This week we will be practicing Nadi Shodhana during our time of centering and breathing. Nadi Shodhana, also called Alternate Nostril Breathing, is known for balancing the sides of the brain and its calming affect when we are feeling stress or anxiety. Some instructors of meditation recommend practicing Nadi Shodhana prior to practicing meditation.
The following website is an awesome resource for more information and instruction for Nadi Shodhana:
This article from the Chopra Center lists the following benefits for Nadi Shodhana:
Please leave your comments about your practice of Nadi Shodhana below!
We are under pressure each day to do a list of stuff...go to work, clean the house, scoop the litter box, care for the kids and volunteer at church. Somewhere we need to find time to care for our body and mind. How about opening each day with a half hour of simple yoga poses and meditation on scripture. Pick some of your favorite poses starting and matching a favorite scripture verse with each pose. As you practice a pose repeat the scripture. You might also meditate or think about each scripture verse as you practice. When you design your practice, start with easier poses working toward the harder ones. End your time with some prayer in a seated pose.
You might also try saying the Lord's Prayer as you perform the Sun Salutation.
**Click on the picture to see some possible poses and scripture verses.**
https://www.biblegateway.com/ At Bible Gateway you can search for verses in many versions of the Bible.
Do you have any favorite Bible verses and pose you like to practice together?
Please share any thoughts about your practice.
Monday I was looking at Facebook which had suggested a "memory" from my past. On July 11, 2012 I posted that I had taught my first yoga class! Four years ago! Since then I have taught floor and chair yoga on a regular basis! Sometimes 3 times a day. I am probably more confident than that day 4 years ago, but some things don't change. As back then, I rely on God to help me plan my lessons and to teach. I still need to read, learn and practice yoga. I still look at my teaching, assessing for changes....like our personal yoga practice, teaching yoga is a growing process. My yoga teaching practices grow all the time. I love when I come up with a new way to describe a newance in a pose. I love to learn new poses or new combinations of poses.
Lately, I have been assessing where I would like to go from here. I have decided not to pursue a 500 hour certificate as I have not found one that I like. So, I will take training in specialty areas. Would like to find training in Laughter Yoga, Yoga Nidra, and yoga for people with special needs.
Recently, I have reconnected with Kathy and Jess who graduated from Kind Yoga with me. They are taking some of yoga classes at the YMCA! I enjoy having them in class but it seems a bit weird to teach them!
Praying that God will guide me in my teaching in the next year.
During our practices over the past weeks we have been practicing Alternate Nostril Breathing or Nadi Shodhana in Sandskrit.
Sit in a comfortable position and begin to focus on your breath.
Rest the tips of your index and middle fingers in the space between your eyebrows. Allow your thumb to relax over your right nostril and your ring/pinky fingers to relax over your left nostril. Inhale and block your right nostril with your thumb and exhale out your left nostril. Inhale with your left nostril, block it off with your fingers as you release your thumb and exhale out your right nostril.
Continue alternating sides as you breath. (Traditionally we use our right hand for our breathing, but the left can be used.)
Great Website with instructions: "How to Practice Alternate Nostrils Breathing in Yoga
Here is a great "gif", visual of how to practice from www.yogatailor.com (Thank you Sydney!)
(same as above picture)
Benefits: There are many benefits to Alternate Nostril Breathing. The Livestrong website has an article "Benefits of Alternate Nostril Breathing" that lists the following benefits:
- Enhanced Lung Function
- Lung Cleansing
- Soothed Nervous System
- Temperature Regulation
- Enhanced Sleep Quality
Give this pranayama a try and let me know how it works for you!
Found a great DIY video on decorating a yoga mat to look like a galaxy. It uses acrylic paint for the decorating and says the paint stays on. Has anyone tried this? Please let me know about your experiences.
Click on the tab below.
I found this great series of yoga moves that can be done in bed. This practice will help us be more flexible and prepare us for a good nights sleep.
The Green button will bring you to the original presentation at www.womanshealthmag.com.
We have been ending our yoga practices with time for being thankful. After svasana I have offered time to "think of those things you are thankful for today from the small and the not so small." I hope this has been helpful for everyone. To find things to be thankful for can make the difference between a down day and a day with joy. When clouds loom or tiredness settles in, it is hard to feel or see the joy. Taking some time to sit and breath and focus opens our hearts to even the smallest amounts of joy in our day. These small amounts of joy or thanks can be the cat sitting in your lap, having a good breakfast, the smile or conversation wth a friend or coworker or even the sun shinning into your car as you drive. Times for breath and thanks can happen throughout a day. It only takes a few minutes to sit, close your eyes or focus away, take some breaths and think about moments in your day, or things in your day that you are thankful for. These quiet times can be spontaneous or scheduled say on the hour or done on your breaks. I have been finding they work best for me as I become tired or frustrated to just quiet myself and be thankful. I feel joy like the sunlight coming into my body and spirit.
The devotional I read this morning reminded me that "thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity." Giving thanks opens our hearts to God's presence. It also opens our minds to the Spirit working inside us.
Some good scripture related to giving thanks:
Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
We sing a song at church:
"Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the holy one, give thanks because he's give Jesus Christ his Son..."
I pray for all of you as you discover you "thanks" each day.
Students have asked what to wear to yoga practice. Usually we wear something that is comfortable, loose enough to move but not too loose to fall off as we move. T shirts and tank tops are comfortable except sometimes the neck of the T shirt blocks the face/mouth during downward facing poses. Bigger shirts may also ride up during practice. Depending on where you practice, having a sweater or sweatshirt to start and finish your practice, before you warm up and during Savasana, may prevent chilling. Yoga pants come in 3 lengths, shorts, 3/4 length or full length. I prefer cotton blend with spandex as it is softer, but I do have polyester/spandex blend pants. I find the pants with the fold over tops do not stay up as well. The fold-over tops come in great patterns, but there is not enough tightness/conforming fit on the hips to hold them up. Leggings also work well for yoga but make sure they are not see-through! Leggings come in a variety of qualities. Some are snugger than others and stay up better. I bought a cotton blend pair at Walmart that are comfortable, not see-through, but not as snug and are thinner and shorter than other higher end pairs. Online you can find yoga pants that are very loose and wide. I have seen them called elephant pants. My favorite place to by yoga pants is Old Navy (in store or online). They have cotton blends and polyester blends in most styles. I have Old Navy yoga pants that are 4 years old! The prices are reasonable and the quality is great. I recently bought a pair of 3/4 length cotton blend yoga pants at Walmart and so far love them.
Men can where shorts and pants that are comfortable. Make sure your backside is covered during bending poses! Some of my male students have shown parts that should not be shown!!
Some folks like to wear socks. I tried some toe socks with made for yoga that had none slip material on the bottom. This pair came in general S-M-L sizes. The small fit, but I would have liked the socks be a bit snugger some my foot would not slide inside it. Someone gave me "maryjanes" made of lycra/polyester cloth with the no-slip bottom. They fit my feet better.
In the end, it is what you find comfortable!
What do you find comfortable for yoga practice?
In my last blog I talked about mindfulness. I encourage you to try a Walking Meditation.
Find a place you can walk safely. It can be outside in a spot special to you or in your yard. Slowly walk, focusing on your walk a few steps for every in-breath and out-breath. As you walk you can add a "gatha"... a breath phrase. Plum Village suggests using one of the following:
Breathing in “I have arrived”; Breathing out “I am home”
Breathing in “In the here”; Breathing out “In the now”
Breathing in “I am solid”; Breathing out “I am free”
Breathing in “In the ultimate”; Breathing out “I dwell”
Repeat one of the phrases listed above as you walk and breath.
Also try a 3-beat phrase from a favorite poem or song or prayer or Biblical passage.
Example: Breathing in: "Jesus loves me" breathing out: "this I know:
Here is a longer gatha from Stillwater:
The mind can go in a thousand directions.
But on this beautiful path, I walk in peace.
With each step, a gentle wind blows.
With each step, a flower blooms
Hope you enjoy practicing walking meditation!
Please share your thoughts and experiences on this blog or on Facebook at YWGrace.
Mindfulness is being in the moment, being present in what you are doing. For example, grab your favorite food. Sit at the table without the TV and phone and other distractions. Take a few breaths and then look at your favorite food. What does it look like? (colors, textures) Take a bite and slowly eat it: move the food around your mouth hitting the different taste buds that line your tongue. Notice what your food feels like. Continue to slowly eat your food focusing totally on the process.
Recently I had finished some yoga out on my deck and was seated on my mat on my deck. I began to focus on my breath and found my eyes closing. I found myself hearing all the noises around me the obvious and the subtle. It was beautiful and so rich! I praised God for that special time.
Taking time out of our day to be mindful helps us be more focused and at ease. Did you know there are Mindfulness apps? (I should not have been surprised! This proves there are apps for everything!)
Check out the page from Plum Village that describes some apps:
Some of the apps give you mindfulness techniques others just ring a bell on a random basis throughout the day to
signal its time to be mindful.
Here is a video about mindfulness by Plum Village. It takes a few minutes and tells the story about mindfulness.
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.