February 14, 2012

Essential Oils – Lemon

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 […]
January 27, 2012

Mt. Lebanon Magazine Yoga Guide

Published in the January 2012 issue of Mt. Lebanon Magazine: For the full article: http://lebomag.com/1601/yoga/    
January 27, 2012

Whirl – Yoga Guide

Published in the January 2012 issue of Whirl Magazine: For the full article: http://www.whirlmagazine.com/2011/12/whirl-yoga-guide-2/    
October 20, 2011

Pranayama – The Fourth Limb

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 […]
September 30, 2011

Asana – The Third Limb

Here in the west, Asana is associated mainly with the graceful movements and postures that we experience in the course of a yoga class. We flow through sun salutations or hold steady in our Warrior or Triangle poses. However, In regards to the eight limbs, asana refers only to a comfortable and steady posture. From this posture a practitioner can be fully at ease in order to achieve higher levels of concentration necessary for moving deeper into their practice. This doesn’t mean that the postures aren’t a necessary element in the eight limbs. In order to release and let go of what is happening in our bodies, we first have to turn our attention to our body. Practicing the postures in any style or level of yoga class is how we are able to access this awareness. And once we realize what our bodies need; where they are tight and where they are limber, where they are strong and where they are weak, we can begin work to strengthen and stretch to achieve that comfortable and steady posture. (note: awareness is not equivalent to judgment, judgment holds you back, awareness moves you forward.)   As a result, sages and yogis, […]
September 15, 2011

The Niyamas

  Shaucha – Purifying body and mind Santosha – Contentment Tapas – Training the senses Svadhyaya – Self-study Ishvara pranidhana – Surrender As we mentioned last week, Niyamas are the counterpart to the Yamas. Niyamas, like all of the 8 limbs, are achieved through careful observation of our actions, and results of those actions, in order to become aware of their benefits or disadvantages. To look at their definitions without any analysis, it looks as though they have the wrappings of a strict religious devotion. However, the devotion that is needed here is not a devotion to an outside entity, it is devotion to our own spiritual growth. Through the Niyamas we can begin to realize that this work we are doing within ourselves is reflected upon those surrounding us. Shaucha This can be compared to the idea of “what you reap, so shall you sow.” If you make the effort to eat healthy foods and exercise, then you will be working towards a healthy body. In the same way, if you feed your mind healthy thoughts and information, then you will be working towards a healthy mind. Of course, this is an oversimplification. We live in a world where […]
September 6, 2011

The Yamas

The first of the 8 limbs of yoga. The Yamas are often discussed along side it’s complimentary counterpart – Niyamas. As the Yama’s are recognized as restraints of action, Niyamas are recognized as observances the practitioner should follow. The Yamas and Niyamas are the moral and ethical codes of conduct meant to direct practitioners to a healthy balanced way of living in order to achieve peace and happiness in our lives. These are not commands for the student to fear punishment for not obeying, these are philosophical ideas for the student to reflect upon in order to discover the benefits of adhering to them and also reflect on the effects of what happens in our lives when we don’t. This week’s blog entry will focus just on the Yamas, next week we will cover Niyamas. According to Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutra there are 5 Yamas. 1. Ahimsa – Non-violence 2. Satya – Truthfulness 3. Asteya – Non-stealing 4. Bramacharya – Abstinance 5. Aparigraha – Non-Attachement To describe the depth of meaning in a single word translation is helpful as an introduction to the topic, however many of the subtleties and details are lost with such simple definition. Ahimsa – Non-violence What […]
August 24, 2011

8 Limbs of Yoga

Beyond the asanas, yoga can be viewed as a science where we can observe our bodies and minds to create and test hypotheses and develop theories based on our findings.  The full system of the science of yoga is the 8 fold path or the eight limbs of yoga, of which the asanas are just one of the limbs. The eightfold path was codified in The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali.  The Yoga sutras are considered the fundamental text on the practice of yoga.  Of the 196 lines of text (Sutras) there are only 3 that discuss the postures of the body: Sutra 2.46 specifies that for meditation the individual should be seated and remain steady, stable, and motionless, as well as being comfortable and at ease. Sutra 2.47 that the practitioners should loosen all tension and effort in their seated posture and that their attention become focused on the infinite. Sutra 2.48 summarizes that the attainment of this perfect posture enables a loosening of effort and the ability to focus on the infinite. It wasn’t until the Sages began writing commentary on the Sutras that the postures that we know today began to integrate themselves into the practice of yoga […]
August 10, 2011

Which Style of Yoga is Best for You?

With so many different styles and schools of yoga out there, it can be difficult to choose between them if you aren’t sure what to expect.  This week’s blog will focus on breaking through the mystery of yoga types. For clarification, it is important to know that yoga is a scientific system with 8 components or limbs.  The postures that we are familiar with are only one of those components: asana. The second thing you need to know is that all of the yoga that is offered out there is Hatha yoga.  Iyengar, Bikram, Ashtanga, Vinyasa are all Hatha Yoga, the difference between them is what they focus on, what the masters who created the system found true within themselves and then, through their knowledge, established a system for their students to follow. All types of yoga have their benefits, but not all may be right for you.  Hopefully the following information can help demystify the core schools that are available and give you some guidance as to what will work best for you.  The following is just the tip of the iceberg of what constitutes each of these styles of yoga.  There are volumes of texts written about each […]