During the past weeks of class, we have been practicing the Pushpanjali Mudra during our opening time of breathing and centering. Pushpanjali means an offering of flowers. I picked this mudra because it is known for reducing stress and the lowering of blood pressure and aides in "releasing attachments at all levels of being" * while cultivating generosity. Pushpanjali is for "cultivating non-grasping - Aparigraha."*
The Yamas are the first of 8 Limbs of Yoga. See my blog from September 2013 for more on the Limbs of Yoga: http://www.yogawithgrace.net/pams-blog/8-limbs-of-yoga . The Yamas are a list of ways we interact with others. Aparigraha (a-par-I-gra-ha) is the fifth Yama and is translated to mean non-grasping, non-coveting or non-possessing. The idea is to look at our lives and see where we hold onto stuff or yearn for stuff others have. "Stuff" is either physical things or more spiritual, internal stuff. As we look around at the things we posses we ask the question, do I really need it? What does it really do for me? Then we look inside to find what we might be holding onto, memories, hurts, titles, and more. These things we hold onto block us from really moving onto compassion and generosity. Practicing Aparigraha actually brings us to the point of interacting better with others. For example, if we covet something a friend has or does it blocks us from truly getting close to her. Practicing aparigraha, we would celebrate that she has a great job, blonde hair, or can crochet. When we aparigraha with our physical stuff, we find ourselves more able to let go off it and share it with others who do not have. When we practice aparigraha we celebrate that we can do the Tree Pose even when it looks a little different then the person next to us.
The article "7 Ways to Practice Aparigraha" by Irene Petryszak is a great and easy read on how to practice Aparigraha. Irene lists and explains the following steps: Let It Go, Breathe, Practice Self-Care, Be Positive, Forgive, Practice, and Be Generous. The post "Aparigraha" on www.earthdancehealingarts.com is also focused on the practical aspects of Aparigraha. Jen explores how we can apply Aparigraha to many aspects of our lives including our yoga practice and our personal view of ourselves. Jen also lists some important questions to ask ourselves as we continue to practice Aparigraha. Give the article and the blog a read and let me know if you found them helpful. If you click on the green highlighted titles, the article and the blog with come up on a separate screen. Feel free to respond to this blog about your practice of Aparigraha.
*from Mudras For Healing and Transformation by Josepha and Lilian Le Page
Article on Pushpanjali: http://namasteworksyoga.com/pushpanjali-mudra-appreciate-life-just-as-it-is
Yoga may help memory!!!
There has been a study posted that practicing yoga "boost brain function in older adults." Awesome news! Of course we knew this from experience. The study followed people ages 55 - 79. Some practiced yoga 3 times per week. The others did a program of stretching and toning. Those that participated in yoga had "significant improvements in work memory capacity." These folks where also able to do tasks without being distracted. Those folks that participated in the program of stretching and toning did not have these changes!
So keep up the great work!
Please let me know how your yoga practice has helped you with your memory and general every day activities.
Click below for article: Hatha Yoga May Improve Brain Function in Older Adults
Moving Palm Trees
We have practiced posture series "Moving Palm Trees" in class. It is a great series of poses that encompass many different stretches. Moving Palm Trees takes 2 to 5 minutes, depending on how long you hold each pose. Moving Palm Trees may also be adapted to sitting in a chair.
Click on the picture of Palm Trees to open up a (PDF) description of "Moving Palm Trees". Sorry there are not any pictures. I hope to add them at a later date.
Downward Facing Dog - Variations
Downward Facing Dog is a great pose except if you have wrist, knee or other similar issues. There are ways to modify Down Dog. During Chair Yoga we stand at the back of the chair and step back into a position similar to a table, feeling an extension from our heads to hips.
We can also modify Down Dog by leaning onto our forearms instead of our hands.
Check out the following website for some great pics and descriptions.
The YouTube video below guides us to head placement while practicing Down Dog using a chair.
Check it out!
Meditation In A Chair
When we think of meditation, we often think of sitting on the floor in a cross legged or lotus position. Meditation can also be done in a chair. It is important that you are in a comfortable position to compliment your meditation practice.
Yoga Journal has a video that guides us into meditation in a chair. Give it a try!
Foot Massage Mania!
We are having so much fun massaging our feet with balls. Some of my Chair Yoga friends have bought their own balls and practice at home. Julie had been practicing foot massage on a regular basis until her dog stole her ball! Hope you find your ball Julie! Beth and Tim found some balls at Dollar Tree Store that have ribs. They come in a 2-pack
for a...um...$1. They are a little harder than the ones we have been using in class and feel great against my foot. We have been using balls that come in a 3-pack. All of the balls are found in the children's toy section at the Dollar Tree Store.
Click the connection below for the original blog entry on foot massage from November of 2013:
Please share you experiences with foot massage or sources for balls.
Enjoy fresh feet!
How to Choose a Chair for Yoga
During Wednesday's Chair Yoga class we talked about picking a chair at home to practice yoga. Some of the things to think of and look for:
- The Height of the Chair: Do your feet touch the floor comfortably?
- The Seat:
- Is it level front to back?
- Is it level side to side?
- Is it flat?
- The Sturdiness of the Chair: Does it stay upright when you lean onto the back of the Chair?
- If it tips front or back, or side to side, the chair is not safe.
- Chair Back: Is it comfortable for you to sit in the chair?
- Arms: Chairs with arms can be suitable for yoga. They will limit some side movements. Chair arms are useful for those who need help getting up out of the chair.
When I first started teaching Chair Yoga I practiced at home on my kitchen chair. It was not long before I realized that the chair was uncomfortable and not appropriate for Chair Yoga Practice. The chair is heavy and sturdy, but my feet do not touch the floor easily and the seat tilts towards the back of the chair. Today I participated in the first day of a Senior Yoga certification. Some of the chairs we used were light weight versions of the metal type folding chairs as pictured above. The seat and back were made of skimpy black plastic. The back was very short leaving a large opening between the seat and therefore little support for my back. The seats had a bowl like dip toward the back. The legs were made of a light weight aluminum and were not as wide apart front to back as the standard metal chair. All this made the chair very tippy and unsturdy for yoga.
A member of our Wednesday Chair Yoga class does yoga in his wheel chair. One of my teachers works with people in their homes sometimes leading them through practice in stuffed living room chairs and couches. This yoga practice is less active and is limited in some of it's movements but can be effective for the needs of the participants. This practice is often followed by tea and conversation! It's about what you want to accomplish during your practice. The important thing in picking a chair is listening to your body and how it feels while you practice yoga. Enjoy and have fun!
Neely Da Kat snoozing on his "Throne" in the window.
Savasana or Shavasana translated as sava (corpse) asana (pose). We all know it as the resting pose. Usually we do this at the end of our practice but can be done anytime to relax. Savasana is a time to tune out, breath, and relax. It can be done laying on your back, side or with feet up the wall. During chair yoga class we do savasana in the chair. When doing chair yoga at home, savasana can be done with your head rested on a table.
If you click on Neely's picture, you will be connect to a page of Wikihow that has a 7 step series of pictures with instructions for savasana.
Wednesday was a day that pointed me to how adaptable yoga can be. After Chair Yoga class I bumped into Tim doing some exercise in the next room. Tim was practicing some exercises on his knees. Tim, who moves around in a wheel chair, can "stand" on his knees like I can on my feet. It's painful to me to watch him! So we tried some of the standing postures with Tim on his knees! We decided next class, we will put a mat in front of Tim's chair so Tim can 'stand' and do the standing postures instead of in his chair.
After I finished talking with Tim, I bumped into Jackie in the locker room. Jackie has attended the Chair Yoga class and the "laid back yoga" class. Jackie has MS that causes her right leg to be uncooperative. Neither class seemed to work for Jackie. I began our conversation by asking if Jackie had tried the adaptive yoga class she had found. Jackie said she had not. Somehow the conversation turned to me demonstrating how Jackie could use a chair to support her while doing standing poses. I saw a light dawn in Jackie. She said that the chair had just been a thing to do yoga in not part of the yoga poses. Jackie was so excited to go home and try yoga again making the chair part of her poses.
I have always wanted to bring yoga to everyone. I learned a lot from my conversations with Tim and Jackie and felt very encouraged.
Wednesday in Chair Yoga we had fun practicing some finger exercises. Clicking on the green button bellow
will pull up a PDF version of the Finger Exercises hand out. Feel free to share the exercises with family and friends. These exercises can be done most anywhere and any time. Today Paul and I were out doing errands. As we drove down the highway, I was bored and frustrated. I did our finger exercises and the I felt myself relax. (My fingers felt good too!)
Where have you been practicing your finger exercises?
I enjoy yoga as it brings peace to my life. Teaching yoga has brought joy to my life and given me a chance to encourage others in learning yoga.