It seems every time we attend a yoga class, the teacher is offering postures to take you further into your range of motion, we see pictures on social media of hyper-mobile yoga students, and some teachers offer adjustments to push the body beyond its natural limits, to what end?
Does it serve our bodies now and in the future to put your foot behind your head, to do full splits, to sit in Lotus pose? Is there an anatomically functional reason for these extreme postures?
Some of these reasons may just be to please the teacher, the teacher suggests youcan move deeper into your range of motion, and you feel the teacher knows best, or perhaps you’re afraid of offending the teacher.
Our ego is a large contributor to injuries in our practice. We see the gumby-like lady on the mat next to us move into a deep backbend, splits, etc., and we feel we should be able move like that as well.
These hyper-mobile postures and those doing them are often glamourized in classes, magazines, television, and social media sites. But what you don’t see is the injuries now and in the future from going beyond our natural range of motion.
What we need to ask ourselves~ is there a functional reason for going deeper in a pose? We want to maintain flexibility in our hamstrings, quadriceps, and hips, but what is the functional purpose for pushing ourselves into the splits? We want open hips, but what is the functional purpose of padmasana (lotus pose)?
Are these postures going to create more strength in our bodies?
Excessive range of motion can create a greater liability to our structure than the benefits, so in other words, extreme motion can compromise our structure.
There is nothing wrong with trying new postures, some of us find some of the more extreme postures more easily accessible than others, but we must understand as students and as yoga teachers, that there is inherently a greater risk to these more extreme postures.
So next time you’re trying to push, pull, squeeze, or force your body into a particular posture, ask yourself ‘is there a functional reason for me to move this deeply into a pose’?
I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter with family and friends and that the weather (no matter where you live) was perfect for Easter Egg Hunting. April is here planting us firmly into Spring, and with the change in season we are also experiencing personal changes. This month’s focus Archangel is Archangel Azrael with “Hello from Heaven,” this is one of my favorite cards in the deck. Allow your awareness to include anything that grabs your attention. It will be signs, and messages from your loved ones in heaven including, the sensing a presence, hearing your name whispered, or you may even smell something that you associate with a certain loved one. Also, you may have a certain song that plays over and over in your head, animals that seem to be attracted to you, or finding coins, feathers, or gemstones. The messages are most often, there is an existence after this one, I am okay, happy, and healthy, I love you, and I am supporting your journey. I want you to be happy. I am in awe of how much energy and love our loved ones spend, sending us these messages over and over again.
Archangel Azrael is the Archangel of Soul Transitions helping people transition to the spiritual plane, helps those who are grieving, and healers who work with grief. Archangel Azrael can also help us connect with our loved ones and bring them close. If you want to work on mediumship skills, Archangel Azrael is a great teacher. I work with Archangel Azrael specifically when I’m doing mediumship work. His energy is very warm, loving, and comforting.
This week the angels would like us to focus on new beginnings. This can be an attitude, a new project, or a fresh perspective. We are now out of the deep self-reflection mode and into newness. Whew, that was a journey! What newness are you embracing this week?
Have a great week everyone, I'm sending you good vibes!
Carolan Dickinson provides psychic medium/angel card readings by appointment. Please contact us to schedule an appointment.
Its Okay, Its Just The Changing Moon
A lesson on how teaching kids self-love through Yoga is beneficial for developing brains
So, here we are in the Gibbous moon entering Virgo, and nearing the end of the waxing cycle. What this means is, the full moon is coming. Why is this important, and how does it pertain to teaching my kids yoga? Following the moon is helpful in giving us insight into our emotions, and our children’s emotions as well. If your child has been highly emotional lately if their expressive or more introverted and has been shut in there is going to be a break in the clouds soon. With the burgeoning moon on the horizon it will bring a release of emotions and break throughs. Now is the time to set intentions with your kiddos and yourself and set new goals with practicing self-love.
As practitioners, we know that Yoga teaches us self-love and self-belief. We must work through emotional and mental difficulties to progress, and our progress ebbs and flows like the ocean. It seems with each new accomplishment we stumble somewhere else in our practice- even if its in terms of taking Yoga off the mat. I firmly believe that the Yoga we practice off the mat is what matters the most in implementing our physical practice on the mat.
As parents, this can be tough when it comes to our growing children to find the balance. To incorporate good values and lessons in life while giving them a physical outlet to provide energy release through play. Why not try implementing life lessons in with your Yoga play?
Being a Kids Yoga Instructor through Ignite Yoga has it challenges. Some days all the kids are talking to you at once, and its hard to get your thoughts together. Some kids will decide they don’t want to participate that day, or there are tears, or it’s a highly emotional day and it’s a messy class. That’s okay if that’s what your own Yoga practice with your kids look like, and here’s why:
Neuroscientist Alex Korb, Ph. D states:
“As a neuroscientist, despite my initial incredulity, I came to realize that yoga works not because the poses are relaxing, but because they are stressful. It is your attempts to remain calm during this stress that create yoga's greatest neurobiological benefit.”
Imagine having this great secret you found that helps you with life and benefits you physically. You’ve read or heard that there is science behind the benefits, and you have personally been impacted by practicing this secret…why keep it to yourself? Share with your children. Sure, depending on the age and stage of development your child is in it may sound easier than done, but trust me not all kids in my Yoga classes want to be there. There parents signed them up and they are strictly abiding their parents wishes. However, even those that I know don’t want to be there I have experienced some magical moments of them learning something new or a laugh here and there when we make mistakes.
This is what motivates me to keep trying with my own kids, and with my kids’ classes. Even on tough days when it doesn’t seem like they are hearing anything I say. I know the benefits, the science, and have experienced it personally. Making waves by being who we and they are is fine, the moon does it all the time. If all kids did Yoga from a young age up it is my personal belief that there would be more healthy adults in life with powerful coping mechanisms and endless self-love that the world would be an even more amazing place to live and be in.
Keep Calm, and Yoga On.
Sheenya will be one of our Ignite Yoga Kids Summer Camp teachers!
Click here for more details about Kids Summer Camp and to reserve your spot early!
First of all, Essential Oils don’t act like “oils” as the name would indicate. Let’s first discuss the other more common oils a bit. That family of oils is called “fixed oils”. They are non-volatile, meaning they don’t evaporate into the air. They can be of animal or plant origin and mostly used in the kitchen for cooking such as olive oil, coconut oil and sunflower oil. If one puts any of these oils on the skin, it will look “greasy” or “oily” and slowly be absorbed into the skin. These oils are used to enhance Essential Oils and are also known as “Carrier oils”.
Essential Oils on the other hand, are volatile oils, meaning they evaporate quickly and pass easily into the body through the skin and its membranes. Their “volatility” is what makes the oils aromatic, therefore used in aromatherapy – their molecules are released as vapor into the air and this is what carries the essential oil’s scent. Hence, the powerful function of these oils! When these oils are applied to the skin, they move into the skin immediately and are NOT oily at all! When inhaled, they are extremely potent and pass through the mucous membranes to the brain, usually within seconds. One can begin to understand why and how they are so effective.
Essential Oils are obtained from plants such as flowers, leaves, roots, bark and peels. They are extracted from the plant typically using steam distillation. We will discuss distraction methods at another time. It is key that the oils not be extracted using chemicals, otherwise this will greatly affect the quality of the essential oils.
Their properties are known to induce actions of their natural tendency, being that which is “essential” or “necessary”. Their name, which comes from the word “quintessential”, means the embodiment or possession of the essence of something. These amazing liquids are drawn from the very essence of the plant that gives life, protection, healing, immunity a sense of connection with our emotions and spirit! Now we begin to get a picture of what these tiny, but powerful molecules do!
Do you ever wake up with a Stiff Neck or Suffer from Chronic Shoulder Pain?
If your neck is chronically tense and tight, and if the muscles in your upper back and shoulders often feel as hard as a rock, you’re not alone. We live in a high stress world filled with financial pressures, terror alerts and devastating natural disasters. Add to this emotional tension, the postural stress of spending most of our days sitting in front of the computer or driving in traffic, that rounds our bodies forward resulting in neck and shoulder pain.
Rabbit Pose (Sasangasana)
Rabbit Pose lengthens your spine and stretches your back, arms, and shoulders while stimulating your immune and endocrine systems. It stimulates the inter-vertebral disks and helps to maintain the spongy nature of the disks which helps them absorb shock from daily movement to prevent back pain.
Cow Face pose significantly increases range of motion in your shoulder joints.
Eagle pose opens shoulder joints, creating space between your shoulder blades. It also offers wonderful holistic benefits by stimulating the immune system, encouraging balance and aligning the chakras.
The image shown is for the full pose, which is a great pose to test your balance. However just using your arms of the pose is specifically for the shoulders.
Thread the Needle pose stretches your shoulders, arms, upper back and neck, releasing tension and alleviating neck and shoulder pain. Performed daily it also increases spinal mobility, relaxes the body and calms the mind.
Evon will be offering weekly Yoga Therapy classes at Ignite, on Tuesdays at 4:30pm (May 1st - May 22nd).
Evon also offers private yoga therapy sessions.
I was privileged to witness one human’s first breath and another’s last. God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7 It is that breath that not only sustains us but has the power to bring calm and peace to our body and mind.
There are many types of breathing techniques that are taught in yoga. The easiest to practice is equal breath through the nose. Breathing through the nose is the most efficient way to bring oxygen into the body. The nose also cleans and warms the air before it reaches our lungs. Mouth breathing has been known to cause trigger points in the digastric muscles which causes pain in the teeth and when swallowing. Nostril breathing also makes it impossible to hyperventilate so you are less likely to push your body past your present physical ability.
Use the breath as a tool to breathe out negative thoughts and breathe in positive ones. We have 66,000 thoughts each day and 80% are negative, 98% of those negative thoughts were the same ones we had yesterday and last week. Do not allow negative words spoken over you to be your truth. Let them go and repeat the positive truths until the negative thoughts come up less and less.
Another great breathing technique is 4-7-8 breath.
Excerpt from Dr. Weil:
The 4-7-8 breathing exercise is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.
Note that with this breathing technique, you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.
This breathing exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. Unlike tranquilizing drugs, which are often effective when you first take them but then lose their power over time, this exercise is subtle when you first try it, but gains in power with repetition and practice. Do it at least twice a day. You cannot do it too frequently. Do not do more than four breaths at one time for the first month of practice. Later, if you wish, you can extend it to eight breaths. If you feel a little lightheaded when you first breathe this way, do not be concerned; it will pass.
Once you develop this technique by practicing it every day, it will be a very useful tool that you will always have with you. Use it whenever anything upsetting happens – before you react. Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension or stress. Use it to help you fall asleep. This exercise cannot be recommended too highly. Everyone can benefit from it.
Check out Hanan's upcoming Self-Myofascial Workshop - Saturday, April 28th, 11:30am-1:30pm
What is yoga? Where & how do we begin the journey to end self-created suffering, to increase our intelligence, and to reach that joy which is ever new & always ready to receive us?
I always enjoyed listening to Guruji, my yoga teacher, the late Sri K. Pattabhi Jois say, “Yoga means controlling your mind (YS 1.02).” Such a simple succinct definition - precisely the definition as expressed by Patañjali in the Yoga Sūtras. For many of us however, the mind tends to be restless & easily distracted; it is seemingly impossible to control for longer than a moment or two at a time. Arjuna expressed this to Śrī Kṛṣṇa in response to his need to control his mind in order to skillfully accomplish the task put forth to him - “The mind is more difficult to control than the wind!” (Bhagavad Gītā 6.34).
As yoga practitioners we are very fortunate to know the body-centered tools of breathing, gazing & posture. The usefulness of these tools, though, goes beyond just the yoga postures in which we use them. They can be used anytime to bring us back to the here & the now (YS 1.01 - atha), to bring us from imbalance to balance. The key thing here is developing the ability to recognize when the mind has gone rogue and taken control of us. When the mind takes over, efficiency lost, our efforts to do the task at hand becomes impaired. Drama wastes precious intelligence directing it down an unproductive track. It also brings tension into the body and perpetuates our chronic physical issues. A balanced & focused mind harnesses creative thought, maximizes efficiency of effort & sustains our energy.
Let’s look at the different things that happen to us when the mind becomes imbalanced (YS 1.31):
Tightness in the face or chest (or tension anywhere in the body) arises from stressful responses to thoughts or situations - such as worry, grief or a hurt sense of pride - and our sense of joy is lost. This suffering is called Duḥkha.
Cursing others, thinking how little they deserve their good fortune, and the like fills us with negativity and does nothing to help resolve any issues. Rather it generally inflames situations. This negative thinking is called Daurmanasya.
Restless energy or nervousness wastes our precious vitality. This ungrounded energy should be calmed & settled to preserve our life-force, our nerve-energy; this will improve our focus, increase endurance and extend our longevity. Restless nervous fidgeting is called Aṅgamejayatva.
Clam even breathing is a beautiful sign of a clear focused mind. Breath always reflects the quality of our actions & emotions. The breath and the mind work together in perfect tandem. The breath is the link between the internal & external - literally! Energetically too it connects the subconscious functions of the body with our conscious motor functions. So, when the mind & emotions become imbalanced the breath reveals this by becoming uneven and / or rough. Interestingly, with intense emotions, the inhale becomes stronger than the exhale. Because of this, the strength of exhale needs to be developed first; it forms the foundation for mental emotional balance as well as stability in the central nervous system. Rough, uneven breathing is called Śvāsa-praśvāsa.
DEW: Ideally what we want is a healthy Distant Early Warning system in place so that we can restore our equilibrium before an imbalanced mind makes too many decision that we will regret later - ugh!
Yoga Sūtra 1.31: duḥkha-daurmanasya-aṅgamejatva-śvāsa-praśvāsāḥ citta-vikṣepa-sahabhuvaḥ
Happy practicing 24 / 7 / 365!
-- Based on the Yoga Sūtras of Mahā Ṛṣi Śrī Patañjali --
We are honored to have David Andrew at Ignite April 13-15. He will be offering workshops on Yoga Poses, Sanskrit & Philosophy.
Click here for more details and to sign-up
Grandpa always said when you stop learning, it is time to move on. I started my yoga teacher training at the age of a grandpa - at 65. I had practiced Yoga off and on for 15 years. I chose to take a chance on signing up for teaching training not knowing if I wanted to be a teacher or exactly sure why I was training. A teacher at a gym I was a member of had recently became a Yoga instructor. One could see the changes in her in the two plus years she taught. She came out of her shell and more alive over the time she started instructing the classes.
My yoga practice has made me realize learning to teach yoga is not about teaching others as much as it is about teaching myself. Learning to deal with the challenges of moving my body into and out of poses, and onto the next pose, is at first the challenging part of the practice. I now find practicing, challenges me mentally to be still in my mind. To turn off that analytical part of my brain. To stop judging myself. Am I far enough in my pose? How can I get a little more out of the pose? What do I have to do after practice? Is anyone else in the class looking at my shirt, is it sliding up my back? I think you get the picture. To still one’s mind is to be in the present, is the practice.
I have always told my friends if you are not doing yoga, you are crazy. The benefits of yoga outweigh the cost in time, money, or humiliation. The people of like minds you meet in yoga truly do make it seem like family without the crazy aunt or uncle. I hope to see you on the mat soon.
Do not take care, instead I suggest you take a chance. I believe that is where some of our greatest life experiences start, in taking a chance.
Stephen is an Ignite YTT graduate and a mentee of Donna Schnoor.
We call it a yoga “practice,”… but what are we practicing for? We practice an instrument to perform in a concert. We practice swinging a bat to hit a home run in the next game. But in yoga, what am I practicing for? I’m not training for a yoga competition. No one is going to judge my pose and compare my best effort to the person next to me. There’s no trophy or accolades to earn.
I’ve learned that my practice isn’t to prepare me for some big event in the future. Rather, my yoga practice prepares me for…now. Yoga teaches me how to be my best self each day. The lessons and skills I develop on my yoga mat help guide my life off of the mat.
Lesson One: Showing up
They say the hardest pose is rolling out your mat. Just showing up for anything in life is half the battle. Showing up consistently well, then, the battle is almost won. In yoga, this lesson is quickly learned. After just a couple weeks of consistent practice, not only do I feel stronger and more flexible, I can physically see and measure a change in my body. I can stretch farther and hold longer.
Showing up consistently is just as important in other areas of life. Unfortunately in real life, we can’t always physically see our progress and we don’t always reap the benefits as quickly, so it’s easier to give up. But I know that what is true in my yoga practice is true in life. I try to recognize and act upon all the ways that just showing up consistently for something can help me. Showing up for work consistently has obvious benefits. But how else can I apply this lesson? Am I showing up for the people I value in my life? How can doing this enhance my relationships? Am I consistently showing up for new opportunities when they present themselves? What could I create for myself if I do? Yoga is teaching me the importance of investing time and energy into the things and the people I love.
Lesson Two: Patience & Non-attachment
One of the yamas (a moral guideline) in yoga is Aparigraha, which is the practice of non-greediness or non-attachment. Every yogi probably has a pose that they are working on…but the real goal is not to be attached to the attainment of that pose. If your end goal is solely putting your body into a physical position, then you’ve missed the point of yoga entirely. Nothing happens on a prescribed time table…or at least not on the time table we would prescribe for ourselves. I know that showing up consistently to yoga gets me closer to (fill in the blank): <doing a handstand> / <binding in ardha baddha podmottansasna> / <coming into full splits while levitating and reciting the yoga sutras (in Sanskrit)> …but WHEN these things will happen, I can’t know. I can only breathe and practice patience. Trying to push or pull myself into a position that my body isn’t ready for only results in negative self-talk and an injury. Yoga challenges me to focus on my own actions (my consistent practice) and let go of any attachment I have to the end results of my actions.
I know what is true in my yoga practice is true in real life. In the same way that forcing a pose leads to injury, trying to force someone else to think or act a certain way will only injure the relationship. Learning to practice patience with myself and with others, and learning to not be attached to outcomes easier said than done. I had a friend who used to get very upset if someone didn’t thank her for holding open a door. She would grumble and complain about how rude the other person was. I agreed with her, that it was rude, but I would also ask her, “Are you holding the door open for them because you want to do something kind, or are you holding the door open because you want them to say thank you?” It’s difficult not to be attached to the outcomes of our actions. We tell ourselves, “if I am nice to this person, they will be nice to me” or “if I work hard, I will get a raise”…and when things don’t work out that way we think they should, we are naturally upset, angry, and disappointed. Instead I try to focus doing things because I want to do them instead of doing things solely for some hoped-for outcome that may or may not happen. Yoga is teaching me to let things happen in due time and to not be overly attached to outcomes out of my control.
Lesson Three: Bouncing-back from failure
Everyone has fallen out of a pose – whether it’s just putting a foot or hand down to catch yourself, or actually falling over onto the floor – no one is immune to being caught off balance at some point in time. You fall and you come back. Sometimes multiple times in a class. Sometimes multiple times in one pose. It’s normal and is acceptable as part of the learning process. Most of us fall out of a pose, brush it off in a second, and try the pose again without any negative thoughts about our innate abilities and without any long-term bruise to our egos. We quickly realize that the class didn’t come to a screeching halt when we fell, no one laughed, and in fact, everyone else in the room is just working on overcoming their own challenges.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could treat our failures in life off the mat the same way? No big deal. The world didn’t end. No harsh judgements about our ability to be loved, happy, or successful. I don’t think anyone ever did a handstand without failing at it first. So, whatever it is you want in life, you can’t get it if you don’t go after it and you can’t get it if you’re not willing to fail and try again and again. Yoga is teaching me that it’s okay to try new things and to fail, as long as I get back up and try again.
I practice yoga as often as I can...not to attain something great in the future, but because it greatly benefits my life in the now. Above all else, yoga is teaching me to let the journey itself be the destination.
At Ignite Yoga, we believe that yoga is for everyone–For people of all ages and all walks of life.