Posts by Cindy

BURY THE BAD

Posted by on Nov 19, 2014 in Soul Talk | 0 comments

BURY THE BAD

Society teaches us to bury the bad. Headache? –take a pill. Hard day?- eat some ice cream, have a drink, smoke a joint. Or in other words, bury it. From a yogic standpoint, using drugs (legal or otherwise) or food to alleviate pain only serves to cover it up, leaving the underlying cause of the pain to gravitate to some other place in the body. Like in our neck, shoulders, hips, or back-or to create some chronic illness. Teaching yoga at the Veterans Administration has been an awe-inspiring experience that has afforded me the opportunity to meet many Vets suffering from PTSD. Recently I worked with one Vet whose PTSD has manifested in night terrors so extreme that he awakens in the middle of the night screaming, shaking, sobbing, with sheets soaked in perspiration. To heal this, he has been prescribed medication that completely erases all memory of the dream. So now, he awakens in the middle of the night screaming, shaking, sobbing, with sheets soaked in perspiration, with absolutely no recollection of why. I realize I am no doctor, definitely no psychologist, but doesn’t this just bury the issue? Doesn’t this just push the issue down so deep that the root of the problem will never be confronted and the pain will continue to manifest as night terrors or maybe something even worse? In yoga, we strive to master the concept of samatva, or equanimity, which basically means maintaining calmness even in the most difficult of situations. A balanced response to all situations rather than an emotional reaction, whether the situation is good or bad. Sometimes, you just don’t know. What’s good may not turn out so good and what’s bad may not turn out so bad. Yoga philosophy defines samatva as the sameness that underlies all phenomena; what remains when all activity ceases; a calmness; a union of the individual self with the inner (true) Self. A consistent yoga practice will inevitably bring up the ”bad” that we have buried deep within our bodies-and I would imagine in terms of war, there could be some horribly horrendous things to bury. But allowing issues to surface also allows us to examine them, deal with them and then begin the process of healing. Examining the issues is difficult to say the least, for anyone, but all of our experiences, good or bad, are life lessons that are part of what made us who we are, a part of our growth, a part of our ability to transform. If we continue to bury them, they will forever have their hold on us. If we can find the strength to conquer them, we will then be able to let go; to find our true Self; to live in...

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Wrist Strengthening Strategies

Posted by on Nov 11, 2014 in Anatomy | 0 comments

Wrist Strengthening Strategies

Wrist pain is a common problem among yogis as we are often weight bearing on the arms. The pain can stem from a variety of reasons so if it is severe, it is important to understand what could be causing it in order to take proper action. If you’ve been taking a lot of classes lately and/or working on arm balances, handstands, planks and chaturangas for instance, the cause is most likely from overuse. Here are some steps you can take to prepare your wrists for bearing the weight of the body with more ease: Strengthen The Tennis Ball Squeeze: squeeze a tennis ball as hard as possible without causing pain and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times Wrist Curls with Theraband: take a theraband (preferably the bands that have handles on the ends but a regular theraband will do) and step on one end while standing. Hold the other end as if you are about to do bicep curls but instead stabilize your forearm at a 90 degree angle and hold forearm with opposite hand. Perform wrist curls isolating the movement in the wrist. Perform 3 sets of 8 in each of the following movements: flexion (with palm facing up), extension (with palm facing down), and lateral deviation (with thumb facing up/palm facing the midline) Stretch Stretching Flexors: Hold arm out in front of you at shoulder height, straight elbow with palm facing up. Take opposite hand and pull fingers and hand back until the wrist is in full extension stretching the flexors of the wrist. Alternative stretch: place hands in a prayer position in front of your chest and slowly lower the prayer down to the level of the waist without losing contact of your palms against one another. Hold stretches for 5 long, slow, deep breaths. Stretching Extensors: Hold arm out in front of you just below shoulder height, straight elbow with palm facing down. Take opposite hand and pull hand down so fingertips face the floor, flexing the wrist and stretching the extensors. Alternative stretch: come down onto hands and knees. One at a time flip the palm of one hand to face the ceiling and point fingertips towards your knees as you stretch the wrist extensors against the floor. Hold stretches for 5 long, slow, deep breaths. Twist Stretch: Hold both arms out in front of you at shoulder height, elbows straight with palms facing out. Cross right arm over left (now palms face one another) and interlace fingers. Bend elbows as you bring your interlaced hands towards you and flip them over the other way as the elbows extend away from you. Only lengthen elbows as much as your wrists will allow without pain. Hold stretch for 5 long, slow, deep breaths. Repeat other side. Self-Massage Extensors: Thoroughly massage the back of the forearm (a kneading action with opposite hand’s fingertips) from the elbow, down the fleshy part of the forearm, and down towards the back of the wrist. If there is a particularly tender spot, stay on it with static compression and hold until the intensity lessens. Flexors: Cross fiber the inside of your forearm (with opposite hand’s thumb) from under elbow crease down to wrist. If there is a particularly tender spot, stay on it with static compression and hold until the intensity lessens. Carpal Tunnel: Massage (with opposite hand’s thumb) the thumb pad and pinky pad of the palm near the wrist creases. This is where the little bones of your wrist reside which create your carpal tunnel. Many muscles attach to these bones so press in deep and...

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Shoulder Placement

Posted by on Nov 11, 2014 in Anatomy | 0 comments

Shoulder Placement

Shoulder placement can be very confusing. We hear so many cues: drop your shoulders, pull them back, squeeze them together. When is it appropriate to perform these actions and why? And what the heck does “deepen your armpits” mean? I hope to answer some of these questions for you. The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body, which means there are many options of where it can be in space. This could explain why it’s so confusing to place the shoulder in the correct position. Understanding how the shoulders should be placed when weight bearing on the arms is extremely important for the health of the shoulders. There are 5 joints in the shoulder but we’re only going to focus on two: glenohumeral joint – where the arm bone, or head of the humerus, fits into the glenoid fossa, or “socket”, comprised of the lateral shoulder blade and lateral collar bone scapulothoracic joint – which is where the shoulder blades are on the ribcage itself.   In neutral, the shoulders actually reside about 15 degrees forward of the midline, called scaption. This allows us to easily perform all our daily activities such as computer work, driving, cooking, etc., where all the action is in front of us. In tadasana however, we want to counter that action and open the heart center by drawing the shoulder blades slightly toward the midline using the rhomboids and middle trapezius. Relating our two joints’ actions; in the glenohumeral joint the arms externally rotate and in the scapulothoracic joint the scapulae retract, or “squeeze” towards the midline. There are a small percentage of these actions in tadasana and other neutral spine poses such as triangle, and a much larger percentage of these actions in big heart openers such as cobra, upward dog and bow pose. However, when the arms are above the head the rules change. The movement in the scapulothoracic joint becomes that of upward rotation. Upward rotation is an important movement to understand. It is when the shoulder blade spins in the frontal plane (like turning a knob) and the bottom tips of the shoulder blades begin to face out laterally. What’s confusing is that the side tips of the shoulders do lift and rhomboids actually have to relax and lengthen. So pressing the shoulders down, or squeezing them together when the arms are above the head is actually a counter cue that is often misunderstood. If the arms were properly externally rotated in the glenohumeral joint, the heart will automatically be open, and if the scapulae are properly upwardly rotated in the scapulothoracic joint, “dropping the shoulders” when the arms are overhead doesn’t have to happen so long as the medial shoulders stay relaxed. Scapular rotation happens very rapidly up to the first 90 degrees of lifting the arms “out to the sides and up”. From the point when the glenohumeral joint is at 90 degrees (arms out to a “T”) the arms do most of the movement to lift the rest of the way overhead. When the arms are overhead, the movement in the glenohumeral joint is that of strict, unwavering external rotation otherwise there could be a pinching of the supraspinatus tendon and/or the subdeltoid bursae. This scenario could lead to muscle imbalance, pain, rotator cuff tear or frozen shoulder. The scapulae and humerus placement is crucial to understand when weight bearing on the arms in a neutral pose such as downward dog and even more so in heart opening poses such as full wheel. When arms are overhead such as urdvha hastasana, downward dog, or wheel,...

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FALL FINALLY

Posted by on Sep 19, 2014 in Soul Talk | 0 comments

FALL FINALLY

Although we may have to wait a month or two to actually feel the nip in the air, with the recent Autumn Equinox, we say goodbye to summer and it’s officially Fall. It’s the time to restore balance from the ever-changing shift from one extreme to the other. According to Ayurveda, yoga’s sister “science of life and yogic healing” where the approach to life is based on living according to our seasons and surroundings, human energy is divided into several mind-body types, or doshas, which have both positive and negative effects. Balanced doshas create health and happiness, whereas unbalanced doshas create discomfort and disease. Fall is dominated by the Air element and brings out our “spacey” Vata traits. Our Vata dosha is the easiest to get out of balance, especially in the cooler and drier air of the Fall season. So if you’ve been feeling nervous, anxious, spacey, having trouble focusing, excessively thinking or worrying, or experiencing insomnia, you just might have a vata imbalance. Joint popping during your asana practice is also an indication of a Vata imbalance in Ayurveda. (In which case, with all the popping going on in my back, shoulder, and neck during my own yoga practice, I am extremely Vata deranged!) One of the main principles of Ayurveda states: “like increases like and opposites create balance.” To balance “Vata”, (the dosha comprised of air and space; with cool and dry qualities) we need to stay hydrated, warm (avoiding cold foods and drinks), calm (maintaining a consistent breathing and meditation practice) and grounded (practicing slowly moving stable postures like warrior, balancing and back bending postures). In last month’s newsletter, we talked about Yoga Sutra 1.12-1.14, and Abhyasa,-practice- which states we need a sustained, vigilant, persistent practice to attain and maintain a state of stable tranquility. Nothing could be more helpful than this for grounding a Vata imbalance. With anxiety attacks, sleepless nights and our minds running out of control, we need our yoga practice of both asana (postures) and meditation to bring us back into balance. However a Vata imbalance can also cause us to push ourselves...

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BACK TO PRACTICE

Posted by on Aug 19, 2014 in Soul Talk | 0 comments

BACK TO PRACTICE

It may not seem like it in this 90+ degree heat, but summer is winding down. We can say goodbye to summer vacations, weekday beach trips and hello to school crossings and school buses. It’s time to get back to routine once again. So if you’ve found you let your yoga practice slide over the summer, come home to your yoga mat. One of the main tenants of yoga is the principle of Abhyasa, which means, “practice.” According to the Yoga Sutras, yoga is all about finding peace of mind-stopping all the crazy thoughts and ideas that constantly run around in our heads making us stressed out maniacs. Verses 1.12-1.14 tell us that in order to do that we need to practice. We need a sustained, vigilant, persistent practice to attain and maintain a state of stable tranquility. If we can practice consistently and continuously with genuine effort, we become grounded in the practice and we begin to transform our lives. I guess it depends on what exactly you are looking for. Is it all about exercise, sweat, boot camps and looking good in a swimsuit, or is it about learning about your body so that stress doesn’t wreak havoc on your health and preconceived ideas don’t ruin your life? Maybe it’s about all of the above. But if you truly want to transform your life, you must practice and make it a part of your life. It’s easy to get distracted and find excuses not to practice. But according to the sages, it is only by practicing without interruption that we gain access to the fruits of yoga. Abhyasa is the key to finding bliss, the feeling of connectedness-that elusive “happy” that we all are searching for. Your practice may slip from time to time, but if your commitment is sincere, you keep returning home- home to your practice, no matter where you are-and let, as they say “Shift...

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