Yoga Mountain Studio http://yogamountainstudio.com Yoga Classes & Events in Fairfax, Marin County Sat, 14 Apr 2018 23:24:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.5 Yoga for the FEET…“How do you walk in the world”? With Charlotte Hamilton http://yogamountainstudio.com/yoga-feet-walk-world Sun, 04 Mar 2018 15:41:23 +0000 http://yogamountainstudio.com/?p=2092 Feet! They are always with us and for that reason, it is easy to take our feet for granted.  Just by paying attention to your two heels, ten toes, and buoyant arches you can learn how they impact your capacity to stand and walk in the world on many levels. If you look at the […]

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Feet! They are always with us and for that reason, it is easy to take our feet for granted.  Just by paying attention to your two heels, ten toes, and buoyant arches you can learn how they impact your capacity to stand and walk in the world on many levels.

If you look at the soles of your shoes you will see where you habitually bear the weight of your body. Conversely, if you look at your feet you can gather some interesting information about how your shoes are helping your developing bunions, plantar fasciitis, and hammertoes!

The feet are the foundation of your posture and with proper attention, you can do a lot about their overall health.  So, ask yourself,…..”What would healthy feet look like?”  It is not really about how great your pedicure is, is it?  It is about aliveness, energy, and vibrancy. How do you feel in your feet?  What is the impact of feeling grounded?  Of feeling insecure?  How do these physical realities impact the rest of your body, your overall posture?

According to Buddhism, Yoga, Ayurveda, Reflexology, Rolfing, and Pilates, how you stand and WALK in the world really DOES matter.  And the health of your feet are literally at the bottom of it all!

“Feet are like the root of a tree.  If one can’t stand properly on one’s feet, one develops a negative attitude toward life…”              BKS Iyengar Light on Life

Charlotte Hamilton- 1000+ hours of training and over 10 years of full time teaching in NYC; alignment (Alison West, kula yoga project) and Vinyasa (Kula and Jivamukti).  Currently enrolled in a 9-month Iyengar institute training.  This particular Workshop stems from Debbie Green’s 2007 Bunions Workshop as well as heartening transformative private work)

Sign up for Charlotte’s workshop, Yoga for the feet, Sunday, March 11th, 1-4 pm at www.yogamountainstudio.com  in Fairfax…Yoga is our expertise.

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Yoga Sutra Immersion with Ramana Erickson http://yogamountainstudio.com/yoga-sutra-immersion Mon, 26 Feb 2018 17:34:16 +0000 http://yogamountainstudio.com/?p=2076 Did you know that “Yoga” is not just asanas and pranayama, but is in fact, one of the six major philosophies of Ancient India? Many of you reading this now probably have a deep and fulfilling Hatha Yoga practice or are teachers of Hatha Yoga. It is a wonderful thing you are doing, and I […]

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Did you know that “Yoga” is not just asanas and pranayama, but is in fact, one of the six major philosophies of Ancient India?

Yoga Sutra Immersion_Ramana EricksonMany of you reading this now probably have a deep and fulfilling Hatha Yoga practice or are teachers of Hatha Yoga. It is a wonderful thing you are doing, and I commend you on your efforts. What you may not be aware of, is that the asanas and pranayama that comprise Hatha Yoga are only a small (but significant) part of the totality that is the philosophy and practice known as Yoga.

I’d like to invite you now to join us at Yoga Mountain Studio either in person or online to plunge into the depths of Yoga philosophy. The Yoga Sutra immersion with Ramana Erickson will start on Wednesday, February 28th 11:15 – 12:45, and continue every Monday and Wednesday thereafter until March 19th (six sessions).

What is the definition of Yoga?

Probably the most famous definition is that Yoga comes from the Sanskrit root “yuj” which means to “unite.” But unite what? That’s the million-dollar question! Throughout history, saints and sages have defined Yoga in different ways. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna takes Yoga from various angles and defines it accordingly. In fact, each of the 18 Chapters of the Gita defines a different “flavor” of Yoga.

Hence the chapter titles are each named as a different Yoga – Sankhya Yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Abhyasa Yoga etc. And within the chapters, Krishna comes up with various definitions of Yoga. In Chapter Two he states: “Yogaha Karmasu Kaushalam” – “Yoga is skill in action.” In other sections he states that Yoga is meeting all that comes to us in life with an equanimous mind.

But it is with Patanjali’s systematic, scientific approach to Yoga that we see it defined in its deepest, simplest, and profoundest sense. The Yoga Sutras are a user guide for the Yogini or Yogi to navigate the inner world, to dive deep within the core of one’s essential and fundamental nature. Each short sutra is densely packed with layers and levels of meaning. As each sutra is unpacked, the vastness and beauty that is the philosophy and practice of Yoga is revealed.

Deepening your understanding of this ancient and beautiful Yoga philosophy and practice will benefit your own practice immensely, bringing new insight and awareness. You will look at Yoga with a new set of eyes! If you are a Yoga teacher, going deeply into the philosophy of Yoga will add a depth and profundity to your teaching that was not there before.

I look forward to exploring this inner journey of Self-revelation with you in this Yoga Sutra Immersion!

Yoga Sutra Immersion – Wednesday, February 28, 11:15 – 12:45

Monday, March 5, 11:15 – 12:45

Wednesday, March 7, 11:15 – 12:45

Monday, March 12, 11:15 – 12:45

Wednesday, March 14, 11:15 – 12:45

Monday, March 19, 11:15 – 12:45

Space at Yoga Mountain is very limited, so be sure to Sign up right away if you want to attend this immersion in person. It will also be offered live-streamed online, and each session will be recorded so that they can be reviewed at any time. Sign up – Online Sutra Immersion here for to attend live stream.

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Pranayama with Nubia Teixeira – May our Breath be Our Prayer http://yogamountainstudio.com/pranayama-may-breath-prayer Mon, 19 Feb 2018 15:59:26 +0000 http://yogamountainstudio.com/?p=2056 PRANAYAMA: One of the most essential and vital functions of our bodies is the action of breathing. An average adult takes at least 20,000 breaths a day. Without breath, there is no life to animate our physical bodies and without the understanding of the relevancy of the breathing process, we cannot take the most advantage […]

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Pranayama with Nubia Teixeira - May our Breath be Our Prayer

PRANAYAMA:

One of the most essential and vital functions of our bodies is the action of breathing. An average adult takes at least 20,000 breaths a day.

Without breath, there is no life to animate our physical bodies and without the understanding of the relevancy of the breathing process, we cannot take the most advantage of this bodily function. Breathing properly optimizes our level of vitality and supports us with purification and transformation.

The yogis of the past understood the importance of the breath; they foresaw how the process of breathing links our inner and outer worlds; and they used this bridge to reunite mind, body, and spirit.

The word Pranayama is derived from two Sanskrit terms: Prana which means vital energy; and Ayama, which means to control or/or to expand. The intention of the practice of Pranayama is to breathe in a conscious way, honoring of the life force within our physical bodies, and becoming aware of the supportive flow of energy that penetrates our bodies with the breath.

Via breathing exercises, we learn how to direct this special force inside of our own bodies for healing, for expanding our consciousness, and for personal spiritual growth.

Of course, the first step is to learn the rudimentary techniques and create a strong foundation to build upon. From the basics to the more advanced practices, we can gradually and naturally evolve with this practice and allow the practice of Pranayama to become a path within our larger Yoga practice.

Developing a relationship with the breath will facilitate the drawing in of the senses (Pratyahara) and provide us with a  deeper connection to our the inner world. It might also support us with the awakening of the dormant sensations and/or memories within our awareness. With the understanding that, where there is breath there is light, we might be able to use these breathing techniques to awaken our latent potentials in order to give ourselves more fully to life and to others.

I like to approach breath work as a way to connect with the Divine within me and all around me, teaching Pranayama from technique to prayer.

“Prana, the vital energy present in the air that we breath is what links our inner and outer environments. This same force interconnects us with all of creation.Through our conscious breath, let us offer our healing light to all beings and recognize the sacred in ourselves and in all the manifested worlds.  May our Breath be our Prayer.…”

Breathing can be both, a voluntary and an involuntary process. It started the moment we separated from our mother’s womb and became an individual that connected to the world around us. The first breath of life was probably the biggest breath we ever took and awoke the reality of our individuality and our uniqueness. That first breath was our first dialogue with life and  it created a bridge between the human and the divine for us.

“The gods breathe along with the breath, as also humans and animals; the breath is the life of all beings. Therefore, it is called the Life of All. They who worship Brahman as breath attain to a full life, for the breath is the life of all beings. Therefore it is called the life of all. The breath is indeed the embodied soul of the physical body” (Taittiriya Upanishad 2.3.1)

To breathe deeply means to fully relate to the world around us, without fears, restrictions or reservations; to give us fully to others and relate to life with openness. It is by breathing fully that we open ourselves to universal energies and to others around us.

Join me this upcoming Saturday for an afternoon workshop at Yoga Mountain Fairfax

Pranayama: May Our Breath Be Our Prayer

Sat Date: Feb 24 2018 From: 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM

In this workshop, I will approach breathing techniques as a tool to develop self-knowledge and self-healing.

You will learn the foundational techniques of yogic breathing, and practice different types of pranayama that will create different results: soothing, balancing or energizing.

All levels are welcomed and more advanced practitioners will be given advanced variations.

More Learning through:

* Relaxation with conscious breathing

* Practice of Prana Kriya – Cleansing Breath Meditation

* Five different types of Breathing techniques that will support you for different needs

* Chanting

You will leave this afternoon with a better sense of well being and a bag full of breathing techniques to apply to your day to day life.

“Breath, verily, is food. The body is the ‘eater’ of that food. In breath is the body established; in the body is the breath established” (Taittiriya Upanishad ).

http://yogamountainstudio.com/workshops

THANK YOU
Nubia

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Wishing Ribbon Ritual – Yoga for Changing Seasons http://yogamountainstudio.com/wishing-ribbon-ritual-yoga-changing-seasons Thu, 15 Feb 2018 22:02:27 +0000 http://yogamountainstudio.com/?p=2047 Is it really February or is it Spring Are you confused with this “global” weather we are having lately? Are you aware of how this is affecting your body? Your yoga practice? We’re all aware of the 4 major seasons of Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. What many of us don’t know are the 4 […]

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Wishing Ribbon Ritual - Yoga for Changing Seasons Is it really February or is it Spring

Are you confused with this “global” weather we are having lately?

Are you aware of how this is affecting your body? Your yoga practice?

We’re all aware of the 4 major seasons of Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. What many of us don’t know are the 4 magical “seasons within seasons” that offer us in-between opportunities for deeper awareness.

Each of these “mini-seasons” were as obvious to our ancestors as the standard 4 seasons are to us today. The difference is that our ancestors understood how to adapt and move through these magical times with knowledge for survival as normal as our morning alarm clock. Reclaiming this information for ourselves in 2018 can lead us into discovering not only lost ancestral traditions but more self-awareness and richness in our daily lives.

Starting with our Winter, we blossom into Spring. The mini-season that takes us through to that point is called, Imbolc. February begins to align itself with Imbolc and initiates what will become the abundance of new life carried through Spring. This is the time when the season starts to pull itself slowly from the cold embrace of Winter and crawl towards the ever warming Spring sunshine. It’s a time of hope and wonder, and of seeing the world through beginners eyes. When we take the time to see and experience things through the lens of this type of youthful optimism, it grants us access to endless possibilities.

This is what makes Imbolc the perfect time to set our intentions and resolutions for the year. When we align ourselves to the season in this way, our wishes & our intentions, grow alongside the energy of all that is coming to fruition outside ourselves. When we drop into this rhythm, we cultivate a foundation for a more sustainable and healthy life on the inside. It can feel like the difference between going with the flow or fighting your way upstream.

In practice, Imbolc is a great time to witness and honor all the small miracles of life with small rituals. The new blades of grass pushing their way up or the dandelion that’s managed to emerge from that crack in the concrete can inspire a moment of reflection, prayer or honoring with a special acknowledgment.

A ritual that I like to do each year uses “wishing ribbons” as a way to work with intentions & resolutions for the new year. I introduce this and other rituals into my practice to create a fuller, more enriching awareness of the wonder and magic of this time of year. Here is how I do it!

How to practice Wishing Ribbons Ritual

  1. Come up with potent words to help describe your intentions for the new season.
  2. Write them on colorful ribbons.
  3. Pick a tree that you may feel a special affinity for and tie the ribbons securely onto its branches.
  4. Let the fresh air and wind of Imbolc brush across your ribbon.
  5. Watch it dance and unfold your wishes out into the world!

This is just one way to celebrate this particular mini-season. Guess what..there are three more! And three more ways to create intention, ritual and help expand your awareness & light into your life and the world!

Join Marina Gustacci in her First Seasonal Workshop: Yoga for Changing Seasons at Yoga Mountain Studio. Sunday, February 18, 1:30-4:30pm. Sign up HERE!

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The Inner Power Of Arm Balance by Crystal Hatzimichael http://yogamountainstudio.com/inner-power-arm-balance http://yogamountainstudio.com/inner-power-arm-balance#comments Wed, 10 Jan 2018 15:19:01 +0000 http://yogamountainstudio.com/?p=2028 As a massage therapist, I avoided doing handstands for many years. Whenever I attempted to go upside down, my wrists hurt and it made absolutely no sense to ask my hands to do any more than they already had to! I thought that using them for handstands would only create injury for me. And, because […]

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Handstands WorkshopAs a massage therapist, I avoided doing handstands for many years. Whenever I attempted to go upside down, my wrists hurt and it made absolutely no sense to ask my hands to do any more than they already had to! I thought that using them for handstands would only create injury for me. And, because my precious hands, wrists and fingers were my livelihood, I didn’t want to chance it.

With every weekly Yoga and Acroyoga class I attended, I noticed that handstands were becoming more and more popular. But I still couldn’t understand why people were so jazzed, addicted and totally inspired by these inverted postures. I figured I could get all the benefits of a handstand by just lying on the floor with my legs up the wall or even reclining on an inversion table. Right?

I continued to tell myself this story which I’m sure was just to keep my feelings of discomfort and inadequacy at bay. Even though I disliked handstands in my own body, I was still curious about why others loved them so much.

I kept taking handstand workshop after handstand workshop over the course of 10 years because my Acro partner and I were committed to doing partner hand balancing acts together. And in each workshop, I would hit a point of pain and frustration but I wouldn’t give up.

And guess what…?

…My wrists stopped hurting!

And the more I kept learning the proper form and understanding the biomechanics of inverted postures, the more consistent and comfortable I became. I started feeling stronger, lighter and with each inversion…Successful.

I was becoming one of those “addicted to inverting” kind of people and the more I practiced, the more confident I felt to do more. I also started noticing how handstands would shift my perspective and lift my mood. The transformation was real and I wanted to understand more. So, I decided to share it with students who were also ready to move through their discomfort, fear, inadequacy and write a new story for themselves.
Crystal Hatzimichael and Sienna Smith
How can you achieve these benefits…?

…Well let me tell ya!

Confidence – This comes from knowing your body, your strengths, weaknesses and knowing what you need to do to kick up and balance. It also comes from knowing how to fall or come down safely.


Shift in perspective
– While in the handstand you get the benefit of seeing the world upside down which can directly transfer over to your day to day life experiences. It sure has helped me when I faced challenging problems. One of my favorite therapies is to go for a trail run and pause for a handstand or two right in the middle of the run.  This has been so effective in helping me figure out other solutions to my problem as well as shifting my mood.

Mood enhancement – There is something about all the effort it takes to perform a handstand. Plus, when you come out of the pose and the blood rushes back into your upright body you experience PURE BLISS. The chemicals released in your body at that time are called endorphins and with those surging through, all the tension, stuckness and restrictions of the mind, the emotional and physical body seem to melt away.

My handstand practice is far from over. The more I discover, the more I know there is more to uncover and I love sharing my knowledge and experience.

So, I look forward to going upside down with you soon!

Please sign up for our Inner Power Of Arm Balance workshop by clicking this link.

See you on the mat!

Crystal Hatzimichael
Certified Vinyasa Flow and AcroYoga Instructor

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Introduction to the 5 Niyamas – The 5 Yogic Self Care Practices http://yogamountainstudio.com/introduction-5-niyamas-5-yogic-self-care-practices Tue, 07 Nov 2017 12:32:30 +0000 http://yogamountainstudio.com/?p=1969 So many of us begin our practice of yoga with the postures (asanas) or in other words with the physical practice of yoga. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this as it often provides us with a safe entry into this broad and profound path of yoga. But in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the […]

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Erika_Trice_Workshop_YogaMountainStudio.com So many of us begin our practice of yoga with the postures (asanas) or in other words with the physical practice of yoga. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this as it often provides us with a safe entry into this broad and profound path of yoga.

But in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the actual starting point for the practice is the Yamas and the Niyamas.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is a sacred philosophical text written by the sage Patanjali sometime between 500 and 200 BCE. The text provides insights and practices for self-development.

The Yamas and the Niyamas are part of the 8 limbs of yoga according to Patanjali. The Yamas come first. They are the social ethics part of our yoga practice. Harmlessness, Truthfulness, Non-Stealing, Moderation of our Sensual Behaviour and Greedlessness. Basically; all of the qualities that make up good behavior.

According to Patanjali, these ethical disciplines are the necessary ground for a healthy and successful yogic practice.

The Niyamas are the 2nd limb. They are about personal self-care. They are often called the 5 internal observances because they are practices we do in order to maintain a healthy, balanced internal environment.

For me, these 5 observances are what I consider to be the backbone of my yoga practice. I think of them as being part of self-discipline regime. The kind of self-discipline that cultivates clarity of purpose and the inner strength needed to stay committed.

The 5 Niyamas are Purity, Contentment, Dedication, Self Study, and Devotion.

The interesting thing about the Niyamas is that they strengthen and protect the Yamas. For instance, if one is content, then one will not consider stealing. The Yamas and the Niyamas go hand in hand when it comes to creating a life that is calmer and more balanced.

My personal yoga practice really began to deepen when I took into consideration these first two limbs. My time on the mat became so much more than the achievement of the postures and much more about the quality of my practice time and the effect it had on the rest of my life.

In the words of one of my first yoga teachers, Judith Lasater, “If your practice is not supporting you in becoming a kinder, more compassionate and joyful person, change your practice because it is not working.

Choosing to delve a little deeper into these aspects of your yogic studies will inevitably bring you the tools to help you flourish in your yoga practice and your life, in ways you never expected.

To find out more about Erika Trice and her next upcoming workshop:

An Introduction To The 5 Yamas And Asana, Sunday, April 29th, 2018 – Time: 2:00 pm – 5:30 pm

REGISTER here at YogaMountainStudio.com

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Coming Home: Practice Gentle Yoga & Vipassana Meditation with Elizabeth Shelhart http://yogamountainstudio.com/coming-home-practice-gentle-yoga-vipassana-meditation-elizabeth-shelhart Tue, 24 Oct 2017 08:23:51 +0000 http://yogamountainstudio.com/?p=1921 What does coming home mean to you? Sometimes it’s the simple pleasure of standing upright with awareness that is the pinnacle pose of your yoga practice. “Fancy” poses can be fun but aren’t always accessible to everyone. My knee injury has taught me this. As a yoga teacher with over 16 years of experience, I […]

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 Quiet Mind, Peaceful Heart with Elizabeth ShelhartWhat does coming home mean to you? Sometimes it’s the simple pleasure of standing upright with awareness that is the pinnacle pose of your yoga practice. “Fancy” poses can be fun but aren’t always accessible to everyone. My knee injury has taught me this. As a yoga teacher with over 16 years of experience, I have found that all abilities can find joy in the aliveness of their moving and breathing bodies. Actually, awareness comes first. The thrill of asana is simply icing on the cake of presence and love.

Tonight a student joined my yoga class who hadn’t consciously moved her body in 12 years. After multiple spinal surgeries and an autoimmune condition, she stopped doing anything except the necessary- walking from car to door, sitting at work, etc.  As our gentle yoga class progressed, I could see her fear melt, connection grow, and softness settle in. Her tears of joy were my gift as her teacher and guide. She arrived in her body and returned home. It can be that simple.

I used to be a hyper-bendy yogini that others in class would steal inquisitive glances at during practice. I felt like my body had no limitations.  I would trail run or mountain bike for hours without so much as a trace of soreness or fatigue.  I was a disciplined gymnast before becoming a yogi. Once I hit the mat at the ripe age of 18, I could twist, jump, or lift into just about any pose I tried.  One armed handstand.  Fun! Drop backs. Smooth as silk.

However, my practice now with some pretty major physical limitations is richer and deeper than ever before.  Why?  I am connected to the moment in an entirely different way.  My full presence, at least on most days, lands with my body on my meditation cushion or yoga mat.  My forced slowing down has also beautifully tuned me in.  I am fully aware of how I’m moving now, not simply what I’m aiming toward.  This creates immense pleasure and fulfillment in my daily practice.  I would dare say even more joy than in those earlier years of trying to get into that elusive full lotus handstand.

I don’t want to live with knee pain for the rest of my life, but for now I am grateful. As my knee continues to heal, I now see this injury as a wise teacher who has shown up at the perfect time to open the door to the subtle layers of yoga.  I view my practice in a whole new light.  It’s an absolute privilege to have this body even with its pains. The emotional and mental aspects of each pose and each breath are more alive than ever before.

Where I used to push, now I soften.  I wait for my body’s invitation to deepen or back off when practicing asana. I see and feel these very real boundaries and honor them. Just like my student who came home to her body after so long, I have come home too. What began as struggle has culminated in greater freedom. This is after all the ultimate fruit of practice.

Please join me next weekend for my Quiet Mind, Peaceful Heart workshop on Saturday, Oct. 28, 3-5 pm. We will explore the Four Foundations of Mindfulness to assist in deepening our meditation as well as gentle yoga practices. Give yourself this gift and come home.

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Help for Napa & Sonoma County Fire Victims: Be Our Guest http://yogamountainstudio.com/napa-sonoma-fire-victims-be-our-guest http://yogamountainstudio.com/napa-sonoma-fire-victims-be-our-guest#comments Thu, 19 Oct 2017 10:24:32 +0000 http://yogamountainstudio.com/?p=1900 At Yoga Mountain Studio, our first response is to TAKE CARE.   Anyone displaced by the Fire due to evacuation or loss of home. Please be our guest at Yoga Mountain in Fairfax this WEEK. We are offering free yoga classes to all those who displaced from the Sonoma/Napa fires. Heal your heart and breath […]

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At Yoga Mountain Studio, our first response is to TAKE CARE.

 

Fire_Victims_Help_YogaMountainStudio.com

Anyone displaced by the Fire due to evacuation or loss of home. Please be our guest at Yoga Mountain in Fairfax this WEEK.

We are offering free yoga classes to all those who displaced from the Sonoma/Napa fires. Heal your heart and breath easy in one of our 33 Yoga Classes. See our online schedule for more ways to mend.

We Love You.

Namaste.

Please forward to your friends. Let us all help Napa & Sonoma County Fire Victims and Evacuees, who have been displaced or lost their homes in the fire, find some relief.

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Scared Shitless? 3 Ways Yoga Can Help http://yogamountainstudio.com/scared-shitless-3-ways-yoga-can-help Tue, 12 Sep 2017 21:32:27 +0000 http://yogamountainstudio.com/?p=1773 Of course we are freaked out!  We fear war, natural disasters, rising prices, losing a loved one, and getting old among other things. Fueling the phelthora of uncertainties that come with being a human, we are exposed to an all time high number of graphic images, videos and headlines popping up on our computer. As a result, […]

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Fear_3 Ways Yoga Can Help

Of course we are freaked out!  We fear war, natural disasters, rising prices, losing a loved one, and getting old among other things. Fueling the phelthora of uncertainties that come with being a human, we are exposed to an all time high number of graphic images, videos and headlines popping up on our computer. As a result, all of us has fear coursing through our bodies right now.  Saying, we don’t feel it,  is even more dangerous because that which we don’t feel and acknowledge we can’t heal. We all have fear and it can derail our health and happiness in many ways.  But, Yoga Can Help.

Most people know that major traumatic life events impact your health, but did you know that chronic low-grade fearful states arising in your daily life are the real killer? (1) Reading a disturbing headline or upsetting text, or having a near miss on the freeway triggers a cascade of reactions in your body that slowly chip away at your health. Unconscious responses such gripping in your gut, increased heart rate and shallow breathing adversely impact your health, if left unattended. Eventually they lead to more chronic conditions that contribute to even more serious health issues.

The top 3 yoga tools at directly help the fear response are the breath, asana (postures) and mudra (hand gestures). Each one offers you a direct way to address the daily build up of fear in your body and protect your long term health.

Let’s start with the breath because if offers immediate results and prepares you for the second two tools. Breathing is the most powerful detoxing process in your body, however, the fear response causes the breath to shorten making it much less effective. Under chronic stress, shallow breathing becomes the new normal and fewer toxins are removed from the body as a result. This fearless breath technique boosts the detoxing process and resets your breathing.

FEARLESS BREATH

This is a variation of Simhasana or Lion’s Breath. Begin by taking a few long and slow deep breaths. Focus on the center of the brow, called the third eye in yoga, where insight and wisdom reside. Close your eyes and inhale deeply, fully expanding the lungs. Pause 1-2 seconds, open your eyes wide, and look up towards your third eye. Quickly draw your tongue out towards your chin as you exhale. Near the end of your exhale engage the lower abdominal muscles to push residual stagnant air out of the lungs. Then close your eyes again and take three recovery breaths. Repeat this cycle 5-8 times and let the fearless roar come out!

This breath technique has prepared the body to now take action and paved the way for asana. Here are my top 3 yoga postures to help you face fear with strength and power.

TOP 3 FEAR-BUSTING ASANA

Warrior_2_Pose_Asana_Sienna_Smith

Warrior 2— Take a wide open-stance with a fierce and open heart. Back foot parallel to the back edge of mat, front foot in line with long edge of mat. Front leg in a 90 degree angle, back leg is razor straight. Arms in a T-position. Gaze with focus and clarity at the horizon past your front arm. Hold the pose as long as you can with good alignment and steady breathing.

 

 

Fierce_Pose_Asana_Sienna_Smith

Fierce Pose— When your body feels like giving up, turn up the heat with this firecracker of a pose. Feet together, knees bent, sit the buttocks back and lift the chest and arms up. Let the legs burn as they hold you in the shape of this air chair. Your legs are powerful pillars that hold you up when the going gets tough.

 

 

Wide_Legged_Forward_Pose_Sienna_Smith

Wide-legged Forward Fold— When your worn down by fear, turn things upside down for the perfect way to calm the mind and refresh your perspective. Take a wide stance, place your feet parallel, charge up your legs and fold forward from the hips. Lift your lower abdomen and let gravity lengthen your neck and back. Feel blood flowing to upper body and head. After 10 breaths rise up triumphantly with your inhale.

 

After you have reset your breath and moved your body you are better prepared to sit with comfort and focus. Now we move to more subtle energy practice of mudras or sacred hand gestures.

EMPOWERING MUDRA

Mudras contain energy that awaken certain qualities or states of consciousness. From a psychological perspective, mudras are said to work with the mind by reframing your thinking. So it was with the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz who learned how to reframe his thinking to believe the courage he needed to face his fears was there all along. In yoga you don’t need a yellow brick road to guide you. Instead, use a mudra with intention and focus to help rewire your brain.

Shiva_Shakti_Mudra_Sienna_SmithShiva-Shakti Mudra— Place your left hand palm up in your lap, take your right hand in a fist with your thumb up pointing upward. This powerful mudra combines the solar energy in the right fist (masculine, Shiva) with the lunar energy in the left palm (feminine, Shakti) and builds inner strength to take balanced action in your life. Close your eyes, and take 10 full diaphragmatic breaths. Feel the mudra giving the thumbs up to your fearless heart.

It’s dicy out there folks! Use these 3 time tested yoga tools to help you feel more at ease when fear is present. Don’t take my word for it — do this 15-20 minute practice everyday for one week and see for yourself. Meet fear with yoga for better long term health.

 

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Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra ~ Heal Yourself, Heal the World-draft http://yogamountainstudio.com/maha-mrityunjaya-mantra-heal-heal-world Fri, 16 Jun 2017 00:56:38 +0000 http://yogamountainstudio.com/?p=1620 Hailed by the sages as the heart of the Vedas, the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra can help you tune into the healing force that is always at work within you, supporting your growth, lifting you up in times of trouble, and reminding you of the higher aim of life. In this article, spiritual teacher and author […]

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Hailed by the sages as the heart of the Vedas, the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra can help you tune into the healing force that is always at work within you, supporting your growth, lifting you up in times of trouble, and reminding you of the higher aim of life. In this article, spiritual teacher and author Rolf Sovik unveils one of yoga’s most powerful, nourishing mantras.

Healing Mantras

The scriptures of ancient India are filled with stories, myths, and legends in which philosophy is entwined with devotion. Great personages appear in these tales, among them the sage Markandeya, whose teachings are found in the Markandeya Purana. His text is remembered especially for its account of the glory of the Divine Mother. Markandeya is also acclaimed for his vision of the cosmic deluge, and in the Mahabharata he is an honored guest at the forest encampment of the heroic Pandava brothers. But his story begins before his birth.

Childless, the forest-dwelling sage Mrikandu and his wife, Marudvati, undertook a long penance, hoping to earn merit and the boon of a child. They were rewarded with a vision of Lord Shiva, their ishtadevata (the deity of their hearts). After hearing their request, Lord Shiva told them they could either parent a child who would be a brilliant spiritual light but whose life would be a scant sixteen years, or they could raise a long-lived child who would be witless and self-absorbed.

They chose the child with spiritual virtue, and in time Marudvati gave birth to a boy they named Markandeya. The couple decided not to tell him that he would have a short life span, but as he approached his sixteenth birthday his parents’ growing sadness betrayed them. And when he asked them to explain their downcast mood, they told him what Lord Shiva had said. Already an accomplished yogi, Markandeya rededicated himself to his practice.

On the day of his sixteenth birthday Markandeya took refuge in a temple and sat next to a shiva lingam (a symbol of divine consciousness) to do his worship and meditation. When the messengers of Lord Yama, the lord of death, arrived to take him away, they found him so absorbed in his prayers, they could not complete their mission.

Returning to Yama, they described their dilemma. So Yama himself traveled to the temple to accomplish the task. He urged Markandeya to follow the natural laws of life and death, and to come willingly, but Markandeya wrapped his arms around the shiva lingam and surrendered himself to its protection. Yama threw his noose to gather Markandeya in, but the noose encircled the lingam as well, and immediately, Shiva, dwelling in the image, split the lingam open and emerged in a rage. Yama had thrown his noose too far, for he had no authority to encircle Shiva himself.

Yama was killed with a blow from Shiva’s foot as the other gods looked on in dismay. Fearing that Yama’s death would upset the order of the universe, they implored Shiva to bring him back to life—and in the end, Shiva complied. But he pointed out that Markandeya’s devotion had protected him, and he was therefore blessed to remain a sixteen-year-old sage eternally. The ancient belief is that the realized soul of Markandeya is still moving in the universe.

Shiva: The Shelter of Kindness

The story of Markandeya opens doors to a vast spiritual heritage with the mysterious figure of Shiva at its core. Shiva is dual-natured. He guards the universal order with ferocious resolve, destroying attachments and freeing his devotees from ignorance. He is the inner controller and the dissolver, bringing compulsive pursuits of passion, and even life itself, to its natural end. This aspect of Shiva is reflected in his ancient name Rudra, “one who howls.” The more familiar name Shiva, on the other hand, means “auspicious, gracious, or kind.” Here compas-sion is Shiva’s nature. He is a shelter of kindness and the giver of boons. With tenderness and a sure hand, he guides those who aspire to self-realization and he relieves the suffering that exists in the universe.

Shiva personifies pure consciousness. He manifests the universe and exists in it like a net into which every particle and being is woven. Yet he remains unaffected by the world’s charms and temptations as he silently holds all that moves in an unmoving presence. He is the Lord of Yogis, established in meditation.

He has many names. To Markandeya he is Mrityunjaya, the Death Conqueror. And some say it is this aspect of Shiva’s being that Markandeya was worshipping on his sixteenth birthday. But Shiva’s conquest over Yama does not give us the complete picture of Mrityunjaya, for even in his aspect as the ruler of death, Shiva is deeply nurturing as well as fearsome.

The Heart of the Vedas

The great mantra dedicated to Shiva as Mrityunjaya is found in the Rig Veda (Mandala VII, Hymn 59), where it is attributed to the sage Vasishtha. The hymn in which it is found begins with eleven stanzas honoring the forces of nature (the maruts) said to be the children of Rudra/Shiva. The maruts control the energies of storms, winds, cyclones, and clouds (and thus the nurturing light of the sky). They possess destructive energy, but they are also the protectors of the household. When they act in harmony, they create an environment of peace and prosperity.

Vasishtha pays homage to these forces and then continues with the final stanza, a mantra revered throughout the scriptures. It is called the Maha Mrityunjaya mantra, the Great Death-Conquering mantra. It is a mantra that has many names and forms. It is called the Rudra mantra, referring to the furious aspect of Shiva; the Tryambakam mantra, alluding to Shiva’s three eyes; and it is sometimes known as the Mrita-Sanjivini mantra because it is a component of the “life-restoring” practice given to the primordial sage Shukra after he had completed an exhausting period of austerity. The Maha Mrityunjaya mantra is hailed by the sages as the heart of the Vedas. Along with the Gayatri mantra it holds the highest place among the many mantras used for contemplation and meditation.

The Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra

OM. Tryambakam yajamahe
Sugandhim pushti-vardhanam
Urvarukamiva bandhanan
Mrityor mukshiya mamritat

The mantra is divided into four lines, each containing eight syllables. Translations vary considerably. A bit of research, however (try looking the mantra up on the Web, for example), will make it clear that no single translation can ever do justice to all its levels of meaning. The multi-leveled nature of Sanskrit words makes this impossible.

But differences in translation also reflect the fact that the sounds of the mantra are more important to practitioners than its exact translation. Like music, the resonance of these sounds attracts the mind and leads it to an inner experience. The literal meaning of the mantra is secondary.

But even so, it is important to understand the mantra in order to develop faith in it. The individual words of the mantra convey its nourishing quality, and, even in English, they are life-sustaining. They fill us with the sense that a great force of goodness is at work within us, supporting our growth, lifting us up during times of trouble, and helping us recall, even in the midst of our busy lives, the higher aim of life itself.

Conquering Fear

There was a time, it is said, when there was no death. But the world became congested, and its resources approached the point of exhaustion. So Yama was given the role of bringing death to beings to restore nature’s balance and relieve the suffering of the planet.

Death needed servants to accomplish its task. Disease, famine, accidents, and old age played this role and acted as death’s messengers. But, not understanding its place in the order of the universe, all beings feared death. They witnessed premature death and worried lest they be taken before their appropriate time. When that time did come, fear of death led to even greater suffering.

To overcome this fear, it is said that Lord Shiva himself gave humanity the Maha Mrityunjaya mantra. Whenever there is listlessness, stress, grief, or illness, or when fear of death intrudes in awareness, this great mantra can be used for healing, for maintaining vitality, and for refuge.

The Maha Mrityunjaya mantra restores health and happiness and brings calmness in the face of death. When courage or determination are blocked, it rises up to overcome obstacles. It awakens a healing force that reaches deep into the body and mind.

Just as a plant patiently gathers nutrients from the soil, so healing and nourishing forces enter the human body through foods, medicines, supportive emotions, and encouraging thoughts. The Maha Mrityunjaya mantra attracts these forces and creates an inner environment to enhance their effectiveness. Thus the mantra can be used whenever any restorative process is undertaken.

The mantra can be recited when taking medicines, for it prepares the body and mind to make the best use of them. In India, when ash (bhasma) is applied to the body (as either a medicinal or a spiritual act) the mantra is recited. And so, whenever matters of health, vitality, nurturance, or freedom from the fear associated with death arise, the Maha Mrityunjaya mantra naturally surfaces as a remedy and comfort.

It is also said that those in the healing professions will benefit from reciting the Maha Mrityunjaya mantra regularly. Through it, they will draw from an infinite reserve of energy, and thus prevent burnout while opening a channel of healing from which life can be nourished.

Awakening the Healing Force

Stories glorifying Shiva as Mrityunjaya and extolling the practice of the Maha Mrityunjaya mantra abound. Many of them are allegorical—infusing characters and story line with symbolic meaning; others are primarily inspirational; still others reveal details about specific practices.

The power of the mantra has been explained by Shiva himself in the Netra Tantra, a conversation recorded between Shiva and his wife, Parvati. At the opening of the text Parvati asks, “Your eyes are so beautiful; they are filled with the tears of compassion. How is it possible that from such eyes flared forth the terrible fire capable of reducing death itself to ashes?”

Shiva said, “Be joined in yoga, O Parvati, for only then will you be able to understand how the fire inherent in my eyes is the immortal elixir. The light in my eyes is all-pervading. It faces every direction and it resides in all states of waking, dreaming, and sleep. It is the source of life for all living beings. It can be known only through the practice of yoga, and can never be experienced by those who lack self-effort.

“The light in my eyes is the same as one’s own radiance. It is self-evident. It is the highest form of inner strength. It is eternal and it is ojas (the radiant energy that infuses matter with life). It is the power of will—the indomitable will of the soul. In it lies the seed of omniscience, the power to know, and the power to act. It is through this force, intrinsic to me, that I destroy and I create.

“The whole universe is filled and sustained by this energy. In fact the powers of will, knowledge, and action together are my eyes. They are the source of immortality, the ultimate force of healing and nourishment. They are the embodiment of my radiant vitality. The knowers of mantra science call it Mrityunjaya, “the conqueror of death.” It enables one to attain freedom from all forms of misery, for it is the destroyer of all diseases. Meditation on this brilliant light manifesting in the form of Mrityunjaya mantra cools down the scorching heat of worldly and spiritual poverty. It is pure, peaceful, and unfailing.

“The light of this mantric shakti outshines millions of suns. It is with this fire of radiant divine energy that I destroy the world in a flash and breathe life into it in no time. There is nothing beyond this power….

With this mantra one is able to conquer all one’s enemies (anger, hatred, jealousy, and greed). It is the source of longevity, health, and well-being…. Assuming different forms and shapes, the power of this light, the Mrityunjaya mantra pervades the whole universe. It is the source of all protection, physical, mental, and spiritual. There is no mystery higher than this, the mystery of my eyes, the fire residing in them, and how that fire manifests in the form of Mrityunjaya mantra.”
—Excerpted from the Netra Tantra, translated by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD

How to Use this Healing Mantra

Inspired by such words and instructed by teachers who have preserved the traditions of practice, many meditators have made the Maha Mrityunjaya mantra a part of their daily routine. There are no restrictions as to who may learn and practice the mantra, nor is it necessary to embrace the mythology surrounding the mantra in order to use it. It is enough to approach it with respect.

The first step is to learn to recite the mantra correctly. Although it may appear long, it has only thirty-two syllables and it can be learned with a modest effort. Slow repetition combined with a review of the meaning of the individual words will help in remembering them.

Once the mantra is learned, bring it to mind as you begin your daily meditation, as a kind of invocation to your normal practice. After calming the body and breath, do 3, 11, 21, or even 36 recitations, and allow your mind to become absorbed in the sounds and rhythm of each line. Let the mantra draw your awareness to the heart center or the eyebrow center, whichever feels most natural to you, and use that center as the focal point of your awareness. If you are reciting the mantra to help with a health problem, focus your awareness at the navel center.

At some point you may wish to do more repetitions in a given period of time. There are many reasons for wanting to do this. You may be going through a period of poor health or low energy; you may be seeking a deeper sense of security or confidence; you may feel stressed or overwhelmed by events or attachments in your life; your own death, or the death of someone for whom you are dedicating your practice, may be approaching.

But often the sentiments that draw one to this practice are prompted less by health issues than by a deep urge to be part of the unfolding harmony of life itself. The nurturing quality of the mantra acts in the human mind and heart just as the forces of light, water, and soil act in the life of a plant. The mantra magnifies the qualities of personality that give our lives purpose and meaning.

Use a mala (a string of 108 beads) to keep track of your practice. Treat one complete mala as 100 repetitions of the mantra. A fulfilling practice is to complete 8,000 repetitions in 40 days. This can be accomplished by doing one mala in the morning and one in the evening.

Each day, before beginning, remember the seer of the Maha Mrityunjaya mantra, the sage Vasishtha. Simply bring his spirit to mind, paying respect to him. Then begin your practice. In time, you may find that the one or two malas you do each day have become a regular element of your life.

Radiant Vitality

In the end, the many reasons for taking up the practice of the Maha Mrityunjaya mantra fold into one another. Whether to enhance your life or to assist in the transition to death, this mantra is ultimately a means for self-realization. The consciousness it inspires is none other than the deep, unending consciousness of the indwelling Self.

In this respect, Markandeya’s story is allegorical, a reminder to us that the temple of human life is the body; that prayers and acts of worship culminate in meditation; and that the inner lingam which blesses us with immortality is the energy flowing from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. Awakening that energy was Markandeya’s act of faith.

Words of another of the ancient sages, Suta, point us in a similar direction and inspire us to begin our own practice. They make a good closing to this article.

O sages of good and holy rites, there is no other lord so merciful as Tryambaka. He is propitiated and delighted easily. Truly, it is just so with the Maha Mrityunjaya mantra. One who is united with it, whatever may be his plight, shall undoubtedly be liberated from attachment, and by meditation he shall become one with the infinite itself.

MAY 27, 2013    BY ROLF SOVIK from Yoga International 

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ROLF SOVIK
President and Spiritual Director of the Himalayan Institute and a clinical psychologist in private practice, Rolf Sovik has studied yoga in the United States, India, and Nepal. He holds degrees in philosophy, music, Eastern studies, and clinical psychology. Former Co-Director of the Himalayan Institute of Buffalo, NY he began his practice of yoga in 1972, and was initiated as a pandit in the Himalayan tradition in 1987. He is the author of Moving Inward, co-author of the award-winning Yoga:Read more>>

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