Thursday, September 29, 2016

Clever Ways To Teach Mindfulness To Children

A student asked me recently how to teach mindfulness to her daughter...  I found this nice infographics and read this sentence "it starts with us", meaning that we, as parents, shall adopt it first!

"By now you'll have heard about the many benefits of practicing mindfulness.
Defined as a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique -- mindfulness can reduce stress and anxiety and even minimise inflammation and prevent disease.
So when should a person start practising mindfulness -- what is the right age to get started?
The answer is it's never too young to get started! Mindfulness in kids can boost mood and self-esteem, encourage positive behavior, aid academic learning, reduce anxiety and help with conflict resolution.
While it's not very realistic to expect a child to sit still for a 30-minute mediation session, there are nifty ways to include mindfulness seamlessly into children's routines."


Infographic on Meditation

Infographics make everything so easy to understand.. Including Meditation!


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

4 tips to keep your balance

I love balancing poses.. It calms the mind and get the body stronger and overall, make you more confident. But how to get better at it?

'Being able to stand firmly on one foot is important. For one thing, being good at balancing translates into a lot of grace in movement and stability on and off the yoga mat.

But it’s also important that we maintain confidence in balance as we age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over a third of all senior adults fall every year. Regardless of your age, good balance for life starts now.

In addition to helping us achieve long-term health and stability, balancing poses are important because they offer challenge in a space of stillness. When we balance, we must be still and steady, letting the rhythm of the breath be the focus. Balancing creates a necessary meditative headspace, and it gives us a chance to practice staying in discomfort for just a little bit longer than we really want to—a helpful lesson that we take with us off the mat.

In yoga, there are plenty of balance poses to explore. Tree Pose is most offered in a beginning yoga class, but it can be deceptively challenging. As balance becomes easier, practitioners might advance to Eagle Pose, Warrior III, Dancer Pose, and Half Moon Pose. A strong balance practice is a necessary requirement for inversions and arm balances, too.
So if balance is so important—for health, for focus, and for advancing your practice—how do you get better at it? 

1. Practice (Beyond Your Mat)
This is the obvious answer, right? Yes, to get better at balance you must practice balancing. But you don’t have to limit your practice to a yoga mat. Try this: Every morning as you brush your teeth, do a mini-Tree Pose, with your lifted foot resting on your standing-leg calf. Try to maintain the pose for your bottom teeth, and then switch to your other foot for your top teeth.
Practice wherever you are: at work, in dress shoes, in sneakers, or watching TV. To build better balance, you need to train your muscles to bear your weight on one leg at a time. The focus can come along as you get stronger and work on your yoga mat. 
Practice doesn’t have to be perfect: Balancing while using a wall or a chair helps also build leg strength and proprioception. And as you practice, it’s OK to step in and out of a pose.

2. Build Hip Strength
Fluid and graceful movements rely on stability in the pelvis and hips. Staying still relies on this same stability, so having good hip strength is an important key to finding your equilibrium while balancing. When you move—whether it’s big movements, like running, or small, micro-movements, like balancing—you’re relying on your adductors (inner hip muscles) and abductors (outer hip muscles) to keep your movements precise and within the necessary range of motion for the activity at hand. The adductors draw the leg towards the midline of the body. The abductors are involved in moving your legs out to the side. Both work together to stabilize the pelvis, and it’s important that both groups of muscles are strong.
To build adductor strength, Bridge Pose and Chair Pose work great, especially if you focus on engaging your thighs toward each other. To build abductor strength, stand in Mountain Pose, facing a wall. Use the wall as support for balance. Shift your weight to your right foot and inhale to lift your left leg out to the side, as high as feels comfortable. Repeat, sweeping your left leg out 10–15 times, and then switch legs. (This works the abductors in both the standing leg and the moving leg!)

3. Utilize the Keys: Breath, Core, and Single-Point of Focus
Yoga teachers often repeat these three keys, and for good reason: They work. As you practice balancing, be sure to connect to your breath, inhaling and exhaling deeply and slowly. Find some engagement of your core—hug into the midline of your body and lift your pelvic floor. Finally, find a single-point of focus—maybe a little spot on the floor or wall—and train your gaze to that one point.

4. Make It Harder to Make It Easier
Want an effortless Tree Pose? When you practice it, lift your arms into the air and gently wave them around, like they’re branches blowing in a breeze. Adding movement creates instability, and your muscles have to make micro-movements to adjust to the changes. This will be more challenging than a traditional, stable Tree, so it’s OK if you fall out of the pose.
When you’re ready for more spiciness, try moving between two poses—going directly from Tree to Warrior III and then back, perhaps. Transitioning in and out of balance poses builds strength in your glutes and hips, and helps you prepare for a fun flow yoga class, where you may move quickly.

Explore playing with your gaze as well. Instead of looking at the ground or straight ahead to a wall, lift your chin and look skyward. And when that starts feeling easy, try balancing with your eyes closed! All of these ways to make balancing more challenging will help strengthen your hips and your sense of your body in space. The result is better stability.'


Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Benefits of Triangle Pose

During my Yoga Teacher Training, the Triangle pose was mentionned as the best pose to work on legs, hips, back, shoulders at the same time... Why is this so good then?

'Triangle Pose or Trikonasana strengthens our physical and emotional bodies. It allows us to bring expansion to the muscles that need it most, and by extension, creates space in these places for emotional release and healing.

Before we get to the benefits of Trikonasana or Triangle pose. Here’s a quick 101 on getting into the pose:
          From Warrior II, straighten the front leg (we’ll say the right in this case).
          Shift the torso to the right reaching the right hand as far away from you as possible.
          Hinging from the hips, tip the torso over the right leg, placing the right hand on the floor inside the right foot if possible. Alternatively, place the hand on the shin or ankle.
Tip: Because this pose can be challenging at first, I recommend using a block for the supporting hand to ensure that you reap all of the holistic benefits. You can place the block inside or outside the right foot.

The idea is for the back to be completely straight, and the whole upper body in one plane. I’ve heard teachers describe the body as a piece of toast sliding into a toaster. A wonderful way to ensure this alignment is to practice against a wall.

Reversing the Damage of the Workday
Most of us will deal with back pain at some point in our lives. Causes of back pain are varied from chronic nerve pain, to menstrual cramps, to stiffness from sitting all day.
While those with more medically rooted problems will need specialized care, many of us can find great relief from our back pain with a yoga practice. The pain we feel in our lower backs is often triggered by stress and an abundance of cortisol being continually released as we navigate our overstimulated lives.
Yoga is an incredible way to relieve this stress. Triangle pose is an ideal way to pinpoint the stress we carry in our lower backs. The pose requires us to maintain proper alignment in the back, which helps to correct any curving or hunching we do during the work day.
It also opens the shoulder and extends the neck — two places where tension lives. Moreover, Triangle requires focused concentration and attention to the breath to keep the ego from making us feel inadequate or unsteady. This breath, and total presence in the moment is the single most powerful tool in relieving stress.

Releasing Emotions
Many of us live in a state of high alert, with little time for relaxation or release. This state is akin to the “fight or flight response” where adrenaline pumps though our body.
Because there are so many stress triggers, many of us exist in this high frequency state more often than not. This response is localized in the hip region of the body and as time goes on, all of the stress, frustration, anxiety, and unprocessed emotions build up in the hips.
If you’ve ever experienced a strong emotional response after a hip-opening yoga sequence, this is why. Most of us don’t take time to check in with our emotional body on a daily basis, and even fewer of us take the time to work through those emotions.
We’re not doing ourselves any favors by letting these feelings build up. Healthy release and understanding of our emotions is key to living a balanced life, and practicing Triangle pose is a tremendously powerful way to open the hips physically and energetically.
Triangle pose provides an ideal combination of opening, elongating, stretching, and challenging the body. By doing so, it targets the areas that take the brunt of daily stress and allows them to find solace and release.' 

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Meditation Made Simple Certification

Just finished the first workshop of#meditation #madesimple with Vikas, at#soulcentre. Good to cover some basic meditation techniques: #laugh meditation,#connect with your senses, count your #blessings ect...

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What the students would like to tell their teachers!

Good tips for yoga teachers!

1. DO give more adjustments very, very wisely.
Everyone wants to be doing their asanas correctly. Adjustments help the student feel like they’re improving their practice with the guidance and knowledge of the teacher. When a teacher comes over to make a personal and wise adjustment or to instruct an individual within a group setting, they’re making a one-on-one connection — a way of noticing and appreciating the people in the room. But don’t assume you always have to touch your students. “A lot of teachers feel they must do hand-bone adjustments to connect with students and it’s not really true,” says Crow. “For every student who likes it, another hates it. People just want to be seen and know you have their best interests in mind. They want you to help them, call out their name, and look them in the eye.”

2. DON’T call out beginners.
A beginner yogi can feel insecure in a room full of intermediate or advanced students, so think twice before calling attention to your new student for not doing a pose correctly. “There are many skillful and educational ways to support a beginner while continuing to teach to the rest of the class,” says Brown. “Demonstrating the pose while giving clear verbal cues on the basic principles of the pose and the common misalignments will support the beginner and be informative for the rest of the class, no matter what the level of practitioner.”

3. DO give meaning to the pose.
Explaining the benefits of a pose will help students understand the importance of correct alignment and give the feeling that what they’re doing is more than just an exercise or a stretch. “It is also valuable to educate students on the mythology behind the poses,” says Brown. “Explaining that Hanuman represents fierce loyalty, courage, and devotion may encourage students to feel more connected to the emotional components of yoga and get more meaning out of Monkey Pose.”

4. DON’T speak only in Sanskrit.
Sanskrit is yoga’s native language, but some Western students are more comfortable with the English translations of pose names. If a teacher only uses Sanskrit, some students may feel confused, which can cause a mental break in flow. “If people don’t understand what you mean, it’s like you’re speaking a foreign language,” says Crow. “I say, explain how to do a pose. The pose name is inconsequential.”

5. DO change it up.

Students can feel frustrated with a teacher if the same sequences are used repeatedly. Although Warrior II to Half Moon might be your favorite transition, refrain from teaching it every week. Look for creative sequences and inspiration to throw off your regulars. “Students are showing up to learn, so teach them something,” says Brown. “As a teacher, it is important to stay informed and inspired so that we can pass on our wisdom that we have gleaned from other teachers, yogic texts, and our own practice.”

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Poses against headache

So many students, including kids, complain about headaches. Despite checking with your doctor, drinking more, chewing longer, below are some yoga poses that you can try.. even before the headache appears!

"When it comes to preventing or curing a headache, there is no substitute for a thorough, daily yoga program. The following sequence offers poses that are helpful for opening the chest and stretching and relaxing the upper back and neck. Include them in your regular practice if you are prone to headaches and see if they help bring some relief and new awareness. Breathe deeply and slowly during all the postures and remember to relax the forehead, eyes, jaw, and tongue. The first part of the program is prevention, practiced when you do not have a headache. The second part, beginning with Supta Baddha Konasana, may be helpful in relieving a headache when it first begins. You will have better results if you start stretching and releasing at the first sign of a headache, before the muscles go into spasm.

1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose): Discovering Alignment and Finding the Center
Standing upright with awareness is one basic way to discover your own unique posture. It is difficult to correct something until you have found out what is really there. Use the wall to identify your alignment, and then practice standing in the center of the room.

Stand with your back to the wall, with your feet together. If that is uncomfortable, separate the feet three or four inches. Plant the feet firmly, feeling the ground with the soles of the feet. Check the distribution of weight between the right foot and the left. Move front, back, and side-to-side on your feet to find the most balanced stance. Make sure that the arch of each foot is lifted, the toes spread apart. The placement of your feet becomes the foundation of your awareness of your whole body. Give yourself enough time to explore and discover how you are actually standing.

When you are ready to move on, firm and straighten the legs. Bring the tailbone and pubic bone towards each other, but do not suck in the abdominals: Lift them. There should be space between the wall and your lower back; do not flatten the lumbar curve. With your “mind’s eye,” go into the area below the navel, inside the belly, in front of the sacrum. Locate this “center” point. Extend the side torso up, lift the sternum without sticking out the ribs, and drop the shoulders. Take the tips of the shoulder blades and move them into the torso, opening the chest. Let the back of the head reach up. If the chin is raised, let it drop slightly, without tightening your throat; focus your eyes on the horizon. Make sure that the shoulders and back of the head both touch the wall. Relax any tension in the face and neck. Remember that your “center” resides in the area below the navel and in the belly, not in the neck and head. This exercise may feel very constricted if your head is normally forward of your shoulders. Use the wall to inform you, so that you know the relationship of your head to your shoulders, but try not to create more stress as you adjust your alignment.

On an exhalation, raise the arms up to the ceiling, bringing the elbows back by the ears. Let the arms grow from the shoulder blades. Stretch the little finger side of the hand and connect that stretch all the way down to the little toe and into the ground. Remember to keep the feet grounded, the legs strong, and the center of your pose in the area below the navel. Observe whether the movement of the arms has caused tension in the neck area. As you stretch up with the hands, bring the tips of the shoulder blades more deeply into the torso. Hold for a few breaths and then release on an exhalation.

2. Parsvottanasana Arms: Opening the Chest

Move a little away from the wall and roll the shoulders back. Clasp your elbows with your hands behind your back. If you have more flexibility you may join your palms behind your back, with the fingers pointing upward. On the exhalation, roll the upper arms back toward the wall, opening the chest between the sternum and shoulder. As you open, keep the ribs relaxed; make sure they don’t jut forward. Remember to stay grounded in your feet and center the movement below the navel. Relax the eyes, jaw, and tongue. Release on the exhalation. Change the arm on top, if you are clasping your elbows, and repeat.

3. Garudasana Arms: Opening Between the Shoulder Blades
This pose is helpful for relieving pain between the shoulder blades. It reminds us to keep that area open in the process of stretching the upper back. Wrap your arms around your torso, right arm under the left arm, hugging yourself. Exhale and bring the hands up, the left elbow resting in the right elbow, with the hands rotated palms towards each other. Breathe and feel the stretch; after a few breaths, raise the elbows up higher, to the level of the shoulder. Remain grounded in the feet, centered in the area below the navel. Relax the eyes, jaw, and tongue. Feel the expansion of the inhalation between the shoulder blades and the release on the exhalation. Lower the arms on the exhalation and repeat with the left arm under the right.

4. Gomukhasana Arms: Stretching the Shoulders
This pose opens and facilitates movement in the shoulders, which helps correct the rounded upper back and forward head position. Plant your feet firmly in a parallel position and extend the sides of the torso up, pressing down through the sitting bones. The shoulders drop down, and the head rests on the body’s midline. Lift the right arm into the air (with a belt in your hand if you have tight shoulders), stretching from the little finger side. Bend the right elbow and reach down between the shoulder blades. Bring your left arm behind your back and swing the left hand up to meet the right, clasping the hands or taking hold of a belt. Relax the ribs. Lift the right elbow into the air and drop the left elbow down. Make sure that the spine stays extended and is not leaning left or right to compensate for tightness in the shoulders. Release on an exhalation and reverse the arm positions.

5. Simple Seated Twist: Relieving Strain in the Back, Rotating and Stretching the Neck
Sit on the chair, feet firmly on the ground, sitting bones pressing down, sides of the torso extended. On the exhalation, reach around and take your right arm to the back of the chair and your left hand to your right knee. Extend the back of your head up and make sure the head is on the midline. Turn on the exhalation, breathing low into the belly, then into the chest. Lastly, turn the head and eyes. Remember to keep the shoulders down, the chest open, and the shoulder blade tips in. Center the movement below the navel and in the belly; relax the eyes, jaw, and tongue.

6. Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose): Actively Opening the Chest

Lie down on your back with your knees bent and feet hip-width apart. Roll the shoulders under and reach the hands towards the feet, keeping the little finger side of the hands on the floor. On the exhalation, raise the buttocks, lifting the sternum towards the chin. Elongate the back of the neck without pushing it into the floor; you want the neck to stretch, not flatten. Interlocking the fingers on the ground under the back helps to roll the shoulder blades under and is an interesting variation. Relax the facial muscles and jaw, breathe deeply, and come down on an exhalation. This pose is not appropriate during the second half of pregnancy, or if you have been diagnosed with spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis.

7. Supta Baddha Konasana: Passively Opening the Chest, Releasing Tension From the Neck
This pose can be done when you first feel signs of a headache. It opens the chest, and with the head resting, encourages the neck to relax. It is best done with the eyes closed and covered with an eye bag, a wrap, or a blanket. Lie back on a bolster or a narrow stack of three blankets, with your head supported on an additional blanket. The lower edge of the blankets should come directly into contact with the buttocks to support the lower back. The chin should drop down so that there is an elongation of the neck muscles, particularly the ones at the base of the skull.

Bring the soles of the feet together and spread the knees apart, supported by an additional blanket roll, or if this is uncomfortable, straighten the legs and support the knees with a blanket roll. Experiment with the height of the support to find the most comfortable position for your body. Breathe deeply and slowly, relaxing the forehead, eyes, jaw, and tongue. To come out of the pose, put the soles of the feet on the ground with the knees bent and roll to the side. Do not do this pose if you have been diagnosed with spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis.
8. Supported Child’s Pose: Resting the Upper Back and Releasing the Neck
Sit on a folded blanket with your knees bent and your feet under your buttocks. Separate your knees more than hip-width apart and bring your feet together. Bring your torso forward, resting it on a stair-stepped arrangement of blankets or a bolster, adjusted to a comfortable height. Pull the support into your belly. Drop your chin towards your chest as you rest your head. You may want an additional blanket to support your forehead, but continue to lengthen the neck. Dropping the chin to the chest provides a gentle stretch to the back of the neck, right below the skull. The arms should rest on the floor, palms down, elbows bent, hands near the head.

9. Supported Forward Bend: Releasing and Relaxing the Neck
Sit on the floor in front of a chair with your legs crossed, with enough blankets on the seat so your forehead can rest on the blankets without strain, or if this is difficult, sit with the legs straight under the chair. Rest your head on the chair seat or blankets with your arms under your forehead. If your legs are straight, pull the chair over your legs towards your belly. Drop the chin towards the chest to gently stretch the neck muscles. Let the weight of the head fall down onto the chair seat. Breathe deeply and slowly.

10. Supported Ardha Uttanasana (Half Forward Bend): Stretching the Lower Back, Relaxing the Upper Back and Neck
Stand in front of a table stacked with blankets high enough so that when you bend over and rest your torso on them, you are forming a right angle. Extend the spine and rest the arms straight forward or crossed, whichever is more comfortable. Drop the chin towards the chest and let the neck gently stretch. Breathe deeply and slowly.

At this point, if the headache has improved, do the next two poses. If the pain has continued, go to Viparita Karani, or rest flat on the ground in Savasana with the eyes covered and a blanket under the head.
11. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog): Deeply Stretching the Back, Shoulders, and Legs
This position should be done with the head resting on a support and the chin moving towards the chest to elongate the neck. If possible, use the resistance of a belt secured to door handles, or a partner and a belt at the top of the thighs to bring the spine into more release. Begin on hands and knees; as you exhale, turn the toes under and lift the sit bones, straightening the legs and arms. Press your hands into the ground as the base of the spine moves diagonally up. The weight of the head will create a stretch in the neck. Watch that the ribs do not sink down; lift them to create a space between the shoulder blades and to avoid jamming the spine. Come down on an exhalation.

12. Viparita Karani: Inverting the Blood Flow and Calming the Mind
Since this pose increases blood flow to the head, it is excellent in the beginning stage of a headache. But if you are having migraine symptoms, indicating that the blood vessels are dilated, and if the pain increases, skip this pose and rest in savasana. Do not do this pose if you have hiatal hernia, eye pressure, retinal problems, heart problems, or disc problems in the neck, or during menstruation or pregnancy.

Lying on the floor with a blanket or bolster under your lower back, place your legs up against the wall. Remember to drop the chin down, creating length in the neck. Cover your eyes with an eye bag or wrap. Some people find headache relief in this pose when they place a weight, such as a sand bag, on the head, with one end on the forehead and the other draped over the top of the head onto the floor. This additional pressure helps to drop the head further into the ground, releasing the strain in the neck muscles.
13. Savasana (Corpse Pose): Relaxing Completely
Lie on your back on the floor with your eyes covered and a blanket under your neck and head. You may put an additional blanket under your knees. If you are pregnant, lie on the left side, extending the bottom leg and bending the top one, with a blanket under the top knee. Relax completely, breathe deeply, and let go."