uddiyana bandha
• Uttanasana (forward bend) - Utkatasana (chair) Flow
• Tadasana (mountain) - Tippie Toe Twist
• Straddle/Horse Pose - Kapala Bhati (kriya: bright skull)
• Prasaritta Padottanasana (wide leg forward bend) – basic + twist
• Utthita Trikonasana (triangle)
• Parsvottansana (pyramid) - Parivrtta Trikonasana (revolved triangle)
• Surya Namaskar A & B
• Pasasana (noose)
• Malasana (garland)
• Bharadvajasana (twist) – Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana (revolved knee twist)
• Upavista Konasana
• Supta Padangusthasana – Lift head to knee – Supine Twist
• Apanasana (knees to chest)
You can also find an Agni Stoking practice on my DVD, Yoga for the Seasons - Fall Vinyasa. To order your copy visit: www.melinameza.com
Monday, October 12, 2009
Everyday is the art of sequencing. Upon waking, you have the opportunity to organize and focus your life’s energy into numerous priorities or responsibilities at either a sustainable rate or at a racehorse pace. If you choose the moderate path to live by each day, every action will unfold into the next, and life will appear seamless and connected. In comparison, a day on the racehorse track will contain many disjointed, scattered, brief, caffeinated sprints from one activity to the next, which demands a tremendous amount of fuel followed by intense rest. The high and low spikes will eventually wear a person down or “dry them up”, as we say in Ayurveda, the sister science to Yoga.
The ancient yogis taught their students how to live with the natural cycles of the day, season, and life. If you manage your prana (life essence) on a daily basis with thoughtful consideration, you’ll begin to notice strong and healthy ojas, (juicy body tissue) which governs your hormones, autoimmune system and brainpower. Those who choose to disrespect appropriate energy use over the course of their life cycles will look in the mirror at age 50 and “get the face you deserve” as Ayurvedic doctor Robert Svoboda said upon turning 50! It is never too late or too early to consider sequencing your life events today for a healthier tomorrow.
To help you sequence today for a healthier tomorrow, there is a beautiful word in Sanskrit called Dinacharya, which describes the art of daily rituals. Dinacharya teaches us how to merge our personal routines with the natural cycles of the sun, moon, and earth. In the Fall, pay close attention to the elements, Air and Space (Vata dosha). You may notice symptoms such as; restlessness, instability, dry skin, constipation, aggravation in the nervous system, insomnia, and anxiety, as they increase in the body and mind. A few simple ways to prevent the Vata imbalances are to create a weekly or monthly routines that help stabilize your mind, body, and spirit.
Here is an example of a basic template for Dinacharya: (fill in the blank and follow your routine)
Your wake up time (aim for 5-6am)
Yoga Practice (slow rhythmic movement, standing poses, pranayama, and meditation)
Sesame oil massage before a hot shower
Breakfast (choose a time, then eat your warm food sitting down)
Lunch (choose a time, eat warm food away from your computer)
Supper (choose a time, eat light warm foods like soup)
Free time to relax and nourish yourself
Bedtime (aim for 10pm)
The body likes routine. Experiment with your dinacharya for at least two weeks. Keep me posted with any questions. If you need yoga asana support, try my DVD, Yoga for the Seasons - Fall Vinyasa, for inspiration.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
“Air, fire, water are the 3 principles most fundamental to life. They appear in the body as Vata, Pitta, Kapha. They represent the cosmic urges to movement, transformation, and stability.”– Ayurvedic Sutra
The fall season in Ayurveda is associated with the dosha – uneven energy pattern – called Vata, which promotes movement. As essential as Vata is to our well-being and life, it can become chaotic during the months September-December, when Nature is in an unstable place, transitioning from hot (light) to cold (dark).
Within each season, unique gifts unfold as Nature transforms with the five elements. We too will thrive when we discover how to live harmoniously with Nature. We can do this by adapting our physical practices, mediations, food choices, and lifestyle to complement the seasonal changes.
A few tips on how to manage your Vata (Air + Space element):
• Stay hydrated with warm non-caffeinated beverages.
• Get eight hours of sleep on a regular basis.
• Eat soup, often.
• Practice yoga poses that are stabilizing for your body/mind/spirit. Extra TLC should be given to your legs, colon, lungs, and bones, where Vata can be in excess or depleted. (View my DVD*, “Yoga for the Seasons – Fall Vinyasa” for a full asana practice devoted to stabilizing Vata.)
• To protect your skin from the dryness of Fall, apply sesame oil over your whole body before showering. The massage enhances circulation, add nutrients, and act as an extra layer of skin to protect you from the drying nature of wind.
• Take time to meditate and retreat.
If you are interested in learning more about seasonal practices for Fall, join me at 8 Limbs Wedgwood, Saturday, Oct. 10th, 12:30-4:30pm. Mention this blog post to get the early registration rate. I will also bring my Ayurvedic knowledge to the Thanksgiving Week Yoga Retreat at Haramara Retreat Center.
*Yoga for the Seasons – Fall Vinyasa DVD can be purchased on my website, www.melinameza.com.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Yoga (yo-ga): Union, to yoke, to balance, to harmonize, India’s spirituality, any of a group of related Hindu disciplines that promote the unity of the individual with a supreme being through a system of postures and rituals
Once upon a time on the subcontinent of India, there existed wise, immortal beings called rishis (seers). They lived for thousands of years in various states of meditation while observing the dynamic interplay between nature, time, cosmos, and spirit (God). These divine beings, living near the Himalayan mountains and communicating in a sacred language called Sanskrit, are said to have released the jewels of yoga into the world.
The solitary aim of yoga at this time in history was to experience self-realization, or moksha (liberation) of the individual soul. Attaining the state of moksha is like reaching the pinnacle of one’s physical manifested life. Moksha is that stage when a human being is able to cut across all the shackles of the mind and gain liberation from the cycles of birth and death forever.
The secret, esoteric lessons of yoga were transmitted by the rishis to the revered teachers known as gurus (literally translated as “destroyer of darkness”). The gurus then passed along this divine insight to a few fortunate disciples throughout life-long relationships. To this day there are still traditional relationships where the guru transmits the wisdom of yoga to students who, in turn, become integrated into his family for life.
Monday, September 28, 2009
If you are looking for a practice to release tension in your joints, bring energy (heat) to your legs, and clear out your lungs...try this out.
Toe Crunch (page 14)
"Shadow Yoga" joint rotations
Uddiyana Bandha from standing
Kapala bhati breath in Straddle (page 16)
Add lateral bend in Prasaritta Padottanasana
Surya Namaskar A with a block between upper thighs (repeat 3-5 times)
Surya Namaskar B with twisting chair (repeat 3-5 times)
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 1 & 2 (page 81)
Supta Padangusthasana + supine twist
(Reference my Art of Sequencing Book for any unfamiliar asana names)
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The MAJOR emphasis is on creating an even four second inhale, pause , exhale, pause.
Seated Warm up:
Cross-legged meditation seat, continuous OMMMMM...at least eight, arm circles to open the ribs and lungs, and a seated lateral stretch.
Hands and Knees Series: Child's pose, hands and knees (table top), lower chest between thumbs, cobra, then back to child's pose. Eventually transition from Downward dog to Uttanasana to Tadasana.
Flow #1 repeat 4 times:
Tadasana, Uttanasana, Plank, Cobra, Downwarddog, Downward dog with right leg up, swing forward low lunge with arms up, switch legs, step to the top of the mat, Uttanasana, Tadasana.
Flow #2 repeat 4 times: Surya Namaskar B
Flow #3 repeat 4 times:
Same flow as #1 but add a twist to the low lunge...breathe a whole round of the breath in the low twisting lunge before releasing!
Flow #4 repeat 4 times:
Surya Namaskar B with Parsva Utkatasana (twisting chair) and twist after Warrior I, keep your back heel on the floor if possible.
Follow with a wide leg forward bend series (prasarita padottansana), Headstand, Ardha Matysendrasana, Setu Bandha (bridge), Sarvangasana (shoulder stand), abdominal work, Savasana.
~May others benefit from your detoxifying practice!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
"I hope you will enjoy my offering and touch, smell, hear, taste, and feel the unique gifts unfolding in nature from month to month." ~Melina Meza