NOVEMBER 10, 2010. Jon Kabat Zinn says, "too often our lives cease working because we cease working at life."
Yoga teaches us that when we are not present our minds become totally distracted and our thoughts are all over the place, starting stopping, wandering from one thing to the other at often break neck speed. If we pay attention we harness the power of our thoughts. As a human being this is what distinguishes us from other creatures and is our GREATEST STRENGTH! Yet our least utilized. When we start the practice first thing we do is remind everyone to be conscious of their breathing, to pay attention to the breath: anapana sati breathing technique. Not being bossy just watching it. For as Gabrielle Roth writes in the book Sweat your Prayers, "the breath is promiscuous, and if you don't pay it attention it will find another lover."
Consider how tuned in to your breath you have to be to experience this from Pieree Teilhard De Chardin “The inhale and the exhale. Breathing out carbon dioxide to the trees and breathing in their fresh exudations. Oxygen kissing each cell awake, atoms dancing in orderly metabolism, interpenetrating. That dance of the air cycle, breathing the universe in and out again, is what you are, is what I am.” Wow! All he is talking about is paying attention to the breath.
Then by paying attention to the breath the breath reveals your state of mind and heart. “If you want to know the past, to know what has caused you, look at yourself in the present, for that is the past’s effect. If you want to know your future, then look at yourself in the present, for that is the cause of the future.” Majihima Nikaya
And as we pay attention to breath, we then pay attention to aligning our movements or poses with the breath. There is this really on purpose experience of where we put our hands and feet and energy without judgement, just observation. For what we know and don't know eventually become one. Rumi says it like this:
why are you so busy
with this or that or good or bad
pay attention to how things blend
why talk about all
the known and the unknown
see how unknown merges into the known
All that you know, all that you don't know are no longer things to be feared or apologized for or worried about. Just by paying attention the universal intelligence that loves and supports us all is working on our behalf. All we have to do is pay attention and the rest works itself out for our greater happiness. Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
PS And if you need a way to re-establish the ability to pay attention without distraction come on retreat with me. Stretch your mental and physical boundaries! Alchemy tours. Facebook us, facebook me anytime, visit our website www.alchemytours.com or www.silviamordini.com
ARE YOU TALKING TOO MUCH?
Silence is an ocean.
Speech is a river.
When the ocean is searching for you,
don't walk into the language-river.
Listen to the ocean,
and bring your talky business to an end -RUMI
SEPTEMBER 2, 2010. Are you talking too much? I'm just now coming out of a more silent period and one of the greatest learnings I've discovered is that most of us TALK TOO MUCH. And what happens when we are talking too much is that the subtle enemy of love, Talking too much about OTHER people, seeps into our life practice. This much I know, no one has gained personal insight or spiritual growth spending too much time talking about other people and what they are doing or not doing or how they are doing it. The antidote to healing this malady is to spend time in SILENCE which is why yoga, any yoga, is a form of silent meditation. When your mind is running rampant with over talking you know you are stuck in the language river and are at risk of drowning. So as Rumi writes, bring your talky business to an end. Go inside. Be Silent. Stop Talking. Realign with your attitudinal alignment. One of the vital elements of the elegant system of Anusara Yoga.
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.” -James Swindoll
You are in charge of your attitude and what you are feeling and thinking inside is where truth lies. Where ultimate Santosha, happiness exist all the time.Now what if you know you are the subject of other people's talky business and they are stuck in the river of speech talking about you, then what? How do you get them to stop? Again, all you control are your attitudes you cannot change what others say or do. They must want to for themselves. Follow the advice of Virginia Satir who says "We must not allow other people's limited perceptions to define us.” Go beyond what others say about you and make time for silence in order to remain true to who you are. As Emerson says, "Stay at home in your mind. Don't recite other people's opinions.
Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
May 19, 2010, Tonight we focused on hugging in to our center. To cultivate that awareness of our own best strength. And what is inner strength really? Well it is love, that’s all. "We are kept from the experience of Spirit because our inner world is cluttered with past traumas....As we begin to clear away this clutter, the energy of divine light and love begins to flow through our beings." -Thomas Keating
We experienced this return to ourselves through a series of poses and mantras flowing through the elements such as:
Earth: I am grounded
Fire: I am rising
Air: I am free
When our minds and hearts are scattered in their energy we lose track of self-love and it always starts there in laying the foundation for a healthy life. So we come to the mat to rebuild. Beginning with the earth element and drawing nutrients and support from the earth to help us return to stillness. The healing then expands and as we return to our center by engaging principals of alignment such as hugging to the midline and muscular energy we return to our most powerful selves. We feel the confidence and enthusiasm of the third chakra. There is an aliveness and energy that expands out and up! And from there we connect to the air element of the fourth chakra feeling the lightness and freedom that are our true nature. We are once more in the home of our hearts, we are in love with ourselves and with our lives. You see inner strength is love…that’s all. With metta, Silvia
THUS ENDS OUR HAMSTRING WEEK
MY PHILOSOPHY OF HAMSTRINGS & PATIENCE
Working with our hamstrings teaches us about patience. The hamstrings are layered with lots of tough connective tissue—the gristly fibers that help hold the muscles' structure together. So you can't rush or hurry the hamstrings into flexibility; they need time to change their length—time in the sense that longer stretches (90 to 120 seconds) seem most effective with connective tissue. And time in the sense that it can take months, if not years, for tight hamstrings to loosen their grip and become flexible. So take your time and relax, the goal is the process even more so than the end result.
WHAT DO THEY DO?
The hamstrings have two primary actions: (1) knee flexion (bending the knee) and (2) hip extension.
- When you're squatting, your hips are flexed; you bring them into extension when you stand upright, placing the thighbones in line with the torso.
- When you stand on your right leg in Virabhadrasana III (Warrior Pose III) and lift your left leg to hold it parallel to the floor, your left hamstrings are creating hip extension. When you lie on your stomach, bend your knees, and lift your feet so you can grab your ankles for Dhanurasana (Bow Pose), the hamstrings are creating knee flexion. (The hamstrings also assist in rotational actions at the hip and knee.)
- To stretch your hamstrings, you need to keep your knee straight and flex your hip (in other words, fold the front of the thigh and the abdomen toward each other). One of yoga's classic hamstring stretches is Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), in which the knees are straight, the torso hangs down, and the abdomen eventually rests on the front of the thighs.
WHAT DOES THE QUAD DO?
- Contract your quadriceps (the muscles on the front of your thighs) in forward bends by simple actions like lifting your toes. If your hamstrings are tight, this is an excellent way to help them loosen up. The quads will stabilize your knees and hold them straight in forward bends. By contracting your quads, you'll be taking advantage of a kinesiological law called "reciprocal inhibition," in which your nervous system tells a muscle to let go of its contraction when the opposing muscle has work to do. In forward bends, contracting your quads facilitates the release of the hamstrings.
WHAT AND WHERE IS THE HAMSTRING MUSCLE?
- The hamstrings are the large group of three muscles that fill the back of the thigh.
- The hamstrings insert below the knee on the two lower leg bones, the tibia and fibula.
- Two of the muscles, the semitendinosus and the semimembranosus, are in the medial (inner) section of the thigh. The third, the biceps femoris, is in the lateral (outer) portion of the back of the thigh.
- All three muscles originate on the ischial tuberosity—the bony protuberance at the bottom of the pelvis that is commonly called the sitting bone—and the biceps femoris has an additional attachment on the back of the femur, or thighbone.
SUGGESTED POSES TO RELEASE HAMSTRINGS:
- Both hips are externally rotated
- This is abduction of both hips
- This is outer spiral
- How to perform: Hold feet and press elbows into the lower leg while firmely pressing up wiht the legs, hold for a few breaths then release slowly and press kneeds down with elbows. Repeat this process then squeeze outer buttock muscles and press lower and upper leg together
SEATED FORWARD BEND (PASCHIMOTTANASANA)
- Internal rotation of both legs
- This is adduction of both legs
- This is inner spiral
- How to perform: place hands at a point on thighs with bent knees and push into it breath in and then exhale relax deeper into the pose with legs more straight, Repeat this process a little at a time.
- Why this works: this small amount of pressure to trigger muscle spindles that helps release
HALF SPLITS (ARDHA HANUMANASANA)
- Contract front psoas muscle to go deeper by titling pelvis
- To stabilize hips one psoas is moving one way the other is moving in opposite direction. Try to drag back knee to front leg, drag front heel backwards to feel this.
- Contract back leg buttock and front leg quad strongly.
- Apply shins in manually with brick under calf.
SUPER SWEATY SHOULDER LOOP
March 14, 2010: Our physical focus was the shoulders today. We applied the principles of alignment and concentrated on Shoulder Loop energy using a variety of techniques like unplugging and plugging in which we performed in a variety of poses. I hope you enjoyed the sweaty fun and that it provided a great work out for you. Peaceful blessings, Silvia
SHOULDER LOOP: One of the seven energy loops within the body. This loop originates in the upper palate and flows backward to the base of the skull and down the back of the body to the bottom of the shoulder blades. When you engage Shoulder Loop, the head moves back slightly and the shoulder blades move down the back. At the bottom of the shoulder blades, the loop begins arcing forward and upward as it draws the bottom tips of the shoulder blades in and upward, toward the heart. The loop continues forward and up to the palate again as it lifts the chest and opens the throat.
The Universal Principles of Alignment
OPENING TO GRACE Having the intention to place oneself—body, mind, and heart—in alignment with the flow of supreme consciousness. This involves approaching asana practice with an attitude of softhearted devotion.
MUSCULAR ENERGY A drawing of energy from the periphery of the body into the Focal Point (see below), which increases stability, strength, and physical integration in the pose.
INNER SPIRAL An ever-expanding energy spiral that moves outward from the core; it runs from the feet up through the pelvis into the waistline area. Inner Spiral rotates the legs inward, moves the thighs backward, and widens the thighs and pelvis.
OUTER SPIRAL An ever-narrowing spiral that moves inward toward the core; it runs from the waistline area down through the tailbone and out through the legs and feet. Outer Spiral rotates the legs outward, moves the tailbone and thighs forward, and draws the pelvis and thighs closer together.
ORGANIC ENERGY An outward extension of energy from the Focal Point through the core lines of the body to the body's periphery, which increases expansion, flexibility, and freedom in the pose.
YOGA IS A DISCIPLINE THAT MAKES MY LIFE WORK.
JANUARY 11TH, 2010: So tonight at 6:15pm Level 1 and 7:30pm Basics this was our philosophical focus. We used the poses and the breath to speak for themselves as they contributed to our ordinary happiness. I think we all want to on some level make our lives work a little or a lot better. This is part of our innate human spirit to evolve our happiness. Many times students come to TBY wanting to make changes, aspiring to create meaning in their lives but they're so gosh darn busy keeping up with the day to day detail jam packed into their lives they can't see how to make them work any better. So we just keep going along in CHAOS.
Coming to a group class is where we can receive an inspiration talk, expert instruction and get back into our own bodies. We move from a state of chaos back to a feelign state and thinking state where we are once more in alignment. Upon leaving class after this "tune-up" our lives work better. Think of it like this: the student is like a piece of metal and the teacher and/or other students are like a magnet. And then it's just plain science:
“In a plain piece of metal, all the molecules are in chaos facing every which way. A magnet is a similar piece of metal in which all the molecules are perfectly aligned – the north pol,es facing one way, and the south poles facing in the opposite direction. Because of this alignment, the magnet gains the power to attract and hold other objects. If you stroke the ordinary metal and the magnet together in one direction only, the magnet will align all the molecules in the plain metal with itself, causing a second magnet to emerge. The power to attract and hold has been transmitted from one to the other, while amazingly enough the initial magnet retains its full strength. As we align our energies this way through regulating our breath we maintain calm through the ordinary emotional rollercoaster rides we encounter each day. We find that when we are upset, everything around us reflects the same disturbance, as if it is somehow contagious. When tranquility prevails, it magnetizes everything with the same sense of calmness.” (Story from The Secret Power Of Yoga.) Love and peace, Silvia
HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM GUEST BLOGGER MARA CAMPBELL
January 11th, 2010:
Dear Basics Students,
Happy New Year! I want to formally invite you to Wednesday Basics classes at Total Body Yoga with me at 10:45am or 7:30pm!
Personally, my new year started out a bit rocky as a sinus infection and double ear infection came to my body. I tried hard to kick it by myself and as I trudged to the doctor's on Friday, I felt badly that I needed help. But perhaps this was the lesson I needed to learn. We all need help sometimes. The holidays is a time of giving but also receiving and could I gracefully receive the wisdom that my body was telling me, even if I didn't want to listen? I was reminded of this sweet idea at Family Yoga with Mary Saturday night where we "helped" each other lift into side plank. Oh, so much easier and sweet when someone gently lifted my hips! Finally, one last reminder at a therapeutics training yesterday where Noah Maze helped me with a hip pop that I've had my entire life. 5 minutes with him and it completely went away! So I need to remember these reminders when my pride gets in the way saying "I can do this alone! I don't need anyone!" It's our true nature to be connected to one another and to make things easier and sweeter for one another not harder.
So connect with me and other yogis this Wednesday! To help make our poses a little easier and less painful in the upper body, we will be examining the 5 arm positions and correct shoulder alignment in:
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing dog)
Parsvakonasana (Side-angle pose)
Correct alignment in the shoulders and the torso can make our poses so much more light and comfortable. Yoga doesn't have to be painful in wrists, elbows, neck or shoulders (or really anywhere!). There is never the need to "push through the pain." Pain is our body telling us where we are out of alignment and where we need some shifts in the body. So please don't be shy to ask in class when something doesn't feel right. When we learn correct alignment of the upper body, we have more freedom and grace in the poses so that we can shine out to express our own unique spirit!
Hope to see you on the mat this Wednesday!
With gratitude, Mara
RECHARGING ONE'S BATTERIES: RETURNING TO ALIGNMENT
Yoga essentially shows us our best selves and each time we come to the mat we rediscover who we really are. You know that feeling of coming home, like in our first down dog of the practice. So when we come back home to ourselves we are aligning to our spiritual hearts. The flow within and outside us feels easeful once more. This is different than saying “easy” life is not always going to be easy, just like poses are not always easy either. But if we are aligned with our greatest good we can face any challenge without letting it get the best of us, burning us out, making us sick or tired. So join me in taking an honest look at whether you are in or out of alignment and from there I wish you all the courage to do something about it. This is the same wish I have for myself. I want for you, your own best strength! Love in all ways, Silvia
WHAT IS INTEGRATION? PERMISSION TO BE REAL
AUGUST 1ST, 2008: So I was talking to a student last evening and they shared how much of a difference TBY had made in their life. And they gave me one of the nicest compliments they said I was a very INTEGRATED indvidual. I was truly touched and grateful and humbled all at the same time.
Then I went home to look up what this means....Just kidding (kind of), I did go to my old journals to see what I've written in the past about Integration and to see what it means to me today. Here is what I found:
INTEGRATION = global effort; = democracy; = yoga; = it represents the community of the body, how we use all parts of the body to support each pose just like all parts of our lives should support our personal intentions. (If we just dare to be ourselves and admit what we want out of life)
So what does this mean? I think to be integrated (or in a STATE OF YOGA) we are REAL (scholastically, professionally, and in relationships with others). We stop hiding behind masks, we stop pretending to be less than we are or more perfect than we are. My greatest teacher in this respect was my Papa, who until he passed away at 59 years old was always himself: eccentricities and all.
When we practice YOGA we have the opportunity in a sweet, safe environment to take off our masks and really be ourselves physically and emotionally and embrace who we are. So what is it be integrated? Well you guys it means what we do, what we say, what we think and how we act is in ALIGNMENT. I wish you all the courage to make this discovery. May You Live Strong and Align with your highest intentions! Peace, Silvia