1/3 cup almonds
1/3 cup walnuts
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
10 pitted dates
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp Unsweetened cocoa
Put the ingredients in a food processor and run until mixture forms a thick paste. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Form into bite-sized balls. Keep cold until you serve
with Kate Kill
Tuesdays 11-12 pm
In order to get the most out of our practice, we need to be comfortable and focused. This class will include postures to prepare the body to sit for meditation. We will also practice pranayama, or breath work to help clear and focus our energy for a 15 minute meditation practice.
For the past couple weeks, some of the students attending this class have been teacher trainees from another yoga studio; part of their training encourages them to go to different studios and experience different styles (very cool, I must say).
Last night’s visiting attendees were two women: one instructor and one trainee. Both were young and energetic, the instructor thin and lithe, her upper body overlaid with colorful tattoos. Her asanas were nearly perfect and lovely to watch.
Like most instructors, I’m sure, I always feel a little intimidated when an instructor shows up for my class; feeling not so much that I’m being judged, but watched. Very carefully. I do the same when I attend a fellow teacher’s class. I’m not judging, but always searching. Searching for new ways to explain a pose or inspire students (or myself). I recognize that my style is mine, that theirs is theirs, and that instructors can’t be compared. I have tremendous respect for all teachers. What intimidates me, however, is knowledge.
Yoga is so deep and vast that when I meet other teachers (especially if they practice a different style), I am always overwhelmed at how much I DON’T know. I am suddenly reduced to a student, a child seeking approval, feeling inadequate.
“No, I don’t remember what my dosha is.”
“No, I’ve never practiced ashtanga yoga (at least I don’t think I have).”
“Nope, never heard of the hasta or the pada bandhas.”
“No, I haven’t read the Bhagavad Gita from beginning to end.”
“No, I can’t do a handstand or hold a hip balance with straight arms and legs for more than a few breaths.”
“No, I don’t make a habit of adjusting my students.”
Cerebrally, I know that we are never “done” when it comes to yoga; that the depth of this practice is vast and never-ending. So why do I feel so less-than when I discover something I don’t know? And how do I release the self-judgement for not knowing everything about something which is fundamentally unknowable?
As always, I look to the Yamas and Niyamas for guidance. The Yamas and the Niyamas are the first two limbs of the 8-Fold path of yogic philosophy. Taken from the Yoga Sutras, there are five Yamas, or restraints, and five Niyamas, or observances.
For this particular experience, Astaya, the Yama of non-stealing, spoke to me. According to Deborah Adele, in her book, The Yamas and the Niyamas, “Astaya guides our attempts and tendencies to look outwardly for satisfaction.” In looking outward, we are stealing our joy and ability to look inward. Astaya asks us to shift our awareness of others to ourselves.
So in looking inward, I can appreciate how far I’ve come, without the distraction of comparing myself to others; because comparing either leaves you feeling dejected or superior, and neither is a healthy alternative. And often what we reach for is not necessarily what we want, but what may look good at the time. In our culture, we have much to compete with. There are pretty little baubles, bangles and beads in front of us wherever we go. If we keep reaching out for things just because they are there, we aren’t fulfilling our truth.
I don’t see myself as a teacher, really, but a guide. I share what I know and take in what my students teach me. I don’t feel I will ever be one of those instructors that people seek out, revered as a master in my field. I work full-time, have a family, so my ability (and let’s face it, energy) to study and immerse myself are limited. But I love my class and my students and take the moments I do have very seriously.
No, I am not trained in Ayurveda. No, I can’t twist my 49 year-old body into asanas that a tattooed twenty-something can do. And yes, there is an enormous amount of knowledge yet to be discovered. Astaya encourages me to “be where I am,” appreciate the journey and discover where I really want to go.
Oh, and I don’t have any tattoos. Just sayin’.
1 – 2:30 pm
Join us for this special discussion group. As a group, we decide together on a book to read and discuss. In each session, we read aloud and discuss how the ideas in the book relate to our own lives. Rather than just being intellectual, this is an organic way to get heart of the spiritual teachings into your own life.
by Judie Markley
Of all of the citrus oils, lemon just seems to have the sunniest disposition with its clean, fresh, yet rather sharp citrus scent.It’s the perfect oil to combat the short, dark dreary winter days. If you are feeling a little down in the dumps,reach for the lemon oil.
Lemons, a member of the Rutaceae plant family, grow on somewhat small yet horizontally expansive trees. The lemon tree, native to Asia, has been cultivated in Italy, Australia and the United States. It likes a lot of sunshine, but not a lot of wet soil. The oil is expressed from the peel of the fruit.
True to its sunny disposition, lemon oil is antidepressive in nature. It increases one’s sense of humor and feeling of general well being. It dispels feelings of indecisiveness so one might sense greater emotional clarity and direction. It’s also useful to support the attributes of joy, strength and memory.
Lemon’s antiseptic properties make it good for disinfecting everything from wooden cutting boards to infected wounds and sore throats. Now I know why my grandfather added lemon to his homemade cough syrup. Add a drop or two to a glass of water and give your liver a lift.
Once you understand how to use essential oils for daily skin care, lemon makes a wonderful addition for softening the skin and helps with oily and irritated skin. It’s a good choice for a cellulite blend as it has diuretic properties and speeds up blood flow.
So when you want a little extra freshness and lightness in your life, reach for that lemon oil.
Published in the January 2012 issue of Mt. Lebanon Magazine:
For the full article: http://lebomag.com/1601/yoga/
For the full article: http://www.whirlmagazine.com/2011/12/whirl-yoga-guide-2/
According to the yoga sutras (1.31 – 1.32), irregularities of the breath is one of the obstacles that we seek to overcome throughout yoga practice. By practicing Pranayama (prana= life breath, yama=control) we are able to overcome these irregularities.
Breath work brings many valuable benefits to our overall health. A a conscious practice of proper breathing calms the nervous system, reduces blood pressure, relaxes the body, and increases oxygen to the organs. By consciously focusing on the breath we can quiet the mind and improve concentration.
There are a multitude of pranayama practices in yoga: Nadi Shodhanam, Bhastrika, Kapalabhati, Ujjayi, etc. Each practice brings it’s own benefit, from quieting the mind for meditation to increasing the heat in the body to cleansing the body of toxins. However, what we want to focus on before moving into any of these practices is the basic step of retraining ourselves to breath properly. Once we can connect to the diaphragmatic breath, we can move onto some of the more advanced breathing exercises.
Have you ever watched a newborn baby breathe? When we are born our breath is naturally a diaphragmatic breath. We have not yet experienced the day to day stresses this life puts upon us making us hold our breath and retain tension in our autonomic nervous system. At a very young age we begin to lose the innate ability to breath deeply. The breath moves high into the chest, we suspend the breath (either in or out) and engage in a constant “Fight or flight” reactionary breath, unwittingly keeping ourselves in a constant state of stress.
We have forgotten to breath and therefore need to retrain our system. In order to do this we need to start at the very beginning, teach ourselves to breath as we did when we were infants. Reconnecting with the movement of the diaphragm, acknowledging what is happening with our breath and learning to deepen and even out our breath until it becomes as natural as it was when we were born.
Diaphragmatic breathing is the practice of using the diaphragm with consciousness. As you inhale the diaphragm drops, gently pressing into the organs of the lower torso. As you exhale the diagram contracts and presses the air out of the lungs. We first practice this in an exaggerated fashion, letting the belly expand on the inhale and pull in on the exhale, but once we can connect back to the natural breath the movement of the lower abdominal muscles decreases to the point of a gentle rise and fall.
An additional behavior to take notice of is if you are breathing through your mouth or through your nose or some combination of both. Our nose is built to be our first line of defense for our immune system, the book The Science of Breath, does an excellent job describing the function of the nose. So let the breath move only through the nose when you are practicing the diaphragmatic breath.
Take this practice with you throughout your day, check in with your breath on a regular basis, notice if you are holding the breath (in or out) and remind yourself to breathe. Notice if you hold your breath in stressful situations and if consciously breathing helps your stress level decrease. And bring this practice to the mat. Notice how you are breathing throughout your yoga practice and if you can keep the breath steady and even.
The breath is the keystone that moves us from the physical body to mental awareness. It is the best tool you have to strengthen concentration and mindfulness and to begin moving through the last four limbs of yoga.
Join us next time as we move into Pratyahara – Withdrawal of the Senses.