Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Are You Fuzzy???

The AMAZING "Fuzz Video."    Really explains the importance of movement.   Please watch and let me know what you think!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FtSP-tkSug

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tree practice

This weekend I was in the Berkshires and spent most of my time hiking.  I love getting out of the city and going to the mountains where it's quieter and slower.  I can feel my body shift as I spend more of my time walking on soil than concrete; it grounds me.  NYC on the other hand is such an easy place to become ungrounded.  I often find myself feeling stressed and nervous from the frenzy of the city (sound familiar anyone?).  When this happens I use balancing poses to connect me back to my feet.  Just having the experience of standing on a bare foot is pretty profound for people who spend most of their time in shoes.  Try the tree practice for yourself and notice how it makes you feel.

Tree Pose Practice:

1. Shift your weight to one foot and bring the other foot up to the inside of the leg (above or below the knee).  Make sure you don't lock the standing knee.  Bring the hands to prayer position or overhead.

2. Reach up through the top of your head and look out across the horizon.

3. Focus on your breath.

The point is not to be still.  Instead try to limit the movement to the feet and gradually refine those tiny adjustments that keep the body in balance.

Stay for as long as you comfortably can.   For a more challenging variation try closing your eyes!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sleep Well?

Recently my boyfriend was hit with a bout of insomnia.  I tried to solve it by telling him all of the things that help me when I feel restless such as sniffing lavender, meditating, or practicing restorative poses like Supta Badda Konasana and child's pose.  None of these things seemed to help so I suggested getting some bodywork.  I texted my friend Juliana, a wonderful craniosacral therapist and asked her if she thought a session would help his insomnia.  She immediately replied "yes."  He went to her that evening and later said the session felt subtle, but was "very cool."  He took a melatonin that night and since then he has been sleeping like a baby.

supta baddha konasana

This goes to show that there's not just one solution to every problem.  What worked for me had little impact on my boyfriend.  Magazines will say "for great abs, do this exercise" or "to stay energized, eat this food" and so on and so fourth.  Even I catch myself making these sorts of statements to my students, but in reality we are all different, and what works for one person may not work for another.   While we don't want to close off the suggestions of others, ultimately we have to find out what works best for ourselves.

Check out Juliana's site: www.biodynamicsandyoga.wordpress.com

childs pose

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Love me some Neti Pot

Ok I know to some people this seems totally weird, but I LOVE my neti pot.  It's so satisfying to flush out all the gunk that accumulates from NYC air.  The neti pot is useful all year long, but I like to think it pushes away some of those colds that start to pop up in the fall.  You can purchase a neti pot usually at any health food store.  Fill it with luke warm water and about a teaspoon of non-iodized sea salt (they also sell special neti pot solutions, but I've never tried them) and let it dissolve.  Here comes the fun part!   Stick the spout in one nostril and tip your head sideways, letting the water run out the opposite side.  It takes some practice (the first few times the water went into my throat), but once you get the hang of it you'll be hooked... maybe!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

While in the summer fresh raw fruits and vegetables are more dominant, fall vegetables and fruits are naturally heavier ie. squash, potatoes, apples.  During this season I like to add a little more healthy fats to my diet (nuts, olive oil, avocado) and eat warmer foods, opposed to dry or cold foods.   According to Ayurveda, warmer foods are easier to digest and oils help to lubricate our body.   Think oatmeal instead of dry cereal.  Cooked grains versus crackers or chips.   Soups and cooked vegetables versus raw salads.   Warm rice pudding instead of ice cream.  You can even bake your apples instead of eating them raw.  If you feel like your digestion is sluggish, try adding some warming spices like ginger to your foods.    Eat on a regular schedule if you can and try not to skip meals.   Cut back on refined sugars and caffeine which can aggravate vata dosha.  I also like to drink lots of herbal tea versus cold water during this time of year.  It helps my digestion and keeps me warm.   I look for warming spices such as ginger, cinnamon, chiles, cardamon, and cloves.    You can make your own (I sometimes just boil ginger and strain) or buy one of the many varieties they have in stores now.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Kapal What?

Kapalbhati-  Kapalabhati is a kriya or cleansing technique.   It can seem a little funny at first, but it's an excellent exercise to strengthen the abdominal muscles, build heat, and clear the nasal passages;  all great things for the fall.

Sit comfortably in a position that allows the spine to lengthen (cross legged or sitting towards the edge of a chair).   Close your eyes and draw the chin slightly down so the back of the neck lengthens.

Focus on your breath and when you're ready start sharp exhales through your nose by drawing the belly in.  The inhale will naturally come in as the belly relaxes out.  If you're unable to feel your belly contract and draw in, place a hand on it.

Keep your chest open and shoulders relaxed.    Don't worry about how fast you go, just find a comfortable rhythm.  Only do as many as you can while maintaining the length in the spine and the ease in upper body.

video

How does Kapalbhati make you feel?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Balance Don't Fall

Today I woke up and thought, "It finally feels like fall!"  I love fall in NYC.  The cool crisp air is much welcomed after the hot humid summer.  As the weather changes so do we.  I naturally start to crave different foods and activities.  My energy level shifts and I can even feel differences in my temperament and emotions.  According to Ayurveda, each season carries a prominent dosha.  In the fall that dosha is Vata, which is composed from the air and space element and connected to the cool and crisp air we feel outside.  Just as the leaves start to dry out, our bodies begin to lose moisture.  Ever notice chapped lips and super dry skin around this time of year?  Mentally I'm prone to feeling more spaced out and anxious and I start to lose some of the plentiful energy I experienced during the summer.  My digestion feels weaker and if I must admit, I feel more flatulent.  Sound familiar anyone?  I'm definitely not an expert in Ayurveda, but I've composed a list of things that help keep me balanced during this season.   I'll be exploring those things in the blog posts to come.  

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rainy Day Essentials

It was a rainy day in NYC and supposed to be another one tomorrow.   A part of me likes the rain.   It feels very grounding and helps me to relax, but sometimes to the point where I feel lethargic and heavy.   Perhaps it's about finding a balance and here's what helped me today:

Abdominal work for energy.  Try this seated roll down:
Sit upright with your knees bent and feet about hip width apart on the floor.  Hold on to the backs of your thighs.
Inhale and on the exhale slowly roll down, letting your hands slide down the backs of your legs.  Focus on rolling down sequentially through your spine.
Inhale at the bottom and exhale roll up sequentially, leading with the crown of your head.  Use your hands on your legs to help you up if you need.


Rainy day tunes.  My pick today was Carla Bruni's Quelqu'un M'a Dit


Comfy lounge clothes because there's nothing better than being comfortable on a rainy day.  Those are my Alternative Apparel ones above.


Cup of spice tea to stimulate the digestive system.   Today I had Yogi Tea's Aztec Sweet Chile.   




Big bowl of soup.   My boyfriend and I made a corn soup using fresh veggies from the farmers market and topped it with avocado.




Sunday, September 26, 2010

Svadhyaya

The other day my new client had an amazing revelation.    Towards the end of our session she said, "You know I think many people use exercise to escape their problems, but with yoga you really have to face all your stuff."   I thought, "Wow!   You realized that in one session?"   In the yoga philosophy there's a concept known as svadhyaya, which means self-inquiry.   One of the points of the yoga practice is to get to know ourselves.   We discover our habits and patterns both physically and mentally.   We discover things we might like about ourselves and things we may not like so much.   It's a practice that takes a lot of bravery and honesty.   As one of my professors asked us to do in college (which I really despised hearing), "Please take off your rose colored glasses."   This was her way of asking us to practice svadhyaya.   I was not ready to take that deeper look at myself at the time, which is why I cringed every time I heard her say that.  Even still I notice resistance to take that deeper look every time I avoid certain postures or try to fix myself .  It takes time and patience to ease away from the rose colored glasses and when you're not ready it's easy to distract yourself.   I watch this in my clients who fly through their exercises or constantly talk rather than moving intently with their breath.   This prevents them from understanding themselves and what has happened in the moment.   It's a never ending process that requires both discipline and  some self-lovin'.   A sense of humor never hurt anyone either.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bridge Baby

video
Bridging is a wonderful exercise that I introduce to most of my clients early on.   It gives me a sense of their understanding of their spine, legs, and breath.  There are many ways to approach this exercise, but in this blog I'm going to emphasize spinal articulation.  A healthy spine should be able to articulate, but many of us do not articulate our spines fully on a regular basis.  The variation I show in the video is from a wonderful NYC based teacher Leslie Kaminoff.   This variation further challenges the hamstrings and glutes as well as hip stability.  
Questions to think about :
Are you staying connected to the breath?
How does the spine feel?
Are the feet staying grounded?
Are the shoulders, neck, or facial muscles overworking?

So many things to explore!    Enjoy!

Here I Go

I am starting this blog for a couple of reasons.  For one I'd like to address some of the many questions I receive.  I also encourage readers to submit their thoughts and questions.  Secondly, I'd like to share my experiences as both a teacher and practitioner.  My process is constantly shifting and leading me to new discoveries; some of which I feel are worth sharing.  Lastly, I'd like to offer some exploratory exercises that people can try at home.  After all, the most common question I receive is, "What can I do at home on my own?"  Because of my experiences with different techniques the exercises in this blog will be a synthesis of the various modalities I've studied.  We can call them bite sized movement explorations.  I hope that the busy person can find a few minutes each day to move because a little bit of movement with breath on a regular basis can go a long way.  Go ahead and Explore Movement!