Category Archives: YogaMentals

Breaking Thru the pain

Breaking Thru the pain

shapeimage_1-6On a recent adventure I had what one might call a misadventure.  It is easy to get hooked up into labeling it as such and I find myself struggling more and more as each day passes to make lemonade out of the lemons. 

I slipped on the boat deck and broke my ankle after a most amazing dive in the Bahamas.  Initially the pain was over the top, but having practiced yoga with a strong emphasis on pranayama I was able to  practice a technique for pain control that I had until then, only read about.  I took my focus into the pain and then breathed thru it. The mind effects the breath but the breath can also have a profound effect on the mind.  By slowing down my breath and focusing my attention into my ankle as well as staying fully present in my body and my surroundings I was able to bring my pain into a tolerable range and remain calm.  I briefly felt my body attempt to go into shock as it wanted to pass out, vomit and react with all sorts of emotions and weakness.  I was fortunate in that my travel buddy and the rest of the divers respected my space which allowed me the opportunity to draw my senses inward, a practice in yoga called dharana.  I truly was in a meditative state.  Read the rest of this entry

Grounded As If You Have 4 Legs

Grounded As If You Have 4 Legs

shapeimage_1-4Today I want to invite you to be honest with yourself both on the mat and off.  Be honest about what works for you and what does not work for you.  Choose a life, a practice, that is meaningful, not just familiar or popular or what your neighbor is doing.  I encourage you to Slow down, reenter and reclaim the space that is your body.  Remember, the body does not lie.  It is the mind that lies to not just ourselves but to each other, Wake up to the truth that is our potential.  Read the rest of this entry

Just Be

Just Be


55Gratefulness, as I sit here in my beautiful home looking out thru the open windows at the lushness that surrounds me.  I must say I have enjoyed the peacefulness of my home, the warmth, the quiet, the breeze and solitude.  I plan on enjoying this more after I am healed and when it can be my choice to sit and be, but in the mean while I am enjoying it thru the physical discomfort.

The silence is filled with the sound of the wind blowing thru the trees, the call of the birds and frogs peaks at different times during the day.  Today even Sam is still and quiet as I have the doors open.  The wind is rushing and swirling around through the trees and the waterfall in the background all make for an amazing setting of healing.  What is so beautiful about this peace, the calm that I feel within this perfect setting is it always there, always available.

Even in the midst of chaos and confusion, pain and suffering, it is there inside each of us.  We just have to get out of the way and be aware.  Be open.  It is thru the mind that the suffering arises.  It does not mean that we will not experience painful and challenging trials in our life, but we choose whether or not to suffer.

Contentment is a beautiful place to be in.  Today I am feeling contentment.  I am content to just sit here and be.  I keep hearing and maybe today I am listening, read those books you have been putting off, write the blogs or just sit and enjoy the fruits of your life. Contentment often is fleeting, it is not something you do, or strive for, you just are.

Take time to just be still, to not have to be going and doing.

The thoughts are minimal as the body awakens to sensation and stimulation.  The connection of all things. I am truly blessed and grateful to all of my friends, my family, my teachers and my body.

Today as you approach the mat set an intention of gratitude.  Be grateful for your efforts to go to the mat, be grateful for your body.  Pay special attention to the whole body as you move thru each asana, listen intuitively to the wisdom, and show compassion.  Slow down a bit, don’t push as hard today and as you settle into each asana, pause.  Pause as long as you like.  Withdraw the senses, only allow the vibrational quality of the sensations to permeate thru the body but don’t lable them.

Go to a place in your practice where you can hold each asana, with out thought of doing or going deeper.  Maybe even back out of each asana a little so that your awareness is not drawn to specific locations in your body, but spread evenly throughout.  Find the stillness, the ease.  Move slowly, stay longer.  Find a place to just be.  Allow the contentment to arise up with in you as you are able to hush the thoughts of doing.

Life is already crazy enough, with out all of the distractions and chaos.  Don’t bring that into your practice. Quiet the thoughts and practice contentment here where it is safe and easier.  Practice finding the contentment with an attitude of gratitude.

When you leave the mat and return to the chaos of life, you know that this place of quiet is within in you always. Practice finding it when you find yourself frustrated with the traffic, running late for a meeting or in the middle of a confrontation.  Stop, find the breath, get grounded, connected here in the present moment. Find that peace you know all to well on your mat.
If you don’t know that stillness, that joy, that peace that passes all understanding in the safety you find on the mat, it is much harder to find in your daily life.

See you on the mat!

Mastery

Mastery

shapeimage_1-3Those who can.  Those who can’t, teach.” As I am exploring the wonders of mastery, I am seeing this quote in a whole new context.  For me the asanas of yoga have never come easy, and I am always exploring new ways to bring about ease and agility which then allows me the ability to share.  It has been in my lack of natural ability, my practice of exploring and being open that enable me to teach what I know. I am an artist, a skill I am not currently practicing, yet I can remember people asking me why I did not give lesson.  I was not able to because I myself did not know how I did what I did.  I still look at some of my treasured pieces with a sense of awe and wonder, How did I do that?  There was no way for me to teach someone how, because I just could. Read the rest of this entry

Healthy Relationship

Healthy Relationship

shapeimage_1-30As physical and social beings one of our greatest needs is that of healthy relationships, (Second Chakra) with others as well as with self.

Emotions are connected with movement, and when we block the free flow of movement we essentially block the emotions.  Yet we seem to be conditioned to resist moving to avoid pain when in actuality it is the lack of movement, that increases the dis ease.  All of our physical sensations have a companion emotion, and it is by observing the physical responses to our emotions that we can really begin to learn to heal ourself.  To let go of that which does not serve us. Read the rest of this entry

Root

Root

shapeimage_1-31Muladara, also known as the root Chakra, reflects the foundation from which we can build upon, in our practice and in our lives.  One thing that I am leery of is connecting the Chakras to stages of development. If we are intent on healing ourself, then pointing fingers at our upbringing seems to relinquish our responsibility to self.
I could be wrong, but I am going to steer away from pointing that finger. I am an adult and the mother of 4 adult children, so if I do go that route then I would have to pick up the responsibility for the choices of my adult children.   I had a fellow parent tell me one time, “We take to much credit for our children’s success and way to much blame for their poor choices.” Read the rest of this entry

Foundation

Foundation

shapeimage_1-32First Chakra work has been heavy in my practice as I not only have a new awareness of my physical foundation but I am having to reconnect with the foundation of my yoga practice.  I have a new awareness of the  importance of the ankle as my foundation, not just in my standing poses, but in so many other asanas.

All of the asanas that require us to be on our knees rely heavily on our ankles, to be open to ground down thru the front of the foot to take pressure off of the knees.  Child’s pose requires the ankles to be flexible as well as up dog.  An injury gives you a perspective and awareness as well as gratitude towards the many uses of a particular body part. Read the rest of this entry

Yogamentals

Yogamentals

This blog will be looking at the fundamentals of Yoga, exploring intentions, the mental side of the practice.  Looking less at the physical aspects, but giving you  tools to use both on and off the mat.  It has become apparent the different story each body holds, and that a one size fits all approach is not helpful.  What is helpful is cultivating mindfulness, awareness and creating balance in an unbalanced body.

What A Party Breaker

What A Party Breaker

shapeimage_1-5It is so important to remain whole body aware.

Balance!  Want to bring awareness to your balance or lack there of, break an ankle.  

I have never been so aware of my balance and the importance of it till this adventure with my ankle.  I am ever so grateful for my strong balancing practice and the fruits of that are revealing them self to me daily.  Currently balancing for me is the physical aspect of maintaining my balance on one foot, sitting, standing, extending.  They all have to be done with extra mindfulness these days.

The day before my slip I was practicing handstands on the moving cruise ship.  I say this to convey to you how much attention I have put on balance in my practice.  I thought the end result was to have this amazing inversion practice by the time I turned 50 (ego?) not to get me through the next few weeks one legged.

Returning to my practice is going to require a different form of balance.  Finding a balance between my maximum and not going beyond by using to much effort.  It is going to be a practice of cultivating patience with myself, my body and taking a few steps back in my practice.

Yet so many lessons still to come and to share.  Do to the nature of the break and the position I must hold my left leg, my hamstring seems to be shriveling up!  Already an area in my practice where I have struggled with limitations.  It is going to be extra important as I begin to stretch the hamstrings again that I do not overstretch and take attention away from the rest of my body.

There is going to be a shift as some muscles are going to be taking a back seat to muscles that have strengthened over the course of this healing.  It is important not to let these stronger muscles control the pose and risk injury to the weaker muscles.  But this is not something only for me to practice as I heal, this is important in everyones practice.

We all come to yoga with a strength, be it, endurance, flexibility or strong muscles, the point of yoga is to create an equal balance of these attributes and on both sides of the body.  You lose the benefit of the asanas when you try to perfect a pose focusing only on your strength in the asanas.

When you lose that awareness, become insensitive to an area of the body, this is what cause the echoes of pain after a practice.  It is so important to remain whole body aware.  This is not going to happen with a one point focus.  When you focus on only one point, you forget the other parts of the body and can cause serious injury and pain.

Yoga is meditation and has no point of focus, but is full body awareness.  Iyengar talks about how the edges of a lake evenly touch the rivers banks all the way around.

You, while in each asana, should have your awareness caressing the full parameter of your being, filling you up from the inside out.  It is only with such complete awareness that you can fully honor the edges of your limits, adjust accordingly and begin to see the fruits of your practice.

My struggle with my ego in my own personal practice as a teacher, has been checked at the door. The healing of my body is my first concern.  I left on my trip with an intention to focus on lengthen my hamstring and my freestanding handstand.  What a difference a day makes.

See you on the mat!

Just Be

Just Be
Just Be

You may find the achievements and progression decrease as you learn to just be in the asana and it is here, as the effort decreases that you find the joy.

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When speaking of balance, their are many factors to take into consideration.  You first must have an awareness of gravity, as well as a sense of the direction of movement.  This awareness must be maintained thru out each and every action.  It is here that you will find and maintain your center of gravity.  If you overstretch in one direction your center of gravity changes and you must balance your direction of movement to maintain your center of gravity.

This is why it is important in your practice not to collapse or prop yourself through a particular pose of exercise,  but to yield equally and in all directions.  We all walk into a class with a different story, different developed memories and even an intelligence residing with in our muscles as to how to move or be. It is so important to take time  time to reflect on the extension, the alignment and connect with your center of gravity as well as the full body awareness of sensation.

If you move into and out of poses too quickly you miss this very important element of your practice and continue to build on bad habits.  You may find that you habitually practice safety, but maybe only on one side, striving to hard to go as far, hold as long or stretch as deep on the other.  It is a practice to even out these sides, but it does not guarantee that physically you will ever be able to do so.

Injuries as a yoga teacher are at best an inconvenience and horribly frustrating when they come during your practice.  I have not ever had to come back to my practice from an injury as debilitating as a broken tibia. Cultivating patience with myself, with my body and with my practice are first and foremost.  Sharing the lessons with you are going to be a gift.

I have had several injuries in the years that I have been practicing yoga.  One that I often hear the echos of is a torn hamstring, on as it would be, the same leg as I have broken.  I learned thru my own practice using a tennis ball or racquetball and placing it in the belly of the muscle as I worked on seated forward folds brought me some relief.  While I was healing from this injury I was subbing at a studio and decided to stay and take the class following mine. Fortunately they had some balls and as the instructor had us on the floor to do some seated forward folds I asked her if she would mind passing me a ball, (they were seated next to her).  Would you believe this teacher complained to the owner that I was disruptive to her class!  I share this with you only to say that if you are recovering from an injury do what is best for you, not what is best for the instructor.  They are they only to guide you to have your own experience, and if you feel the need to use a prop, use it.

The injury by the way, came when I was a new teacher trying to push myself beyond my edge. The instructor was teaching an advanced pose I had never done and I did not take the time to listening, rather I was focusing on the end point.

Another injury from my practice came from an aggressive and over extension of  my neck in shoulder stand or possibly from threat the needle. I was convinced that advancing in the pose meant no blankets, and body horizontal to the floor.  I was checking on my alignment, connecting with my center of gravity, and reflecting on the extension, but I was ignoring the shooting pain in my arm until the echos of my practice resulted in a bulging disc.  Now I no longer practice either of these poses, but find relief in headstand, which by all accounts is contraindicated for a disc bulge, but the way I was taught, it helps me.

The wisdom of the body, we are responsible for our healing as well as for our injury in our practice.

The effort used  as beginners is often greater, but as you advance you find greater ease  as the physical effort decreases.  You may also find the achievements and progression decrease as you learn to just be in the asana and it is here, as the effort decreases that you find the joy.

I have had some really great teachers that have shared amazing lessons that I am able to pass on, and then there are those teachers that have just taught me lessons.  Both are responsible for my continued growth as a teacher, educator and guide.

See You, on the mat!

Kimberly Hardick                                                                                                                                                                               Educator, guide, student and Claynatomist