Special Treat! (for planning your yoga retreat)

Today and next Monday we’ll be sharing yoga and meditation tips with Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, pigeon pose on beachWashington. For today’s post, head on over to wholelifeyoga.com and check out my guest post there. While you’re there, peruse all the yoga goodness Tracy has to offer – it’s a wonderful blog!

What are you still doing here? Head on over to wholelifeyoga.com get some ideas on creating your own home yoga retreat!

Crow Walking

One of my secret weapons before the hip replacement was a version of

Waves in Motion During Sunrise at Carlin Park

No relation to the article, just a beautiful photo. Waves in Motion During Sunrise at Carlin Park (Photo credit: Captain Kimo)

“windshield wipers” that I learned in Pre-Natal certification from Jacci Reynolds.

Begin with your sitting bones pressing into the surface beneath you, feet in front of you a little wider than hip width, knees pointed to the ceiling, supporting yourself on your hands, behind your hips. Rather than allowing the chest to collapse back and the shoulders to shrug up, keep your sternum lifted and your neck long. On an exhale, drop the right knee in toward your left hip. Inhale, knee up. Exhale left knee drops in. Inhale up.

Don’t do this if you already have a posteriorly placed hip appliance. I used this for pre-surgical hip pain with reduced range of motion, and Crow walking helped tremendously to maintain my range of motion despite pain and degeneration leading up to the surgery. This motion introduces a subtle twist, prompts core activation and by coordinating the movement with the breath allowed me to explore non-weight-bearing motions that wouldn’t have been accessible on my feet due to lack of cartilage. The motion gently stretches muscles and keeps the joint lubricated while allowing for planes of motion usually too painful to engage in the situation I was in.

In prenatal application, Crow walking is a great help for warming up and cooling down, a great beginning hip opener, and begins to create sensation and connection to the pelvic floor.

Savasana Meditation: stream and light

English: Wyming Brook in winter.

English: Wyming Brook in winter. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A recording of today’s guided meditation during savasana, a relaxing opportunity to let your body melt into earth and water, air and light. Enjoy! Let me know how you use it and what you think: leave a comment below!

 

 

Mind and Life Talks with HHDL

English: 14th Dalai Lama, Dharasmala, India

14th Dalai Lama, Dharasmala, India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are 3 things I look forward to in January: blooming hyacinths, stillness in life and house and the Mind and Life Talks. His Holiness the Dalai Lama in conversation with the world’s top scientists, going on year 26, live stream from here.

Right now I’m watching a conversation about brain development, childhood discipline, neglect and training, and the Dalai Lama is teasing the speaker, who really wants to talk about neuroplasticity. A religious and political leader who chooses to use his influence to cultivate theoretical discussion about the forefront of our understanding of mind-brain science is simply inspiring and inoculates me against cynicism for at least half a year. Which explains why I’m here watching the talks live on a Friday night. Geek out.

Discussing what happens to neurons and dendrites – particularly in early development – under stress, how their growth is stifled and stunted, and  the relationship of stress to vigilance and emotion, I am reminded how crucial my practice of yoga and sitting meditation is to my peaceful life filled with hyacinths, hugs and humble quietude.

Having experienced profound trauma in my early life, I’m keenly aware that my

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress.

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

brain fits into the categories being discussed. Diagnosed more than 2 decades ago with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), yoga, meditation and tai chi were crucial in putting my life and insides together anew. They are not, of course, panacea, and occasional “tune-up” visits to a therapist for EMDR, talk therapy and guided meditation are incredible tools. My life with this history has been an incredible teacher for me. I have been constantly reminded of the value of silence in life as well as the need for teachers and community to provide a context for practice.

The Mind and Life discussions help me understand myself and reinforce the value of my practice. More than that, though, they make me hopeful and optimistic about the future. Scientists sitting down to explain complex research – their life’s work – in lay terms to a passionately interested leader who expends his resources to bring them together, and a whole youtube channel dedicated to making these discussions freely available: I find comfort in this set of facts, in the caring and careful attempts to understand ourselves and in the reminder that I have a practice that gives me tremendous power to heal intergenerational trauma – mine and others. Time to go sit. See you on the mat.

Today at Sarvodaya's Early Morning meditation

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

3 part yogic breath: meditation between abundance and stillness

 

Dirgha, or three part yogic breath, is the basis for pranayam. The first portion initiates the body’s relaxation response, and the entire thing is an exercise in observation and transformation through attention. We start every class with this meditation and I’ve finally produced a recording I’m willing to share. It has audio issues, so don’t expect pro quality – it’s my first one! Let me know how you enjoy the content and I’ll continue to post as I become more comfortable and my equipment gets better. Comment below to let me know how this works for you.

 

 

Meditation Helper

MHP

Timers are a fantastic way to create a container (my current favorite notion, thanks Jen Louden) for your practice, and have been mentioned a couple of times in posts and comments lately, so I thought I’d say something about the one I use and love. I’ve tried half a dozen or more over the last six months (when I started using aps… I know, I’m behind!) and this is my go-to. I use it for my personal yoga and meditation practices as well as classes, private lessons and even meetings. People love it when I not only end on time but a pleasant meditation bell concludes the discussion period.

Meditation Helper Pro is the easiest to use, most elegant, pleasant, modifiable and effective timer I’ve used. My top three criteria for a meditation timer:

  • pleasant, real-sounding bell
  • infinitely modifiable for length and intermittent bells
  • easily modifiable for same

Meditation Helper Pro meets all of my criteria. The wizard makes it easy to create and save or modify a program, the standard bell is my favorite and available on the free ap though on the pro ap you can use others or ringtones from your phone. I have a simple 20 minute profile, an evening meditation profile with bells every 2 minutes and a double bell 2 minutes before the end. I have a 75 minute profile for class and 30 and 60 minute presentation profiles.

Meditation

Meditation (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)

Meditation Helper Pro will even remind you with a custom message (mine says “Sitting makes you happy.”) and keep a log for you so you can view your patterns and make adjustments. Are you a data freak? This is the ap for you. Do you just love elegance and simplicity in the tools you use, so you can get down to what you’re doing? This is the ap for you. Do you need a pleasant interface and sound to continue using a timer? This is the ap for you. Go to the ap store and try it out. Let me know how it goes? Leave me a comment below, let me know what you use and love!

In the Nelson Atkins Art Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.

In the Nelson Atkins Art Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.

Enough

I don’t know about you, but I can always find “one more thing” to do before I leave my desk or exit my office. I was half an hour late to a meeting last week because of the “one more things.”  Things that might awesomify the work we do can seem endless, and the better we are at it, the more we see the array of betterification open to us. So we make ourselves late for that massage or worse yet totally skip yoga class because this one last thing will put the cherry on our sundae.

 

Endless lonely beach

This gives me the feeling of “Enough.”(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Enter “conditions for enoughness.” I listened to this podcast, called “Creative Joy Teleconference and Twitter Party” from Karl Staib over at Party BizConnect (will you leave me a comment about that name, please?) in discussion with Jen Louden and Marianne Elliot and found the most lovely notion (about 9 minutes into the podcast). Like the ideas in my last post, they’re simple. Crazy simple. Which is why they have a shot at working. I’m a fool for Jen Louden’s work, so I can’t believe I haven’t run into this yet, but perhaps the conditions in my heart were perfect just now to actually catch this nugget of goodness.

YOU get to set your conditions of enough. I get to set my conditions for enough. Especially if you make your living in any part on the internet (and who doesn’t these days???) you can always check one more thing, find one more idea, do one more search. But each of the one mores is a choice to give up something else, and often what we give up by engaging the one mores was far more than what we found by pushing.

When I decide what will be enough for a day or an hour or a session before I start, I get more of the things that actually nurture the creativity that the one mores act like they’ll nurture. The truth is that after a certain point, creativity isn’t based on more information, more research or more feedback. Rather than reaching for more, I’m going to start sending my future self notes about enough, notes that will create that elusive “container” for creativity referenced by therapists and coaches worldwide. And for now, that’s “enough.”