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
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.
Your Life is like a Mirror Reflecting your Own Thoughts Back to You!
How are your resolutions going? Have old habits crept back in without you being fully aware? Did you say January 1, 2016, “I am going to walk every day!” But a week later, you woke up feeling too tired or the dog threw up on your rug or you stayed up too late watching your favorite sports team? WHY IS IT SO DARN HARD TO CHANGE?
Two authors that I read regularly wrote about this dilemma recently. Deepak Chopra of international fame and locally, our own Yogi and Health Writer Nancy Loughlin.
According to Chopra, the reason why it is so hard to change, is because your habits are based on your mindset. “A mindset is like a worldview. It’s the lens through which you see life. A silent filtering process is going on. We let in certain experiences and censor others,” he points out. Every moment of every day we are filtering messages… saying yes, no or maybe not hearing them at all. While these things are happening unconsciously, you can make a conscious effort to retrain your mind. Here are Chopra’s five rebooting techniques.
- Reject Your Old Self
“Most people allow beliefs, opinions, likes, and dislikes to pop up by default. In any situation, their thinking isn’t centered on the present, but is a relic of the past. The self who originated old thinking doesn’t exist anymore.” Chopra says in his article 5 Ways to Overcome Past Conditioning. Use a mantra, which is a statement you repeat silently to yourself like… “I am not that person anymore” I try this all the time when I feel like I have been wronged. Mostly it works.
- Reject Default Attitudes
All of our experiences and our reactions to them leave an imprint on our mind. They are like a record groove. Some call it a karmic impression. According to Chopra, they are “like a microchip that sends out the same message over and over. It makes us respond the same way over and over also, which is the opposite of actually being real and present.” Just last week I was so angry about the way someone treated me, that my first reaction was to put this person in their place with some very choice words, but instead, I went home and did not say anything for several days. Finally, when I was approached about this situation, I realized that I had enough time to process, so that I could respond in a logical, more careful way. A piece of advice I was given years ago (by my husband the lawyer) was to throw out the first draft of any angry email I wrote. It helped me many times when I was responding to a parent who was upset over their child’s behavior in school. Nancy Loughlin in her article, Break the Cycle of Poor Decision making, (News Press Living Well, Feb. 2, 2016) advises to try a simple reboot when this happens with meditation.
- Listen to the People You Don’t Listen To
This is a doozy for those of us who are parents, because our children reject this advice out of hand. Chopra puts it so succinctly. “When you shut anyone out, you are censoring reality,” and he adds that people who seem very decisive are often quietly reviewing and seeking data from multiple sources before they make great decisions. Two heads are better than one, especially the one that is occupying your thoughts every day. When I was in college, I majored in communication. My research was on the way hostages were censured and how it affected their thinking processes. Many hostages came to love their captors because they were basically brain washed. If you only hear the same messages every day you are brainwashing yourself.
Chopra’s advice to overcome internal brainwashing is as follows “See yourself as a kind of human inbox, allowing as many viewpoints as you can to enter your mental landscape. A rigid mindset is soon melted this way,” he concludes.
- Favor Expanded Awareness
This is a tricky one because it involves stepping out of your comfort zone and many people like to be comfortable. Chopra puts it this way. “We draw back when we feel insecure and vulnerable. We are averse to the unknown and the potential risks that await us there. These are all symptoms of constricted awareness.” Loughlin suggests that you notice the circumstances surrounding your habitual negative reactions without judgement and create new positive reactions (record grooves) by responding differently than you might have in the past.
Here is another piece of advice that has helped me with changing old thinking patterns, when they are not working for me. I can go forward kicking or screaming hoping to stop the tide or I can, as Poet Donna Faulds puts it, “Use my energy to swim with the tide.” This leads perfectly into Chopra’s final piece of advice.
- Find the Way of Least Action
As an avid tennis player, I love Chopra’s metaphor on this one.” A tennis ball falls to earth in a simple curve, not a curlicue. An arrow flies straight to the target…If nature is always this efficient, using the least effort and energy as possible, why do we complicate our lives?” Oh my, this one hits a nerve. I have been told by my dearest friends and family, “I never seek the easy way!”
This is why many of us, including me, need meditation. According to Chopra, “When you encounter the silent depth of your mind, some problems dissolve automatically while others present new solutions… A life aligned with the laws of nature is easier.”
So it’s our choice– if our current ways of thinking and reacting are making our lives harder, why not free ourselves and try something new. With these five simple techniques, it might be easier than you think.
I wish you health and joy in your day and in 2016!
Heaven Lane Yoga – Designing custom yoga classes to meet your physical, emotional and health needs.
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