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♥ Breathing for Peace and Happiness ♥

This is a simple exercise that you can do anytime, anywhere even while you work to bring peace and happiness to your center, creating balance within. This breathing exercise strengthens the immune system by clearing out the negative and drawing in the positive. It also helps strengthen the lungs and build your lung capacity which aids in improving respiratory ailments such as asthma and respiratory irritations/infections. Additionally a deeper more focused breath can relax the nervous system decreasing blood pressure and anxiety. Sitting comfortably, you may want to sit on a pillow to raise the hips (or sitting nice and tall in a chair), starting to draw your focus inward with the breath. Clear and quiet your mind, become aware of your posture: sitz bones firmly grounding down to the earth and crown of your head rising towards heaven, creating outward balance and a good foundation for your exercise. Lengthen your breath feeling the body grow taller with each inhalation and softening every muscle as you exhale. Imagine the breath moving in and out of your body as a wave on the beach. Feel the energy, welcome it deep into your body. Notice the subtle pauses at the top and bottom of your breath and naturally release the warmed breath ... slow... and....relaxed. Feel your in breath expand and flow in through your nasal passages, sinus cavities, into your throat, chest and abdominal cavities. Notice if there are blockages or a smooth pathway. Become aware of the mind quieting down and the body stilling. Tune your focus deeper as your surroundings drift further away into the back edges of your awareness. Relax Repeat the following phrase several times, out loud or quietly to yourself: I am Inhaling positive energy I am Exhaling negative energy ........ Slowly let the words drift away, watching them as they go; the breath slow and soft, soothing your body and soul. Take a few moments to observe the sensations that rise and fall. Let it all go… As you feel ready, start to become aware of your posture again and any sounds surrounding you in your space. Take a moment to reflect on how you feel. Cross your arms across your chest, hugging tightly, smiling inward in thanks. Hold for a few moments. Release your arms when you are ready noticing the quiet calm within you. Vow to carry this with sensation in your heart as long as you can. As you take your next breath in, raise your arms overhead gently pressing your palms together and exhale as you lower the palms into your heart center. Namaste

Written by Patty Van Meter, RYT Iowa Yoga Therapy (Feb 2010)


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Therapeutic Yoga Presentation 2/6/10

Format for introduction to therapeutic yoga to healthcare professionals. Download word document HERE.


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Arm Balance & Inversion Workshop

Do you know the rejuvenation that comes from spending time upside down?  Wednesday, February 10th I will teach an arm balance and inversion workshop and I encourage all levels of practitioners to attend. You may think you have never done an inversion, but I guarantee you, if you have attended a yoga class or followed along to even one yoga DVD, you have!  An inversion is simply a posture where your heart is higher than your head.  It does not require being vertical and it does not require balancing.  If you have practiced downward facing dog, you have been inverted!  Down dog helps us become accustomed to the feeling of being tipped upside down.  Our heart gets a break, our circulation is improved, our organs get relief from gravity, our spine can decompress and our nervous system is soothed.  The inversions carry a wealth of benefits and the degree of the incline is not important.  Simply getting your heart above your head, to whatever degree, is of great benefit to your body and your mind. The shoulder stand is referred to as the Queen of Asanas and the headstand is referred to as the King of Asanas.  These two postures should become a regular component of your practice, in whatever form is accessible to you today.  Both are easily performed using a wall for support and both can be performed using bent legs.  The balance and the leg extension are goals to work toward but are not fundamental to the postures.  The postures only require some degree of lift to the spine, full, deep breathing and an intention of extending upward.  These postures are a great pick-me-up and give a wonderfully refreshed, rejuvenated feeling. It is important to initially practice these postures under the supervision on an instructor since we need to learn how to avoid pressure on the neck.  We will use props and the wall to move through several variations of shoulder stand so each practitioner can find the form that is correct for them now.  We will also move through several variations of headstand, learning how to build the strength in the shoulders, arms and neck that is necessary to eventually support our fully-inverted body weight.  More advanced students can work on the flowing shoulder stand and headstand sequences that use a variety of entry points and a myriad of arm and leg positions.

From the inversions we will move on to arm balances.  Arm balances are very much about technique and positioning and less about brute strength.  Learning where to lift and where to press are fundamentals of arm balances that will move you off the floor with ease.  Again, we use bolsters, blankets and blocks to give us clearance and security.  We will work on crow and its variations, 8-points pose, and Figure-4 balance.  More advanced students can use the wall to work the inverted balancing postures they may be ready for, such as forearm balance, scorpion and handstand. Please join us for some fun, interactive learning.  The workshops are a great way to get extra help and an opportunity to delve a little deeper into your practice.  As always, sign-ups are appreciated. Enjoy your practice and hope to see you there, Mary Lasky   Arm Balance and Inversion Workshop @ balance yoga lounge February 10th from 7-8:15pm Included in unlimited monthly pass; counts as one class using pass card; drop-in for $15


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Yoga Travels to Vancouver Winter Olympics

YOGA is the training tool of choice for athletes competing in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Asana creates balanced yet loose muscles, increased body awareness, and mental focus; while attention to the breath helps to control pre-race jitters.

For athletes that are pushing physical and mental limits on a daily basis, yoga provides an opportunity to let go. "Yoga has taught me balance and acceptance," shares Chandra Crawford, of the Canadian cross country ski team. She also believes yoga has improved her focus during races. Many athletes try yoga while in rehabilitation from injuries to remain active while healing, and never stop. Shannon Deanne Bahrke of the U.S. Freestyle Ski team doesn't enjoy stretching, but enjoys her yoga practice because "it's more about moving in your own body and being centered and strong." Figure skaters, freestyle and cross country skiers and speed skaters have all included yoga as part of their training.

The synergistic energy of yoga is also attractive to athletes who are used to competing against others to gain advantages. In a group yoga class bodies are working as one to energize and renew. You don't have to be an elite athlete to seek a chance to SLOW down and reconnect to balance. A consistent yoga practice helps to expand our ability to remain focused on the finish line; whether it's competing for a gold medal, completing a report for the boss, or remaining patient while a toddler ties his shoe for the first time. (to read more about yoga of champions, pick up the February 2010 edition of Yoga Journal magazine)


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Dalai Lama Book Discussions

DID YOU KNOW THAT HIS HOLINESS, THE 14TH DALAI LAMA IS VISITING IOWA MAY 18? In preparation for his visit, we will be holding book discussions at the lounge on February 25 and April 15, at 7pm. Join us for a lively discussion of two titles written in collaboration with the Dalai Lama. Purchase your books now and join us whether you have tickets for His May 18 visit to Cedar Falls or are simply curious and looking to expand spiritually.
As May draws closer, the local media will be consumed with the events surrounding this historic visit. While the January winds and snow sweep across the landscape of Iowa, snuggle into your favorite chair and read one of the books below or watch the movie that studies Tibetan culture, "Seven Years in Tibet," Heinrich Harrer, 1997 (starring Brad Pitt).
  
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Our February 25 discussion will focus on: "The Art of Happiness in a Troubled World" by Howard Cutler, 2009 Attitude and a sense of meaning are the keys to happiness at work, the exiled Tibetan leader tells psychiatrist Howard Cutler in the course of conversations that took place over several years. What will surprise many is the prime importance the Dalai Lama places on reason and analysis, and on the need to acquire "a sense of self that is grounded in reality, an undistorted recognition of one's abilities and characteristics." In order to achieve the kind of happiness that can be sustained even in the hardest times, he says, we must engage in the slow, steady work of training our hearts and minds, rooting out negative habits and cultivating basic human values like kindness and compassion. And what may be most moving is this: if the Dalai Lama is right, and if people do as he suggests - if they learn to see themselves impartially and to analyze their work in light of how many people it touches - they will begin to see, whether they are picking oranges or writing a novel, that the highest purpose of work and, indeed, of life is the helping of others. purchase this book thru amazon   http://tinyurl.com/yhoztnm  

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The April 15th discussion will include: "Becoming Enlightened" by Jeffrey Hopkins, 2009 Drawing from traditional Buddhist meditative practices as well as penetrating examples from today's troubled planet, Hopkins presents step-by-step exercises designed to expand the reader's capacity for spiritual growth, along with clear milestones to mark the reader's progress. By following the spiritual practices outlined in "Becoming Enlightened," we can learn how to replace troublesome feelings with positive attitudes and embark on a path to achieving an exalted state -- within ourselves and within the larger world. purchase this book thru amazon  http://tinyurl.com/yghthg6
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Even is you don't have tickets to be in Cedar Falls on May 18, don't miss this opportunity to learn about the Dalai Lama's life of helping others and to identify opportunities for true spiritual growth. Additional links: Sacred sand: Monks create mandala at UNI:   http://tinyurl.com/yj8gps5 Complete reading list: http://www.uni.edu/dalailama/book-groups Dalai Lama's official website and biography: http://tinyurl.com/ykummzl WHAT DOES HIS HOLINESS' VISIT TO IOWA MEAN TO YOU?

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lounge now offers prenatal yoga

A regular yoga practice is a great way to find balance in your life.  Benefits include building strength and flexibility, and reducing stress; a necessity for everyone, and particularly in those looking for a healthy pregnancy including the time before, during, and after the entire birthing process.  Calm and flexibility achieved through yoga ease the birthing process, thus reducing pain and increasing the joy of giving birth. Smooth pregnancy and a natural childbirth are just some of the benefits of pre-natal yoga. But more importantly, yoga does wonders on the physical and mental development of the fetus.  Our experienced instructor (P.VanMeter) will guide you through a gentle pre or post natal yoga practice enhancing relaxation, comfort, and serenity for this transformational time of life.  Combining breathwork, meditation, and gentle postures designed to adequately open and prepare your body will enable you to have a safe and intimate experience with your unborn child.  After delivery post natal yoga can help heal the body, reducing pain from tension, and breast discomfort as well as help restore the uterus, abdomen and the pelvic floor. Classes offered in six week sessions on Thursday evenings from 6:30-7:30pm at the yoga lounge. Total cost for six weeks, $72. All students are required to receive written permission from their physician and sign a liability waiver prior to participation. (Pre & Post Natal class series is non-refundable and non-transferable. There are no credits for unused classes. Consistency and commitment are the only means of achieving true benefit for mother and baby. Should you experience complications or deliver your baby during the series, supply the lounge with a note signed by your health care practitioner stating that exercise is no longer advisable, and you may use the balance of your classes after the birth of your baby to attend our regularly scheduled weekly classes. Unused prenatal classes expire 90 days after the birth of your baby.)


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Aligning the Chakras thru Yoga

Ever have an off day? For example:  Energy levels seem low for no particular reason, emotions run a little sporadic, memory delays, spinning your wheels but getting nowhere?  Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, certain “off days” just seem to occur.  Chakra energy centers, when unbalanced, may be the cause of these unexplainable issues.  In the New Year, learn more about these major seven energy centers.  Understand how you can be more proactive in maintaining their balance.  Learn the connections between positive and negative chakra balance and how they are impacting your life.  Join us at balance yoga lounge for the Chakra alignment workshop, January 20th at 7pm, and find out how your yoga practice assists the positive chakra balancing. Linette Mace leads this informative workshop on balancing your personal energy. **additional $5 fee covers the cost of essential oils used in the workshop.