Dance like No One is Watching … because no one IS watching

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

 

Well-worn Grooves

What “roads” do you walk, everyday, without even thinking about it?  Are they beautiful and centering, or paths  that no longer serve you?

We’ve probably all seen it, even walked it – the dirt road with the well-worn grooves.  The road traveled the same way by the same set of tires or pair of feet so many times that another path no longer seems possible.  When the dirt road is our life and the grooves are our habits, so well-worn into our daily living that they seem inseparable from our being, they are called “samskaras” in Sanskrit.  Samskara refers to all of the ways in which our mind has become habituated – positive and negative – to think in particular patterns and follow regular courses of thought, causing us to act and react in certain ways, often without thinking.  Yoga practice seeks to do two things.  The first is to recognize old samskara that might be limiting our lives or our growth, and to create and replace it with healthy samskara.   The second is to use our asana practice to “shake it up” a bit –  to carry out a practice that is not always determined by our habit, but one that helps us to clear out our mind and become less bound by “the same old, same old.”  The idea is that when we are able to recognize habits within our movement and our bodies and become less bound by them, this practice, eventually, helps us to let go of the habits, ways of thinking, judgments, old stories, that keep us bound in unproductive ways in our lives.

Consider taking a new path today.   See anything new?