6. YOGA THERAPY FOR MENTAL CLARITY

6. YOGA THERAPY FOR MENTAL CLARITY

The minds original state is called Buddhi in Sanskrit. Its inherent quality is clear, deep, reflective and still like a mountain lake. Each impression can be seen as a causing ripples, distorting the image of what is actually infront of us. Learning the tools and steps involved in using those tools adjusted to the individuals’ needs is the science of yoga therapy.

Yoga therapy is based on scientific and medical evidence integrating the lastest western findings with ancient eastern practices. It combines the best of both worlds and is specific in it’s aims of health development. Whether physical, physiological, neural, or psychological, when east meets west, we can move mountains and return to the pure lake of Buddhi.

That said, for many of us who’ve tried everything in the books, on the net and from specialists and well meaning individuals, we can still feel like we’re going round in circles.

WHY MENTAL CALM CAN SEEM IMPOSSIBLE

Mental calm is cultivated through withdrawing the senses from the outer world to the inner experience. Stopping the incoming flow of information is the first step. Allowing us to process, mentally digest, all we’ve already taken in. The input also needs and output. If there’s not enough time for output we end up with mental and psychological constipation.

Mindfulness, breath awareness, concentration and meditation are the most common practices used acting as the conscious output of mental impressions.

But when our nervous system is on high alert and hormones with messages of threat or excitement course between systems, these tools can fail us. Sitting with our feelings of wired restlessness and nervous states can make us feel even more out of control. That’s why specific trainings or a therapist guiding the process are so essential in healing from complex conditions such as burnout, anxiety, addiction and obsession, which involve many different systems as well as different bodies, koshas.

GETTING SPECIFIC HELP PREVENTS FURTHER LACK OF CONFIDENCE

Therapists specializing in, or trainings specifically aimed at, calming the nervous system through evidence based research, enables us to more effectively access a state of mental tranquility. Having a spillover effect on hormones, which in turn affect every other system within the body, from digestion to sleep to immunity and brain health.

The quicker we get out of the exhaustion and disconnection cycle, the less it eats away at our self confidence and esteem. Preventing the associated wiring and mindset of inability to cope, confusion and lack of energy. Knowing why and how we are to move out, and feeling not alone in our situation, removes the shame, guilt and stigma. Again, essential to reclaiming our mental health.

MENTAL HEALTH IS THE BASIS OF MOVING THROUGH & FORWARD

One reason mental calm and clarity evade us might be the unconscious habit of not expressing clearly what we perceive, feel and see as the right approach, steps or actions to take. Swallowing our knowledge and views, we people please, holding back for fear of… fill the blank, and therefore unintentionally, and mostly well-intentionally, create distortion overwhelm. Muddying the lake.

Mental health equals mental digestion. Mental health is the state where what comes in also has enough mental space to be digested, assimilated, integrated and eliminated. Creating projects, trainings, communication or other action based steps that express our minds’ perception and recreation from those experiences, is how we eliminate mental build up.

The extreme mental overwhelm during burnout is alleviated by mental distancing and disconnection. Re-creating the mental space to digest. Moving through the mire in our minds’ contents allows it to rise to the surface of consciousness. And overtime slowly sink to clarity.

Mental clarity leads to calm and self-agency. Good planning and clear overview of issues helps us rise above the challenges and remember what life is really about- relating and living well.

BASIC TOOLS TO ENHANCE MENTAL DIGESTION

A busy mind is either in the past or the future. Being embodied brings us back to the present moment and relieves mental wandering. To be embodied we can use yogic tools to enhance vagal tone. To set the stage for a smoother path to moving out of burnout we can again rely on western science and eastern tools. We work in these three steps;

  • Vagal activation to move us into rest and digest, yogic breath and body practices create present embodied awareness, a prerequisite for mental digestion and clarity
  • Once we create a habit of vagal activation of PNS, we calm and clarify the mind and feel more capable and confident to deal with change
  • Mental wellbeing is further improved by mental output; journaling, meditation and planning how to deal with set backs, which will happen

Impressions are food for thoughts. Media, films, marketing, books, conversations, ads, ad infinitum. Information and education are forms of mental input. Eat all day and what’s the outcome? Exactly!! Setting ourselves up for mental health success is just as important, if not more so, as work and relationship success. You can only work and relate well when your mental being is well.

RETRUNING TO THE MOUNTAIN LAKE

Mental clarity is reachable with daily moments of mental rest from information and impressions. We have self-agency when we choose our life habits, not when our habits guide our choices and influence our lives. Journaling, breath awareness, conscious movement, sensual experiences, meditation and mindfulness bring us back in our own bodies, minds and values. It’s the exercise and output of our conscious mind and thoughts.

Just 5 mins of PNS activation plus 5-10 mins a day of meditation, creates the mental calm to choose habits wisely. This will give back hours of your day to feel clear and connected to self. And it can be as easy as going for a walk, run or swim in nature, WITHOUT ANY INPUT.

Much Love,

Shira

WITNESSING AWARENESS, LIGHT IN THE DARK

WITNESSING AWARENESS, LIGHT IN THE DARK

Travelling through our physical body with asana, our energy body with breath and our mind body through mindfulness, concentration and internalisation, we touch our psyche, unconscious patterns and emotions through meditation.

Once we clear some of the dross of the unconscious, we sometimes land in our witnessing awareness. A space of pure potential and calm awareness, untouched yet deeply responsive.

Full and simultaneously empty is our witnessing awareness. That’s when we get to our bliss body, the mother of emotions.

Witnessing Awareness & Holding Space

Our witnessing awareness leads to emotional wellbeing by holding space.

As emotions are divine life energy expressed through us, we don’t need to suppress or reject these feelings. We just need to hold space for their full fruition. When we surrender, feel and deal with them, we release and heal ourselves. Just witnessing our emotions, their rise, blossoming, withering and fall, and our reactions and thoughts toward that process, dissolves them and is our path to bliss.

Witnessing Awareness, the Light in the Dark

Harmony, as an emotion, allows our silent witness to come to the forefront. Our mind, no longer disturbed by the apparent reality of the endless separateness within manifestation, can see the big picture.

Cessation of manifesting our projections brings about a standstill of illusion, and an end in our experience of Samsara. Every moment presents us with the choice to enter the River of Life with its continuous flood of changing forces and forms, or not.

Sitting on the bank of the River and find our centre and seat, our Asana, remaining calm and reflective, we’re no longer uprooted by Samsara. The choice is always there and always ours to make. It’s our light in the dark, our sun in the world and our soul that guides us in this journey through life. It’s our deepest yearning that never leaves us, our profoundest aspiration that drives us, no matter what. It is the witness that truly sees and feels this Miracle called life.

We can feel harmony by burning emotional toxicity through a healthy energetic, mental and psychological fire.

Our Fire is Key

Agni, or fire, exists at all levels of being.

In our physical body it’s our digestive fire transforming food into tissues. In the pranic body cellular intelligence absorbs breath and converts it into prana, life energy. In our mental body it’s the power to perceive impressions and inflect them into knowledge. In the intelligence body it’s the power to discriminate burning all untruth until only truth remains. In our most subtle body it is our ability to distil love from each experience.

We can encourage Agni in each of the five Koshas so each aspect of our being has a well blazing fire. A healthy fire digests and consumes all experiences and transforms them into understanding, wisdom and compassion. An overfed fire rages and overconsumes, wasting resources. We can also fail to tend our fires and let them go out so that our experiences are not digested, understood and leave residues and toxins. Or we can attend to our fire sporadically and create a fire that causes smoke, waste and confusion.

So the impressions we take in all these bodies, and the activities or outputs of all these, need to be balanced according to our needs, desires and abilities, to create a brilliant fire on each level.

Living With the Witness

Our journey this last year to develop a healthy fire in our five bodies, we discover many wonderful emotions and reclaim our passion for life.

Safety and trust as our root, playfulness and joy as our sacred basin, belly radiance and a forgiving fire, a heartful of peace and connection, creativity and communication as our expression, and intuitive vision and wisdom from our third eye. Facilitating feelings of unity, divinity and creativity. Able to witness the One-in- All and in ourselves. A goodness within of loving, warm, fuzzy, welcoming space where all is possible, recognising that we are all.

Being fully present and aware to just witness the beauty of life unfolding with or without the clouds across the lake, our mental mirror isn’t fragmented. There’s no need for expectation or condemnation, nor desire or aversion. With a witnessing awareness we can hold space for the full conundrum of life.

This Mysterious Miracle called life or Lila, becomes apparent, we are instantaneously transformed, completely bound in relation and freed from all karma at the same time. It’s our connection point to universal Prana, witnessing awareness and pure potential.

Witness Awareness Practice

Today’s live has a short 10 minute practice, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4qgHurbdes

The very real experience of ‘I see me in All’, and, ‘I see All in me’. It’s the essence of knowing That I Am, Tat Aham.

And all is welcome to come and go.

We can only reach the heights when we dare to explore and embrace the lows. We each are worlds of extremes and imbetweens. And life is full when we allow our self to move through the full range of mountains, valleys, seashores and oceans depths. Be well, be kind, be great and be the whatever you feel you need to be in this moment.

Much LOVE,

Shira

MIND SPACE- CREATIVITY, COMMUNICATION & EXPRESSION

MIND SPACE- CREATIVITY, COMMUNICATION & EXPRESSION

MIND SPACE, EXPRESSIVE POWER

Don’t you love it when You get that feeling you’re able to do anything? Not the megalomaniac kind. Just knowing our pure potential and ability to create anything we desire at any given moment. 

Well this is delightful, exhilerating and creative feeling the realm of Space. 

Of the five elements, Space is subtlest and closest to the Unmanifest. Before we move into consciousness, understanding the subtle power of space makes our mind space more accessible.

We’ve gone from solid to subtle in the last 4 months. Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Space. The five elements make up our world. They’re the substance of soul, mind and body. Different ways Self expresses its infinite possible diversity of existence. 

A balanced space element is when we express ourselves freely and with ease. We’re great listeners and know the art of telling stories. That exhilarating feeling of communicating with clarity and conviction. Our ability to speak our feelings, thoughts, ideas and vision.

Space in our physical body is within ears, tongue, all channels, and the cavities of throat, chest and pelvis.

Space, the element of pure potential and creativity

Sound is subtle and Powerful. Words are powerful. And like space, sound is the subtlest of manifestation. We can’t smell it, Earth, we can’t taste it, Water, or see it, Fire, nor feel it, Air. But we can hear it and feel its vibrations through space and in our body’s channels and cavities.  

And just as the Space element is the most subtle, the organs of space receive and express the subtlest of manifestation best. Think music, song and Mantra, poetry, story and any other medium that conveys our deeper hopes, fears and emotions. Feeling that vibration when something speaks to the very core of our soul. It resonates. It realigns us with our true essence. 

That recognition is space at its finest. Our inspiration and spark for creation comes from the space of possibilities. It’s the bridge between in and out, heart and mind. And because Space is the element of communication, expression, and creativity, we refine it through our throat.

The connecting link between experience and expression of thoughts as well as feelings.

Purpose & Power of Space

Space is the seat of inspiration[i]. Because it’s also the meeting point of subtle and material, it brings balance and purification through interaction and integration of spiritual with physical. 

When our headspace is clear it’s easy to express our visions, dreams, insights, feelings, thoughts, and desires. Articulating these we begin the process of making it real. Through communicating we get feedback from others. This feedback allows us to define, redefine and remix what our real vision and gifts are. We purify our feelings, thoughts and deepest desire, through this constant exchange. We get clarity. And clarity is power. So, the space element is an empowering element to manifesting. 

Our original Shakti; deepest desire and power, can begin to work its magic when Space is clear. Every action, word, thought, and desire of safety, pleasure, and power are initiated by this creative force. An initial wish expressed to come into life as a unique being. It’s ready and waiting for this communication, creation and expression of Self through You.

Space Out of Balance

Ever had the feeling no one listens to you? Or you’re too embarrassed to speak your idea, opinion, or truth, even though you completely disagree with what’s being said? Well this is a deficient space element.

Have you been told you’re a terrible listener, or that you talk too much and never let another speak? Excessive Space.

Between experience, expectation, expression and the resulting exchange, we relate to others a clue about how and if we’re listening, and how, or if, we are being heard. To transform and be empowered, our voice, ears and throat give us very clear feedback. Our voice leads to our creations. In this process, we purify our experience, expression and communication of self. We learn by listening to the actual exchange. 

We also refine our other four elements, Air, Fire, Water and Earth, through our ability to communicate.

Tools to bring back balance to Space

Mantra

Even in the Big Bang theory, sound is the first of any manifestation. The Vedic equivalent of creation theory is the sound AUM, Om. The first sound when we open our mouths, A, it signifies beginning creation. U, which is the continuation of creation. M, the sound that naturally arises when the lips are closed. Teaching starts with Om to honour the creation process. In Greek philosophy Logos, or Word, is the divine principle that permeates the universe. “In the beginning, there was the word. And the word was with God. And the Word was God,” “When there were no depths, I was brought forth,” Genesis, all resound the concept of space, sound, creation and manifestation.

Restorative Yoga

Restorative yoga rebalances our space element because it allows us the time needed to open up gently, and through calm attentive breathing in the opened areas create space without force or coercion.  For example, lying in supine Cobbler pose over a bolster, supported by blocks and blankets, gives our belly, heart, chest and hips the chance to open. Creating space releases tension, energy, and any issues in our tissues.  It allows us to reconnect to areas that are usually closed and unconscious.

The space element provides the denser elements freedom, a gap in time to transform and become, a window in space opening doorways to opportunities. That’s why

Meditation

Imagine there is absolutely Nothing, only unbounded space and stillness. Within there lies a dormant, rich, fullness of all the pure potential of creation. When these infinite potentialities begin to stir, and move, the Air element is breathed into existence. As Air awakens and begins to shift, rouse and initiate with more velocity, it creates heat. The Fire element is inspired into being. Fire’s light and heat separates from the heavy qualities of cold and wet. Giving way to Water. Within the Water, are particles even denser. Compact, solid and unmoving. Here the Earth element is delivered.


[i] David Frawley – Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses

YOGA FOR A CONNECTED HEART

YOGA FOR A CONNECTED HEART

Yoga for A Connected Heart

Have you ever felt that deep direction from universal forces and at the same time complete free will? Well that’s when your air element is home. It’s place in our body is obviously the lungs and heart. The hands and arms are extensions and express the power air through our bodies. Through them we move forward, change activities, create, express, share and receive.

The power of air, of give and take and exchange, searches for, creates and finds new openings, ways, beginnings and connections. It seeks freedom and deeper relations through movement, change and redirecting our wiring, pathways and channels. It’s very versatile and agile, just like our emotions. 

Feeling Free & Connected

Air that’s balanced allows us to feel carefree, peaceful and connected to something wholesome whilst we move, exchange and interact with others. It instils deep trust by seeing all things as being interconnected. And enthuses us with curiosity to try out new things, places, activities and meet new people. 

Through this movement and exchange of experiences new pathways are discovered and we’re inspired. We create new projects, concepts and arts from these fresh impressions and connections. We feel in flow in the grand scheme of things. Connected and free simultaneously.

Excess/ deficient -pain point & causes

Too much of the air element makes us feel spaced out, wired, spread too thin and overwhelmed. When anxiety, doubt, uncertainty and panic are symptoms. 

Our boundaries are most probably weak. Either we let in too much, or give away too much, depleting our sense of self, which we developed through our fire element. Discerning who we are and what we value becomes a vague notion when we are too busy giving, creating and over producing. 

Too little of the air manifests as lack of inspiration, motivation, creativity and energy, rigidity, denial and expert syndrome. Closed to others’ ideas, ideals, concepts and projects. We can become depressed and lack interest in new aspects of self, life and others. 

Without exchange and an influx of fresh ideas we won’t discover new insights and experiences, learn new aspects of ourselves and therefore life becomes boring and meaningless. This can become a cycle of stagnation. 

Yoga for a Courageous Heart

A balanced air element needs movement. We need to follow the cycles of ebb and flow, give and take. Full, empty and everything in between.  Life is the desire to live. And living includes growth, change and death for the new to arise.

Create balance between flexibility and strength, from physical to psychological, try new things and experiment. Confront activities, attitudes, thoughts and beliefs you hold dear, and see you’re openness, or lack of, through new experiences and expressions. Build up strength on those new found activities, attitudes and beliefs and then dare to expand a little more from that new expression of self.

  1. Embody a Courageous Heart

Working with the lungs, heart, arms and hands will activate the air element. When air is excessive, anxiety, doubt or restlessness is present, we need to strengthen the muscles and organs of this area, both back and front of heart, ribs, lungs and shoulders. Think side plank, plank, push-ups against the wall, east side stretch, and arms extended behind the back while holding a block between the hands.

If air is deficient we need to open the heart area. Yoga that extends arms up, out, back and over the head frees the heart. Spread your fingers, open and expand the chest and heart.

  • Energetic Attitude of Fresh Air

Breathe fully, taking in the full spectrum of life and releasing and expressing ourselves as fuller expression of self. In case of excess, breathe into belly area, breathe out slower with a ratio in 6: out 10. In cases of deficiency, breathe more fully into the chest, breathe out slowly and strong, with a ratio of in 8: out 6.

  • Mental Stance of Steady Openness

When excess air evokes anxiety, stop checking your phone, internet and what others are doing and focus on You. Stay in your lane and take time to rest, take a warm bath, light a candle journal get to know yourself again. It takes time to settle a mind that is vast and used to moving all the time, grant yourself all the time needed, whether hours or weeks. 

When deficient in air allow yourself to see and experience through new eyes and another’s mind. Don’t get stuck in your ways, the expert syndrome, try something new daily. Make notes of your resistance to other opinions, ideas and practices, and then dare to try them for yourself.

  • Freedom to Express & Listen

Socially air gives a sense of freedom to express, create, receive and share our very deepest self. 

Excessive air in our beliefs manifests as doubt, uncertainty and being wishy-washy. Nothing holds and nowhere to connect. Journal on your core values, see if some are influenced by outside; your loved ones, society, peers, old levels of consciousness.

Deficient air in our psyche looks like rigidity in our beliefs system. We ‘know’ everything already, often too afraid to look or listen to another’s perspective or expression of self. Denial is huge here. Journaling on what ideas or conversation we find confronting and our degree of aversion, shed light on what concepts are being questioned, and why we fear opening up to new concepts on this topic.

Ultimately Yoga is about having deep, honest and fulfilling relationships with self and others. To give and take. To create and share from the exchange. To be respons-able; able to respond openly, freely, unapologetically. 

When we live, breathe and relate fully we come from that courageous heart. One that dares to express and experience herself fully, without fear, shame, blame, guilt or judgement. We except ourselves and our shortcomings, we see these as growth opportunities, rather than threat. We know we’re perfectly imperfect just as we are. We have self love, self-appreciation and self- approval and therefore we can love, appreciate and approve of others. There is no fight, hostility or fear in a courageous heart.

FULFILLING RELATIONSHIPS RESPONDING INSTEAD OF REACTING

FULFILLING RELATIONSHIPS RESPONDING INSTEAD OF REACTING

Feeling like we’re going with the flow in our relationships is possible when we identify with people, projects and places that uplift and inspire us. A feeling of visceral flow shows us we’re with the right people for where we’re at now.  Responding instead of reacting can feel like such an achievement, like success. And it’s the most fulfilling and rewarding way to relate to others. But how often does it happen when in confrontational settings?

Have you ever made a choice you regretted, yet next time round you again made that same stupid choice?

Do you ever feel like your going round in circles when it comes to certain relationships or situations?

Have you ever wondered why you deny, fear, avoid or run from particular people, places or parts of yourself?

All of us have moments when we feel out of control. We react instead of respond. And the actions we take from these emotionally charged moments cause regret, resentment, grief and can make us feel like we’re going crazy.
 

Vijananamaya Kosha & Inner Drives

Kosha means sheath and Vijnanamaya means wisdom. Wisdom is something universal, known to all; consciously or unconsciously. This knowing is strengthened by repeated personal experiences in the presence of  our first teachers; carers and parents. An experience of wisdom as infants learned through relation, connection and bonds of trust.

There is also learned wisdom, which is part of this sheath. Therefore anything we learn and experience, repeatedly, when together with loved ones, intensely shapes what we believe to be a truth; our wisdom. A deep conviction is rooted in personal experience shared with those we identify with, associate with or trust.

These emotional reactions are patterns we were unconsciously trained in at a very early age. Habits we used to adapt to the circumstances we were born or brought up in. We’re also at our most impressionable from conception till the first 3 years. This is when anything that’s repeated over and over, and we cannot explore, express or communicate about consciously, becomes a certainty. And therefore forms our beliefs about ourselves, our loved ones, our environment, world and our lives and experiences in love.

These latent impressions become our drives. Drives are directed by our subscribed to beliefs, conscious or not. Our beliefs are shaped by those we are influenced by; those closest to us. These impressions in Sanskrit called Samskaras and in psychology inner drives.

Working with Vijnanamaya, Yoga Psychology

Yoga psychology is all about relationship. To self and other. Understanding and working with Vijnanamaya is the psychology of Yoga and Ayurveda.

Vijnanamaya kosha is the body of wisdom and perception. Experience and belief. It’s the part of us that’s intuitive, receptive, reactive, respond-able and responsible. Without integrating this understanding of living and experience, a yoga practice can help or hinder, empower or inhibit, even make or break our health and wellbeing.  

In Yoga therapy a huge part of creating a practice is understanding the wisdom sheath. Our inner drives, the root cause of many imbalances. Understanding our inner drives and deepest fears gives us a big clue to how we can undo the knots of past impressions. Because we want to move into fulfilling, rewarding and delicious relationships. No one wants to go around in circles accusing, arguing, coping, walking away, blaming, shaming etc.

We all need, desire and deserve healthy, deliberate, conscious and compassionate relationships and connection to self and others.

Understanding our Inner Drives 

Understanding how our wisdom body influences our perception, emotions, choices, reactions, and eventual actions, allows us to make new choices. To flow more naturally through our relationships, and experience our interconnectedness.

It allows us to be more accepting of self and others. It’s the first doorway self love, self compassion and self care. Because we can love ourselves as imperfectly perfect, we open the windows for others to also be perfectly imperfect too. This spaciousness makes way for a sense of responsibility to do our part and also to set up boundaries, that allow others to do their part in the play of life. Problems and differences are no longer personal.[1] Just two people seeing and experiencing in their unique ways.

We can accept conflict and confront people. We separate issues from people.[2]
When we honour our sense of self, our identity and integrity, we respond to situations instead of reacting.

Identity, a Template 

The bottom line of why we react instead of respond is our sense of identity. Identity drives actions. As new-born’s we identify wholeheartedly with our caregiver. Whatever the repeated reaction, physically, mentally, emotionally and psychologically, sets the example for us to do the same.

We only differentiate as far as we feel safe enough to still be accepted as part of the family /tribe. These early adaptive patterns ensure survival. But if we never psychologically or emotionally leave home and find our own identity, they become our basic default drives throughout our lives.

Our beliefs are based on the repeated behaviour of the family/tribe/group/culture/society with which we identify. The behaviours, like latent impressions, create templates of beliefs of how we should act and react. These beliefs become filters for what comes in and out of our wisdom body. The filters, Samskaras, informs our perceptions. Our perceptions in turn influence our experiences, emotions and reactions.

In this way, identity drives our choices and actions, again and again. We’ve lost the ability to respond or see clearly without filters and distortions of past experiences. And seeing we’re a social species, one of the most powerful influences are our family, friends, teachers, and mentors. Whatever we immerse ourselves in, we’re influenced by. The degree of influence depends on time;  how much we spend with them, how much we’ve invested into that belief and way of life. Not whether we like what they feel, think, say or do. Identity drives action.

Changing Tides, Responding Instead of Reacting

We can use this to our advantage too. When we identify with inspirational people, we flow like a stream toward that way of living and looking at the world. Because their life, actions, words and thoughts embody and exemplify what we aspire toward. We’re guided by their beliefs, perception and choices.

We identify with whomever we hang out with. And the five people most in your daily life influence you most. So just hang out with people you want to be like. If you can’t hang out with them, read books, articles, watch interviews, documentaries of how inspirational people live, laugh, share, care, create and integrate their wisdom into everyday living.

Our perception, beliefs and intelligence; becomes our wisdom. This template of latent impressions all inform our choices, reactions and inner drives

Guided by the healthy people we surround ourselves with, choosing which books we read, films we watch, activities we take part in or the music we’re immersed in a self we want to be with. This is exactly how we influence our psyche and set ourselves up for success when it comes to relating and connecting. 

Our wisdom body is the psyche that knows our interconnection. We see ourselves in the heroines and heroes of stories. Identify with archetypes. That’s why it’s vital who our leaders are. We see unconscious and subconscious patterns playing out in each one of us.

Bringing these patterns to light of consciousness through meditation, mindfulness, concentration and journaling. Reflectinng on inspiring stories and uplifting films is exactly how we empower our wisdom body. Once the patterns are conscious we see and understand what’s going on underneath our inner drives. We dive underneath the play of details into the immense incredible fabric of consciousness, and connect to our identity with bigger self, universe, cosmic, higher, divine, whatever You want to call it.

We can identify with the heroine and hero, the Goddesses and Gods, because even they make mistake and have their fair share of flaws. 

Issues, imperfections and mistakes are the bounty of playful living, they make us laugh, let us relax and see the silliness of our seriousness. They give us room to BE.

Love to the fuller, bigger and wiser You, the self that dares to step onto the Heroines’ journey.
Love the You you are now, perfectly imperfect, finding your beauty and power as you go.

Much Love,

Shira. 

[1] Melody Beattie – Beyond Codependency
[2] Ibid.

YOGA FOR SPINAL LOVE

YOGA FOR SPINAL LOVE

The last article was about posture improvement. A huge part of improving posture comes down to spinal health, or spinal love, as I like to call it. 

The spine is the centre of our body. It houses our central nervous system and supports our torso; organs and all our bodily systems. Actually if you think about it, the spine is core to our health and happiness. Back care isn’t just about being pain free. Spinal health equals wellbeing. Physical, mental, emotional and even psychological. Back care can literally change your life. Spinal love starts with understanding our spines needs and catering to simple but effective back care.  So what’s spinal love? Well let’s see how incredible our spine is and what it needs to keep being so amazing. 

Amazing facts about our spine

– The human spine starts to develop in utero at two months of development – It connects the brain to the body allowing the mind and body to communicate so that we can do all we want to do with our body in this world – The spine has over 120 muscles, 200 ligaments and 100 joints – Luckily the spine is incredibly strong and can hold hundreds of kilograms of weight – It’s also incredibly flexible, if bent forward and backward it does 2/3 of a circle – It can expand and contract, as well as, move in all direction because of all these muscles – The spine has an exceptional memory of posture, so what you create it will maintain – 80 % of all back pain can be relieved through improved posture and healthy movement patterns – Sitting puts around 100kg of pressure onto your spine. Bending forward from standing or sitting puts double that pressure on your back.

Healthy spine happy back, body and brain  

The wellbeing of our organs, digestion, respiration, and the entire muscular system, directly depends on spinal health and functionality to serve their purpose. Our immune, endocrine and neurological system all indirectly benefit from back and spinal health. The human spine is unique in that it’s upright in relation to earth and the force of gravity. So the way we care for it also unique. Our spine developed over millions of years of evolution to the way it is now as a culminative process. The four curves we have also developed according to our needs as bipeds. Each curve of our spine developed at a different stage of our development, accommodating differing needs and purposes. 

When we first get curious about the world around us and lift the head to see at 3-6 months, we develop the cervical and lumbar curve. When we start to interact and want to reach for and move toward other persons, objects and places through crawling, we further develop those two curves. Then as we begin to find our autonomy and start walking, the last curve, our sacral curve gives balance to our upright posture. The natural curves of our spine give both our bones and discs resilience and bounce back. They create the flexibility and strength for our back and all that’s attached to it. Think about it, these curves create the room for movement of both the discs and bones to slide, slip and transition, forward, back, sideways and even to twist.  So our aim is to allow these natural curves its full range of movement. Physical, mental and emotional health are depend upon spinal health. For a full description of the health benefits of healthy posture look click here.

Effects of an unhealthy spine

Without the room to move each movement would be painful, laborious and awkward. The natural curves help our back and spine withstand huge amounts of stress. Without these curves, and spinal health all the bodily functions; digestive, nervous, respiratory, cardiovascular, circulatory, lymphatic, urinary, and metabolic, are affected adversely. This in turn affects our hormonal and immune system, our sense of self as a whole connected and embodied person. This spills over to our sense of self and connection to others. Articles have been written on why back pain might be inherent to our upright position. But this misses the point that, we as a species developed to move, walk, run, climb and be active at least 6-8 hrs a day. In active and mobile cultures people don’t suffer back issues. And without daily activity our back and spinal health gives way to aches.

Symptoms of our back needing Spinal Love

– Pain, Tingling – Headaches, Migraines – Dizziness, Foggy brain – Restricted movement – Restriction of daily activites – Radiating pain in leg – Bony growth of cartilage in joint  – Fear of falling, Balance & Proprioception issues – Stiffness – Fatigue – Tightness – Inflammation, Fusion of vertebrae – Postural problems – Breathing difficulties – Altered cardiopulmonary function – Osteopenia, Stenosis, Spondilitis, Osteoporosis – Unbalanced spinal muscles, Muscular imbalance – Changes in bone density – Asymmetry causing degenerative changes in the spine and pelvis.

4 Ways to Spinal Love & Back Care 

If we don’t listen to the wisdom and wonder of our body’s natural intelligence we can end up with spinal conditions, back pain and problems. These changes are the body’s only way to communicate our unhealthy habit. And if we ignore this too long we will be hearing louder calls of communication, “Hey? Hello up there! This part of you needs some tender loving movement! It needs some attention!” So, Let’s listen to our body & give it some Spinal Love!

1. Move Daily

Most important!! Move. Whether its dancing to loud music when you get home, or going for a run, walking in the forest or Yoga practice, do it daily and do it with passion. Preferably a few times a day, get some real motion. Motion is lotion.

2. The Six Directions

Make sure to move the spine in its 6 direction everyday, a few times a day. Forward, backward, sideways L & R, and twisting L & R. That’s why Yoga is so amazing, and makes us feel so great. Because we take the time to do all the postitions and really squeeze, release, free and slide the spinal discs. This allows them to really absorb moisture, nutrients and blood supplies. Remember disc health from the last article. 

3. Body Awareness

Listening to our body is only an option when we have body awareness. Becoming aware of it’s language it a process. And it can be a playful process if we let it be a dialogue, a dance, a deliberate yet dallying of attention. It doesn’t need to be a chore. Again Yoga provides a perfect setting to cultivate this skill.

4. Hydrate

Drink. Drink. Drink lots of water. A hydrated spine is a happy, healthy spine. Tea, green, white or black, is dehydrating, so they don’t count 😉 It’s that easy, and dare I say even fun. So give that spine some TenderLovingCare, Spinal Love. It doesn’t ask for much, when you think of all it does in return. Spinal Love infleunces how we feel, think, move and live. Back care and health is intimately linked to our respiration. Respiration and inspiration come from the Latin root, spirare, to breathe. Spinal health revitalises and brings our whole body into physiological balance! So let’s celebrate the flex-ability, the strength and the amazingness of our spine with Yoga, which so easily caters to all the spine’s needs.  Namaste, and lot’s of love to you and your amazing spine,

Shira.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOGA & YOGA THERAPY

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOGA & YOGA THERAPY

Passionate, longterm practitioners of the spiritual Yoga tradition believe health and happiness is the birth-right of everyone, and inherent in us all. 

 But does that mean that all Yoga classes have the potential to heal? Or that every Yoga teacher can guide you to your physical, mental and emotional health, or spiritual and psychological wellbeing?  There is so much diversity of Yoga on offer now and thats a GREAT thing. But we’ve got to make public what a general Yoga class can’t do. Also a Yin class can be very good those of us who need more rest and quiet. An Ashtanga class can build our confidence and get our mood on high. Vinyasa, or Flow, allows us to feel alive. Restorative has the ability to calm our nervous system. Iyengar motivates our discerning focused and engaged self. Viniyoga can be very reflective and softening. Anusara is both activating and deeping. But all these traditions or styles have their limits, their drawbacks if we take them too seriously/religiously. 

They can even be a detriment to our health if we don’t include all aspects of our lives to decide what we practice day by day, according to those. The major difference is that Yoga therapy looks at all aspects of life that might contribute to an individual living a healthy life, or not. Whereas as most well intentioned Yoga teachers don’t know the full spectrum of habits that could potentially contribute to imbalance. Especially when we consider ourselves, not just as a body-mind, but an individual who lives, experiences and expresses on a physical, energetic, emotional, social, psychological and spiritual level every moment of every day.  

The Differences 

  • Yoga therapy is not a one size fits all, or one programme for all cases of similar disease. General yoga is.
  • Yoga therapy is based on the knowledge of inherent wholeness of each individual. Always remembering the tenacity, resilience and innate ability to heal as the underlying foundation of any living organism. Most general yoga teaching isn’t this broad or deep.
  • Yoga therapy is based on the relationship of therapist with client for any healing or therapy to occur. General yoga is based on movement, breath and maybe some meditation, if you’re lucky.
  • Yoga Therapy not only understands that Yoga affects the physical, psychosocial and spiritual realms of existence, having a wide variety of possible tools and practices, but also understands how we can empower each individual by adapting according to their specific needs, goals, ability and resources. General yoga doesn’t is able to deliver this personalised practice. 
  • Yoga therapists know their scope of practice. When we’re no longer able to serve, we refer on to another healthcare practitioner to ensure success of clients progress and integrity of profession. Yoga teachers generally don’t learn about a scope of practice in Yoga teacher trainings. 
  • Yoga therapy is based on the Yogic philosophy of Samkhya, Ayurveda and spiritual texts of the Yoga Sutras, Bhagavad-Gita, a broad understanding of modern science and command of mainstream medical language to be able to communicate skillfully with other healthcare providers. Mainstream yoga doesn’t.
  • Yoga therapy sees the individual as a body-energy-mind-soul being. It works on all these levels to create wellbeing. (Some traditions, such as Integral, Raja Yoga or individual teachers who are dedicated to study further, understand the diverse practices and their energeticpsychosocial effects for most these aspects of living). Most general yoga teacher trainings integrates a bare minimum of 25hrs, or completely ignores, the basis of this understanding the Yoga philosophy of mind and emotions.
  • Yoga therapy helps people move from suffering to ease, health and happiness, by understanding the underlying cause of imbalance. (For example, depression might be due to chronic unhealthy, physical habits; eating, social life and postural habits, which create visceral, emotional and mental imbalances, which can collectively lead to depression. Or it can be the inverse; chronic negative emotions and mental habits led to unhealthy social life, diet and posture, culminating in depression. Both require different practices, steps and gradual work, according the individuals present state, ability and progress). General yoga helps by generally balancing mood, energy and some mental states, by being present and connecting mind and body through breath.
  • Yoga therapy empowers the individual to health through educating them in better choices of daily habits; activities, work, posture, diet, relationships and mind states, for where they are at now. General Yoga generally doesn’t.
  • Yoga therapy gives practices personally tailored to an individuals’ needs, goals, ability, resources and age or life stage. A step by step structured programme sets them up for success. General yoga is just that, general. Generally beneficial. Generally improves embodied experience, contained consciousness and psychological perception.

Yoga as Therapy 

Awareness of body, energy, mind and emotions is crucial to empower each individual. This awareness shows how our choices create our life. Good and bad. It empowers through self-study, self-effort, self-education and self-regulation. Yoga therapy understands the primal power of purpose. Meaning in our life can carry us through the toughest times. Without it, we can suffer psychologically. A general yoga class can reveal our purpose over the years or when we’ve done plenty of personal development. But usually its more a physical-energetic sense of aliveness we experience, a sense of connection to self, Divine and other. Yoga works from the gross level to the very subtle. Subtle work allows our inherent intelligence to redirect energy and healing processes to hidden or unconscious areas through awareness. Understanding the Ayurvedic principles and Yoga philosophy, and applying them to the different aspects of living; physical, energetic, mental, social, psychological and spiritual, is the difference between yoga and Yoga therapy. Yogic philosophy sees stress as the major cause of all disease. Stress can be diminished, prevented and removed, when the programmes we create give back self-efficacy, self-confidence, sense of responsibility, and the innate birth-right to health and happiness. Without this underpinning, the same subtle energy practices and processes can wreak havoc, and cause dis-ease. Especially when we don’t know what the practices do in relation to physical, energetic, emotional, mental, social and psychological states. This is when a general yoga classes can be counter-intuitive.

Yoga therapy sees four stages of dis-ease

  1. The disease is of the psyche and mind, we feel, think and it creates emotional, mental and psychological discomfort and unease.
  2. If this continues it begins to affect the body, it becomes psychosomatic.
  3. If not addressed, it will move into the body affecting our physical tissues and physiological processes.
  4. If we still ignore this stage, it becomes a physical disease, the later stages of an illness.

Usually people seek professional help at these last two stages of manifesting dis-ease, especially in the west, where emotional/psychological unease is often ignored. Yoga therapy greatly helps in the first two stages where we can easily reverse it with meditative practices, that work on energetic, emotional and mental states. Yoga therapy greatly helps us deal better with stress and detach from mental agitation. Once it has moved into body in the third stage, Yoga Therapy is an adjunct, and in the last stage its only palliative.

Ultimately “yoga is a process of transformation. A system for shedding dysfunctional patterns and activating your untapped potentials. A tool for identifying your unique structural challenges and patterns”. –Gary Kraftsow.

When we understand the fundamentals of Yoga and Ayurveda and how to apply them, through decades of self-reflection and inquiry, awareness of emotional, psychological and social health, we begin the process of the alchemy of Yoga. We can only guide others as far as we ourselves have dared to travel. We learn how to transform the bodymind into conscious awareness embodied, through this voyage. All of life’s challenges are just stepping stones to becoming a fuller version of ourselves. And that practice is always a process of progression. We are never finished, never perfect. And nor should we strive toward perfection. Rather yoga can show us how to love ourselves and others in this process of becoming our fuller Self. A self love and compassion that embraces all of us. The Great, the Glorious and most of all, the Godforsaken.  

Namaste Dear One, leave a comment about your interpretation of Yoga as a therapy, a tool of transforming the challange into a cherised aspect of self discovery.

Much Love,

Shira.

TRANSFORM EMOTIONS INTO POSITIVE ACTIONS

TRANSFORM EMOTIONS INTO POSITIVE ACTIONS

From waves of emotion to the sea of self confidence.

The waves of emotions 

Emotions are powerful. They lead to self-confidence when we know how to ride them. They strongly influence our body and mind. They create imbalance or vibrancy. Havoc or harmony, and manifest as confusion or creativity.
They affect our hormones, our mental state, our physiology and energy levels. 


The waves of emotions are created when the inner world meets the outer. The tides of energy exchange. The ebb and flow of the movement of life within us. Every sensation within your body is just an expression of these two ‘strangers’ meeting in myriad forms. 
Off course our fullest expression of any emotion is ultimately Love. But how often do we really feel this love with a capital L daily? A few seconds, maybe minutes at most. And wouldn’t it be great if we could feel a fuller version of that emotion or live, breathe, eat and sleep with more passion, contentment, satisfaction and surrender?  


Well we can. But first we need to understand emotions purpose.

The power and purpose of emotions 

Every emotion has a story to tell. Emotion is energy in motion. Emotions exist to propel us into action. Emotions are the connection between body and mind. The bridge, if you will. Whenever we interact with the world, the exchange creates energetic movement within the body.


We act in response to that energetic movement, E-motion.  


When emotions are positive, we feel harmony and enjoy and absorb that joyousness. But when negative, we usually react instead of respond. Emotions push us to honour our inherent intelligence. Our soul’s purpose wants to be honoured, heard, felt, valued, seen, and can be ignored, negated, supressed, surplanted, uprooted, or neglected, resulting in emotion. An unmet need.

The 5 difficult emotions and our respond-ability

Fear – or anxiety asks us to discern and then act upon the intentions and actions of others. When we align with that we create feelings of safety and trust.  
Guilt – asks us to look at our own intentions and actions. When we honour this, we create feelings of satisfaction and pleasure. 
Anger – or shame is our values, needs and desires being refuted, ignored or trodden on. It asks us to move forward, create change and transform that situation. When we see to this emotion, we create feelings of success, self confidence and autonomy. 
Sadness – asks us to stop, look, and listen to the grief, and feel what it is we are letting go of. When we feel this emotion, we create feelings of peace, contentment and Love. And a little wisdom, as we grow by letting go.
Suppression – asks us to speak our truth, to own our voice and express our values, ideas and opinions, even if thats not in accordance with public opinion. When we own our stance, needs and goals, this feeling makes way for creativity, openness and freedom, and self worth and acceptence become solid ground.  

Knowing the emotion allows us to create positive change

But often we don’t know what we’re feeling. Often we’ve been taught to supress, reject or ignore our emotions. Remember emotions are energy in motion, if they get stuck, energy becomes condensced and becomes a matter.  
Do this too often, too long, and they become toxic. They build up and get stuck in our tissues, organs and systems of the body and mind. Clogging our physical and mental perception and sensitivity. Clouded or insensitive to our feelings, when our emotional needs aren’t being met or expressed, we internalise those dynamics of relationship, relating and living.
Our emotional fire and desire dims, and we lose the ability to connect and relate. Emotions become toxic, often lifelong patterns. 
So what can we do?

4 Key steps to riding the emotional waves

1. Burning up the Build Up

We can burn emotional toxicity by building a healthy energetic fire.
As emotions are divine life energy expressed through us, we don’t need to suppress or reject these feelings. When we surrender, we release them. Just witnessing our emotions, their rise, fall and dissolution, and our reactions and thoughts toward them, will dissolve them.


Now, even though we just have to sit with them, this is hard work. We need to be brave enough to feel and hold them, in all their velocity, intensity and uncertainty. And being with our feelings, and the burning sensation of it inside us, creates the fire that releases toxic emotions.
Doing just 5 minutes each day will build up our courage and self-confidence. 

2. Recognising Emotions

Once we’ve created the fire we want to begin to name the different emotions. This allows us to know what our inner world feels in response to the outer situation and act accordingly. We begin the process of transformation through discrimination. Then we don’t cheat ourselves or the other.


Feel what happens to your energy in relation to the external world. Does the person, situation or activity lift you up or pull you down? Does it move you forward or hold you back?
Take a few moments of time in your day to ask these questions when with others.

3. Hear Their Story

Emotions are always in the present, so what is THIS emotion telling you? Can you allow it to speak the whole story? Allow it to rise, swell, peak and fall away. Find out where it came from. Realise which past experience makes you feel compelled to suppress this emotion.


Then once you get past your own story in relation to it, feel its strength. What power does this feeling convey? How can you ride this wave? Feel it’s intensity, the direction it wants to take and the expression you can channel this into. Maybe in the form of movement in your body, maybe in creating a project or connecting with like minded people to create some change you feel compelled to awaken.

Honour the emotion. The stronger the charge, the bigger you can create, the further this energy can move through you and the world.
When you start to feel, recognise and express this energy, its like riding a wave that’s moving through your core. When I realised this, it was a BIG DEAL! It means we can transform to create through feeling. This blew me away.


Next time a strong emotion arises, feel where you can take that surge of energy. Channel it into something creative.

4. Honour your needs

We need to feel, see and recognise our emotions to meet our needs. We need our needs met to feel ALIVE. And we need our emotions to meet our needs. So vital and key, they complement each other. It’s like a cycle, upstream or down.


Movement is a great physical need we have. We’ve evolved over 2 million years to walk, climb, run, dig, swim, dance and jump. And off course yoga! Taking all these different forms and expressing their energy! Doing this daily to feel fully alive. To let that divine life energy flow through us just as the spring breathes life into the woods and world!


Let Your aliveness guide you not your imbalances.


Needs are different for each person, but most of us need love, safety, nourishment, connection and purpose. When these are met, we can meet powerful emotions with calm, collected clarity and curiousity.


Self knowledge gives birth to self Love. When we know what we need, want, what we are great at and what we are crap at, we know what actions we need to take to move out of an emotion that limits us. Step Into Your Power & Beauty is a in-depth training to learn how to work with your emotions and turn them into positive actions.


So let’s ride the waves of emotion. Let’s ride the wave to self-confidence, vibrancy and manifestation of a world we want to live in. One where we’re emotionally intelligent, literate and empowered.


Let’s open ourselves up to a vaster range of emotions by first diving into the not so delicate and delicious ones 😉

Tell me, what do you do to ride the waves of your emotions?

Much Love,

Shira.