Stretch Like a Pigeon

11 02 2010

I’m on a hip opening kick.  Have you noticed?

Recent events have brought me to the awareness that my hips and hip flexors truly need attention.  If I am going to really address my lower back pain, I need to really focus a good part of my practice to releasing the tightness and tension I hold here.

Lower back pain is very much influenced by the state of your hips.  Chances are if you suffer from lower back pain, your hips, hip flexors, and ilio psoas muscles are tight.

The hip flexors run from the front of the pelvis to the rear or posterior pelvis and attach to the vertebral spine.  So the tight muscles will pull on the lower back, and cause tension and stress on those muscles as well.  Hence the development of chronic low back pain.

Psoas or Hip flexors

Because most of western society sits a hell of a lot, our hip flexors are constantly contracted.  Ideally we should either sit on the ground with knees open to the side, or stand, walk or be more active.

The hips directly affect the whole spinal alignment in every pose.  Whether you are in a standing, sitting or twisting asana the hips are very important and you must have full awareness of their alignment.

For example if you are performing a balancing pose and you sacrifice the alignment of the hips to get that hand to toe position, you are surely going to compromise the whole alignment of the spine.

You would do far better to use a prop such as a strap, and keep the hips leveled and aligned.  This will encourage the hips to open and actually get you to perform the pose without a prop in a safer and more effective way.

Remember that whenever your spine is out of alignment, you really fail to get the most therapeutic effects of yoga.  The whole key in every pose is to allow the spine to open, release, and expand with every breath.  Your spine can’t do that if its off center, torqued and compromised by tension and overexertion.

Listen to your body, it will communicate exactly what you need.

King of Hip Openers


In my opinion the Pigeon pose and all its lovely and delicious variations is the Reigning master of hip openers.

Benefits of the Pigeon Pose:

  • Opens hips in a very deep yet safe manner.  You can easily go as far as your body will allow.
  • It allows the force of gravity to mainly do the work.  So this pose allows you the opportunity to truly focus on the breath, on relaxing, and LETTING GO. This is a pose that teaches me, time and time again the importance of just letting  go, and allowing my natural rhythm to flow with the pose.
  • Encourages the ilio psoas muscle to relax, elongate and release as well.  This very deeply situated muscle, is one of the most difficult to relax, and release.  Once this muscle can relax, the door opens to so much more space to be made.  This means you can do deeper in all your asanas.

Tips:

  • Begin by keep the front bent leg more angled, by keeping the foot closer to the pelvis.  Eventually the goal is to get the shin to be parallel to the front of your mat. This takes time, and deep long breaths!
  • Also in the beginning you may find that you cannot fold over the front leg, as in the picture above.  This is ok!  Keep the spine upright, and the chest open.  This will strengthen the back and give you a great chest opener as your hips get stretched. Eventually you will be able to go down to the elbows, and then right down placing your head on the mat. Be patient 🙂
  • Use the back leg that is outstretched behind you to help you align and keep the hips straight in this pose.  Just because this a more passive pose doesn’t mean you lose touch with the alignment of the hips
  • I find pressing into my toes and elevating the heel very helpful to feel the placement of my hips.  By pressing my toes into the mat I can use this leverage to straighten my hips and go deeper once I feel my hips releasing.
  • Above all play and have fun with this pose.  I often see so much suffering during this pose.  It shouldn’t be painful! PULL BACK.  And find the flow and rhythm of the BREATH.  This will change your experience of this pose like magic!  The more conscious you are of the breath in this pose, the more you will get out of it.  Breath deeper, longer, and find a sweet RHYTHM.

Then watch the magic.

There is opening, expanding and releasing like a lotus flower!

Namaste

Piera

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One Love- Remembering Bob Marley

6 02 2010

Bob Marley –  February 6, 1945 –  May 11, 1981

Happy Birthday Bob!

In remembrance of a great artist and soul I dedicate this post to Bob Marley.

A legend in his own time.  A legend that truly lives on in our hearts, ears and souls.  A legend that believes in the power of unconditional love.

His music still resonates with our searching of truth and freedom in this world.

His persona still resonates with all of us who seek to maintain peace, loving kindness and higher states of being.

His work still resonates with those of us who seek a deeper spiritual connection with ourselves and our fellow brothers and sisters.

And his soul still resonates with our need to come back to our greater and higher Selves.

How has Bob Marley touched your life?  How did his work affect your own spirituality ?  Please share your story, and keep his love alive.

One Love. This song really sums it all up.  What more can we desire?

Keep it light and simple 🙂

Namaste

Piera





Hugs are Healing

4 02 2010

When was the last time you hugged someone?  Like really hugged someone?

A hug that communicated trust, love, compassion and support.  A hug that had your arms enveloped around another so warmly you could feel the others reciprocation melt back into your own being?   A hug that needed no words to be uttered, no sound to be made and no explanations to be stated?

I’ll ask again.

When was the last time you really hugged someone?

Physical contact with others  is important to our well being.  The type of contact that fosters trust, acceptance and security.  That heals the pain, the wounds and the soul.  It is a scientific fact that a baby left untouched, not hugged or cuddled for extended time will suffer and may even die.  We need the warm sensation we receive from loving touch and embraces.

Sometimes a hug is really all we need.  Instead of the cigarette, the prozac,  the bottle of gin, the rounds of black jack or the bag of Oreos.  Sometimes a simple, silent, exchange of touch through an embrace can heal everything.

By Artist: Amy Marie Adams

According the the Uk telegraph, A study confirmed that 4 hugs a day was the secret to a happy, and long lasting marriage.  If you haven’t hugged your significant other today, you are 4 hugs away from marital harmony 😉

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/3116323/The-secret-to-a-happy-marriage-Four-hugs-a-day.html

In the spirit of this month’s big LOVE  holiday, Valentine’s Day I thought I would include a very heart warming, video expressing one man’s amazing passion for raising up humanity.  With so much media bringing us the downers, I thought this would be a nice change 🙂

The FREE HUG CAMPAIGN – created by Juann Mann, and  what  a man he is!

Juann initiated a campaign where he began to give free hugs to anyone who wanted one.  He would stand with his “free hug” sign and be giving of his free hugs.  He heard stories of loss, sadness, grie, pain and sorrow.  And Juan gave some light to everyone he possibly could give to.

We need more Juans in this world!!!  Thank you for giving us hope for a better and better world!

Namaste.

Your Travelling Yogi,

Piera





Let’s Heat it up!…. with Hot Yoga

31 01 2010

I’m making peace with Hot Yoga.

I  used to refuse attending hot yoga classes.  I felt it was not very “yogic” or traditionally based. I struggled with the heat, and  getting so hot and sweaty.   I swear I lose at least 5 pounds in sweat after a 90 minute class. I curse as the yoga teacher keeps moving  instead of  giving us more water breaks.

But isn’t yoga about EXPANSION and releasing the limitations in our life?

Isn’t yoga about breaking that shell that binds us to our “comfy”  zones in life?

Isn’t Yoga about stepping out of that  comfort zone and accepting  new spaces and experiences ?

YES to all of that. And that’s what keeps me on my mat everyday. Through the thick and the thicker.

So I’ve made it my intention to broaden my practice and accept that Yoga is not just Ashtanga or a certain style on the mat.  Yoga is the union with the greatest part of ourselves.  The divine Self if you may.  So as a Travelling Yogi I invite changes and new experiences on my path everyday.  Hot yoga is one way that truly is getting me out of my “safe” space.

Ready to get hot?

Sweaty?

Fit?

Toned? and DETOXIFIED?  Then stay with me here and read on!


Why Hot Yoga?

I believe incorporating hot yoga a few times a week,  really can offer you an experience that may bring you benefits you may not receive through just regular gym workouts, or sauna therapies.  It also can improve your RUNNING, WEIGHT TRAINING,  and all SPORTS training.

The 5 Hot Benefits of Hot Yoga!

1)  Encourages Detoxification!

The hot environment of a hot yoga class induces more sweating and you therefore can release more toxins from your body.  Sweating is good for you.  Just be aware of how much you do lose during a class.  Bring a water bottle and add  a good electrolyte supplement if you are one of those people that excessively sweat or have low blood pressure.  Always go by how your body feels.

2)  Helps Cardiovascular Fitness

Hotter temperatures increase your heart rate naturally.  So during a Hot Yoga class you will feel your heart rate soar higher than a regular Hatha style class.  Again proceed with caution if you have cardiovascular health issues.  If you have hypertension or high blood pressure it is not advised to do hot yoga.  For those that are healthy otherwise you will find your cardio system will get stronger and you will have more endurance in all other activities you perform.  I personally found that my running has improved significantly since practicing hot yoga. I can run longer and with more stamina. Not to shabby!

3)  Encourages Flexibility:

Like all types of yoga, Hot Yoga encourages muscular flexibility.  The hot temperature helps get muscles warmed up and hot  throughout the practice.  I find this especially inviting in the winter months when I feel more stiff and cold internally.

There are caveats to this extra flexibility.   Being in a warm room may place you at risk of OVER stretching.  So as much as its so tempting to go beyond what you normally can do in a regular yoga class, DON’T! Trust me on this one.  You don’t want to pop a hamstring or knee joint because you feel more loose.  Do what you normally are capable of doing.

Actually my advice here is DO LESS when you first begin hot yoga classes. This means PULL BACK a bit in your poses and don’t go all out.  Less is definitely more in YOGA.  You still reap all the benefits, and it will give you more room to really focus on the breath!

4) Improves Metabolism and Digestion:

Many report that hot yoga helps boost the metabolism and also curbs over eating.  Improved digestion also is big one with many hot yoga practitioners. I’ve noticed since incorporating more hot yoga classes, that my appetite has diminished significantly and is more stable.  So I don’t hit sugar lows or  raging cravings as much! Very nice 🙂

Also, it appears that the increase in circulation and enhanced detoxification  really help to improve the digestion, assimilation and elimination of food through the system.  Yoga improves peristalsis action of the colon with poses such as twists, forward bends and inversions.  The heat increases the heart rate and thus raises the metabolism more so than a gentle or regular yoga class.  So if you are struggling with some extra pounds or digestive upset hot yoga may help improve your weight management goals too!

5)  Improved Circulation and Raises Core Body Temperature

All yoga helps with circulation and stagnant energy.  Hot Yoga provides an added element – HEAT that helps those with circulation problems get warm and stay warm all day.  I’ve noticed personally a huge difference in my tolerance for cold weather.  I normally am always feeling very cold. My hands and feet are often like ice! But with temperatures below freezing lately here in Toronto, I’ve actually been outside more!  Now this is like headline news in my life.  I usually hibernate indoors or the yoga studio all winter.  I’ve been outside more, and exploring the winter delights.  Thank you HOT YOGA 😉

I want to hear your HOT YOGA story! Get down and sweaty with this.  Tell me what it does for you, how it has improved your life or just how much you struggle with it.  Lets hear it all 😉

Keep the deordant handy, lots of towels, and drink drink drink the H2O…..

Namaste

Piera





3 Yoga Poses to Relieve Stress in Just 20 Minutes a Day!

28 01 2010

I know time is valuable.  Time is now a precious commodity.  Sometimes there isn’t time to breath it seems. And some of us really aren’t breathing much at all.    How you breath sets  your whole mental, emotional and physical state for the day!

Deep lower belly or diaphragmatic breathing is the most beneficial way you can regain your focus and calm during harried times and circumstances.  So when the kids are screaming, deadlines have to be met and your mother in law is coming over for the weekend, get on the mat to stay sane and your best amazing self.

YOU don’t need hours of YOGA to gain benefits!

MAKING time for Yoga should be a no brainer.  Yoga will encourage you to breath in PURE  energy enhancing PRANA.  Yoga will “reset” your whole state so you are BALANCED, FOCUSED and CLEAR.  And you don’t need hours of Yoga to gain the benefits! You actually will be more efficient and therefore need less time to do all those “must do” tasks.

Actually a good 20 minute session will do you a world of a difference when life gets really hairy and you feel tied up in knots.

So lets get those knots unraveled, that breath flowing and your JOYFUL heart brimming with energy.

3 POSES + 20 MINUTES +AWESOME INTENTION= A STRESS BUSTING PRACTICE

Here are the three poses I believe are some of the best for receiving the most out of a yoga practice in a short amount of time.

These poses are often considered foundational to any Yoga practice.  You will gain strength, increase flexibility and encourage cleansing of the whole system.

Pose  #1 Warrior Pose:


Any warrior pose can be implemented and choose to do all three for maximum benefits.  Warrior poses are standing poses and as such encourage the building of strength and stamina.  They also nurture INTERNAL strength and are excellent to improve self esteem.

In Warrior poses be very conscious of the alignment of your hips, you want to direct them so that they remain equal and not off center.  If your right leg is forward for example, encourage the left hip to come forward, and not sway back putting the lower torso out of proper alignment. Hips are huge in this pose!  Keep them squared and equally balanced.  Also remember to keep shoulders relaxed, and not hunching up to your ears.  Think of lowering the shoulders, yet keeping them engaged inwardly.

Pose # 2  :   Parivrtta Parsvakonasana Or Revolved Side Angle Pose



This is a twist type of asana.  Twists are very beneficial for the health of the spine and organs.  Twists encourage spinal circulation and help relieve blocked energy channels to the spine.  Twists also DETOXIFY organ systems.  Digestive organs get massaged and are helped to digest, assimilate and eliminate food.  Also the whole LYMPHATIC system is stimulated and encouraged to release toxins and waste products.

Again be conscious of the hips in this pose.  Keep them aligned and the spine long and straight.  Open the heart center as you twist to the side and keep the shoulders balanced with the hips.

Pose #3   Sarvangasana  or Shoulder Stand:



I’ve included this particular pose because its a very effective nerve and glandular balancing inversion.  It helps in so many ways to detoxify and re balance the whole system.  Shoulder stand will help you release toxins from the organs and lymph system.  In addition to this it has a very healthy effect on the hormonal system because it helps to regulate the thyroid.  A very special gland that regulates the metabolism and hormonal system of the body.  Shoulder stand also calms the nervous system, encourages SLEEP and tranquility.  Don’t we all need a great night sleep?   😉

If you just do these three poses,  you have a well rounded practice you can do in just 2o minutes!  Even if you only have 15-20 minutes, THE EFFECTS are amazing.

Get on your mat!

5 minutes becomes 10 minutes.  10 minutes becomes 30 minutes, and 30 minutes becomes  a life time!

It did for me 😉

keep walking lightly,

Namaste

Piera





Healing Pain without pills and medications!

25 01 2010

How does pain and suffering affect your life?  How do you deal with pain?

Instead of going on auto pilot mode, please stop and feel the pain and put down the pain relief meds for a moment.  Read the following instead……

Some pain is physical.  Some pain comes from emotional blocks and unresolved issues.  Some pain is inflicted upon us from seemingly unforeseen causes.  Consciously you may not know why, but subconsciously you are holding a pattern that enables the pain to manifest again and again.  Pain may come in different forms, but they all seem to have this common thread.

Pain is universal to human beings.  We all feel pain during different times in our lives.  How you deal with your pain is very significant and often determines how well you get through and heal it.

Pain warns you.  Pain notifies you that things are not right and that you MUST take attention to your body, mind and soul.  Pain is a difficult thing to comprehend sometimes, and we often feel victims when we don’t know how to handle it.

Speaking from personal experience from dealing with intense pain, I now have come to a very great appreciation for pain.  Pain is a teacher.  Pain has been one of my greatest teachers.

What I have learned from pain:

  • Physical pain tells me I need to STOP, and step back and realize I am not present
  • Emotional pain tells me I am human, and encourages me to start ASKING questions about what is going on in my life
  • Emotional upsets and pain also alert me to taking a moment to realize I am not PRESENT, and that I need to feel the emotions and allow them to just be.  Eventually they dissipate just as they came on.
  • Physical pain also alerts me to the reality that I need to take a BREATH and become still in order to HEAR the VOICE of my pain

Your pain and my pain has a VOICE.  It is one way your mind, body and spirit COMMUNICATES with you.

Next time you find yourself in PAIN and are suffering do the following:

1) Just STOP: yes pause and completely stop yourself from moving.  In stillness there comes clarity

2) BREATH:  Once you have stilled the body, STILL the mind and everything else follows.  Remember the BREATH is your direct link to connecting with your INNER GREATNESS.  Breath into the pain, BREATH to release the stress, and breath to FEEL your whole body.  The mind follows the breath. Slow the breath, and you slow the mind.

3) Ask and Assess: Now that you are core connected, still, and more clear, things are given a chance to shift.  You have opened your channels to receive the answers you need to make better choices for yourself and alleviate the blocks that are causing you pain.  Pain is blockage. More precisely pain is a blockage to energy channels due to repressed feelings, emotions and issues.

Implement the three steps above every time you find yourself in pain or anxious with emotional turbulence.  Each step takes your through the pain,  instead of SUPPRESSING the pain.  Medication is a very disadvantageous way to deal with pain because it SUPPRESSES  pain. Meds do not HEAL your pain. Please know that you can feel your pain and not be destroyed by it!

Yoga also is a great way to relieve stress and manage pain.  It utilizes the breath and brings you to experience more PRESENCE in your life.  Each time you step on your mat, you are given the opportunity to Stop,  TUNE  in, and breath through the resistance.

I’m always here to hold your hand 😉  Reply with questions or your own thoughts 🙂  Love it all!

Namaste

Mad loves

Piera





Back On the Yoga Mat…. of Life

21 01 2010

Its been almost 45 days since I last practiced yoga! I can’t describe the feeling of being on the mat again today. Its like a parched plant that gets the first drops of water from the sky after a very long drought.  Its enlivening and simply just what I needed.

I have been recovering from  a back injury that left me quite down in the dumps for awhile. But arising from the fall I am renewed again with greater insight.  Its amazing what a little work on the Self can do for someone.

My back is feeling better and I am highly attuned to its messages and expressions.  Today in practice I felt an even keener sense of awareness of  how involved the whole spine is to the rest of the body.  Or perhaps it is that  pain is a great teacher and communicator between the body and Self.

Back on my mat today I experienced so many new feelings and insights.  I felt like I had walked onto my mat for the very first time.  I loved every moment of it.

AND this is a true sign that I have evolved and grown.  In the past I would be quite hard on myself, feel frustrated and that the injury would set me back.

This time I felt free.  I felt that I was revisiting poses and learning something quite new about each one of them.  Instead of fighting my body to “perform” and get to the “end” of a pose, I relished every breath that brought me closer to another dimension of the pose.  I let go of the EXPECTATIONS and allowed my Self to enjoy the movement and flow of the breath.

This time I didn’t need to “get anywhere”.  I simply stayed present to the sensations of my whole body, and did what felt good and in tune with my own Self right at that moment.  AND this is precisely what I want from my yoga practice.

I want to cultivate more and more a refined awareness to what my body and mind and breath need at any given moment.  I want to feel more connected to my inner core and guiding teacher.  The inner Teacher that is the seer of truth and all that is perfect in the present moment. The inner teacher that expresses exactly what we need, how far we can go and when to pull back and who reminds us to  become aware of the present moment.

Becoming PRESENT- AN EXERCISE TO HEAR YOUR INNER WISDOM

Have you heard your inner Teacher lately?

Have you connected with your inner truth?

How do we do this?

First become silent, and then LISTEN.  What do you hear?  What is that sweet, loving inner being expressing to you right now?

Take a moment, right now and STOP, PAUSE from reading this, and go INWARDS. Connect with your BREATH. FEEL it, HEAR it ,  and know the message.

Go ahead, STOP EVERYTHING AND do it now!

What just happened when you stopped and listened?  What did you feel, hear or sense?  Please share it here! I would love your replies 🙂

Then…..

Rinse and repeat every single day.

Keep walking lightly, and practice yoga  with a deep respect for all of you 🙂

Piera

Namaste