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.