Tag Archives: health

Shitali Pranayama

Shitali means cooling.  I thought it fitting to share this breath practice as the humidity of summer arrives.  This pranayama practice is great for my MS students to help deal with the heat and, great for my prenatal students to lessen their nausea.  My daughter and I routinely practice Shitali Pranayama when we are feeling nauseous from hormonal changes.

Benefits: 

*Activates the liver and spleen

*Improves digestion

*Relieves thirst

*Calm  feelings of anger

*Alleviates nausea

*Can help lower fever

Shitali

 

How to:

Find a comfortable seat with the natural curves in the spine.  Stick your tongue out and curl it, if you cannot curl your tongue as this is a genetic trait, make an O shape with your lips.  Inhale through the mouth, feeling the cool air flow over the tongue then, close your mouth and exhale through your nose.  I’ve read that you should do 5 rounds of this breath in order for it to be effective and, I recently read to do no more than 10 rounds in one sitting.   However, you can practice Shitali Pranayama several times a day.

Note:  Please discontinue practice if it does not feel right for you.  Also, if you start to get a sore throat, gargle with warm salt water.

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” Thich Nhat Hanh

Bhramari

bee

Bhramari (pronounced brah mah REE), which means the “buzzing of the bees” according to Dr. Timothy McCall.  Bhramari is a breath practice that activates the parasympathetic nervous system, the calming nervous system by lengthening the exhalation.  Bhramari can help reduce anxiety and bring one’s focus into the present moment.    I recently taught Bhramari in my prenatal yoga classes.  I often teach them pranayama practices that lengthen their exhalation to bring about a sense of calm as well as relax the muscles of the body.  These practices are helpful in labor as well when a woman needs to stay calm and relax the pelvic floor muscles.   Even if you’re not pregnant, you can still benefit from Bhramari breath.  I invite you to give it a try.

Practice:  Sitting comfortably with the natural curves of the spine, close your eyes if it’s comfortable and feel the parts of the body in contact with the floor, feel the hips resting on their support, and notice your breath moving in and out of your nose.  Inhale through the nose and exhale through the nose making a humming sound.  Repeat maybe 3 more times then, on the last round, cover the ears and feel how the awareness of the vibrations increases.  Sit in silence for a few more breaths noticing the silence.

This is a great practice at the beginning of your meditation session to quiet the mind.  Children enjoy this practice too!

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky.  Conscious breathing is my anchor.”  Thich Nhat Hanh

Urban Zen

UZ

“We believe that it takes a strong back and a soft front to face the world.”  Roshi Joan Halifax

Are you being called to serve?  Do you have a passion to help your loved ones who may be living with terminal illness?  Do you want to work with persons undergoing cancer treatment and be able to offer them comfort?   You may have heard me mention Urban Zen here.  Urban Zen is the calm in the chaos.  Urban Zen Integrative Therapy is a very powerful yet simple way to help people that are dealing with pain, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, constipation and exhaustion.  Let’s face it, all of us at one point or another have suffered from one of these issues.  Urban Zen is being offered in hospitals, outpatient centers,  rehab and hospice centers, universities, schools as well as, corporations and in other countries.  Urban Zen Integrative Therapy is meant to serve as a compliment to modern medicine and it really works.  For example, I have worked with patients suffering from nausea and pain at a level 8 on a scale of 1-10 and after 15 minutes of using the Urban Zen modalities, these levels dropped to a 4.   The modalities used in Urban Zen are, gentle movements, Reiki, Essential oils, Body scan meditation, Breath awareness and simple breath practices and, Restorative yoga poses.  I feel so blessed to have gone through this training and to be doing this work!  UZ has changed my life in so many profound ways!  I can nurture myself, my family and friends when they are not well.  I have developed the ability to be present and, let’s face it, being present for others, to really listen and see someone, is a missing piece in our health care system and  in our world.  I’m so excited to share this with you as there will be an Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Training this year offered in Columbus, Ohio through Yoga on High.  Here is the link to there site and more information about the training.  There is an informational conference call on June 3.

http://yogaonhigh.com/teacher-training/urban-zen-integrative-therapy-training#IS

 

 

The Power of Visualization

I teach yoga to persons with disabilities where the person often has a weaker side which sometimes cannot move without assistance.  In class I often encourage them to do the pose or movement on the stronger/ dominant side first to really feel in their body how the movement feels.  I then encourage them to close their eyes and visualize the second side doing the same movement.  They will often find an increase in strength and flexibility on the weaker side.  There have been studies done on the powerful effects of visualization even for athletes.  Check out this link.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/flourish/200912/seeing-is-believing-the-power-visualization.

One morning right before I awoke, I had a dream I was in Crane (Bakasana) Pose.  In my dream, I could feel my abdominal muscles engaging and all the muscles working that needed to work.  During my morning practice, I told my husband my dream and that I was going to see if I could do the pose, which I could not do before.  Wow, I got into the pose with ease.  I shared my experience with my students and encourage them to keep visualizing!

What is something you want for your life?  Try some visualization.  I would love to hear how it works for you!

“To bring anything into your life, imagine that it’s already there.”  Richard Bach 

You’re just getting started

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this 4 week Meditation/Mindfulness Journey with me.  I hope you have found more ways to be present for your life and those around you.  Maybe you’ve found that sitting everyday is a challenge but have found mindfulness in your day to day activities.  As a result, you are living with less stress and the increased ability to be more responsive versus reactive with the difficulties that arise in the ups and downs of life.  I invite you to continue your Meditation/Mindfulness Journey and, would love to hear in the comment section how it is affecting your life and those around you.

Today  or this week, I invite you to do a moving meditation.  This can be a yoga practice if you do yoga or, a walking meditation.  If walking is a challenge but you are able to walk with the assistance of a cane, I invite you to try walking backwards next to a wall using the wall for support.  PLEASE only do this if your doctor says it is okay and if you have support and a friend or loved one near.  Walking backwards is helpful for alignment of the pelvis over the legs and,  may help you to feel more balanced.

As a side note, my son came downstairs this morning and noted that he heard birds singing, I do believe spring is coming.

Be Well!

“The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.”
Jon Kabat-Zinn

Week 4 Meditation/Mindfulness Journey

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This week I would like to invite you to try a meditation/visualization practice.  After the birth of my daughter, 14 years ago, ( wow, really), I went through a period of my life with high anxiety.  This anxiety was keeping me from doing fun things around others and hurting my marriage.  I started seeing a psychiatrist that was more open to talk therapy, yoga and meditation.   In a session, she invited me to close my eyes and visualize a place where I felt most peaceful and joyful.  The first place that came to mind was a beautiful rose park in our town, (I wrote a previous post about this beautiful park https://yogaandinspiration.com/2012/06/).  She took me through this park  with my senses.  I found this practice so helpful and accessible to do on my own when I started feeling overwhelmed.  I often used this meditation/visualization while going to sleep which helped me drop into a deeper more restful state of sleep.  I invite you to read through this and then sit or lay down and try for yourself.  What is your most peaceful place?

See all the colors around you.

Notice any sounds you hear.

Notice the textures around you and, feel the warm sun on your skin or a soft gentle breeze blowing through your hair.

Notice any pleasant aromas in the air.

Observe how calm and peaceful you feel in this favorite place.

Find a place to sit or lay down and rest in this favorite place feeling so relaxed and safe.

May you find comfort with this practice.

The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.
– James Allen

Week 3 of Meditation/Mindfulness Journey

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Mindfulness:  Bringing ones complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis, (according to Wikipedia).

My word for 2014 is presence, which to me is being mindful and fully present to each moment of my day as it unfolds.  I still find myself worrying about things in the future.  However, as I keep bringing my attention back to my intention of being present, I realize that I’m worrying about something that has not happened and may not even happen.  Instead of getting carried away by the anxiety and feeling overwhelmed which, has an ill effect on my overall health, I, am retraining my brain to come back to the moment.  This retraining creates new neural pathways, (this a whole other blog post).  Even if this moment is not a “pleasant” moment I can deal with it much more effectively when I’m present.  With presence, I can enjoy my meals, my afternoon tea and cuddling with my children with full attention.  With presence I can really see and hear people.  Think about it, when was the last time you really felt heard and seen by someone or, really listened and saw someone?