18 April 2015

Feature Pose: Downward Dog


Adho Mukha Svanasana:
Downward-Facing Dog


Easily one of the most popular yoga poses, Downward Facing Dog requires little introduction. The shape of the posture, hands and knees on the floor, head hanging downwards, tailbone in the air, easily resembles the shape of a dog awakening from a nap and moving into a long, deep stretch—hence the name, Downward Facing Dog. In Nepal, Tibet, dogs have a deeper symbolism, being respected for their role as protectors and guardians of the people.

Chakra: Muladhara Chakra
Location: Coccygeal plexus around the base of the spine, at what is known as the coccyx, or the tailbone. The first chakra is the foundation for the rest of the chakras and represents our innate human instinct for survival.

Supports: A healthy first chakra supports one’s belief in their right to be here, to be in this world as an individual. A person with a well-balanced first chakra feels safe and comfortable in their body. They have no problem setting boundaries and generally feel that the world, and their home, is a safe place to be.

Blocked: People with deficiencies in this area struggle to establish financial security, experience general physical ailment, and find it difficult to trust other people. Relationships are often shaky at best. People with excessive first chakra energy are resistant to change.

Physical Connection: From hands and knees position, spread the fingers wide and turn the toes under. Lift the knees up off the mat and press back into Downward-Facing Dog. Root down through the palms of the hands and the length of each finger. Press downwards into the mat and press the thighs back to create strength and stability in the pose, reminding us of our own strength, purpose, and inherent right to be here. Lift the sitting bones upwards towards the ceiling and soften the heels towards the earth.

Benefits of the Pose: As a mild inversion, Dog Pose calms the nervous system, helping to balance the fight-or-flight tendencies that are hypervigilant in people with a blocked first chakra. While strengthening the muscles of the arms, shoulders, and legs, Dog Pose also helps to correct poor posture by lengthening the spine. Increased mobility of the digestive system is another benefit of this familiar pose.

Modifications: If you have tight hamstrings, bend the knees to establish length in the spine. A long spine is more important than straight legs. People who experience excessive wrist pain in this pose can practice the posture on their forearms. If the shoulders are tight, place the hands slightly wider than shoulder-width distance apart. To intensive the pose, stay in Downward Dog for a longer time (one minute or longer).

 **The translation of Muladhara is “root support” in English, which means rootedness or foundation. With a shaky foundation, attention remains focused on survival instincts, inhibiting the healthy development of the higher systems of creativity and spirituality.


***Malfunction in this region physically manifests through disorders of the bowel, anus, and large intestine. Eating disorders are prevalent in people with an excessive (overeating) or deficient (undereating) first chakra.


11 April 2015

Why Having Less is More

"The Less You Have, the Less You Have to Worry About"


Yoga is a lifelong journey. Modern society demands instant gratification, and consumerism responds through lines of credit, credit cards, layaway programs, no money downs, interest frees, and other bargaining tools that ensure we slide deeper and deeper into the bottomless pit of debt. The consequences are not only monetary. With enough anxiety around financial insecurity, you become indebted to the government, too. Indebted to all of the trinkets and toys they promised would bring joy— once you finally acquired them. 

These are stumbling blocks on the path to inner peace and Self-realization. Have you ever tried meditating with creditors knocking at the front door? What’s good for the soul is bad for the capitalist venture. Live within your means, fulfil your needs, and avoid the trappings of a material world. Focus your energy on cultivating the joy that lies dormant within you. Authentic joy can only be lost if you give it away. 

08 April 2015

Self-Love


Doubt is the problem to which faith is your solution. Fear and doubt (close allies) can halt dreams in their tracks or stop one from dreaming altogether. Commitment to yourself, to your personal development, self-realization, or goal acquisition, is like taking a marital vow. Except divorce is not an option. In this lifetime, at least, you’re stuck with you. Through sickness and health, through good times and bad, ‘till death do you part, you are your own best friend or worst enemy, as you determine the relationship will be.


06 April 2015

Change Your Beliefs, Change Your Life

"A Belief is A Thought You Keep Thinking." Esther Hicks

The world is a manifestation of your “Truth.” Your truth is a compilation of your beliefs. A belief is just a thought you keep thinking. Which of these is blocking your path to infinite joy and fulfillment? Change your thoughts, and you will change your life. The day I broke up with my fiancĂ©, I thought “I will never meet anyone like him again!” (My mother agreed, and said Thank God, but that’s beside the point.) How did I feel when I told myself I’d be alone forever? Awful! Depressed! Lonely! So I tried a new thought: “Phew! Now I'm available to meet my life partner. Now I have more free time to finish my book, focus on my practice, snuggle my pups!” How did that thought make me feel? Excellent! Happy! Free! Neither of the two are objectively “true”; they are nothing more than two opposing beliefs! I stopped thinking the thoughts that brought me down and started thinking the thoughts that lift me up. My life has been full of inspiration and gratitude ever since! Do Yoga. 


04 April 2015

Fall Seven Times, Stand Up 8


In life, and on the mat, we will inevitably stumble and fall. The act of falling isn’t what is important, though. Through falling we are given an opportunity for change. If you struggle to balance in Tree Pose, soften the struggle and explore the source of the imbalance. Is the gaze focused? Is your body rigid with intent? Is your weight too far forward or do you hold back? “Our practice is the screenplay upon which we see the projections of the mind.” They are necessary lessons on the path to transformation.