Monday, February 16, 2015

FOLD / restore

How was your day? Mine was filled with newness, expansion, and lots of learning.

How are you feeling in this moment? Do you need a little self-care? As you wind down, take a few deep breaths, find a quiet space, and surrender onto your mat.

This short and sweet 20 minute restorative sequence with help you reconnect with where you are at. To listen deeply. To go within.

You'll benefit from having a few blocks, a yoga bolster, and a blanket. But if you've got some books and a firm pillow, you'll be just as happy!

Legs Up The Wall Pose \\\ (5 minutes) Lay down on your mat, scootch your butt all the way up against the wall. Gently, and with care, send your legs up the wall as you lay flat onto your back. You can readjust for the first few seconds in this pose. Your butt should be up against the wall, and legs are gently resting against the wall above your hips. You should be fully supported by the earth below you,  your neck is elongated and resting heavily into the ground. Place hands on your belly or on the ground next to you. I love to rest a blanket over my belly in this pose to help bring a sense of security and ease to my resting posture.

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose) with Bolster/Blanket/Supported Blocks \\\ (4 minutes) Place a block (or a set of books) under your bolster (or pillow) on the middle height of the block, facing perpendicular to your mat. Then place a second block on it's highest setting, wide part of the block facing toward the bottom edge of your mat, under the bolster. Lay back gently back onto the bolster. You should be lifted and supported off the ground, but still comfortable and open. Bring the soles of your feet together and send the knees wide (if this is too much, just straighten the legs out flat onto the mat). Maybe place a blanket over your reclined torso and either place the palms face up on the ground next to you, or gently rest them face down on your belly. Relax deeply here. Sink in.

Side Twist on Bolster or Pillow \\\ (3 minutes each side) Sit facing the side of the room; in a comfortable seat. Place the bolster, long ways, up against the side of you hip. Snuggle up against the bolster. This is a side twist, so you'll take a deep breath in and twist yourself so your body will easily lay flat against the bolster. Place your neck to either side (it should not be in pain or strained, so if you can look in the direction counter to your twist, that's great, but if not, just gaze where it is most comfortable). Stay here, feel heavy on the bolster and keep coming back to long inhales and exhales.

Savasana (Corpse Pose) \\\ (5 minutes) Lay flat on your back. Let your legs spread wide so your feet are beyond your yoga mat, let your feet flop open. Let your hands rest gently, palms up towards the ceiling, on the ground. Feel your whole body start to sink gently into your mat. Being to inhabit that sense of surrender, of stillness. Take a moment to breathe deeply, at least two fully belly breaths here before fully settling in. Close your eyes, maybe even put a blanket over you to root you into the earth. Relax your jaw, the muscles in your face, and surrender to the weight of your muscles. If you played the song below, it will have stopped and you'll be submersed in silence. Be here.

Enjoy. The lovely link below is a beautiful song by East Forest.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

GATHER / get on your mat

Somedays we need that subtle reminder to just get onto our mats.

We need access to that quiet voice inside to tell that louder, more persistent, ego that we are not our thoughts and our deficiencies. That quiet voice gives us access to our light; our bright, bubbly, shiny selves.

I had the sincere pleasure to attend Elena Brower's workshop at Yoga at the Raven in Silverlake a few weeks ago. This space....let me tell you....feel spiritual in its very foundation. A quiet, unassuming sanctuary, with feelings of home oozing out of its every nook and cranny. I walked out of the rain, yes, it was a rare misty Los Angeles evening, and into this unfamiliar space that immediately felt like a deep and easy breath. Upon entering, burning sage met my nose and all the anxiety and fear that had seeped into my day began to dissipate.

I gently laid down my mat front and center. It's my least favorite place to be, but I know when I am here, I have immediate connection and presence with my soulful teachers. This is the best place to learn from and be inspired by. Elena passed out cards from her beautifully crafted Art of Attention deck and I immediately felt at ease. My card, RECEIVE, seemed to know exactly what I needed, in that moment and generally in my life. RECEIVE.

At the front of my mat I had built an alter: my beautiful Tiny Devotions mala beads urging me to be abundant, my card asking me to receive, and Elena's warm and soft face smiling back at me. This is becoming a really beautiful part of practice, this creation of  ritual on my mat that helps me to land and arrive in any space. I felt truly tapped in to that elusive self-care; I felt deeply connected to my body, my spirit and my mind. Each pose offered up a new place to expand into and release fully. I gave myself permission to move with care.

Our flow was gentle and meditative at first and grew into a challenging and counter-intuitive practice. Elena asked us to think outside the boundaries we place on our practice. She asked if we could move through our practice with a heightened awareness; to notice were we could play with each pose in a new way; to challenge ourselves to come at each pose from a different angle: that unfamiliar side that we neglect to use or care for. Each pose felt different; somehow familiar and foreign at the same time. It was a simple as taking a cross-legged seat and switching the familiar cross of your legs. This simple ask, to construct new ways for our brain to think, allows us to create a whole new pathway to learning and self-exploration.

Elena spoke at the beginning of class, as each of us where inverted in our first downward facing dog; she said her teacher, Darren Rhodes, says that our SATTVA is our SEVA - our PRACTICE is our SERVICE. That landed with me, in a big way. That means that getting on our mats is the greatest gift we can give to ourselves, our families, and our world. It is a gift we give over and over again. Sometimes we just need that gentle reminder to go there.

Find your mat and sink into your practice.