Shifting FOCUS

I am trying to shift the focus of my Yoga practice.

For a long time it was all about in fact competing with myself:

“Better, stronger, more!”

And nothing wrong with that per se, but for me it just reinforced feelings of not being enough and keeping me in doing instead of being mode.

Now I consciously set an intention of making my practice a nurturing one.

Which doesn’t mean I can’t engage in challenging poses, but doing so while listening to myself and resting in child’s pose when I need to instead of pushing through which is an all too familiar pattern in my everyday life.

Instead practising being gentler with myself and attuning to my needs.

 

What I am grateful for today:

Felt especially grateful for the sunshine today, that allowed me to sit outside, and soak up the warmth while enjoying my latte and a croissant (and yes, you can’t be gluten-free, super healthy all the time, as long as you eat it mindfully and with JOY :), which I did)

Discomfort all over…

As I am standing in the bathroom wallowing in my admittedly excruciating period pain, R.E.M.’s Everybody hurts” is floating through my mind.

And true.

At this very moment 1000s of other women around the world are experiencing similar cramps, tensions and/or feelings of nausea related to their monthly discomfort.

I have been occupying myself with learning more about the chakras lately. The one that comes to mind here is the second one, the scaral chakra or Svadisthana in Sanskrit. When unbalanced we can feel stuck unable to move forward. And that again fits with what my TCM practitioner told me about period pain. The smooth flow of blood and / or energy is interrupted, the  blood flow stagnates and depriving the pelvic region of adequate oxygen, nutrients, and waste removal.

So here are some things that may help in balancing the second chakra:

 

Back at YOGA – but how confronting

Image courtesy of  "Beautiful Yoga Girl At Sunrise On The Beach" by samuiblue

Image courtesy of “Beautiful Yoga Girl At Sunrise On The Beach” by samuiblue

I am back at Yoga.

What a humbling journey though.

The first sessions were excruciating. Even the slightest stretches send my body into a pain spin. And being confronted with how quickly my flexibility and muscle strength waned. After 6 weeks of a break (I kept up regular walking) my body felt really stiff, inflexible and weak.

The explanation my chiropractor gave that because the body adapts the best way it can often a domino effect is created. As moving is painful, the muscles around the  affected area tighten which results in a loss of motion range and flexibility in this area. Surrounding joints and muscles will compensate for that thus overworking them and eventually creating the same irritation to the nerves as in the affected area.

Because my neck and back issues are still present the yoga asanas I can engage in are limited. Yes, I am happy to be back at all but it also makes me realize how much of my positive sense of self is being wrapped up in physical fitness and taking my body for granted.

What I am grateful for today:

  • That I can practice Yoga asanas
  • That my spine issues have improved and the pain has lessend
  • My increased body awareness

YoGa Interrupted

Image courtesy of "PinkBlue"http://www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of “PinkBlue”http://www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What would you do if your Yoga journey (I am talking about the asana practice on the mat) was disrupted by an accident or other health issue?

That’s what happened to me a few weeks ago and I am still coming to terms with it. A long standing spine issue flared up and forced me to have a break from all twists, back- and forward-bends.

It is not an easy journey and I notice how irritable and frustrated I am. My regular asana practice was such an important part of my life and also helped me cope with unpleasant emotions, stress and tension. Not to mention the endorphins that would be released into my bloodstream, greatly enhancing my mood.

I have good moments as well, where I am grateful that I can still walk, but often frustration creeps back in and I just want for things to go back to the way they were. I guess some of you will remind me of practising yoga OFF the mat. That the asanas are just a very small part in the overall Yoga practice. Yes, there are the other limbs of Yoga like the yamas (how you treat others), the niyamas (how you treat yourself), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (withdrawl of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (state of ecstasy).

I know there is learning in every experience but at the moment I am just riding the roller coaster of emotions. Frustration. Sadness/Depression. Impatience. Fear.

What I am grateful for today:

  • That I can walk
  • My pain has lessened in the past few weeks
  • That I have faith I will practice Yoga asanas again

Staying with WHAT IS – Day 33

Sometimes it takes me a while to gauge where I am at.It might need an interaction with another person to bring it to the surface.

When I checked in with myself this morning I felt kind of flat, but there was something lurking I could not quite pinpoint. But then I had an argument where I felt I couldn’t make myself heard with my partner and could feel lots of anger seeping through. ANGER which has been there all along but needed a trigger to be released.

My neck and shoulder are still sore, so I wonder whether part of that soreness isn’t anger that has accumulated over some time. ANGER from all those situations where I felt I had to be the “GOOD GIRL”, suppressing my truth and going quiet instead.

But of course the body remembers everything and anger when unresolved isn’t any different, e.g. the correlation between the repression of anger and heart disease (Miller, Smith, Turner, Guijarro, & Hallet, 1996).

When anger occurs, adrenaline gets released into the bloodstream which results in shortness of breath, skin flushing, muscle tension, in the jaw, stomach, shoulders and hands, ready to take action. As we often struggle to find constructive outlets for that charge it stays in our body, resulting in an imbalance in our nervous system.

So what to do about it?

  • Noticing it and becoming aware of “triggers” is always the first step
  • Body centered treatments (Massages, EFT, TFT etc.) help to release blocked emotions
  • Yoga, meditation & mindfulness to balance the nervous system

References

Miller, T. Q., Smith, T. W., Turner, C. W., Guijarro, M. L., & Hallet, A. J. (1996). A meta-analytic review of research on hostility and physical health. Psychological Bulletin, 119, 322–348.

What I am grateful for today:

  • My morning walk
  • Catching up with a friend
  • An old favourite, my coconut chai

Staying with WHAT IS – Day 29

Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My body is very much in pain!

My neck and shoulders are very tense, and my legs feel sore and wobbly.

I feel I am trying to do the best I can to take care of them even-though it’s frustrating that they don’t seem to budge.

I guess these symptoms are all manifestations of some sort of stress. Which makes sense as the body remembers everything that ever happened to us.

Stress I am not ready to resolve and release yet.

What I am grateful though is that these pains and aches don’t get in the way of my practice. My practice is giving me space from them as when I concentrate on my breath and the postures the sore areas in my body don’t seem to scream as loudly.

THANK YOU!

What I am grateful for today:

  • The sun-rays shining through my window
  • The fresh crisp morning air
  • The clean energy of my room

Staying with WHAT IS – Day 28

Had a bit of an unruly night!

Feeling quite nervous about the workshop today and kept obsessing about it.

Then tension from the left side of my neck has now moved to the middle of my neck as well as travelled down to the area in-between my shoulder blades.

Seems like my heart chakra (Anahata) is affected as well which was quite obvious in my meditation practice this morning. I couldn’t visualize pink light in my heart space in similarly no beam of golden light in my solar plexus (Manipura).

I felt unnerved and frustrated by this.

My inner critic raising its ugly head urging me to try harder. Which I did, but it wouldn’t work.

I turned to the Acu-Yoga book (Gach & Marco, 1988) and looked up exercises for the heart chakra. The heart chakra is about regulating emotions and connected to the cardiac plexus, the thymus gland, and the pericardium.

The following exercises benefit the heart chakra:

Flapping wings (Gach & Marco, 1988, p.69)

  1. Stand, stretch your arms back parallel to the ground, palms facing out till you feel a stretch between your shoulder-blades.
  2. Inhale, raise your chest up and out
  3. Exhale, keep your arms straight and parallel to the ground, bring them forward, your palms touching, your spine rounding.
  4. Continue to inhale as arms go backward again.

Cross my heart pose (Gach & Marco, 1988, p.70)

  1. Sit cross-legged, spine straight
  2. Place your right hand in your left arm pit and vice versa
  3. Close your eyes, tuning into your body and meditate on your heart

References

Gach, Michael Reed, with Carolyn Marco. Acu-Yoga: Self-Help Techniques to Relieve Tension. New York: Japan Publications, Inc., 1998.

What I am grateful for today:

  • My morning bike ride
  • Being healthy
  • My morning practice

Staying with WHAT IS – Day 23

Period Pain – Hrrgh

Woke up this morning and could already feel this all too familiar cramping sensation in my uterus.

Here we go again:

Even after more than 20 years of this monthly recurrence I don’t feel it gets any easier. There is no remedy I haven’t tried from Homoeopathy to Chinese Medicine and still every month the same suffering on the first two days of my menstrual cycle.

I feel dizzy, there is pain in my lower back and uterus and my calves are quite sore. Not talking about my anger and anxiety attacks in the week leading up to it.

I have adjusted my practice this morning and incorporated some restorative asanas like:

  • Seated and reclining butterfly pose (Baddha Konasana) with the soles of your feet together
  • Wide Squat (Malasana), feet slightly wider than hips-width apart, elbows pressed against your inner knees and lengthen through your torso
  • Wind relieving pose (Pavanmuktasana)
  • Wide child’s pose (Balasana)
  • Legs up against the wall (Viparita Karani)

What I really want to do is curl up in bed with a hot water bottle, lots of chocolate and a comforting book.

And lucky me, my schedule allows me to do just that.

THANK YOU!

For more info on how to relieve menstrual pain have a look at the following links:

http://blogs.yogajournal.com/enlightenedmotherhood/2012/04/cycle-yoga.html

http://www.yogajournal.com/health/130?page=4

What I am grateful for today:

  • Having no appointments today
  • My comfy bed
  • My organic, chocolate bar sweetened with coconut sugar. YUM!