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Restorative Yoga

The Power of Rest - Restorative Yoga as Treatment

There is growing evidence that Yoga is an effective rehabilitation tool. Medical institutions and leading health organisations have tested the efficacy of Yoga in clinical trials for cancer treatment and rehabilitation, heart disease, PTSD, metabolic syndrome, addiction, asthma, arthritis, epilepsy, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, multiple sclerosis and chronic pain syndromes including low back pain and repetitive strain injuries.

From a yogic view, disease is created by insufficiency or blockage in life force, which creates loss of immunity, which leads to disease. From a medical view, we understand lack of immunity is often the cause of disease, as it disables the body from fighting infection or other disease-causing bacteria and viruses.

Restorative Yoga is often used for disease treatment, as the various poses promote proper alignment that enable the body and muscles to release into a relaxed state instead of adding tension to them. As the body rests, natural, healing and relaxation responses are established. Restorative yoga may elicit healing and well being in a holistic approach to medicine and preventative healthcare.

Ahhhh, Savasana

Savasana is being without was, being without will be. It is being without anyone who is.
~ B.K.S. Iyengar

Stress Relief
There are some things in life that are universal. Some are helpful and some are not. Stress is something that we face more and more in modern day life, and most of us have experienced the weight of it on our bodies, mind and spirit.

One of the best things about yoga is the element of stress relief, and for me, one of the best asanas to practice is Savasana!

Now I know most of you are thinking – ok big deal. We all know Savasana is a good release after an active practice. What is the new news about that?

So my question to you is this – have you ever thought to do this asana on its own? Can you imagine a world where everyone took 15 mins of Savasana a day? Would the world shift? I think it might!

BKS Iyengar Advanced Restorative Sequence

Rodney Yee was my first Yoga teacher and he showed me this sequence in the late 90s when we were teaching in Toronto, Canada. BKS Iyengar gave this class in Pune, India in the mid 90s and Rodney taught it to a few  students.

This sequence is quite advanced and requires a strong practice of inversions. Please note this post is  informational, and I do not advise you try this unless you are comfortable with ALL of the poses. This sequence is for very experienced practitioners, especially with the long head stand. Please be aware of your own body and modify accordingly, especially for your neck and shoulders!

I have practiced this complete sequence only a few times over the years and it does provide a very profound residue in the mind body connection.

The practice will take 120 minutes

Moon in May is Buddha Day

The Moon in May is Buddha’s Day.

Growing up in a traditional Chinese household, we had many cultural celebrations and paid respect to ancestors by lighting lanterns and candles, offerings flowers, incense and fruit throughout the year. In the Buddhist tradition, one of the most auspicious and significant celebrations happens every May on the night of the  full moon, with people all over the world celebrating the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha. It is known as Buddha Day or Buddhas Birthday.

I’ve always thought Buddhists are quite efficient in the way we celebrate Buddha’s Birthday. We only have to remember one day a year and it encompasses the triple gem of the Buddhas journey, encompassing the birth, enlightenment-Nirvana and ascent-Parinirvana of Gautama Buddha.

Mudras for Meditation

A mudrā is a symbolic gesture in Hinduism, Taoism and Buddhism, and a spiritual and energetic seal in the spiritual practice of East Asian religions. Some mudrās involve the entire body, but most are shown with hands and fingers.

In Tibetan Tantra, the body, speech and thought of the Buddha are the Three Mysteries. The mystic power (Adhisthana) of the Buddha can be expressed through humans, with our body, speech and thought

Mudras to Manifest Energy

My last post talked about what Mudras are and what they represent. There are many mudras and variations in each country for usage and meaning. Ive put together a list of some of the most common ones found in Buddhism and Hinduism.

It is often helpful to know these variations when looking at temple art, especially Buddhist art, as the iconography and imagery can help bring the figures and stories to life.

Here’s some info on Mudras for you to get started:

  • Dhyani Mudra Gesture of Meditation
  • Vitarka Mudra Gesture of Teaching
  • Dhammacakka Mudra Turning the Wheel of Dhamma
  • Bhumisparsha Mudra Gesture of Touching Earth – Enlightenment
  • Abhaya Mudra Gesture of Fearlessness/Protection

Preventative Yoga

Yoga and Breast Cancer

According to BreastCancer.org, “About 1 in 8 women in the United States (12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.”

Breast cancer is particularly close to my own heart, so to speak, as everyone in my maternal lineage had a battle of one kind or another with breast cancer, and I myself am on a list of very highly susceptible. Given that my family were all born and raised in China, with a traditional Chinese diet, this is a highly unusual statistic. The rate of breast cancer in traditional China was low to non- existent in my great grandmother’s day, and for her to have had an issue was considered very rare. In China even today, breast cancer incidence is 6.43 per 100,000 people annually , ranking 183 in the world (April 2011), compared to the US where breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, and breast cancer incidence of 300.2 per 100,000 people annually, ranks it at number 7 in the world.

Breast Cancer Today
Over the years, I have had friends and family diagnosed, fight, survive and lose the battle with breast cancer, and it has coloured my life, yoga teaching and my own view of health and well being. With a personal cloud of breast cancer on the horizon, (as I enter my “Crone” years after menopause) and watch my body change and shift with the illumination of aging, I am increasingly interested in finding ways to work with yoga and aging.

What is Therapeutic Yoga?

Therapeutic Yoga focuses on working with mental and physical conditions. It utilises yogic techniques including posture, breath work, meditation and pose variations created for a unique need and/or individual. Therapeutic Yoga is particularly helpful for recovering from, or living with, injury or illness.

Modern life can over stimulate us, creating anxiety and stress, leading to stress disorders like fatigue and insomnia. Combining the healing of Therapeutic Yoga and the quiet awareness of meditation to slow down, we can find our own personal levels of good health. Therapeutic Yoga uses the principles of Yoga to relieve stress and promote recovery of injury and illness. Sessions are modified sequences specifically fit to the needs of the individual.

What might be appropriate for one individual might be injurious or ineffective for another.  What and how we practice can vary depending on day, season, emotional stability, illness, injury, or if we are stressed, lethargic, depressed or anxious.  All variables need to be considered in choosing appropriate techniques to apply them beneficially.

Heart Speak

Crossing Multi Culti Bridges

If you have spent any time with Asian people, you may notice the world of difference in the way we think, act and treat each other than in the West.

As someone who is Hong Kong born, living in America, and has spent a lifetime crossing and making bridges to understand my multi-culti-masala mix, I have often examined and compared different languages, customs and cultures, and have decided it just comes down to heart communication.

And it might be just a language thing…

ShantiDeva's Prayer

May all beings everywhere, Plagued by sufferings of body and mind, Obtain an ocean of happiness and joy By virtue of my merits.

May no living creature suffer, Commit evil or ever fall ill. May no one be afraid or belittled, With a mind weighed down by depression.

May the blind see forms, And the deaf hear sounds. May those whose bodies are worn with toil
Be restored on finding repose.

May the naked find clothing, The hungry find food.

May the thirsty find water And delicious drinks.

May the poor find wealth, Those weak with sorrow find joy. May the forlorn find hope, Constant happiness and prosperity.

May there be timely rains And bountiful harvests. May all medicines be effective And wholesome prayers bear fruit.

Gayatri Mantra

Gayatri Mantra

ॐ भूर्भुवः स्वःतत् सवितुर्वरेण्यं
भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि, धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात्

Om Bhur Bhuvah svah
Tat savitur varenyam,
Bhargo devasya dhimahi;
Dhiyo yonah prachodayat

We meditate upon the radiant Divine Light
of that adorable Sun of Spiritual Consciousness;
May it awaken our intuitional consciousness.

Donkey in the Well

Many of you may have heard this story, but I was thinking of it recently and wanted to share this time old tale as a reminder for us to “take a step up”

Once upon a time, a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well that the farmer had accidentally left uncovered. The donkey cried and cried, and the farmer tried to figure out a way to get the donkey out of the deep hole, however, the sides were too unstable to lower someone down with a rope to tie around the donkey, and as the donkey was panicky and thrashing about, he was concerned he or one of his farm hands might be injured and stuck down the hole too.

The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway, so it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey. He invited his neighbours to come and help, so they all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well.

As he felt the dirt falling on him, the donkey, being a donkey, kicked and kicked. When that didn’t seem to help, he brayed and brayed. Once the piles of dirt hit the donkey, the animal found renewed energy, and brayed even louder than he had before. The men turned their eyes from one another and pretended not to hear the donkey’s pleadings. The donkey kicked up a fuss and made a terrible commotion, but no one came to help. The donkey cried, but as he tired and began to understand the hopelessness of its situation, he began to give up, and got quiet, and then he realised something amazing was happening.

A Must Read for All

This verse was written by Mother Teresa. It is engraved on the wall of her hospital for children in Calcutta and dedicated to people throughout the world.

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, People may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight.
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

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