There are so many inspiring people out there and so many inspiring stories. I was driving to my first yoga class this morning and thinking about all the other people driving to wherever they had to be. Which got me to thinking that many of them are also going to their place of work. And as the thought process goes on, I was then struck by how many hardworking people there are out there, from the road construction worker to the nurse, to the teacher, and the massage therapist. We are all making a contribution to this society. What about the hand holding dear friend? What about the person on the other end of the phone line when you call Verizon? We are all part of this great fabric of life, stitching in our own threads. Some of the threads woven in have deeper seams and some are fragile, but together they form a connection which heals.
People and their stories are stitched into this fabric. Each person has a story to share. Stories can be of tribulation or sorrow but they are individual and basic to our need to heal. I will share with you a few excerpts from Mark Nepo’s, Book of Awakening September 15th entry. As a yoga therapist and even as a yoga teacher, I have been honored to hear the stories that people share with me. I know in my heart, that it is an integral part of healing.
Questions Put to the Sick-III
“When was the last time you told your story?”
– question put to the sick by a Native American Medicine Man.
Stories are like little time capsules. They carry pieces of truth and meaning over time. It is the sweat and tears of the telling that bring the meaning out of its sleep as if no time has passed. It is the telling that heals.
Often we repeat stories, not because we are forgetful or indulgent, but because there is too much meaning to digest in one expression. So we keep sharing the story that presses out heart until we understand it all.
The truth is that though we think we know what we are about to say, the story tells us and saves you, in the same mysterious way that breathing is always the same but different.
Try this meditation with a loved one:
Sit with a trusted loved one, and take turns.
- Meditate on the markings on your heart
- Pick one marking and watch how it changes as you breathe.
- After awhile, tell the story of how you came to have this mark on your heart and how it affects you today.
Alternate Nostril Breath (Nadi Shodhana)
This breath invites the calm in, balancing both sides of our nasal passages and our brain. We tend to breath predominately with either the left or right nasal passage and we become unbalanced. A few minutes at the start of a class or practice, can merge the two hemispheres of the brain and allow you to become more receptive.
Breathing through the right or left nostrils gives different effects.
increases heart rate, increases verbal performance, stimulates left brain, increases rate of blinking
Left Nostril decreases heart rate, increases spatial performance, stimulates right brain, reduces rate of blinking,
The Practice: Find a comfortable seat or laying down. Using the right hand, bring the middle and index fingers to rest toward the palm. Alternatively, they can be placed at your third eye (forehead area). Begin with even breaths through both nostrils, gently close off right nostril, then inhale through left nostril and exhale through the right nostril. Gently close off left nostril, as you inhale through right and exhale through left. Keep the same count for both sides. That is one round. Repeat for 5 to 6 rounds or more. Tongue comes to rest on roof of mouth.
Other variations of this breath are:
- Retaining the breath after the inhale while keeping both nostrils gently closed.
- Extending the exhale longer than inhale
- Cessation of breath after the exhale, with only one nostril closed
Mental Nadi Shodhana. Mentally instruct the breath to come in and out through alternating nostrils. Can even visualize breathing in from one far away place and breathing out to another far away place (Mt. Everest (Inhale), African plains (Exhale)
Reclined Bound Angle
Benefits: opens the hips and groin facilitating blood and energy flow to the urinary tract and reproductive organs. Opens the chest and abdomen benefiting breathing problems.
Props: bolster, 4 blocks (or firm cushions, pillows or rolled-up blankets), 4 blankets and one extra blanket for warmth, strap and eye pillow
Place a block lengthwise under one end of a bolster to prop it up on an incline, add another block under bolster for stability. We used the wall in this week’s class placing the bolster at a higher elevation. Place a double-fold blanket on floor next to low end of bolster and a long rolled blanket on top next to bolster (for sacral support). Sit with your back to the short, low end of the bolster. Place two blocks where your knees will rest (can top with a soft blanket or use other props as necessary for propping knees) Bring your legs into Bound Angle Pose with the soles of your feet together. Wrap a blanket around your feet to create a feeling of containment. Lie back on the bolster. Place supports under your arms so that they are not dangling and there is no feeling of stretch in the chest. Stay in the pose for 10 minutes.
Supported Forward Fold
Benefits: great transition for decompressing the mind and body. Energy flow to the urinary tract, digestive and reproductive organs. Relaxes the back and releases tension in the neck.
Props: bolster, 3 blankets or 1 blocks (firm cushions and pillows are always an option)
Place a block at lowest height and rest the bolster on it horizontally. Sit on a blanket in front of the props and swing your legs over top of the bolster. Adjust the height of the set-up to fit your legs. If your feet do not reach the floor, add a blanket or block. Before folding over the bolster, extend the spine on an inhale and then fold over. Rest hands either on the bolster or on the floor. Add support under arms and wherever else needed. Forehead rests on bolster maybe adding a neck roll. Stay for 5-10 minutes.