Posts Tagged ‘Health’
I’ve been on this 108 yoga class journey for a while now. I’ve done a lot of downward facing dogs and honestly haven’t loved or mastered all of them. After one challenging class, I pulled myself aside and did a little self-study.
Why was the class so hard for me?
Was everyone else struggling?
As the questions came, I focused on my breath and allowed the answers to come.
I made the class hard. I silently complained, judged, and ridiculed myself throughout the 90 minutes structured to uplift, open and rejuvenate. My inner dialogue had closed me off the the beauty of my own breath, the power of my own practice, the integration of my mind and body.
As a yoga teacher, I am trained to recognize this self-sabotage in my students. As a yogini, I am challenged to recognize when I am stumbling down this destructive path, and without judgement, align with the Divine. This is why I practice. We are the cause of our own misery,both on and off the mat. Our yoga practice presents us with the opportunity to pull ourselves out of our misery.
Every class I go to, the teacher has their own way of reminding us it’s OK to fall out of a pose. It’s OK to rest in balasana, child’s pose. The challenge is to re-align with my own divinity when I’m having a bad day. To rest when I need resting, to pull myself out of the pose, to go deeper into it. The challenge is to remember my worth when feeling worthless, to connect to the universal when feeling alone. As one teacher said, “It is OK, brilliant even, to be full of it.” In this case, the “it” is you. Being full of yourself does not make you a bad person, it makes you a yogi.
Blessings of Light and Love,
Sometime in November, a friend introduced me to IRB Yoga studio. She had not practiced yoga before, but was looking for something new and challenging. Three of my coworkers/employees/friends and I started going on a regular basis. I practice in a class every Sunday, but they practice as often as they can manage, thanks to the monthly unlimited pass. Since attending their first class in November, the three of them now practice yoga three or four days a week, sometimes taking two or three classes a day! Now that’s enthusiasm!
Winter is the season of Water and the element of the kidneys and the urinary bladder. The direction is north, taste-salty, color-black/blue and sense-hearing. Water represents will and endurance, as well as faith and trust. Water energy requires rest, quiet and stillness in order to be healthy. As a bear hibernates in winter, so must we rest, withdraw and seek the space to renew our deepest reserves.
The Kidney controls the ears, bones and the brain. When the water energy of the kidney is out of balance, you’ll see lower back pain, knee or ankle problems, edema, tinnitus, or memory loss. The Kidney system is also the seat of the hormones and the loss of Kidney Yin is seen in menopause.
The emotion of Water is fear. When healthy, fear keeps us safe. Well adapted Water energy allows us to venture forth into unknown territories with attentive listening and wisdom to succeed. If the water element is out of balance or undernourished, we are afraid to move forward, we hibernate within ourselves waiting for a sign that it is safe to emerge.
The energy of Water is about trust, faith and wisdom. To be healthy, Water energy requires the development of trust in self and others with faith that everything will find a secure and peaceful ending. Endurance, persistence, will and our deepest reservoir of energy are drawn up to overcome any obstacle and navigate any change. Tapping into the Water energy gives you the courage to try, even when the outcome is unknowable and the path is dark.
Chinese Medicine proposes that the keys to health and graceful aging lie in the ease in which you adapt to the changes and challenges presented to you throughout your life.
Chinese Medicine is the ultimate “green” medicine. The basic philosophies and treatment principles are about sustainability, about watching, revering, and replicating the natural wisdom that surrounds us. As the seasons turn and the earth changes and adapts, so must we.
Five Element Theory is one of the backbones of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The Elements: Wood, Earth, Fire, Metal, and Water, generate and control each other. They are the basis of life as we know it. Disaster, or disease, results when one of the elements is out of balance. Five Element Theory describes and defines the connections throughout the human body and the natural world. It delves into the imbalances that we find ourselves in and the tools to bring ourselves back into a healthy state. For TCM practitioners balance is the key to all of life.
Each element has a season, organs systems, tastes, emotions, mental states, and spiritual qualities. When in balance all is right in the world and in your body. When overlooked, overstressed, or overfed illness, pain, and unhealthy aging result.
Each season I will be sharing more about the corresponding Element. The ‘Five Element Health’ section will focus on the current season and each week give tips, insight, and guidance to help you return to and stay in balance within that element.
Autumn is the season of Metal and the element of the lungs and large intestine. The direction is west, color-white, taste-pungent, and sound-weeping. Metal represents respect and acceptance.
The emotion of the lung is grief. I have met many patients with lung disease that have an unexpressed, unresolved grief. Healthy grieving is a necessary part of our existence.
The large intestine is about releasing old toxic stuff. It’s not just about releasing unhealthy food and drink or other chemicals that enter our body, the large intestine has the job of releasing all unhealthy thoughts, emotions, and energy that we take on or hold on to throughout our lives.
Metal is associated with father energy. Most people that have issues keeping the metal element in balance do not have a healthy picture of their relationship with their father. They have not come to accept the innate respect and love they deserve from their father, nor have they forgiven him his humanity and imperfection. Once acceptance and forgiveness are aptly applied to the father, the metal element can properly do its job in all other relationships and aspects of maintaining health.
The energy of the Metal element is about transforming loss and grief into appreciation and acceptance. In balance and healthy, the Metal element contains the ability to find what is unique, valuable, and worthwhile in oneself and life at all moments.
So, I recently moved, packed everything up, put the for sale sign in the yard and got replacement teachers for all my yoga classes. Things got crazy when the boxes rolled off the truck and filled my new apartment. The excitement of the move flew out what I’m sure was a window (said window was blocked by said boxes) and reality smacked me in the face. I had no job, no help and no idea where that freaking window was. I sat down, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath. The results were immediate. Peace washed over me. I felt connected…safe. Nothing was in my control—nothing is ever in my control. And most days I can accept that. Big life changes and bad traffic push me. With pranayama, the different breathing techniques we use in yoga, I have a tool to combat the loss of control.
Next time you’re blessed enough to watch a baby or a puppy sleep, check out their belly. Note the rise of the belly with the inhalation, and the fall with the exhalation, listen to the fluidity of the natural cycle of breath. As adults, we tend hold things back; our tongues, our tummies, even our feelings. Most people are chest breathers, using only the top third of their lungs, never accessing the lower lobes. Yoga teaches us to utilize our entire beings. That means using your entire lung capacity to put as much oxygen as possible into the blood stream; giving you more energy, allowing your body to run at full capacity. Smokers smoke to take deep breathes—yes, it’s laced with nicotine and tar and yuckiness, but the “smoke break” is just a deep-breath break.
Next time you’re blessed enough to have that big life challenge, or bad traffic moment, use it as an opportunity to pause, take a full belly breath, and allow your blood pressure to lower. Yogic breathing allows us to be present in the moment, and to find that damn window.