In the previous lesson, I shared the importance of regularly relaxing the mind and body and about how relaxation techniques bring about the removal of physical and mental tension. Today I'd like to share a new shavasana/savasana practice with you :) I hope it will help you relax and leave you feeling refreshed. ❤
Today, I've included the following bits of yoga information:
My whole intention here is to help you develop your own yoga practice for a more peaceful life. Eventually, maybe, we will all be able to maintain an intuitive sadhana (spiritual practice) on our own. And... Perhaps we will all feel comfortable sharing what we are learning with the people we care about. Benefiting everyone :) ❤
YOUTUBE INTRO & RECORDING
Shavasana Part 1 & 2
SHAVASANA - PART 2
The two parts of shavasana comprise a whole, and as such, the second part should be practiced immediately after the first part, without a break.
Regarding Sleep, Awareness & Benefits
The biggest problem is sleep unless of course, you practice shavasana specifically to remove insomnia. It is the habit of most of us to sleep whenever we achieve a reasonable degree of relaxation. We seem to associate relaxation with sleep and tension with wakefulness. Yet the aim of shavasana is to gain a high state of relaxation while being fully awake.
If we fall asleep halfway through shavasana, we lose much of the benefits, because, during sleep, the mind again manifests its usual patterns of worry. By remaining awake and directing awareness to the different parts of the body and the breath in the way described, our awareness is coaxed away from its entanglement with obsessive mental anxieties. So, try to stay awake, even though it is very easy to just drop off to sleep.
Throughout the practice, one should try to be aware of all the processes which we have described in shavasana. However, it is very easy to think of other thoughts and become distracted from the practice at hand. You should not suppress thoughts if they arise. Let them occur, be aware of them but simultaneously continue on with shavasana.
During yoga classes, the teacher gives all the necessary instructions and the practitioner merely listens and carries them out. It is far easier to gain benefits under these circumstances. However, when you practice by yourself you should develop the idea that you are the instructor. Instead of the instructor being in the form of another person, he is now in your head. Mentally repeat the instructions to yourself and then enact them. In this way, you are more likely to maintain awareness throughout the practice.
Summary of the Steps of Shavasana
Shavasana is a systematic technique which progressively relaxes the body and mind. Therefore, the order of practice is important so that you become more and more relaxed as you work through the technique. The following is a list of the basic steps to possibly metally repeat to yourself throughout the practice:
PAGES OF SHAVASANA (PART 1)
Saraswati, Satyananda. A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya. Yoga Publications Trust, 2013.
About a week ago, I read the next chapter from the book I’ve been re-exploring now since March, “A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya.” The topic's title was "The Root Cause of Tension" and the chapter offered readers an opportunity to relieve the body and mind of tension.
I can't think of a better time for this chapter to reenter my life and perhaps to enter yours for the first time. As protests against injustice and racism occur all over the world in response to the death of George Floyd (and so many others); physical and emotional pain emanates from the hearts and faces of the people I view on the news or my Instagram feed. This most recent rise of global confusion, frustration, and understandable anger also seems exacerbated by the sometimes not so positive impacts of our global pandemic... fear, impatience, anxiety. Not to mention the other fears that pile up on top of all that as a result of global warming, climate change, and dirty politicians. It doesn't seem like such a surprise then that our world appears so tense, right? That there is so much in our world that can result in tension in our bodies and minds?
What if I told you though that by taking the next 20 minutes now to read the exact pages that I read from the Kriya book regarding the 10 Codes for Mental Reprogramming, then your outlook on life will improve immediately? It's true. I promise. However, the choice is yours: you can either take steps to make this world and your life a veritable heaven on earth, or you can remain as you are.
In this blog I’ve included the following gifts:
And, as always, please consider reading this blog from the web instead of the emailed version. The photo and video elements I've included below don't always display well in the emailed version. Love to you all. ~ Ashley
The Root Cause of Tension
The codes that Swami Satyananda Saraswati formulated are not intended to be moralistic. They are a means to an end. To reiterate, they are suggestions by which you can start to consciously alter your attitude towards life's situations. They are intended to relax you sufficiently, so that you can eventually delve into your mind through meditation practices and thereby root out the deeper negative aspects of your mental nature.
These codes are not supposed to change your lifestyle, and we don't advise you to force them on yourself at all times. only remember them as you go about your daily routine and their presence will help you from within, from your subconsious 'attitude centres'. (61)
Codes for Mental Reprogramming
Make the effort to begin to accept other people fully. Try not to see them merely as objects to be used for your own gratification. Try to accept others as also acting in accordance with their mental conditioning. What you see in them is only an external manifestation of their mental program. In this way they are no different from you, except their program may be a little different. You are now aware of your dependence on your mental conditioning; perhaps they don’t realize it yet. If you can accept others more they in turn will start to accept you. Laugh at yourself, at your behavior and at your antics.
Accept yourself. Know that your actions are the result of your mental makeup. For this reason, don’t worry about your deficiencies and problems. Accept your limitations. But at the same time feel the need to clean the mind of its conflicts. It is our inability to accept ourselves that causes so much anguish in life.
Watch your habituated reactions to people around you and to your environment. Watch how your attachment to the external can result in so much discontentment. Try to reduce your need to find happiness in outside things. This does not mean that you should not follow external attractions for this would result in suppression, which causes more harm than good. It means that you should carry on your life as it is now, but if you don’t get what you want then accept it with a shrug of the shoulders, with a sense of detachment.
Find out your greatest needs, attachments, desires, etc. Be as critical as you can. A good method of discovering your attachments is to trace the cause of your present anger or your present unhappiness back to its source and there you will find the emotional and mental attitude that caused the disturbance. Particularly notice how you react with people whom you distinctively dislike or don’t get on with. These persons will help you to recognize and to eventually remove your emotional hang-ups. View the whole word and everyone in it as being your teacher.
Try to live in the now. Don’t live in the past by worrying about what has already happened or by reliving pleasurable past experiences. Don’t anticipate the future. Plans can be made, but see the planning as being part of the now, not as really being for the future. Try to live each moment, each present moment as fully as possible by giving your attention to the now. In this way you will start to live life to the fullest. When you do anything, from taking a bath to eating food, or sweeping the floor to earning your living, try not to think of when it will be finished. Enjoy every action that you do at the time that you do it. Try to enjoy the fact that you exist and that an expression of your existence is in your every action.
Don’t identify yourself completely with your actions, your body or your mind. Though you are trying to change your mind, it is only part of you. It is not your consciousness – the witness that sees all events that occur in your life.
Try to be more opens towards other people. Express your true feelings as much as possible. When we try to be what we are not, when we try to impress people and when we hide our inner feelings from others, we immediately experience mental tension and alienation. This tends to intensify our feelings of ‘me against the world’.
Remember that everyone has the potential to attain higher levels of awareness. A mans present attitude toward his environment or toward you is caused by mental programming. His present mode of living is temporary and will change and become more harmonious if and when he starts to understand himself and his mind. All of us have unrealized potential just waiting to be tapped. Try to see this potential in all people, no matter how different it may be.
Don’t avoid difficult situations. Normally we shape our lives so that we interact with people we dislike as little as possible. We continually try to associate ourselves with people and situations that tune in with our motional programming. As such we continue to live in a way that reinforces and satisfies our individual prejudices. Treat difficult situations and enemies as the greatest teachers. It is they who can show us most clearly the way in which our mental program works. It is our enemies who bring to the surface our emotional conflicts and prejudices. Very few of us are aware of programming and conditioning. When we recognize it then we can start to deal with it.
Try to put yourself in other people’s shoes. Instead of blindly reacting in ways that you are programmed, try to see the other person’s point of view. Remember your reaction is purely automatic. Try to change your response so that the current situation doesn’t cause you emotional upsets.
Lesson 2.6: Pages from the Book
The Root Cause of Tension
Let's review the breathing/pranayama portion of our Kriya Yoga program before we move on to the second lesson! :) I'm amazed at the progress I've made so far with this book. I literally feel like I am participating in my own yoga training. How do you feel about it? Feel free to comment and let me know :)
Below, you will find either a link (for email subscribers) or an audio tool (for web viewers). The audio includes our first pranayama practice! In the first half (1:00-18:00) of the recording, I take a moment to read the portion of the chapter that discusses the following important pieces of information:
- A review on breathing capacities
- Why slow breathing?
- The mechanics of breathing
- Different methods of breathing
- Preparations necessary for Yogic Breathing
Then lastly, I lead an exploration into what it means to really breathe. We break down what it means to experience abdominal breathing, middle breathing, upper breathing and finally, yogic breathing. Please feel free to skip the first half if you like, but once you get to the descriptions of the different methods of breathing, I suggest a careful listen. Sometimes these lectures have so much wonderful information and context, so if you do happen to skip the first part but are left wondering if you missed something, then perhaps give it a full listen.
The deep systematic yogic breathing will tend to retrain breathing nerve reflexes that may have ceased to be active by lack of use. In other words, at present you might be breathing only from the chest, hardly using the abdomen at all. Yogic breathing will start to make you breathe abdominally, intercostally and clavicularly during the day, and therefore, allow you to inhale the full amount of air that your body requires for nourishment and good health.
To develop the yogic breathing as an automatic and normal function of the body, try to develop the habit of consciously breathing yogically for a few seconds or minutes. If you feel tired or angry, sit down, or if possible lie down, and practice yogic breathing. If you can breathe slowly then your mind will become calm and revitalized.
Please, let me know if you practiced the recommended five Yogic breaths to start and how it made you feel. And don't forget, tomorrow, add two more breaths and so on. ~ Ashley
What Are We Going to Do Next?
Saraswati, Satyananda. A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya. Yoga Publications Trust, 2013.
As a result of this injury, I have had to discontinue my advanced power yoga practice as well as my other interest -- Muay Thai -- which means no more handstands, jump backs, side planks, punching bags... things like that. At first, I felt depressed at the state my body was in. Although I understood that I needed to be patient with my body as it recovered from having made and delivered a baby girl, I was depressed and frustrated that I wasn't able to care for my body the way I was used to caring for it - via hardcore daily Yoga and Muay Thai. I also wasn't able to care for my family the way I truly wanted to - I felt like an invalid. In the mornings I would wake to find my hands stiff and in pain. By the end of the day, after cleaning and cooking, caring for Isabella, etc... I could hardly move them. Mentally, I thought that I had no more energy to give to a yoga practice. I also found that my ego disliked the idea of doing any yoga practice that wasn't the usual intense, cardio-activating practice I was accustomed. It was a negative spiral for a while.
Finally though, and only after my first 8-hour sleep in months 6 months haha, I went to my mat with discipline and an internal mantra/repetitive thought:
It doesn't matter that I can't do push-ups right now. It doesn't matter that my body no longer feels as limber. I am going to start moving now and I will figure this out.
I realize now that I was being harsh with myself, literally inflexible and unbending. I was so used to a certain "Ashley" and certain "Yoga style" that I had been unwilling to accept my limitations, body, or self. How sad is that? How much time, I wonder, did I waste not practicing yoga simply because I couldn't do what I wanted? How silly!?
After meditating and reflecting on it all, I've forgiven myself and I am now ready to finally share what I have learned from this whole experience. And here it is:
Beginner's Yoga is just as amazing as Advanced Yoga because Yoga is about learning to accept the present limits of your current body - to embrace, move in it, grow with it, love it.
The following video is of Laruga teaching Ashtanga Yoga. For more about Ashtanga yoga, consider reading one of my previous blogs such as "What is Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga". However, for now, consider watching the flow for at least the first 10-15 minutes. It may seem repetitive - because it is. That is one of the defining factors of Ashtanga Yoga. Within those repetition, your mind is given an opportunity to stop jumping from one thing to another - your practice becomes a moving meditation.
After viewing the video, maybe you decide that you love it, or maybe you think Ashtanga isn't for you. That's totally okay! But please don't turn your back on it too quickly... or any type of yoga, really. My advice before you give up on a yoga style is to:
- Considering trying a few more times
- Consider trying a different teacher
- Consider going to a different class
OTHER YOGA BLOGS
- PEACE LOVE YOGA - This is Laruga's blog! It's where I found her video. I love her blog. She's simply inspirational.
- WHAT IS A YOGI? AND HOW DO YOU BECOME ONE? By Timothy Burgin - Consider giving this a read if you have this question on your mind :)
- DO YOU YOGA - DoYouYoga has a whole plethora of videos and challenges for you to participate in. Their website is huge, with many of your questions already answered in articles, blogs, videos and more. If you're looking to begin living a healthier lifestyle all around (food, mind, body) then consider looking into the programs they offer.
- YOGA BASICS - Yep, everything you need to know to get started, for the most part ;)
- WANDERLUST - This website has a "journal" / blog which contains lots of general information about yoga and how to begin living a life that includes it.
- YOGADORK - Yeah, it's a funny name. But this blog has so much information about the current events occurring in the yoga world. If you're curious, take a look. This link, for example, is offering information about the screening of a film regarding a teacher, Iyengar. He is another of my favorite yoga teachers of all time.
Love is the essence of our life. I have written this blog with love, and I offer it to you, dear reader, with the hope that the suggestions offered here will become a vital part of your self-healing and continued well-being. ~ Ashley
Diet & Nutrition
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