Friday, January 30, 2015

Props: Using the ropes for support in asanas!

This is a video on YouTube and is just a taste of the many ways the ropes can help student gain knowledge and feel supported in an asana.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I recently ran across an article by Dr. John Douillard, Ayurvedic Specialist, about the benefits of sleeping on your left side. I mentioned it in my yoga class this morning and several students were surprised and said they had always heard the opposite because the heart is located on the left side, etc. I'm posting Dr. Douillard's article so you can see what he has to say. He is a well-respected Ayurvedic doctor, located in Boulder, CO.

Paste the link below into your browser and see what you think.

Friday, January 16, 2015

As many of you know, Ayurveda is a big part of eastern medicine and many yoga practitioners follow the Ayurveda diet according to their dosh. 

3 Reasons To Avoid Green Smoothies
by Nadia Marshall
Green smoothies are all the rage, particularly here in Byron Bay, and are promoted as one of the best things you can do for your health. In case you’re one of the rare few who has never had one, green smoothies are usually made up of about 40% leafy greens, 60% fruit and often contain a bunch of other goodies to make them tastier or more nutritious such as chia or flax seeds, maca or camu powder, cacao nibs, hemp protein, spirulina or coconut oil...
At first glance, the power-packed hit of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and fibre you get from a green smoothie seems indisputably healthy... so why on earth would you avoid them? Well the Ayurvedic view is never just about NUTRIENTS... it is always about QUALITIES and these seemingly super-smoothies have some qualities that can have a negative effect if consumed regularly over a long period of time.
So here we go, three reasons to avoid smoothies, from an Ayurvedic perspective:
Green smoothie recipes usually call for chilled water or the addition of ice cubes. On top of this, the majority of the fruits and veggies added to them are cold in quality. Even if you’re adding some warming ginger to your smoothie the overall quality of smoothies is still usually COLD. Leafy greens like kale, chard, spinach and cabbage; veggies like broccoli and celery; as well as a number of fruits are also DRY and ROUGH in quality.
The Vata (Air/Ether) dosha in our bodies has the qualities of dry, rough, cold, mobile and changeable. Foods that are COLD, DRY and ROUGH, therefore, directly aggravate Vata. Like increases like. When our Vata is aggravated it causes increased dryness, roughness, coldness, mobility and variability in the body/mind. This can be experienced as variable appetite; gas or pain after eating; dry constipation or loose motions (incrased mobility); dry/rough skin and hair; variable energy; poor circulation and pain or cracking in the joints.
From a mental perspective, aggravated Vata is associated with increased mental agitation, restlessness, flightiness, grasping, anxiety, poor concentration, poor memory, changeable moods and insomnia. Vata has a strong association with the nervous, endocrine and excretory systems so excess Vata is most inclined to affect these systems and.... according to Ayurveda, the majority of all diseases are related to aggravated Vata dosha.
Aggravated Vata is also associated with catabolism or the breaking down of tissues. This is one of the reasons why people often feel very energetic when initially getting into green smoothies (and raw food generally) - because when a cell breaks down a huge amount of energy is released, like an exploding star!
The good news is your fat tissue gets broken down.... but the bad news is all of your other tissues do too
including the deeper tissues of bone, marrow, nerve and sexual reproductive tissue. Depletion of these important deep tissues is never a good thing - we’re talking weaker teeth, weaker bones, compromised nerve conduction and communication, hormone issues and infertility.
Also, these deeper tissues are responsible for directly nourishing the foundation of our immune system, known as ‘Ojas’ in Ayurveda. If they become depleted, Ojas also becomes depleted and as a result, we can become susceptible to auto-immune problems, chronic fatigue and other diseases of depletion.
Although many of the ingredients in a green smoothie are actually light, the sheer quantity of ingredients (e.g. 10 or more cups of fruit and veggies in one smoothie) makes them very dense and therefore heavy. If you’re adding a bunch of superfoods to the mix, your smoothie is going to be even heavier. And heavy food, although satisfying to one’s hunger, is difficult to digest.
Green smoothies are also very complex. Our digestive fire (‘Agni’ in Sanskrit) likes simplicity. For example, our Agni has no problem digesting a few veggies that have been cooked with mung daal, rice and spices to aid digestion. Foods cooked together in a single pot have time to get to know each other, to combine their qualities and be transformed from several individual ingredients to a single meal
with a particular character. In contrast, smoothies contain a multitude of ingredients with very different qualities combined raw in a blender. Raw food prepared in this way may be delicious, but it doesn’t allow for this subtle marrying of qualities. As a result, the meal remains very complex which is difficult for the body to digest.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, green smoothies also contain the number one food combination no-no. Ayurveda teaches that fresh fruit should never be combined with any other foods. As we know, green smoothies combine fresh fruit with leafy greens, veggies and superfoods. Although somewhat pre-digested thanks to the blending process, the smoothies still stay in our stomachs for as long as the most difficult food contained within them takes to digest. As a result the fresh fruit (which is light and easy to digest in comparison to all other foods) generally stays in the stomach for too long and ferments - causing over-digested food wastes (or ‘Ama’ in Sanskrit).
In the short term, green smoothies may be cleansing, due to their high fibre content but they tend to put a strain on the digestive fire - which most people experience as a sensation of lasting ‘fullness’ (and think this is a good thing!). In the long run, the aggravation of Vata leads to an imbalanced digestive fire of the ‘Variable’ kind (like a candle blowing in the wind). Variable digestion is associated with pain, bloating, flatulence, burping and also leads to the under-cooking of foods or undigested food wastes (‘Ama’). This is where the ‘cleansing’ benefit is reversed. These undigested wastes accumulate in the digestive tract and eventually overflow and relocate into the deeper channels and tissues of the body where they wreck havoc with cellular nutrition and waste disposal and can become the root cause of all disease... according to Ayurveda.
So there you have it! Some pretty good reasons to reconsider the green smoothie trend.... aggravated Vata, depleted tissues, depleted Ojas, imbalanced Agni and accumulating Ama!
Having said all that, it should be noted that if you have a robust Pitta or Pitta/Kapha constitution with a super strong digestive fire and a body in need of a little cooling, you’ll be able to handle green smoothies better than most (particularly during the summer months). On the other hand, if you have any Vata in your constitution, you should avoid them altogether.
If you’re already addicted to green smoothies and are determined to keep having them for whatever reason, try the following adjustments to make them slightly more Ayurvedically-friendly:
• add a pinch of turmeric and ginger and a squeeze of lemon to the mix to aid digestion
• have them at room temperature, not cold... or even add a little hot water
• keep the ingredients to a minimum, keep it simple and less dense - less is more!
• add a little coconut oil to offset the dry/rough qualities of the veggies
• try them without fruit or use fruit that takes a little longer to digest, like avocado or ripe bananas
• avoid the addition of superfoods - they make them even heavier
• only have them a couple of times a week, not daily.
“Ayurveda for Self-Healing” by Vasant Lad
http:// recipes/lorna-janes-super-green- smoothie/ smoothies.html green-smoothie-superfoods

1. “In Defence of Food” by Michael Pollan 2. “Fats Are Good For You and Other Secrets” by Jon Kabara PhD
3. Essential of Human Anatomy and Physiology” By Elaine Marieb
4. “The Bitter Truth” http:// (from 0.30.10-0.39:09)
5. “The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies” by Vasant Lad
6. “Ayurvedic Medicine: The Principles of Traditional Practice” by Sebastian Pole


Sunday, July 07, 2013

Progress on the Yoga Suppression Front...

Is It Anti-Christian To Teach Yoga In Schools?

  • by Judy Molland
  • July 6, 2013

Is It Anti-Christian To Teach Yoga In Schools?

Yoga is now taught as part of the P.E. program in public schools across the country, and at all levels from kindergarten to high school senior. There’s a good reason for that: yoga is an excellent way to ease stress in the busy lives of our students today, it’s open to kids of all athletic abilities, and it doesn’t require any special equipment.
Full story here.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

New Beginnings

On January 8, I started a Tuesday night beginner's class. I figured that with the advent of a new year, it would be a fresh start for me as well as the students. Six students showed up, four of them brand new to yoga and two of them ongoing students. As always, the students taught me as much or more than I taught them. New students have such a fresh insight into yoga and ask such great questions. 

After studying yoga for 23 years and teaching for 13 years, I am continually surprised by how the Yamas and Niyamas relate to every situation. The Yama I'm referring to is Satya, truthfulness. 

Carl Jung writes, "A lie would make no sense unless the truth was felt to be dangerous." Lie seems like a strong word, but when used as a noun, it has many meanings: untruth, falsehood, fib, fabrication, deception, invention, fiction, piece of fiction, exaggeration, etc. So, there are many kinds of non-truths. 

According to my own emotions in a situation, I often ask myself, "Is that thought true?" And most of the time the answer is no. I give a lot of the credit for my awareness and realization of this Yama to my primary yoga teacher. She has taught and continues to teach me so much more than asanas (poses), and I am forever grateful to her.

We put so many expectations on ourselves that we sometimes feel forced to tell a lie. I've decided to issue myself a challenge and try to count how many times in one day I lie. I know without a doubt that it will be way more than I imagine. Most of the lies won't be intentional, but I'll keep a journal and in an upcoming post let you know what I discovered. Who knows how it will start, but it could start as soon as I wake up with a thought like, "I got up late because my husband didn't wake me up." Lie number one right out of bed! I'm certainly old enough to be responsible for getting myself up on time. 

I watch and listen to student tell themselves lies in class. I'm not flexible so I can't do yoga, I'm not as good as the person next to me, I'm too old … and so on. With beginners, I gently remind them that yoga is not a competitive sport, and they only need to focus on their own pose in class. With more intermediate students, I often ask them if what they just said is true, and usually that leads into a brief discussion about Satya. All of us need reminders about what is true and what is not. 

In my first beginners class this year, a student asked me if I really thought a 60-year-old person could change the bad habits they had created throughout their lives. I told this student that first they must have the awareness something needs to change, and then they have to be willing to do the work necessary to change it.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Philosophical Side of Yoga

Happy New Year! This year I'm delving into the Yamas and Niyamas, and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. 

At the beginning of all of my classes, I ask a student to pick one of the eight limbs of yoga, and then I read a brief description about whatever they've chosen and we have a short discussion about it. My intention is to plant a seed (bija in Sanskrit) for the students to think about. 

My passion is yoga and my feeling is that to only teach asanas is doing a disservice to my students. While the majority of them seem eager to do asanas, they also enjoy the bits of information about the eight limbs of yoga. They really seem to want to know what yoga is, not just how to do the asanas. I don't offer a buffet of different styles of yoga, pilates, Zumba, etc., just yoga. I figure if students are looking for the buffet, there are plenty of opportunities in almost any fitness center.

As Deborah Adele puts in her book, The Yamas & Niyamas; Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice:
What are the Yamas and Niyamas?

The Yamas and Niyamas are foundational to all yogic thought. Yoga is a sophisticated system that extends far beyond doing yoga postures; it is literally a way of living. Yoga is designed to bring you more and more awareness of not only your body but also your thoughts. The teachings are a practical, step-by-step methodology that bring understanding to your experiences, while at the same time pointing the way to the next experience. They are like a detailed map, telling you where you are and how to look for the next landmark. They faxilitate taking ownership of your life and directing it towards the fulfillment that you seek.

The Yamas and Niyamas may be thought of as guidelines, tenets, ethical disciplines, precepts, or restraints and observances. I often think of them as jewels, because they are the rare gems of wisdom that give direction to a well-lived and joyful life. In yogic philosophy, these jewels sit as the first tow limbs of the 8-fold path.

The first five jewels are referred to as Yamas, a Sanskrit word which translates literally into the word "restraints" and includes nonviolence, truthfulness, non stealing, non excess, and non possessiveness. The last five jewels are referred to as the Niyamas, or "observances," and include purity, contentment, self-discipline, self study, and surrender. Many guides to ethical conduct may leave us feeling overwhelmed with concepts, or boxed in by rule sets. Yoga's guidelines do not limit us from living life, but rather they begin to open life up to us more and more fully, and they flow easily into one another in ways that are practical and easy to grasp.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Pranayama, Chi, Breath

Pranayama, Chi, breath, all names for the life giving force. I often remind my students that life begins with a breath and ends with a breath. Think about that the next time you effortlessly take a breath. We don't think about the breath because it is so natural for most of us.

Yesterday I observed one of our four legged family members take his last breath and his soul leave his body. I was reminded again that our bodies, while of colossal importance, are only temporary "houses" for our souls. When you witness death, it is sad but also peaceful, especially if someone or something has been suffering. We had a wonderful life with our dog, Dizzy, and I don't regret letting him go even though we are grieving his loss.

I hope that the human race will progress to the point that we can allow each other a dignified death when the time comes, rather than when a hospital or doctor determines we are ready.