All posts tagged: breath

Attitude of Gratitude? Not so much.

While we all know that cultivating an attitude of gratitude is a part of living our most joyful life, how can we authentically do this when we are less than grateful?  Feeling ashamed or guilty about the “real” nature of our feelings, or pretending to be thankful for what we would have very much preferred to say “NO thank you” to in our lives gets in the way of happiness and creativity.  What if your heart is broken?  What if you are in terrible pain without relief in sight?  What if you have received terrifying news that has changed your life in an even more awful way?  Even with all the joyful self-help gurus and happy, shiny, advanced yogi specialists beaming at you from their glossy magazines promising peace and abundance for all your expressions of gratitude, and even as much as you wish to crawl into their tie-dyed yoga pants and bask in the bliss of all that they proclaim and stand for, the truth is that when your life is going to Hades in a …

No Time to Meditate

I know.  You don’t have time to meditate.  I don’t have time to meditate either.  No one has time to meditate and yet we all have all the time we are ever going to have.  We strive for peace, beauty and happiness, but our hours, days, weeks and then years seem to slip away and we are just as behind on our “to do” lists as we ever were.  While we are busy, it seems we are making things happen, being productive and that we are with purpose.  Resting and calming are considered luxuries that we simply can’t afford. Our failure to rest makes us prone to panic, anxiety and depression.  Our unhappiness creates mental chaos and we find that even small decisions are hard to make with clarity.  Our sleep is elusive and of poor quality and we can’t remember our last dream.  Our health is “ok”, but we suffer headaches, digestive problems, chronic low back ache, exhaustion and most of the time we can function, but it always feels like just getting by. …

Matrika on the Go

  I’m taking matrika style on the go and you can find me offering yoga and meditation classes on Sundays and Mondays at mookshi wellness center!  Save your space in a series today.  I’m also offering a workshop for women and one for meditators.  I hope to see you at mookshi soon! GROUP CLASSES Mindful Flow Join me for this esoteric bliss mission!  In this yoga series open to all levels, we move with the breath creating joy in open awareness.  As our practice is a moving meditation, we use a variety of poses, breathing exercises and visualization techniques from Chinese, Tibetan and Indian yoga traditions to create flexibility and strength in body, mind and spirit.  This healing practice will help you feel centered, relaxed and inspired.  Enjoy a stronger and more flexible body as you build a foundation for profound happiness and tranquility. SERIES I: Mondays, March 4, 11, 18 and April 1 from 10:00-11:15 am SERIES II: Mondays, April 8, 15, 22, 29  from 10:00-11:15 am Tuition: $60 for each series of 4-classes …

Frozen Food Month

Seriously, did you know that March was Frozen Food Month?  I didn’t know this until I received an e-mail from Giant Eagle supermarkets here in Pittsburgh indicating that there was just one week left to appreciate frozen foods.  From Lean Pockets to Ego waffles to Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (my personal favorite of the frozen edibles), we had a whole month to appreciate frozen foods and I squandered it not realizing my loss.  But, it’s not too late, there’s still a whole week to take advantage of this special time to explore the delights of our freezers. Did you know what else March is? Women’s History Month.  Yes, women share the glory of this month with frozen foods.  So far, President Obama has not yet made an official Women’s History Month 2011 Proclamation.  When he does, it will be posted here. Now, while we mere citizens have an entire week to honor frozen foods and the ladies we love at the same time by buying them some ice cream, the President only has one …

Football, Swimsuits and the Yoga of Feminism

As I teach two prenatal yoga classes every week, I have the honor and joy of watching incredibly strong women embody the true spirit of Warrior poses.  I can actually see the energy rising up through the soles of their feet and into their core to support the amazing act of creation they carry within them.  There is a courage, a dignity and strength of force there that is palpable in the room.  It is, for me, an experience and one that brings me, each class, into a new appreciation for the beauty and strength that is woman. The energy of these movements is the embodiment of grace.  Grace representing the fact that each one of these women has opened their hearts to the potential for immense joy and immeasurable loss and grief.  No words are required.  Through movement and intention, the expression of strength and grace is clear and concise. Last weekend, I was able to catch the very end of the playoff game between the Steelers and the Ravens.  While I can’t say …

Duh? Breathing is Important!

Apparently, new research has shown that breathing is important.  While this may seem ridiculously obvious, the health implications of a breathing practice (aka. pranayama) may not be.  What yogis have known for thousands of years is just being discovered again and revealed in this NPR article. To make a long story short: Breathing is good for you You can use your breath to calm down Breathing is so powerful that it can change your gene expression If you already have a yoga practice, then you know the profound effects of learning to take deeper breaths.  If you don’t, then there is no time like the present.  Place your feet on the floor, relax your shoulders and take a deep breath and release it.

Art of the Inhale

At Yoga Matrika, an intimate community-based yoga studio in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, I offer a class three times a week called Body, Breath and Mind.  These are intermediate level yoga classes with a holistic approach to yoga practices including asana, pranayama, energy anatomy,philosophy and ethics and meditation. This week, one of the pranayama exercises we will practice is Anuloma Krama.  This beautiful breathing practice starts with a complete exhale.  The empty lungs are then filled in two sips of breath with a pause between.  In this sweet ode to the in-breath, we pause to appreciate what it feels like to be full of potential, energy and life.  Then, we realize that we can open just a little bit more.  Then, we pause in this great state of expansion and life before returning to where we began, with a complete exhale. While these instructions are given here for general use, it is important to note that: Many people should not hold their breath, including women who are pregnant.  Please ask your doctor if you have any …

Yoga and Hope

In the March 2010 issue of ODE Magazine, there is a thought provoking article, Great Expectations: How hope therapy can help banish mild mood disorders and boost happiness, by Catherine Ryan.  Among the many things that I started to think about was the way that yoga promotes hope. What precisely is hope?  Hope is a subtle sensation and state of being, sometimes an emotion, that provides a vague sense that something other than what “is” can be possible.  It provides the foundation for every change, every decision and every transition that we find ourselves on the other side of.  Without hope, the capacity to love, to move, to grow or to change is stifled and the great shadow of fear and doubt can overwhelm us.  Hope is sometimes confused as faith, but although these both require one another, they are quite different.  In order to act on hope, one must have faith in the potentially positive outcome of one’s actions.  In order to have faith, there must be a song of hope in one’s heart …

Cabin Fever & Yoga in Pittsburgh

There was one very brave student at tonight’s class.  She was new to Yoga Matrika and was curious about what the class title, Mindful Yoga, really meant.  I prattled on about Vajra Yoga and not making a distinction between asana practice and meditation and how we create a moving meditation through our practice……….but during our practice together, I started to question the whole thing entirely.  You see, that’s the problem with having an answer to everything—-you miss opportunities for reaching a greater understanding.  In this case, I was incredibly inspired by the clarity of this student’s practice and she taught me a lot about mindfulness.  So, thank you dear student, and hope you come back soon! What I realised is that what I don’t know about mindfulness is a lot.  While there are so very many things that I hope that my Mindful Flow classes mean, the real mindfulness is in the interpretation.  I asked my student to choose an intention for her practice and to anchor that intention with awareness of the breath or …

Yoga Works

I’m just about as committed, or perhaps even MORE committed,  to the “Why?” as anyone.  I think it’s a rather good question to be asked about anything from WHY is the Nobel peace prize winner suggesting that we increase our war activities to WHY do Pittsburghers call sprinkles, “jimmies”.  Or, the yoga owner gasps, WHY should anyone do yoga?  Just as committed as I am to the WHY, I’m simply frustrated at the infinite number of things that I can’t seem to comprehend or the number of WHY questions that I can’t get a satisfactory answer to.  Will someone just give me the satisfaction of a BECAUSE… every once in a while?  If there is one thing that I know to be true and that is that YOGA WORKS.  I mean, it works for EVERYONE—children, moms, men, women, older people, teens, injured and sick, athletic and healthy, flexible, idiots and genius alike (generally subjective measurements anyway!)—–yoga works in all cases and without exception.  Why?  I have no idea!  I’m relatively convinced that any answer is only …

Mindful Focus of the Week

Last week, the focus for Mindful Yoga was “the organs.”  We learned to support asana using the internal structures of the body and acknowledge our organs for all that they do.  This week, our focus is the sacral center (2nd Chakra).  I always pick a focus based on what I am working on in my personal practice and recently, for the first time in years, I managed to aggravate my sciatic nerve.  It’s hard to say how I did it—-Demonstrating a reverse triangle when I wasn’t warmed up?  Carrying a heavy messenger bag on one shoulder?  Sitting with my legs crossed for too long?  Good news is that it doesn’t matter how it happened, only that it’s over now and the experience provided inspiration to give some juicy love to the sacrum this week. The sacral area is associated with creativity and when we create and acknowledge sensation here we are filled with optimism, passion and direction.  Life is vibrant! If you can’t make it to Mindful Flow on Tuesday night at Yoga Matrika in …

Qigong and Yoga: What is Zhong Dao?

It’s always a risk to put a class on the schedule that has a name that no one recognizes.  I have taken just this kind of risk by creating Zhong Dao.  But, the name is such a perfect reflection of this combination Qigong Energy work and Yoga class that I just can’t call it by any other name! First, I think that we can examine what the different elements of the class are for clarity.  One aspect of the practice of Zhong Dao is inspired by Qigong.  Qigong is a system of exercises that allow the practitioner to “learn how to control the flow and distribution of qi to improve the health and harmony of mind and body (Cohen 3).”  What precisely is qi?  Qi (pronounced: chee—as if you were going to say cheese without the “se”) has been translated in many different ways, but one that can be helpful for beginners and is especially appropriate for this context, is that qi is life energy.  Gong means to work.  Qigong is a “wholistic system of …