We find ourselves in a pause moment, offering us the possibility of reprioritizing, rebalancing, as we are forced to slow down. I want to be Maia when I grow up-how about you?
This is a beautiful tribute to a life lived in balance. Maia Helles was 95 years old at the time this was filmed. She was a former Russian ballet dancer who lived a yogini life in many ways. Take some time to find balance by watching this 4 1/2 minute video . . . You can spare the time, and it’s beauty for the spirit!
My friend Maia from julia warr on Vimeo.
Except for possibly your cat … and you are probably either terrifying or boring the cat! You could even wear your fried chicken costume (thanks Jen, costumer extraordinaire!). Who would know?
In this time of social distancing and sheltering in place, we are all changing our habits. Some of us never dreamed of wanting a home practice… but here we go, whether we wanted it or not. It is a forced pause, in the midst of a boatload of uncertainty, anxiety for many, and a lot of grieving… for our routines and habits we miss, and for the big things-those who are ill with this virus, those who have lost someone or wish they were waiting by a bedside (but are not allowed to in these tough times).
In yoga practice, we have a “checklist” for our wellbeing called the koshas. Koshas are a yogic description of the layers of being a healthy human in all stages and life situations. Let’s take a tour:
How am I doing? The Five KOSHAS
- Anamaya: the “food body” or physical layer. Am I eating well? Am I getting enough sleep? Do I have an exercise plan in place? Am I listening to my body? Set up an exercise plan and use the online classes to help. Maybe you are a “yoga person” or a “Nia person” or a pickle ball person … time to try something new!
- Pranamaya: the “breath body” and the “energy body.” On a basic level, how is my energy and am I breathing intentionally everyday? Our breath is one of the most immediate tools we have into our nervous system. Whether we use “box breath,” ujayii breath, alternative nostril breathing, breath focused meditation, take some intentional time to breathe each day (I will post some breathing practices on the Aloft FB site to help). Do some 3 part breathing focused on really using the diaphragm.
- Manomaya: The mental/emotional body. How am I doing? Tune into thoughts and emotions, to see what is going on. We can use Yoga Nidra and mindfulness practices to enhance mental awareness of what is occurring in the physical body – “turning the awareness back on again.” We can use breath and meditation tools to stay in the present moment, yoga postures for reducing stress and releasing trauma – psoas stretching, heart opening. Again practices on the FB page, hopefully some video content on this blog soon!
- Vijnamaya: cultivating the “watcher” or “witnessing” part of the mind, perhaps learning to value this aspect of self – this often gets devalued and shut off in tough times, but being able to take a look at the stream of thoughts and emotions, rather than deeply diving into the “thread” of a thought, can be really valuable now. Notice the emotion/thought, but also notice when we begin creating a story out of that kernel of emotion or thought-our brains thrive on solving problems and exploring scenarios that are actually not happening right now. Let’s stay in the present moment -it is enough.
- Anandamaya-what brings a true sense of joy, fulfillment, and meaning into life? This can seem like a tough one, but it is so important. I suggest going small and immediate, prioritizing created moments of joy. For me, dancing is key. Dancing always gives me a spark of joy. What is it for you? We need to cultivate this like a precious flower right now.
- In this system, this layer of Anandamaya kosha also allows us to connect beyond our self to our individualized experience to a greater whole, however we understand that-to God, spirit, to the natural world, to others, to the sacred … we all have our own beautiful sense of this. And we need that spark of connection now. Where do we cultivate this, and how?
I hope this little kosha check in helps a bit. I have a homework assignment. Make 5 cards (any size-you can use an old cereal box! Find an old magazine or 2, and find random words and images that express what is happening (or what you WANT to happen) in each of the 5 koshas. You can also add in words, doodles … just fill the card. Don’t overthink it, just give it a try. Then, if you are up for it, share it with me and let me know if I can share in the blog. Let’s stay deeply in touch, with ourselves and one another! Sending healing love, Kristine
Are you a yoga teacher in need of your continuing education hours? Are you interested in becoming a certified yoga instructor? Aloft School of Yoga offers a supportive environment in which you can meet your educational goals. Our Yoga Alliance certified 200 hour yoga teacher training is modular-based, allowing you some freedom and choice in the pace of your training. We train in a supportive community environment of teachers in training and current teachers, learning together as we go.
Our next training dates are Sept. 21-22 and Oct. 12-13, from 9:00-2:00, with 1/2 hour off for lunch. They will also include some reading and homework. The Sept. training will focus on yoga as a tool to address stress and trauma, including the anatomy of stress. The October training will focus on taking a more in depth look at ayurveda. These trainings are required for the 200 hour teacher training, and available for continuing education credit. For further information, please contact Kristine via the website “contact” button.
Let’s face it . . . We all need a break sometimes. We need moment to step back, gain some perspective, recognize that we are more than the thoughts and emotions we are having in the immediate moment. We need a moment to realize that we are more than the physical pain, the grief, the fear, or the illness we are experiencing. It’s no wonder that, within the traditional path of yoga, four of it’s eight limbs are dedicated to learning to quiet and focus our minds. In yoga, it’s sometimes called “cultivating the witness.” We use our breath, our ability to focus and concentrate, our posture, and our intention to become familiar with that part of ourselves that can “witness” our thoughts, feelings, even our discomfort. We initially learn to recognize, and then gradually to be at home with, this witnessing part of ourselves. Once found, the witnessing place within us can be a powerful reminder that we are more than the sum of our immediate strong feelings, thoughts, story-lines, physical pain, even illness. Cultivation of the witness within ourselves empowers us to make choices where before we felt victim to circumstances and situations beyond our control. We meet the witness as a loving, non-judgmental place within ourselves. Spending time in this witnessing place creates a sense of sanctuary and peace.
We begin learning this process early on in yoga practice, and then we integrate it into our asana practice. Once we are able to consistently find it in yoga, it has the benefit of expanding outward into the rest of our lives.
Let’s take another look at a fun posture, good for opening us up for spring. “The Roaring Lion Posture (whose original Indian name is Simhasana) in Yoga is suitable for people of all ages and types (including old and weak) because it is relatively easy to perform. The posture is sometimes referred to as Bhairavasana . . . The posture gets its name because the face of the person performing it resembles the face of a Roaring Lion (Simha Mudra or Lion Face Gesture) because of the open mouth and extended tongue.” Kind of fun to combine lion pose with some spring bunnies . . . Everyone is doing it!
“I think joy and sweetness and affection are a spiritual path. We’re here to know [the Sacred], to love and serve [the Sacred], and to be blown away by the beauty and miracle of nature. You just have to get rid of so much baggage to be light enough to dance, to sing, to play. You don’t have time to carry grudges; you don’t have time to cling to the need to be right.” ― Anne Lamott
“I would only believe in a god who understood how to dance.” Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzche
Whether we dance to laugh and play, to let go of heartache and tension, for exercise, to find ourselves, the Divine Light, or all of the above at the same time, it’s a good thing! Nia: Wednesdays 4:30 – 5:30; Thursdays 1:00 – 2:00; Nia/Yoga combined into a single class on Mondays and Thursdays from 4:30 – 5:30. And the best part is, you don’t have to actually be able to “dance” at all — just come, ready to move!