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My Back Door to Yoga Therapist

Yoga was a gift from a friend.  Later I sought meditation to get me through college final exams. I was a rebellious teen becoming sensitized though I didn’t mean to.   Running from a life of certainty I became staff at a Macrobiotic restaurant. The staff was given classes in Macrobiotics by the head chef. You are what you eat. You are who you eat. You are how you eat. Doors of the mind opened. This was the seventies.   Base is everything. As the Macros say, “little yin attracts big yin” which meant that a taste of something is enough to suck you into something bigger. It was not a good thing with yin food (talking sugar etc. here) but it was a great thing with movement.   I danced.  Ballet, Modern and Haitian lead me to the worn wooden floors of dozens of somatic studios. This is how I move, how I look, how I feel. Aerobics, Pilates, Barre, Power Yoga, Feldenkrais, Tai Chi, Breema; the avenues were endless if you were inclined to find them even at the edge of the fitness revolution.   From the weird to the woo- woo, to the sublime, to the scientific I dove in to things that seemed to jump out to find me. In California I embraced color healing, sound healing and acupuncture. I tried colonics, dream therapy, re-birthing and then there was Dora Lee the chiropractor who told me to make a list of all my unresolved relationships. She pressed my spine; asked me who number 10 was as the room filled with the smell of cigarette smoke;...

Excellent Article on Plantar Fasciitis and Yoga for Your Barefoot Feet from Me

Below and also here is a link to an excellent article on plantar fasciitis.  I’ve given you yoga postures to help with strength and flexibility to assist you. For strength: Tadasana or Mountain Pose Standing with feet slightly apart lift all ten toes to feel the arches rise. Press into the base of the toes. Look at them. Are the little toes coming up as well? Put toes down and maintain the lift of the arches. Lift the arches of the inner knees, the inner groins and lift the inner arches of the hip bones. Pick up the skin of the legs and feet. Pick up  the abdomen. To increase awareness, raise your arms, firm the muscle to the bone and pick up the skin of the chest. Soften so there is action without strain. Feel and hold the memory with steady breaths.   For flexibility: Vjrasana or Hero Pose and Modifications Kneel on blanket with knees together. Press calves back and sit on heels. Re-position by lifting hips and holding heels together to sit back again with sit bones behind heels which will press the heels forward. If the ankles can stretch more, put a rolled blanket under toes and sit again. If the ankles are tender and need support, put a rolled blanket under the ankles and sit again. If the knees are stiff have another rolled blanket behind the knees or a folded blanket under the buttocks between the feet. Binding the ankles with a strap is the final stretch for the inner ankles but not necessary. You just need manageable sensation. To stretch the outer...

Empty Footprints and the Bandhas: Inquiry and Experience #9

  Stand in Mountain Pose, Tadasana Feet root to the ground, tail roots to the heels, head rises from the tail, chest rises and arms draw down   Shift to one leg and raise the other foot in the air, knee bent Where does your tongue go? Is it at the roof of the mouth? Is there hardness to the breath? Can you feel the pinch of the pelvic floor and the tightening of the diaphragm? This is the drawing in of the sphincter muscles that correspond to the bandhas Are you gripping?   Stand down   Step forward purposefully as if over your own arch and raise the other foot, knee bent Is the tongue in a different place? Is it at the bottom of the mouth? Is there softness to the breath? Can you feel the light lift of the pelvic floor and the soft expanse of the diaphragm? Is this easier?   When there is too much effort, the trunk clamps down on itself and confines you. When you try to gain space in a posture done with wrong effort, that space may not be good space but compressed space. There will be a lack of prana or grace. When you include space when creating your pose, that space will be good. There will be a sense of prana or good flowing energy and grace. Asana is interpreted as good space. The bandha tone comes naturally when the muscles are directed correctly. This is a combination of sthira and sukkha which is effort and ease. Good space during effort is described by the bandhas. The bandhas...

Mellow Your Jack Russell Mind. Doorway to Savasana: Inquiry and Experience #8

  Try these exercises for the nervous system. Smaller and slower is the key. Use some or all. This is the follow up to this post.   Spread a blanket on your mat Lie on your back   ~Bring knees toward chest and align shins and ankles Leave upper back on the floor and roll hips left Place legs and feet on the floor The knees can be above or below the hips as you please   Eyes closed observe the inner leg from the knee to groin Is there tension? Relax the inner thighs Observe the back hinge of the jaw Is there tension? Release the jaw bone to be as soft as the inner thighs Where is the breath? Notice: It is always there Repeat to right side ~Roll onto back- knees bent and feet on floor Press and release the pressure of feet against the floor several times to pulse the lower spine Now press and release the lower spine with no help from the feet or buttocks The movements will be small and intimate Notice the breath… it is always there Is there a breath that makes this movement more organized for you?   ~Press fingertips firmly from side scalp edge to the broadest part of the side skull With strong fingers and a soft neck draw skull up and chin towards chest Lower with strong fingertips and firmly drag fingers back to scalp line Press fingertips from center scalp edge to the crown of the head making two rows with the fingertips and maintain pressure as you make small circles on the top of...

Music and the Bomb Shelter of Your Heart

  Thanks to my failed relationship to all things virtual connection, I had lost much of my cherished music in a wrong attempt to switch I-tunes to my new computer. In the resulting fit of pique I had foregone music in class for the better part of a year and turned to my left brain teaching mode but I need music tonight so I plug this vintage I-pod in knowing that what will or will not play is a mystery.   I’ve got a play list running that had been shot full of holes in the firestorm. Tonight I’m checking this out to see if something destroyed has been impossibly recently resuscitated by my I.T. guy. I’ve desperately missed conducting movement to music which was lost in tandem by my crapped out hip and my crapped out I-pod. The students trickle in. I decide to let untested music ride as class begins.   As we settle down it’s apparent that the song playing is a bit intense. The list is called Alternative. It was arranged to tear your salty heart from a bomb shelter and restore it honey dripping to an emerald cave.   “Hello friends. I’m running a questionable play list which is an interesting choice right here as I don’t remember what’s on it and I don’t know most of you. Music is personal. Something here might urge you to run screaming from the room. I want you to do this (hand raised) if a song makes you nuts and I will cut it off. If you agree, we’ll continue this experiment together. I hope it serves...

So You’re Worried About Yoga Injuries? Here’s Some Excellent Advice.

      Inquiry and Experience #6 and #7   There’s a surge of disclosure on yoga injuries due to the quickly growing number of students and their use of social media. Don’t panic. Although you will likely be injured at one time or another doing yoga (including muscle strain as injury), it’s unlikely to have a lasting effect for the majority of you.   On the other hand you might get yourself in trouble if you have a condition that will be ill served by the yoga practice you’ve engaged in. Not every body should do every thing. You may have a health or skeletal, soft tissue or muscular issue that warrants caution. Even those of sound body can be at risk engaging in the wrong practice or becoming overzealous. Innocent people have suffered at the hands of unskilled or thoughtless teachers as well.   Here’s my sincere advice for new and old students:   Stay in Your Own Lane ~ move at your own pace and do the best you can without overreaching. You might research range of motion often referred to as R.O.M. Everyone’s is different but there are normal ranges. Are you practicing for a circus career? Can you be content not putting your foot behind your head like the guy next to you? Take a good look. Do you really want to look like that? No. It’s damn unattractive and you don’t.   Pay Attention ~ this is the fruit of staying interested and the two are co-dependent. Don’t space out or move by rote. Notice everything about sensation. Take your time. Notice everything...