Each of us has a unique and yet universal story that describes the path that led us to Yoga. Mine meandered in and out of my life until I was truly ready for it. My first Yoga class was in France. It was in the late 70s. I was teaching English in a middle school, Like many, I considered Yoga a stretching and relaxing form of exercise, an antidote to the stress of teaching. It was that, of course, but I failed to see the more significant side of this ancient practice. Like an iceberg floating on the water, Yoga only reveals its deeper roots to those willing to dive below the surface. My life took different turns. I left France and came to the United States, changed careers, stumbled along and drifted away from Yoga until 10 years ago, when I finally reconnected with it in earnest. But it was still a form of exercise for me until I joined a Yoga studio in Northern Virginia. At the beginning of each class, teachers engaged us in a short discussion on the origins or Yoga, the philosophical concepts of Yoga, the mythology, and told us stories that connected with what was happening in the world. Then, one weekend, I participated in a yoga retreat. We practiced, we chanted, we hiked, we shared our stories around a campfire that night. That was when I realized I wanted to deepen my practice and become a student and teacher of Yoga. Here are some of the most significant insights I have gleaned on the path to Yoga:
¥ The physical practice is but one aspect of Yoga. The poses (asanas) are gateways to your deeper self.
¥ Yoga is a way of being in the world. It is practiced on the mat and off the mat. In many ways, practicing this discipline off the mat is much more challenging than in the controlled environment of a quiet, peaceful studio.
¥ Yoga is not simply a solitary practice. It offers a sense of community. We see ourselves reflected in others, we help each other. No one is lonely in a Yoga class.
¥ There is a wise teacher in each of us. Practicing Yoga is the journey to find and honor your inner wisdom.
One of my all-time favorite books is Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. In this autobiographical book, Frankl, who survived life in a concentration camp and went on to be a famous psychotherapist, argues that the purpose of life is not so much to find happiness as it is to find meaning. I believe the practice of Yoga offers such a pathway. The regular practice of Yoga brings clarity, equanimity, and compassion to our lives.
I am very humbled to have been invited to teach at Movement Works. It’s a beautiful, welcoming space, where everyone can embark or continue on this extraordinary journey that is Yoga.
Rosa Aronson, PhD
There are a few things that I am truly passionate about... yoga, dance, musical theater, and essential oils!!! How can the use of essential oils elevate your yoga practice? Their use in daily life can induce a sense of peace and harmony or can uplift, inspire and exhilarate. That's what I love about them... not matter what you are feeling, there's an oil for it! Just as a yoga practice offers strength and peace, incorporating oils into your practice can allow your practice to reach another level. Whether through aromatherapy, internal or topical use, there are several oils that offer individual benefits. Needing to feel grounded? Frankincense, cedarwood, vetiver, or any other "woodsy" oil used during your practice will calm the senses and create focus; these being wonderful for meditation. Maybe you need energy and stamina? This is when citrus oils, such as: lemon, lime, grapefruit, and wild orange will uplift. Maybe you just want to relax... lavender is always an option.
Now that your sense of peace has been restored on the mat and you've reached savasana, then what? If you have attended any of my classes, I always use essential oils during my final adjustment. I feel it's a wonderful way to invigorate the senses to send you out the door feeling extra renewed and restored.
Another wonderful way to incorporate them into your practice is for recovery. Lemongrass, lavender, white fir, or peppermint are wonderful for soothing sore muscles. Warm, epsom salt baths with a few drops of any or a combination of these will have your aching body thank you. You may also use any of these with coconut oil for a nice body massage.
So, now that you know essential oils have a holistic purpose, other than just smelling great, give them a try and see how your yoga practice can be enhanced 🙏🏻
DoTerra Wellness Advocate
Yoga Nidra is a guided meditation that has the power to transform, heal and rejuvenate you at your core. Through the use of body sensing, breath awareness and guided imagery, you are systematically guided on a journey through your whole being.
Give yourself permission to rest, balance and restore, tapping into new sources of energy. Experience deeper levels of relaxation than you ever imagined. This meditation practice will awaken your whole being. There is nothing required of you but to lie down and listen.
Yoga Nidra switches you out of flight or fight and into the relaxation response — your body’s natural healing state — where revitalization and regeneration naturally occur. Your body knows exactly what to do to attain, and maintain, perfect health and equilibrium, all you need to do is turn on the healing switch. Yoga Nidra is the button that can bring you effortlessly, compassionately, and rapidly into relaxation and healing.
Yoga Nidra allows you access to your deeper levels so that you feel connection with your whole self. The world slows down and you take a break from everyday concerns. Limiting beliefs that hold you back from fully living begin to dissolve, leading to freedom within your mind and body.
This practice can bring your mind into its healing, restful state suspended between being awake and asleep where you can receive the ultimate power-nap that goes well beyond normal sleep.
Yoga Nidra is good for EVERYONE! If you have a desire for greater inner peace, improved health, and better sleep — then this practice is for you. Yoga Nidra has been used successfully to aid insomnia, stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, pain, cardiovascular and numerous other health issues.
Research conducted at well-recognized universities and medical centers including Stanford University, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Ohio State University, Medical College of Ohio, Banaras University and others, shows that regular practice of yoga nidra offers a viable means of prevention and reversal of numerous ailments and diseases, including cardiovascular, stress-related illness, chronic pain, and psychosomatic conditions. Yoga Nidra can strengthen the immune system, help regulate high blood pressure, balance flight or fight, assist endocrine system and improve sleep and aid insomnia. Yoga Nidra supports all stress related illness which is 99% of illness today. Following are a few studies:
YOGA NIDRA POSITIVE EFFECTS: Calming Nervous System & HR Study
WELLNESS PROGRAM for Veterans, including Yoga Nidra Study
IMPACT of YOGA NIDRA on PSCHOLOGICAL WELLBEING Study
By: Nicole Raitano
During our recent yoga vacation in Jamaica we had very limited internet. This may not be a problem to some but I'll admit I am addicted to my iPad and other electronics, which seem to be permanently attached to my hand. My iPad is the first thing I reach for in the morning and often the last thing I put down at night. I have it in my hands when I watch TV, often missing much of what I am watching, it is usually in front of me while I eat. Rather than practicing mindfulness during meal time and enjoying the taste and texture of my food, I often eat my meal without even noticing that I ate it. I'll admit, I even take it into the bathroom with me. I use the kindle App for my books and rarely pick up a real book anymore. I check Face Book and email several times per day, play games, and text message, sometimes incessantly.
Oddly enough not having internet access in Jamaica was a welcome respite from my iPad. I found myself meditating more, reading a real book, journaling, breathing more fully, and enjoying my meals with full awareness, enjoying the taste and texture of the food. I spent time just enjoying the beautiful scenery and nature's abundance. I was more self aware and less attached to what was going on on Face Book and with others. I was able to focus on myself, turn inward, be introspective, mindful, and relaxed.
Since returning home, I have made a conscious effort to meditate and sit in stillness each morning, commit to positive affirmations and self love before reaching for my iPad. I am also eating without my iPad in front of me and practicing mindfulness and gratitude while I eat. My week in Jamaica was good practice and a stepping stone to a future detached from my electronic devices. I even read a real book today.
Yes I enjoy my iPad and other electronic devices but I am committed to make a conscious effort to unplug at least one day week.
Hmm maybe just an hour or two a week is more honest and realistic. Its a beginning.
By Michele Dorland
It’s hard to believe that it has been almost 3 months since we’ve been in class together. I have had a little time to reflect and meditate on our time together and what it has meant to me. Perhaps the biggest lesson it taught me was balance; as sad as it was to say goodbye, it wouldn’t have been possible without first saying hello. Anything you received from me as a teacher I first got from you as a friend and student. The bottom line is it is all connected and more importantly we are all connected. No one lives in a vacuum, our lives are intermingled and we affect each other in the way we act and interact, the words we speak and the actions we take. Life is a series of holding on and letting go, of highs and lows, of hellos and goodbyes. A scenario I like to use in class is this: close your eyes and remember the happiest time of your life – Did it last? Were you able to hold on to that feeling forever? Of course not, now remember an incredibly sad time- Did it last forever? Again, your feelings eventually came back in balance. My teacher Ram Dass has a simple spiritual axiom that states “Be here now”, while that is a mantra to bring your mind to the present it has an underlying message of feel what you feel right now, in all its glory and all its pain because none of it is meant to last. You simply can’t stay static no matter how much you try. This doesn’t mean to forget your past or to dream of what may come, it serves as a reminder to not get stuck there, to not hold on to what had to change or what changes will come, The majority of our suffering in this life could be eliminated by being here, now – not regurgitating a past that can’t be changed or worrying about how things might play out (Here’s a hint- most things we fear never come to pass)
So how do we apply these thoughts into everyday life? Won’t I seem cold if I don’t want to replay the past over and over when that is my normal reaction with someone? What about building a dream? How do I stay present when I have all these things going on in my head and what the heck is this everything is connected stuff? The beautiful thing is this…Don’t worry about any of it, it’s your natural state...Be Here Now...Present…Put your phone down…look around…listen…see…beauty abounds. When your mind starts to wander come back to your breath. You will naturally start to see the interconnection of all beings. It really is that simple. So what did our time together teach me? Of course another quote from Ram Dass sums it up better than I ever could – “I can do nothing for you but work on myself…You can do nothing for me but work on yourself” If we both can do that we will have changed the world together.
Love and Light until we meet again,
The word, sisterhood, it means so many things to me. It brings up all the sweet memories of growing up with my own sister. All the things we know about each other that you only share with a sibling. All the fights that inevitably occur as children and the way we become friends that would do anything for each other, even agree to disagree, because we are sisters.
Sisterhood also means the women in my life that aren't siblings but still help paint the colors and contours that define me.
I'm lucky to have so many amazing women in my life that make up my sisterhood. My mother, sister, grandmothers, aunts, and cousins all helped mold me as I was growing. They taught me how to be a mother, wife and friend.
As I grew I relied so much on my girlfriends, they were my confidants, and partners in crime. Is there anything better than a sleepover with your best friend? Laughing all night to jokes no one else would even understand. If there is I haven't found it yet. I have carried that joy and love of life with me always.
As a grown woman with so many responsibilities and stresses in life, I honestly don't know what I would do without my friends. They are there to listen to me vent, to kidnap me for a girls night when I need a break, to make me laugh and help me cry.
I have all kinds of "sisters" in my life, we are different ages, have different backgrounds, and on the surface we are complete opposites. But that's why I need them all and am so thankful for each and everyone, because they all fulfill an essential piece of my being.
We recently celebrated Women's day, and that meant so many things to me. It acknowledged the amazing contributions to society women have made and are continuing to make everyday, and it was also a chance to honor sisterhood. Without my "sisters" I would not be who I am today. I will always be eternally grateful for all the lessons I have learned and have yet to learn from my fellow women. It's nice to have special day to remind us, but I'm going to be thankful everyday.
Are you getting your optimum oxygen intake with every breath you take?
Proper breathing methods can play a key role toward having improved health.
When you were told to sit up straight in your chair as a child, there was actually some science behind it. Simply having bad posture can constrict your lung capacity, decreasing the amount of oxygen your body gets.
While your body requires many nutrients on a daily basis, oxygen is one of the most important substances taken into the body. The average person becomes seriously distressed after one minute without oxygen. Every breath nourishes the cells, provides the energy needed to break down waste products and toxins, regulates the pH of body chemistry, drives the desire to breathe, strongly builds up your immune system defenses, and helps fight off infection.
Getting an adequate amount of oxygen is essential for living; however, for most people, an “adequate” amount of oxygen is all we get. According to research, the average adult exchanges 500 ml of air per breath. However, using the diaphragmatic breathing “the air exchange can be increased to 2000 – 6000 ml of air per breath” (source: http://www.taichibreathing.com/articles/reduceresidual.htm). If diaphragmatic breathing increases the amount of oxygen intake by 400 – 1200%, it would also increase the amount of toxins eliminated through your exhalation by that amount.
Research according to the University of Maryland Medical Center (http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/Tai-Chi-000361.htm) reveals: “The deep [diaphragmatic] breathing… regulates the respiratory system, helping to treat respiratory ailments such as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema. It also stimulates the abdomen, which aids digestion and helps relieve constipation and gastrointestinal conditions.”
Here are some tips for breathing a little deeper:
• When breathing more deeply, start by focusing on your exhale. By focusing on the inhale, you might run the risk of inadvertently sending the “fight or flight” signal to your body (think about it, if you need to suddenly run, the first thing you do it to inhale sharply), which is anything but relaxing…Focusing first on the depth of the exhale helps you to avoid this natural response and the depth of the inhale will automatically match the depth of the exhale.
• To more deeply exhale, begin your exhale as usual and then when you think you are just about done, contract the lower abdominal muscles (as well as the muscles of the lower back, the oblique muscles on the sides of your stomach, etc!) – this increases the pressure on the diaphragm muscle (referring to the thoracic diaphragm muscle, which is a dome-shaped muscle located below the lungs) and essentially pushes it into a relaxed position which then puts pressure on the lungs to exhale more deeply. Visualize your entire body as a balloon that is being deflated (equally from all angles).
• Relax the abdominal muscles to create space for the diaphragm muscle to contract (flatten out so that it is no longer dome-shaped). This will create a negative pressure causing the lung capacity to increase so you are able to inhale more deeply. Visualize your entire body as a balloon that is filling up with air – the air is radiating out from the center equally in all directions.
• In time, as you get accustomed to the feeling of the diaphragm muscle, switch your focus from the abdominal muscles to the movement of the diaphragm.
Unless you have a debilitating breathing disease or condition, it is possible to improve your breathing capacity and therefore your health.
Always consult your physician before engaging in any deep breathing regimens.
Enhance every breath you take!
Dean Sutzer instructs deep breathing techniques as a part of a Qigong and Tai Chi classes/seminars. Dean brings 48+ years of instructional experience to his students. For more information on wellness related coaching classes/seminars, please contact him at:
(931) 319-0499 | DSutzer@gmail.com
“If your body was a symphony, breathing would be the conductor.”
Dean M. Sutzer