Snowflakes, Inspiration, and Yoga

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Snowflakes, Inspiration, and Yoga

When teaching a class earlier this week I felt my class was uninspired. Was it my students being less than enthusiastic about being there or was it me? When class ended I asked myself where do I find inspiration and why was it not with me that night? Where had it gone?

At first I began searching Pinterest, Facebook, the WSJ, and the NYT. Then Later in the week I had an afternoon of catching up on laundry and packing and I was quite cozy in my apartment. Going outside into the dark cold weather didn’t seem enticing. To my surprise walking onto the sidewalk to have fresh fluffy snowflakes land gently on my coat made me smile. I felt energized and inspired to teach class. Then it hit me, inspiration would only come from within when I stepped away from the distractions. Sure at times I can find inspiration from things like Pinterest, but what I really needed was to listen what was inside myself.

Inspiration can come from inside us when we are open to the world around us. Closed in my apartment my inspiration only takes me so far. To get my juices flowing at times I need to step out into the world to go within.

Where do you find inspiration? Do you feel stuck? Unsure of what to do? Feel like giving up and watching endless reruns on TV? Overwhelmed by Sandy, the election, and now Winter Storm Athena?

Live Light Practice:
Take a step back from the newspaper, your phone or computer – after reading this of course 😉 – and visit with nature. Get grounded. Bundle up and take a walk. Not to do anything just to witness the world. Start walking faster, create heat. Notice the shift.

Nov10

From darkness to light

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The days following hurricane Sandy still seem unreal. Areas of NYC seem untouched, but as we watch the news and speak to friends and families in the surrounding areas we hear of the devastation wrought by Sandy. In lower Manhattan we have power and are back in the light, but not everyone is as lucky. Some still hope for power, and others are going to need to rebuild their homes.

It will take patience and time, but together we will move further into the light and help to rebuild the communities that were greatly affected.

Taking everything day by day can make this more managable. Take care of yourself first by starting with a short meditation repeating the asato ma sadgamaya chant to clear your mind, relax your body and prepare you for the day.

Live Light Practice:

Sit in a quiet place on the floor or in a chair. For ten minutes repeat the following chant to yourself. Try in Sanskrit, but you can always repeat the English if you prefer.

asato ma sadgamaya
tamaso ma jyotirgamaya
mrtyorma amrtam gamaya

Lead me from the untruth to the truth.
Lead me from darkness to light.
Lead me from death to immortality.

 

Shanti,

Liza

Nov06

The Chakras

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chakra translates to wheel or disk, and there are 7 majors ‘wheels’ located in our bodies. These chakras, or energy centers in our body correlate to our levels of consciousness, starting at the base of our spine with the most primitive level of consciousness and moving up the body to the 7th, or crown, chakra and the highest level of consciousness. The seven chakras are: Muladhara (root), Svadhisthana (sweetness),  Manipura (lustrious gem), Anahata (unstuck), Vissudha (purification), Ajna (Command Center), and Sahasara (thousand fold).

By looking to and studying the chakras we are able to find a deeper understanding of ourselves. To begin the path of better understanding ourselves we look at the foundation of the chakras, Muladhara or root support. The first chakra is located at the base of the spine and relates directly to our feeling of safety and our need for survival. When the Muladhara chakra is balanced one is comfortable in their body, well grounded, and has a sense of trust in the world.

If this chakra is out of balance it manifests in excess as hoarding, greed, and fear of change. Deficiency shows up as anxiousness, restlessness, and poor focus. A healing strategy to bring this chakra back into a place of balance is to ground yourself by reconnecting with the body through physical activity, such as hatha yoga.

Grounding is a process of dynamic contact with the earth. Without grounding we are unstable. We loose our center, can fly off the handle, or are lost in a day dreamy fantasy world. Through our connection with the earth, our roots we are able to gain nourishment, stability, and growth. Here is a simple exercise of grounding to try out:

Live Light Practice: Come to standing position, straighten your legs and allow your feet to root into the earth. Close your eyes and feel the connection with the floor, the texture of the earth beneath you. With each inhale lengthen your body and each exhale press your feet strongly and evenly into the support of the floor. Slowly open your eyes and notice if you feel more grounded, secure, and free.

The task of mastering the first chakra is ultimately an understanding and healing of our bodies. Learning to accept our body, feel it, validate it, love it – these are the changes that await us here. That is why hatha yoga is the yoga of this chakra. It reconnects us to our roots, to our physical selves. We can begin to love and appreciate our bodies and move past the bonds of discomfort, hate or even disconnection from the body.

Shanti,

Liza

Oct24

Step-by-Step

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vinyasa is a term tossed around to describe a style of yoga or a sequence of movements. If we look at the term vinyasa krama we can begin to get a deeper understanding. When you breakdown the words, krama is ‘step’, nyasa means ‘to place’ and vi is ‘in a special way’. I was first introduced to vinyasa krama when reading The Heart of Yoga by Desikachar a few years ago. When I learned what vinyasa really meant I felt everything clicked. In order to work towards a particular goal or aim we need to go step-by-step with intention. We must learn to crawl before we can run. With this definition of vinyasa krama it is clear that it can be applied to much more than asana (yoga postures).

Each time I knit I am reminded of this connection and the importance of mindfulness and attention to detail. Working step-by-step. When knitting you first learn to make a knit stitch. As that comes easier you learn to purl, and so on. It is similar to learning to lift into handstand. You first learn postures that are easier to build the strengthen in the body and mind for the inversion.

No matter if you are knitting a scarf or lifting into handstand it requires clear intention and step-by-step process. Begin with the foundation and develop the skills from there. As we progress with knitting, yoga, writing, or whatever your goal is, it progressively becomes easier and less effort exerted.

Live Light Practice:
What is something in your life that you have been wanting to be able to do? Knit, meditate, handstand? Choose one thing to focus on and set an intention with it. This week begin by taking one step towards your aim. Then set up what other steps need to be taken in order to achieve your plan.

Oct19