November 13 Restore

The first winter storm has arrived and thankfully, I can hunker down at home during the worst of it.  I’ve adopted my winter wardrobe consisting of slippers, PJ bottoms, no bra (of course), layers of long sleeve shirts and sweaters, and a scarf. I keep up this glamorous appearance until all vestiges of winter are gone.  Although at bedtime, I do peel the layers off only to pile them onto me once again in the morning, quite haphazardly.

I’ve found a bit of inspiration in the Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo. This daily inspirational guide seems to deliver powerful messages to my soul just when I need it.  Without going into another book review (but I highly recommend getting the latest edition of this book), I will share with you inspiration from November 12 (2011 edition).  The section begins with the following quote:

“From the beginning, the key to renewal has been shedding the casting off of old skin.”

Mark relates a story of the creation of the world (a Polynesian tale), when their creator Taaora, woke to find himself growing in a shell. When he stretched, he broke the shell, and the Earth was created. He kept growing and found himself in another shell.  Again, he stretched and broke this shell, and the moon was created.  This continued with the next shell, which broke and the stars were born.

In this way, we grow, become confined to our form and grow again to find ourselves in a new form. We are never the same. Our shells serve a purpose for a period of time until we are ready to break out again.  Maybe you see this in your life thus far, the various forms or shells that you have occupied.  This is how life unfolds and each transformation is better than the one before.

My winter garb just covers whatever shell or form that I am in at the moment.


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.
Right Nostril
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)

Bridge Pose

Props: 3 blankets, neck roll, eye pillow, bolster, block

Extras: blanket for warmth
Benefits: Expands the chest muscles, opens the lungs, balances the glands, quiets the nerves and releases tension in the nervous system, increases oxygen intake to the brain, can stimulate the immune system (thyroid)
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift butt and slide the stack of 2 or 4 blankets under the base of your spine. Find a comfortable position, then let the upper back release on the floor. Arms are relaxed at sides or resting on belly. Feel chest and belly rise with each breath. Roll gently to one side when done and inhale up to seated.

Dandasana (Staff Pose with Bolster)

Benefits: improves posture, alignment, centering, grounding pose, very stabilizing.
Props: Wall, bolster, 2 blankets,  Can add additional blankets for more support under knees or elsewhere.

Place a folded blanket next to wall to sit on. Sit with back against the wall, legs out straight in front of you (use blankets to support knees if need be).  May add a strap around thighs if the legs tend to roll out (keeps tadasana alignment) Add neck roll(s) to neck or back of head for comfort.  Begin with arms crossed over chest by heart center, breathing into the heart chakra.  After a few minutes, let the arms rest by your side or on your legs, continue to take full inhalations and exhalations.



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