Yogic wisdom

Thinking about death to start living

FullSizeRenderI have been pondering end of life issues lately.  It’s no wonder with watching my step dad die and observing all the swirling issues and emotions that accompanied this event.  Illness and death are scary.  I have tiptoed through life – taking as great a care of my physical and emotional health as I can –to avoid the inevitable.  Even saying the word Death has been scary for me.  Doctor’s appointments have also been faced with dread.  I don’t think I am alone.IMG_7793

So how to face our mortality with the same sense of gusto that one faces life is what’s on my mind.

Here are a couple of ideas I have run across in my reading and reflecting.

Be like Steven Jobs and wake up every day and look in the mirror and say “If this were the last day of my life, how would I spend it?”  If you are doing things you love with people and animals you love and not aimlessly, mindlessly going through the motions of your day, then you might feel OK about death.

Staying present in the moment.  So much time is wasted regretting the past and worrying about the future.  Really all that does is waste the precious moments of the present.

Slowing down and breathing.  Observe the quality of your breath.  Notice your heart beating.  Watching my dad die left me in awe of the strength of breath and the heartbeat.  The rest of his body was withering – ten days with no food and only a few sips of water– and yet there he was with his eyes closed but his heart was beating and his breath was still coursing through his body.  Our bodies and soul are amazing.  So is our desire to live.  So for me, no resolutions for this year, just reflection and focus on how to live so I am not so afraid of dying.  Just reflecting “honestly upon our present reality and consider how to build” on what is right in front of us. Maybe finding some serenity in the process.

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I wish you serenity and peace in 2017.  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.

 

 

 

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.

 

Good teaching is important in Yoga

Attempting to do headstand without core strength is bad for my health

 

Not all yoga is therapeutic.  That is a controversial statement for a yoga teacher to make.  But with the onslaught of yoga programs in every gym and the dozens of yoga teachers graduating locally and thousands graduating nationally every year from studios  as trained yoga teachers, it is important for “buyers to beware”.

In an article I read recently on this subject, the author who teaches private students had this to say after helping her client. “What we came to understand in her session was that many of the poses, instructions, and approaches to fitness that she was encountering in her local yoga classes were aggravating her conditions rathMermaid collageer than alleviating them. Was this just because she was no longer 25? Not at all—I’ve seen the same kind of overuse and repetitive strain in people in their twenties, and even in teenagers. But for some reason, it is a common belief that yoga is exempt from the rules of cross-training and diversity of movement.”  Beth Spindler, Oct, 2015, Yoga International article But I thought all Yoga was Therapeutic

So what does good yoga teaching look like and why should you care.  Good teaching is good teaching.  I was a science teacher for 20 years and a yoga practitioner for as long.  That alone does not make me a good teacher. What does is I study my trade every week.  I prepare my yoga lessons.  I update my knowledge based on the latest yoga teachings and practices and  I also read the classics in yoga.  I try every pose out on my body first and when in class, I watch my students carefully and offer assistance and adjustments based on those observations.

In 2014,  I not only completed my RYT200 hour  yoga training  in a  7 month intensive and comprehensive program through Joyful Yoga, I also completed 30 week on-line Yoga Anatomy Course with one of the leading voices in yoga safety today.  The course was taught by  NY Yoga teacher and body worker Leslie Kaminoff, who was trained by TKV Desikachar, a Yoga Master who developed Viniyoga.   Viniyoga is a” highly individualized approach to yoga that tailors the practice to each student.”  Desikachar believed that “Yoga must be adapted to an individual’s changing needs in order to derive the maximum therapeutic benefit.”  (www.kym.org)

If you take my classes, here is what you will  not experience.  I will not give a generic correction for all students. Instead,  I will circulate the room, much the way I did as a school teacher which allows me to focus on each student’s individual needs.

I will not say “Tuck your Tail.” and “straighten your spine.” According to Yoga U, saying tucking one’s tail can be misleading, misunderstood and eventually lead to injury. Another confusing yoga cue that is often heard is “straighten the spine.”  Do we really want to take out all the natural curves of our spine?  Lengthening the spine may be a better way to say this and as Leslie Kaminoff  put it, “Lengthening whose spine?”Forward Fold Collage

One of the biggest lessons I learned through Kaminoff’s  course is  each of us experiences yoga poses slightly differently and that in order to guide a student to this understanding, a teacher must get the students to ask themselves questions such as, “What does lengthening the spine feel like to me?”  or “”Do I feel balanced? How does balance feel?”

In my humble opinion, the most important job of a yoga teacher might be to develop the students’ ability to read their own bodies. Most of us need assistance in developing  trust in our own intuition and body wisdom.  This wisdom includes developing the ability to realize when not to follow the teacher’s cues and to safely modify yoga asanas in a way that feels right.

To sum it up, yoga’s journey is personal and should allow for individual differences.  Ironically, this is the message I learned as I became an accomplished public school teacher many years ago.  The same adage equally works in yoga teaching “there is no one-size-fits-all education.”

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!

Namaste, Andrea

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Heaven Lane Yoga

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

Sorting through all the health tips

Healthy Eating

Transforming_Your_Lifestyle-Christopher_Sasha-cover-682x1024For years the experts that held our attention told us “Fat was bad” and to be healthy, one needed to go on a low fat diet.  I tried those diets several times… usually losing 10 to 15 lbs and then quickly regaining it. I finally found out why I kept regaining the weight. Last week during the Cultivating Wellness Summit that Ysmay Walsh and 42 Yogis presented, a speaker  named Christopher Sasha cleared up why eating  little or no fat will eventually lead to more weight gain.

As he explained, ( and I am simplifying  and paraphrasing here) when you stop eating fat, your body thinks it is starving, so it will store the fat you have in order to maintain survival.  This, Sasha explained, is a throwback to our cavemen days when the hunter gatherers might wait for weeks for food.  He also pointed out that the reason we often gain weight quickly after going off a diet is that your body is  smarter than you.  It is basically announcing to you…”Don’t you dare starve me again.  I will show you.”  So your body stubbornly holds on to the fat.  Sasha also explained that fat and muscles are incredible important parts of our body.  The muscles protect the mitochondria (our cell intelligence centers) and the fat protects pretty much everything else including our brains.

I am particularly interested in the role of fat protecting our brains as we see Alzheimers on the rise.  My mom and step dad are suffering, so I live with the horrible effects of this disease on a daily basis.  There is some research going on to see the  connection between the use of Statin drugs to lower our cholesterol and the rise of Alzheimers. (we are theoretically clearing our arteries out of fat, but quite possible,   we  are removing protective layers of fat as well)Brain coverings

This week in article from Yoga International’s Carrier Demers , I learned how to  figure out what fats to eat.  This is the simplest advise I have ever read on this.  The fat  you eat should smell like what the fat came from…i.e avocado oil should smell like avocados, olive oil like olives, peanut oil like peanuts.  You get my drift.  So when the vegetable oils and partially hydrogenated oils and poly unsaturated oils make their way  from the grocery shelves into our diets, our bodies do not recognize them as real food that can be used and digested, so guess what:  they sit there and clog up our pipes.  So on my Monday Menu,  I am eating carrots with natural peanut butter and drinking water with mint, lemon and ginger. Here is to making informed and healthy decisions for your body.

So I hope to see you on the  yoga mat, tennis courts or just around town.

Catch me teaching yoga at Soni Yoga on Tuesday mornings at 9 am and Happehatchee Wednesdays at 10 am and Saturdays at 9:30.

Yoga in Nature Happehatchee 2

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

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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