“Brightening Our Inner Skies”

is a book by Norman Blair that found its way into my hands.  Norman Blair’s yoga practice was primarily Ashtanga which is a style of yoga known for intensity, discipline and progressive advancement and challenges.  So it’s a surprise perhaps that he practices Yin yoga?  That’s the point.  I was talking with my former cohort in yoga training and heard him say emphatically, Yin yoga is not what I need.  Which is the exact opposite of what I thought of – I beg to counter – It’s actually exactly what he needs.  Maybe for some, the protocol is for the sweaty heated hard practice to wring out the stagnation; if so, then, all the more we need to offset that kind of yang with a divergent practice for a well rounded practices that addresses the needs of not just muscle strengthening but then us humans have other body components – bones, joints, fascia, tendons, ligaments … and the internal organs and … THE MIND.

Those who protest too much and emphatic are exactly the ones who will grow the most from a practice that contrasts that Ashtanga yoga practice one might adhere to. If you like challenges; if you like to strive and achieve and win; if you are Type A prototype … then all the more you actually NEED the kind of yoga practice seemingly “soft”.  Ashtanga yoga so it makes sense.  Sarah Powers describes yin yoga as “unhurried postures unstained by striving” – it’s a mindset – in other words, opposite to Ashtanga practice depending on how it’s practice – depending on the intention.

Bernie Clark talks about the Goldilocks middle ground idea .. neither too hard nor too soft: finding the middle way, with support to sustain stillness.

The quality of yang might be defined as intense and fierce, faster, and hot; in contrast the quality of yin could be described as softer, slower, cooling.

According to Norman Blair, in practicing Yin, we let these five qualities guide us: softening, patience, kindness, effort, dedication .. these four points could ground us: pause and soften, connect, allow, listen… I LOVE this practice !

Sometimes I call this practice ‘the middle way’, between comfort and challenge.

from Brightening Our Inner Skies by Norman Blair

It’s exactly what I was referring to ! The effort tampered with … ease, to find that place of stillness and peace.  And that comes for many after a challenge or to prepare for a challenge.

Early morning subbing of 6am Strong Flow class (FUN! revisiting my former practice – no we did not flow through 108 surya namaskar – rather, following the intelligence of the master yogi’s prescription for a truly STRONG practice);  then Yin class (PEACE & CLARITY:) – Nice way to start the morning waking up with well paced YANG then … softening into Yin … to cool down to prepare for the rising heat of summer day to come. Embracing that heat knowing how to cool off, not burn out.

Thank you for this well balanced practice.  Perfect morning practice if you carve out the time. From shortening and contracting and stiffening – Like your body, time too can expand and extend.  We can move with fluidity when we have the strength and flexibility.

Did you know ?  Great read “Yoga Body” by Mark Singleton

 

“Stamatis Moraitis”

It’s magical when we see the rainbow colors of that aura … I am honored to see them in Savasana where I sense and feel the practitioners’ energy fields expand  layer by layer to what might be called  “radiance”.  With self-care, our circuitry, our aura is restored.

a page out of Niroga Yoga Therapist “Cardiovascular Health” module …

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Our family went to see “The Farewell” at Kabuki in SF.  Highly recommended.

The story made us think about family, mortality, how aging is viewed in America (oftentimes dreaded as “terrifying and worse than death” ) vs in most Asian cultures (it’s a season of grace and gratitude, garnering respect and care from the young and …self-acceptance, not resignation).  The film reminds us how the aged are treated and the East-West cultural differences.  As the grandmother of the heroine Billie (played by Awkwafena from Crazy Rich Asians) is diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, the above name came to mind because of an article I read about him who also was diagnosed with the same terminal cancer. Yes, that famous New York Times article titled “The Island Where People Forget to Die”.

Perhaps look up the above Greek name and read the New York Times article. If we can’t all go back to an island of PURITY & DELIGHT – then, we can still engage in DISCIPLINED BUT NATURALLY RHYTHMIC PACED lifestyle that balances HARD WORK with de-compression and relaxation, therapeutic yoga to boost the immune system and invite purification and heart health.  Breathe. Smell the roses along your path:)

 

 

Gentle & Mindful

If your intention for the time set aside to practice yoga is for purification of your energy channels and cultivating gratitude and joy, consider this …

Nothing is so strong as gentleness,

nothing so gentle as real strength.

– St. Francis de Sales

 

Like water, be gentle and strong. Be gentle enough to follow the natural paths of the earth and strong enough to rise up and reshape the world.

-Brenda Peterson

 

– and that “world” referred above does not have to always mean to conquer the world, it can mean that of our inner world to really get to know with loving kindness … using multitude of meditation technique that resonates with you.  Oftentimes in this busy world that prioritizes productivity and efficiency to trump all other virtues,  that inner world is ignored, by-passed over the external validation…that cycle diminishes our immune system, our comfort … ultimately, that kind of life diminishes our energy.  Our energy level in an ideal state is vibrating and pulsating with vibrant energy when you need to really switch to “ON” setting.  So carving out the time and space to re-direct our attention, to re-focus on a journey of self-mastery yoga allows us to embark upon…

First … like with any travel plans, we need an itinerary, a design, a plan within the spontaneity and wonder … at least I do.  Need a discipline.  Because we don’t have so much time to spend hours doing yoga, why not mix Yang style of yoga or some exercise session (predominantly for muscular strength and cardio-vascular health); offset by Yin style of self-care (focus on fascia, expanding the range of motion – i.e., flexibility, internal organs & nervous system health and meditation weaved in); then some moderately active program that’s not extreme that you can stick with over time.  The program can be adjusted to be gentle enough to be consistent with the rest of your activity level so that it’s about long-term supportive and sustaining practice that you can stick with.

Some degree of intensity for some people, sometimes may be needed to wake up the sluggish body and mind; to burn heat for a cardio-workout, muscle strengthening – all good – but something you gradually work up towards … slowly.  Then, set aside this time to be kind and loving towards your body to realize who you really are.  Clearing the cobwebs in the spaces within; cleansing the space so that then we can sharpen our 5-senses to feel  … brainwaves re-calibration and clarity that’s brought on – so precious. So, wait, no rushing, no pushing, no pulling, AND gentle to boot?  That is NOT easy … to move fluidly like water … to flow and recede like waves with utter conviction that such flow & ebb cycles are unchanging and eternal. In a world constant with changes and impermanence, cultivate that equanimity, that knowing, that within all of us is that divinity, that spark, that … light … that’s forever – That kind of gentleness, is my intention.

Yoga Book Club anyone?  Reading them is great but then comes the actual … practice that balances the efforts with … ease.  After all, isn’t that what we are seeking?  To ward off dis-“ease”, to feel at ease, to move with ease, to abide in ease, after all the efforts we make for that “shift” and drop into delicious  … ease.

For me, approaching yoga not so much as just an exercise regimen but more as a centering practice and a fitness and healing modality. A page out of Timothy McCall MD’s “Yoga as Medicine” shows promising evidence on how “gentle” style of yoga fits into whole lifestyle re-evaluation to promote wholesome wellness.  Gentle is not easy.But give it a try.