YOGA

Steadiness & Ease through Yoga

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“Sthira-sukham asanam.” Sutra 2.46 these are the words that kept floating in my head while teaching this morning. 

Sthira meaning steadiness. Sukham meaning ease. Asanam is yoga pose. So in each pose, we should have steadiness and ease. Not only through our physical posture, but our breath and mental fluctuations. 

When we enter a pose in yoga, one should find the stability and comfort to be in that pose. Certain poses may cause tension or agitation. So how does one settle into that moment? The breathe. 

Allowing for our breathe to be easeful - maybe it’s slowing it down; actually taking an inhale; or taking a fuller breathe. These are for you to discover in your practice on and off the mat. 

Our yoga practice, should create ease and steadiness within our lives. If it’s not that ask yourself what needs to shift? Do I need a slower practice? Do I need to move more? Do I need to meditate? Yoga Nidra? 

So not only is this sutra relevant to our yoga practice, its key for day to day life?

Fascia: what is it and why work with it?

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Lately, the myofascial balls or these super bouncy balls have been a part of yoga class. 

Fascia is connective tissue within the body. There are several layers. The first being the superficial which lays just under our skin. It houses part of the immune system. After our skin, it has the most nerve endings and is a passageway for blood vessels. Fascia encapsulates the whole body and acts as a protective and support system. 

The second layer, which is the layer we work with in class is the deep fascia. This is dense fibrous tissue that surrounds each muscle, runs through the muscle and envelopes each fiber. It also comes together to form tendons. This layer helps to transmit force. It also lubricates the tissue to allow for muscles to slide and glide by each other. 

The last layer is the visceral layer which suspends organs in the cavities. 

Back to that middle layer or the Deep Fascia With age, injury or overuse this layer can get stuck. When this happens there may be pain in the muscles or joints; decreased range of motion; less mobility throughout the body for example. 

Fascia is a fibrous tissue mainly composed of collagen amongst other things including white blood cells, fibroblasts, elastin and ground substance. The ground substance is key in attracting water and it fills the spaces between fibers and cells which comprises 70% of fascia. Collagen creates the structure of the fascial web. 

When we roll on the balls, a foam roller, or block in class we are breaking down the fascia. In doing so, the body needs to repair itself, so it increases collagen production and the release of fluids into the system. Being well hydrated is key for the body to lay down clean fascial lines in order to reduce the stickiness of the fascial tissue. 

Myofascial release can decrease pain, increase range of motion, increase recovery time and increase pliability of the muscles. 

If you come to class and have something you want to work on, let me know so we can incorporate it into the sequence. If you have any questions, please reach out to me. 



Theta Brain Waves and a New Way of Being

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Brain Waves are getting more press lately, but, what exactly are they and why is it important to access the theta state?

 

If you have been to a Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep) class with me, or, more recently, a Yoga Drumming class, we touch upon the importance of entering the Theta Brain Wave state and why you should attend one of these classes. It got me researching more to understand this state and know its various benefits. 

 

There are 4 different types of Brain Wave activity: beta, alpha, theta and delta. Beta, the quickest wave, is consciousness, or, being awake and active. Followed by alpha, where one is relaxed, calm, and not thinking. Those moments of relaxation where you are just enjoying the clouds rolling over head, or your favorite spot atop a mountain where you can take it all in and just enjoy the moment. Theta is the next state and occurs when one is in deep relaxation/ meditation with the possibility of mental images. The most common time one accesses this place is just before they fall to sleep or in REM sleep. The final stage is delta and this is when one is in a state of deep sleep or dreamless sleep. 

 

Back to theta: for those who do not meditate, it is that place just before you fall to sleep where your body is at rest and your mind is at ease. It’s that place of deep reverie. We can learn to access this state more often through deep meditation, yoga Nidra, or, by listening to music with a specific beat that entrains the brain to the same binaural beat, i.e. drumming. 

 

Theta brain waves are the subconscious. In this place one has access to the stored memories, feelings, and, increased access to intuition. In yoga, this is the place where one can access the Soul - the part of us that is connected to the Universality of all that is. Through this connection one can reprogram the conscious mind by making positive suggestions. 

 

At the beginning of Yoga Nidra you are often asked to set an intention and to visualize that intention happening, and, feeling it in every part of your body. You are creating new programming in your cells. Very cool!

 

In addition, the deep state of relaxation induced by being in a Theta state of mind increases creativity by accessing the subconscious. It enhances a prolonged state of calm. It augments a deep relaxation thereby by decreasing stress and stress hormones. This helps to bring balance and healing back to your body. Theta brain waves increases receptivity and increases memory recall. 

 

The benefits of entering Theta brain waves are rather amazing. So, the next time you have the opportunity to take a Yoga Nidra class, Yoga Drumming with Entrainment, or deep meditation, say “Yes” because it can enhance a calm and relaxed state of being and benefit your health.

Spring is Time for New Beginnings

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Many feel that Spring is the time of awakening; a time to set resolutions; and a time to move forward. The trees are budding. Many animals are giving birth to their young. The energy is fresh and light after many months of shortened and cold days. We are ready to shed the heaviness of the winter months. 

Naturally, we have the desire to clean our homes, eat lighter foods and spend more time outside. In Chinese Medicine, Spring is associated with the Wood Energy of the Liver & Gall Bladder Channels. This is the budding energy of new things. The excitement of longer days and warmer weather. 

The Liver is also seen as the General of the Body that oversees the smooth movement of Qi. However, this energy can get stuck and manifest physically as irritability, frustration, anger, PMS, moodiness, or anger. To soothe and ease the flow of the Liver meridian, adding sour foods (lemon water or pickled foods) to one diet is essential. As well, foods such as beets, asparagus, pea shoots, sprouts or milk thistle tea can aid in the smooth movement of qi. Avoid heavy and greasy foods which can stagnate the Liver.

Get outside. Take time to spring clean your home. Eat a lighter diet. Move your body to prevent stagnation. Get plenty of rest. Start your day off with hot water and lemon. Listen to your body's needs and your soul's desires to guide you forward. Your body innately knows what it needs. Trust it!

 

 

Yoga Nidra - Sleeping on a Cloud of Yoga

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Yoga Nidra is known to many as Yogic Sleep or Sleeping on a Cloud of Yoga. It is a guided meditation that leads the practitioner though 61 points in the body while laying down. This allows one to enter a state of deep rest. During this practice, the most  dominant brainwaves are Delta Waves. At this frequency, external awareness is suspended and one enters a state of healing and regeneration. Yoga Nidra offers one important time to relax one's mind and restore their bodies from stress, fatigue or imbalances. 20 minutes of Nidra are equivalent to 8 hours of sleep.

Today we are more stressed and our lives are quite busy; thus taking the time to deeply rest is essential to one's health and well-being.  Mountain Rose offers bi-monthly Yoga Nidra classes and private sessions. For more information, please email ana@mountainrosevt.com or call 802-496-9204.