Thursday, December 23, 2010
"At some point, one reaches a personal tipping point and begins making new resolutions, maybe just once a year, to break out of the old habits and try to reclaim their personal power. If your pattern is to make annual New Year’s resolutions (and then promptly forget about them), I suggest you try a year of seasonal resolutions—biweekly or bimonthly experiments that will give you a reasonable window of time to witness the subtle and gross effects of your labor, as well as more than one chance every 365 days to initiate change."
To read more about making seasonal changes, pre-order your copy of my upcoming book, Art of Sequencing - Volume Two Seasonal Vinyasa, today and receive free shipping!
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
I am pleased to announce that my second book, Art of Sequencing - Volume Two Seasonal Vinyasa is on its way to the printing press. Order today and receive free shipping within the continental United States. You can expect to receive the book by the end of January, just in time to kick off your seasonal resolutions.
If you enjoyed the Art of Sequencing – Volume One, you will love the second volume, which is filled with new ideas on how to support you in enriching your experience of life by staying healthy in body, mind, and spirit.
$32.95 Pre-Order – Free Shipping
Art of Sequencing - Volume Two Seasonal Vinyasa introduces you to Ayurvedic daily routines, seasonal rituals, nutrition and mindfulness, and a broad range of practical Western lifestyle tips to help the modern yogi or health-minded individual reduce dis-ease and nurture a state of wellness. These are complemented by extensive yoga asana sections including twenty-five of my class sequences, applicable for all levels of skill and ability. To give context to these modern wellness offerings the book takes you on a journey into India's history and culture and explores Eastern philosophy. This thoughtful and insightful book celebrates the art and science of yoga as a way to rediscover the body’s innate wisdom and the vitality that comes from living in balance from season to season.
Table of Contents:
Chapter One: Roots of Yoga
Chapter Two: Seasons of Life
Chapter Three: Kriya Yoga
Chapter Four: Nutrition and Mindfulness
Chapter Five: An Introduction to Ayurveda
Chapter Six: Nature and the Four Seasons
Chapter Seven: Seasonal Vinyasa Yoga
Chapter Eight: Popular Asana Requests
Chapter Nine: Yoga at the Wall
About Melina Meza
Index of Sun Salutes and Modifications
The book includes over 450 asana photos and twenty-five unique asana sequences for beginners, intermediate, or advanced students and teachers. Art of Sequencing-Volume Two Seasonal Vinyasa is spiral bound, allowing for easy use during practice.
$32.95 Pre-Order – Free Shipping
Monday, December 13, 2010
Winter is Nature’s time to hibernate and retreat. It’s an active resting phase, an important cycle to honor in order to replenish one’s self after the summer heat and fall harvest. In the winter when wet, dark, and cold qualities increase externally, they also increase internally, because “like increases like.”
In Ayurveda, winter is the season associated with Kapha and all the imbalances associated with the earth and water elements. No matter what your Prakriti (individual constitution) is, seasons will have an effect upon your dosha.
The Kapha qualities outside can make you feel heavy and lethargic and/or pull you towards foods that promote weight gain or the use of recreational drugs and alcohol to cope with depression, stress, and the winter blues; here we again see the precept “like increases like.” It’s not easy to break out of this cycle, but it is possible.
Here are a few ways to maintain health in the winter:
•If you want to decrease Kapha, minimize sweet, sour, and salty foods and increase foods that are pungent (like ginger), bitter (like coffee and turmeric root), and astringent (like chickpeas and goldenseal) to ensure good digestive fire.
•Wear bright colors like red and orange if you live in cold, dark climates and struggle with depression.
•Reduce your commitments. One way to do this is to practice saying “no” to invitations when your gut tells you to. This practice helps you build healthy boundaries with yourself and often leaves you with quiet time to be alone.
•Eat your biggest meal in the middle of the day (e.g., at lunchtime), which is Pitta time, when your solar energy and digestive juices are most active.
•Have a light dinner (soups are great for this meal). Eating a large meal before bedtime can interfere with sleep as well as contribute to weight gain.
To learn more about this, stay tuned for my upcoming book, Art of Sequencing - Volume Two which will be available for purchase in January 2011.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Winter and Ayurveda
Elements = Earth + Water
•Earth qualities: stable, rigid, grounding
•Water qualities: fluid, cooling, calming, graceful
Since we are part of Nature, you too have the opportunity to be graceful and let the seasons flow without clinging or grasping. It’s natural to have preferences for certain seasons, times of year that resonate with your core elements and make us feel more like ourselves. And yet, developing equanimity and contentment with all seasons—regardless of dosha, or where you live—is essential to well-being. This is where the art of sequencing can be instrumental and serve of great benefit. Here are a few suggestions to start weaving into your winter daily ritual:
•Wake up at 6:00-7:00am (the yogic version of sleeping in) and greet the day with gratitude for another opportunity to celebrate life.
•Wash your face, brush your teeth, scrape your tongue, do a neti pot, and lubricate your nostrils with oil or ghee.
•Drink hot lemon water with a little sea salt in the morning to stimulate elimination.
•Meditate 5-30 minutes (on snow, candle flame in the cave of the heart, or image of the sun).
•Do your active, warming asanas, Sun Salutations, inversions, and balance poses to promote circulation, or go outside, or to the gym, for a 20 minutes (minimum) cardiovascular workout.
•Sit in front of a light box if you struggle with seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D.).
•Exfoliate your skin and improve circulation with a gentle dry brush rub before showering.
•Perform abhyanga, a full-body self-massage, which calms the nervous system and hydrates the skin. In the winter, apply sesame oil (leave the oil on for 10-30 minutes) and then take a hot shower, which will open your pores and allow the oil to be absorbed into your skin.
•Enjoy a warm breakfast in a quiet space.
Stay tuned for more ideas to grow your daily ritual next month.
Read more or register for the Winter Seasonal Vinyasa Retreat at Haramara in Mexico, January 22-29, 2011.
Friday, November 26, 2010
The Kapha qualities outside can make you feel heavy and lethargic and/or pull you towards foods that promote weight gain or the use of recreational drugs and alcohol to cope with depression, stress, and the winter blues; here we again see the precept “like increases like.” It’s not easy to break out of this cycle but it is possible.
If the Kapha elements go out of balance in the winter, consider using the “opposites decrease” sutra. How will you know if your elements are off balance? You will know if your Kapha imbalance is too extreme when it prevents you from leaving the house after you’ve filled your freezer with Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and rented multiple HBO series! If you find yourself in this situation (or even a milder version), consider finding a way to get up and exercise every day, no exception! It can be a home yoga practice, a gym work out, or a brisk walk or run, or a snow adventure such as snowshoeing, skiing, or sledding—whatever it takes to get the earth and water elements moving.
Need some inspiration to practice: Yoga for the Seasons DVD is $9.99!
Thursday, November 25, 2010
From your own experience with yoga, you are probably well aware of the tremendous impact that an asana practice can have on your body. Like yoga, food creates specific alchemical changes in your body and has the power to both nourish and transform your unique being. Food has the magical power to become the foundation the body. It can build or reduce your physical weight and shape, depending on the amount of calories you consume. Different foods can stimulate or calm the adrenal glands, speed up the mind and heart rate, or cleanse the colon and gastrointestinal tract.
Now that it's Thanksgiving, you might wonder,“How will I know what the right amount of food to consume or yoga to practice is”? One way to think about your nutrition and yoga choices is in terms of sustainability, which means eat and practice just the right amount to fuel your svadharma (life’s purpose), so you can share your gifts, hear your calling, and do work in this life that comes from your heart. With too much food in your belly it’s easy to loose motivation and with not enough food, it’s hard to maintain focus or stamina to get through one the day, let alone answer your heart’s calling. Alternately, not enough asana will make the body slow, stiff, and sluggish. By learning to sequence mindfulness into your Thanksgiving ritual, you will discover a sustainable middle path, which encourages smooth rolling transitions from one activity to the next, and requires less fuel, calories, or muscular effort. At the end of the holiday, you are left with a feeling of santosha (contentment. Good luck everyone.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
"If you visualize a life in harmony with nature, there is a strong chance that not only will a bond form but you will be able to harness some of those powers to help you realize your desires. By acting in accord with nature (i.e. spending time outside, sitting in meditation, floating or swimming in the sea, watching the sunset, or stargazing), you will tap into the very universe itself. Here your instincts will guide you back to yoga, or union, with any divided parts of yourself, making way for the free flow of ideas, happiness, and bliss that is your birthright."
From her upcoming book, Art of Sequencing - Volume Two - Seasonal Vinyasa!
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Ideally, all these practices can be followed, but if the list seems overwhelming, choose a few practices that resonate with you and commit to them for up to three months.
• Try to stick to a daily routine in the fall, scheduling in more down time than usual to prevent Vata imbalances.
• Wake up at 5:00-6:00 am (do your best!) and greet the day with gratitude for another opportunity to celebrate life.
• Wash your face, brush your teeth, scrape your tongue, do a neti pot, and lubricate your nostrils with oil or ghee.
• Drink hot lemon water with a little salt in the morning to stimulate elimination.
• Meditate (on grounding imagery, like a stone or a mountain).
• Do slow, warming, rhythmic movement or asana practices to set the pace for the day. Moving slowly and consciously in your asana practice will also help stabilize your mind and make it easier to stay focused throughout the day.
• Perform abhyanga with warm sesame oil. Leave the oil on your skin for 10-30 minutes to help nourish and protect your skin from drying out; follow with a warm shower.
• Homemade soups are good dietary mainstays during this season, as they are both hot and liquid, the opposite of Vata, which is cold and dry. In your soups or stews include copious amounts of root vegetables and hearty grains to keep the essence of the earth down in your belly. In general, prepare warm, moist foods for every meal while you are in the fall.
• Sit down to eat at regular times throughout the day; the more routine your meal times are the better. Practicing eating as a meditation, chewing your food until it’s liquid, and putting the utensil down between bites are just a few simple ways to ensure good digestion and strong agni.
• Increase your enjoyment of foods that are sweet (like rice, milk, and dates), sour (like yogurt and fermented foods), and salty (like sea kelp) as they help calm down and nurture Vata.
• Avoid starting too many new projects that pull your energy in multiple directions! Remember fall is a time to wrap up projects and prepare for winter hibernation.
• Aim for bedtime before 10:00 pm and get a full eight hours of sleep each night.
GENERAL ASANA TIPS FOR THE FALL
Incorporate more of the following into your practice:
• A routine where the time of day and length of your practice is consistent. It can be helpful to build your routine by writing down your committed yoga and exercise time slots on a weekly calendar.
• Yoga poses that allow you to incorporate the bandhas to guide prana deep into your body, which then prepares you for: pratyahara (the moment your sense organs no longer seek nourishment from the external environment), dharana (concentration), and dhyana (steady concentration or meditation).
• Steady, slow, mindful Sun Salutations to increase circulation of blood through your muscles and organs as well as standing poses, squats, twists, bridge pose, supported back bends, and inversions to clear the lungs and maintain heat in your core.
• Practice seated poses that allow the breath to move freely into the lower abdomen and pelvic floor, the parts of the body ruled by Vata.
• Take long savasanas to stabilize Vata. Cover yourself with a blanket to stay warm, use an eye pillow to soothe the eyes, and drape a sandbag or two over your thighs or ankles to promote the downward movement of prana deep into the bones of your legs. The extra weight of the sandbags reinforces the idea of staying present and can be useful for anyone at anytime who struggles with staying present in savasana.
Visit www.melinameza.com for Melina Meza products
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Friday, October 1, 2010
After collaborating with Benjamin and Tamara at Esalen, I’m inspired to share with you some highlights from the workshops, so you too can be reflecting on what we found to be powerful tools that can highlight the interconnectedness between your yoga practice, spirit, and nature.
Questions from Tamara’s deepening your intuition class:
1.In this past year, where have your grown? In this coming year, what part of yourself do you wish to grow?
2.In the past year, how have you come into better health? In the coming year, where would you like to be more health conscious?
3.In the past year, what part of your body or mind healed? In the coming year, what would you like to heal?
A few tips from Benjamin’s ethics of permaculture class:
(Benjamin will be guest teaching at the Seattle Tilth in November)
•Earth Care. People Care. Fair share
•Work with nature (use gravity, native species sun, wind, etc.)
•The problem is an opportunity
•Make the least change for the greatest possible effect
•The yield of the system is theoretically unlimited
•Everything is connected
•Earth: Deepen your connection to the earth element with long savasanas and visualizing your prana moving from the bones of your feet up to your head.
•Water: Notice your relationship to water as your belly and organs rise and fall in the body.
•Fire: Feed your inner digestive fire by dropping your attention to the solar plexus. Healthy fire maintains digestion of food into nutrients.
•Air: Tune into your lungs as they expand and contract with deep inhalations and exhalations.
•Ether: Allow your physical and mental boundaries to soften. Notice what it feels like to drop fully into your space. Feel the mutually beneficial relationship between you and everything around you.
Friday, September 10, 2010
This DVD presents her full practice: an 8-minute instruction on engaging the bandhas; a 4-minute tutorial that shows the basics of foot placement, pose form and self adjustments; a 45-minute vinyasa sequence; and a 9-minute agni (sacred fire) practice, which is essentially and abdominal-strengthening sequence.
Well conceived and well executed as this sequence is, I'm not convinced it would be any less beneficial if practiced in winter, spring, or summer. Except for the agni practice, which will give many students a run for their money, this sequence is recommended for all moderately experienced students...no matter what the season."
( : Yeah!
To order your copy, visit my website: melinameza.com
Monday, August 30, 2010
In general, when you are on the cusp of a new season, your whole being becomes vulnerable to aggravation. How well you balanced the predominate elements in the previous season contributes to how much aggravation will prevail. As we leave the pitta season in August and notice any lingering eye or skin dryness, dehydration, diminished appetite, skin rashes, inconsistent bowel movements, or trouble with blood circulation, it’s best to do some preventative cleansing to nourish and prepare our selves before the fall season is in full swing.
To eliminate dryness and rekindle your spark, consider treating yourself to a shirodhara treatment, where warm herbal oil is poured rhythmically onto the center of your forehead to promote flow and relaxation throughout your entire body. These are offered at Ayurvedic clinics and some day spas.
If you suffer from any digestive imbalances, consider taking triphala for six weeks to clear the lower digestive tract so it can work more efficiently.
Gentle cleansing for the blood and skin includes ingesting bitter herbs such dandelion leaves, burdock root, and turmeric in teas or in powder form mixed with some ghee. Each of these ingredients is helpful in pulling toxins from the blood.
**The yoga postures Tadaka Mudra (supine uddiyana bandha), Prasarita Padottanasana (wide leg forward bend), Sirsasana (head stand), Balasana (child’s pose), Pascimottanasana (seated forward bend), Ardha Matsyendrasana (seated twist) are a few of my favorite poses to practice every day at the tail end of summer.
*Please note these are general ideas to promote wellness. For specific health advice, consult with your health care practitioner of choice!
**You can find all these postures within my Art of Sequencing - Volume One book on my website: www.melinameza.com
To prevent pitta aggravation, enjoy this delicious soup!
Coconut Milk Soup
From Secrets of Healing by Maya Tiwari
4 cups water
1 cup coconut milk
½ tsp rock salt
6 fresh neem (curry) leaves
1 TBS ghee
1 c grated fresh coconut
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp minced ginger
Bring water to a boil in a heavy soup pot. Add the coconut milk, salt, and neem leaves. Heat the ghee in a cast-iron skillet over low heat and add the grated coconut, stirring occasionally until the coconut turns slightly brown. Add to the
seeds for a few minutes until they begin to crackle. Next, grind the seeds to a fine powder and add to the soup, along with the ginger. Cover and simmer on medium heat for 15 minutes. Serve warm or cold.
Makes 2 servings
Note: Vata types may add ½ teaspoon of tamarind paste to the soup when adding the spices.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Dropping into the restorative aspect of a yoga practice during the summertime is one way to encourage you to let go of “trying” to do the pose a certain way, and simply let yourself be guided intuitively into the right shape or position, in order to relax and breathe.
In the summer, which is a Yang time of year from the Taoist perspective, we fill up on solar energy and recharge our internal batteries, while giving a little extra care to specific organs that may be working overtime. In the summer, we guide attention to the heart, small intestines, stomach, and spleen, which work together in many ways to promote efficient blood circulation, temperature regulation, digestion, and hormone secretion; they also function symbiotically to absorb nutrients through what we bring into our body through food and the senses.
Find a comfortable place to rest on your back before drawing your knees close to your belly. Take a few moments to close your eyes, relax and unwind, before starting the summer yin/restorative practice.
This sequence I am suggesting is yin, in that it promote easy, slow, quiet, movement that allows you to visualize and feel where your qi/prana or attention are at all times. With practice, your mind and breath together to move qi/prana into specific places deep in your body such as the ligaments, connective issue, or organs.
With the extra heat and longer days, it is easy to dry up, get angry, irritated, or exhausted, if work and play are not in balance. So, why not take time to complement what’s going on outside in nature by partaking in relaxed, slow, cooling movement and maintaining a playful attitude. Consider closing your eyes during the practice to avoid being competitive with others or yourself, and instead move from your intuition; allow yourself to listen from within, to grow and mature during this season of abundance.
•Savasana with a bolster under your spine: pause and relax after each exhale
•Supine twist with bent knees
•Balasana (Child’s pose) with forehead resting on hands
•“Reaching under the bed” pose
•Mandukasana (wide knee child’s pose with chest on the floor or bolster)
•Ardha Matsyendrasana (mellow version)
•Sukhasana (meditation seat)
You can download this practice or Summer Seasonal Vinyasa Flow at My Yoga Online!
Thursday, July 15, 2010
It's summer in the northwest! Time to celebrate, play, eat piles of fruit, swim, be outdoors, and cultivate your intuition in yoga practice by closing your eyes and moving from within. This week in class we've been working on doing our familiar poses with eyes closed, it's been super relaxing and grounds you deeply into the moment, not to mention your being. Give it a try! There are still a few spaces left to join me for the summer retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs, OR. Call 206-325-1511 to reserve your space.
Pranayama lying on your back with a bolster supporting your spine, hold a comfortable amount after exhale
Supta Padangusthasana (hamstrings, balance, twist series)
Supta Baddha Konasana w/hands holding head curling up into abdominal curls
Rock and roll on your spine
Cat/Cow with knee to face on exhale, inhale leg lifts look up
Downward shifting back and forth into plank
Flow 1: beginning with side arch, forward bend, step back to plank, salabhasana with legs opening and closing, up dog, downward dog, high lunge with arms raised, bring feet together for chair with arms up by ears, tadasana. second side.
Flow 2: Twisting chair, caturanga, up dog, downward dog, warrior 1, lean forward into warrior 3 variation "airplane", step up to the top of the mat, second side.
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana
Prasarita Padottanasana with hand in reverse prayer
Turn to one direction: Pyramid pose, twisting triange, other side
Turn to one direction: High lunge, revolved half moon
Samakonasana, wide leg splits
Vasistasana with variations
Ustrasana with one arm up, one down
Pigeon with bolster support
Roll back down to floor
Bride or Shoulderstand
Cover eyes in savasana ( :
Enjoy. In just a week or two, my new video series with My Yoga Online friends will be available to download. Stay tuned for details. www.melinameza.com
Monday, June 21, 2010
Happy Solstice Everyone,
Today will be the longest gray day of the year! Hopefully you are being productive, enjoying good health, and spirits. In case you need a little inspiration to practice today, here is what's happening in class. You can find this practice in my new book coming out this fall, The Art of Sequencing - Volume Two!!!
1. Virasana - (visualize the sun up above the clouds)
2. Virasana - grab a strap, reach your arms up holding the strap, open your chest
3. Virasana - gomukasana arms
5. Get to your hands and knees, drop your chest down by your thumbs, flow into Cobra, Up Dog, and finish in Child's pose with your arms out in front of you. Repeat many times.
6. Down dog into a lunge. Raise arms up by ears, squeeze arms by head, twist hands around one another
7. Down dog to Uttansana
8 Squat (cover eyes)
10. Surya Namaskar A with your eyes closed (repeat many times) move intuitively
11. Surya Namaskar B variation: Utkatasana, Uttanasana, High Lunge with arms reaching forward by ears, bend arms to open chest, drop hands...Vasisthasana, Down dog, Uttanasana, Utkatasana, Tadasana (repeat many times)
13. Bound 1/2 lotus forward bend
14. Pada Hastasana
15. Prasarita Padottanasana variations, add handstands if you wish ( :
16. Down dog
17. Child's pose
19. Rabbit or Child's pose
20 Spinx (like cobra but chill)
22. Supta Virasana
23. Down dog
26. Sarvangasana or Setu Bandha
27. Prep for Yoga Nidrasana
28. Whatever you like....
If you can't figure this out...come to class or on retreat where we will be going further into detail with these poses.
Light and love,
Thursday, June 10, 2010
In the world of Ayurveda, we are now in the summer season (June-August), which means whenever summer arrives in your geographical location, you will have a stronger relationship with the elements fire and water for three months. Ayurveda views the physical body, along with everything in the Universe, as being composed of the five primary elements; earth, water, fire, air, and ether or empty space. These elements are expressed in the physical body as qualities of stability/support (earth), feeling/fluidity (water), heat and metabolism (fire), respiration and circulation (air), and space and lightness (ether).
When the fire and water element are out of balance, it creates a dosha called Pitta. In Sanskrit, dosha means, “that which spoils or causes decay” as they are not only the forces which produce and sustain the body in their normal condition but those which, when out of balance, serve to destroy it. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each element can help you make daily choices that reinforce health and wellness for the season. As my teacher Scott Blossom said, “It is important to work in a way that “feels right” but also consciously cultivates complementary traits, such as grounding and stillness for the air type, or coolness and relaxation for the fire type in order to strike a balance.”
To help create balance, consider one of the classic Ayurvedic sutras that says, “like increases like and opposites balance.” This ancient wisdom can be extremely helpful when creating your daily rituals around the seasons.
Asana Advice for the Pitta Season
• Let each asana practice be soft, intuitive, forgiving, creative, and emphasize surrendering in order to prevent overheating.
• Perform all asana or sports in a way that is non-competitive, nurturing, and playful! Practice vigorous sports or asana in the early morning.
• Incorporate counter-balancing postures for poses that create heat such as Sun Salutations, balance poses, strong backbends, etc.
• Practice with your eyes closed.
• Emphasize a cooling breathing pattering during practice where the exhalation is longer than inhalation. Holding the breath out after exhaling has a powerful effect to concentrate the mind, which stabilizes your agni, purified essence of fire.
• Practice shitali or left-nostril breathing after asana.
• Try the Metta, Loving Kindness meditation to release anger.
• Never miss a meal, especially if you are have a Pitta constitution!
• Eat cooling, sweet, bitter and astringent foods (coconut, cucumber, watermelon, all the fresh fruit in season, steamed greens, multicolored salads, watercress, endives, mung beans, basmati rice) and avoid spicy and fried foods.
• Drink cumin, coriander, fennel and rose hot tea. Cilantro, cucumber, and mint are great additions to water for a refreshing beverage that will cool you down.
• Eat few dairy products and meats (unless you are doing intense physical activity)…they are too yang!
If your digestive fire is weak, try this for a week or two until your digestive fire improves: Cook together equal parts of: brown rice, lentils, and sun flower seeds. Eat 1-2 cups daily for 2 weeks. This will also improve body heat.
• Give yourself a full body massage before showering. Coconut oil is best.
• Enjoy the rose, sandalwood, jasmine or lavender essential oils to relax the senses.
• Wear light colored clothing, loose cotton, linen and silk (ex. White, blue, green) so air can circulate between your clothes and your skin.
• Do inside cooking early morning in the morning before it gets hot.
• Spend time in Nature, swim, retreat, and enjoy the moonlight.
Visit: www.melinameza.com for summer You Tube videos and upcoming yoga retreats.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
I’ve officially unpacked from an incredible month traveling around CA, TX, and WA, following Dr. Robert Svoboda, Scott Blossom, and Claudia Welch around on Robert’s farewell tour before he retires from public speaking.
For those of you that were unable to attend the workshop at 8 Limbs Yoga Centers in Seattle, here is a brief overview of what was covered:
Dr. Robert Svoboda:
• “Wherever your attention goes, your prana follows.”
• “Attention is good, being attentive is a good habit. Thinking is good, but thinking is a bad habit.”
• “Westerners are always trying to change their destinies before finding out what they are…first find out what they are before trying to change them!”
• “Prana provides continuity for the organism, prana is purposeful vs. vata, which is not continuous, not stable.”
• Remain calm and relaxed. Don’t freak out when there is a crisis, freak out at another time where there is no crisis.”
Dr. Scott Blossom:
• “The seat of prana is in your pelvis, it will help keep your legs strong and flexibile.”
• “The main downward force is gravity, the bones are the tissue response to gravity.”
• “Find stability in your asana or else you’ll have to meditate on the pain.”
• “Get your attention working, not your mind. Listen to the signals coming from your bones.”
• “Move as if all parts of the body are connected to the other parts. When you move to the right, keep your attention on the left, etc.
• “Keep the bones as your “drsiti”, emphasize the whole over the parts...don't over emphasize the “do-er” let your prana guide you. “
• “Let your practice be a communion with the force that gives rise to all of nature.”
• “Yoga is telling you, you know how to move, to trust yourself. When the body releases tension in yoga, the analogy to that is when the mind releases “mis-trust.”
Dr. Claudia Welch:
• “Focus doesn’t take active effort, it just takes focus. It’s more about surrender than effort.”
• “As your focus moves down, it creates space for prana to BE.”
• “Annamaya kosha follows whatever the pranamaya kosha is doing which follows whatever the manomaya kosha is doing.”
• “Whenever you release “crud” in the body, release it, don’t try to name it, put it in a box, or conatin it…let it go!”
• “The more we remember something, the less accurate it is. Each time we recall a memory, we build a new protein chain in the brain, which creates a “glump, or clump”. So each time we re-create a memory, the less accurate it is.”
•“Don’t become anything!” The second you become something, you arrange your prana that will get enforced whenever we are in front of more prana. When you become something, you can "un-become it", which is so much more painful than becoming it."
Upcoming Seasonal Vinyasa Retreats:
7/30-8/2 Breitenbush Hot Springs, OR with Melina Meza and Tamara Newmoon
9/19-924 Esalen, CA with Melina Meza, Tamara Newmoon, & Benjamin Fahrer
More details: http://www.melinameza.com/YogaRetreats.html
Monday, May 24, 2010
Ayurveda leads us to food that's right for each of us
Cooking according to the ancient principles of Ayurveda helps us keep healthy by emphasizing the foods we need at the time we need them.
By Eve M. Tai
SEATTLE WINTERS are never easy on anyone, but for me, fall is the hardest season of all. My whole body seems to dry up; air bloats my belly. I feel wired. Spacey.
Years ago I mentioned these symptoms to my yoga teacher, Melina Meza, at 8 Limbs Yoga Centers in Seattle. "It's vata season," she said, nodding with understanding.
Vata, it turns out, is the Sanskrit word for wind or air. From the yogic perspective, vata is the most active — often overly so — in the fall. It makes sense. Fall is the season when the winds kick up and leaves wither.
To remedy my dry, airy symptoms, Meza suggested balancing them by eating foods with opposite qualities. Drawing upon Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine, Meza advised cooking soups (wet) and root vegetables (grounded). Yams, carrots and potatoes soon entered my diet. My body rebounded within days.
Considered the sister practice to yoga, Ayurveda means "science of life." Its holistic approach seeks to optimize health before maladies arise. Food is considered medicine. Ayurveda calls for fresh, in-season produce, grains and meats because these foods harbor the most vitality.
This may not be news to locavore/slow food/Michael Pollan devotees. But Ayurveda elaborates on this practical wisdom — calling for specific foods and preparations that target your dosha, or general constitution. Chef Colin Patterson of Sutra, a vegetarian restaurant in Wallingford, finds Ayurveda attractive for this reason. "Food is very personal," he says. "Everyone has different needs."
According to Ayurveda, each of us tends to be governed mainly by one of three doshas and its corresponding natural element: kapha (earth), pitta (fire) or vata (air). Depending on your dosha, you would eat more of certain foods and flavorings, dial down others. General principles, however, apply to most of us each season. As we shift from spring to summer, Ayurveda advises cutting back on heavy and oily foods in favor of spicy, bitter and astringent foods. The latter helps move out the stagnation gathered over winter. For late spring, Meza suggests strawberries, raspberries, pears, lemons and grapefruit, along with asparagus, arugula, radicchio, celery, collard and mustard greens, radishes and sprouts.
"Nature provides us with the food we need when we need it," she says.
Although Sutra does not wear the Ayurveda mantle, the restaurant follows many of the same ideas. "We don't just pay attention to taste, but to the energetic effects food has on the body," says Amber Tande, Patterson's wife and business partner. She cites serving something fatty, perhaps a nut cheese, and following it with something fermented — say, pickled fiddlehead fern — to help break down that cheese.
Patterson echoes Meza's — and yoga's — assertion that ultimately the student becomes his or her own teacher. "Ayurveda gets you started with a road map," he observes. "After that, you find your own way."
Eve Tai is a freelance writer and student of yoga. John Lok is a Seattle Times staff photographer.
Lentil, Carrot & Wild Mushroom Cake
Serves 4 to 6
For the cake
¼ cup loose smoked black tea
1 cup black Beluga lentils
Salt to taste
4 to 6 medium tricolor carrots
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cups wild foraged mushrooms*
For the sauce
4 to 6 sunchokes
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
¼ medium onion, diced
¼ pound fresh stinging nettles (available at farmers markets)**
2 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1. To make the cake. Steep tea for 5 minutes in 4 cups filtered boiling water. Strain and bring tea back to a boil. Add lentils, cover and lower heat to simmer. Cook 30 minutes, then add salt. Cook another 10 minutes until lentils are soft. Strain and set aside.
2. Coat carrots in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Arrange on a sheet pan and roast in the oven at 350 degrees 30 minutes until soft. Cool, then cut into cubes.
3. Sauté mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of olive oil on high heat for 2 to 5 minutes until tender. Set aside.
4. Combine lentils, carrots and mushrooms in a large bowl; add salt to taste. Spoon and gently press mixture into 4 to 6 ring molds on an oiled baking sheet. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes at 350 degrees until heated through.
1. To make the sauce. Coat sunchokes in 2 tablespoons oil and roast on sheet pan at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Turn every 10 minutes until tender and lightly caramelized. Remove from oven and set aside.
Sauté onion in 1 tablespoon oil in large pan for 5 minutes until lightly caramelized. Add nettles and stock. Cover and cook for 5 minutes until nettles are dark green. Add sunchokes, then simmer for 10 minutes. Add more stock as needed.
Remove mixture from pan and purée in blender. Strain through cheesecloth. Return purée to pan. Add thyme and season to taste. To serve, spoon the sauce on a plate and top with cake.
— Sutra restaurant
* Use cultivated mushrooms when wild are unavailable.
** Handle fresh nettles with tongs. Cooking eliminates their sting.
Friday, April 23, 2010
What's been on my mind teaching this week?
Answer: The five elements!
Earth: stability (great place to start any practice)
Water: emotion and feeling (drops us into the feminine receptive space)
Fire: transformation and digestion (what are you growing? transforming?)
Air: listening (to breath, this breath)
Space: expanding into witnessing consciousness (observe what is happening, become less reactive, more aware)
Try this theme using the elements and apply to the following postures at your own pace.
Siddhasana - meditation seat
Siddhasana - side bend *(pg. 54)
Extended Balasana - child's pose with arms reaching forward, then to the r/l
Gomukasana Prep for legs - continue into Aparighasana legs + reaching under the bed arms
Kapalabhati in Horse/straddle pose
Prasarita Padottanasana E (pg. 99)
Virabhdrasana 2 - into reverse warrior into Utthita Parsakonasana (pg. 43) - repeat
Prasaritta Padottasana in between
Plank, side plank variation, up dog, down dog, lift one leg, open hip, lunge
Twisting chair, uttanasana, caturanga, up dog, down dog, flip dog, and end with warrior 1
Eka pada galavasana - arm balance variation like eagle
Sirsansa prep or full head stand
Ardha Maystendrasana - full bind
Abdominal work to center
Bridge with neck movement
Mysore style ending...enjoy!
*Pages in Art of Sequencing book: www.melinameza.com
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
I’ve been deeply inspired in my daily life by the very first sutra in the classic text called Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The arrangement in which the sutras are placed is related to their significance, so the very first word in the first yoga sutra is central to understanding what Westerners call “yoga.” The whole sutra is atha yoga anusasanam. Atha is translated as now, also referred to as the moment-to-moment transition. This simple word, atha, echoes the basic wisdom often forgotten in today’s society, that in order to feel whole and connected, you must be present. Right here, right now. But, where do we spend most of our life? Somewhere in between the past and future.
I once heard a riddle that asked, “If you had a treasure to hide, where would you hide it?” The answer is, “in the present moment.” What would happen if we started weaving this wisdom from the Yoga Sutra into our daily life and eating? Would our health improve? I believe it would. This first step is perhaps the most important step on this journey because it brings your attention to what you are doing in the moment, no matter what you are doing. How can you ever understand or feel the benefit of a well prepared meal, restorative or vigorous yoga practice, healthy relationships, parenting, working, or whatever you do in life, if you are always distracted with emails and text messaging or if you are busy fantasizing about some time other than right now?
One translation of the word “mindfulness” means to pay attention or take care in every thing you do. Mindfulness and atha have a lot in common, they both remind us that now is the prime time to pay attention to life and take nothing for granted, they both graciously steer the waxing and waning mind towards one goal, one task versus many. After all, can your energy really go more than one place at a time?
Mindfulness or atha can be used as a “mantra” to be repeated throughout the day in various activities such as yoga, meditation, walking, cooking, paying the bills, or listening to a friend. Repeating this mantra throughout your day will help remind you to stay present and awake, right here and now. What would it be like to wake up to each moment’s sensual offerings and accept that moment as enough?
What if eating became a part of your meditation practice? Whether you eat three square meals a day or numerous smaller meals, eating food is something every human must do to survive. To maintain healthy tissues and organs, it’s essential to eat the right foods everyday. Because we all need to eat so regularly, it’s a great place to consider sequencing in mindfulness and atha into your daily routine. Enjoy how your food tastes, smells, how well it digests, and how much you need to satisfy your hunger.
In the western culture, people are not fully conscious of the fact that they are eating; instead we are busy driving, typing at the computer, watching the TV or a movie, reading the paper or discussing politics or the latest Facebook events while hanging out with friends. Each of these scenarios requires a certain amount of energy output--energy that is pulled away from the digestive and metabolic functions occurring within. There is a classic saying, “Where your mind goes, your energy will follow.” So, why not focus on eating when eating, to prepare your digestive organs to process the nutrients?
If we were to apply mindfulness to eating, we would start by choosing a special, clean place to eat each meal, free of clutter and distractions. I believe it is valuable to choose a specific comfortable seat just for eating (like you do for meditation) other than your couch, desk, bed, or car because it promotes conscious eating. This also prevents overeating. Consider the classic conditioned behavior patterns described in Pavlov’s experiment. His research proves just how easily you can train yourself to get hungry every time you approach your desk, couch, or car, if that is where you most commonly eat. Conscious, mindful eating promotes efficient digestion and metabolism, so you’ll have more energy at the end of the day, week, and year to do your life’s work. When you take the same seat over and over again to eat, you’ll remember that eating is a ritual for nourishment rather than a reward or comfort tool.
By eating in a quiet seat, you also give your body the opportunity to stop vibrating from the day, calm the sense organs, indulge in a few deep breaths, and drop into a moment of appreciation for the delicious food you are about to consume. The food you eat, after all, will soon become you, so it would be wise to be attentive to your new guests and pray for a speedy, harmonious transformation in the walls of your GI tract.
Learn more about yoga, nutrition, and Ayurveda in one of Melina's upcoming workshops or retreats:
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Starting with the birth of the new season, it’s time to look at what your body will naturally crave in order to thrive in the springtime. How about trying a cleanse? Spring is one of the best times to consider changing your daily routine as kapha (water/earth-based) season releases into pitta (fire/water-based) season. The key for supreme health during the spring transition is the slow, gradual, sustainable release of any or all excess accumulation of kapha in the body in the form of weight, mucous, or phlegm by detoxifying the body and mind with an elimination diet.
Step 1: Elimination Diet
Here is an example of an elimination diet, to help you weed out the typical allergy-creating or addictive foods (keep in mind that each day builds upon the other):
*Begin each day with the Morning Master Cleanse Drink or Liver Flush
Day 1 & 2 No caffeine, sugar, alcohol (fruit in small amounts are okay)
Day 3 & 4 No wheat, dairy and processed foods
Day 5 & 6 No animal products
Day 7 & 8 Organic whole foods diet with vegetables, grains, legumes
Day 9-11 Mono-diet of Kitcheri (mung bean and rice dish)
Day 12 & 13 Organic whole foods diet with vegetables, grains, legumes
Day 14: Practice moderation and eat lots of spicy (radish), bitter (arugula), and astringent (grapefruit) foods while decreasing the heavy, oily foods from winter.
By the end of the two weeks, I hope you feel illuminated by your elimination diet!
Step 2: Asana to Promote Liver and Gallbladder Health
When it comes to your asana practice, the inner and outer legs correlate to the meridian lines that feed into the liver (inner legs) and gallbladder (outer legs). It’s a great time to deepen your relationship to poses such as pigeon, eagle, wide leg forward bends, and cow face, just to name a few of the poses that help you connect to and activate the liver and gallbladder meridians.
Watch my Seasonal Vinyasa Spring Flow, Spring Yin practice for more inspiration.
Master Cleanse Morning Drink
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice
1 or 2 tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
1/10 teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 ounces spring water
Drink liberally (from 6-12 glasses/day) throughout the day.
1 tablespoon cold-pressed olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
4 ounces spring water
Squeeze the lemons and add the rest of the ingredients to the juice. Bled 30 seconds and drink.
Stay tuned for more seasonal vinyasa tips on my website: www.melinameza.com
Thursday, March 11, 2010
I know the weather can really be hit or miss these days, but there is enough proof around in nature to confirm that spring is really close, close enough to consider shifting your yoga practice to compliment the season.
Over the winter we have been doing yoga classes that emphasize Sun Salutations to promote circulation, extra twists to strengthen metabolic fire, and dynamic forward and backbends to tonify the kidneys and urinary bladder, which are the organs that regulate water in the body as well as our emotions.
Now that the winter has passed and spring is near, it's time to start sending some T.L.C. to the liver and gallbladder, which may have been working overtime during the winter with diets heavy in fat, protein, caffeine, alcohol or sugar. Interesting that the springtime is about cleansing the liver and gallbladder, which do many helpful things for our health including: filtering toxins from the external environment and food, aiding in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fat, and protein, helping to break down fats in the body, and processing our anger. These are exactly the organs that tend to get overloaded in the winter with extra socializing, large meals, decreased exercise, not enough rest, and other behaviors typically associated with the winter months.
It makes sense that many of us are drawn to the idea of cleansing and purging this time of year—it’s time to lighten our load. Spring is really a time to THRIVE and it’s difficult to thrive if you feel weighted down by your inner or outer world. In order to feel your best, perhaps a little cleanse is in order to get rid of any winter weight, clutter, or material possessions that keep you in the past or limit your freedom in the moment?
Now is the time to decrease heavy, oily, cold, fat foods, and increase spicy, bitter, and astringent foods to promote wellness such as arugula, mustard greens, kale, strawberries, blueberries, and sprouts. Sprouts and early dark green vegetables are a great way to increase your vitamin, nutrient and chlorophyll intake. Sprouts are even known to be a natural blood cleanser. In general, eat light, eat local.
When it comes to your asana practice, the inner legs and outer leg lines correlate to the meridian lines that feed into the liver (inner legs) and gallbladder (outer legs). It’s a great time to deepen your relationship to poses such as Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (pigeon), Garudasana (eagle), Prasaritta Padottanasana (wide leg forward bends), Gardasana (cow face), as these poses help you to connect to and activate the liver and gallbladder meridians.
Example of a yin/restorative class for the Spring:
Lying on your back:
Supta Baddha Konasana, Happy Baby Pose, Wide Leg Splits (while supported by the floor), Easy Twist with bent legs, “Thread the Needle”
On the knees or seated:
Wide Leg Child’s Pose, Spinx, Pigeon, Ardha Matysendrasana, Gomukasana, Upavista Konasana, Padmasana
Example of a Spring Vinyasa Yoga class for the Spring:
Supta Baddha Konasana, Happy Baby Pose, Wide Leg Split, Supta Padangusthasana (standard and twist), Abdominal work with Twists, Abdominal work with legs in Garudasana, Lion’s Breath, Fire Hydrant, Spinal Rolls, Uddiyana Bandha, Agni Sara, Sun Salutes with Salabhasana, Squats, Surya Namaskar B, Garudasana, Prasaritta Padottanasana Series, Sirsasana, Bakasana, Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (pigeon), Gomukasana, Double Pigeon, Pursvottanasana, Mayurasana (peacock), Bharadvajasana, Maha Mudra, Janu Sirsasana, Setu Bandha, Halasana with Padmasana…finishing poses.
You can find more inspiration for home practice or sequencing ideas for teaching in my book or DVD located on my website: www.melinameza.com
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Starting next week I will launch into Spring Vinyasa classes! I hope to see you at 8 Limbs or in Hawaii for the kick off. In the meantime, here is my last winter vinyasa class, I will hopefully make a You Tube video out of this one soon, as it's a great outline to follow for those days where you feel sluggish and need to wake up!
Last Winter Sequence:
Supported Pranayama with a bolster under your back.
Tadaka Mudra (*pg. 43 A.O.S.)
Bridge Flow (reach arms over head with spine on the ground, lift up to bridge on exhale)
Upper belly crunch (pg. 18)
Easy Twist (without letting your legs touch the ground)
Leg Lifts (pg. 31)
Knee to Nose (pg. 20)
Down Dog - Plank (repeat back and forth)
Vajrasana (pg. 49)
Straddle/Horse with Kapala Bhati breath (repeat)
Tadasana, side bend, tippie toe twist(pg. 14), Uttanasana, Plank, Cobra, Down Down (three breaths), Uttanasana, Tadasana (repeat several times)
Parsva Utkatasana (revolved chair), Caturanga, Up Dog, Down Dog, Warrior One, Caturanga, Down Dog (hold 3 breaths)
Garduasana (eagle) Flow in and out
Warrior 2 (sink in and out 3 times), hold
Reverse Warrior 2 turns to Wide leg twist (pg. 99), side splits - other side!
Down Dog facing top of mat
Dhanurasana - take 10 breaths to complete the pose
Table Top - make circles with hips and shoulders
Ardha Matsyendrasana (twist)
Supta Padangusthasana - lift head to knee variation
Happy Baby Pose
*Art of Sequencing- Volume One can be purchased on my website:
Sunday, February 21, 2010
In Art of Wellness, my next book, I outline how to incorporate yogic principals and practices into your daily life. Just as the asanas strengthen our bodies and quiet our minds, there are a number of other practices in yoga that help us create positive and lasting change in our lives and prevent unnecessary suffering. For instance the yogic process of transformation, known as Kriya yoga, involves three fundamental steps; tapas, translated as intention, enthusiasm, or passion, svadhyaya, described as self-awareness or examination; and finally isvara pranidhana, or the faith beyond belief. These fundamental concepts of intention, self-awareness, and faith, beyond belief, are the central principals of Kriya and the backbone from which all life experimentation, and true change, begins. When you follow these steps, no matter what issue you are trying to work through, you will see the patterns in your life that create suffering.
To help bring the Kriya path to life, I often advise students to find something they are passionate about changing and then decide to work on that for a two-week period of time. Perhaps you want to lose weight and improve your health and have determined that sugar is a culprit. I then will ask you to commit to eliminating it from your diet for just two weeks. Once you have found something you are enthusiastic about changing you can then move on to the next step of svadhyaya. During this phase, you must pay attention to the changes in your mood, relationships, behavior, eating habits, and body functions. Journal, illustrate, or make art to document your observations. If you decided to eliminate sugar from your diet, then notice how much energy it takes to shift out of a habitual pattern. Notice what happens in your body and mind. What changes do you see in your life and what impact does this change have in those around you. Notice if you’re losing weight by stepping on the scale or trying on those tight jeans. Are you less moody or emotional? Are you experiencing withdrawal symptoms? Once you get through this experiment phase, you will know for certain how powerful sugar is, and will have arrived at the third step, isvara pranidhana; first-hand experience which leads to faith beyond belief. You will know first-hand what a powerful drug sugar is and by going through withdrawal, you will understand how it contributes to weight gain, mood swings, or A.D.D. Kriya’s three-step process is a tried and true practice for creating successful and sustained changes.
Our current transition on the west coast between Winter and Spring is one of the best transit times to consider doing a two week long elimination experiment to prepare for deeper Spring cleansing in just a few weeks! Stay tuned for more cleansing ideas to come.
If you are interested in learning more about Seasonal Vinyasa Yoga for the Spring, please join me in Hawaii, March 20-27, 2010 at Kalani Oceanside Retreat Center! You can read more or register on my website:
Monday, February 8, 2010
Before I drive away to Mazama for the Yoga & Ski retreat, I wanted to leave you with a new yoga sequence for the week. I hope you feeling the love for your practice, life, and the ever changing nature surrounding you. Happy Valentine's Day (in advance). xxxxoxo m
Standing meditation (5-10 minutes)
Horse (straddle seat) - flow to one side for High Runner's Lunge, then twist
Prasaritta Padottanasana (in between sides) head toward side splits
Downward Dog - flow with raising a leg on inhale, exhale bring knee to your nose
Shalabhasana variation - lift right arm and left leg, turn head, other side
Child's pose with toes tucked under
Surya Namaskar B with Revolved Chair pose and long Warrior One holds
Triangle pose with neck release/chest opener (p. 41)
Ardha Chandrasana w/block under hand, grab back foot variation
Downward Dog - Flip your dog
Bekasana (frog) or Ardha Dhaurasana (1/2 wheel) or both!
Maricyasana (bind arms around bent front leg) into Vasisthasana flow then Dandasana
Purvottanasana (reverse table top)
Navasana - end up on your back
Supta Padangusthasana with straight legs, head toward a twist
Happy Baby Pose
I'll be working on a few more You Tube Videos this weekend, stay tuned for asana sequences. More creative sequences can be found in my book, Art of Sequencing or Fall Vinyasa DVD.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
1. Adjust your day-to-day choices to align with what is occurring outside in nature.
2. Figure out your dosha to increase your awareness of physical and mental strengths/challenges during this season.
3. Daily ritual begins with getting up early and looking in the mirror to monitor your health.
4. Adjust daily routine based on how your skin, tongue, and eyes appear in the morning!
5. Eat your big meal in the middle of day (healthy high fat and oily foods).
6. Take a hot bath or shower to unwind and decrease stress vs. drinking wine or eating sugar.
7. Keep strong "jatharagni" by eating only when you are hungry.
8. Keep stong "pranagni" by doing yoga asanas and deep breathing.
9. Keep strong "managni" by meditating and spending time in nature away from artificial stimulation.
10. Awaken your "hridaya", spiritual heart with fire ceremonies and chanting or singing.
Here's what I'm teaching this week:
Virasana with shoulder openers (pg. 19 A.O.S. book)
Virasana with Gomukasana arms
Cat/Cow into with Lion's breath!
Down Dog to Uttanasana
Uddiyana Bandha and Kapala bhati
Prasaritta Padottanasana - regular
Prasaritta Padottansana E (pg. 38)
Surya Namaskar A variation: with low lunge and twist
Surya Namaskar B variation: twisting chair, warrior one, lunge with head at ankle (pg. 37)
Garudasana - repeat a few times
Prasaritta Padottansana with deep twist
Down Dog - Vinyasa to stay warm
Dhanurasana with strap (pg. 59)
Balasana - child's pose
Sirsasana - headstand
Ardha Matysasana - Purvottanasana with bent legs after both sides
Marichyasana B (pg. 53) - Purvottanasana with straight legs after both sides
Savasana - brief
Sukkhasana - Right nostril breathing
If you don't have your copy of Art of Sequencing, you can purchase it on my website by clicking the link:
Monday, January 18, 2010
Winter sequences in general should be rhythmic, warming, and invigorating. Try to find the right tempo to practice these suggested postures to increase your metabolism and circulation. What I offer in this You Tube video is a fast-forward version of poses I teach in classes. This does not reflect the whole class, just some winter friendly poses I'm currently teaching. Have fun! Filmed at 8 Limbs Yoga Centers, Seattle, on a sunny day!
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Part One: Tapas is Step One in Kriya Yoga
Tapas is found in both the three-fold process of Kriya yoga and the Niyamas. Consider tapas as a catalyst or spark to initiate, as well as maintain, the energy for creativity, new beginnings, physical, emotional, and mental transformations; or alternately, as the electrical juice to overcome habits that are no longer beneficial.
Tapas in the Modern World
Living in harmony with nature means you embrace the changing world around you in all its seasons, ages, and states, including suffering and destruction, as well as, joy and renewal. If you are willing to truly embrace all the phases of life, then tapas will be a warm nudge to help you stoke the fire of inspiration and engage in the world as a dynamic participant rather than a static bystander. This first step of Kriya requires energy in the form of intention, enthusiasm, commitment, or passion. These act as catalysts to propel your creative endeavor—whether your wellness plan, art project, vegetable garden, or yoga practice—forward. This passion fires the creative muse in you to dream up endless possibilities. It’s the energy that inspires the farmer to envision a bountiful harvest, a parent to trust they are doing their best, and a yogi to organically detach from worldly desires.
Working with Tapas
Everyone needs a different amount of time, inspiration, incentive, pressure, and heat to prepare for the creative incubation phase. Start by accepting what stage of life (student, householder, retirement, or renunciate) you are in. While keeping in mind the particular demands of your life, look at any undesirable behavioral patterns, habits, or attachments you have and consider removing just one to help you change, enhance, or grow into a more conscious being. What is currently occupying your life energy (getting through college, raising children, planning your retirement), which part of yourself is likely to go out of balance (i.e., diet, spending habits, travel), and consider whether you have any goals on the horizon for the near future (graduation, exercising three times a week, buying a new car, or taking a vacation). This is where the “heat” and passion come into support your intention and keep you on track and motivated.
In my teaching experience, I’ve noticed the student must be truly enthusiastic about constructing change in their life or else nothing new will manifest. With that said, whatever lifestyle change you are willing to consider right now, make sure it is within reason and that you can accomplish it with very little discipline or support. It’s important that you succeed in your first experiments in order to build tapas for the more stubborn habits and behavior patterns down the road. For example if you wanted to add mediation to your daily practice, you would try and sit for five minutes a day rather than for twenty minutes. After successfully sitting for five minutes a day for two weeks, increase your time to ten minutes a day. Pay attention to the things you resist, they may be your most potent teachers.
At its root, Kriya yoga will help you find the insight and strength to compassionately reign in your mind and your energy from the objects or habits that have taken away or reduced your sense of power or happiness.
Next week: Part Two or read the whole article now: http://www.melinameza.com/Yoga_Articles.html
Monday, January 11, 2010
Here's what we will be working on this week in my class...
1. Gayatri Mantra
2. Supported pranayama - Samavrtti (even breath ratio)
3. Neck and Chest move (p. 18 in Art of Sequencing book)
4. Abdominal crunches
5. Supta Padangustasana & Twist
6. Cakravakasana with lion breath
7. Down dog and Uttanasana on tippie toes
8. Uddiyana bandha
10. Straddle/Horse with Kapala Bhati breathing
11. Wide squat
12. Prasaritta Padottanasana
13. Surya Namaskar A with Salabhasana variation (p. 68 in Art of Sequencing)
14. Surya Namaskar B with revolved chair pose and high lunges
15. Parvottanasana - Parvritta Trikonasana - Prasaritta Padottansana variation - repeat
19. Tiryan Mukhaikapada Pascimottanasana - Purvottanasana variation w/ front knee down
20. Balansa or Mayurasana
21. Urdhva Dhanurasana Prep or full pose
24. Closing poses....depends on the day!
Hope to see you in class. You can reference more of these poses in my book, Art of Sequencing, plus 34 additional classes to inspire your teaching or home practice.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
"Keep walking, though there's no place to get to. Don't try to see through the distance. That's not for human begins. Move within, but don't move the way fear makes you move." Rumi
I'll be teaching my first yoga retreat at Esalen in Big Sur, California, September 19-24, 2010. It's a dream come true, the place is amazing. I hope you can join me and special friends Tamara Newmoon and Benjamin Fahrer. More details coming soon...
Melina Meza Retreats: