All posts tagged: breathing

Everything Changes

[I said to Suzuki Roshi,] “I could listen to you for a thousand years and still not get it.  Could you just please put it in a nutshell?  Can you reduce Buddhism to one phrase?”…He was not a man you could pin down, and he didn’t like to give his students something definite to cling to. He had often said not to have “some idea” of what Buddhism was.  But Suzuki did answer.  He looked at me and said, “Everything changes.” ~David Chadwick For the past 24-hours, here in Pittsburgh we have been bathed in the light of the sun through clear blue skies. I feel the sun in the fluids of my body and, all of a sudden, my dreams seem possible.  When you live in a place that offers shades of gray (and not in the exciting way) for most days of the year, the light of the sun brings profound shifts in conciousness.  This shift is welcomed because it is warm, light and inspiring.  As much as this change in season from …

Are you doing yoga “right”?

This is a re-post of one of the most read blog posts I have written in the past 5-years.  This originally appeared in the blog in February 2009.  It’s a great reminder as we start the new year for a healthy and safe way to approach your practice. Both new yoga students and more experienced yoga students, at some point in a class or practice, may wonder if they are doing a particular pose correctly.  Many students wish that instructors would just come over and correct their pose or hope that, in time, they’ll start to get it right.  Most new students are sure they can’t possibly be doing yoga right and many experienced students have developed poor alignment habits that feel right, but are blocking them from deepening their asana practice. This is why we all, regardless of experience level, need to continue to take classes, workshops and find instructors that provide encouragement and assistance in deepening our practice at all levels.  Even the Masters have a guru. A well-trained instructor has studied principles …

Have a Cuppa for Holiday Tension

Many of my yoga students confide in me that they “can’t meditate.”  In most cases, this is based on a misunderstanding of what meditation is.  In many cases, I inform my students that, in fact, they have been meditating with me for years in our practices together!  Here is a meditation in the form of a tea drinking ritual that everyone can enjoy and an added breathing exercise with aromatherpy for even more emotional balance. Making an excellent cup of tea takes time.  Use this time to focus on what you are doing.  This ritual starts with the selection of your tea making equipment and mug.  If at all possible, boil fresh water in a kettle on the stove or an electric kettle.  If you must use a microwave, then you must, but for this ritual, it would be most effective if you boiled the water using heat generated from electricity or natural gas so that you can listen to the sound of the water bubbling and boiling.  The type of tea that we will …

Holiday Yoga: A Prenatal Practice

Yoga Matrika is going to be offering a limited number of prenatal yoga classes during the holidays.  In case you don’t live in Pittsburgh and have found this practice online, Yoga Matrika offers prenatal yoga classes in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The good news about this practice is that you can do it anywhere! We all know that even a few stretches and relaxation exercises can make a huge difference in how we feel during pregnancy.  During the holidays, our diets and schedules change and this makes it even more important that we maintain our practice.  Here is a very short practice that is appropriate for pregnant women that you can do at home, if you are traveling or wherever you roam.  For all you Pittsburgh-based Matrika Mammas, I look forward to seeing you again in person for class in the new year! Center & Breathe First step, find a comfortable seat.  You do not have to be sitting on the floor and if you are at all swollen or feel any aches, it may be best …

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.

You’re a Star…..Literally.

In my estimation,  of the greatest joys of being a parent is that you get to reconnect with children’s literature.  Sure, there are nights when I’m quite sure that if I ever even accidentally trip over a Dr. Seuss book again that I might immediately burst into flames–never mind READ it again.  For the most part, I am delighted by the beautiful illustrations, the kind and meaningful tone and the idea that there is such great potential in this life. Recently, we checked out The Greatest Intergalactic Guide to Space Ever by the Brainwaves from our local library.  The illustrations by Lisa Swerling and Ralph Lazar are imaginative and, quite frankly, hilarious.  The book is a brilliant collection of facts about space and it is everything that I had hoped my college course on astronomy would be, but without the physics. Then, on page 25, I read something that awed me and put me in touch with a sense of wonder and wonderment that made me kiss my sleeping blondie on his little head before …

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 …

Make a Poem of your Flesh

“This is what you should do: love the earth and the sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men…re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss what insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem.” WALT WHITMAN Whitman suggests here what every yogi knows–the choices we make with our mind are reflected in our bodies.  This is  beauty.  You know when you are in the room with beauty. Thinking back on all the beauties you have been around you know that it isn’t the type of beauty that Cover Girl is selling that sticks with you.  The beauty that you see in others is their poem and the memory of it is a song that vibrates through …

Walking on Earth

There is a Chinese proverb that says that: The miracle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on the water, but to walk on the earth. This is the same with a yoga practice.  Over time and with intelligent stretching practices, the body will open and become more flexible.  With practice, beginning yoga students advance in their alignment and ability to do a greater variety of poses.  It is truly beautiful to see an experienced yogi express the spirit of a pose with a deep and profound expression of grace.  Advanced students create a flowing meditation through soft and easy breath and the control of balance and energy through bandha work and reflection on the philosophy and science of yoga.  While these are all beautiful reflections on the potential of yoga to create balance, ease and strength and grace, I see the miracle in the beginners.  It starts with the honesty of effort and the realisation when new students see that even by drawing their awareness to the breath, without changing anything …