Yoga benefits

The Holy Grail of Chakras

Crown chakra image

The Crown Chakra is the Holy Grail of Chakras—it’s the pinnacle—the highest level of your subtle energetic Chakra body

The seventh chakra is the connection between you, the world and whatever God you believe in.  And to be honest with you, it is not that attainable for most of us “everyday folk”.  But does that mean you should not try — no way. Enhancing your crown chakra in any shape or form will enhance your life. Raising your level of consciousness will ease “physical and emotional pain and release endorphins which create happy and blissful experiences for us,”  according to Ambika Wauters , who wrote The Book of Chakras. Chakras_map.svgAnd she adds, “Once we start living from and within the Crown Chakra, we start to be thankful for our lives exactly as they are.  … we accept  trials and hardships that have shaped our spirit.” In all of the readings I have done throughout my yoga training, it is the ritual of working toward higher levels of connection that enhance your live, not necessarily the goal of pure bliss or Samadhi as it is called in Sanskrit.  In fact, according to Vedic tradition, no goal can ever be guaranteed in yoga or life, so the daily practice becomes the goal.

In helping my students work the Crown or Sahasrara Chakra, which in Sanskrit means thousand petals, we spend more time in quiet reflection than in our other Chakra practices.  When I offer my students either doTERRA Rosemary  essential oil if they are having too many visions or Frankincense oil if they need assistance in accessing the higher realm, I invariably get few takers for the Rosemary and many for the Frankincense.

“Frankincense, considered a Holy oil, is used for meditative contemplation, for achieving tranquil states of mind, and for attaining spiritual liberation.  The spiritual and psychological benefits of Frankincense have long been recognized by many cultures and spiritual traditions. On a physical level, the oil of Frankincense helps with nervous system conditions. Because of the high levels of sesquiterpenes, a type of molecules that have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, Frankincense may help to oxygenate the pineal and pituitary glands, according to www.chakra-anatomy.com .Frankincense is so highly touted in treating a number of physical and emotional diseases and the medical community continues to research more and more of its health benefits.   To top it off, it smells great making it a top seller at doTERRA. Even though it is very expensive, I offer my students to try it topically to help with focus and meditation.frankincense banner

The Crown Chakra Yoga Practice

We do a variety of the hip and hamstring poses to get ready to meditate. See my  Youtube video on sitting comfortably in easy seat.

gentl neck stretch 300 by 225Andrea doing twist 300Tree pose 300dpi

Gentle neck stretches, side to side stretches and twists are done to make sure all blockages leading from the base of the spine to the crown of your head are cleared.  Tree pose is our balance pose to ensure our focus and connection with all living things.

An appropriate relaxation activity for activating the crown chakra is Yoga Nidra.  When I did thisyoga nidra image practice with my students recently, I had several students report some fascinating results.  One student reported being able to visualize the blue pointed star at all 61 points that I mentioned.  Another visualized a colorful Chinese dragon dancing.

I introduce my students to a variety of other ways to quiet their mind and feel connected to their higher self.  Visualizing the color purple,  chanting the OM sound or using either crystal bowls or a 108 bead mala to assist in meditating.  Each of us respond differently to the various approaches of this practice, so I give the students a sampling and encourage them to practice at home.  To find out more about my Chakra balancing series, please fill in this contact form.

 

 

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.

 

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.

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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

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.

 

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.

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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

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

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Learning to flow with life instead of fighting it

yoga jewelry blog post

Dealing with life in a healthy way takes practice and the Yoga mat doing asanas and meditation is a great place to get that practice.

Yoga is HappinessA New Harvard Study shows that Meditation actually increases the part of your brain associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection. “The participants spent an average of 27 minutes per day practicing mindfulness exercises, and this is all it took to stimulate a major increase in gray matter density in the hippocampus,” according to the article in Feelguide.

“Participant-reported reductions in stress also were correlated with decreased gray-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress. ” In other words, people who meditate  or participate in mindfulness activities like yoga  have more brain matter that helps them feel good and improves their quality of life.  Not a bad outcome for 27 minutes a day.

If you need more reasons to practice yoga, read on:

1. Development of flexibility is probably the first and most noticeable effect of yoga. Maybe when you started you could not touch your toes. With slow, careful and consistent practice, your muscles will loosen up. Eventually, your connective tissues and ligaments will feel more lubricated, which then could help alleviate back pain and pains in other joints.

2. Strong muscles – Many of the yoga poses look beautiful, but you might not know that yoga is considered one of the safest ways to develop strength. The strengthening is accomplished Andrea Yoga Blogwithout the loss of flexibility as is often the case with weight training. And because every pose is done equally on both sides, you remain balanced.

3. Lubrication of the Joints –When practicing yoga your joints are in motion, which helps to prevent degenerative arthritis. Joint tissues are a bit different than muscles tissues. They don’t have the range of motion that muscles do. In fact, they look different than a muscle, more like a matrix of fibers. A good analogy for joint tissue could be cotton candy.  Without moisture, they get stiff, but add moisture and they act like a sponge, absorbing fresh nutrients during the squeezing and gentle release. By keeping them lubricated, we are preventing them from developing a glue-like quality which over time further restricts movement.

4.Yoga can improve blood circulation. Yoga and other forms of exercise help supply cells with oxygen, in connection with which they perform their functions better. Twisting during yoga help to “squeeze” the venous blood from the internal organs and allow the oxygenated blood to flow more freely through certain Asanas such as twisting. Inverted postures help the flow of blood from the legs and pelvis to the heart and lungs, where it is enriched with oxygen again. There is a growing body of evidence that yoga can increase the level of hemoglobin and red blood cells, which deliver oxygen to the tissues, possibly reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

5. Yoga lowers cortisol levels. Normally, the adrenal glands secrete cortisol in response to an acute crisis, which temporarily enhances immunity. If the cortisol levels remain high even after the crisis, it could negatively affect the immune system. A temporary increase in cortisol levels improves long-term memory, but if your level of cortisol is kept at this level constantly (which occurs in people who feel stress much of the day), it may lead to a number of medical problems including major depression, osteoporosis (cortisol leaches from the bones of calcium and other minerals), high blood pressure and the body’s resistance to insulin. In addition, increased cortisol leads to overeating. The body converts extra calories into fat, contributing to diabetes and ailments associated with being overweight.

6.Yoga makes you more aware of where you are holding stress. The more you practice yoga, the more you become aware of your habits off the mat — like holding the steering wheel or tennis racket in a “death grip” or keeping your brow wrinkled or your face in a permanent frown. Many of these unconscious habits lead to chronic stress and muscle fatigue, and painful sensations in the hands, wrists, shoulders, neck and face. By practicing yoga, you start to notice which parts of the body have accumulated stress. It may be in the language of the eyes, the muscles of the neck and face. Gradually, you learn to relax those muscles.

7.Yoga gives our nervous system a break. The rhythm of modern life may force us to be in a state of constant excitement, which adversely affects the nervous system. Yoga can help you relax and calm down. Yoga practices such as yoga nidra (a relaxation process), Savasana (Constructed rest), pranayama (breathing practices) and meditation all give your nervous system a break, sometimes allowing you to stop focusing on your problems. This, in turn, may improve your ability to handle those problems and can lead to better habits such as eating better and getting enough sleep.

To sum it up, regular  yoga practice can  improve your body and your mind….reduce susceptibility to stressors (fear, anger, anger, regret, etc.) and make you a happier, nicer person.  Adapted from a post written by Anshul Malik of India in the Facebook group, The Yoga Room.

Catch me teaching yoga at Happehatchee Wednesdays at 11 am and Fridays at 9 (weather permitting). I teach ata Fyzical on Metro every Thursday at 8 am.  For more of my offerings, check out my yoga page.

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

You can reach me through the website contact form or by emailing me at andrea@heavenlanecreations.com .  By the way I live on Heaven Lane, so my company is aptly called Heaven Lane Creations.

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