#TuesdayTips: Viparita Karani Mudra

20160504_203018Viparita Karani Mudra, or legs up the wall pose, is a deeply restorative asana meant to be held for long periods of time (5 to 20 minutes).

Inverting the body is beneficial to the body’s physical systems – aiding the circulatory, respiratory, and lymphatic systems, and allowing deep relaxation of the muscles in the legs. It is also beneficial for the nervous system – allowing the mind to relax deeply.

Even when the body is in a shape meant to be relaxing, the mind sometimes resists and struggles to remain active. If you find it hard to quiet the mind in this (or really any) asana, here are some tips to try:

  • If you’re feeling spacey or scattered, allow yourself to focus on the points where the body is making contact with the floor. Allow yourself to feel grounded and fully supported by the floor below you. Anytime the mind wanders, come back to this feeling of grounding.
  • If you’re feeling agitated, angry, or unhappy, focus on the flow of the breath. Imagine breathing in through the soles of the feet into the heart center and out in the opposite direction. Allow the breath to flow over you like a waterfall, washing away any tension.
  • If you’re feeling stuck or your mind keeps revisiting past events, focus on opening the heart center with each breath. The heart is the seat of balance, wisdom, and peace. Allow yourself to return to the peaceful present by coming back to the heart anytime the mind gets caught up in thoughts.

Enjoy a little rejuvenation whenever you can!

In peace and light,

Debra

#ThoughtfulThursday: Favorite Quotes

PhotoGrid_1532527032930I don’t always use quotes in my classes but sometimes my sequences and class themes are informed by different inspirational quotes. Here are a few of my favorites.

  • “Upon waking, let you first thought be, ‘Thank you’.” – Abraham Hicks
  • “If you seek peace, be still. If you seek wisdom, be silent. If you seek love, be yourself.” – Becca Lee
  • “Yoga allows you to find an inner peace that is not ruffled and riled by the endless stresses and struggles of life.”  B.K.S. Iyengar
  • “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” – Buddha
  • “Live with a peaceful heart; cultivate a warrior’s spirit.” – Dan Millman
  • “With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
  • “A long deep breath is the equivalent of a full stop and the key to centering.” – Eric Maisel
  • “Life is a gift, not to possess, but to share.” – Henri Nouwen
  • “I am grateful for all that I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.” – Henry David Thoreau
  • “At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.” – Lao Tzu
  • “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela
  • “Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand.” – Oprah Winfrey
  • “By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward happiness, compassion toward suffering, delight toward virtue, and equanimity toward vice, thoughts become purified, and the obstacles to self-knowledge are lessened.” – Patanjali

Namaste,

Debra

#TuesdayTunes: Morning Yoga Playlist

Most western yoga classes are accompanied by music. Some of mine are and some aren’t. When I teach, I try to play either atmospheric music or classical. When I practice at home I tend to listen to music that’s a bit less traditional but helps me feel energized. Here’s a link to my morning playlist.

 

Enjoy!

Debra

#MondayMeditation: Focus on the Breath

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Ever notice what happens to the breath when we get scared? Anxious? Angry? We usually either hold the breath or breathe in rapid, short bursts. And what happens to the body as a result? It gets increasingly tense. The sympathetic nervous system – the home of our “fight or flight response” –  is triggered and our stress levels soar, which triggers more irregular breath.

We may think of these responses as involuntary, but we can consciously train ourselves to stimulate our parasympathetic nervous system – the part of the nervous system that allows us to rest and relax. Slow, deep breaths are the key. Whenever you feel your breath changing in reaction to a stressful or scary situation, remind yourself to pause and take a deep breath in and out. Do it as often as you need to help defuse the situation. You may not be able to control what’s happening, but you can learn to train yourself how to react to adverse situations.

 

Peace,

Debra

#FeelGoodFriday: #GetOutside

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The world seems a bit crazy at the moment. Take some time to unplug and get outside. Find somewhere with a lot of green. Green is the color of health, harmony, and tranquility. Give yourself that.

Shanti,

Debra

#ThoughtulThursday: What’s Going On Update

photogrid_1479976016490.pngI’m long overdue to give an update from my post way back in January. I obviously did not find my groove regarding posting regularly but hope to get back on track going forward.

So here are the update on the big changes that have happened or are still going on.

Original Post: I’m trying to get the house I’ve lived in for 20 years ready to sell. My ex and I didn’t do a lot of updating and I’ve had to make some pretty major updates so that I won’t take a loss on it. It’s taking A LOT more time than I thought it would.

Update: The house is SOLD! I am no longer a homeowner and I am totally okay with that. Side note for anyone who wants to pick on Millennials for not being quick to buy homes: Maybe you should let everyone define their own success. Homeownership can be great but it can also be a pain in the butt.

Original Post: I’ve got a new guy. He’s awesome and helping me with my house and providing me amazing emotional support.

Update: I’ve still got him. Things are going very well.

Original Post: I’ve got a part-time job. It took me my entire adult life to figure out that I wanted to teach yoga but it’s a hard way to make a living, so I’ve had to take an office job to pay the bills. One of my goals this year is to improve my hustle and/or find a part-time job in the wellness industry that doesn’t suck my soul out.

Update: I no longer have the part-time job. I’ve not found something else but the proceeds from the house have given me a little breathing room so I can focus on how I want to build on my yoga career.

Original Post: I’m taking more yoga teacher training. It’s like being in grad school all over again but I love it!

Update: My 300-hour training is beginning to wind down. Graduation is September 30th. We’ll see what happens after that.

Thanks for tuning in,

Debra

#TuesdayTips: Yoga Props

photogrid_1464575967827.jpgI often have students ask me for recommendations for props to buy and use in their practices. I am an advocate for using props in yoga. Whether used to make a difficult pose less so or deepen awareness of alignment in familiar poses, props are useful tools for any level of yoga practice.

Like any multi-million dollar industry, if you want a specialty item you can find it. There are a LOT of props on the market that I’ve never used. Below is a list of some of the props I am most familiar with and some brief thoughts on each. Although not all are essential, these are the props I would suggest purchasing for a home practice. Also, I’m not paid to endorse any of these products.

Yoga mats: An essential for most folks, a yoga mat provides padding and a (mostly) non-skid surface for poses. Options range from cheap open-cell mats to high-end cork mats. The frequency and style of your practice should be the determining factor on what you buy. The mat I use most is my Jade.

Blocks: Yoga blocks are used to bring the floor up to meet our body. Typically they are used under the hands in forward folds, but can also be used to support the hip and other parts of the body depending on the pose. I tend to like the smaller 3-inch blocks because they fit my hands better but most studios have 4-inch blocks.

Strap: Straps are typically used to extend the arms to reach the feet (think seated forward fold or hand-to-big-toe pose). Most straps you can pick up at sporting good or big-box stores are 6 feet long, but 8- and 10-foot options can be more useful.

Blankets: Blankets can be used to support the hips in seated poses, pad the knees in kneeling poses, and cover up during savasana. They are also a lot cheaper than bolsters, which have many of the same uses. Wool blankets offer firmer support than cotton, but I prefer cotton because I am sensitive to wool (who wants to be itchy when they’re trying to relax).

Bolsters: Bolsters tend to be pricey but are super useful, especially for sitting for long periods or if you want to practice restorative poses. Bolsters can vary a lot by shape – round versus rectangular – and size. I would suggest trying out different bolsters before buying.

This is a brief overview and I’ll try to write more on each prop in the future.

 

Namaste,

Debra

#MondayMeditation: The Peaceful Heart

This week’s classes will focus on the theme of the peaceful heart. The peak pose in each class will be a variation of pigeon pose (or swan pose in Yin classes). A deep hip opener, the pose is one that students seem to love or hate. No matter what feeling it evokes, the true goal of the pose is to find the balance between effort and ease. When we find that balance, we uncover peace in the physical body.

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We can find that same sense of peace in the subtle body by meditating on the peaceful heart.

  • Sit or lie in your favorite meditation position with a straight spine.
  • Focus on the breath as it moves in and out through the nostrils. Begin to follow the breath as it moves in through the nostrils, along the back of the throat, and into the heart.
  • Maintain awareness of the breath and silently say to yourself, “I am <first name> <last name,” for 3 to 5 rounds of breath.
  • Continue your breath awareness and silently say to yourself, “I am <first name>,” for 3 to 5 rounds.
  • Begin to silently say to yourself, “I am,” and gradually focus your awareness on that peaceful space and energy after the words “I am”. If your mind wanders or tries to fill in the space, simply acknowledge what arises and return to the mantra.
  • Spend as much time in that peaceful space as you wish.

Feel free to come explore these themes with me this week. Here’s where I’ll be:

Monday, July 16
* 4 p.m. – Yoga at the Museum, The Art Museum of Greater Lafayette
*7:15 p.m. – Yin Yoga, Community Yoga

Wednesday, July 18
*7:15 p.m. – Restorative Yoga, Community Yoga

Thursday
* 4 p.m. – Yoga at the Museum, The Art Museum of Greater Lafayette

In peace,

Debra

#MondayMeditation: A New Day

textgram_1522628118.pngThis week brings about some big changes for me. As I’ve shared before, I’ve got a lot of changes going on in life, as we all do. I’m beginning to phase out my classes in Indy at Dragonfly 360. It’s bittersweet. What is now Dragonfly 360 was once All People Yoga Center, where I did my initial yoga training and is the place I think of as my yoga home in Indy. I will love having less time on the road but will miss the students who always bring such a great sense of community to classes there. Thank you to all who have joined me on my journey and thank you for allowing me to be a part of yours.

Love & peace,

Debra

 

What’s Up Wednesday

0422151041Apologies to anyone subscribed to my blog. You may be getting some updates to old posts coming through in the next few days. My dear friend, fellow blogger and extremely conscientious human, The Hungry Philosopher, recently had an experience that has inspired me to go through and remove any images I did not create.

Thanks for your patience!

Debra

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