♥ 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)


Therapeutic Yoga Presentation 2/6/10

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


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