Yoga

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


Bringing Light Into Our Wounded Places & Svadhyaya


Through yoga practice we find peace. This does not mean we ignore what is happening, and just hang out in that “happy place”!
It means we face life head-on!  We look at the hard stuff inside of us and outside in the world. That inner peace, is a reserve, so no matter what is going on outside,  you are coming from a place of peace, rather than fear, anger, hatred, greed or pride.
As yogis we discover another reality beyond hype and fear.   We chose compassion over and over.  We show up to create another reality beyond the divisiveness of racism, sexism, classism,  anti semitism. We look outside our individual socio-economic, racial, political, cultural bubbles to understand those we disagree with and those who we have been conditioned to see as “other”.  We have the courage to build bridges daily.
We continue to reflect and improve ourselves and how we interact in the world.  Svadhyaya – Self study,  Sva means “self’ adhyaya means “inquiry” or “examination” This is the 4th Niyama(Niyamas are one of 8 limbs of yoga) .
We heal our emotional wounds.  Often, especially in times of turmoil, we forget to go to the stillness and listen, to feel, to let our broken hearts weep, to grieve our losses.  Personally sometimes…. I felt so domesticated, so numb, so stoic, so inexpressive, yet, now  I am learning to tap into those wounded places and give them voice.  I have been finding where the old wounds live in my body and discovering ways to move/ wash/ breath  them out.  Doing this work is not pretty, calm or subtle, it is powerful, and can be fierce and messy, but it does not mean your hysterical or insane, you are just alive!
Here are some article links which I have chosen for you, who want to delve further, ( this is also recommended reading for those of you attending the Women’s Healing Yoga Journey on February 18th).
And finally, some  poetic  lyrics of Lenard Cohen’s  “Anthem” which comfort me in these times.(2017 in the USA)
The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.
Ah the wars they will
be fought again…
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up
a thundercloud
and they’re going to hear from me.
Every heart, every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in….
Namaste, Christina

Monday, January 30, 2017

Universal Morality and Personal Observances

I am writing from my own study and understanding of first two limbs of the Eight limbs of Yoga, Yama and Niyama. This is an introduction.  Further study of the Yoga Sutras is advised for continued learning.
 It is important when practicing these restraints and disciplines to be kind and non-judgemental of yourself and your progress.
 These are not things generally mastered, one by one,  these are  similar to lamp posts to guide your way at night or similar to a compass for your journeys. Yet, sometimes lessons will come from wandering off course and in the dark.  
They are not mastered in any order, but studied and contemplated frequently.  These are ideals that speak to our highest self, but we are here as humans and will likely fall short, maybe even frequently.  It is better to have this moral compass, even if we forget to use it, we can learn from wanderings, learn from our errors... and then study them again with new insight. Mindful progress over time and progress is certain.
First consider all Eight limbs (in the usual presented order)-  not as steps, for it is best to think of them as 8 spokes of a wheel. 
  1. Yama :  Universal morality
  2. Niyama :  Personal observances
  3. Asanas :  Body postures
  4. Pranayama :  Breathing exercises, and control of prana
  5. Pratyahara :  Control of the senses
  6. Dharana :  Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
  7. Dhyana :  Devotion, Meditation on the Divine
  8. Samadhi :  Union with the Divine
The 5 Yamas (Universal Morality) disciplines or self restraints that are primarily concerned with the world, and our interaction with it, in our day to day life
1. Ahimsa – Compassion for all living things Ahimsa implies that in every situation we should adopt a compassionate attitude and do no harm.
2. Satya – Commitment to Truthfulness 
Satya means "to speak the truth,"  and is based on the understanding that honest communication and action form the bedrock of any healthy relationship, community, or government.  Asking yourself before speaking, is it true? is it kind? is it necessary?
3. Asteya - Non-stealing 
 Take nothing that does not belong to you.  The practice of asteya implies not taking anything that has not been freely given. This includes fostering a consciousness of how we ask for others’ time, for example demanding another’s attention when not freely given is, in effect, stealing.
4. Brahmacharya - Sense control 
Brahmacharya  is abstinence, particularly in relationship to sexual activity. Brahmacharya suggests that we should form relationships that foster our understanding of the highest truths. It does not necessarily imply celibacy. It means responsible behavior, that we use our sexual energy to regenerate our connection to our spiritual self. It also means that we don’t use this energy in any way that might harm others.
5. Aparigraha - Neutralizing the desire to acquire and hoard wealth 
Aparigraha means to take only what is necessary, and not to take advantage of or act with greed.  Aparigraha also implies letting go of our attachments to things and an understanding that impermanence and change are the only constants.
The 5 Niyama (Personal Observances) The second limb usually refers to self discipline and also with our actions towards others in our day to day life.
1. Sauca - Purity 
Sauca is purity and cleanliness, outer cleanliness, daily washing etc, and Inner cleanliness for healthy,  functioning of our bodily organs and also the clarity of our mind.  Practicing asanas and pranayama are means for inner cleanliness.  Asanas tone the  body and removes toxins while pranayama cleanses our lungs, oxygenates our blood and purifies our nerves. Most important is t cleansing of the mind of  toxic emotions - hatred,  anger, lust, greed, delusion and pride.
2. Santosa - ContentmentSantosa is modesty and  being content with what we have. To be at peace within and content with one's lifestyle, finding contentment even while experiencing life’s difficulties then life becomes a process of growth through all circumstances. We begin to accept that there is a purpose for everything - yoga calls it karma – and we cultivate contentment to accept what life sends us and flow with it.
3. Tapas – Disciplined use of our energy 
Tapas refers to the activity of awareness and control of the body's energy.  Literally it means to heat the body and, by so doing, to cleanse it. This is the understanding that we can direct our energy to engage life and achieve the ultimate goal of  union with the Divine. Tapas helps us "burn up" the desires that stand in our way of union.  Other forms of tapas are paying attention to what we eat, to body posture, , eating habits, and breathing patterns.
4. Svadhyaya – Self studysvadhyaya. Sva means "self' adhyaya means "inquiry" or "examination".  All activities which cultivate self-reflective consciousness can be considered svadhyaya. It means to intentionally find self-awareness , even to the point of welcoming and accepting our limitations. Learning to be centered and non-reactive to the dualities, and to dispel self-destructive tendencies.
5. Isvarapranidhana - Celebration , devotion to the Spiritual 
Isvarapranidhana  is  contemplation on God (Isvara) It is the recognition that the spiritual is everywhere and  through our deepening awareness we can attune ourselves with our role as part of the Creator.  The practice requires that we make time, each day, to recognize that there is some omnipresent force larger than ourselves that is guiding and moving the the universe. this might be meditation, prayer ,study or service.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Peace into the New Year 2017


2016, this too, shall pass. Whew!

Perhaps this crazy time is meant to awaken us to new ways of being.

The darkest is right before the dawn.

Let’s be the dawning. 


Some ideas for creating deeper inner peace ~~~~~~~~~

~ Awaken with a prayer or sense of gratitude for another day. Look at the sunrise or anything beautiful for a few moments before starting your day.

~ Be receptive, allowing, and curious. Be willing to forgo your schedule. Try setting this as an intention before getting out of bed; see it in your mind’s eye! Be ready for surprises; keep open to the freedom of the unknown. Change is the only constant.
                            
~ Walk in the great outdoors – with curiosity and wonder! Walk tall, without fear into whatever arises.

~ A daily spiritual practice ~ You do have time! Try setting your phone timer for 2-3 minutes and focus on your breath, slowing it and deepening it, receiving nourishing oxygen from the Universe on your inhales, and Letting go of tension on your exhales. When you’re done, notice how you feel. Do it daily. This is meditation, one of the 8 limbs of yoga! ~ Spiritual practices are nourishment, elevating your vibration to help you have power to react creatively and constructively to what comes up in life.

~ Stay in the moment ~ Now is where life happens. The present is our point of power. To live in the moment is so fulfilling. This is liberation. No matter what is going on outside of you, open up to the possibility of experiencing freedom in this moment.

~ Lift your energy in a private session with me! We will discuss what is up for you and find new tools that support your moving forward. I offer yoga including breath work & adjustments, reiki, or a healing session using all of these.

Whole-hearted thank you for the support and co-creation this past year. I look forward to evolving with you in 2017!
Love, Love, Love,
 Christina

***New evening class thursdays, 6pm, Versatile Vitality, 4100 Silver SE Platinum building, 1st floor - lovely space - easy parking, $9 drop-in !!!! &multi-class bundle discount.     ******Two gong sound bath healings with Sat Guru Kaur - Jan. 21st Saturday 6-8pm in Albuquerque, and Thursday Jan. 26th 6:30pm at The Garden Gate Day Spa in Las Lunas 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Ahimsa and Standing Rock




Ahimsa and Standing Rock


Dear Sisters and Brothers,
One aspect of the eight limbs of yoga is Ahimsa – Compassion for all living things. Ahimsa means not to injure or show cruelty to any creature or any person. Practicing kindness, and compassion towards all living things.
We are all citizens of Earth.  A small number of people who have power and immense wealth live in so much fear and isolation that they act with outrageous insane greed. They’ve worked tirelessly for generation after generation to manipulate the rest of us to judge and fight among ourselves so we won’t rise to power.  Most of the manipulation is subtle and all of it pervasive, some of it costs lives, creates wars, poisons rivers and destroys ecosystems.
It tells us that one group of people, women, people of color, people of this or that religious faith, are somehow less than human, and that everyday violence against a group of people is excusable.
As a US citizen, at this point in history,  I will state where I stand.  I have been following what is going on at Standing Rock, ND.  This could be the beginning of positive change, or end horribly for the planet. I believe it is up to each us to make sure the outcome is positive change even though it isn’t easy change… even if it changes our holiday plans.
Please ponder the following;
  • This is an extraordinary example of organised, non-violent, peaceful resistance. Ahimsa
  • The historical context is vast. Consider, Kennedy, Cesar Chavez and Delano
  • A people deeply oppressed for 500 years is asking and trusting they will have help, Allies. That is us!   When I think about how truly brave this is… no words.
  • Though the DAPL hired security, police and Army Core of Engineers have been undeniably violent, these brave women, “protectors” are talking about forgiveness !
  • Americans who care about freedom and justice are flocking to Standing Rock to support the Sioux, just as justice loving Americans of an earlier generation went to Selma, to Jackson and to Delano.
  • At this time in the USA, when the rights of people of color, and the rights of people of various faiths, and the rights of all women are being threatened, native women are in true rolls of leadership for this movement.
At this time, with the current political climate, maybe it is the love of the Land (purple mountains majesty…) and the love of ideals of the US Constitution that will bring diverse women and men together, from sea to shining sea.
I believe this has started at Standing Rock.  I believe We the People are vastly more powerful than our “elected representatives and leaders”.
Patriotically & peacefully yours,  Christina  www.happymountainyoga.com

   UPDATE   Army Corps Denies Easement For Dakota Access Pipeline  This is very good news. This is the power of well organized non-violent action by The Lakota People and many Allies! There are many same, similar and other issues to deal with and all of our participation is key! 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Dear Ones,                                 September 2016
Change is in the winds.  Children are off to school.  Mine is on the other side of the planet, far away for longer than ever before.  I have cried, already missing her, yet,  I praise the woman she's become, and cry happy tears!  When we talk my heart swells and she makes me laugh, often. For me, Autumn is a time of rest or wildness, or both.  Every autumn, I  am aware of my own domestication process,  school, learning to contain myself, sit still, follow directions, and hold back expression.   So, I  cry more this time of year, missing my wildness. I want to dance with abandon, let tears roll, and laugh until my sides ache and eyes water. Not all the time, of course, but more, deeper.
As autumn deepens, it is a time of decay and dying,  to let go of what has finished it’s time. Some of what we let go of, we may need to grieve. 
I recently listened to these talks, Grief and Praise by a South American Shaman, Martin Prechtel.  His way of speaking is humble and funny.   I hope some of you listen and enjoy this as much as I did, at least read my  notes here.  He reminded me of the medicine of tears (and laughter). 
I am paraphrasing some of Martin Prechtel's talk here…
“The ability to weep is a gift. Laughter and weeping are relatives.   Praise and grief live in the same house, sleep in the same bed. Weeping is not depression, not sadness…it is lack of grieving. Tears loosen  medicine…This is why we feel so alive when grief is done…done properly…there is not a right way, but…you look a mess when you’re done and feel so alive~!  Grief brings you back to life. Grief is a form of praise of life, the gift of being alive.
He talked about how important it is to praise young people,... all their ideas, praise them well, all the time, listen to them and teach them how to grieve properly.  Let then see you grieve so they will know how..... The ”tough” youth play out our illness, for us to see- they act flat- like they feel nothing....flat. (he tells a funny story in the talk)
 When something dies it is important to grieve, or it is as if it was never alive. You can’t deal with it yourself; it takes a community…To grieve properly takes a lot of people, hundreds of people...  Praise is better that way too.  
When the tears roll you have to listen to the person. Nothing to solve… they are in that place, listen to them, let it rock.. Same with happiness... let it roll... Grief makes people care for each other...We love expression in the village, the people watch out for you. People praise and grieve in such a way that the village holds them up while they do it".  
Here is a prayer he spoke in native language, then in English, then explained it's meaning  Long Line, Honey in the Heart, tears of Gods, white roads, paved with the eyebrows of the moon, which is sea foam.  All color roads, which are paved with abundance, from the tail of the morning star, which is the deer.    No evils, 13 thank-yous
Namaste,   Christina  
Dragonflies do you see the frog?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


What Yoga Is and Is Not.

Know What you are getting into, it might not be an “exercise class”!
YOGA IS NOT:
    ·      A physical exercise class


·      A religion


·      Simple

·      Being a contortionist

·      A sport

·      A quick fix to anything

·      Something you master completely on any given day, there is no finish line.
 YOGA IS:


·      Moving Meditation. 

·      Focused Concentration and keen awareness of mind and body.

·      Control of the breath, with movement synchronized to the breath: awareness always with the breath.

·      Vinyasa- a flow through a series of movements - One breath to one movement.  An example is sun salutations.  Vinyasa warms the body from inside and increases meditative focus, awareness of the breath.

·      Asanas- (“poses” and the movement into, with-in and out of them) which build to more difficult Asanas, creating greater freedom of mind and body.

·      A process. Each movement towards, with-in and transition out of an asana is a journey towards mind-body integration, flexibility and strength with-in that asana.

·      Yoga is complex. This is why it is a process! Usually a rather slow process in the beginning.

·      Always a whole being (body-mind-emotions) experience. Expect to change more than your body!

·      Vinyasa and asana are only one of the eight limbs of yoga Philosophy.

·      The goal of yoga is no less than Enlightenment, (knowledge/understanding/insight which brings freedom).

·      The rewards are mastery over the mind and a strong, flexible, yet supple, body.

·       Yoga was originally created so that a person could remain in seated, still in meditation without being distracted by discomfort in the body.

·      It is a philosophy. One branch of Yoga, Devotion, can be devotion in the religious sense, but this is a personal choice.

·      Yoga has been attributed as great tools for religion, or spiritual growth, no matter what faith or philosophy a person believes. The practice of yoga as lifestyle is expanded understanding, compassion, inner peace and peaceful conduct, eventually all of life becomes a moving meditation


Namaste, Christina

Saturday, January 30, 2016

How does our lifestyle affect our mobility?


 
Our mobility, health, physical, mental and emotional well-being are affected by the way we live.

 
Lifestyle can be changed, and with understanding and patience it can evolve to support health of mind, body and spirit.

You may be pleased and surprised at the things you will be able to do with patience and practice. Being aware of daily activities and how to do them in such a way as to support health and well-being can make a huge difference.

 
These are several factors inhibiting mobility which I have seen effect myself and most people I know:

 

Outward focus focus on the job(s) at hand rather than keeping focus on the body doing the job.  In physical education and sports the focus is on the ball, with the team, and the competition. When introspection and body awareness are valued, movement becomes more fluid, safer, and meditative, leading to more useful mobility and reduction of stress.

 

Chairs Think about it - sitting in chairs uses a very limited range of motion in the hips compared with sitting on ground, squatting, or on low cushions several times a day. In olden times and currently in many places, particularly in rural areas, people daily sit or squat on the ground or floors throughout their lifetime, not only when they are young.

  
 








 

Cars – We walk far less than we did historically and compared to rural people. Walking is the most underrated exercise/ activity in modern culture. Many people don’t walk daily or for more than a few steps, many days of our lives, yet daily walking is great for our whole bodies including our posture.  In many large cities  like, New York, NY, people walk as their primary means of transportation. See my earlier post- Walking is the Most Underrated Exercise.

         
 


           

Seat-toilets –Squatting uses a great range of motion in the hips legs ankles and feet Also squatting is the best way for the body to completely eliminate waste. There have been numerous studies showing that the more open position of the colon when squatting leads to easier elimination and fewer problems associated with it.

 

Shallow breathing- Yes, most all of us tend to do this! Deep breathing is essential to mind/body connection, physical performance, and true relaxation. Deep breathing and breath control are essential to progress in any physical practice. When I instruct new students to breathe deeply, more often than not, they do a fast shallow breath and hold it then exhale fast as well. Deep controlled breathing takes much daily practice.

 
“Sit still” - many of us are conditioned from early on to not move. After kindergarten, children in school move-about very little for most of the 7 hour school day. e.g. no longer sitting on the floor, standing, stretching or free play.

To hold the body in one position, at computer, TV, phone, in a car, formed into a chair without some movement (especially of the spine) promotes poor posture and weaker core strength when it is done over days and weeks and years (7 hour school day, 8 hour work-week).







Even infants and toddlers in car-seats and strollers need to move frequently (15+ minutes at a time I believe is a long time to “sit still” unless resting or sleeping, and there should still be room to move as the child intuitively will do).






Those fidgeting children in school may have been doing (or trying to do) the right thing for their body!


Not resting  when we are tired.
                                                                I love this picture! Restorative yoga, farm style! So much of the time people drink coffee or tea to keep going, when really they need a rest. Quality rest is a benefit of an active lifestyle, remember how well you slept as a child after active playing all day?
 

We live in a culture of quick-fixes- We are way too easily discouraged.  We expect instant and fast results, and tend to become discouraged if we don’t do something well within the first few days or weeks. Yet we all know that people don't become masterful at anything without years of study and practice. 

Because of all these trends in modern life, many people experience stiffness (inhibited movement)*, discomfort, and often even pain in the tissues of the body. With this, there is also atrophy of the neural pathways; even your brain needs some re-training! *There are other factors also, such as age, injuries and illnesses that effect people’s mobility worldwide.

 

It is disheartening to realize we how much we may have “lost”.  

The good news is it can be gained back with patience and practice.

No wonder getting started is difficult! Do it anyway!!!  And accept yourself exactly where you are at and enjoy the journey! Find teachers who challenge you and genuinely care.  

All the best, Christina
 

If you stay mindful of some basic ideas it might be easier get started.  If you are interested in yoga, you may want to read this blog to know what you’re getting into What Yoga Is and Is Not.