what would you do if nothing stood in your way?

what would you do if nothing stood in your way?

I’m always on the lookout for questions like these.  My girlfriends from college are relatively scattered these days, so we communicate every week by group email.  To add to the ‘daily dish’ we share about our families, our jobs, our homes, our stresses, and our successes, I insert a Question of the Day into the email chain and everyone answers as honestly as she can.  Sometimes the questions are really important (i.e. Vampire or Zombie?), sometimes the questions are simply thought-provoking (i.e. what personal success did you experience in the past week?) and sometimes the questions are soul-searching:

what would you do if nothing stood in your way?

I found this question featured on a Lululemon Athletica shopping tote (which I adore, and maybe also hoard to re-use as grocery bags) and it immediately struck me as an integral question for self-evolution.  Self-doubting, questioning, searching, and seeking are all activities of the mind-ego… and believe me, my mind-ego is ripe with activity despite (because of?) years of yoga and meditation.  Yoga is a discipline that gives us the tools for listening to our inner-voice and eavesdropping on our Soul but what we hear isn’t always clear or straightforward.  Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu is attributed with saying: “At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”  Meaning the more we learn and utilize tools for self-reflection and inner study the more clarity we gain.  Our soul’s deepest desires are not outside of us.  Our soul’s deepest desires are inherent within us.  So, what would you do if nothing stood in your way?  That’s a literal question, not a hypothetical one.   Go ahead… answer it.

I mean, really, your answer may reveal dreams that you’ve never before had the courage to say out loud.  You may hear in your answer an inner-wisdom, speaking softly.  And you may end up navigating your life experiences to include your answers.

What would I do if nothing stood in my way?

I’d garden.  I’d have an expansive, fertile vegetable garden in my back yard and I’d spend hours tending it.  I’d have enough vegetables to feed two vegetarians.  (Which is not easy, since my Ironman and I eat a boat load of veggies.  Russell Clive is a full-on carnivore, in case you were wondering.  Turns out: dogs eat meat.)

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I’d write.  For no one.  For myself.  For the world.

I’d go on PeaceWalks across the desert campaigning against nuclear weapons and I’d hang out with the Dalai Lama.

I’d travel to San Francisco one morning just to drink Peet’s Coffee, hike in the Berkeley Hills, hug my friends, and take a yoga class.  Then I’d fly home that same day.

I’d read every book in the library.

I’d never let fear of failure hold me back.

I’d live as if each day was my last chance to breathe joy into this world.

What would you do?  Honestly: comment, Facebook, text or email me your answers.  Happy Soul searching.

-lisa

 

 

god is the breath.

god is the breath.

 

God says…“Are you looking for me? I am in the next seat.  My shoulder is against yours.  You will not find me in the stupas, not in the Indian shrine rooms, nor in synagogues, not in cathedrals: not in masses, nor kirtans, not in legs winding around your own neck, nor in eating nothing but vegetables.  When you really look for me, you will see me instantly—you will find me in the tiniest house of time. … Tell me, what is God?  He is the breath inside the breath.” – Kabir

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photo cred EMA

yoga props: using a foam roller to reduce soreness.

I mean, my back is sore.  Really sore.  I’ve probably been doing one-too-many backbends in my own practice and demo-ing one-too-many backbends in my private instruction sessions.  (They are so fun!  And so good for us!)… but ohmyword my back is sore.  I groaned as I stood up from my mat after class yesterday and my student Matt lovingly reminded me: “Wait, isn’t yoga supposed to make you feel less sore?  You do so much stretching!”  Well yeah: but if you practice to your edge, and are dedicated to opening up your tight spots, but you don’t recover well, then yes, you might be sore.

Throughout the summer, I’ll be featuring several recovery techniques for after your yoga practice.  These will help keep you feeling good, (enjoying that yoga bliss) and prepare your body to come back to the mat again the next day.  After all: this is yoga Practice.  Which means we practice every day, especially on the days we don’t feel like it!

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My first tip: Get a Foam Roller.  

My Ironman Guy uses his all the time, and I used to be skeptical.  Mostly because I didn’t want to spend the time on it… but seriously?  10 measly minutes and your muscles release?  (No guitar string hammys here.)  Worth it.

Sara Fruman writes a great article on Gaiam Life featuring 12 ways to use a foam roller to overcome yoga soreness.

Here’s 1 through 4.  The rest of her tips can be found here.

“Here are 12 areas of the body and ways that you can use your foam roller to relieve muscle tension, correct muscle imbalances, increase range of motion and prevent injuries. The best part is that just 10 minutes a day can be sufficient to feel a big change.
1. Thighs (front) For sweet quadriceps release, get into Upward-Facing Dog and position the foam roller under your thighs with your toes on the floor. Press your hands into the floor and shift your body forward and backward, letting the foam roller massage your quads.
2. Thighs and Calves (back)  If you’ve been working your hamstrings or calves lately, you’ll need this release. Position the roller under the back of your thighs or calves, then straighten your leg, keeping your heel off the floor. Press your hands into the floor and slightly raise your buttocks (Reverse Plank). Shift your body forward and backward, letting the foam roller massage your thighs or calves.
3. Thigh (side) Need to release tension in your IT Band? Position the foam roller under the outside of one of your thighs, straighten your leg and point your toes. Press your hands into the floor and shift your body forward and backward while rolling the roller along the side of your upper leg. Feel the sweet release, then switch sides!
4. Upper Back Place the foam roller under your upper back, bend your legs and straighten your arms. Press your feet and hands into the ground and lift your buttocks off the floor, coming up into Bridge Pose. Shift your body forward and backward while the roller massages your upper back.

Convinced?  Don’t have one?  Here’s the one that I bought.  It’s green! :)

 

Let me know how you like these exercises,

-lisa

best advice for wrist pain.

I would agree with blogger and yoga teacher Kristen Warren that wrist pain is the most common complaint for new-to-yoga students.  My first advice is always: stretch your shoulders!  Most wrist pain is due to tight shoulders… funny enough.  This article gives detailed explanations and advice regarding the dreaded wrist pain experienced in yoga asana sessions.  I’m reblogging from Kristen’s site:

How to avoid Wrist Pain, or deal with it if you’ve got it!

Wrist Range of Motion (ROM):

To start, it is very important to understand the ways in which a person’s wrist can move. To visualize, place your right arm in front of you with your palm facing away from you and move your wrist as I describe the ways to move it.

Bend right hand towards the inside of your forearm or radial bone (hand is moving left) – ABDUCTION

Bend right hand towards the outside of your forearm or ulna bone (hand is moving right) – ADDUCTION

Bend your hand down towards the floor so fingers point down – FLEXION

Bend your hand up towards the ceiling so your fingers point up – EXTENSION

Rotate your wrist so the thumb is midline to the body – PRONATION

Rotate your wrist so the thumb is away from the body – SUPINATION

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Now visualize the various poses offered in a typical yoga class: All 4’s, Crocodile, Cobra, Upward Facing Dog, Downward Facing Dog, Crow…just to name a few. Think about what the wrist is doing. With these poses, the wrist is often in a 90˚ “EXTENSION” and is this not when the complaints arise?

In yoga, many times wrist EXTENSION is pretty intense and new people aren’t used to this intensity so it hurts. Think about it, in general, how often do any of us have our wrists in full extension? Umm, not too often. So as long as person doesn’t have a wrist injury, past surgery, or even Carpal Tunnel Syndrome there are a lot of options out there to help alleviate the intensity and also to strengthen the wrist so you’ll be able to do those poses more comfortably.

Suggestions:

Props: Wedges, folded towels, or hands placed on edge of a folded mat, will lessen the angle of extension which can alleviate the intensity of the wrist’s pain. There are also “Wrist Assured Gloves” (WAG) which provide support like a brace. And recently these yoga eggs which are a hybrid between a ball and a block also lessen the angle. I’ve seen these eggs advertised in Yoga Journal, and YogaFit offers trainings which incorporate them. Other props change up the hand position. These include small (non-rounded) hand weights or Gripitz or even just creating fists vs. having the wrist in extension is another option. (I’ve found a great selection of these types of props at Dick’s Sporting Goods store).

Choosing Other Pose Options:

Sphinx vs. Cobra/Upward Facing Dog

Hovering Palms in Cobra vs. Cobra with hands pressed in the mat

Dolphin vs. Downward Facing Dog (or use props such as eggs, wedges or towels, straps or chairs)

Focus on Hand Placement and Pressure; Are You/They Actually Doing the Pose Correctly:

  1. Stack the joints (hands under shoulders) and spread fingers out like “starfish” –and ensure your index finger is pointed forward verses angled out. This distributes the pressure.
  2. Press down where the fingers join the palms and allow it to continue down towards fingertips with most weight being on the thumb side of the hand, ensure middle fingers are parallel to each other. The thumb side of the hand is stronger than the pinky finger side.
  3. Engage those leg muscles! When you are in Downward Facing Dog, you aren’t supposed to place all your body weight into the hands; however, lots of people are guilty. Pursue the pose correctly and/or instructors fix their alignment! Exhale as you enter into the pose, relax the head and neck, ears should be between the biceps, shoulders are relaxed and pulling towards the hips, not the ears. And of course, follow the above steps 1 and 2 for the hands.

Daily Strengthening Wrist Exercises:

  1. Place hands together at “Heart’s Center,” lower palms down as elbows lift.  This will help you get used to the “EXTENSION.”
  2. Make a fist, rotate your fist clockwise 10x and then 10x counterclockwise, end with stretching “Starfish Fingers.”
  3. Make a fist, palms up and do wrist curls. Rotate palm down, and do “upward” wrist curls. Try first alone and then with hand weight as the wrist strengthens.

Be kind to those wrists. Send them some love. Enlighten yourself and your participants! Enjoy the benefits of practice!

Namaste, Kristen

 

Let me know if this is helpful to you. ~lisa