I have teamed with Lisa K. Beach, Ph.D. to create a series of Women’s health courses blending nutrition and yoga. Our first course for pregnancy has just been completed. Our next course will be geared toward postpartum health and fitness. We are really excited to be launching this program, called ‘Glow’. I Will be posting more about this exciting series soon. Find our first course here
As soon as we started seeing SUP (stand up paddle boarding) become all the rage in America, we saw SUP yoga. There is something about bringing yoga to the ocean that makes sense to people, that speaks to the yearning to have more connection with the earth. One of my first surf lessons was taught by a yoga instructor who communicated all I needed to know in terms of yoga poses. Paddling out in Bhujangasana, popping up through upward facing dog, and landing in chair pose. So I suppose it makes perfect sense to bring our salutations to the sun and our warrior poses to a floating board on the sea.
SUP has its origins in Hawaii. Legendary surfer Laird Hamilton has been revolutionizing the surf world in Hawaii for years. I remember his invention of the foil board, which allowed him to actually float above the surface of the water. Without the friction he could go faster.
Well, he has been busy inventing again and this time teaming up with yoga’s hottest couple, Dice Iida Klein and Briohny Smyth. Looks like they are introducing the Ocean yoga Board through Laird’s FreeMotion Fitness. See there press kit here.
I want this board.
This picture is from Yoga with Briohny on Facebook.
Of course I can’t do this pose off of said board, but being able to one day do it on the ocean? Sounds like motivation to me.
Right now I am bringing my pregnant self to the ocean for some yoga and inversion fun.
Once baby yogi is out in the next week, I am going to be out looking for an Ocean Yoga Board. If anyone gets some experience with one, I would love to hear about it.
“The Cure for anything is salt water. Sweat, tears, or the sea.”
- Isak Dinesen
Too good not to share…
“Stira Sukham Asanam”. The pose is steady and comfortable. These few words from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali have been a large influencing factor in how yoga asana is experienced. As a student and as a teacher we seek to find the balance of effort and ease in a pose, the balance of strength and softness. Asana specifically means the seat, or seated postures, so the asanas as a whole can be thought of as a way to prepare for sitting in meditation. I liked the way one teacher explained asana as to, “sit in the seat of the self”.
Being able to sit comfortably for meditation requires a certain steadiness in the body and openness in the hips. When the body can sit in this way the spine naturally aligns and the ability to breathe deeply is enhanced. The head gets to rest comfortably over the neck and spine. The mind can feel clear and alive.
But for all of our efforts in the west to make sitting in chairs comfortable, we have totally lost the plot. We haven’t made sitting comfortable, we have weakened the very muscles needed to support the body in order to sit. We have stiffened the muscles and joints. And thanks to computers (which I happen to be sitting in front of as I type), our heads are craning forward and the neck is uncomfortable, the shoulders sloping, the chest collapsing. ouch!
The easier we make sitting, the harder it actually becomes.
I think this phenomenon translates into many areas. I recently read a great book called, “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. He investigates the ultra runners who can run 100 mile races over trails and mountains. His interest began with a simple question, “why does my foot hurt?” he was experiencing, like so many people, countless injuries from running. His intrigue led him to find tribes of people who run with hardly any injuries, and hardly any shoes.
His argument, which is highly compelling, is that running injuries began with the invention of the running shoe in the 70′s (thank you, Nike). The over cushioned heel allows for a heel strike as you run, a completely new concept for running. Before that, the natural way to run would be a mid to forefoot strike.
If the name doesn’t just say it all. This is the over cushioned super heel of the Nike running shoe. It quite possibly spurned a whole generation of running injuries by teaching us all to heel strike. Not only that but these shoes weaken the muscles and the structures of the foot so that over time your foot has lost the ability to do what it was designed to do. Run.
Stira Sukham Asanam.
The pose is firm and comfortable. Not just comfortable. A feeling of ease comes from strength and foundation. It doesn’t really work the other way around.
When we experience discomfort we strengthen and grow. That is how the body works. We have to challenge the muscles, tissues, and bones to some extent to build their strength. The mind has to be challenged to stay sharp as we age.
This was going around facebook earlier in the week and it really rings true:
I will leave you with a video for fun. Cell phones: The prime example of making life “easier” gone wrong. Communication at your fingertips…blessing or curse?
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
In a holiday cookie rut? I found these cute yoga pose cookie cutters by the Kitchen Yogi. They could be dressed like gingerbread yogis, pulling all your favorite moves.
Laughter. It’s good for the soul.
I have finally taken the plunge and had my first acupuncture treatment. It has always intrigued me and yet I have never felt reason to go until now.
I am nearly three months out from having broken my big toe rather viciously by dropping the base of our patio umbrella on my foot. Subsequently I got married, failed my UK driving test, and started teaching a lot more. What’s the connection?
Healing takes time. Healing takes energy.
The failed test means I now cycle…everywhere. The wedding? A subtle case of bridezilla. The teaching? Amazing but exhausting. The broken toe? Really inconvenient. To top it off it is winter In Cambridge. Cold, wet, and dark.
I think I have been scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to my energy and there has been little to none left for my healing foot. Meanwhile doctors and nurses offered little more support than pain pills and bandages.
So I ordered a S.A.D. lamp and a bottle of multivitamins. I love sitting in the glow of my SAD lamp but always feel a twinge of sadness when I turn it off and the world goes grey again.
I needed something more.
I went to acupuncture, yesterday with Michael Balshaw in Ely. Not only does he stick needles in people but is also a certified Iyengar teacher. I felt confident this guy had it figured out.
There were a few different phases to my procedure. Some superficial needles in my ankles and wrists set off my stomach grumbling and churning nearly instantaneously. I had some deeper needles in my back and glutes. I finished with needles in my legs and foot. The final needles felt “interesting” in a good way. It definitely is not a painful procedure and it actually all felt quite good.
I felt energized after the session. A couple of hours later I was quite drowsy. And then perked back up and felt really good. I felt like my mind was working more quickly, my focus was improved, and I even felt my senses were heightened.
I had a good night’s sleep and today I feel relaxed.
Next acupuncture session is next Friday and I am really looking forward to it.
Complementary health seems to me a way to take the whole person in to account. It is a way to nurture, as the body is dynamic and changes over time. We have to support our body’s own ability to heal. For healing as for life, there has to be a flow of energy.
Dead body pose. Corpse pose. Savasana.
For some of us this seems to come so easy. Lie there and be still. Relax. Release. Give over to the moment. Ahh
But for so many, this pose is hard. I don’t want to close my eyes. Why Am I laying here? This is a waste of time. My face itches. I am hungry. Are my shoulders in the right place? I wish the teacher would stop talking. I’m bored.
We resist change and transformation because something has to die in order to give birth to the new. We must ‘die’ in the moment of savasana to let the new being take shape. I think the fear is that if I let go of what I think I am, what I think I know, then who am I?
Letting go is one of the lessons that we get from death. We realize that we actually have so little control after all. Not one person in the history of the world has escaped it yet, and none of us ever will. So how does one take this lesson of dead body pose and turn it into something less morbid and depressing?
I recently re-watched Steve jobs’ Stanford speech, posted through TED on “How to live before you die”. Well, he certainly did. Watch the video below for his full speech, even more prophetic now he has passed. In a nutshell: Trust your gut. Follow your heart. Be led off the well worn path…and trust that the dots will connect in the future. Never settle, and do what you love. Lastly, ask yourself each day, “if today was the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And if the answer is no too many days in a row, you have to change what you are doing.
When you live with the knowledge of your own death, you have nothing to lose.
So die to the moment. Give yourself to savasana. Let go of what does not serve you. And wake up to the new you, the best you every day.
I was cycling home today and I saw a girl on a bike nearly run over an older couple. She yelled at them because she had a green light and they were in the road when they shouldn’t be. The man told her she was going too fast. And she got angry with them. Here is a perfect example of where needing to be right is just so wrong. When did our humanity become prostrate to being right? Let it go.
Let it go. Let something die in order for something else to take shape. Give yourself the five minutes you get in savasana. And live before you die.
I don’t often drink tea but I have enjoyed some Yogi Tea from time to time. They have interesting blends of flavors and thoughtful sayings, each one a surprise…or do they? I feel like putting “keep up” on your tea bag is a bit of a competing message with the idea “sit here and drink this relaxing cup of tea”. Should I now be rushing through my tea drinking experience as well as the rest of my life? I also had a quite broken toe that day. I might have preferred my tea to read, “rest here now” or “enjoy the unencumbered moment”. But instead it reinforced the fear that life is whizzing by and if I don’t leap up I might miss the train entirely.
I did wonder as I drank my tea, and yes it was good, what people writes these tea quotes. How did they get hired? Who are they? If they draw inspiration from being told to “keep up”, which implies that they are in fact lagging behind to begin with?
Tea bag inspiration writer needed: Must be able to fit small words on small paper, can use any words in any order.
Here are my ideas for Tea qutoes:
“You”ll get there one day”
“I’ve seen worse”
“You’re no spring chicken”
and finally, “better luck next time”