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You are Here

Sometimes we see a map with a star that says you are here, similar to the cartoon by Leo Cullum.

To begin to find clarity we need to figure out where we are, sometimes we have a map like the rabbits.  With bigger  or important questions we don’t always have a map. So we come back to our theme of clarity during the month of March.

When we come to our yoga mat,  we want to be aware, where our body is in space. How does your our body move?  Are we tight and weak? Can we sit in seated meditation for let’s say 20 minutes? Where is your body in relationship to objects or other people.

We are in a yoga class and the teacher uses a prompt “bend your knees, hinge from the hip, come to a forward fold with a flat back,” the question you may ask are my knees bent, is my back flat, how does this feel – where am I?

We ask the same question when we come to our cushion for our daily meditation practice. How does this feel and can I focus on my breath or mantra.

If we can start with the question where am I, we can have a better idea where we want to go.

Pause, to decide your next step.

Where do I Begin?

It’s a new year and the question we ask ourselves is, “Where do I begin?”

Mind chatter:  “I have made the commitment to go to a yoga class but I am tight, I’m embarrassed that I can’t touch my toes, and I haven’t done a down dog in such a long time that I don’t even know if I can hold it for one breath.”

To quiet the chatter:  We begin where we are!  Seems simple, but it’s a very important realization.  Did Lao Tzu say that?  No, but he did say

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”

He also said:

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

So in the spirit of Lao Tzu, let us begin by coming to our yoga mat then prepare to sit on our mediation cushion.

Studies Confirm Health Benefits of practicing yoga.  A growing number of adults and children in the US have turned to practicing yoga as a way to stay mentally and physically healthy.  In 2015, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health found that over 21 million adults and 1.7 million children practiced yoga with rates continuing to grow.  Yoga’s popularity is tied directly to the belief that regular practice provides a wide variety of health benefits, which recent studies continue to confirm.

Physical Benefits 

Yoga helps with a number of health concerns and the benefits are often greater and longer lasting than traditional therapies.  When doctors in Seattle compared yoga to traditional therapeutic exercises, they found that yoga decreased chronic back pain for almost 14 weeks longer.  Yoga was also shown to lower blood sugar in diabetics, decrease hot flashes in menopausal women, lower blood pressure, improve the physical and emotional state of cancer patients, and decrease the effects of stress on the body.

Mental Benefits 

Yoga’s effects extend beyond the physical as well.  A Harvard Medical School study found that yoga contributed to mental as well as physical health.  A German study found that “women in the yoga group reported improvements in perceived stress, depression, anxiety, energy, fatigue, and well-being. Depression scores improved by 50%, anxiety scores by 30%, and overall well-being scores by 65%.  Initial complaints of headaches, back pain, and poor sleep quality also resolved much more often in the yoga group than in the control group.”  Other controlled studies confirmed that yoga had positive results in controlling depression and anxiety.  Evidence also suggests that yoga may help sufferers of PTSD. Organizations like Give Back Yoga do training and teach underserved populations.

cpcushionsWhile experts have found many positive benefits of yoga, they also caution that yoga needs to be practiced under expert supervision, especially for those with health or mobility issues.  Alignment matters.

Our minds know that yoga and meditation are good for us and we should do them.  But mind-knowledge doesn’t always translate into action.  Feelings do.  To get motivated to practice, we must make time for the first practice, then the second, and then experience it on a regular basis.  Then we won’t really need a study to tell us that yoga is good for us.

So start where you are.

Namasté

 

Healing with Structural Yoga

A branch of yoga, called structural yoga addresses the unique needs of each client – adapting to the individual. Which we practice at Catspaw Yoga in Wheat Ridge.

A common perception of yoga is a group class where participants move through a series of postures at a teacher’s direction. This one size fits all format does not suit everyone and we believe it is important to suggest modifications.  Many illnesses and physical conditions limit a potential yoga student’s ability to participate in a class.

In 1976 by Mukunda Stiles, developed structural yoga helps to help restore harmony and balance in the client’s body. The result of a structural yoga can be relief from the symptoms of back pain, sciatica, sports or overuse injuries, asthma, high blood pressure and the physical manifestation of stress among others as well as getting stronger.  The joint-freeing series is a staple among structural yoga teachers/therapist. The book Structural Yoga Therapy  by Mukunda Stiles is very well written and clear regarding structural yoga and is  a great guide. Mukunda Stiles, transitioned on February 18, 2014.  His wife Chinnamaste continues their practice at Yoga Therapy Center.

A regular yoga practice is always a benefit, and structural yoga helps you find your unique rhythm. For more information on this form of yoga and how it can help your health and the imbalances in your body, send us an email catspawyoga@gmail.com

Four Essential Beginner Yoga Poses

 

So, you’re interested in learning some yoga poses, but aren’t sure where to start. These relatively easy yoga poses are among the most commonly utilized. Learn them and you’re on your way to mastering yoga.

Downward Facing Dog

c2d017bfd144060492cd2e925bfb851bOne of the first poses you should master seems only easy until you’ve done it. There are a few ways you can get into this pose. You can either bend over forward and bring your arms to the ground or push up from the ground. Basically, the pose will create an upside “V” with your body.

Avoid pushing forward too far: many people try to get into a true 45-degree angle and create a pose too much like a plank. 30-35 degrees should be more than enough for this pose.

Warrior II

Perhaps the most instantly identifiable yoga pose, “Warrior II” will challenge your hips, your legs, and your arms. Start by facing forward with your legs about shoulder width apart. Now, turn your head to the right, lift your arms until they are parallel with the ground, and bend to the right.

Bend your right knee until it’s very nearly at a 45-degree angle. Hold here and stare out towards your right finger tips. Squeeze your abs to support your back, waist, and hips.

Triangle Pose

The “Triangle Pose” is a little trickier, but not impossible for beginners. Start by standing with your feet about shoulder width apart and your hands parallel to the ground.

Now, bend your right arm towards the ground, touching the ground with your palm. Twist your waist back to accommodate. If you can’t quite touch the ground, rest your hand on a yoga brick. Extend your left arm to the sky at a 90-degree angle and hold.

Child’s Pose

final_sketches_1-2The “Child’s Pose” is an important pose for beginners because it’s the default “break” pose. Start by getting on your knees and bending your arms forward towards the ground. Don’t strain yourself by pushing too far: just feel a gentle stretch as you pull your arms forward and your face to the ground.

Breathe slowly while you’re here and relax your mind. While in this pose, your muscles will release any severe tension and pain. Once you’re done resting, perform your next move.

Yoga is a rewarding and relaxing exercise that can bring a lot of joy and inspiration into your life. Contact us if you’re interested in learning more.

Encouraging Mindfulness through Yoga

 

Mindfulness unravels the ego, measuring the relationship with yourself and others. Yoga focuses on the physical vibrations, creating a union between the mind and the body’s’ flexibility. Ultimately, whilst practicing mindfulness and actively setting aside time to do yoga, you are engaging active consciousness.

Paying attention to the body is an excellent goal. Crafting the mind without judgment on your perceived good or bad thoughts, enables a healthier inner and outer body.

How Does Mindfulness Work?

By living in the present, we experience our intuitive connections with everything. Simple details that we would’ve never noticed during stressful times become vibrant and easy to appreciate.

Mindfulness follows these steps:

  • Accepting our imperfections and working on them.
  • Understanding our feelings and surveilling our reactions. Naming the issue, identifying the feeling, and living with the consequences provide a moral backbone.
  • Appreciating unsavory moments where relationships or opportunities don’t last forever. Remembering the moments for what they were is what truly counts.
  • Learning patience to coordinate around stressful situations.

Cultivating Peaceful Confidence

Confidence doesn’t have to consist of being loud, bold, and brash. A confident demeanor that is true to your inner self is what matters. You need to make peace with who you are through and through. Peaceful confidence thrives in those who are mindful of others. Even those who have not reached your pace due to their own choices.

Observing Where Your Attention Lies

What do you spend time thinking about the most? Your past? Your future? For those who multitask, this works for you too. Find a reasonable time to narrow down your perspective and relate to your surroundings.

  • In a comfortable and balanced sitting position, lightly erect the spine
  • Peacefully close your eyes, and take deep breaths. Notice the changes in the abdomen at each passing moment.
  • Don’t try to control or change the breaths. Just breathe without judgment.
  • Maintain patience and open your eyes.
  • Begin to notice your focus.

Initially, this can serve as a challenge. It may take patient repetition cycles in order to achieve your results. Please contact us for a safe and transformative experience.

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