By Laura Mills
The other day, while driving to an appointment for which I was nearly late, I found myself coasting behind a car traveling way under the speed limit. While I normally would have switched lanes and passed, on this day a police car traveled immediately behind me...so I stayed in my lane, squeezing the wheel, gritting my teeth and watching the clock.
Something that surprises people—including me, when I first began my practice—is that yogis still get stressed. And we get stressed about more than only life’s greatest challenges. The simplest, everyday things like running late, needing to drive more slowly than desired, misplacing keys, realizing the cat avoided the litter box again…no matter how advanced in yoga our practice, by virtue of our humanness we still experience stressful moments. And for me, such moments include the rise in blood pressure and quickening of the heart that I used to believe I practiced yoga to eliminate. In fact, in the wake of such moments I used to think, “What kind of yogi am I? What’s going on?”
Thankfully, today I know a lot more about what yoga really is…most definitely not a collection of poses and breathing exercises that automatically fortifies one against stress. Rather, yoga is a method of opening body and mind, both on the mat and off, to make space within for the present. Yoga won’t keep me from experiencing stressful moments, but the space yoga creates frees up my awareness and reveals that I will survive regardless of them. Processing stress is, I believe, a practice as much as taking any series of asanas. And while even the most physically capable yogi can always go deeper, so can even the most stressed-out.
Remembering that—eventually—I relax my grip and enjoy the ride.
To Plan or Not to Plan
To Plan or Not To Plan
By Laura Mills
This Labor Day weekend I tested the effects of spontaneity on stress. I usually plan my days in great detail, sometimes an entire week in advance, believing for some unproven reason that planning keeps me organized. My extra-calm husband, Jamie, has long encouraged me to schedule less and flow more; when we discussed this particular weekend’s agenda, he suggested we “just see” what happened.
I awoke Saturday morning already jittery. My first thought was, “I have to do laundry, and I can’t forget to buy cat litter.” But Jamie suggested the 7:45 yoga class first thing, so we left behind laundry piles and litter boxes and set out. We followed yoga with an on-a-whim breakfast stop, then kayaked on a local lake. Sometime during the day I did throw in laundry and stop at the pet store, but by dinnertime (for which we decided to order pizza and save the intended grilling for Sunday) I hardly remembered a Saturday that I had enjoyed so much. And by the end of the weekend—the rest of which we passed the same way—we had finished the really necessary chores anyway, virtually stress-free.
Planning surely has its place, and I’m far from ready to abandon planning and start flowing freely every day. But this weekend I reminded myself that shuffling my to-do list need not be an obstacle. On the contrary, occasional spontaneity, moments when I agree to “just see” what happens, might wind up the best moments of any given day, the moments really worth remembering.
By Laura Mills
My adulthood so far has consisted of two phases: “Before Yoga” and “With Yoga.” In the first phase I worked a fine job and maintained my home life and body in the way I thought best for me. The plan worked, for a while, but by my late-twenties I had wedged myself into a meltdown between grief and confusion. In its midst, yoga seemed like something worth trying…and thus began the second phase. Since then, I’ve learned what changes to make and how to make them, as well as how to coexist with all aspects of my life (even those that didn’t turn out the way I originally wanted). I’ve also learned to honor myself ALWAYS as a unique and beautiful being.
Whether or not a yogi’s story involves major life alterations, at some level the practice changes all of us. Even if we only try yoga because it looks fun, or we want to someday balance on our hands, the practice leaves us in a place different from the one in which we began. I consider all the yogi stories I’ve heard since I started my own practice: among many others, stories involving stress reduction and recovery from tragedy or illness; stories of yoga as a hobby, as cross-training for other sports, as a component of an overall fitness program; stories about yoga feeling good, teaching people about themselves, and enabling them to meet their spirituality. I love yogi stories. To me they represent the tremendous spectrum of human experience and the fact that, no matter who we are or where we come from, we all revolve around the same amazing center.
By Laura Mills
Yoga has a way of revealing itself when mats are nowhere near and poses are far out of mind. Not long ago I stood in a huddled group under an awning as rain poured onto the intended outdoor site of a wedding. I knew an alternative plan existed, but at the same time I sympathized with what I assumed was the distress of the couple at the abandonment of their hope to exchange vows in a garden under blue sky and sunshine…not to mention the logistics of relocating the wedding party, musicians, decorations, and a houseful of guests.
Following instructions, we drove from the garden to the reception site, where the ceremony had been rescheduled to begin an hour later. After a short wait in the lobby, ushers guided us into the ballroom. With dining chairs organized into rows, a stage set up with pulpit and flowers, the musicians playing, the smiling bride walked down an aisle among family and friends right on schedule.
In the meantime I had observed no frowns or grumbles from any of the key players. From my perspective, all had applied themselves to the situation and quickly adapted, and in the end the vows were said, the decorations and music were lovely, the mood was festive, and the reception started on time. Plus, because of the rain, we all had the privilege of participating in someone’s really great wedding story….
Yogic Thank-you Note
Yogic Thank-you Note
By Laura Mills
I recently learned I need to replace a water spigot in my garage. It’s never worked correctly, really—instead of ejecting a smooth stream of water, it has hiss and spit at me for the last 12 years. This year, though, the condensation from the old pipe is causing a particular mess in the garage and, from there, the basement…a mess I discovered when I arrived home Monday evening.
It’s at these moments I am most grateful for yoga, these stomach-churning, heart-quickening, mouth-drying moments. While in the past I would immediately fret about what to do or whom to call, now my first action is to breathe. And seriously, the breath carries me over that first panic impulse. I’m calmer, my mind is clearer, and from that place I am better able to see a way forward.
On the mat I frequently experience gratitude for yoga. Practicing Sun Salutations, for example, or working my way into Headstand little by little, or unfolding myself into Savasana, has always made me happy that yoga is an integral part of my life. But I first came to yoga because I needed a healthy way of handling stress. I can honestly say I found what I was looking for, for yoga does me its greatest service by changing my instinctive “ARAAAAHGGGHHH!!!!!” into a grounding “Ohm,” over and over again.
NEED BALANCE IN YOUR LIFE?
February 9, 2011. Wendell Barry said, “The earth is what we have in common.” I’d add that our ability to lose our balance and allow over-worrying to make us feel ungrounded is also what we have in common. You know, that feeling of being disconnected and just off center.
So we devoted today’s practice to getting grounded into the earth, our common ground. Grounding serves us as a simplifying force, one which helps us plug back into ourselves and allows us to be fully present and balanced. Once centered we feel empowered and stable to see the circumstances of our lives with increased clarity. We no longer over-respond or over-worry.
Just like building a yoga pose from the ground up, we need stability to form a strong foundation for our lives. On the yoga mat we used a long series of standing poses to help us achieve the security that comes from connecting our nervous system to the earth. In Sanskrit this is known as Sthira. As a result we all left the practice with our inner stillness intact once more ready to be the rooted influence amongst our families and friends. May you stay grounded and keep coming home to balance.
And if you are looking to do even more in depth work on balance and grounding join me for the two places in the world that always make me feel more centered: Moab, Utah and Tuscany Italy. Check out www.alchemytours.com to join me April, June, or October 2011. In the meantime let’s stay in touch, the earth is what we have in common. Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
PLAYLIST FEBRUARY 9, 2011
Very balanced chill 60 minutes to invoke the earth element and promote grounding, trust and calm. Perfect for those times you need to quiet the anxious mind or impatient heart.
Shiva Invocation, Shantala
Assyrian Women Mourners, Anja Lechner & Vassilis Tsabropoulos
Realms, Sigal Brier
Duduki, Anja Lechner & Vassilis Tsabropoulos
Pluznick, Raphael & Steve Kindler
Kerala Dream, Shaman's Dream
Trois morceaux après des hymnes byzantins I, Anja Lechner & Vassilis Tsabropoulos
Trois morceaux après des hymnes byzantins III, Anja Lechner & Vassilis Tsabropoulos
Night Song, Bill Dougrlas / Ty Burhoe / Kai Eckhardt / Steve Smith
Stars (Instrumental), John De Kadt
YOGA IS SCIENCE OF HAPPINESS!
OCTOBER 15TH, 2010 In simple words, Yoga is the science of happiness. We walk in stressed out, upset, negative and we leave the practice lighter, refreshed, more positive, in a nutshell, happier! I can't say that even after all these years, over 7,500 hours of teaching, and gosh who knows how many hours of practice that I fully understand the alchemy. It's like magic.
What I do get on some level both intellectual and emotional is that walking in we are like the decorator crab: collecting all these issues, stories, dramas and if we don't let something go we will literally suffocate under the weight of it all. Maybe we'll still be walking around but we certainly won't be happily human which is our birthright. The decorator crab does that: it collects all the stuff it finds and keeps putting it on its back until it can no longer swim to the surface and dies under the weight. The work we do on the mat is about personal growth. It is making space so we can is let go of what is negative.
Every day we have a chance to either have our lives serve as a WARNING or an EXAMPLE to others. The decorator crab is our warning. Let's learn something from it. The opinions or judgments we have of external stuff are just that - they do not impede our ability to remain happy. Happiness is an inside job. And the person responsible for being happy is YOU. Yoga teaches self-responsibilty, non-judgment and seriously radical self-acceptance by accepting the full spectrum of who we are (anger, worry, fear). The mat is a truth serum that helps us realize the truth and allows us to clear the space for living a more joyful life. And that life is moving forward, with us or without us.
"Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing" — W. B. Yeats
Yoga gets us UNSTUCK and then we can't help but grow and evolve. We not longer hold ourselves back from those things that crash our internal hard drive. And we leave the mat remembering how happy we really are. We start to celebrate the best parts of ourselves. And that, is why yoga is the science of happiness. Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
BREATH ACCEPTS YOUR IMPERFECTION
OCTOBER 14, 2010. The breath accepts us unconditionally. It is always all forgiving and accepting. Think about it, we ignore our breath, treat it with total disregard, prevent it from entering our body by holding our breath out when stressed, we behave casually towards it making little to no commitment. If we were a lover and the breath was our boyfriend, he'd leave us!
But not our breath. It lovingly accepts our human imperfection and gives us another chance, and another, and a million and more. There is a lesson here: when we breath we have another chance to try our best, We are not practicing to be perfect. We are practicing to make real, to realize the beauty of our humanness. Yoga philosophy helps us to see that we are perfectly imperfect. Eventually the more you practice becoming enamored with your breath you allow it to become your best teacher. And a shift happens.
As the breath accepts you, you start to accept yourself. Then as you practice this advanced yoga of self-acceptance you become more compassionate and forgiving of others, just as you are towards yourself. If you love yourself, you know how to love others unconditionally. And even when other people in your life make mistakes, you appreciate their imperfections and give them a second, third, millionth chance.
"You see the wider practice of yoga is not about arranging our life so that it is perfect and easy and non-challenging. Rather it is about using the discipline we find in asana practice (and in the other practices of yoga as well) to be able to remain “easy” in the midst of difficulty. That is the true measure of freedom. When we learn this then everything we do and everything we say becomes an “asana”, a position of body, mind and soul which requires the attention that brings us into the present." And in that present moment there is perfect presence.
Practice breathing on purpose today. But pranayama is not about belittling the breath or forcing or making it perfect. The literal translation is below. And it doesn't say anything about perfect. It says conscious, deliberate. So we try.
Tasmin sati svasa prasvasaho gati-viccheda pranayama
Pranayama is the conscious, deliberate regulation of the incoming and outgoing flow of breath replacing unconscious patterns of breathing. It is possible only after a reasonable mastery of asana practice.
- Patanjali Yoga Sutra 2.49
Our key breath learning in this practice was about chest breathing. I have included a quick summary for you below. The greater take away is how the breath accepts your imperfections, it knows you will forget and will welcome you back to try and in that trying may you be PRESENT. Love yourself, Love your day, Love your life! Silvia
This is probably the most common breathing pattern in today's stress-filled society. Also known as paradoxical breathing, it is a natural reflex when we are suddenly startled or frightened. We gasp, pull the abdomen in and breathe high into the chest. The lift of the abdomen and pelvic floor prevents the diaphragm from descending completely as we inhale. Chest breathers restrict breath movement in the abdomen, forcing it higher up into the chest, while shoulders move up and down.
Effect on mind/body
Chest breathers rely on weak upper body muscles. Thereby developing chronic tension in thoracic spine, shoulders and neck. Moreover, this tension is resistant to massage or any other relaxation therapy as it recapitulates the moment the person resumes chest breathing, which is an incredible 22,000 times a day! Since we can't breathe in fully, we can't breathe out fully also. So we resort to breathing more quickly to make up for lack of oxygen. Scarier still is the fact that it sets the stage for an even more serious breathing problem: hyperventilation. Chest breathers normally sit on the edge of their seats and exude anticipation in their entire bearing. They never seem to have enough time to do all the tasks they set out on and often experience a chronic, free-floating state of anxiety. Scientific evidence now points to the connection between chest breathing, heart disease and high blood pressure.
Place one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest. Observe the movement of both. If both your shoulders and chest are rising, you are probably not a chest breather. A chest breather suppresses breath in the lower abdomen, forcing it to move higher up into the body.
How to let go
Relax your shoulders and upper back. Consciously follow normal breathing pattern. Mentally assess yourself without judgement. Ground yourself in the present.
(If you want to explore deeper learnings join me on retreat, yoga vacation www.silviamordini.com or www.alchemytours.com)
CHEMISTRY OF TRUTH
"Let go of your worries and be completely clear-hearted, like the face of a mirror that contains no images. If you want a clear mirror, behold yourself and see the truth." - RUMI
OCTOBER 10, 2010
The mat serves as a mirror for each of us. The opportunity to let go of anger, fear, stress allows us to open up to our happiest selves. This process requires we see ourselves honestly. Its easy to stay upset and hold on to grudges and muddy up the picture of what we really feel or who we are. So this experiment is quite radical if you're used to masking or hiding from your truth.
There is a Chemistry to Truth. And we have in every moment a choice about how to influence the balance with the chemicals of our thoughts and our breath. If you do not breath out fully you are in fact poisoning yourself. Or if in your thoughts you are self-critical or judgmental this drama is creating a stress and hormones like cortisol are being released.
Writes Donna Farhi, New Zealander yoga teacher, in Holding Your Breath (Yoga Journal, April 1996): "Stress may be real or imagined. Just imagining a stressful event can reduce inhalation volume. When we are continuously exposed to stress, then the body just forgets to relax." Obviously, the breathing pattern changes, and "it just might become a statement about what happened in the past rather then what is happening to us in the present".
Every exhale, every pose can help us relieve the past and be more conscious of the moment we are living. You can by breathing wisely and thinking healing thoughts dilute the concentration of the harsh chemicals in your body. But first the practice of studying yourself, svadhaya, asks that we see ourselves truthfully. You engage when you hold your breath, where you get overly dramatic for no reason, where you are making yourself TOXIC. And the diluting can be accomplished through mantra as well, what you are thinking on purpose. A favorite of mine is the lovingkindness meditation:
Think of yourself, offer healing and a way to let go of sadness, anger, worry saying inside:
May I be happy
May I be peaceful
May I be loved
Then think of a challenging person, who you need to heal the relationship and say to them inside:
May You be happy
May You be peaceful
May You be loved.
Then think of how to influence the chemistry of the world (of which you are a part of) by saying to all people:
May We be happy
May We be peaceful
May We be loved.
The answer to stress, anger you feel towards a situation or a person or thing is not eye for an eye. Fighting is only going to make it more acidic, more poison will kill us eventually. The only answer is love. Love dilutes the pain, the worry and relieves us of this toxicity. And in that truth we see our best most beautiful selves! Love your day, love your life, love yourself! Silvia
DOES WORK INTERFERE WITH YOUR YOGA?
Dear Beautiful Friends,
Why is it so hard to get to yoga class this Fall? No really I'm asking... I've had a harder time than ever building a routine, a regular yoga schedule for myself.
Every day has been so different and unexpected. And if I was really honest with myself the real culprit to consistently getting to group classes is staying at the computer (aka work). Now I had a great summer yoga schedule, really I did! But now? It is all over the board. And doing two classes in one day is no replacement for spreading those out in different days.
Making ourselves a priority is the Yoga of real life. And as a real person first thing I recognize is how much I need yoga. We all need yoga. And the beauty is that it is a practice, we do what we can in any given class and there are never any pre-requisites to be met. Yoga loves us unconditionally. So fire up your Yoga, get the calendar out and make yourself some "yoga dates" and as always I am happy to be your yoga buddy. Invite me along to take a class and I'll be there because I'm first and foremost a student. And if you go I'll go. Heck even Oprah talks about having workout buddies. So why not have a Spiritual Workout Buddy?
Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
PS. And I love learning from all our teachers at TBY!
BIGGEST OBSTACLE TO HAPPINESS
May 10, 2010, Gosh when you think about the biggest obstacle to feeling happy is letting our minds get all dirty with worry, stress, fear (basically all the unhappy thoughts). If you think of your mind like a load of laundry and yoga is the washing machine we come into the practice to engage our breath which is like the detergent that cleans us on the inside. Today, how big a load of laundry do you have to do?
Then we have a better idea of how much work we have to do in order to Yoga citta vritti nirodhah, to calm the disturbances or dirtiness of our minds. This is Yoga Sutra chapter 1 verse 2. If you can engage in mindful movement connected to your breath you slow down and help your mind from being so agitated. Otherwise, the mind stays in this cycle of obsessive churning and never actually let’s you get clean and easeful in your thoughts. And our thoughts are the predecesors to all our actions as Einstein says.
The biggest obstacle to a happier life is our own busy mind. Once we access that contented, peaceful state that yoga brings where we no longer struggle in our thoughts then we can actually remember we have the key to our happiness and joy. Or as Danna Faulds puts it so poetically,
“Within us lie the answers to our deepest questions and the antidote for all our fears.
The divine is not an abstraction – it’s as clear and intimate as a heartbeat or a whisper.
No matter how identified we’ve become with mind and body,
we can release the thoughts that blind us to the truth.
Seek the still point where the words “you” and “I” lose meaning,
where we meet and merge as One.”
IN THE FACE OF FEAR: WISDOM FOR CHALLENGING TIMES
April 11th, 2010: This week's book I am basing my classes on is called "In the Face of Fear". This book is described as showing us how to *remain open, joyful and caring, even when life is stressful; *avoid old behavior patterns that only make things worse; *turn difficult time into opportunities for spiritual development; *discover that our true nature is always awake, wise and good - no matter what is happening.
April 11th Theme: How to Keep Ourselves Present (Ezra Bayda)
April 12th Theme: Happiness Training - Joy and Happiness are born out of concentration (Thich Nhat Hahn)
April 13th Theme: Getting the Bottom of Our Stress (John Loori)
April 14th Theme: It would be a pity to waste a good Crisis (John Tarrant)
April 15-18: I'll be conducting a Yoga and Mountain Biking Retreat in Moab, Utah!
YOGA IS SPRING BREAK FOR ADULTS!
FEBRUARY 20, 2010
During the Winter we are simply more in our heads than in our bodies (if you live in colder climates). I remember when I was working an office job during the Winter I'd end up working longer hours. If for no other reason then it felt like it was too cold to be outside. I'd literally run from my car to the Metra station to wait inside or run to the bus to go to my office. In an effort to avoid being in the cold I'd eat more lunches at my desk. At some point (about now) I'd start to feel the Stress growing bigger and bigger. I'd get more tired, more stressed from working extra and go home and crash. My balance would get lost.
Thank goodness yoga offered me a healthy solution. In our Chicagoland Winter's we NEED yoga more than ever. Otherwise we get stuck in our head's working too much & thinking too hard when we need some play time too. Yoga is like recess for Adults.
Hey you don't have to wait for Spring Break (like we did when we were kids). YOGA CLASS IS SPRING BREAK!
So get back to moving and breathing your body. Come have some fun, take a break from work, home, and all the seriousness of life. Instead be a serious student of FUN for 2-3 hours per week. Yes, you heard me right, I'm proposing you give yourself more than one yoga class per week in the Winter. Come warm times then by all means, walk from Union station to your office, stand outside the Metra station and do jumping jacks, hike, cycle, run outside. But for the next couple more months of colder weather don't just lose your balance accepting you'll just feel lousy and cranky when the solution is right here. Do something! Come spiritualize every aspect of your life by staying tuned into to the blessing it is to be alive. And then plan to join me for your summer vacation for the Spiritual & Cultural Adventure of a Lifetime in Tuscany June 20th-26th!! But in the meantime, play more now! Love your life, Silvia
OUR BRAINS ARE TOO BIG
February 12, 2010: “The more critical reason dominates, the more impoverished life becomes.” Carl Jung
How can we learn to use our brains better? To shut it off when appropriate, to turn the volume down when healthy, to stop the endless repetition all so we can stop tiring ourselves out, stop hurting ourselves and stop annoying other people. When you think about it seriously Our Brains Are Just TOO BIG!
For what we have to accomplish each day we have way too much brain power. Think of the constant state of mental diarrhea that takes place in any given hour and you have your proof. Combine this with how easily we regurgitate all this brain stuff into constant verbal chatter and the case is made. Our brains really are more than we need and certainly Yoga is necessary to help us manage them better.
Kurt Vonnegut claims that thinking is ineffective not because it is obsolete but because it is OVERDEVELOPED and possibly too advanced. In Galapagos, he looks back from the future to find:
“The mass of men was quietly desperate a million years ago because the internal computers inside their skulls were incapable of restraint or idleness; were forever demanding more serious problems….”
Do you do that? Do you let your brain come up with another problem, another drama especially when you find things getting too “quiet” or happy? Why would we do this…In Wampeteres Foma, and Granfaloons Vonnegut also writes, “the human brain is too high powered to have many practical uses in this particular universe. There was no end to the evil schemes that a thought machine that oversized couldn’t imagine and execute.”
I know you know that ever powerful ability we have to form evil schemes, that somebody is mad at us, or the universe is out to get us, that everyone else has it easier. We learn from Yoga how to manage our thoughts, all 60,000 per day, and focus them on something productive. No longer giving away so much energy on the made up problems but actually time on the mat is that opportunity to listen and feel more. So today, practice some yoga…take back your thought machine and open your heart. Peace in all ways, Silvia
THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON STRESS…BURN OUT PREVENTION WITH YOGA
February 8, 2010: Tonight in classes want to address the theme of what Stress does to our brains and how burn out from Stress can be prevented from a yogic perspective. I’ll offer healthier and more conscious ways to confront the challenges of daily life.
Yoga is a holistic science of human nature, which teaches us how we can better understand our bodies and minds. By observing our fears, expectations and desires, it is possible to recognize and transform unhealthy and unsustainable patterns of behavior.
We will learn and practice simple breathing techniques and poses so that deep relaxation on the bodily and mental levels can be experienced. The full benefits of these “Yoga Tools” learned will be realized through regular practice and implementation in everyday life even if for just 7 minutes per day.
I have experienced Burn Out when in the corporate world and I know what stress can do to the brain. Yoga exercises and philosophy plays an everyday role in my life to keep me healthy so I can maintain my equilibrium. I want you to experience this same healthy solution to the stressors of life. Peace in all ways, Silvia
“ABOUT THE BRAIN: (From the book Yoga: A therapeutic approach by Gary Kraftsow)
- The brain stem and cerebellum are involved in the mechanical and usually Unconscious processes of regulating and processing the sensory, emotional, autonomic, hormonal, and motor functions of the body.
- The cerebrum is involved in Conscious processes such as intellectual thought, the processing and comprehension of sensory input, coordination, and the storing and processing of long term memory as well as conscious sensory and motor memory.
- The limbic system is concerned with learning, memory and the emotions and their related behavioural drives. But of even more importance to our consideration of Yoga therapy, the limbic systems provides the LINK between the Conscious , intellectual functions of the brain and the Unconscious, mechanical functions of the body.
STRESS AND DISEASE:
The bodily response to stress initiated in the hypothalamus (cerebellum) knows as fight or flight response, involves a chain reaction of chemicals released into the bloodstream, as follows: corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF) is released from the hypothalamus; CRF then triggers the release of adrenocorticotropin hormone (ATCH) from the pituitary gland; and finally ATCH triggers the release of adrenaline and cortisol from the adrenal glands. The results of this chain reaction are increase in heart rate, blood pressure, respiration and in increase in the peripheral circulation of blood to the skeletal muscles, as digestion stops and the flow of blood is directed away from the stomach and a whole range of other bodily changes.
Through this mechanism, the body is able to cope with stress and therefore survive. However, if through chronic physical or mental stress this mechanism s habitually engaged, the result is a depression of the IMMUNE response and weakening of the entire system. But whether the source of stress is internal, external, psychological, physical or some combination of these factors it is clear that the link between conscious mind and unconscious body responses work in both directions.”
IN A NUTSHELL: You guys what this means is that where brain activity can trigger emotional response and emotions effect a physical change, changes in our physical selves can trigger emotional responses that influence our thoughts. Poses and conscious breathing can heal us of stress.
SUSTAINING WEIGHT LOSS AND YOGA
JANUARY 24, 2010: The healthy link between yoga and weight loss is not so much only about normalizing weight as much as it is about sustaining weight loss. But first yes, one of the most effective and ancient ways of promoting health and effecting transformation is to practice yoga, especially poses, breathing and meditation. Increasing research in the fields of health and well being indicate that the stress-reducing effects of yoga practice are significant and powerful in normalizing WEIGHT. And as Judith Lasater writes, “We no longer have a choice about including practices in our daily lives that create health and spiritual growth. If we want a world worth living in today, as well as one worth leaving to future generations, we must take responsibility to create health in our lives, as well as to support others as they choose healthier lives for themselves. It is up to each of each of us to lovingly transform the world simply by first transforming ourselves.”
Through the practice of yoga, we can begin to feel connected to ourselves, to our body’s rhythm, our breath, and our emotions. We can tune into how we feel about ourselves and to what degree our eating is emotionally based. According to studies the number 1 &2 reasons for weight gain is emotional stress and habit. And then once we’ve gained the extra weight we get dissatisified which may develop elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn ENCOURAGES stress-related eating (known by scientists as FOOD-SEEKING BEHAVIOR). Which results in more weight gain which may fuel more stress and stress–related eating. Gosh that’s the pattern? Yup.
I hope this class helped to make sense of some things. And that you will join me again week after week to maintain this awareness and learn to be the best YOU possible! With love in all ways, Silvia
So how does the Yoga work? Here’s a quick summary we talked about in class:
- Yoga burns calories by doing poses and breathing techniques which make metabolism more efficient (food + Oxygen = fuel)
- Yoga is proven to fight stress (and lower cortisol levels). Cortisol makes conversion of calories into fat (especially fat in the abdomen) more efficient.
- Yoga helps us see clearly. Before you can change something you have to acknowledge it for what it is which can be a problem (Study 1992 New England Journal of Medicine study looked at obsese people who considered themselves resistent to diets they told doc’s they exercised and limited calories but when asked to keep a food journal the patients had on average underestimated their food intake by 47% and overestimated their exercise 51% (They were tricked by their own minds)
- Patterns (samskaras) – the behavior grooves we dig through repeated actions. Many people who overeat are on autopilot. Yoga helps us be mindful of the moment, which helps us notice and savor our food instead of gulping it down.
- Also the mindfulness helps us realize when we are not hungry but simply eating out of habit or emotional neediness.
- Consider this (relapse rate on most diets is 100%). If you lose one ounce/day that’s almost half a pound/week which = 23 pounds in a year. To lose an ounce/day you’ve only got to burn about 250 calories more than you take in. (Breath how it works)
- Many people view food as the enemy. Yoga view of food is that it is a manifestation of the divine, a gift from God. In the Upanishads, food is equated with the divine force in the universe, Yoga would say food is one of life’s great pleasures.
HEALING HAPPENS ONLY WHEN RELAXED
Think about this, 90% of all doctors visits are related to stress. Dude, that’s too much. We need yoga more now than ever. Take 5 minutes to feel this mantra and being your healing journey now. Love in all ways, Silvia
Healing is embracing what is most feared Healing is opening to what has been closed Softening to what has been hardened Healing is learning to trust life To experience healing we must relax.
And an open heart holds the key to our healing as an old Agni teaching says, “until we see with the eyes of the heart, listen to the roar of the world through the ears of the heart, and peer into the future with the comprehension of the heart, we can never know a thing, nor will we ever be whole. The Heart unites us all, regardless of our differences, in this common understanding, and brings compassion to our troubled world.”
“…to free the body to experience the power of being…your body is the ground metaphor of your life, the expression of your existence. It is your Bible, your encyclopedia, your lifestory. Everything that happens to you is stored and reflected in your body. Your body knows, your body tells. The relationship to your self to your body is indivisible, inescapable, unavoidable. In the marriage of flesh and spirit, divorce is IMPOSSIBLE, but that doesn’t mean That marriage is necessarily happy or successful. Only when you in truly inhabit your body can you begin the healing journey.”
MOVING IS KNOWN AS A PRETTY STRESSFUL EVENT
Guest Blogging Today is Sarah Galla
Generally speaking, moving is known as a pretty stressful event. And what better way to relieve stress than with yoga!
Well, I got to practice what I preach firsthand recently. My husband, Tom, my 7 month old daughter, Sydney, and I all just moved into a new home in Arlington Heights. However, it wasn’t that simple. We were supposed to close on a Friday, May 22nd, and at the closing, the lender introduced new questions and pulled the loan. Needless to say, we were stunned and numerous thoughts ran through our head. Would we lose the home? Would we lose our earnest money? Would we lose our loan completely? Would we lose the time we had spent finding this home? Would we lose our sanity having to live out of boxes for an unknown amount of time? Then I noticed a theme to my questions: fear of loss.
I had absolutely left faith out of the equation. I have done countless classes surrounding this very prevalent theme and now it was time for me to put my yoga into action. The asanas, or poses, while an important part of yoga, they are only a piece of the whole. I needed to turn to my other yogic tools. I needed to focus on my breath, the one element to which I can always return. And right there the tide changed. By focusing on that breath, the inhales and exhales became longer and deeper. This led my muscles to relax. I had to trust that all was as it should be. Even though I knew I had to trust, it was challenging for me to put into action. This was especially true because the obstacles didn’t end there.
The next week we were contacted by the same lender after we had chosen a different lender with whom to work for our deadline of June 5th to hold onto the house. The old lender promised to close us that Tuesday the 26th. Then Wednesday. Then Thursday. Then Friday. Finally, we were done and said unless we were given a firm yes or no within the next hour, we were walking – which was taking a leap of faith right there! Well, it came through and we ended up closing the following Tuesday, June 2nd.
There are lessons for us in everything. Should we choose to take the coursework and learn what it is we need to learn, about others, about ourselves, about life, we can move to the next piece. I can understand that. What I am still grasping is that the learning never ends and I will not graduate from life. There will always be lessons, some more challenging than others. The true test is not the actual lesson itself, but actually it is the way I respond. It is always a matter of choice of perspective. I say this in all truth because these last two weeks were not easy. I had a lot of questions that had to remain unanswered; a tense jaw I had to consciously and frequently release; shoulders I had to purposely drag away from my ears and a breath that had to fight to be taken. Although, these were things to which I could and did consciously work to bring awareness. It was my choice how I responded. I had to trust that it would work out the way it was supposed to. The hardest part of that acceptance was that it may be the way it was supposed to be, but that may not be the way I wanted. For me, for today, I choose to see the perspective in which I can release the fear of loss. Sometimes I can truly embrace my faith in the Universe. This situation was a struggle for me. Yet, it came down to faith or fear. I chose the option that gave me the freedom to breathe.
DOSHA CLASS: ROOT OF STRESS
Is this class for you? Well, if you experience stress in your life understanding Ayurveda can only help. Why? Because Ayurvedic theory takes nearly every conceivable stress influence into consideration—from seasonal changes that affect our well-being to what we eat and how we move that can all lead to disease. It also sheds light on the thought patterns and physical tendencies that can make stress a constant stumbling block or a non-issue, depending on how well we understand ourselves. To put it in most simple terms Ayurveda boils down to one basic idea:
Trace stress back to its roots, then find lasting ways to change the patterns that cause it.
According to Ayurveda, each of us has a unique mix of three mind/body principles which creates our specific mental and physical characteristics. These three principles are called 'doshas'. Most of us have one or two doshas which are most lively in our nature, with the remaining one(s) less significant. The three doshas are known as: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
So join me to learn more about how to Balance Your Dosha, address the root causes of stress instead of the symptoms. All in an effort to live in peace and happiness. Yours with blessings, Silvia
INTRODUCTION: · Philosophy is the love of truth · Science is the discovery of truth through experiment · Spirituality is the experience of truth and application of it in daily life · Ayurveda is the science of life – both systematized knowledge and practical wisdom, an art of living healthy that ecompasses all phases of life, body, mind and spirit. It includes practical and theoretical aspects. · Ayurveda building blocks – 5 elements (Space, air, fire, water and earth) exist in all matter both organic and inorganic. Man has all 5 elements within him as we are part of nature. Our 5 sense and how our bodys function related to the 5 elements. · These 5 elements combine into 3 basic energies or principles which are present to some degree in everyone called doshas. · Space/air make up vata · Fire and water make up pitta · Water and earth make up kapha · Doshas govern our choices biological and psychological. When in balance they generate noble qualities such as understanding, compassion & Love. · When out of balance due to stress, improper diet, environment they give rise to negative emotions such as anger, fear and greed. · All three are in everyone but just like our fingerprints are different and unique everyone has an ENERGY PRINT · Health depends on maintaining this proportion in balance. Balance is the natural order of things, imbalance provokes and reflects disorder. · Health is order, Disease is disorder · You can learn to see that self understanding is the foundation of life. Habits and tendencies are related to our constitution. · When you can anticipate the kinds of illnesses and imbalances you are likely to have, you can take precautions to PREVENT THEM FROM ARISING. You can adjust your lifestyle daily routing, diet, amount of sleep, type of exercise to keep your DOSHAS IN BALANCE and health at its best!
· Philosophy is the love of truth
· Science is the discovery of truth through experiment
· Spirituality is the experience of truth and application of it in daily life
· Ayurveda is the science of life – both systematized knowledge and practical wisdom, an art of living healthy that ecompasses all phases of life, body, mind and spirit. It includes practical and theoretical aspects.
· Ayurveda building blocks – 5 elements (Space, air, fire, water and earth) exist in all matter both organic and inorganic. Man has all 5 elements within him as we are part of nature. Our 5 sense and how our bodys function related to the 5 elements.
· These 5 elements combine into 3 basic energies or principles which are present to some degree in everyone called doshas.
· Space/air make up vata
· Fire and water make up pitta
· Water and earth make up kapha
· Doshas govern our choices biological and psychological. When in balance they generate noble qualities such as understanding, compassion & Love.
· When out of balance due to stress, improper diet, environment they give rise to negative emotions such as anger, fear and greed.
· All three are in everyone but just like our fingerprints are different and unique everyone has an ENERGY PRINT
· Health depends on maintaining this proportion in balance. Balance is the natural order of things, imbalance provokes and reflects disorder.
· Health is order, Disease is disorder
· You can learn to see that self understanding is the foundation of life. Habits and tendencies are related to our constitution.
· When you can anticipate the kinds of illnesses and imbalances you are likely to have, you can take precautions to PREVENT THEM FROM ARISING. You can adjust your lifestyle daily routing, diet, amount of sleep, type of exercise to keep your DOSHAS IN BALANCE and health at its best!
Namaste Dear Friends!
Last week we added Video titled "Stress Management 101" and today we have added another new Video titled "Are you a Serious or Casual Student of Life?" Check them out and send them to your friends, spread the good vibes you guys. I am so proud of these and think they are getting better and better!
Would love to hear from you what key messages you'd like me to speak to happy to include those in next Video shoot. And of course this couldn't be done without Ned Miller, Scott Fell and Vicki Frank. I humbly offer 108 deep bows to them from my heart! Love the day, Silvia
PUT SOMETHING DOWN: REMOVING OBSTACLES TO LOVE
APRIL 21, 2009: The heart is a bit foolish you know? Overall, life is really lovely. Each day brings its own charm and delights (even as the shadows of fear and self-doubt add flavor). Yet we often catch ourselves up trying to “carry too much” in our arms. And then funny thing we ask ourselves why can’t I invite anything else in? Why is this stuff all in the way? Well the easy answer is that we have to put something down in order to pick something else up. So today’s class is from a Western view “STRESS MANAGEMENT 101”. From a yogic view we are focusing on Chapter 2, verse 10 and 11.
We begin with a moving meditation: Imagining that as we stand tall, shoulders back, palms together that as we inhale and separate our hands we are pulling back the curtains of Fear, Self Doubt, Worry. This curtain is paperlight, see through and by observing it as such we can essentially dissolve it away. This reminds us that the Obstacles we have to face are really of our own mental creation. They are not insurmountable. They are just like a veiled curtain waiting to be pulled open so we can see to the other side. We know this as we held our arms out to our sides thumbs inside peaceful fists for 2 minutes imagining a 4 oz cup of water in each hand. It is not the absolute weight of the water that matters. It is about how long will we force ourselves to hold on and carry around the mental obstructions? If we hold our arms out 2 minutes that won’t hurt us, but an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year, years? Then even though the water is light in weight the duration of carrying the burden of the water will do us harm. So it is with our thoughts. Replaying disastrous thoughts over and over for 2 minutes won’t kill us, but doing this day after day will create the stress that destroys our lives.
So really take 5 minutes to ask yourself what is it that needs to be released from my life? What mental obstacles can you put down right now? What can you clear out that is detrimental to living happier, lighter? Are there old habits you can release that don’t reflect your current needs and desires?
Then once relaxed and refreshed from the burden of carrying so much, ask yourself what is ready to be born in my life? What do you want to pick up?
And remember that only you can welcome the positive changes that transform your life. But don’t make it such a big deal. Remember as Sharon Salzberg writes in Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience, “The next step is not the last step.” In order to take the step, we have to put something down, in order to pick up something else. So let down the obstacles, and pick up LOVE. Let love heal. Love your day, love your life! Silvia
TOPIC: SLOW DOWN - PEOPLE BREATHING
JULY 7, 2008: We all know that Chicagoland summer is a time of activity. However, the summer seems to be more and more a time for being SUPER BUSY, with almost a sense of hyper activity! So in class this week we've been meditating on asking ourselves. "Is what I am about to do going to bring me peace? Or is it going to bring me anxiety and stress?"
Like life the practice on the mat always begins with an inhale into the first pose and it ends with an exhale in Savasana but really the depth of the practice comes from the quality of our breath between that first and final pose. Wherever you go this summer if you're really just running from one thing to another but not enjoying the gentle pace of the natural breath ask yourself, is that bringing you peace? Do you need to SLOW DOWN?
The time on the mat helps us find stillness so we can practice breathing fully. This tunes us into the gift it is to be alive so we don't miss the fun. My friend and fellow TBY Teacher Mara Campbell mentioned an amazing quote from one of her teachers out in
The practice of yoga and life is not about how hard we work but how effortlessly we work. So if you're tired of running around and need a break just slow down...and practice breathing.
Peace in all ways, Silvia