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.