Staying Healthy in September
Why is September so hard on many of us?
As we move from summer to fall, you may notice that your energy levels begin to change. In both Traditional Chinese Medicine and in Indian Medicine known as Ayurveda, there is a good reason for this. Seasonal changes signal changes in our physical and emotional constitutions. “Traditional Chinese Medicine views the environment as an extension of the body. Therefore, living in harmony with the season helps to keep your body healthy,” according to www.eggsfromtheeast.com. If we do not follow the rhythm of the seasons, it often shows up as dis-ease in the body. There are several ways to ease the transition into fall and possibly prevent your body from shutting down.
1) Go to bed earlier and rise earlier. The sun is setting earlier and our circadian rhythms shift as well.
2) Eat fewer salads and smoothies and switch to cooked foods and soups. This is especially important if your primarily a Vata dosha (see my blog post for further explanation).
3) While summer was about going and doing, fall is about reflecting, organizing, clearing out and preparing for winter. Even though we do not really have cold winters, there is still a seasonal clock at work here.
4) Add Yin yoga to your routine. My yin yang yoga class is now Fridays at 9 am at Happehatchee.
While the yoga may poses look familiar, they have different names and different purposes in Yin
For instance, Cobblers pose (Baddha Konasana) in the Yang style of yoga is called Butterfly in Yin. Butterfly is a slightly wider -legged pose, looking more like a diamond and it is often held for three to five minutes. In this pose you relax all muscles and let your upper body hang without focusing much on alignment.
Yin yoga emerged out of the Taoist traditions of China. Just as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Indian medicine (Aruyveda) come from a common tree, so do Yin and Hatha yoga. Here in the west, Yin has been catching on, particularly among athletes, martial artists and people who want a more grounding, quieter type of yoga practice. While Yang yoga often involves flowing sequences with 40 or more Asanas (poses) being held for 3 to 5 breath rounds, a Yin Yoga sequence might include just 10-15 poses each held for three to 10 minutes.
Bernie Clark, who studied under some Yin Masters and authored YinSights, says “Yin targets connective tissues… (ligaments, joints and bones, and is complimentary to the dynamic styles of yoga, which are focused on muscles.” For many tennis players, runners and other athletes whose sports are so dynamic, having a less dynamic yoga practice can be very balancing. For anyone suffering from injuries or recovering from illnesses, Yin may be just the right prescription for health.
The three basic rules of Yin according to Mr. Clark, are
1) Come into the pose at an appropriate depth. One of my teachers described that as just short of your edge. So come to your edge and ease off just enough so that you can maintain this position for the duration. You should feel sensation, but not pain.
2) Resolve to remain still except for your breathing. You may not always succeed, especially if you are naturally a fidgety person, but maybe say to yourself when you want to flee, I will stick with it ten more seconds.
3) Hold the pose for a length of time upward of a minute, preferably 3-5 minutes. This is important for several reasons. For one thing, it takes at least 45 seconds before your muscles stop contracting. It is necessary for your muscles to relax in order to go deeper into the connective tissue matrix of your body.
Mr. Clark describes what is often an initial reaction to practicing Yin. “Your mind starts to play tricks on you,” he says. You want to fidget or escape. But by breathing into the pose and paying attention to the sensations without judgment, you learn to stay calm and still in the midst of sensation, which our minds translate into suffering. This skill, with practice, can translate off the mat in everyday life
I was first introduced to Yin Yoga 10 years ago when one of my favorite Yoga teachers in Charlottesville, Virginia came back from a workshop and spent the next five Sundays exploring Yin with us. She would talk to us throughout the long held poses to keep us from releasing the pose too soon. Her commentary and her eclectic style of teaching kept me coming back for more. Little did I know then, that I would follow in her footsteps. She was also a school teacher, as I am. In the fall of 2014 during the Yoga teacher training at Joyful Yoga, I was again, introduced to Yin Yoga through two of my teachers. I was immediately drawn to the grounding nature of this style of yoga and the way my body felt after the practice was finished.
If you are interested in exploring the Yin Yoga Practice, come to my Friday 9 am Yin/Yang Yoga class at Happehatchee. The cost is just $10 and you get the added benefits of practicing Yoga in Nature and supporting a beautiful not-for-profit eco spiritual center that is working actively to protect land in Estero . I am also available to do private yoga classes. Schedule your class today.
I wish you health and joy in your day. Namaste, Andrea
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