INSPIRATION OF THE MONTH
INSPIRATION OF THE MONTH - December 2018
"People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” - Thich Nhat Hanh
Our inspiration of the month is GRATITUDE.
Gratitude is a spiritual practice and an extremely important one. It always has been but I feel it is becoming even more important with modern time and the endless need for more. This need is not only materialistic but also spiritual, mental and emotional. And as such, leaves most of us unhappy, unsatisfied and unwell. I've been reading quite a lot about gratitude. There are amazing podcasts from On Being with Krista Tippett about this matter. About how easily it can loose its essence when overused. I can't recommend enough listening to her and the amazing people she interviews. This in itself fills me up with gratitude. For having people like her who introduce us to the positive people and forces in this world. To the hope, light and empathy that so many have and share with others.
A recent article I was reading by Georgia Travels caught my attention as she empathised the importance of having a regular practice of gratitude. Perhaps every morning or every evening or both, possibly thanking 3 things or people in your life. And if it involves other people then take the time to let them know you are grateful for their friendship, love, support, kindness, acceptance, or whatever it is that you are grateful for. Sounds simple, and yet most of us go through our lives hardly ever doing so.
After a recent class I taught I received an email from a friend who expressed her gratitude to me and reminded me that I should do more of tis. So I'm taking the opportunity to first THANK all of the Sukha Mukha teachers, past and present, who make this journey such a beautiful and joyful ride. All of you, our students, who allow us to keep sharing our love and passion with you all and for trusting us as you step on the mat each and every time. I thank deeply my teacher who infused me with the love for yoga and curiosity to learn more. There are so many more people I am grateful for but it feels a little bit like an "Oscar" moment so I'll leave it with this.
From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU. Idit.
"We have an obligation not only to receive the generative, healing properties of gratitude but also to bear witness to them before others. It is by including others in our experience of gratitude that we release gratitude. It is by releasing gratitude into the world that we dull the preeminence of the self and instead bring our common humanity into relief. It is by connecting ourselves to one another through the reception and release of gratitude that we begin to illuminate this space in which we coexist with one another." - Georgia Travers
A beautiful On Being episode with David Steindl-Rast.
Here is a beautiful poem by Carrie Newcomer:
Every night before I go to sleep
I say out loud
Three things that I’m grateful for,
All the significant, insignificant
Extraordinary, ordinary stuff of my life.
It’s a small practice and humble,
And yet, I find I sleep better
Holding what lightens and softens my life
Ever so briefly at the end of the day.
Sunlight, and blueberries,
Good dogs and wool socks,
A fine rain,
A good friend,
Fresh basil and wild phlox,
My father’s good health,
My daughter’s new job,
The song that always makes me cry,
Always at the same part,
No matter how many times I hear it.
Decent coffee at the airport,
And your quiet breathing,
The stories you told me,
The frost patterns on the windows,
English horns and banjos,
Wood Thrush and June bugs,
The smooth glassy calm of the morning pond,
An old coat,
A new poem,
My library card,
And that my car keeps running
Despite all the miles.
And after three things,
More often than not,
I get on a roll and I just keep on going,
I keep naming and listing,
Until I lie grinning,
Blankets pulled up to my chin,
Awash with wonder
At the sweetness of it all.
Jump to Inspiration of the month:
The state of abundance is connected with a deep sense of gratitude. When we open to abundance, we can enjoy the fog lifting from the morning’s melting snow, and the steam rising from the hot bowl of tomato soup on our lunch table. We can appreciate the half smile of the tired waitress, the silver crescent of the moon at twilight, the unstoppable laughter of children in the schoolyard, and celebrate the fact that we are here, breathing and alive, on this marvelous earth. - Jack Kornfield
Pyramid Pose - Parsvottanasana
This asana stretches your outer hips and hamstrings, lengthens your spine and encourage quietude and self-reflection. It is grounding, calming yet also rejuvenating as it sends fresh blood to the brain.
This pose deeply stretches the backs of the legs
Improves balance, mental functions and circulation
Tones and cleanses internal organs
Contraindications for this pose:
Recent or chronic injury to the hips, back or shoulders
High blood pressure
If you find your back heel lifting as you bend into this pose, practice with your back heel pressed to a wall. The heel’s contact with the wall will help you keep it grounded. To work on balance, slowly work the hands to namaste on top of the left foot, or bring the hands to reverse Anjali Mudra behind the back or simply cross the arms behind the back, parallel to the waist.. Stare at a point on the knee or on the floor.
1. Stand in Mountain Pose. With an exhalation, step or lightly jump your feet 3 to 4 feet apart. Rest your hands on your hips. Turn your left foot in 45 to 60 degrees to the right and your right foot out to the right 90 degrees. Align the right heel with the left heel. Firm your thighs and turn your right thigh outward, so that the center of the right knee cap is in line with the center of the right ankle.
2. Exhale and rotate your torso to the right, squaring the front of your pelvis as much as possible with the front edge of your mat. As the left hip point turns forward, press the head of the left femur back to ground the back heel. Press your outer thighs inward, as if squeezing a block between your thighs. Firm your scapulas against your back torso, lengthen your coccyx toward the floor, and arch your upper torso back slightly.
3. With another exhalation, lean the torso forward from the groins over the right leg. Stop when the torso is parallel to the floor. Press your fingertips to the floor on either side of the right foot. If it isn’t possible for you to touch the floor, support your hands on a pair of blocks or the seat of a folding chair. Press the thighs back and lengthen the torso forward, lifting through the top of the sternum..
4. In this pose the front-leg hip tends to lift up toward the shoulder and swing out to the side, which shortens the front-leg side. Be sure to soften the front-leg hip toward the earth and away from the same-side shoulder while you continue squeezing the outer thighs. Press the base of the big toe and the inner heel of the front foot firmly into the floor, then lift the inner groin of the front leg deep into the pelvis.
5. Hold your torso and head parallel to the floor for a few breaths. Then, if you have the flexibility, bring the front torso closer to the top of the thigh, but don’t round forward from the waist to do this. Eventually the long front torso will rest down on the thigh. Hold your maximum position for 15 to 30 seconds, then come up with an inhalation by pressing actively through the back heel and dragging the coccyx first down and then into the pelvis. Then go to the left side.
Full Yogic Breath
Full Yogic Breath
Full Yogic Breath is a deeply balancing pranayama, sometimes known as three-part breath because it works with three different sections of the torso and naturally engages all three lobes of the lungs. Full Yogic Breath revitalizes the entire body with prana. In particular, it benefits the vital organs, which can easily become stagnant, constricted, or fraught with emotional and physical tension when we experience stress. Full Yogic Breath relieves stress, refreshes the mind, and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, encouraging a calmer, more balanced state of being overall. It also helps to correct unhealthy breathing patterns.
Full Yogic Breath Instructions:
The guidance of a teacher is always recommended.
If you ever feel unwell or dizzy - stop the practice immediately.
These practices are to be done moderately and with much observation, as they are extremely powerful.
Choose a comfortable seated or lying position and relax the body fully.
Gently close your eyes and take a few moments to settle in. Close your mouth and breathe only through your nostrils. Quiet your mind, and attune to your body.
When you are ready, inhale slowly and with purpose, drawing your breath deep into the lower abdomen, starting from the pelvic floor and slowly allowing the breath to fill upward (toward the navel) and outward (away from the spine). Initially, focus only on filling the lower abdomen.
As the breath fills this area, allow it to expand outward in all directions—to the front (expanding the lower belly), to the sides (expanding the hips), and to the back (expanding the lumbar spine and the sacrum)—as it moves upward toward the navel.
Once the lower abdomen has filled completely, continue the inhalation by filling the mid-torso in a similar manner. Continue to draw the breath upwards, from the navel to the ribs, allowing the breath to gently expand the diaphragm, the ribs, and the mid-back as the breath continues to rise.
Once the mid-torso feels full, complete the inhalation by drawing the breath into the upper chest—allowing prana to rise up into the heart, the sternum, and finally into the shoulders and the base of the neck. Feel the collarbones lift slightly.
This completes the inhalation. Then, release the breath from the upper chest as the heart, lungs, sternum and shoulders all relax—dropping down and drawing in, toward the spine. Then, expel the breath from the mid-torso, feeling the ribs contract and the navel draw in, closer to the spine. And lastly, release the breath from the lower abdomen, feeling the belly contract and draw inward toward the spine.
This completes one round of Full Yogic Breath.
Benefits of Full Yogic Breath
Calms the mind and body, reducing stress and anxiety
Promotes full and complete breathing
Increases oxygen supply to the blood
Helps keep the lungs healthy
Releases muscular tension
Prepares for deeper meditation
Do not start a breathing practice if you experience asthma, shortness of breath, or have a heart condition.