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
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
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.
Found an awesome article called "10 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Yoga Class" from Yoga International. It is a very truthful list of ways we can approach our yoga classes and find our classes becoming more valuable.
Here is a brief listing:
1. Come to class free of expectations - expectations for the class and of your body
2. Have an intention - We leave time during centering for setting your intention
3. Free yourself of distractions - do your best
4. Disclose physical limitations to the instructor - I keep a notebook of what people share with me
5. Honor your own inner teacher
6. Listen to your body - Heard this before?!!
7. Leave your phone at the door - please!
8. Bring your own stuff - matt, blanket etc.
9. Breathe - we talk breathing during each class
10. Be grateful - be thankful for what is!
Click HERE for the full article.
Let me know what you think of these ideas!
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.