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4:07 pm

Dear Yogini, How often should I practice? ~Wanting Change

Dear Wanting, This is a good question Wanting. Tapas, one of the 5 Niyamas, is discipline.  Tapas is also translated as ‘heat.’  As one of the Niyamas (yogic principles of daily action) Tapas refers to turning up your psycho-spiritual thermostat, not the thermostat on your wall.  Tapas refers turning up the heat of passion and combustion in your heart and soul.  Tapas is the heat that brings you back to your mat day after day after day.  Tapas is the disciplined combustion to creates change in your body and life. In the yoga sutra’s Pantajali says: Tapas (self-discipline), Svadyaya (self-study) and Isvara Pranidhana (surrender) constitute the Yoga of Action. These are preformed to promote enlightenment and to remove the afflictions from the mind. So, Wanting, what do you want to change? If you are seeking significant physical changes in your body: practice 3-to-5 times per week, a mix of Yoga and Pilates, and you’ll see significant physical improvements within a month.   You’ll be stronger, more flexible, and your balance will improve.  You’ll preform better in any sport you participate in.  You’ll feel better and more at ease in your body.  If you practice daily, your efforts will be rewarded very quickly. If you are seeking relief from pain or better overall health: Practicing yoga twice per week is one of the best pain killers you can find.  Your blood pressure will drop, your blood sugar will begin to stabilize, you’ll feel and look more vibrant and at ease in your body.  Your range of motion and balance will improve.  Even once per week will give you these benefits, but the rate of change will be slower. If you are seeking the mental benefits of yoga:  Hatha Yoga (the yoga most of us practice in the US) sees working with the physical body as the most directly effective way to manifest mental and spiritual change. The change you manifest will be directly related to your Tapas, your commitment to the practice. You’ll feel happier, calmer and more peaceful with a regular yoga practice. You will be able to weather the storms of your life with more ease.  Depression will lift.  You will have more focus and more mental stamina. You will sleep better. Even if you practice only once a week, you will begin to manifest these changes. Begin with a practice that you have enough Tapas to sustain.  It should be manageable within the life you have.   Yoga will grow on you, you may fall in love with it. Be available to the possibility of practicing more in time. Change will happen with disciplined practice. Sooner or later, people will begin asking you how come you look so great, how’d you get so happy.  Then you can tell them about Tapas. ~ Namaste, Yogini Lisa  

11:35 pm

April Flowers Bring Neti Pots

The pollen has arrived. Monday there was ¼ inch of yellow cedar pollen coating the windows of my car.   The same crud is coating the inside of your sinuses, your lungs and your eyes.  Some of us are having systemic histamine reactions as our bodies try to fight off the offenders.  Some of us just have itchy eyes and irritated throats. In either case a few simple yogic remedies can help.

Neti Pot:  Fill your neti pot with body-temperature pre-boiled or distilled water and ½ teaspoon of salt.  The water should feel neutral in your sinuses, if it burns adjust the salt and temperature.  Lean over the sink, tilt your head to the left side and pour half the water from right nostril to left, then switch sides.  You should be able to breath through your mouth while you do this.  When the pot is empty lean your head forward and exhale forcefully to dry your sinuses. Nasya Oil: Nasya is organic sesame oil infused with medicinal Brahmi, Calumus Skullcap and Eucalyptus.  Massaging a few drops into each nostril in the mornings will keep your head and sinuses clear and your immune system healthy. Pranayama are breathing exercises.  The most simple is to pay attention to your exhalation.  If you find yourself struggling to breath, focus on exhaling and this will relax the ‘panic response’ that causes you to gasp for breath.
  • Kapalabhati: ‘Skull Shining’ warms the body and clears the sinuses. Inhale deeply. Exhale with a short forceful pulse 20 to 40 times.  Rest. Repeat up to 6 times.
  • Nadi Shodhana:  ‘Alternate Nostril Breath’ balances the mind and body. Rest your right thumb on your right nostril, your right index finger on your left nostril, right pointer and middle fingers on your forehead.  Close the right nostril and inhale with the left nostril; close the left nostril and exhale right, inhale right; close right, exhale left, inhale left. Continue this pattern 9 times. Rest.
Asana: Chest Opening asana (yoga poses) create more room for breath.
  • Bhujangasana: Cobra Pose.  Lie on your belly with your hands under your shoulders.  Keep your abdominal muscles engaged as you lift your head and chest from the floor.  Lift and lower about 6 times, then lift and hold for 6 breaths.
  • Setubandhasana: Bridge Pose.  Lie on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the floor.  Keep your abdominal muscles engaged as you lift one vertebra at a time from the floor to come into bridge pose. Pause and then lower one vertebra at a time back to the floor.  Lift and lower about 6 times and then lift and hold for 6 breaths.
  • Ustrasana: Camel Pose. This is a more advanced backbend contraindicated for those with low back problems.  Begin in a kneeling position.  Bring your hands to your low back and firmly engage your abdominal muscles.  Lift up from the belly to stretch your heart toward the sky.  If you have the flexibility, reach your hands back to your heals.  Keep your chin slightly tucked as you arch back and only release the head at the last moment.  Use your abdominal muscles to come out of the pose.  Repeat 3 times.
Beware inversions:  If your sinuses won’t clear, going upside down can move mucus into the interior ear cavities.  Avoid inversions if your sinuses are congested.