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7:20 pm

Yoga for Breath & Mind

By Lisa Wells At the beginning of yoga class, I often ask how people are feeling and what they need.  Someone will mention their low back, another their knees, another their neck or shoulders.  Inevitably someone will say “the space between my ears.”   We’ll all laugh because ‘the space between the ears’ is a universal complaint.  And yoga can help.  Contrary to what is presented on the covers of magazines, the goal of yoga is not fancy poses; the goal of yoga is to calm and quiet the space between your ears so that you can be realized.  As Pantajali said  “Yoga chitta vritti Nirodha.  Tada drashtuh svarupe avasthanam.  Yoga calms the storms of the mind.  Then one rests in their true nature” Notice that Pantajali used the words ‘their true nature.’  A basic precept of yoga psychology is that you are already realized, the problem is that you have forgotten.  Being born into this life we forget our true nature. We become charmed by the glamour of the world. We get distracted by baubles and trinkets, by glory and majesty, as well as by pain, suffering, tragedy, work, and struggle. We confuse the ephemeral with the eternal.  We forget who we are.  Our minds, doing what minds do, spin into the future or the past, worry, fret, get angry, plan, play, and imagine.  These are the ‘chitta vritti, turnings of the mind,’ that Pantajali spoke of. If you have ever tried formless meditation, you’ve no doubt witnessed the ‘chitta vritti’ of your mind.  When followed in sequence yogic meditation give us tools to calm our mental storm and find our way to meditation. We begin with breathing exercises (Pranayama), followed by quieting the senses (Pratyahara), proceeding to concentration (Dharana), continuing with meditation (Dhyana) and finally, experiencing Samhadhi, the realization of our true divine nature. Notice that nowhere does this say ‘silence the mind.’  Somehow we have acquired the idea that we are seeking a silent mind.  That is not right. The process of meditation allows us to detach from the mind’s chatter. We realize that the chatter is not who we are.  By detaching, we learn to direct, concentrate and focus our minds.  We learn to guide our minds where we want to go.  As we set our sights on Samadhi, we discover we are already there. More practically, the yogic breathing exercise will also improve your respiratory and mental health.  You’ll increase lung capacity and ease of breath.  Yogic breathing exercises can relieve asthma, allergies and sinus infections.  These exercises have been shown to ease anxiety, depression, addictions, eating disorders and PTSD.  Overall, yoga makes you a happier and healthier person, and if in the process you happen to Realize, Bingo! Learn more at the Happy Breath & Mind Laboratory !  Led by Lisa Wells on Dec 11, 2011. References: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Mental_Health_Letter/2009/April/Yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200011/yoga-not-just-exercise http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100819112124.htm http://www.news-medical.net/news/2006/04/06/17144.aspx http://www.yogajournal.com/health/127 http://news.health.com/2009/06/01/yoga-helps-those-asthma/

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6:20 pm

Gratitude

By Lisa Wells “My happiness is directly proportional to my gratitude.”  ~ Happy Jack. Gratitude is a practice that makes a direct difference in the quality of our lives.  It changes the way we think and the way we view our lives.  Gratitude is a prayer that keeps us in a positive frame of mind. Worry is prayer that keeps us in a negative frame of mind. You choose. Your mind is malleable. This is one purpose of meditation: to discover that you choose what occupies your mind. Meditation is a little like learning to ride a bike.  You have the ability to steer your mind.  “Think where you want to go.” I begin each day with gratitude, gratitude for very simple things. Before I get out of bed in the morning I say simple prayers.  “I am grateful for my warm bed.  I am grateful for a roof that does not leak. I am grateful for my family.  I am grateful for the beauty outside my window. I am grateful for work that satisfies me. I am grateful for my friends and my colleagues.  I am grateful for my practice and my teachers.” When I start the day with prayers of gratitude, the rest of the day is reflected in that light. It is easier to deal with the bumps in the road when the bigger picture is clear.  I can shake off the small distractions of worry and doubt and dwell in turning my mind where I want it to go. Each of us has much to be grateful for.  Remind yourself daily of the gifts in your life. Practicing gratitude you will feel grateful. And you will begin to show some of that mental sparkle that I attribute to my friend Happy Jack.  You too will discover that “your happiness is directly proportional to your gratitude."

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3:34 pm

Yoga Teacher Falls for Pilates

Guest post by Miranda Knox Yoga and Pilates form an ideal union. I've always heard that Pilates could strengthen my core muscles (i.e. abdomen), and that sounded like a compliment to my yoga practice. Yet, I wasn't quite sure I wanted to devote my precious 60 minutes of blissful yoga practice to an unfamiliar practice. The new experiences I've had with the Pilates reformer machines and the incredible teachers at Live Well have been nothing short of life enhancing. To my surprise, the class includes a mind body connection, stress reducing breathing, laughter, and what seemed like a lesson in anatomy. I am learning about muscles, joints, and bones that are part of integrated body movements. Pilates is allowing me to teach my yoga classes with more precise directions and effective imagery. I've learned so much after taking only 5 classes, and they are so fun! My posture is better, and my body is different. I feel stronger, happier, and more complete. It's been super rewarding to try something new, and then incorporate it to my routine yoga practice. Now, I can hardly wait for the next Pilates class. Miranda has created a class Centering Flow melding her passion for Yoga with her new found appreciation of Pilates. Join her Wednesdays at 5:30pm.

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10:01 am

Kundalini Yoga: The Yoga of Awareness

Guest post by Miranda Knox Have you ever had the feeling that yoga found you?  In 2008, Kundalini Yoga found me. I had already used pictures from yoga magazines on vision boards that included Kundalini yoga, but I had no idea at the time. When I finally went to my first Kundalini class, I had recently started an exciting career of being a full-time yoga teacher!  My energy was full of a spiritual desire for devotion. I wanted to live a life full of purpose. During a lunch with a fellow yogi, I learned that Kundalini yoga worked on moving energy through all your charkas more acutely than any other type of yoga. This sounded promising, and I left lunch with the information of where I was going to try Kundalini. The class itself was different that any other yoga class I’d ever taken. We ran in place for 2 minutes to build perseverance. We did body drops from seated mountain to release fear. We meditated on the color green for abundance. We chanted words I didn’t understand. After I left class, I felt like a better version of myself. I kept getting phone calls from friends I hadn’t talked to in years. All doubt about my life was forgotten. I suddenly went from feeling lost to feeling in the flow of the universe. I went back to class to ask the teacher more about how I could teach this kind of yoga, but many people surrounded her after class. It’s tradition to share tea and conversations after class. So I only managed to get her business card. It said, “ spiritual teacher”. I emailed her, we met, and she gave me a Kundalini practice that would illuminate my relationship to my self, others, and destiny, based off my birthday. I had to practice every day for 40 consecutive days. I set my intentions of growing as a teacher and finding a life partner. The next forty days were magical as my goals started to come true. Most importantly, I became more confident, happier, spiritual, healthy, whole, creative, and compassionate. My yoga students noticed I seemed more meditative in my persona, and I was in awe of how things were falling into place. I knew my next step was to learn how to teach Kundalini Yoga. It gave me strength through a transition in my life, and I wanted to share that with others. Kundalini Yoga is a sacred science that expands your creative potential into its highest consciousness. It gives your power to attract the health and happiness you are seeking. You instantly feel a connection to your divine purpose. There are Kundalini practices for every purpose ranging from health to spiritual but all of them work on every level of your being. The power is in the experience. To read more about Kundalini Yoga check out www.3ho.org. Miranda teaches Kundalini Yoga, Mondays, 6:30-7:30pm at Live Well Studio.

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