experience a sense of ease. #MeditationThoughtMondays

sense of ease (schiffman)

“As you immerse yourself in stillness… you will experience an unexpected and immensely satisfying sense of contentment and ease.”  e. schiffmann, “Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness”

I’m not a very ‘still’ person.  Many days, I look back over the events of the day and remember that the only time when I sat ‘still’ was when I was eating lunch (on my couch, cuddled up next to my Russell Clive)… and this doesn’t even count because this time was spent stuffing my face with vegetables like the #NutritionNerd that I am.  (Did you make my favorite roasted veggie salad yet?).  I sit in the car a lot– that comes with the territory of teaching yoga at several studios and having a home office– but even in the car I’m constantly in motion. Needless to say, Sitting Still is profoundly healing, but often profoundly elusive.

Sitting still doesn’t happen in our lives because

a) we are busy.

b) we are tired. (we fall asleep every time we try)

c) it’s hard.

The stillness-phobic among us are terrified to even try meditation because ‘it’s hard to be still and I’m not good at it.’  (Join the club.)

Well, it is hard.  But because sitting still, being still, and stilling the Mind are difficult feats to achieve, many meditation techniques have been developed to teach us how.  One technique I’d like to share with you is profoundly helpful for me.  (If you are brand new to Meditation, you’ll also want to read these posts:  5 benefits of Meditation  and learn to meditate. your way.)

It’s called “Counting Backward.”  In this meditation technique, breathing is the primary focus.  We always begin with the connection to the breath, because it is our connection to the Present Moment and to the Spirit within.  The technique will help you move into stillness.  Erich Shiffmann, leading yoga teacher and author, writes: “Sitting absolutely still –practicing brief physical immobility– can teach you how to be in the conflict-free, higher-energy, ‘stillness’ state for more of your daily life.”

Steps to “Counting Backward” Meditation:

1.  Sit very comfortably with your back straight.  If you can’t sit on the floor with your back straight, then sit against a wall or on a chair.

2.  Close your eyes.

3. Breath normally, gently, fully.  Experience the room you are in and experience your body for a moment.

4.  Begin to count your breathing, mentally, silently.  Begin with 50 on an exhale.  49 on an inhale.  48 on an exhale.  47 on an inhale.

5.  Avoid elongating or changing your breath.  You are learning to NOT be in control.  Let the breath be very gentle, full, and soft.

6.  When you lose your count, come back to 50.  Continue counting every breath silently backward until the count of 1.

7.  When you reach zero, stop counting, but stay aware of the natural intake of breath.  Sit for a few more moments and enjoy the ease.

8.  Immerse yourself in the stillness.  End the exercise any time you feel ready.  Extend your deepest gratitude for this moment and for all of the many blessings which bring you joy in this life.

“As you immerse yourself in stillness… you will experience an unexpected and immensely satisfying sense of contentment and ease.”  e. schiffmann, “Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness”

One day, you won’t need the tool of counting backwards… maybe you can just slip into stillness.  I first tried this technique two years ago and it is still one of my favorite ways to begin a meditation moment; I use it often.  If I only have a few moments, then I begin counting backward from 10.  Give it a good try; if you find it helpful, then keep trying it.  If you find it unhelpful or distracting, try something else.  Remember, you are your own best teacher!

If you would like to practice this technique with me, you may take a Meditation Class with me Sundays at 11:00 am at Maya Yoga KC and you may sign up for my 3 Week Workshop: Introduction to Meditation at Westport Yoga KC Sundays April 12, April 19, and April 26, 2015.  See my teaching schedule and events page for full details.

ASH intro to Meditation April 2015

Happy Stillness,  Much love,

-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

Ashtanga Workshop with Wade Mortenson

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My teacher and colleague, Wade Mortenson will be teaching this on Sunday November 3 at 2:00 pm.  Put it on your calendar!

wades head shot

ADJUSTMENT WORKSHOP

with Wade Mortenson

Sunday November 3rd, 2:00 – 4:30pm

Maya Yoga

Learn the art of hands on adjusting in this fun filled Workshop

$30+tax ($32.81) preregistration or $35+tax at the door

We will pair up and use key poses from the primary and second series of ashtanga as the foundation for this hands on workshop. Safety, communication and receptivity will be emphasized to not only give a better adjustment but also to better receive an adjustment.

Please either practice at home, take our lead intro class at 10am ($5) or Mysore at 12 noon ($15) so your body is ready to dive right into this workshop.

Click Here to download the flyer!

– See more at: http://www.mayayoga.com