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Our biggest obstacles can often come from a surprising source: ourselves! How often have I heard myself say “I can’t” or “That’s not me.”  These reactions are just stories I have made up over time. After a few years of regular yoga practice I am finding my stories are shifting, changing, and I am opening up to a lot of things I never thought possible.   One of the really important parts of yoga is svadhyaya – self study without judgement.   The hours I have spent on the mat have been like a little rectangular laboratory for my life in general.   I have found that over time, with practice, the obstacles I thought I faced faded away.   At first, I could never find my breath, or stick with it, my mind was so busy.  Now I adore breath work, and find it can calm me down easily.   Also, I used to look at some of the poses and  think… well…someday…?  Hahaha!   Then one day during practice, I would just pop up into a pose I thought was far out of reach for me. Isn’t it freeing to know yoga is a practice? Here are some other stories I have changed, despite perceived obstacles. I went to do my yoga teacher training at age 52.  I spent a month off-grid on a mountain, on a farm, in Costa Rica.  It was life changing.  I loved it. No I was not “too old” to do this.   Age is just a number. I somehow own a yoga studio!  My background is in public education.   It could be perceived as a pretty good fit, if being organized, being fascinated by people,  and building community are the prerequisites to owning a business.   I have learned to stop second guessing myself,  and make decisions with my heart and what feels right rather than telling myself that if I “knew more about business” I would know what to do.  I love Get Yoga and am so so proud of it. For a long time I told myself I still had brown hair.   Well, what a story that was!   An expensive, time consuming and itchy scalp story.  I don’t even know why, but one day in January I decided I had had quite enough of that. I grew out my (not brown) roots for 3 1/2 months and then got all the fake brown chopped off.  Hello freedom!   I like being who I really am, and my short silver hair does not fall into my face when I do downward facing dog. One of the biggest...

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Why Practice Pranayama?

Why Practice Pranayama?


Posted By on Feb 18, 2019

Pranayama changes the energy in the body.  When we adopt different breath patterns and techniques we can lengthen and deepen the breath, and bring more focus to the breath and its effects on our bodies and minds.   It is the fourth limb of yoga, and is intricately connected to all the other arms.  I absolutely love Pranayama, and it is not exaggerating to say it has changed my life. Why Practice Pranayama? -Slowing and deepening the breath causes a relaxation response in our mind and our body.  -Focusing concentration on a breathing technique stops the “monkey mind” of habitual thought patterns and can prepare us for a more meditative state. -Breath control and/or awareness during asana practice can deepen our physical and mental experience of the poses. -Each breath is a celebration of life.  To focus and notice the breath can feel luxurious, comforting, and can bring us right into the present moment when the mind wants to go to the past or the future. -It allows us to get to know a part of ourselves we take for granted. Fundamentals of Practicing Pranayama- Use with all techniques 1.  Find supported “tripod” seat, maintain long spine, open chest, relax into pose, notice breath 2. Warm up (Dirga/ujjayi- see below) , then add in a pranayama 3.  Always integrate afterwards. Sit/feel/notice with uncontrolled breath. What was effect? Warm ups: Dirga – 3 part breath -full inhale belly, ribs, top of lungs expand out, then exhale slowly and fully -Use to warm up, activate, bring awareness of breath Ujjayi – Ocean breath -slight constriction at back of throat, feels like fogging up a mirror, but with mouth closed, air still flows freely -Use to warm up, activate, bring awareness of breath, as we hear it -pratyahara (inward focus) Techniques: Nadi Shodhana – Alternate nostril breath -meant to bring relaxation and balance to the body and mind Method -Thumb on right nostril gently, Inhale fully through left nostril -Ring finger covers left nostril, thumb releases from right, exhale right, inhale right -Thumb covers right, ring finger releases left, exhale left, inhale left -Switch sides- always before the exhale -Continue for a few rounds, slowing down breath. Finish with exhale on left side. -return to regular breathing, integrate Option 1: -add a breath retention after each inhale. Breath patterns and ratios 1.  1:2 Ratio breath – the exhale is twice as long as inhale  (e.g. inhale 3, exhale 6) 2.  1:1:2 ratio breath – inhale 3, retain 3, exhale 6 (or any other count with this ratio) 3.   (1:1:1:1) square breath equal length inhale, retention, exhale, pause. visualize moving around the 4 equal sides...

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Here is an article from Elite Daily that Brendon had the privilege of contributing to.  It’s a really good read and highlights some of the main benefits that a long term yoga practice will yield. Every time you roll out your yoga mat, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to learn all sorts of lessons. Sure, you thought you were going to yoga class to perfect your tree pose, but instead, you emerge from the studio with a heaping dose of newfound knowledge about yourself, others, and the world around you. If you stick with your practice and keep an open mind, there are so many life lessons you’ll learn from yoga — after all, you are your own best teacher, and each time you get on your mat, you’re meeting and rediscovering yourself in totally new ways. Read...

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Foreword This Week July 12, 2018 Reviewer Jessie Horness Holds the Question-&-Answer Pose with Brendon Abram, Author of Teaching Trauma Sensitive Yoga The East-meets-West thing has been so mislabeled and abused over the years it ought to be retired, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an effective way to describe the bounty of knowledge Asia has bestowed upon Europe and the Americas and vice versa, in addition to the creative fusion of cultural traits between the two spheres. From Buddhism to sushi, the list of benefits shared by Asia is lengthy, but—with twenty million practitioners in the US and many millions more across the Atlantic—can we do better than yoga when searching for the most important gift of all? Especially with numerous studies showing increasing levels of stress disorders affecting young and old alike in Western society, yoga’s ability to deliver periods of tranquility only means the practice will grow in popularity over here. This week we’re blessed to hear from Brendon Abram, a veteran who discovered yoga during his military years and hasn’t looked back. The author of the recently released Teaching Trauma Sensitive Yoga: A Practical Guide(North Atlantic Books), and a yoga purist with a soldier’s mindset, Abram recognizes that “when it comes to offering yoga, ‘practical’ means to keep it simple, which can be accomplished by sticking to the basics. … By keeping something from becoming too complex, we reduce the opportunity for misunderstanding and misdirection. My intention in the book was to remind readers that it is these basic principles that are the most important.” Abram now travels the country working with PTSD sufferers and sexual assault victims—perfectly showcasing the East-West “creative fusion” mentioned earlier. Trauma, he reminds us in the book, is an extreme level of stress. Foreword Reviews is also blessed to have Jessie Horness, an experienced yoga teacher, on our review staff. When her review of Teaching Trauma Sensitive Yoga came back for our July/August issue, we knew the two yogis had much in common, and much to talk about—the exact formula for a Foreword Face Off. Look for Special Features and Featured Reviews below the interview. First, I’m wondering if you might expand a bit on your relationship with yoga practice. While it’s clear from your writing that you’ve had direct experience with how powerfully healing yoga practice can be for trauma, I’m curious how you first came to this realization. Could you share a little more about your first experiences with yoga, what inspired you to keep practicing, and, later, teach? I was still serving with the military when I found yoga in 2006. I was in a situation where I was working and living away...

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Cape Dorset Nunavut. The landscape is a metaphor for mindfulness. An infinite expanse of time and space.  Awareness and acceptance of present moment experience is a stark reality. In this inspirational setting, I recently had the privilege of working with Cape Dorset school teachers to explore the benefits of mindfulness. School boards across Canada have begun to adopt a mindful approach to education by implementing the Mind Up Curriculum. A University of BC study has shown that the Mind Up program helps students develop self awareness, self management abilities, social awareness, relationship skills and a capacity for decision making. When schools decide to adopt the Mind Up curriculum it is the classroom teachers who bear the greatest responsibility for integrating it into daily classroom activities.  And although it may seem obvious that teachers should have an opportunity to directly experience what they are expected to teach ahead of time, this is not always the case. Recognizing the importance of practicing what you teach, and with the intent of empowering teachers to serve as mindfulness models for their students, Cape Dorset sponsored a two and a half day mindfulness workshop where teachers learned and practiced basic mindfulness skills. Schools around the world need this!! People need this! Since the workshop all we have been talking about the shift we have felt in our own selves, and how powerful it is to actually be mindful of our own bodies, and to explore emotions and thoughts non-judgementally. Something we were all missing! A workshop participant Simply by practicing mindful movement (yoga), breath, and meditation the Cape Dorset teachers directly experienced the benefits that mindfulness brings.  After just two days people were more relaxed, sleeping better at night, and were outwardly inspired to explore ways they could incorporate mindfulness into their personal lives, their classrooms, and into the culture of the school. As a mindfulness practitioner and teacher I found it both gratifying and inspiring to witness the awakening that Cape Dorset Staff experienced and really hope to have an opportunity to share this experience with other schools and teachers.  I sincerely believe that our children are our future.  The path to a more peaceful world will be shaped by kind and compassionate people who take the time to think and respond rather than to simply react. My experience in Dorset leaves me without any doubt that schools, and teachers, can play an important role in making this happen. So if you are an educator and would like to experience mindfulness for yourself please let us know.  We would be happy to get you started so you can experience mindfulness first hand and develop an understanding for the ways it can be used for the benefit of all in a...

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One of the most gratifying aspects of being a yoga teacher is to witness the capacity of yoga to effect positive change in the lives of the people who practice it. Every time I see a student grow in one way or another I grow a little bit too. Yesterday when I read this email I grew a lot!   Dear Brendon I don’t know if you remember me or not, but I wanted to let you know how well I am doing and cannot thank you and yoga enough for helping me. I was that woman that had the bad arm due to cancer and lyphmadema. I am sorry that I cannot get my schedule around yours, but I do my routine everyday without fail. I have reduced my arm by 2cm in two places and no longer have fluid in my hand. This is a big thing! I can now hold a plank with little effort, touch the floor with the flat of my hand. I do all the warrior positions and have added squats and lots of stretches and breathing excercises. Even my overall body shape is changing…all for the good and I love the way it makes me feel and look. I have passed my “5” year mark cancer free. My surgeon was amazed at the mobility I have in my right arm.. He said most patients do not recover half of it. I am now working on the boat pose. Half way there. As I conquer one, I add another. I hope you can pass this on to any other cancer survivors you might happen to encounter.   Wow! I continue to be amazed by the power of yoga. I started thinking of some of the other people I know who have changed their lives for the better through the power of yoga: The veteran with PTSD who came to terms with the events of his past, found meaning and joy through living life in the present moment, and went from 330 lbs to 180 lbs in little over a year. A stressed out man who carried so much tension in his body that he could barely move into the most basic poses. Within 6 months he sleeps through the night, has much lower blood pressure, and significantly more mobility and flexibility. A young woman quick to find fault finds a measure of inner peace and tolerance for others. A man with chronic pain who was so uncomfortable he could not sit still for one minute can now meditate peacefully for almost half an hour. A lady who arrived at each class appearing agitated...

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“Peace Comes from within.   Do not seek it without.”  Buddha Want more happiness in your life? Change your filter! Sometimes it’s easy to see the joy and the beauty in our lives. Sometimes it’s a little harder. What if we could find more peace and contentment even during the ups and downs of daily life?  We can.  It’s just a matter of changing our filters. First of all we have to realize that life is not coming at us.  It’s actually coming from us.  Everything that our senses perceive passes through the filter of our past experiences. Because of this we can create our own suffering.   We are so conditioned to react in certain ways to certain things that we don’t realize that our negative reactions and bad feelings are actually coming from us, not the situation.   If we can start to look at life through a new filter, it is possible to reduce that conflict and stress. Here’s an example of how it can work: Say you are running late for work and run into the grocery store for a couple of items to eat for lunch. The person in front of you is taking forever counting out his change, dropping it, and chatting endlessly with the cashier. Maybe you hate being late. Big trigger.  This additional delay gets all your stress hormones going and you find yourself all worked up and feeling really frustrated with the situation. Stuff happens.   And this situation you are in is not going to change one bit just because you are feeling frustrated.   All you can change is your reaction. Let’s take a look at the filter here. What if we looked at this situation through a filter of GRATITUDE. Really? Yes. Let’s see how this could work. First, take a few deep breaths to calm yourself down. You know, the kind we practice in yoga class. It works. Ahh, that feels better! Then think “THANK YOU.” How can we find gratitude in this situation? Lots of ways: -Thank you for teaching me patience. -Thank you for teaching me it is not wise to run into the grocery store when I am already late. -Thank you for reminding me that I need to get up 10 minutes earlier in the morning so I won’t make myself late. It feels a lot better to breathe and think “thank you” than the alternative- blaming, frustration, and stress. It actually feels quite peaceful. In the end, by looking through a filter of gratitude, we have reduced our own suffering. In yoga this is part of the concept called saucha, or contentment. ...

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