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
I love to share words from others about why you value your practice, and how you manifest your practice in your daily life. I share some words Marji Neill shared with me, along with an image of where Marji meets herself/her spirit:
It was great being with you in class today! I’ve missed seeing everyone. I had to chuckle when you were talking about being mindful, slowing down, and making eye contact. Lots of thoughts came to my mind. I do not have many natural talents [editorial note from KZ: this is not true!], but for whatever reason, complete strangers have always opened up to me. My girls noticed this when they were young and it is something that drives my husband nuts. When we are out, and I speak with total strangers, he will often ask, “Do you KNOW that person?” Growing up with an “always be busy, busy, busy” mentality, I tend to walk briskly, but I like to smile and greet anyone I see. This has led to a ton of “little while friends” and fun conversations. Also, it seems like my guardian angel or spirit guide (or whatever energy is helping me through life on earth), likes to draw my attention to wildlife at just the right moment, and it’s been a fun part of my life. Lately I’ve noticed I’m not walking as fast. It made me wonder if I was holding back to not irritate my cranky knee (chronic), or if I am just getting older. But, you gave me hope that maybe I am finally understanding that if I zoom through life with my head down, I will miss a lot. After all, I want to know how that wild turkey family with seeming limited good sense, is doing!”
Sept 29, 2015
Come dance with your friends! Experience the freedom and joy that is Nia. Strengthen your body, work out your mind, exercise your creativity, engage your spirit, have fun! Let your inner dancer come out to play!
Mondays at 8:30 a.m. or 1/2 Nia and 1/2 yoga on Mondays at 4:30
Tuesdays at 6:00 p.m.
Wednesdays at 8:30 or 4:30
Fridays at 8:30
Nia is dance designed for EveryBody, from “newbie” to dance enthusiast. It’s a great whole body workout, and the music is fantastic!
“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!
So, I’ve been working on the new space (now officially called “Kiva Space,” because it feels like a kiva to me — a Native American dwelling used for spiritual purposes, that one usually climbs into via a ladder!). Rather than painting the walls, I’ve been using 3 colors of a beautiful product called American Clay. It’s fabulous to work with, in a labor-intensive kind of way — you put it on with a roller and a trowel, and then you lovingly go over it, many times, with trowel and hands, to compress it and shape it to the wall. If you were going for quick, it would be an aggravation. However, I decided awhile ago that touching every part of every wall in Kiva Space would be a loving practice of intention, meditation, and prayer. So, as I’ve worked, I’ve thought and dreamed to the lively and healing community space I want to bring to life in this funny, L-shaped space. I’ve thought/held/prayed for many I know who have been in need of . . . well, the things we all need, trusting the beautiful place where we all connect to one another and far beyond our individual selves. I’ve simply allowed myself to be intentionally open to yes, as I work in this little southeastern corner of Gladish. As you can see, my hands are a bit weary, but my heart is full of the beauty of many of you. The rainbow walls hold lots of love, and are waiting to hold the community we will become! With a heart full of love and gratitude today — Kristine
“Spanda,” is the idea of all things existing in a rhythmic state of expansion and contracting, of pulsating energy. We live with this pulsation constantly — from our first inhalation and cry of exhalation at birth, to the final inhalation and exhalation at death. We are able to work with the flow of this as we hug our energy inward and expand it outward. And, let’s face it, the sanskrit word “spanda” sounds a lot like “spandex,” which both expands and hugs, all at the same time 🙂 Come to class and join invite the flow of spanda into your practice!
In yoga and Nia, we’ve been focusing on the core — that grounded center of the body, source of our sense of personal power and firey energy — and how that translates into the ways in which we claim and exercise our power in the world. A hero claims personal power and then uses it with great wisdom and courage. We (perhaps especially women) sometimes have an uneasy relationship with personal power. We are quick to give it away, and uncomfortable claiming it as our own.
Claiming our center, our core, our power, isn’t easy. I’m reminded of someone who came up to me after class, face glowing, and said “Wow . . . how did you get me to do that?” I responded by saying “YOU did it . . . all I did was provide the safe container, and the community around you provided the energy that helped give you the courage to go for it!”
On of my yoga teachers, Tiffany Wood, who has been in Moscow at Nourish Yoga teaching this week, spoke last night during class of the “Guru principle.” My take away from that class is that the guru isn’t a person, but rather that which opens your heart to its full potential. It is anything that teaches your entire being, even for a moment, how to sing. The guru connects the heart and the center — the true self and the source of power — and thus mentors the hero. As Tiffany said, your guru might be a blue yoga block, which when hugged tightly to your body, teaches it to open in a new way.
The guru and the hero are both, ultimately, inside of us, inviting us to know ourselves as we are, nudging us toward who we are becoming. Thanks to my teachers and to my students for being gurus and heroes this week.
Both yoga and Nia give us the opportunity to strengthen our core. Focusing on our core energy brings us right into the grounded, centered part of ourselves. I like to think it brings us in touch with our authentic, inner hero. The core brings us to that place of our will, our intent. To know that we are able to hug into it and expand out of it gives us a quality of confidence and assurance in our practice that can also be a lead for us as we face the challenges of daily life.
This week, my friend and teacher at Nourish Yoga Studio, Nancy Burtenshaw, has been putting us through the paces with binds. Binds are those poses you think of when you think yogis and yoginis in seemingly impossible positions — various appendages wrapped around various other body parts. Meanwhile, while in these binds, we’ve been exploring the back body, which in yoga is said to connect us to community and the more universal (front body is more our own will and individual self. In Nia, the back body is said to get us in touch with that which is unknown or less known. In every way, the practice takes us right to edge. Lots of intensity and curiosity at that point — an amazing place to “play” this week.
Kudos to a new friend for letting me borrow the “yoga dudes” image at right from his site. Reminds me to say special thanks to all of the “yoga dudes” I have the honor to teach each week . . . You guys/men know who you are, and YOU ROCK!
During yoga and Nia yesterday, we were reflecting upon the way in which, when kids play, they become totally immersed in whatever it is they are doing . . . They live fully in the moment. My friend, Patricia, just sent me this photo of a group of women on Cannon Beach celebrating the 50th birthday of one of them. A good reminder that we can play at whatever age! In a world that often distracts us, we can bring “lila,” or play into our lives by fully saying “yes” to the moment we find ourselves in . . . Another way to take yoga off the mat, or dance out of the studio, and into life!