We use a technique of breath control in yoga called ujjayi. We actually use a lot of different techniques, but today we are going to talk a bit about ujjayi. This is a rather easy one to grasp. Breath as you normally would. Now start to deepen the inhale and lengthen the exhale as well. Now with this slower more controlled breath, constrict the back of your throat a bit. Just a tad, say 5-10%. This will cause a noise to occur with the inhale and exhale that sounds a bit like the ocean waves. Nice, calm and slow. Basically only you can hear this noise, let's not go crazy with the the noise. Your neighbor should not be able to hear your ujjayi breath noise, you are not an angry darth vador.
Ujjayi breath is useful in most yoga. It helps you control the breath and focus on breath. Which is of the utmost importance in all asana practice. Breath then foundation. If you don't have the breath, you cannot build a good foundation. Use your abilty to maintain a good strong steady breath to carry you throught the asana practice. If you cannot "catch your breath" in yoga, take a child's pose or a down dog until you have regained your composure. Pushing through may work for crossfit, but that's not what yoga is about.
Leading expert in yoga anatomy, Leslie Kaminoff has a great little video helping us to understand this breath a bit more, take a look by clicking below.
I've been doing a new "thing". Chanting "OM". I have a downloaded song that actual om's for/with me for 32 minutes. It's omazing. Tehehe. But seriously it is. I'm only on day three of this and the difference in me sitting still from day one to day three is pretty impressive. The song sings om just over 108 times...to make sure you actually get 108 in. I use my mala, but you don't have to. It is the bomb this way. I may cronicle my "crazy thoughts" of day one one of these days, just to prove how crazy and hard this actually is to meditate, even with the fabulous comfort of OM helping you out the entire time. Even the symbol is cool. Below is a copy of yogitimes.com's explanation of the meaning of the word om.
From yogi times:
We’ve all heard about this word called “OM”. But, what is it? What does it mean? (I’ll get there.) Can it be translated into English? (Not exactly.) If you chant it does it somehow change you or your religion? (Absolutely not.)
Let's dispel some of the mysteries and misunderstandings about Om so we better understand its meaning.
Om is an ancient Sanskrit “word” that was first felt by rishis as they meditated. It was more about the essence of Om than the chanting of it. Eventually as the experience was shared the word came forth and people started chanting it to get the experience of it. So, you ask, what is the experience of Om?
It is somewhat difficult to describe with words but Om represents everything. It is said to be the seed of all of creation. Just like an acorn seed has the immense power and beauty of a mighty oak tree. This seemingly small word contains all the power of the universe. It is the beginning, middle and the end of it all or the past, present and future. Chanting Om brings into your awareness the physical reality of this world and your body, the subtle impressions of the mind and emotions and the thoughts and beliefs of your life and this world.
As the Mandukya Upanishad tells us the perfect state or super conscious state and all that precedes it are a part of Om. The sound can also be displayed in its more complete form of AUM. When written this way it appears as if the sound has three parts. In actuality it has four.
The A (aahhh) sound represents the creation aspect of the universe and all of the gross objects within it. Ahh is the beginning of all sounds (this is the most common letter that starts alphabets). It connects us to our sense of self, the ego. With this syllable you experience the existence of the world through the activity of the senses. When you chant this sound notice that it is produced in the throat and back of the mouth where the tongue is rooted and resonates in the lower abdomen. The first sound embodies “Sat”, the sound that starts to bring you back to unity, to the truth of your existence.
The U (oooh) sound signifies the maintaining energy of the universe and the subtle impressions of the mind. It connects us to an inner sense of something greater than that which we can see and feel with our senses. Oooh lets in lightness, clarity, balance and goodness. When you chant this letter the sound moves forward between the tongue and the palate up to the lips and vibrates in the solar plexus. The sound denotes “Chit”, an illumination of knowing, pure wisdom.
The M (mmmm) sound characterizes the transformative energy of the universe and the thoughts and beliefs of your beingness. This sound unites you to the awareness of oneness. It allows you to slow down in order to feel the connectedness of all that is. The sound “mmmm” is produced by closing the lips and it vibrates the crown of the head. The sound symbolizes “Ananda”, to be at one with bliss everywhere with all things.
The fourth sound is silence or anagata. It is the vibration which is beyond verbal pronunciation. It is pure consciousness of the Self or the Atman. The unity of Sat Chit Ananda (I exist, I know, I am blissful) is experienced here.
As you can see the experience of Om is multifaceted. It truly is an experience of all in everything. It is said that the sound of AUM includes the entire process of sound and all other sounds are included within it. Therefore, Om is called the seed sound (bija), the original sound from which all other sounds and worlds come from. This is why Om is said to represent God, Bhraman, Source, Universal Consciousness. Because it has the power to create everything.
When chanting Om aloud, the sound will naturally evolve through the tree phases corresponding tot the three letters A-U-M. Like the experience of Om as a sense of completeness and pure consciousness, the three syllables are not distinct or separate phases, but a continuous motion of the body, breath and awareness.
Now, the true power of Om lies in the experience of Om. Reading this can help the mind understand but it cannot give you the experience. Chant this, by yourself, with your friends, in your community. Allow the experience of all the words above to soak into your beingness. Feel the power each syllable has as the sound vibrations move from the low abdomen, up through the solar plexus and chest all the way to the tip top of the head. Let the vibrations clear and cleanse your energy system and chakras. Find wholeness and healing in this easy to remember mantra.
Many yoga classes begin and end with the chanting of Om three times. This mantra allows the energy of the group to begin the process of harmony by breathing together and sharing in this mantra. It tunes each person into themselves and reminds the body and mind to set aside worldly concerns and to turn your attention inward to the everlasting joy yoga can bring. Repeating Om at the end of a session, together with the traditional “Namaste”, is a declaration of respect for the practice and each other. It also allows you to carry forth the inspiration of yoga to everyone and encourage growth in yourself and others through your presence alone.
Om is an amazing tool that all people of all faiths can utilize to bring focus and awareness to the greater meaning of life.
I planted some spearmint about two years ago. It's growing strong. And if it can grow under my thumb, it's safe to say you will be just fine buying a small containter and expecting a good crop. Mint of any sorts is the sort fo thing everyone tells you not to grow because it will "take over". I'm sure it will, if you let it.
Just plant it in a container or a confined area. I have mine in a tiny little space, unconfined except for by the bed border, which is a fence on one side and rocks on teh other. And bam, I have as much spearmint and regular mint as I can use. It does not get full sun, actually not even half sun.
So what to do with this mint?
Make tea! Boil some water and throw in a handful (cut up) for about two cups of tea. Brew for 3-7 minutes. Drain and serve. It doesn't darken the water much, but it's delish!
Make flavored water. Put a few leaves (all cut up again) into a glass of water. Let sit for 30 minutes. AMAZING! I added a lemon wedge and thougth I might be at a high end establishment instead of my kitchen. Even my man commented on the surprising zing the cool water had.
Eat it plain. Yup, I eat a few leaves just for fun. It tastes great and has many beneficial properties whether you brew tea, infuse water, or chew straight from the leaf.
My mint is in full swing now, it's May 24th. It will last for months. I hope you enjoy yours. Give it a go. You won't be sorry.
Here's a list from "organic facts" website on the benefits of mint:
Antibacterial Capacity: The most common association of spearmint is with fresh breath, but its role in mouthwashes and toothpastes are not solely to keep your breath smelling good. The natural antibacterial and antimicrobial nature of menthol and other organic compounds in spearmint can help to protect your mouth and throat from infections, including those that can damage dental and gum health. Furthermore, bad breath, which is caused by bacteria below the gums, so spearmint keeps you healthy and smelling great!
Respiratory Health: Spearmint tea has a significant impact on the health of your respiratory system due to its naturally soothing and anti-inflammatory qualities. It can help to relieve sore throats and tightness in the chest, alleviating congestion and irritation. Spearmint’s powerful aroma can also help to clear up sinuses and even increase mental clarity.
Digestion: Spearmint has a number of roles to play in the digestive system, particularly as a gentle tonic to ease upset stomachs. It is popular during pregnancy to prevent nausea and vomiting, but can also be used by others suffering from such gastrointestinal issues as excess gas, cramping, or bloating. IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) seems to be increasing in recent years, and spearmint tea or chewing directly on spearmint leaves is often recommended to treat or manage that condition more effectively.
Hormonal Balance: The powerful organic compounds in spearmint can inhibit and stimulate the endocrine system in different ways, helping to optimize your hormonal balance and preventing the complicated metabolic side effects, including hirsutism, by reducing excessive testosterone levels in females.
Circulation: The iron in a single serving of spearmint is more than 100% of the daily recommended amount, which can stimulate the production of red blood cells and hemoglobin. This not only prevents anemia, but also increases circulation to the body’s extremities, boosting energy levels and wound healing.
Heart Health: The high potassium levels found in spearmint are crucial to maintaining healthy blood pressure; potassium is a vasodilator, meaning that it relieves the stress on blood vessels and arteries, therefore helping to prevent strokes, and heart attacks.
Stress Relief: Menthol, one of the most powerful active ingredients in spearmint, has a soothing, almost sedative effect on the body, which has been known to produce arelaxed state. If you suffer from chronic stress, a cup of spearmint tea can help to ease your mind and eliminate the negative effects of stress hormones on your body’s systems.
A Word of Warning: Some individuals are highly sensitive to mint and may experience allergic reactions when touching or consuming the herb. While these reactions are usually mild (rash, throat irritation, headache, or dizziness) it is still best to avoid this herb if you do suffer from the allergy and find other natural remedies for your various health concerns.
A friend recommended this book to me. I love it. It goes over the Yamas, Niyamas and Sutras like no other book I have ever read. Very quick read with pointers at the end of each chapter on how to incorporate each subject into your daily life. If done, it will surely enrich your life.
Meditation is hard for most people. This book will not only help with your ability to commit to a meditation practice, but to create a better, happier life. I'm completely sold, and will consider adding this to the YTT-200 course this coming fall. What a great recommendation, thanks to my friend Birgit!
Here's a pic worth saving from hugger mugger. Prop ideas in picture form are easy to remember. That way you can actually use them! Or better yet, encourage your students to use them. We go over all sorts of prop uses in our YTT-200. Next session is November 2016. Reserve your spot today. Woot Woot.
FYI I really only use a large exercise ball for backbending (rigth over top of the ball). It feels good and is accessible to many. Have a spotter if it makes you nervous. It will help you get up (or practice getting up) into wheel. Tha'ts a fun pose.
Wedges are nice, cheap and hardly ever used. Even I don't have wedges. I do have a very expensive set of "jellies" which are very nice for people with wrist issues. If you are workign on wheel, you can use a wall or blocks to assist with wheel instead of the wedges. Again, have a spotter for that please.
I hope you have (or shall I really say) I hope you will take five minutes from your day and watch this Ted talk on stress and how it affects your body. We all need to manage stress, can't avoid it, but do we really understand what it does to our bodies? To our gut? Yuk! I'm gonna go Om for 20 minutes....I'm thinking maybe you should too.
But really, you don't need to chant (it seriously helps to sit still and chant or just clear your mind as much as posssible). Just do something to combat the stress. Take a walk in nature. Dance to your favorite songs. And of course there's yoga. Yoga is the best way to de-stress and work out at the same time. I've always beena "two birds with one stone" kinda girl. So yoga it the bomb for me.
Sitting still and meditating....oh boy, that's a hard one. So I do it. I challenge myself. Because I feel like a badass unicorn when I do things that are hard for me. Even if it is "just" sitting still. Can you sit still for five minutes and try to concentrate on your breath? Accept a thought when it enters and then ask it to float away like a fluffy little cloud? Give it a shot. It takes practice. As does everything challenging and worthwhile in life. Enjoy, and please tell me how this goes for you.
I challenge you to sit. For five minutes. Every damn day. For only five days. Then get back to me. Namaste.
Come enjoy the same surf that the pros do. Front row on the left is my friend and fellow Yogini (and yoga teacher) Alejandra Brito. We are so proud of you! Check it out.
We are all a bit different. Some of us get overheated easily and hate the cold. Some are built with a lot of muscle, some are naturally slight and scrawny. Some love spicy food. Some do not. Some people are naturally calm and collected, some are naturally charged up and ready to go! Some have oily skin, some dry. This is Ayurveda.
What are you?
Vasat Lad is quite an expert in Ayurveda. I have his book, it is complex but understandable. It's pretty cheap on Amazon too. I've read it several times. And I'm still learning more and more. Here's a free PDF download by him that goes over the basics. This is where medicine came from. We can only hope medicine will head back there someday, instead of where it's been heading for years now.
As of right now Weebly is having a bit of trouble with putting links in. There is a link below. Until I figure out what is going on, this "link" is a tiny dash. It's driving me crazy. I guess I better work on balancing my doshas a tad more. Take a look at the very informative short but sweet PDF by clicking below and download if you so desire:
Here's a sequence I just found a few weeks ago. I must say I am in LOVE. Bernie Clark u da man.
Debbie Krejci E-RYT
become a yoga teacher