benefits of yoga

How Yoga Helps the Heart

It goes beyond the Cardiovascular System

Heart chakra banner

When I tell my yoga students we are going to focus on the Heart Chakra (Anahata in Sanscript), there is usually a sigh of relief.  We have worked our way through the physical Chakras of root, sacrum and core. The Heart Chakra, fourth of the 7 energy wheels in our subtle body, lies in the space to the right of the heart along the spine.  This area of our spine is one of the strongest of our skeletal system for good reason.  It is protecting a very important physical organ—the heart.Chakras

We consider both the physical and emotional aspects of the Anahata chakra. Our heart can be very vulnerable depending on our life experiences. What may result is a heart chakra imbalance – respiratory issues, heart issues, depression, fatigue, to name a few of the possible symptoms. When you are unhappy, your thymus, which controls your hormones slows down, which can result in a general lack of thriving.  Emotionally an imbalance in this area can either lead to shutting down or just pretending to be happy.

“The fear of giving and receiving love blocks health, joy and goodness from coming into our lives,” according to Ambika Wauters, the author of The Book of Chakras who adds, “The heart’s unique intelligence is to remember love,  It never forget acts of kindness, friendship or love. “

In order to access love, one must be willing to be vulnerable.  At the beginning of class, I offer my students doTERRA geranium essential oil if they need to open up more or melalueca if they need to protect their heart more.  Both sides of this coin leave one feeling vulnerable.  It’s the paradox of the heart chakra, according to  http://nyapatrinos.blogspot.com/2015/08/chakra-series-yin-yoga-heart-chakra.htmlAndrea meditating “through humility, we find our power; through discipline, we find liberation; by cleansing the physical body, we become more mentally clear and attuned.”

We begin our practice in a seated pose to try and still the mind and tap into the heart; easier said, than done.  It takes practice to distinguish what your heart is telling you versus what your mind is chattering at you. One clue is if thought starts with love then it is coming from your heart. According to Yoga Journal’s Stephanie Snyder in a 2015 article, “Over time you will be able to observe both. This inner listening cultivates a discrimination. Discrimination supports skillful choices, which lead you toward your heart’s calling, your purpose. The result is bringing compassion and love into all you do.”

I invite my students to set an intention for the practice, which is often very personal.

It might include forgiving someone who has hurt you, or opening yourself up to love again after a bad relationship.  It could be working on loving yourself or trusting other people, or being less critical of people. Be sure to listen closely to your heart to ensure your intention rings true for you.

We do the following practice.  Feel free to attend one of my classes on balancing the Chakras or try the routine at home. 

In a seated position we begin by loosening our neck and shoulders.  Be sure to sit on a blanket or bolster to protect your spine.  Sitting on a bolster helps lean your pelvic bones toward the front which keeps your back from rounding.  Half way through this neck and shoulder routine, change the cross of your legs to keep them from falling asleep. (2) Preparatory arm stretches will also include cow face arms and eagle arms (shown). Roll over to hands and knees.  A modified cat/cow with a child’s pose focus on shining your heart each time you stretch up and forward helps get problems “off your chest” (3)

Andrea stretching neck 225 tallAndrea doing eagle arms 225 highCat Cow 225 high

 

Rest in Child’s pose.  Then move into Puppy pose also known as Melting the heart.  (4) Draw your shoulders back toward each other, but be careful not to dump your belly. Move into thread the needle or revolved child’s pose. (5) This is an intense stretch for your shoulder.  Metaphorically speaking, your shoulders are the branches from your heart, which if strong can lead to generosity and compassion. Repeat on both sides.

Andrea melting heart poseAndrea threading the needle

Move into downward facing dog (6)—focusing on your shoulders drawing toward your back.  You might need to bend the knees a great deal to feel this in the upper back.  High lunges, Low lunges or Warrior 1 on both sides will be modified to reflect the opening of the shoulders. (7)  Do both sides. Our balancing series will include both Eagle Pose (8) and Dancers pose (9).  Both work the upper body.  Dancer pose opens up the heart while Eagle pose protects the heart. Do both sides.

3 DowndogAndrea doing warrior 1 with open heartAndrea doing eagle 225 tallAndrea doing dancers pose 225 high

 

Add two full sun salutations, focusing each move on a gratitude practice.  For instance when reaching to the sky, express thanks to the sun, the forward fold, thanks to the earth, half way up, thanks to your parents, all the way down, thanks to your children or friends, going through plank, thanks to yourself including your body. Upward dog, thanks to your mind, and coming back up, thanks to the higher being that you believe in. You can even chant these as you go through the sequence. This practice came from Seane Corne. Make sure to open your heart during your back bends.

IMG_9813IMG_9892

Perhaps the most vulnerable heart chakra pose is Camel Ustrasana (10)

The following description of this pose comes from Yoga Journal. “Camel is an upper-spine backbend that comes from narrowing in the belly and widening your hands to your hips and drive the legs and pelvis down as you lift the low belly, ribs, and chest upward.  Finally drop your head back gently as long as it doesn’t cause neck pain. Spend about 3 breaths here and repeat this pose three times. When you finish, sit on your heels, close your eyes, and enjoy the rush of being alive in an open-hearted body.”

Modified Fish Pose is offered as part of this series.  I do not do a full fish pose.   Fish Pose (Matsyasana) 11 is known as the destroyer of all diseases.  It stimulates your thyroid and para thyroid as it strengths the muscles of the upper back and back of neck and stretches your front body muscles.

Andrea doing camel 225 wideIMG_0003

We end the practice in a restorative version  of  Reclined Bound Angel Pose.  Supta Badda Konasana (12) Lie on on your back placing either two blocks or place a bolsters length wise and incline it with a block or two.  Lay back with your spine directly over the bolster. If you are using blocks make sure one block is right across your shoulder blades (for ladies, no lower than the bra line).  Once comfortable open your heart and allow your shoulders to sink towards the floor. Then place your feet together and let you knees fall out to the side.  Roll a blanket into a rope and wrap around your ankles or place blocks under your knees to support you. Visualize the color green, which protects your heart or pink to represent your heart as you relax in this pose. The heart seed mantra is YAM.  Breathe in unconditional love for yourself and others.  Exhale and release old hurts, regrets, anger and grief.

ANdrea doing fish pose 225 highAndrea meditating with hands at heart 225

I wish you health and joy in  your day.  Namaste,  Andrea

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Heaven Lane Yoga

Heaven Lane Creations – Designing custom yoga classes to meet your physical, emotional and health needs. Designing individualized doTERRA oil routines for your health.  Designing custom made jewelry to fit your style.

 

Are you a Warrior or a Servant? Exploring the Manipura Chakra

 Yellow flower wide shot manipura chakraThe Manipura Chakra is not only strength in your abdomen but also strength in  your convictions.

Are you a warrior or a servant? That is the one of the questions to ask yourself when exploring the Manipura Chakra, the third of the seven energy wheels that start at the base of your spine. (for basic explanations of the Chakra system see this earlier post ) Located in the Solar Plexus region of your body, the Manipura Chakra is considered your energetic wheel of strength.  It is commonly known as the core.  Yellow is the color associated with this Chakra, which makes sense since the sun is considered the ruling element of the Solar Plexus. Energy here provides the fire needed to help digest your food and the world.

Chakras_map.svg

Determining if you Chakra is Over-active or Under-active

If your chakra is over-active, according to www.oneworldhealing.net,  “you may be judgemental or critical – and you will easily find fault in others. An overactive solar plexus chakra can turn you into an arrogant, self-centered power grabber. You end up chasing name and fame to the exclusion of everything else. Soon enough the ‘my way or the highway’ lifestyle inevitably results in dysfunctional relationships and high levels of stress.” according to www.do-meditation.com.

“If this chakra is under active, according to www.oneworldhealing.net,  it can cause severe emotional problems. You may have a lot of doubt and mistrust towards the people in your life, and worry too much about what other people might think about you. You may also run on “auto pilot” avoiding your feelings of depression orchakra picture courageous anxiety; you may feel afraid or alone when you start to look at what you have been avoiding. You also may feel that you are not good enough and be seeking a constant approval of others. “A blocked third chakra could lead to low self-esteem, hyper-sensitivity to criticism and attention seeking behavior. The resultant indecisiveness, poor self-confidence and self-image, and fear of rejection can prevent you from accomplishing important tasks and turning dreams into reality. Both over-active and under-active Manipura Chakra can lead to physical problems such as digestive disorders and anxiety.

 

Of all the Chakras, Manipura is the one mostly closely associated with your ego. Your identity including feelings of self-worth, self-esteem and self-confidence is often established in your teens.   As an adult, it affects your feelings of personal power and freedom of choice, according to Ambika Wauters, author of the The Book of Chakras.

In teaching a Yoga class on the 3rd chakra, I offer my students the following doTERRA essential oils — Bergamot if they feel like they need to fortify themselves or Wintergreen if they are feeling overly aggressive.   Bergamot is a member of the citrus family and helps one feel more secure and abundant.  Wintergreen has a cooling effect.  Learn more about doTERRA oils by checking out my information page.

Here is a Manipura Chakra Yoga Routine.  Feel free to do at home or join me for one of my public offerings of Yoga.

Childs pose 225 by 241Andrea doing cow 225 by 241Andrea doing cat 225 by 241

Andrea doing balance on the mat

IMG_98013 Downdog      High Lunge Andrea 600 dpi Andrea doing reverse triangle   Andrea doing Boat poseAndrea doing bridge pose

Throughout the practice (shown above and described below)be aware of your strength, which should give you confidence to move through life’s changes. Pictures are in order from left to right and top to bottom. Start in child’s pose Balasana and focus on your breath.  Feel the ground supporting you offering you safety and security.  If you are undergoing a major change in your life or are feeling ungrounded, affirm yourself with a statement such as “I have the strength to weather these changes and I have a right to the life I chose.” Move into cat Marjaiasana cow Bitilasana stretch. Coordinate the next series with your breath.  Then move into Balancing Table Pose dandayamna-bharmanasana. Raise the arm as you inhale and lower as you exhale.  Repeat three times.  One breath in between and then three times on the other side.  Then raise your leg as you inhale and hold it for three complete breaths.  You can add your opposite arm to make the balance and core work more challenging.   Rest in child’s pose (picture 1). Whenever you need to rest your wrists, go back to child’s pose. Move into a cat cow stretch with one leg bending and bringing your knee toward your  nose compressing your abdomen .   Then hold in plank Kumbhakasanafor three to eight counts.   You can modify on your forearms or hands and knees -Dophin Plank.  Move back into a downward dog -Adho mukha śvānāsana , making sure to engage both your inner thighs and your abdomen.  Move in and out of downward dog and plank several times—generating heat and becoming aware of your core strength. Come up to the top of your mat by bringing one left forward and end up in a Forward Fold. Safely come up to  chair pose Utkatasana (7). Be sure to engage your core and fronts of your thighs. There are many ways to both amplify and modify chair pose depending on how much or little you need to stoke the fires of your solar plexus.  If you have a strong sense of yourself, you might not need to push as hard.  If you tend to be afraid to try new thinAndrea meditatinggs, then pushing yourself may allow you through this challenging experience may develop the courage you need. High Lunge with or without a twist Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana . Repeat on both sides. Move into Triangle and/or Reverse Triangle Pose Utthita Trikonasana(shown above). Come down to seated and set up for Boat Pose Navasana  which if done properly put yours puts your spine in a sated V.  Because this pose requires so much core strength,  I am modifying it by holding my legs with my hands. (12) Moving Bridge works the core and strengthens the back from the ground. Be sure to feel the front body engaging and to not squeeze the buttocks. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana. Make sure to do Constructive Rest. Savasana .

A great way to finish  the Manipura chakra work, is to do a seated meditation using the following seed sound mantra– RAM, RAM, RAM.  Notice how this sound actually causes a vibration in your solar plexus region. Remember, the fire at our navel center is vital to your spiritual growth and fulfillment!

 

 

I wish you health and joy in  your day.  Namaste,  Andrea

Happehatchee Yoga Classes Estero Tennis Golf Yoga ClassesPrivate Yoga Classes Lee County

Heaven Lane Yoga

Heaven Lane Creations – Designing custom yoga classes to meet your physical, emotional and health needs. Designing individualized doTERRA oil routines for your health.  Designing custom made jewelry to fit your style.

The Follies of Youth and Ego

Andrea doing mountain brook on the matWhat are we trying to accomplish on the Yoga Mat?

It is not the Yoga Asana we want to perfect but the control over our minds and integration of our mind, body and breathe. When you are doing a yoga pose, maybe ask yourself this question, ”Do I have to do an extreme version of this pose to accomplish this goal?” For many of us, the answer is no. Andrea doing supported eagle pose I have been participating in a push-up challenge to raise awareness of issues facing our vets and if I had attempted the full push up on my first day of the 22 day  challenge, I would never have been able to complete the challenge.  Instead I have been building my strength with modified push-ups and guess what, even without doing the extreme pose, I am getting stronger every day.  I am toning my arms without injury to myself. And accomplishing a greater goal — not giving up even when facing obstacles such as an injured shoulder and wrist and upper spine scoliosis.

Here is another way to look at this dilemma of doing an extreme pose versus listening to your body. I am a competitive tennis player and have been so since I was 15 years old.

For years, I thought if I hit the ball harder and outran all my opponents, I would win. Sometimes I did, often I did not. As I have aged and faced more and more tennis related injuries from my follies of youth and ego, I have come to realize that my best weapon on the court is control over my mind and body.  It is when I integrate breath, mind and body and calmly see the greater picture of the court including the ball, my opponents and my partner, that I experience the Zen of Tennis.

In a recent Yoga Journal article, Yoga teacher Tias Little explained that that most of us need to dial back our movements to 80% and mix in micro-movements with larger movements in order to prevent injury and rehabilitate from injury.  “Some somatic therapists suggest it’s the small movements that really open up the whole arena of the nervous system, because the slow and soft and small movements allow the brain to track what’s happening,”she said. The bottom line, according to Little, for all of us who want yoAndrea close up mountain pose 2ga to be therapeutic, is to track “sensation in each movement and take mental notes”.   In other words, we need to become the observer/witness as well as the participant in our own practice. I often tell my students that once they feel safe and understand what the pose looks like, to close their eyes and feel into the pose without the distraction of what others are doing. As in tennis, yoga and life –focus and awareness of your internal landscape first will help you sense the external world around you and interpret in a calmer more authentic way.

To experience my unique approach to Yoga, you can catch me Mondays at Gateway Country Club, Tuesdays at Chicos headquarters, Wednesday at Happehatchee (see website), Thursdays at Fyzical on Metro, Fridays at Happehatchee.  I am also available for one on one and small groups at your location. (click here for pricing and details)relaxing at Happe in Mountainbrook pose

I wish you health and joy in your day!

Namaste, Andrea

Tennis Golf Yoga ClassesOn Location Yoga Classes EsteroPrivate Yoga Classes Lee County

Heaven Lane Yoga – Designing custom yoga classes to meet your physical, emotional and health needs.

Ask me about Doterra Oils.  I can save you 25% and provide you with great, useful information.

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Balancing Your Chakras with Yoga and Essential Oils

Chakras

Chakras are fascinating and the more you learn about them, the more empowered you can become to heal yourself and thrive.

Throat chakraMy two favorite ways of working with chakras are through yoga poses and essential oils. I was first introduced to chakras (pronounced with a hard CH like cheese) during Yoga School in 2014.  I had a vague understanding that chakras (a Hindu word meaning Wheels) were associated with parts of my spine and that each chakra could be represented by a color of the rainbow.  My instructor filled in some of the blanks with an excellent book entitled The Book of Chakras by Ambika Wauters.  In it, I learned how chakras could be thought of as energy centers of your physical, mental and emotional bodies.  I took a chakra self-assessment to figure out which of these energy centers were blocked and need to be balanced.

I was shocked when my imbalance showed up in my throat chakra known a Vishuddha. I laughed.  Me — the person who majored in Communication, spent years as a broadcast journalist, then a lobbyist for environmental causes, then a school teacher.  I was known to my friends as someone who willingly would give them a candid, if not blunt, assessment of any situation.  I also was known as a good listener.  In fact, many friends and students called on me when they needed to vent.  As I re-read the description of the throat chakra , it finally dawned on me that what was blocking this wheel of energy was my belief that I had so much to offer the world and no one was listening.  I was teaching to mostly empty classes at that point in my yoga career.  Today my classes are generally full and I feel much more balanced as far as my throat chakra is concerned.

yoga-eoI continue to help my students learn more about the Chakra System and its role in physical, mental and emotional health.  Using the essential oils as I teach my students yoga seems to enhance their  practice. I only recommend doTERRA because they have no chemical fillers or other additives which can actually be harmful.  In addition, they are carefully harvested in a sustainable way. Here is a quick primer on doTERRA Essential Oils

  • They are pure therapeutic grade of oils extracted in an environmentally sound way from different parts of the plants—leaves, stems, flowers and roots.
  • Each oil has specific chemical properties that can be powerful tools in health if used correctly.
  • Oils can penetrate cells through topical use, aromatic use(smell) or through ingestion.
  • Oils, as opposed to most medicines, don’t have serious side effects and are safe .

In the next series of articles, I will be exploring the Chakras, Yoga and Essential Oils.

I wish you health and joy in your day!

Namaste, Andrea

Tennis Golf Yoga ClassesOn Location Yoga Classes EsteroPrivate Yoga Classes Lee County

Heaven Lane Yoga – Designing custom yoga classes to meet your physical, emotional and health needs.

Ask me about Doterra Oils.  I can save you 25% and provide you with great, useful information.

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Finding Zen in Tennis and in Yoga

Becoming one with nature in mermaid_edited-1sm

As I have watched the plethora of young yoga teachers in person or on line overdoing poses to find the perfect Asana, or even some of my  older yoga students stubbornly trying things that are not right for their bodies , I am reminded again and again about  the follies of ego and youth.

It is not the Asana we want to perfect but the control over our minds and integration of our mind, body and breath. Ask yourself this question, ” Do I have to do an extreme pose to accomplish this?”Dophin attempt at headstand

 

I liken this dilemma to what I have often experienced as a competitive tennis player.  For years, I thought if I hit the ball harder and outran all my opponents, I would win.  As I have aged and faced more and more tennis related injuries from my youth and ego follies, I have grown to realize that my best weapon on the court is control over my mind and body.  It is when I can integrate breath, mind and body and calmly see the greater picture including the ball, my opponents and my partner, that I experience the Zen of Tennis.  I had one of those moments recently.

So how does this relate to yoga.  Focus and awareness of your internal landscape is so much more important than trying to look like everyone else doing the pose. I often tell my students that once they feel safe and understand what the pose looks like,  close their eyes and then feel into the pose.Andrea Preparing for dd pretty picture

I read nearly every article that comes out on yoga safety.  I was recently reading about yoga to ease lower back pain. In the Yoga Journal 2015 article writer Bill Giebler wrote after attending a yoga session for lower pain, where the teacher Tias Little suggested that most of us need to dial back our movements to 80% and mix in micro-movements with  larger movements.  “Some somatic therapists suggest it’s the small movements that really open up the whole arena of the nervous system, because the slow and soft and small movements allow the brain to track what’s happening.” And really the bottom line, according to Little, for all of us who want yoga to be therapeutic, is to learn to track “sensation in each movement and take mental notes”.   In other words, learning to become both the observer/witness and the participant.

If you want to experience my mindful approach to yoga teaching, you can catch me twice a week at Happehatchee (Wednesdays at 11 am and Saturdays at 9 am), once a week at Fyzical on Metro (drop in rate just $7.00) Thursdays at 8:00 am, or if you belong to either Gateway Country Club or Vanderbilt Country Club, see their schedules.  Also I am available for one-on-one private or semi-private sessions at your convenience. Prices are listed on my website.

 

To learn more about my yoga and meditation offerings, please check out my website, my on-line profile through Thumbtack Professionals or my YouTube Videos.

I wish you health and joy in your day and in 2016!

Namaste, Andrea

Tennis Golf Yoga ClassesOn Location Yoga Classes EsteroPrivate Yoga Classes Lee County

Heaven Lane Yoga – Designing custom yoga classes to meet your physical, emotional and health needs.

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Andrea Trank
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Have mat will travel — deciding where you want to do yoga

1-26-16 Tarpon Beach Yoga (8)  600 dpi tallAs yoga’s popularity increases, there are so many opportunities to experience the amazing benefits of this practice.

How do you chose where to take your yoga classes?  Here is one yoga teacher’s mostly objective view on the pros and cons of the different venues.  I have taught in all of these settings.

1-26-16 Tarpon Beach Yoga (29) 600 wide

Yoga on the beach:  THE UPSIDE –beautiful scenery including sky and ocean, the smell and sounds of the sea, soft sand which is easy on the feet and knees, always available. THE DOWNSIDE: lack of privacy, hard to maintain your balance, weather conditions and bugs can sometimes be a factor and if you do not like the sand in your mat, this may not be your thing.

 

Yoga in an outdoor pavilion:  THE UPSIDE:  sounds of nature, beautiful scenery, yet protected from the elements, casual atmosphere, no mirrors, no make-up, come as you are.  THE DOWNSIDE: the equipfriends with yoga matsment is not pristine because it is out in nature, critters can make there way into the pavilion, harder to get to, limited class   schedule, can be very chilly or very hot and muggy.

 

Yoga in your country club: THE UPSIDE: convenient, friendly, affordable, everybody knows your name.  THE DOWNSIDE: often in a room that doubles as a dining area or has other types of classes so it can smell.  Often noisy as well. Lacking proper equipment and proper flooring sometimes.

 

Yoga in a gym:  THE UPSIDE:  Gyms are everywhere.  Yoga classes usually are included in the cost of your membership.  THE DOWNSIDE: noisy rooms, don’t always have the right equipment and teacher qualifications are not always as strict as other venues.Legsinairinfrontoffire

Yoga in a Yoga Studio: THE UPSIDE: Specially designed spaces with lots of amenities like props and mats, sound proof, good quality teachers.  THE DOWNSIDE: More expensive, often can be intimidating due to the beautiful yogis and the underlying glamour of a studio. Can feel cliquish.  You are either part of the “in” crowd or  you are not.

Private Yoga in Your Home: THE UPSIDE:  the comfort and convenience of your own home, no competition (except from your pets) or if you have small children.  Control of the cleanliness, go at your pace.  THE DOWNSIDE: private instruction is more expensive,  if you like a group for inspiration you might be lonely, and you need to hire someone you trust who has equipment or you will need to purchase your own equipment.

 

There you have it— a quick overview of the many yoga offerings out there.  And they are increasing all the time. My advice –sample the offerings. If you are a beginner and can afford it, take private lessons first so that you can get a firm foundation of  techniques of the poses and the breathing practices.  That way you will be safer when you join a class.  You will also be better able to decide which styles of yoga are for you and which teacher appeals to you.

To learn more about my yoga offerings, please check out my website, my on-line profile through Thumbtack Professionals or my YouTube Videos.

I wish you health and joy in your day and in 2016!

Namaste, Andrea

Tennis Golf Yoga ClassesOn Location Yoga Classes EsteroPrivate Yoga Classes Lee County

Heaven Lane Yoga – Designing custom yoga classes to meet your physical, emotional and health needs.

Connect with me!

facebook twitter etsy youtube instagram pinterest

Heaven Lane Yoga

Andrea Trank
Heaven Lane Creations
HeavenLaneCreations.com

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