Quote of the day – Finding StillnessJune 5, 2020
Yoga to keep your Awesome during the winter months
(for Australia and the Southern hemisphere)
As the colder winter months are here in Australia and the Southern hemisphere, we naturally have a tendency to hibernate, become couch-potatoes and eat heavier foods to feel comfort. We often become in-active and moving our bodies less.
We tend to cuddle up indoors, becoming slightly more disconnected from the outside world. We move way less, we often stop body movement activities that we through other seasons enjoy to do. We may venture out as far as to walk out of our home, in to the car to land in our office, not seeing much of the light of day or feeling the winds breeze on our skin or tasting a fresh breath of air.
Without thinking about it and by natural occurrence, we tend to disconnect from nature and from Mother Earth. And we absolutely tend to disconnect from us and our own health that we gain from movement. Here are some thoughts and insights on how to keep your Awesome through it all.
Our bodies and Beings slightly shut down as we seek the well-deserved warmth and rest. And that is all good, it is what the winter season proscribes for us, as nature takes a rest, so should we but only if we do not get stuck in the comfort of it all a little too much.
It will only be good for us to rest and slow down if we manage to balance it out with some exercises and outdoor activity. To get our bodies to breathe and move. Allowing our Being to connect to Nature.
We need to assist our systems in providing health and happiness. We cannot fully shut down the shop and think that we can successfully open up for healthy business when spring arrives. It is a lot about putting some Yang to the Yin.
In my yoga practice I like to start winter with a thorough long Yin Yoga session that works with the meridian lines associated with the winter months – Kidney and Urinary bladder. These two meridian lines are the Yin (Kidneys) and the Yang (Urinary bladder) to each other and are both linked in the water element. They show similar symptoms when out of balance and can be stimulated in to balance by acupuncture as well as the deep movements of Yin Yoga where we reach the deeper meridian lines.
In Yin Yoga we work with myofascial meridian lines – they are deeper and broader and can be reached through stretching in to the areas where the lines are running. Yin Yoga is a different way to reach these meridian lines then the traditional way of acupuncture that works on a dermal level (more to the surface of the body as the needles goes down through the skin).
To briefly explain where these meridian lines are to be able to implement the correct moves in your yoga, the Kidney meridian line runs from the outside little toe – under sole of foot – runs up the inner leg and continues up groin and in to the kidney and the organs and up along the front body (tummy and chest) ending by the root of the tongue.
The Urinary Bladder meridian line runs from the inner eye – across the forehead and head – down neck and along your spine. It also goes in to the urinary bladder organ with a branch- but myofascially runs down back of buttocks and legs all the way down to foot where it runs outer ankle edge of foot and ends in little toe.
The Kidney and Bladder are working to eliminate any waste products in our body. By stimulating these meridians when heading in to the winter months we give our bodies the heads up and a chance to kickstart the actions and energy needed for us to cleanse our bodies and boost our health from the consumption of heavier foods, less exercise and most likely a decreased usage of our lung capacity (when we do not move as much our breath becomes shallower, less powerful and we therefore have less energy flowing through our bodies, yet more stale air being trapped).
If the Kidney and Urinary bladder meridian lines are in disharmony we may suffer from gynaecological problems, genital disorders, frequent urination. If we are often up at night peeing it may be a sign that the bladder tries to get toxins out. This disharmony may also show in a sore throat or ears and lower back problems.
Emotionally we may be fearful and easy frightened with a sense of worry of being rejected.
The kidneys are closely connected to the adrenals (physically the adrenals sits on top of the kidneys) and the adrenals secret a wide array of essential hormones that regulates areas like our metabolism and immunity support.
The urinary bladder is the master in excreting waste products. The urinary bladder meridian line is associated with the autonomic nervous system. Stress and tension play a big role when the urinary bladder chi is dysfunctional – have you ever had a ‘nervous pee’ or needing to pee when stressing too much?
When these meridian lines are in balance, you will emotionally feel fearless, stronger and more secure and have will-power to groove with. Your immune system will be boosted and your insides will be happy and cleaned from toxins. Your energy levels will be increased since the sluggishness of toxins and stagnation is decreased because your body is working in harmony and flow.
A great Yin Yoga winter practice should therefore focus on warming the body (particularly the lower back and kidney area and this can be done by raising the energies in this area through moving deep with Yin Yoga asanas as well as through tapping and rubbing. We also want to stimulate and open through the kidney and bladder meridians, and we do so with the help the Yin Yoga poses that opens the deep tissues where these meridian lines are running through the body.
Mobilising the joints through going deep in Yin can help to release trapped colds and old stagnation that may slow your immune system down or cause dis ease. The slower deeper Yin practice connects in with our winter hibernating tendencies and is a wonderful way to rejuvenate yet energise to promote optimal health for you.
Our Yin yoga practice is perfect for theses colder months, practicing in the warmth of your home or studio, cuddled up with blankets and bolsters, moving deep to keep the energy flowing within. But remember to balance the Yin with the Yang, even though it may be cold outside, dress warm and head out for a walk, do some more vigorous Hatha practices and exercise sessions and make sure to get some deep breaths of the fresh air, feel your heart beat and get that healthy glow of rosy cheeks and sparkly eyes.
Enjoy winter and keep your Awesome!
This is for the northern hemisphere participants who are entering spring. For a greater understanding may want to read up on the elements in the autumn write up just below this.
As the days become warmer and lighter Mama nature awakens from her winter rest to the new growth of spring. The Wood, the element of spring has been at rest through winter and has been storing its energy under the winter blanket, again comes alive with new inspiring life, new buds bursting through Earth’s skin.
The season of spring starts rebirth – the swelling wood of spring is the energy force, a rising of energy. Greenery and flowers start to pop up everywhere we look. The energy of wood is of youth, newness and growth. New beginnings, new inspirations, a new cycle.
The Wood energy of spring expresses life at its strongest.
If we (as we should have) have followed Mama Natures guidance and taken a winter rest, we too will move into spring enthusiastic and eager to get going, to evolve and to do so with a sense of purpose and strive and clear vision.
In spring we to plant seeds for a future harvest. This is a brilliant time a year to set intentions, start to manifest and look ahead with curiosity of where you would like to go. This is the time of year to make new plans, ponder and set our new direction, be inspired by ideas and take action on them – planting the seeds for the coming year, planning and planting your garden as you would like it.
We take advantage of these opportunities of growth, not only in nature but also within us as well as in relationships with others.
Warmer days encourages us to be outside more than in the winter. Connecting further in to health with our planet and Mama Nature. Warmth from the sun and nature as well as warmth from spending time with friends and nurturing relationships.
We start to see nature, ourselves others and relationships with that clear vision of spring and at times that may be intimidating and painful as we may see parts of us, others and relationships that we were not aware of.
The energy of spring encourage us and challenges us to evolve, grow and change and there may be feelings of discomfort within this evolving time. A little bit of growing pain. But as yogis we continuously try to see with that clear vision and from our inner essence of truth so we dare and dive in. Knowing that everything we succeeded in in life before has grown from being vulnerable. The opportunities are many, the pure potential at our fingertips. So we get on our yoga mat to clear our head and vision to step in to our truth and continue to evolve grow and learn. This is how the intimidation, pain and fear resides.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the Wood element represents the liver and the gall bladder meridian lines. These are our spring organs.
Associated with the liver energy and the wood elements is direction. Direction of where to move in life to live in balance with Mama Nature, the energy is our vision of the future.
The Gall Bladder meridian, the best buddy of the liver meridian, provides us with the ability to make decisions with ease and judge wisely.
When these guys are in balance and harmony we see new possibilities and opportunities with ease and with the wisdom of direction, wise judgements and clear decision making we move in to success.
On the other hand, if the energy of the wood element is stagnated and stuck all our planning and visions, direction and strive, decision making and judgments are stalled and frustration and anger is surfacing.
So kick off your shoes, get out in nature, soak up some sunshine. Look at the new growth surrounding you, enjoy the buds and green leaves.
Eat vegetables in season, green leaves and spring goodness. Plant some seed in your window or in the garden.
See with your clear vision, write down intensions, plans and inspirations and take actions on it, start to water the seeds you plant.
Meditate and practice asana for insights and deeper connections in to you, feeling from inside what direction to move in to, what visions to follow. Let your asana be emphasised with gluteal openers and side body elongation, elongation of inner thigh and up over front hips to aid liver and gallbladder meridians.
Use the budding energy of spring wisely, so that the seeds you plant in yourself, within your work life and in your whole life turn in to crops that you really wish to harvest. Enjoy your spring time and get creative!!
Moving in to the season of autumn
(This is for southern hemisphere peeps that are entering Autumn, I will add a spring version for the northern hemisphere people shortly)
Moving from summer vibes that are often a bit more carefree and relaxed into autumn and a more introspective feel. With this change in season I do change my practice.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) autumn is related to the Metal element and the Lung and Large Intestine meridian lines and organs.
To understand this a bit further the 5 Element theory of TMC propose that there are 5 elements in nature that cycle in phases through seasons and organs.
The elements are Earth, Water, Wood, Metal and Fire.
These 5 elements represents energies that succeed each other in a continuous cycle, well not the elements themselves but the movement between them is what is emphasised.
So to gain a bit of a deeper understanding of why working with the elements is important here is how it flows;
Wood feed fire, fire creates earth, earth bears metal, metal collects water and water nourishes wood. All is in flow. But when the cycle between the elements is destructive one element is being destroyed by another. Wood parts the earth, earth takes in water, water quenches fire, fire will melt metal and metal chops wood.
Having awareness of this cycle and understanding the relationships and flow between the elements is vital (according to TCM) for, not only maintaining, but also creating optimal balance and health in our physical body. This is also of essence for optimal mental and emotional health.
How do we support this balance and health?
Well, this is where the change in our practice each season comes in to play. To maintain an unobstructed flow of chi thought the meridian lines and our body that is deeply connected to Mama Earth we nurture, move, are aware of and mindfully practice to balance the elements and the energy lines that is in season moving with Mother Nature and our planet. We are connected.
This is why it is helpful to understand the elements and seasons. We are not separate from our planet, we are part of it. Health and life comes from her. And maybe by realising this we may start to be a bit kinder to her.
So in autumn we work with Lung and Large Intestine meridian lines and the element of Metal. Y are strongly influenced by all elements, but Metal is the stronger energy in autumn. Metal governs confidence, intuition, boundaries, routines and structure and our ability to let go.
So when the Metal element is in flow and balance we are organised and disciplined, it’s easy to trust our intuition and there is a sense of having great inner strength.
When out of balance we may have trouble letting go, we hold on to the past, and may be grief stricken. We are prone to lung dis- ease such as asthma, coughs and bronchitis as well as skin problems.
So here is the thing (and practice)…in autumn we learn a lot about ourselves. It is a time when we turn inward after summer and a more outward directed energy. It is a time when harvest time is finished as nature start to slow down and make everything bare.
Nature let go of its abundance and creation of the past year in a wonderful display of colours and change. Leaves turn colour and drop from the trees giving the leaves back to Mother Earth, nourishing her to promote next year’s new leaves and harvest.
Nature tells us clearly how to move and flow in autumn. Remember, we are not separate from nature or our planet, we are part of her. If we follow, feel, listen to and see the cycle of nature we start to understand that our own cycle is very similar.
Trees in autumn do not stubbornly hold on to their leaves to keep them for next year, in case they may need them. Trees let go of their leaves and allow earth to nourish from them so the beauty and health can arrive again when time is right. But us humans often hold on tight to what we have, the past, negativities and waste products. Thoughts, ideas, emotions, pain, heartache or physical hold on’s.
The energy of this season supports our letting go of stagnation, hold on’s, waste and negativities. Physically, emotionally, mentally and energetically. Letting go of the old and stale in our lives, leaving us open to the pure and new, giving us a vision of who we are in our essence. Autumn, in a way, returns us to our essence. It invites us, if we let it, to eliminate what we no longer need and reminds us of what is most precious in our lives. The essence. The connection.
Grief is the emotion of the Metal element. We all experience at times loss, separation, and “letting go,” and we appropriately feel grief as those experiences flows through.
Grief, as challenging of an emotion it is, is a great cleanser. When we go through grief, we realise, remember and can gradually start to embrace what is truly important. The essence. The connection. Always there. Grief cleanses us of what is no longer needed in our lives. When the Metal element and its energy is imbalanced and blocked within us it has an effect on our expression of grief. An imbalanced Metal energy pushes an imbalanced expression of grief. If energy imbalanced grief may be inappropriate, excessive and ongoing.
Or, in the other extreme, it may be absent, as in those who cannot express their grief. A shut down.
When these organs and their energy systems are functioning well we have an ability to let go and move forward; when they’re not there’s a sense of grief or depression.
As always I use yoga as a whole practice (meditation, pranayama, yin, yang, hatha…..) to move with the season of autumn. Focusing on Lung and Large Intestine meridian lines as well as releasing and letting go on all levels. Since the lungs are deeply involved in the element of Metal, a focus on breath-work as well as a more dynamic cardio, lung invigorating practice would also be good. But maybe the ‘big’ one is this, autumn is the time of year to go within, feel and explore and LET GO.
Wherever there is flow (of water, blood, energy) in our body there is less opportunity for inflammation.
Where we may have inflammation it’s easier for pathogens, bacteria, viruses to grab a hold and stay. Much like our rivers on mama Earth.
A river may be polluted upstream but since in flow and movement the water is cleansed as it moves over rocks and moss downstream. No pollution can hold on when water is in flow. The water in our body and the flow of our Being will do the same. So how do we allow and create more flow and balance?
1. Exercise in a yang way (heart rate, strength and cardio – free movement!) 2. Exercise your fascia in a yin way (Yin yoga – deep elongation and massaging for joints and bones- opening into where inflammation often resides to wash it away)
3. Ground and nurture from skin to skin contact with Nature (Soak up D vitamin. Walk barefoot. Or use a grounding mat)
4. Eat greens and food in season and antiviral / anti-inflammatory foods (really just fresh greens and veg, c vitamin rich foods, good salt for essential minerals, turmeric, bitter greens, medicinal mushrooms…)
5. Laugh a lot (lighten up, don’t be so serious, be more playful, enjoy being foolish and silly – us grown-ups are often too serious. I dare you to perform a silly dance!)
6. Take a pause. Enjoy relaxation and the feeling of calm. This may be hard in turmoil but really, there is a calm behind all this when you allow flow rather then get stuck in dramas being fed to you. Maybe switch off the tv, make sure social media doesn’t consume you, don’t buy in to the dramas of life but keep it real and in the moment.
How? Meditate and breathe. Pause and breathe. Yoga Nidra. Meditations. Sit with a cuppa and relax in the sun, oh and did I mention be in nature. Nature connection is often the answer.
7. Love a lot. To close ones and people far away, to strangers and people in pain and struggle send love, share love, lead with your heart, be love. How can you be more loving?
As we are conscious in our present moments – things tend to fall in to place.
Our yin Yoga practice allows us to be present in the moment. It also allows us to have a thorough think. To feel our purpose and passion. When I practice, most days, I set an intention to get in to the groove of the Universe and to allow it to make the magic of life come my way.
We are so fast moving and we often forget to feel what is happening in this exact moment – we fly high through life and moments, being in our head, without noticing what’s really happening and the feelings and emotions behind it.
It is not hard, but it will require some effort from you. The effort to stop. If we can start to slow down and take a breath, we will explore and experience the moment we are in very differently. In Yin yoga this almost comes automatically – you sit still, with you and breathe.
If we, once in a while through our day, our in our Yin practice, stop and feel the gap between the inhale and the exhale – where silence resides – we will start to connect further to nature and life.
And as we start to feel and be conscious in the present moment, rather than flying high away or above our bodies, away somewhere with our mind, making up stories of the past or the future, in the land of hectic, busy, crazy, we can actually allow our world and Universe to take a shape to suit us just right.
Starting to just take a breath and feel it, feel the gap between the inhale and the exhale, feel the exhale. Not so hard after all.
Intentions are a way to feed the flow of the Universe or ‘Whatever Is Beyond’, ‘The Bigger Picture’ if you will, with conscious awareness of how we would like (or how we are meant) to move and groove, share and educate, learn, live and laugh, love and enjoy our days and lives.
Intentions are your conscious awareness boosting the creations of living your purpose and passion. Similar to goals, yet different, intentions will get you somewhere, only intentions are not so set in stone as goals are, they are more flowy and moving. Moving with the changes that happens within you in each moment.
So do you want to get a rocking Universe happening in each moment of your life?
Here are some goodness to start setting your intentions
Make it possible and realistic! Feel that you set your intention in the in the realm of your possibility.
Make it clear and be specific! Bring in “feeling words”, for example; I want a job that makes me feel connected – remembering that whatever you feel is sent out to the Universe and the Universe will match that feeling – so feel the good stuff!
Your intention has to feel good when you say it! Feel great about what you want and make sure the sentence sits well with you, your beliefs and values.
Talk about what you WANT – not what you don’t want! Take away words such as don’t and use action words instead, such as; will, do, achieve, make…
Intentions are about bringing consciousness to creation
Start big, brainstorm, think huge and write random big stuff down, letting the words flow – less analysing more freedom and flow peepz!
Make it positive – state it, put it into positivity. For example; do not use non-judgmental, use accepting!
De-program before Re-program, make sure to take away and erase the negative feelings before putting in positive ones. So if you feel negatively about something, have a look and feel into it – what is the icky stuff and see if you can dissolve it, change it, move it – then getting to work with the good stuff will be in flow
Align with what you actually want NOW – feel your vibration – that vibration is now.
Bring the feeling into the now – for example; I now weigh 65kg – not; I want to weigh 65 kilos – you are already there!!
Talk and think about your intentions, share them with friends, repeat them again and again – condition yourself! You know, Post-it-notes, lipstick on the mirror writings – that kind of stuff!
Add breath and intention to your life. Your Yin yoga practice is a perfect place to start to set intentions. I am sure that soon enough, these moments will be explored off the mat in your everyday life too. Feel the gaps of silent between your inhale and your exhale, be in each present moment and feel what is to be explored, set your intentions clearly and shout it all out loud – let the creation come to you and ride that milky way of the Universe.
You got it all within!
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