Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Flexible Youth

Sometimes I imagine my students, these kids, growing up, flexible in their mind and body!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

5 Ways to Make Every Yoga Class More Restorative and Therapeutic

A beautiful link between Yoga and Mindfulness!

"Daniel Sernicola shares five practices to help your students get grounded and cultivate mindfulness.
One of yoga’s primary aims is to bring us squarely into the present moment, which is especially important and especially difficult for trauma survivors. Present-moment experiences offer trauma survivors a chance to live “without feeling or behaving according to irrelevant demands belonging to the past,” according to Bessel van der Kolk, M.D., author of The Body Keeps the Score. But it’s also more challenging for traumatized people than non-traumatized people to be present, says David Emerson, author of Overcoming Trauma Through Yoga. The good news? We can all get better at it with practice. Here, a few key strategies for helping trauma survivors—and everyone else—in your yoga classes get grounded and present.

1. Anchor the mind.
“All practices that strengthen concentration or mindfulness use an anchor,” Willard says. He recommends inviting students to rest their attention on something—the body, the breath, movement, the senses, an image, numbers, a word or phrase—to anchor them to the present moment.

2. Cultivate mindfulness from the ground up.
“Start with simple things that can help students feel grounded and centered,” says yoga teacher Marcia Miller. She likes to start class by rolling the feet over massage balls to create heightened sensations in the feet that make it easier to feel grounded. “Then, I might ask questions like these throughout the class, ‘Can you feel how your feet are touching the floor? Can you feel the weight of your hips on the chair? Can you feel the texture of the fabric on your arms? What are the sensations you are feeling right now because of the pose we just did? Where exactly are they? Do you enjoy these sensations?’”

3. Be sure to include breath practice.
We are seldom taught how to breathe and yet, a number of studies “cite evidence that yogic breathwork may be efficacious for the treatment of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder and for victims of mass disasters,” says Amy Weintraub, author of Yoga Skills for Therapists: Effective Practices for Mood Management. She suggests using three-part breath and breath retention among other techniques, adding that “control of the breath not only enables language but gives us a measure of control over our mood.” Ancient yogis knew that breath regulation could help manage and regulate feelings and moods. Studies have shown that breathwork may be helpful in the treatment of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, and for victims of mass disasters. “Finding and experimenting with new ways of breathing may be a way for folks to feel better in their bodies,” Emerson says. Breath practice is an effective tool all students can take home and use to help with anxiety outside of class. Try the 7-11 Breath, as taught by Christopher Willard, PSYD. He suggests breathing in for a count of 7 and breathing out for a count of 11, suggesting that this practice can reset the breath to “regulate, shift, and stabilize energy and mood.”

4. Give a nurturing Savasana.
For some, Savasana is the most welcomed pose of a yoga class. For others, it can be a difficult and uncomfortable experience. Offer choices for resting by providing suggestions on how to set up for Savasana or encouraging students to do what feels comfortable for them: sit up, lie down, use a bolster under their legs, a folded blanket under their head, a folded blanket over their belly, or a blanket to cover up with. Encourage students to close their eyes or soften their gaze, knowing some may only feel comfortable keeping their eyes wide open. Remind students that Savasana will only last a few minutes and that they can come out whenever they like.

5. Take it to the next level with Yoga Nidra.
Yoga Nidra is “a sequence of meditation practices that help you feel connected to yourself, with others, and to the world around you,” according to Richard Miller, PhD. Miller has adapted this practice, calling it Integrated Restoration, or iRest. He describes it as a guided progressive scan of the body incorporating the tools of intention, body-sensing, breath-sensing, awareness, and more. Miller has had great success treating populations suffering from trauma and PTSD with his research-based method. He says these self-care tools help students “experience self-mastery, resilience, and well-being.” Don’t be surprised if your students fall asleep, as their mind is able to release and relax in this deeply grounding practice. "

By: Daniel Sernicola


The 5 Biggest Reasons for a Daily Meditation

A short article, highlighting again main benefits of meditation.

"I am a busy single mom. For the past year I have been waking up before my son (and often before the sun), dragging myself out of bed and finding my way to my cushion in front of my alter. I light a candle and meditate for 30-45 minutes. It has made a tremendous difference in my life and in my entire being. If I can do it, anyone can.

We all know that countless studies have proven the benefits of meditation but here are some tangible and embodied reasons that I have found through my own practice:  

1. Deeper connection to your body
This includes better digestion, improved posture, and palpable awareness of heightened sensations through rooting down into your sits bones and rising up on the cushion. Couple this with intentional breath and there is the opportunity to feel a profound sense of embodiment.

2. Improved coping skills for living
One gains greater opportunity to respond to what life throws at you from an embodied and integrated place. With a regular practice you cultivate the ability to come back to your breath and respond from that place of ground and empowerment when life throws less-than-desirable situations at you. My experience is that it simply becomes more natural to do so, with less effort.  You are essentially re-patterning your entire way of being.

3. Feel more confident and empowered
 Stepping out of the space of allowing the mind to dictate your life is very empowering. You start to see all of the many, many choices available to you and are able to discern what is truth and ignore the deception of the mind; or at least shift how you respond to what it is telling you.

4. It becomes a sanctuary from the chaos of life
When I first began it did feel like yet another obligation that I had to endure, but now, I look forward to it and crave it.  The outer quiet and stillness allows me to drop into myself in a unique way.  There is something very important about doing so first thing in the morning rather than in the evening.  The sanctity of the time when the sun is just rising, our minds and bodies are empty after a nights rest is conducive for a profound time of connection to self. What my ego named as a chore all those months ago, has become my temple and the stillness and quiet that I crave before jumping into the chaos of motherhood and the varying tasks ahead.

5. Calms the entire system
The technique that I use is that of focusing on a single point. I use a candle and a simple mantra. I fluctuate between several including: So Hum (I Am), Sat Nam (I Am Truth), I Am Worthy, I Am Love, I Am (you fill in the blank as to what serves you).  The single pointedness gives my busy eyes something to focus on and the repetition of the mantra gives my overly active mind something to grasp onto. It is a win-win."


Sunday, December 11, 2016

So Yoga at Standard Chartered Marathon

Kids Yoga Demo at Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore Expo... Feels good to be involved with this event still, but from the other side!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Yoga by the Beach

Honoured and Happy to teach yoga to friendly students in these beautiful surroundings.. and even more in December, 28 degrees, bright sun and blue sky!
Breathe & Smile
#tgif #enjoytheweekend #yogaeverywhere #yogabythebeach #eastcoast#yogasg