Welcome to Yogi Sticks!

Do you know your Gomukasana from your Adho Mukha Svanasana? Is your Vrksasana all it can be? And how do you feel about Supta Baddha Konasana? Do you know what I'm even talking about?

Sometimes the Sanskrit - however beautiful it sounds - is not very helpful. So, to encourage my students to expand their yoga practice into their home, I sketch the poses we practice during class on a chart and add the Sanskrit and common name. Hopefully, this is a useful tool to help them along in their yogic journey. I also troll the internet, books, and journals to find interesting articles about yoga and the yogic lifestyle.

10-25 Toning and 10/27 Side Body

Quote for Wednesday night: "Life isn't all about what you don't have, but yet, what you do with what you've been given." -robert M. Hensel
"We should be generous in our judgement of others, for we can never really now all there is to know about another." -Desmond Tutu

10-18 Backbends and 10-20 Strenthening

As Halloween creeps up on me, I'm short on time today. So, here are the class sketches as well as the quotes from practice:
"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." -George Bernard Shaw
"Intense love does not measure. It just gives." -Mother Teresa

Yoga Addiction

Do you ever feel the need to practice hamstring stretches in the office? Work on your pranayam in the school's car circle? Perfect tree pose while washing dishes (my personal favorite)? You will enjoy this fun posting on a local Tampa yoga blog: Top 10 Signs You Are Addicted to Yoga.

THAT Does Yoga, Too?

Yes, even your tongue is an important part of a yoga practice!

Your tongue works as a "switch" between the gross and subtle body, between the peripheral and central energy systems. It can direct the movement of body parts just by using pranic force. The tongue influences other body movements without heavy muscular activity by triggering different elements in the body (ie: earth, water, wind, etc).

In yoga, there are four distinct parts locate don the hard and soft palates where different energies can be brought under control simply by placement of the tip of the tongue:

1. During asana (physical postures) practice, your tongue should be against the palate behind the root of the upper teeth without touching them. This movement influences the body's wind element and makes breath deeper and body movements smoother and lighter.

2. If you place the tip of your tongue against the center of the roof of your mouth, you increase heat in the body by activating the seat of fire in the mouth.

3. If your mouth is dry, roll your tongue back farther to place the tip at the edge of the soft palate. This is the seat of water in the mouth. This placement also increases energy.

4. Finally, scattered energy can be re-centered by trying to touch the tip of the tongue to the tip of the uvula (that hangy thing in your throat) while imagining the uvula reaching toward the tongue. This movement triggers the seat of the earth element in your mouth, which activates the seat of the earth element in the body...your mula bandha (the energy lock in the perineal area). Try it - you'll feel a lifting down in the pelvic region when you try to bring tongue and uvula together!

10-11 Moon Poses and 10-13 Neck and Shoulders

I had a request for neck and shoulder stretches, so I took some poses from a wonderful book: Healing Yoga for Neck and Shoulder Pain by Carol Krucoff.

The quote for tonight: "For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that theses obstacles were my life. -James Patterson

Yoga celebrates the union between two disparate identities, and tonight we played with our Moon side, trying poses in unconventional ways and exploring an adapted Moon Salutation. A quick Google search of Moon Salutations will provide a plethora of examples to choose from to develop your own personal version.

Tonight's quote: "Think, if you will, of your life as an art gallery and of the events in it as paintings that you have made. A week ago, or a year ago, or just yesterday you began a picture and today it turns up in the gallery that is your life. You stop to look at it. Is it beautiful...or is it ugly? Whatever it is, see it as a painting in the gallery of your life, and consider that spirit in which you paint today determines how nice your gallery looks tomorrow." -Brian Browne Walker

10-6-10 Pelvic Prana and Mula Bandha

Energizing the lower body tonight. One of my favorite "tricks" to find movement in places we thought were immobile (whether by design or by misuse) is to squeeze a block between your thighs in different poses, moving it forward and back with just the rotation of the femurs. Tonight we tried it in Table, Cat/Cow, Mountain, Forward Fold, and Downward Dog. Give it a try and see what release you can find.

We also reviewed Mula Bandha - the energy lock in the low pelvic area. To find the correct muscle, imagine that you are stopping the flow of urine - or kegel exercises. You engage the pelvic floor (the space between the pubic bone and tailbone. At first, it feels like you are contracting the muscles around the anus and genitals, but you really want to isolate and lift the perineum. That lifting up of the muscle "locks" the energy in the body so you can use it in your poses. It provides instant stability and strength. The area where mula bandha is located in the root chakra. In the Kundalini yoga tradition, it is where the potent energy lies dormant until awakened by yoga practice.Other common bandhas we often talk about in our practice include hasta bandha (hand lock), pada bandha (foot lock), jhalandara bandha (throat lock - like in bridge pose), and uddiyana bandha (abdominal lock - like in boat). When you activate your throat, abdominal and root locks it is called Maha Bandha (the great lock).

Quote from practice: "Never let anyone come to you without coming away better and happier"
-Mother Teresa

Your Thoughts, Please...

This article is stirring up all kinds of conversation in the yoga community. What do you think? Are you able to incorporate your yoga practice into your religious beliefs? Is yoga an impediment to your beliefs, or does it help you connect to your faith? I'd love your thoughts!
Click here for the article.