Breathe Slowly

I have a very basic breathing exercise I would like to share. While practicing breathing, try to use your nose if it is possible.

Find a comfortable way to sit. I suggest sitting in a chair, or cross legged. While sitting keep your back straight. Lengthen the back of your neck, you may draw your chin in and raise through the crown of your head to find more length through your neck. Alternatively you can practice lying on your back, your arms resting on the ground beside your body, your knees bent, and your feet resting flat on the floor.

Try to give yourself at least ten minutes for this practice. If you only have one minute then do that instead. Try to practice regularly, the more you work on this exercise the more benefits you will notice.

We are going to practice breathing without using the word deep; instead we are going to use the word slow. Breathe in and out as slowly as you can, it should feel comfortable and relaxed. While you inhale you can think of all the places where you breath goes. As you begin your inhale, you will expand the chest, that’s where your lungs are. Your chest expands in all directions. Visualize your lungs – the three dimensions, the front, the back, the sides, the top, and the bottom.

Keep your belly relaxed, as you expand the bottom of your lungs your belly will also expand, and the expansion can reach down into your pelvis too.

As you exhale drop any tension. Keep your shoulders relaxed, dropped down away from your ears. Is there any tension in your face? your eyes? Try to relax anywhere you find the tension. Continue to breathe slowly.

While you breathe remember to keep your spine straight. You may even notice that as you inhale you can feel space opening up between the vertebrae in your spine.

You may notice that with this practice your digestion improves and you feel more relaxed. Miracles happen when you practice breathing.

Please let me know in the comments below how this exercise is working for you.

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Unstuck

Anahata is the heart chakra. This Sanskrit word translates to unstuck. To be more balanced in this chakra we can evaluate the ways we become stuck in our lives. We can be stuck in our habits and we can be stuck in our stubbornness. We can be stuck in the ways that we stop listening to our intuition, instead running in automatic.

Our habits are an important element because they are the way that we show love to ourselves, and this is the first step we must take before we can truly love others. Habits that harm us are the ones we may find are most sticky.

Being stuck in our stubbornness is when we are rigid on how we see others and ourselves. Letting go of this rigidity is a way we can open our hearts.

Listening to our intuition in our relationships helps us to love others. We may feel that there is something we must share with someone, that we need to share the information with that person for loving reasons. But if that person is not ready to hear what we are trying to tell them, or we are not the right person to give them that information, then we may only be causing pain for that person. I find that by using my intuition I can be more careful and gentle when sharing knowledge.

When we become more balanced in the heart we feel more complete, more connected to the people in our lives. To become more balanced in our hearts we can keep in mind the different thoughts, habits and attitudes that we cling to. I continue to work on letting myself be unstuck.

Dream Yoga

Dream yoga comes out of Tibetan Buddhism, in which it is thought that we are most asleep in our ordinary life, and most awake during the night, or when sleeping. When we don’t exercise it, the mind can keep us asleep and in a state of suffering; keeping us oblivious to the connection, and peace that is found in awakening to the present moment. Yoga means to unite or yoke, and that is where we stop masking over things with labels, labels like good, bad, like and dislike. With dream yoga you can learn how to wake up in your ordinary life to how illusory the world we live in really is.

Stretching your mind is how it becomes more flexible. It can help you to transform emotions and thoughts that stifle you, freeing you to experience your true potential. With dream yoga you will be learning how to become lucid while you dream. This lucidity is experienced when you are having a dream and you become aware that you are dreaming, then you start to control the dream. One dream yoga exercise is to transform an object in your dream. It could be anything like a tree or a flower, now you transform it, it could change colour or size. This is how the mind strengthens and stretches, finding out that it is capable of transforming what you perceive as real. Without the lucidity in your dream you did not see that the tree was an illusion, when you transformed it you now became aware of how powerful your mind is.

This can later be experienced in your waking life when you are confronted by an experience that arouses a negative feeling. Now you might remember that you have a powerful and flexible mind, and this can help you to transform the negative feeling into something less negative and possibly even something positive. Having lucidity in your waking life, allows you to see that your reactions to objects, events, and people are something that you can transform.

Practicing Laughter

Dr. Madan Kateira, also known as the creator of laughter yoga, recommends laughing 15 minutes a day. Laughter is a potent medicine, and he knew that it must be spread quickly and to many people. That is why he chose to offer it for free. His vision was laughter clubs. People would get together in groups and spend time laughing together. He created exercises which would help people to laugh. Jokes used in laughter yoga are simple and innocent. Like one joke is to take out your imaginary empty wallet, and laugh.

In 2005 researchers at the University of Maryland found a link between healthy functioning blood vessels and laughter. Laughing releases endorphin like compounds which activate receptors to release nitric oxide; this dilates the blood vessels. Also, laughter reduces stress hormones, boosting the number of antibody producing cells, leading to a stronger immune system.

Laughing feels good. Laughter could potentially treat many diseases, when combined with other treatments. Spiritually you might start your journey into yoga with laughter yoga and then find yourself interested in meditation, chanting, and pranayama.

Namaste

Namaste is a greeting, derived from Sanskrit and it means “the divine in me bows to the divine in you.”

Anjali mudra is also sometimes called namaste mudra. A mudra is a seal; some mudras are done with the entire body, and many are done with only our hands.

How to do namaste mudra: bring your hands together, fingers pointing upwards and thumbs close to the sternum.

Anjali mudra is known to benefit you in the following ways:

  • promoting flexibility in the hands, wrists, fingers and arms
  • alleviating mental stress and anxiety
  • assisting the practitioner in achieving focus and coming into a meditative state

You may notice that your teacher will say namaste, hold their hands in anjali mudra, and bow to end a yoga class. Namaste is a salutation used when you may have come into a space where you are more balanced. As the class has ended, you may have discovered the peacefulness that is your True Self. The teacher honours that by closing with a word of respect from their True Self to yours.

Mountain Energy Yoga

During my yoga teacher training, I taught one class to the group I trained with. I was very nervous about teaching the class. After teaching this class, one of my teachers mentioned that I had mountain energy. That is how I decided that I would take that name for my business. I take a lot of time with things; is that like a mountain? You don’t see mountains moving around a lot; they move very slowly. That’s how I have interpreted mountain energy. Mountains are made of rock, and that means they are strong.

I know that people are easily injured. Asana practice is a great example of where we fall into the ego trap. We want to get into a physical posture because it looks amazing. I love this aspect of asana practice myself. But it is an attachment to something outside of ourselves — an image that we want to emulate. The goal of asana practice is to help us to find more stillness to better practice meditation. And becoming injured through asana practice will not help us with that goal.

I started Mountain Energy Yoga as a means to create momentum and to keep me working towards one day teaching. Slowly, like a mountain, I continue to learn about asana practice to find more confidence in teaching the physical side of yoga. Through writing this blog I am learning more about Yoga philosophy. Thanks for reading!

Proofread by Leona B. Hunt, BA, proofreader

http://www.leonahuntproofreading.com

Aparigraha

Aparigraha is one of the yamas which Patanjali writes about in the Yoga-sutras. Aparigraha is a Sanskrit word which means nongreediness or nongrasping. It is releasing control and freeing the self of anxieties. An example of grasping is holding on in the body. You might notice clenching in your hands or in your feet or in your jaw, so to let go and release this clenching is aparigraha. Holding a grudge is also a type of grasping, whereas forgiveness is a way to practice aparigraha. Trying to control others is another way that we are grasping, so when we stop trying to control others, we are practicing aparigraha.

“Greed is good,” said Gordon Gekko in the 1987 film Wall Street.

Greed is seen as something that benefits civilizations because without greed there is no ambition. It is said that if we did not have greed, we would not have technology, computers, and robots.

Is greed good? Greed is selfishness. Being selfish is being separate. It is not being part of the whole. It is a lonely way to live. It can be a result of an anxiety that in the future we will not have enough. This anxiety leads to hoarding and storing things for that imagined time in the future when we do not have what we need. The anxiety that we have about the future is where we lose something very special: this moment.

Also, greed is bad for our environment. We want more stuff; we need more stuff. To get this stuff, we extract resources, and we use excessive amounts of energy. This causes pollution. Our obsession with stuff means that there may not be anything left for future generations. It may not be so good for civilization after all.

“Only when the last tree has been cut down, the last fish has been caught, and the last stream poisoned, will we realize we cannot eat money.” Cree Prophecy

A tree demonstrates aparigraha every fall as it lets go of its leaves

Aparigraha is all the ways that we can practice letting go. Here are some ways that you can start to practice aparigraha in your life. Start having more awareness about the ways that you are holding on to things and habits. Some grasping examples are having a need to control someone else, having a compulsion to overindulge with material objects and food, or having tension in your body that may be habitual, but by being mindful, you are able to release. By practicing aparigraha, one of the yamas, suffering can be reduced, allowing the experience of more bliss and connection in its place.

Proofread by Leona B. Hunt, BA, proofreader

www.leonahuntproofreading.com