Thursday, June 18, 2015

Yoga Teachings from Country Living

This week I've had the great pleasure of house sitting for one of my favorite backwoods retreat centers. I have learned so many things during my stay. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Keep A Routine with Nature - In yoga we study that most sadhanas/practices are done as the sun rises in the morning. After staying in the country I found myself going to bed around 10 - 10:30 pm and waking up between 6:30 - 7 am. It is easy to follow the rhythms of nature and keep a routine when you are among the elements. I found the ritual of waking early and walking the dog to the creek once in the morning and once in the evening proved to be the most wonderful sadhana. When we walk in nature it is easier to breathe, practice mindfulness, and we are moving our body and energy. It is easy to feel connected to the birds, bunnies, plants, and all things that cycle with the moon and with the sun. I can't think of a more yogic practice than that!

2. Spider Webs are a Part of Life - I can't even count how many times I walked into a spider web this week. These invisible sticky obstacles are everywhere. They are a real part of life as are flies, stink bugs, poop, and death.

3. Know Your Wild Edibles - There has been nothing more body and soul satisfying than being able to walk down the street and feast on wild edibles. This week I got my Vit C quota filled every morning picking mulberries, black raspberries, and service berries. This morning I wrapped my black raspberries in wild mint leaves that were growing nearby. I can't begin to share how powerful it is to eat food and herbs right from the earth. You can join local Meet-Up groups in your area and learn how to wild forage for yourself. This practice is so good for the body and mind.

4. Have a Companion - Country living is lonely if you don't have a friend. I recommend having a furry 4-legged companion or a nice cute person you like (I was blessed to have my husband come join me for 2 days). The beauty of nature and life is even more beautiful when you have someone to share it with.

5. Sleeping in the Dark - I had no idea how much light pollution there is in my neighborhood in Takoma Park until I came out here. When I turn off the lights it is DARK. It took a while to get use to it but I have never slept better! I am going to buy new shades for our bedroom windows at home. Check out your sleeping environment. Make sure all LED lights are off or covered, and try to get your room as dark as possible to help your brain go into deep states of regenerative sleep.

6. Chickens are Strange Creatures - Just saying. They make really peculiar noises, they use their heads to propel their bodies, and they eat EVERYTHING.

7. Slowing Down - Sounds like an obvious one but until it happens it is hard to know what the difference feels like. Try slowing down, notice the effect on your physiology. This week I have been more relaxed than I have been in months and I think this is due to mostly to having very little influence of electromagnetic fields, traffic noises, and being able to wake and sleep with the earth's rhythms. I have been eating better, really feeling my body, and have been able to be more efficient in my work because everything I am doing is slower. Slowing down is another sadhana that we can easily incorporate simply by re-working our morning routine into one that is spacious, easy, and gives you time to really tend your needs before you move into "task" mode.

Thanks for reading and if you get a chance this summer to go camping, backpacking, or retreat off to the country, I highly recommend it!
Happy Practicing!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Savasana Anytime, Anywhere!

We all love savasana. Some say it is their favorite pose or the 'real' reason they come to a yoga class. 

But why should savasana only be limited to a 3-7 minute span, once a week, at the end of a yoga session?

In our house we have this thing called "floor time." It is exactly what it sounds like. At certain points throughout the day Adam and I will announce that it is floor time and we will lie on the floor on our backs for a good 3-5 minutes, stretch out, take some deep breaths, space out, and stare at the ceiling. Sometimes the dogs are with us enjoying their own floor time along side us and sometimes one of us is still walking around or in a chair while the other is sprawled out across the carpet or grass zoning out. I feel like it is one of the healthiest practices that we share during our busy work weeks for our minds and our bodies.

If you do a little research you will find that in most traditional societies people lay down on their backs several times a day. They take 5-10 minutes to enjoy the firm support of the earth under their backs and have a mid-afternoon siesta or an after dinner snooze while watching the sunset. This position is also the best for star gazing, cloud watching, and daydreaming. All critical to our brains biorhythms and our deeper mental health.

Research from the Mayo Clinic shows that sleeping on your back is the healthiest position for our skeleton, nervous system, and organs. Dr. Oz agrees as does Dr. Michael Breus, known as “The Sleep Doctor,” that a supine position puts the least amount of strain on the joints and is the best position for achieving deep states of sleep.

So if you get an itch to shift your position, change your perspective, relax and space out for a bit, take some "floor time" or better yet, "earth time." Savasana is no longer just something we do on a yoga mat but should be taken out into the world to be enjoyed anytime, anywhere. I believe laying down throughout the day in this way is good for the mind, body, and as the yogi's believe, the soul.