Sunday, December 25, 2011

It was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness

So Danielle Lee, a New York based yoga teacher described this time of year so well by quoting Charles Dickens' famous lines; "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair..." . 
This Christmas is different. It's the first one without my father, and I have missed him profoundly the last couple of days. And despite the sorrow there is also much light and beauty; celebrating with my nephews fill me with love, much laughter and a whole lot of lego building:)

It is as if life's different aspects become clearer, sharper, more raw these days. The grief is more intense, the beauty even more beautiful. I love that a day can contain it all, just as much as I love diversity and complexity in other beings.

And amidst the people, food, presents, grief and laughter that fill these Christmas days,  I have my pratice. This lovely pratice that leaves me feeling peaceful and at ease. I roll out my mat and start moving; slowly, softly. These are not the days of a vigerous yoga style. By linking breath and movement; gently opening, streaching, releasing, I feel more equipped to handle all the different aspects of emotions that this season contains. 

So, where ever you are, whether you feel drained emotionally or just physically by eating too much ribbe and marispan; see for yourself how it feels to roll out your mat and gently start linking your breath with your movements. No need for a long practice, just simly tap inwards, reconnect with your body and your mind for a few minutes every day this holiday season. And notice how that makes you feel afterwards. 

I hope your Christmas is one of light and love.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The morning wind

The morning wind spreads its fresh smell. We must get up and take that in, that wind that let us live. Breathe before it's gone.


Dreamy and beautiful

Morning Bliss

I started my day bright and early with a 90 minutes practice of Ashtanga yoga. It was still very dark out, my body felt unnormally stiff and my joints achy, but after moving my body and breathing deeply my joints became gradually lubricated and by the third Surya Namaskara B, sweat was dripping from my forehead and I had forgotten all about how appealing my bed seemed when the alarmclock rang earlier on.
Ah, the beauty of a morning practice!
Although my practice is concistent, and I do my yoga 6 out of 7 days a week, I rarely do it in the mornings. I normally prefer late afternoons and evenings. But there is truely something to be said about getting down on your mat in the early hours of the day, when the only light you see are the flickerings of the candles in front of you. There is a special energy this time of day, and although the body is more stiff in the mornings our minds tend to be calmer and more receptive to go into a deeper meditative state.

My practice this morning was deep, sharp and fullfilling, and with my sences being stronger, my body smoother and my mind harmonious; it made the best foundation for the rest of the day.
So this is my yogic challenge to myself, and to you dear yogis. I will get up earlier than usual each morning until Christmas, roll out my mat, light my candles and start my day with this dynamic form of meditation. As you might know, I am not an Ashtanga practitioner; I practice and teach vinyasa flow (a dynamic form of yoga, where, like in Ashtanga, breath and movement are linked together but there is no specific sequence one follows each time). However; Ashtanga has a strong appeal to me; so I will for the next 6 weeks start my day with the Primary Series of Ashtanga. I want to commit to it until Christmas, so that I can go deeper and further, and to get a better understanding of what it's all about I believe that concistency over an extended period of time is the key.

I also challenge you to take on a morning routine of your own, each morning until the holidays. Not necessarily a 90 minutes Ashtanga practice; how about rolling out your mat, doing some rounds of Sun Salutations before you sit down for a seated meditation or some pranayama (breathing excercises) for 5 or 10 minutes. And see what happens as you start your day by breathing, moving, meditating. It sets such a good tone for the rest of your day!

Early winter mornings are tougher than bright summer mornings, but luckily there are things to do that make them smoother; Light candles, a lot of them. Drink a cup of hot water with some lemon, ginger and honey or your favourite tea before you start your practice. Make sure you're warm; so cover your body with warm clothes, and remove layes as you get warmer and start moving. If you're very cold and your joints are achy, a hot shower can feel good. Remember to practice on an empty stomack. My sences are stronger after yoga, and food always tastes better when I've practice. So after you've rolled up your mat, make something nutritionous and tasty for yourself, sit down in reverie and enjoy every bit before moving on out into your day. And maybe you'll find that there is yoga in everything. That yoga is not simply just a verb; something that you do but also a state of being.

Happy Blissful Mornings everybody <3

And if you're in class please don't hesitate to ask; I'll gladly make a morning sequence for you!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Peace Piece

Bon Iver - Holocene (Official Music Video)

Such a great Sunday tune by wonderboy James Blake

My Lovely (gluten and sugar free) Fall Muffins

Ah, just got back from a lovely cabintrip in the forest with sweet girlfriends. I baked some muffins that were such a success, so I figured I should share the recepie with you here.

I normally bake without recepies, failing and trying until I get the results that I want, but this time I used a basic muffin recepie that I found, and turned it into my very own delicious gluten-and sugar free apple-apricot-rasberry muffins. Unfortunately I haven't bought a camera yet so there's no pictures to show what they looked like, but imagine them in the fall colours of red, yellow and orange. With slight sprinkles of coconut and cinnamon on top. Yum!

This recepies makes about 23-30 small muffins. Remeber not to stir the dough too much if you like your muffins on the fluffier side.

Here we go;

250 gr of melted butter
about 8 dl of flour; I mixed Buckwheat, Coconut and Hazelnut flour
4 tsp baking soda
3 tsp of Fiberhusk (psyllium seeds)
2 tsp linseeds (linfrø) (soaked in water over night, or crushed in a morter)
about 1/2 a cup of Sukrin (or Stevia) and 3 tsp of Yacon Syrup
about 4 dl of unsweetened soy milk and greek youghurt ( mixed together)
2 lightly beaten organic eggs (room temperature)
2 organic apples, sliced in pieces
about 10 dried apricotes, pre soaked, and cut into small pieces
1/2 a cup of frozen rasberries
vanilla seeds and 2 tsp of cinnamon mixed in the dough, plus some extra cinnamon and coconut sprinkled on top of the muffins.

Preheat the oven; 200 C, 15-20 mins, medium shelf. I used small muffin cups and filled them 2/3 full.

I started by soaking the apricots in hot water for about 20 mins. Then I melted the butter.
I mixed all the dry stuff together first, before I lightly stirred in the melted butter, the beaten eggs (done in a seperate bowl) and the soy milk and youghurt.

Then I carefully added the sliced apricots, apples and rasberries (frozen).

I let the dough sit for about 20 minutes before I put the muffins in the oven, for the dough to become fluffy and lighter.

These muffins tasted SO good, they were coved in the fall colours of red, yellow and orange, and dear reader; they're quite healthy;

High in fibre from the seeds, probiotic from the yoghurt, antioxidants from the berries, gluten and sugar free (except from the natural sugars from the fruit and berries). Both apples and dried apricots have low GI, so these muffins are great for diabetics, ladies with hormonal imbalences and others who are interested in keeping their blood sugar levels stable.

Enjoy these fall muffins hot out of the oven, with a lovely chai, a blanket and preferably a fire place next to you <3

Monday, October 10, 2011

Breathe, surrender, let go

Picture and link to an article about hipopeners from Yoga Journal. Informative and suitable for this week's focus, which is; yes Hipopeners. Hope to see you during the week!

Blissful Mondays

I love Mondays! A few years ago, those words would not have been uttered in my mouth, nor typed. But these days I cherish the first day of the week. I start my week with an office yoga class, bright and early, and like today when I'm walking down the street towards the company where I teach, I love the feeling of a new week unfolding. New and fresh, with a lot of potential a head. And there's something about sniffing in fall's crisp morning air. And getting up early. When the city's still asleep, it's dark out and the only light comes from the candles you've lit. A cup of hot tea and just listening to the special sound of silence that you only find in the very first hours of the day. Morning bliss. Monday bliss.

My job as a yoga teacher gives me so much satisfaction, and I love that I can achually make a living out of my passion. I am living my dream.

Yesterday I deactivated my Facebook account, and felt an immediate sence of freedom and release. Beacause FB doesn't really bring me much of substance, a part from one, very cool music group. (Widen my musical horizon, please. Check it out, it's open to everyone, filled with great tunes!) Maybe I'll feel the desire to come back soon, but until then life seems more beautiful and real without it.

I broke my camera recently, but as soon as I get a new one (Ah, dreaming of a Leicha V Lux-30) I'll start posting pictures for weekly sequences.

Yoga Journal have several good sequences and tips for your home practice. Check out this link for a little yoga destressor at your desk;

This week's physical focus will be HIPOPENERS. We'll work on the consept of creating space; Noticing the pause between breaths. The pause between moving in and out of the different asanas. Imagining the pauses beteen the poses as achual poses. Can you reside in the pause?

So come flow with me this week. My dynamic flow classes are juicy, challenging and fun with a long yummy restorative relaxation at the end of class. In my other flow classes, we move more slowly, going deep into our practice and listen to the sound of silence. We need a little bit of both, so check out my weekly schedule at, and find the class suitable for your needs and desire<3

Go comfortable in the direction
of your dreams,
live the life you have

As you simplify 
your life,
the laws of the universe
will be simpler:
solitude will not be solitude
poverty will not be poverty,
nor weakness weakness.

Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Do what you love and do it often

Yoga heals

How long it has been. I've felt a desire to blog for a while, but much has happened the last few months so I haven't had the inspiration nor the energy. Until now.

Life happened, as it tends to do; I lost my beautiful father on a rainy day this August. I was so very fortunate to be with him, next to his bed the night before he passed away, and I was sitting by his side as he took his final breath. One of the strongest, sadest and yet most beautiful moments of my life. I experienced a great peace in the moment of his transition from this life into something, somewhere new.

The days and weeks following his death have been filled with sorrow and yet much beauty. And in the midst of it all I've had my yoga practice. Of wich I am so very grateful. I find much shelter, peace, therapy through this practice. When things seem unbearable I breathe, move my body, find the soft spot, a gentleness; and then the pain becomes less intense, and sometimes it transforms into something else all together, something good.

"Yoga teaches us to cure what need not to be endured
and endure what cannot be cured."
BKS Iyengar

For my teaching schedule this week, check out my webpage

I am looking forward to sharing all the different layers of this beautiful practice with you, this time from a different continent:)

Sweet dreams

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Beauty of a Home Practice

My stay in New York merely consisted of yoga, yoga and yes...some more yoga. The Teacher Training and my practice were my only focus and concerns, so for half a year I was fortunate, so very fortunate, to be able to fully emerge myself into my practice; 6 days a week, sometimes (more often than not) two classes a day, I got to study with great teachers, established a steady pranayama and meditation practice, ate wisely and almost didn't touch a drop of alcohol. And I spent many hours reading books about everything from anatomy, philosophy to the history of yoga.

One of the first things I did when I returned to Oslo a month ago, was to roll out my mat and do a very gentle practice (which felt soo nice after somewhat of a jet lag and tight shoulders after carrying all my suitcases.)
But I mostly did my practice that morning as a reminder to myself that I have my yoga with me at all times. Before moving to New York I had a very consistent home practice, and I needed to reassure myself of what I already knew; 'nothing more than rolling out my mat is required for your practice to happen'. The real juice and depth of this practice often lays in our own home practice. Why? Because if we first get past the obstacles of the lack of self discipline; practicing alone can really open us up to an intuitiveness of what the body needs and where it wants to move. Some days what you need is a vigorous and intense practice, whereas other days your body and mind need a slooow honey-like flow. Some days you feel like practicing in silence, and there are other days where Led Zeppelin is a great accompany for your Virabhadrasanas (Warrior Poses). One of the many positive side effects from my practice is that it's become easier to tap into the wisdom that resided within, the place inside of me which knows what I really need; whether it regards my body, relationships, food, lifestyle choices etc.

I think Erich Schiffmann describes the moment when yoga became 'his' so clearly in his book Yoga, The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness;
 "...It took me a while before I was able to describe what had happened, but as I look back, I can see that this is when yoga finally became mine. I finally "got" how to to yoga. It finally became clear. It's internal. It's a way of listening inwardly and of being guided from within. Therefore, put simply, the basic technique is to go within and listen and then do as the within is prompting you to do. I had learned from Joel how to learn from my own practice and thereby be my own best teacher, rather than always going to someone else for information, inspiration or technique.  Yoga was no longer just a dicipline, no longer something I did "because it's good for me" or because it might help get my head together. It became an inspired, creative act- more meaningful and more fun!"

The first week after my return was a whirlwind of happiness, friends and family, late nights, good food, wine and the flue. I took some days off practicing and experienced some difficulties motivating myself once the flue was gone. I then remembered a great tip I got some years ago; Simply roll out your mat and see what happens. And just let it lay there for the days to come. And YES, such a great tip. Before long I was back into my dedicated practice again. There are mornings where it feels more like a hassle where all I see is the dust underneath the sofa, but usually after I've practiced for a while, my mind settles down, I find the moment of stillness where all there is, is my body and my breath, right here right now. And afterward, blissful, sharp and happy, I remember again why it is that I am so drawn to this lovely practice.

If you want to start a home practice but aren't completely sure about how to sequence, here are a few tips that might be helpful: ( I advise you to take an intro class or some hours with a qualified teacher if you are completely new to yoga. Alignments principals, breath awareness and general information about health concerns are best explained face to face, and not through the internet).

-Don't necessarily aim for a 90 minute practice. Anything goes, and you can reap great benefits from a 20 minute practice. Think of your home practice as a little extra bonus next to the classes you take. Finding the self discipline to do yoga alone can be challenging, and therefore aiming for shorter time in the beginning may seem more duable.

-Practice in a clean spot and remove any unnecessarily clutter on the floor.

-Have a blanket or two handy, and other props such as blocks and a belt if you need it. If you don't have yoga props at home; improvise:) Towels, belts etc will do the trick.

-Turn off your cell phone and make sure that you can remain undisturbed.

-This is an example of a 30-40 min well-rounded practice; I'm assuming that you already have some experience with yoga as I'm not explaining transitions or alignment points.

-Use some moments to arrive, sit in Sukhasana (legs crossed, spine upright, palms resting on thights) close your eyes and just start by noticing the present moment. Tap into your breath, make an intention for your practice, chant OM or simply sit with eyes closed for a couple of moments and just be.

- Come on to all 4, do some rounds of CAT/COW -> Adho Mucha Svanasana (AMS); Downward Facing Dog-> Plank->AMS->Plank->AMS-> walk hands to feet-> roll up vertebra by vertebra and step in front of your mat-> Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

-Some rounds of your prefered Sun Salutations (SS); for ex 3 SS A and 2 SS B. (If this is Greek to you check out Sun Salutations A and B (Surya Namaskara A, B) on You Tube.
Sun Salutations create heat and stamina, linking each movement with the breath.

-Tadasana with eyes closed, focus on the breath and see if you can tap into any potential shift of energy now.

-The follow up your practice with a Standing Sequence; For Example: Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior 2), Peaceful Warrior, Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle), Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon), Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle).
Link poses together, hold for shorter time (under 5 breaths) or longer (maybe 10 breaths), take vinyasas (Plank; Chaturunga, Upward Facing Dog, Downward Facing Dog) through the different poses or go straight back to Downward Facing Dog.
Make sure to do both sides; both left and right. And just see if you can listen to your body and what you need. Think free flowing and less rigidity. If you miss something, if you don't really get it; simply tap into your breath and think about linking your breath with movement, like a moving meditation. (Remember that you can always ask your teacher any questions you might have next time you're in class, I'm sure he or she will be glad to share some tips about starting a home practice; I know I would:)

- After your standing Sequence come to stand in front of your mat in Tadasana and move into a standing balance pose like Vrksasana (Tree Pose). Both sides.

- Then take a vinyasa or go straight back to AMS, Downward Facing Dog -> Jump through to sit (or just sit down) -> a Simple Backbend like Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) 3 times, followed by Apanasana (Knees to chest); Supta Padangusthasana w/belt (Reclining Big Toe pose) and Thread the Needle.

(-If you have an Inversion practice, use your blanket(s) and come up to Halasana (Plow) followed by Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand)-> Halasana.)

-Simple spinal twist followed by Savasana. (For as long as you like).
-End seated in Sukhasana as you started with your eyes closed. Return to your intention or chant OMs. Palms together in front of your chest, bow down the mind to the greater wisdom of the heart and thank yourself for having practiced yoga. Namaste <3

(I am going back to NYC in a week and I'll stay for the entire month of April. Will be back in Oslo teaching full time from May 9th.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces

I've decided to go back to Oslo next Thursday, which means that I have another 7 days to enjoy my lovely NYC before returning to Snowland, where dear friends and family await. Alas, the yoga sequences and the tips about the city that I wanted to post soon, will be postponed a bit longer since I'll be busy packing and preparing for my departure. I will of course continue to write from Norway as I really enjoy writing my blog; this outlet where I get to write about my passion for yoga.

And when April comes I'll be back in NYC again, just in time to see the leaves in Central Park turn into shades of light green. Although NY is freezing cold these days, I have a feeling that spring is in the air already. People's faces are more open and smiley as they pass me by on the streets, the days are longer and the sun is shining.

If you feel that you need some more light and sunshine in the last remains of your winter days, try some heart opening and uplifting backbending sequences in your home practice. We did a lot of them in Carrie's class tonight and I left class feeling happy and light as a feather.
Dwi Pada Viprarita Dandasana; a young Mr Iyengar in Light on Yoga and us in class tonight. 

The cold weather and heavy clothing can make your body compress, almost as if you're shrinking, so it truly feels great to expand your limbs and open the chest. 

Enjoy the remains of your week, may it be filled with light and glimpses of spring!

Monday, February 7, 2011


Smile, breathe and go slowly.
Thich Nhat Hanh

Even though I practiced Pranayama before coming to NYC, my practice was never consistent. When I did have the discipline to do it however, I always felt better after. But it wasn't until I moved here that I got a regular Pranayama practice. Like with meditation it takes consistency and regularity to be able to master the art of yoga breathing, but don't let that discourage you from doing it every not and then if that's all that works for you. You can still experience benefits such as deeper states of relaxation, feeling balanced and a heightened level of concentration. Or as Mr Iyengar puts it in his "Light on Pranayama", p.10: "The  practice of Pranayama develops a steady mind, strong will-power and sound judgment."

Here's a little knowledge refreshment for my yogi readers, and perhaps some new information for my non- practitioner friends, before moving on to the techniques.
Many people living in Western societies today mostly associate Yoga with Asana (the physical postures we do in Yoga), perhaps not aware that when we speak of the discipline of Yoga; Asana is only one of its eight limbs or stages. Pranayama is another.
The path of Yoga is a scientific, systematic and spiritual approach that can help us live harmonious, better and more meaningful lives, and might ultimately lead to liberation; a state of pure bliss.
The Eight limbs of Yoga are different guidelines that together form the structural framework for our Yoga practice, prescribed by Patanjali; often considered the father of Yoga.

These different stages are:
  1. Yama: Universal morality, like Ahimsa; nonviolence
  2. Niyama: Self observances and self discipline
  3. Asana: Physical postures
  4. Pranayama: Breathing techniques
  5. Pratyahara: Control of the senses
  6. Dharana: Concentration
  7. Dhyana: Meditation
  8. Samadhi: Complete absorption, union with the Divine, Bliss
Pranayama, the art of Yoga breathing, is often described as control of the life force; Prana. BKS Iyengar writes in his book, "Light on Pranayama" that;
"'Prana' means breath, respiration, life, vitality, energy or strength. [...]'ayama' means streach, extension, expansion...restraint or control. 'Pranayama' thus means the prolongation of breath and its restraints." p.13.

With that said, here are some things to have in mind before practicing Pranayama:

-Many people find it beneficial to do Pranayama after their Asana practice as the body is warm and the joints lubricated. The physical practice makes it easier for the body to sit still for an extended period of time. The mind is also often more still and relaxed after Asana, which makes Pranayama easier.

- Practice on an empty stomach.

-Take some time before starting Pranayama, allowing your focus to settle within.

-Sit up with the spine upright. If this is challenging for you, try sitting with your back against a wall. Sit upright yet without hardness and rigidity.

-Keep the knees below the hips so elevate the floor if necessary by sitting on blankets (if in Sukhasana or Siddhasana) or sit on a block in Virasana.

-Broaden across the collarbones, shoulder blades rolled up and down the back. Soften the heart and relax the facial muscles.

-Change the crossing of your legs if they fall asleep, or stand up and move a bit if it becomes unbearable before continuing.

-Know that you can also do Pranayama laying down on your mat with a bolster or blankets behind your back to open your chest. Make sure that your chin is slightly tucked in towards your chest (you can also place a little rolled up towel behind your neck). Legs straight, or bent w/ feet on the mat if knee issues, buttocks are also touching the mat.

-End with meditation and/or Savasana.

-I also want to mention that some schools of Yoga, like the Iyengar tradition, believes that one should have somewhat mastered Asana before starting a Pranayama practice, where as other traditions in cooperate these breathing techniques right away. 
The 3 different Pranayama techniques I'll share are some of the most common ones, many of you have probably been introduced to these in yoga classes already.

Seated Pranayama:
-Seated on blankets or block. Focus inward. Relax, take a few moments to arrive.
Then start w/ Ujjaji. (ca 5 min)
- Viloma 1(5 min)
- Nadhi Shodana (5 min)
- Seated meditation (5-10 min). Your meditation of choice if you already have a meditation practice. Or you can meditate by simply focusing on the area of your nostrils where the breath enters and exits. Whenever your mind wanders try to return to the focus of your nostrils without getting too wrapped up in your thoughts.
(More on meditiation later in another post).

Ujjayi w/deeper exhalations
"Victorious breath"

Start by narrowing the pass way in the back of the throat, making a whispering sound with your breath. Make the breath smooth and even and not too loud. Just loud enough that you, and maybe a person sitting next to you can hear it.Make your inhalations and exhalations smooth, and allow there to be a natural space in between the breaths. Notice this space.

After a couple of minutes with even breaths start deepening your exhalations. Make sure that this feels good and not forced. If it doesn't feel comfortable simply return to normal Ujjayi breathing or breathe naturally for a while.

Deeper exhalations than inhalations have a calming effect on our nervous system, and may promote a sense of well being and profound relaxation. It is a wonderful tool to use when feeling anxious or agitated.

Viloma 1

Breathing technique where the inhalation is divided into 3 parts with pauses in between each part, followed by one long, smooth, uninterrupted exhalation.

First inhale and exhale all your breath. Then start by inhaling 1/3 of your breath (on the count of 3) in your lower abdominal area, from the pubic bone up to the navel. Pause.
Inhale again (on the count of 3) from your navel up through the side ribs to the armpit chest area. Pause.
Inhale the rest of your breath (on the count of 3) from your chest up to the collarbones and throat. Pause.
The exhale all your breath from the throat all the way down on the count of 9.
(If you have the lung capacity you can amount the inhales to 4 and try exhaling on the count of 12).

Take a few belly breaths then repeat several times.

If you get a feeling of unease, simply stop and return to Ujjayi or normal breathing for a while before trying again. Like with all pranayama techniques; make sure the breathing is soft and never forced.

Nadi Shodana

Digital Pranayama, alternate nostril breathing.

This breathing technique balances the left and right brain (Ida and Pingala). It creates balance and a sense of equilibrium, and purifies and calms our nervous system.

Use the right hand, the thumb and the pinkie and ring finger on the nose. The pointy and middle finger bent into the palm. Make sure that you allow a slight bit of air to enter through the closed nostril.

First exhale all stale air from the lungs. Start by inhaling through the left nostril, closing the right one with your thumb. Then close the left nostril with the pinkie and ring finger, and exhale through the right. Inhale right, close, exhale left. Inhale left, exhale right.

Continue for several minutes like this. Smooth, even Ujjayi breath when doing this digital breathing, never forced. Allow a natural space in between the breaths.

After finishing this Pranayama sequence just sit and observe any potential changes in the body or the mind. Then follow with your meditation of choice and or Savasana.

Good luck! Feel free to ask if you have any questions <3

Thursday, January 27, 2011

NYC snow and a Sutra

As snow again covered the lovely streets of NYC, I found out that the best way to meet the winter day was to put on a soft pallet of spring colors, to help shed some brightness into the day. Instead of cursing the snow and longing for warmer weather I'm now pimping up the season by adding pastels:)

So from this shallow glimpse of my winter day in the city, I'd like to share a little food for thoughts; one of the Yoga Sutras that can relate to this;

When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite [positive] ones should be thought of. This is pratipaksha bhavana.

My friend and I won't be able to take the pictures until next week unfortunately, so the sequences will be posted late next week instead. In the meanwhile, find ways to pimp up your own winter days<3
Happy weekend to all.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The bliss pose, a lovely variation of Savasana

I wanted to share with you this lovely variation of Savasana (Corpse Pose)
while we're waiting for the sequences that I'll post later this week (one restorative and one more vigorous one). If you haven't tried this variation already you should, it's divine! Forgive the bad drawing, I just wanted to post it for you to get a sense of the pose.
You'll need 1 bolster, 2 blocks and as many blankets as you like. (If you don't have a bolster simply roll a couple of blankets together).

First unfold one of the blankets and lay it on top of your mat. Then sit down and place the bolster underneath your knees, let your legs separate and fall out to the sides. Place one block (keep the blocks on the lowest height) underneath each leg and close to the heels. Your feet are hanging freely in the air (which is so lovely, I get a floating-on-water-feeling from this since the feet are dangling in the air, weightless).
Then roll down to lay on your mat, lift your hips up slightly to move the buttocks flesh towards your heels, and then place your hips down again. This creates more space for your lower back. Now place one or two blankets on top of your abdomen for a grounding, calming effect. Cover yourself with another one if you tend to get cold easily.

Move the shoulders away from the ears, lift your head up slightly with your two hands to lengthen the back of your neck, and place the head gently down again. Arms can either come out into cactus arms, or lay them down a little away from the thighs, palms facing up. If you like you can cover your eyes with an eye pillow or a small towel. Some people prefer to use a little neck roll as well.

Fidget around a bit till you're comfortable, and then try to find your stillness. This is a pose in which you remain motionless for an extended period of time, and as opposed to sleep, your mind is fully aware and conscious. Allow your breath to be natural and soft. Relax and let go. There's nothing to do, nowhere to go so allow yourself to find stillness. (You might want to turn of your phone etc so that you can remain undisturbed while being in the pose:)).

If relaxation doesn't come easy for you today and your mind is wandering like a race horse, try a body scan;
Relaxing body part by body part, starting all the way from your right foot, up your R leg, knee, thigh, your R buttocks, the R side of your back, R shoulder, arm, hand and fingers. Then the left side. Then the neck, head, the whole back side of the body, the whole front side of the body, and then the whole body as one.

Let each exhalation help you sink further down into the ground.

Now, take your attention to your face and relax your facial muscles. Relax all the small muscles around your eyes, relax the area between your eyebrows, relax your jaw, let the lips be soft and full. Like my teacher Carrie would say; let your face be innocent and soft.

Stay in the pose for 5-20 minutes or longer if you like <3.

Just before you start moving your body again, see if you can tune your attention in to the more subtle experience of this state of relaxation. See if you can take your attention to the areas where your clothing touches your skin, the area of your nostrils where the air enters and exits, the area inside your palms, the air in contact with the skin, the eyelids touching, the lips touching. And now, see if you can take your attention to the inside; maybe you can get a sense of spaciousness, a sense of softness or a sense of quiet and calm.

When you're ready gently start moving your body again. Wiggle your toes, gently stroke the tops of your fingers with your thumbs. Reach your arms overhead, stretch yourself long, then hug the thighs into your chest and the gently roll over to your right side. Lay here for a little while before pressing yourself up into a comfortable seated pose, head coming up last. Going into a seated meditation from here is a wonderful option (More about meditation in another pose soon to come).

This bolster underneath the knees help support the lower back, so this is a great variation for those of you with lower back pain.