Last week, I shared with each of you an abundance of yoga philosophy in the shape of the Yamas and Niyamas.  I realized that implementing and practicing these virtues can be overwhelming.  Maybe it is best to target one that you want to work on in your life for awhile.  Practicing with one concept at a time could set up a framework for the other concepts to follow.

I’ll take you through an example of how to work with one of these virtues. *note that these virtues can be used with how we act in the world and how we act with ourselves.

Ahimsa (non-violence)a Yama (abstinence)

When I first think of this way to behave, I think of my actions not harming another being.  Yes, this is true. But it can go further, to harmful thoughts of others and of myself. Do I continue to have harmful habits affecting my body (coffee drinking, not getting enough sleep) or my mind (sense of self worth)?  There are many ways to cause harm.  I heard though that this doesn’t include those darn lantern flies (not really – still feel the guilt for harming any being)!

So how will I put into action this virtue of Ahimsa?

1.First begin with intention (Sankalpa): as a mantra for my day

“I am enough.”

2.  Then put it into practice: coffee intake

As I make my coffee, instead of making it fully caffeinated, make it half caff, half decaf. Continue to reduce the caffeine intake.

3. Observe the effects of less caffeine on my body (hot flashes may lessen), my nerves (less adrenaline rush), my appetite (eating a fuller meal at lunch, rather than nibbling – more aligned with my natural tendencies), better sleep.

And repeat…

Intention (Sankalpa)

Practice (Tapas)

Observe (Svadhyaya)

Breath Inspiration

“Listen to the force that enters your body and nourishes you.”

“The breath is our metronome of now.”

~Jillian Pransky

“The breath is full of wisdom. It pauses between your inhales and exhales. It is like a thermometer. It lets you know your state of mind.”

~ Unknown



Props: blankets, including one for warmth, stuffed animals or eye bags for hands
Benefits: gently stretches the lumbar spine and para spinal muscles, and gives a release in the diaphragm, quiets the mind and comforting. Gives a sense of security.

2 bolster fold blanket placed lengthwise on mat on top of each other. Make one blanket roll at end of mat for ankle support. Rest of that blanket fills in gap where shin does not meet the floor. Knees will rest on the floor.  Top bolster folded blanket roll towards you in a wider roll to fit in chest and shoulder area. One more blanket folded so that its height is the same as the two bolster folded blankets.

Come to all fours straddling the props, release to forearms and then fully recline on props.  Ankles rest on small roll at end of mat, shins supported by the rest of that blanket. Rest the rest of your body at hip crease on the bolster fold blankets and lay chest on wider roll of top blanket. Head rests on additional blanket at top, turned to the side. Arms come out to the sides, releasing shoulders down the back and away from the ears. Placing an eye pillow or stuffed animal in palms as they face floor is very grounding and comfortable. Additional blankets for pillows tucked in as needed with student to create boundaries or make more comfortable.

New Version includes laying tops of ankles over padded blocks for further draining of the legs.

Heart Opening Pose (Minimal Prop) – 3 Versions

Benefits: open chest, relax lower back and hips, create better flow of breath, open shoulders
Props: 2-3 blankets
Place one blanket, larger rectangle shape down lengthwise on mat, then another blanket on top but fold over top end to create a pillow for the head and neck. As you recline over the blankets, bring the hips to the floor. Knees bend touching, feet wide on mat.  Stay for at least 5 minutes.
Props: blanket folded
Benefits: supports breathing, stretching the chest and shoulders, releases low back, can provide energy for someone lethargic

Fold a blanket over so that it is comfortable under the bra line. Shoulders should be rolling onto the floor. Arms can stretch out to the sides, palms up or come into goddess arms, as shown. Support under wrists and behind cervical spine.