Thursday, June 19, 2014

A post for the highly sensitive parent (link)

Check out this phenomenal post about being a HSP (highly sensitive person) who is also a parent.

Highly Sensitive Parent

Blogging has been slow recently as I move toward the second training session at AVI's yoga therapy program.  The spring has blossomed with case studies, interviews, home study, and much grace in personal practice.

We've suffered some major losses this spring as well as well has gained a new family member by marriage.  It's been a wild ride and not much time for rumination on yoga and yoga therapy.  But I'm still at it....

Friday, February 21, 2014

So many variations - update on personal practice

Image compliments of
Is it too early to think about crocuses in bloom?

At training, as we pulled our bodies apart and experimented, close to the last day I did a twist a little too far and strained an SI ligament.  I've been caring for that dear sacrum issue since I returned with a steady practice involving supta badokanasana, bhujangasana with krama inhale and chanting, and vimanasana.  I've also ditched bikram for swimming for the moment.  All the asymetrical standing work in that series is not for me right now.

Today I added in a variation of supta parsva padangusthasana.  Lying on your back, you have one foot on the floor close to the hips, and one leg outstretched.  Hug in the bent leg and put your same-side hand on that inner thigh.  With opposite hand on opposite hip, holding that hip down to the floor, you open and close the bent leg out to the side.  When you're "open" you can then extend and straighten that leg which helps the knee.  I did just a small number of reps on each side.  This really gets to that area of my right outer hip that I want to bring awareness to longterm, but I have to be careful the asymmetry doesn't bother the sacrum.

I returned to badokanasana to even things out and make the sacrum happy.  Then back to bhujangasana with krama inhale and chanting, legs opening more and more after a few repetitions.  Vimanasana with no external rotation then with external rotation to delve into the hip.  It was a nice practice!  I love my new short practices... my yoga snacks.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

My passion is on the mat

image compliments of
(Ha!  I wish that's what my yoga space looked like.)

I've returned from yoga therapy session one at AVI!  Thirty four of us traveled to the mountain top to the Mount Madonna Center to find our new Sangha (community of practitioners).  We spent two weeks pulling ourselves apart and exploring the structure.  We also delved deeply into the therapist-client relationship and used each other as guinea pigs.  We were blessed to have Gary Kraftsow discuss yoga sutras that are especially relevant to yoga therapy and the client relationship.  The staff was knowledgeable (to say the least.)  The training was very well organized, and my fellow classmates brought a high level of professionalism and open curiosity.

My takeaways are so many.  I feel my head is actually larger for all the knowledge that was dumped in over eleven days working 6am - 9pm.  For me, the most fruitful part of my training was Gary's discussion of Sutra 1.17, about the different ways of knowing (or concentrating upon a subject, in this case, the client and his or her condition).

Here's SwamiJ's take on it - slightly different in language than Gary's, but it's good to have a reference!

1.17 The deep absorption of attention on an object is of four kinds, 1) gross (vitarka), 2) subtle (vichara), 3) bliss accompanied (ananda), and 4) with I-ness (asmita), and is called samprajnata samadhi.(vitarka vichara ananda asmita rupa anugamat samprajnatah)
  • vitarka = gross thought or reasoning
  • vichara = subtle thought 
  • ananda = bliss, ecstasy
  • asmita = I-ness, individuality
  • rupa = appearances, nature, form 
  • anugamat = accompanied by, associated with
  • samprajnatah = cognitive absorption, lower samadhi
Though there are many different levels of cognizing/understanding/merging with/knowing about the client and his or her condition, I will limit my discussion to the difference between vitarka and vichara.  Vitarka can be taken as "figuring it out" with the muscles of the mind (of course, this does not not literally mean muscles... I know that much from my anatomy study!)   When you put your mind to a problem and furrow your eyebrows to think your way to the answer, that's vitarka.  If you notice, when you go into your mind to turn the wheels, you actually step away from present awareness.

Vichara, on the other hand, is more like an intuitive connection with the object of focus... sort of like you go to it and into it by being present with it.  I think of it as a more "neck down" way of connecting that's best supported by coming into the central channel through breath and letting your awareness absorb what is around you.  (This is contrasted with vitarka, which seems to me to be a very "neck up" form of processing.)

I've been raised with a strong focus on intelligence and the power of the intellect as a tool to solve problems.  However, I am, at nature, a more intuitive person.  I feel, in many ways, that my head gets in the way of my heart.  My intellect is powerful, no doubt, but my heart is where the magic of this work will benefit others most highly.

The path to the fulfillment of my dharma 
travels directly through my heart.

It was amazing to work in triads, with fellow trainees, to learn the art of intake interviewing, developing session goals and prioritizing client issues, to assess through movement and stillness, to craft an intervention, and to help the client understand it.  Working in groups of three, we always had an impartial observer present, to give feedback and to notice the bigger picture.

It became clear to me, after taking my client through an absolutely adequate assessment session, THEN hearing Gary's thoughts on vitarka/vichara, that I was trying to vitarka my way through the assessment.  And I had a clear sense that that was not what Gary was doing in his case studies with students in our class - which were amazing to watch.  I was trying to "get it right" and "figure it out" without relying on and trusting in the Yoga Vidya, the living body of knowledge I have access to.  The teacher who taught the first teacher, and everyone in the lineage since then, is always at my back when I can calm and quiet myself enough to listen.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Yoga Therapy Training Trip Starts Tomorrow Morning

image compliments of
A new dawn will be breaking for me tomorrow.  I'm off the the American Viniyoga Institute Yoga Therapy Training.  Since completing my 300-hr teacher training with them last March, I've been saving everything.  Every morsel of money, every scrap of vacation, every favor I can earn to enable myself this two week learning experience.  This is the first session of four, and I'm letting go of calculations on the rest of the training just to savor the reality that I made it this far.

When I graduated last March from the teacher training, four years after completing my Bikram certification, I was unemployed.  Blessings now that I have a stable government day job that affords me the ability to follow my passion.  I'm attending the training to fulfill my dharma, to give yoga therapy to those experiencing suffering, who are asking for relief.  One of my goals in the training is to put myself first - to act as my own client.  I have a ways to go before I will be in the position to open my own practice.  I want to pay for this program and have another kid so that locks me in for a few years of quiet building.

During this next period I hope to negotiate time for myself and tend to my needs for bodily movement, proper nutrition, and crafted care suiting exactly who I am each day.  I hope to bask in the sunshine of self love.  It has been a long time coming.  My warm buds of tenderness are starting to grow inside my heart with the chant I've incorporated into my life:

Atma Hrdaye - Let my life force be linked to my heart
Hrdayam Mayi - Let my heart be linked to the truth within me
Aham Amrte - Let this truth be linked to the Eternal
Amrtam Anandam - that Eternal which is unending bliss

It's been a week of real ups and downs as I feel I'm bursting at the seems of my capabilities.  Working at 100% on many fronts to manifest this trip has been draining physically, emotionally, financially, etc.  I thank all the many people who have made this journey a reality.  I like to think of the many people who have supported me as I help someone with the tools of yoga therapy, knowing that they have paid into this gift.

At my day job, numerous people come to me with complaints and ask for help.  I'm "on call" and can at least talk to anyone who asks for help.  My ability to help may be limited, but if someone is really serious, we arrange for paid sessions outside of the workplace to keep things legitimate and out of the realm of the risk managers.  Namaste... thanks for stopping by.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Yoga For Sleep with Ellen Fein - starring me :)

Ellen, Jen and I shot this last year.

Please share and enjoy...

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

My goals in 2014

image compliments of ashcash
My goals for 2014:

I do The Work in writing when things get tough to handle at least five times in 2014.
I give myself a Reiki treatment at least once a week in 2014.

I attend both sessions of Viniyoga Therapist Training in 2014.
I say no to two "extra projects" at my day job in 2014.

I easily wear size xx clothes in August of 2014.
I easily wear size xx clothes in December of 2014.

Here's hoping!
(And planning, and activating...)