What is in your sleep toolbox?

I love sleep, plain and simple.  I must have inherited this from my father who can sleep at the drop of a hat.  Imagine my excitement when I was introduced to a yoga practice called Restorative Yoga and found myself surrounded by blankets, bolsters, neck pillows and the like. I was smitten to say the least… seems like the perfect time to take a nap!

 

Well lo and behold, Restorative Yoga is not time for a nap BUT it can help you get a good night’s sleep.  This practice of balance and healing assists us to create space in our muscular-skeletal body, our emotions and our mind.  Just as importantly, it gives us time for ourselves to reset, renew and reenergize.

 

One way you can get a better night’s sleep is to spend time in a pose with your legs above your heart. You can easily access this position with your legs up the wall, chair, couch, coffee table, etc.  The key is to keep your feet up higher than your heart.  If you want to go all Sanskrit, the beautiful name of this pose is ViparitaKarani.

This highly accessible pose only requires a supportive place for your legs to rest and maybe a firm blanket for cushioning the lumbar spine.  Of course, additional props like a neck pillow, a blanket to cover oneself, or even a strap to keep the legs from falling outward are akin to putting a cherry on top of a sundae.

 

What would you expect to get out of practicing this pose?  The benefits are numerous including the following:

  • Increasing circulation which helps venous and lymphatic flow from the lower body
  • Relieving swelling and fatigue in the legs
  • Helps relieve muscular skeletal stress in pelvis
  • Quiets the mind
  • Can help promote ease in meditation and sleep.  This will also attribute to a more healthy sleep cycle.

 

 

When should you practice this pose?  You can certainly practice at anytime of the day but to transition from activity to sleep, it is most beneficial right before bed.  Find a place where you can be undisturbed for 15-20 minutes, put on your comfy pjs, turn down the lights, and take a few deep breaths as you settle into the pose.  Feel free to wiggle, adjust, and settle with some deep breathing until you can begin to relax the muscles, the mind.  I highly recommend Left Nostril Breathing to go along with the pose.

 

To do this gently close the right nostril with your thumb of your right hand, breath in and out of your left nostril, closing eyes. Use this breath if you happen to wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep.

 

With practice, the body begins to remember this relaxed state and can more easily ease into your (hopefully 8) hours of sleep each night.  Happy Rest, Happy Healing and Happy New Year!

Diane Kistler, Certified MOYO Teacher

 

For more yummy poses, check out Diane’s blog at www.RestorativeYoga-Feelingthebliss.blogspot.com.

 

Mirror, mirror on the wall…

Over the past several weeks,  I have been setting an intention to gain clarity on different aspects in my life.  One day before yoga class, that clarity was realized as I glanced in the bathroom mirror.  Staring back at me were the words: “BE STRONG…Stand up for what you believe in!.   “WOW”!  I immediately felt a sense of clarity.   These words made me realize that I AM STRONG for managing my depression and I should STAND UP and help others gain the strength I’ve found.  Namaste!!!

I continued to stare at my reflection and wondered if the people in my life were a mirror reflecting my true self.  Could this be?   I have found myself looking away from people and closing myself off many times before (a typical response of a depressed person is avoidance which only causes symptoms to become worse).  For instance,  if I had the courage to show up for yoga on a depressed day, I would enter into child pose creating a proverbial shell around me.  Funny how I found myself avoiding the part of the yoga practice that would’ve  helped me manage my depression the most!  Now, I realize when I’m feeling raw, miserable and closed are the times in my life when I need my sangha (community) the most.  I don’t need to hide in my shell but reach out and OPEN myself!   Our MOYO sangha has given me love, support and allows me to see that everyone is an authentic reflection of me.

No matter what you are dealing with either depression, anxiety, stress, life/death issues, loneliness, etc. I encourage you to practice yoga to OPEN to your true self and reach out to your sangha for love and support  because they are an authentic reflection of you…..

Come and join me on January 21st as I facilitate Yoga for Depression and Anxiety.

Gratefully,
Eileen Connell, Certified MOYO Teacher

Sambasana

I like to move it, move it! I like to think of each yoga class as a DANCE — the choreography of the asana; the primitive rhythm of the breath; the unique expression of each special being. So why do so many yogis practice so still, so rigid, so POISED??

Dance has been used for centuries as celebration, worship, ritual…even for communication and self-expression. Couldn’t incorporating a little dance into our yoga practice do that for us? First, try thinking of its ritual nature — that every time we step onto our mat, we’re honoring someone {ourselves, each other?} or something {world peace, hot, fresh pizza?}, using each precise movement paired with breath as a sacred act.

Now, imagine that with each act, you also have a beautiful story to tell…but you really need the movement to have it be heard. Try this: Before you step onto your mat, pick one of the following that speaks to you, and make THAT the theme of your practice.

 

  1. WORSHIP {A higher being, yourself, your thighs…} — What if every reach toward the sky fills your heart with adoration? What if your Warrior II was an homage to those thick, strong {maybe even jiggly} thighs?
  2. CELEBRATE {An accomplishment, the fact that you’re still breathing…} — Bring your JOY. Smile, laugh, sing {even out loud, maybe…what???}.
  3. COMMUNICATE {Speak with your TRUE voice} — Have each movement speak for you. Feeling your power? Be STRONG with each asana. Feeling romantic? Let your Heart Chakra lead you.
  4. EXPRESS {An inner flair, your grace, love…} — Let your fingers and hands create a beautiful mudra, flow with your hips to the beat {of your breath, the music}, create a Sun Salutation that is all yours.

Remember, the most important thing is that if you’re connecting your mind, body and soul, it’s YOGA!!! Need more easy, breezy ideas?? Try these:

  1. Wake Up. Cue your favorite music {Guilty pleasures like “Everybody Dance Now” encouraged}. Dance, move, leave it ALL on the floor {you go, J. Lo.}
  2. Find a local DANCE studio. Hellloooooooo? Ballet, Hip Hop, Ballroom {my heart flutters as I write this}, Salsa, your daughter’s 8th grade dance…whatever calls to you.
  3. Attend a flow-y yoga workshop/class. There are some great teachers out there who masterfully incorporate yoga and dance! Some of our recommendations: Faith Hunter {http://www.faithhunter.com/Faith_Hunter_Yoga/Home_faith_hunter_yoga.html}, Natalie Levin, Dana Flynn {http://nyc.laughinglotus.com/ourteachers_dana.html}, Simon Park{http://liquidflowyoga.com/}, and Shiva Rae {http://shivarea.com/about-prana-flow}

Now, go get ‘em Footlose!

Kelly Whalen, CYKT

P.S. Look for more MOYO Mixx classes in the new year — a PERFECT opportunity to add a little Sambasana to your repertoire.

Vata Season

The other day I put my milk away in the pantry instead of the refrigerator. Last week, not one but two clients forgot to show up for their appointments. At least three clients complained that they have been edgy and unable to sleep lately. What’s going on? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s vata season. According to the 5,000 year old health science known as Ayurveda, we’re each born with a unique combination of three constitutions called “doshas”. These doshas’ are known as vata, pitta and kapha. Each of these doshas’ relate to an earth element.

  • Vata – Air & Ether
  • Pitta – Fire
  • Kapha – Water

 

Not only do we each posses these doshas, but all things posses them, like food, various stages of life and seasons. Late fall and early winter is the season of vata so it’s no wonder that we all get a little “spacey” or “air headed”. Remember, vata is the air element. This season can make us feel a little disconnected and ungrounded. So what’s the remedy?

 

In my practice as an ayurvedic nutritional consultant, we focus on four areas to help balance the doshas, creating harmony among mind, body and spirit. Diet, breath (pranayama), yoga (asana) and routine/lifestyle are the areas of concentration. Through the ancient art of ayurvedic pulse analysis, we can determine your unique combination of doshas, detect any deep rooted imbalances and offer suggestions in these four areas to help get you feeling your best.

 

If you are prominently vata to begin with, the fall season can be especially difficult for you. To help soothe vata, include warm, slow cooked foods such as soups and stews in your diet. Use warming spices like cinnamon, cumin, and even red pepper. Indian and Mexican foods are good choices. Sip warm tea through the day. I like to infuse some fresh ginger in my tea as well. Avoid too much cold food such as salad and ice cream and use minimal ice in drinks. As far as your yoga practice goes, include grounding postures like tree, triangle and warrior. Sun Salutations should be done slowly and consciously. Include warming breath work such as kapalabhati. Too many hours in front of the television is very aggravating to vata especially before bed. Try turning the TV off an hour before bed and create a bedtime routine of some calming breath, meditation and soothing, seated yoga postures. Daily self massage (abyhanga) with warming oils is very grounding and helps with the dryness of the season. Create a daily routine, going to bed and waking at the same time each day. Strict routine is excellent for vata.

 

Through my boutique at Moyo called Under The Bodhi Tree, I provide oils, herbal supplements and other items, as well as, nutritional consulting to support you on your journey As a vata person myself, I always dreaded the fall season. Through ayurveda, I’m able to soothe aggravated vata and really appreciate this beautiful time of year. I’m now able to soak in the gorgeous colors of fall. There is nothing better than a brisk walk outside and then coming in for some delicious vegetable stew by a crackling fire.

If you would like a consultation to help identify and balance your dosha, feel free to contact me at Moyo or by email at lisa@moyo-yoga.com and come meet me Under The Bodhi Tree. Wishing you a blessed and beautiful season. Namaste

 

What is the Significance of 11/11/11?


Let’s Start the Aquarian Age Together!!!! Please join us on 11/11/11 at 6:30 PM (to ?) to celebrate this great time of change and transitioning. There will be Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, Dancing, Music, and refreshments. Please feel free to stop by at anytime and bring a dish! All activities are FREE OF CHARGE.

11/11/11: Completion of the full cycle of the Cosmic Unity Consciousness Wheel. We will not suddenly wake up in heaven. Things will still look very chaotic and there will still appear to be much darkness in the world. However, with the completion of this cycle of the cosmic wheel, Cosmic Unity Consciousness will be fully here and available to us to use much more readily, and the numbers of individuals stepping into this level of consciousness will expand rapidly.

I then started hearing about it from my teacher, Yogi Bhajan. He came to this country in 1969 and started teaching Kundalini Yoga, a type of yoga that had never been publicly taught before. He could see that many changes were coming that were associated with the shift to the Aquarian Age, and it was time for people to have the tools they would need to transition from the Piscean Age that we had been in for 2000 years, into this new age.

What are these ages? Astronomers will tell you that the Earth rotates on an axis and that this line going through the center of the earth has a slight wobble to it. It goes through a little circular wobble about once every 24,000 years. This cycle has been broken into 12 parts associated with the 12 astrological signs, based on which constellation the axis is wobbling towards. From around 2000 B.C. to 0 A.D. we were in the Age of Taurus. From 0 A.D. to the present we have been in the Age of Pisces. For the next 2000 years we will be in the Aquarian Age. We have been in the transition from the Piscean Age to the Aquarian Age for the last 50 years. The official beginning of the Aquarian Age is November 11, 2011 or 11/11/11. Some people have set this date as December 21, 2012. Considering that this is a 2000 year cycle, no matter which date you accept, we are in for lots of change in the near future!

Why is this so important? Many people go their whole lives not caring or knowing if they are a Pisces, or a Gemini, or what their moon or rising sign is. This change to the Aquarian age is so important because it changes the astrological conditions for the entire planet. Every person on planet Earth has been and will be affected by this shift. Let’s investigate what will be changing.

The Piscean Age has been dominated by hierarchy, and power. The key phrase for this age was from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “To be or not to be.” To make a successful and happy life, you needed to resolve this question. The key to the astrological sign Pisces is “I believe.” During this age, in order for you “to be,” you needed to find someone or something to believe in. When you found that thing, you attached yourself to that thing and were guided how to live. This could be a religion, a political ideology, a charismatic leader, work, etc. The keys to life were hidden and secret in the halls of power and in the monasteries and ashrams. But you didn’t need to know these secrets, only to follow leaders and guides who did. This created vertical hierarchies as a result, and it was essential to find your place in the pecking order.

This has been the foundation for human consciousness for the past 2000 years. Everything that you have learned from your parents, and they from their parents, going back 2000 years, has been colored by this Piscean frame of reference. And now that is all changing.

The Aquarian Age will be dominated by networks, and information. The key phrase for this age is “Be to be.” The key to the astrological sign Aquarius is “I know.” This is the age of information. Nothing is secret anymore. All information is available at your fingertips. Where the Piscean age was organized in a vertical, up and down structure of hierarchies, the Aquarian Age is organized in a horizontal network, opening the world up to true equality. During this age, the focus is no longer on your identity and existence (“to be or not to be”), but on accepting yourself as a whole person (“be to be”) who does not need to believe in something outside of yourself. You are ready to accept that you have the knowledge and wisdom within yourself. It is no longer necessary to attach to something outside of yourself, but to become a leader of one: yourself. Instead of being a railroad car that is pulled by an engine, you become your own engine. It is your responsibility to stay on the tracks and to keep moving forward.

With this understanding, it is easier to comprehend what has been happening in the world over the last 50 years. On the inner level, since the 1960’s, there has been a huge movement towards personal transformation: self-awareness, self-improvement, yoga, meditation, tai chi, alternative healing, natural foods, etc. There has also been a major increase in depression, suicide, anxiety, stress, and drug use, both pharmaceutical and recreational.

In the outer world, we have seen amazing changes: civil rights, environmental consciousness, women’s rights, gay rights, global consciousness, etc. We have also seen the rise of fundamentalism, terrorism, partisan politics, racism, xenophobia (the fear of the “other”), and general fear mongering.

This shift is bringing out the best and the worst in mankind. Some people are preparing for this shift by opening their hearts and minds and embracing this new age, and some people are intimidated by the changes that they don’t understand and want to return to a “golden age” in the past, or to circle the wagons and trust only those who are like themselves (3HO.org).

—-Sarah Stavis,  MOYO Yoga Teacher

A Message to Our Students, From the MOYO Teaching Team….

We are an eclectic group of teachers… eclectic in background, approach, emphasis and personality. We are unified in our core principles, dedication to our practice and love for teaching the Moyo community. This blog is dedicated to our students; to share why we teach and express our gratitude for the privilege of guiding you through your practice.

 

  • Yoga is an art of self-expression… teaching provides me with a vehicle to share my yogic experiences.

 

  • Teaching yoga allows me to practice seeing my true self. When I guide others in their practice and allow myself to be vulnerable, I tap into a part of me I don’t usually expose. In teaching the children, I experience the most about what life is really worth living for — expression, truth, pure delight. Pus I ADORE the energy and love of the community!

 

  • Yoga turns me on! It lights me up! Yoga transforms me physically, emotionally and spiritually. I teach to share the experience of freedom and peace present in a yoga practice.

 

  • I teach because I honor the integrity of each pose yoked to simple, steady breath. By feeling the sensation right here & now, we uncover the tenacity to face our truth (pain, desire, joy, hope and fear.) This authenticity demands surrender to this moment and calls for right action in our lives. It is here that we discover the capacity of love. I teach to hold this space for others, deepening their experience and mine.

 

  • The teaching of yoga is my foremost method of practice. When I teach I’m there, in the moment, letting what is inside out. Filter free, but entirely witnessed.

 

  • Something comes out from within me when I teach – perhaps its love… Love for the students, love for the community and all we have created at Moyo. My cache of love just spreads as I lead the class through their practice. Teaching brings out the best in me, so I can live a full and complete loving life.

 

  • Yoga allows me to be in tune with my inner truth. When I teach, I share this whole body experience to help others find their truth. I feel the superficial layers peel away, revealing our inner potential. This allows us to connect together in beauty and light. May we continue on our spiritual journeys together, realizing we are all LOVE. SAT NAM!
  •  When I teach Yoga, I know that we are all divinely connected in this journey called LIFE. The students are my teachers. When I practice yoga, it is with the hope that what I learn, I will be able to share with my students. We share the circle together student and teacher; like Yin and Yang, divinely connected.

 

  • I believe that it is through our children that we set examples on how we want the world to be.  That is why I teach yoga to children.  It is by giving them this tool that I know I have made a difference in their lives now and in the future.

 

  • Teaching for me is helping others find awareness and live from the heart with authenticity to connect us as one.

 

  • Teaching yoga enables me to give back to others what I find during my own practice, a love of self without judgments and criticisms. Someday that part will shine thru but for now it’s a constant struggle that I am challenged with every day. I hope to enable others (as well as myself) to recognize the path we are on is truly where you are supposed to be and that everything we are seeking in life, sits within… We are beautiful in every way!
  • Yoga inspires, invigorates AND calms me.  It brings balance, harmony and JOY to my life!  I love yoga!!!  It is my most sincere hope to share all of these feelings with my students and that they too will fall in love with yoga!  A day with yoga is ALWAYS a better day! ~ Namaste

 

Feeling Stuck?

What do you believe about your ability to improve?  There is really two broad ways to look at it:

- You believe that your abilities are established and can’t change much, regardless of how hard you try.
OR
- You think that you can learn and grow if you invest enough effort.

Well, here’s the deal: mindsets are self-fulfilling prophecies.  In other words, if you think you can improve, you will.  If you think you’re stuck, you are.

But here’s the good news: mindsets are learned and can be changed.

Want to learn how to believe you can?  Try this on for size: people who feel stuck tend to place strong evaluations on things going on – and they use positive or negative labels to express their evaluations.  In contrast, those who focus on growth are more concerned with learning the lessons behind what happens.

For example, when you get in an argument with your spouse, do you call him or her names in your own mind?  If so, consider instead what you can learn from the situation.  Realize that maybe he isn’t as responsive when he’s under a lot of stress, or that she doesn’t respond well to being teased about her quirks.

The same thing applies for positive events.  For example, if you close a nice deal, rather than label yourself “so smart”, think about what you’ve done to reach that success.  Maybe you applied your skills very well, or maybe you paid close attention to what the client truly wanted.

How do you think about setbacks and small wins that life brings you?  For a few days, watch for labels, and then try to figure out the lesson behind the situation.

http://www.smartsandstamina.com/

 

 

Find Your ‘Ono-A Yoga Retreat

Find Your ‘Ono – A Yoga Retreat
By Karen Strawhacker

When I read that my yoga studio, Moyo in Skippack, PA, was offering a yoga retreat to Hawaii, my first reaction was – DO IT! Then came the argument with myself – what about obligations to family, work and even – I’m 54 years old – could I do all that yoga? Ah – the monkey mind at work – have I learned nothing in 6 years of practicing yoga? So off I went.

Kalani Oceanside Retreat is located on the eastern side of the Big Island in Pahoa. It is nestled in lush greenery on a coastal road between lava fields and the Pacific Ocean. Staffed by mostly volunteers, Kalani is an oasis for the stressed with various offerings of yoga classes and massage therapies. The accommodations are very basic but comfortable with an occasional gecko paying a visit. Meals are a community affair with a mingling of the volunteers and guests and are heralded with the call of a horn. The fare is delicious, organic and artfully prepared with themes for the evening meal.

In the mornings before breakfast, a few of us would walk the quarter mile and watch the sun rise gloriously over the Pacific. At night after yoga, we were in awe of stars so vivid it was almost as if they were gazing at the earth rather than the reverse. The black lava beach was about a half- mile walk and very small but quite scenic. My daughter, Megan, island hopped from Kauai where she had a nursing position, coaxed me into scaling down the steep cliff to the beach and back up again. I made it with little problem but it was not for the faint of heart.

The yoga was profound. We practiced twice per day with Maureen and Tom from Moyo. I found that the struggle with my body to perfect the poses was gone and replaced with a newfound respect and appreciation for the gifts the body provides. I realized the power of my yoga practice in daily life when we went snorkeling. I hadn’t been in years and found it a little overwhelming until I remembered my yoga breathing. The steady and controlled breath overcame the anxiety and I snorkeled for an hour in wonder of the seascape. According to our guide, the tide pools where we snorkeled are the easternmost part of Hawaii. Because of this geographic position, the locals boast that the air is among the cleanest in the world as the trade winds blow southwesterly across the Pacific Ocean, unimpeded by any land mass.

We did take some other afternoon excursions. The Hawaiian Botanical Gardens was absolutely stunning with dramatic waterfalls, foliage and coastline. Another afternoon we traveled to Mount Kilauea, an active volcano that is about an hour’s drive from Kalani. The contrast between total destruction and the whisper of new life was breathtaking.

Moyo invited students on this retreat to “Find Your ‘Ono (delicious)”. I found the delicious meaning of purposeful living through self – nurturing, inner reflection and the joy of newfound friends. I found peace and contentment not only can be achieved but can be sustained in the hectic environment that is reality. “Namaste” – the light in me honors the light in you.

From Survival to Performance

I’d like to start today with a mini self-diagnostic.  On a regular workday, on scale of 1 to 5 where 1 = never and 5 = nonstop, how often do you feel…
- Irritable, impatient, angry
- Fearful, defensive
- Anxious, worried
- Frustrated
- Undervalued.

If your total is 15 or higher, then you are in survival zone.  People in survival zone are in fight or flight mode, a state where the stress response is activated.  More concretely, here’s what happens in the body:

- The blood is directed away from functions that aren’t related to immediate survival (like the digestive track and the pre-frontal cortex of the brain) and sent to your limbs so you can defend yourself or run away.

- With less blood available to the brain, you will find it hard to concentrate, analyze, problem-solve and make decisions.

- You become at risk of suffering from poor digestion and low immune function overtime. 

- As the stress hormones stagnate, they irritate your body and make you more irritable as well (makes sense, right?).

In short, fight or flight is a reactive state that is very useful if you need to run away from an angry bear, but that seriously jeopardizes your health, happiness and productivity if you live in constant fear of that bear!  Really, not a good place to be!

The best way to help someone bounce out of survival zone and into performance is (drum roll, please!)… appreciation.  When we receive gratitude, we get that warm and fuzzy feeling inside, which is our body’s way of saying that the stress response has stopped.  And as the blood flow is redirected to your brain, you can return to productive work. 

This year, make Thanksgiving about the mood rather than the food.  Whether you are an employer or employee, write a short note to someone you appreciate, but whom you have not thanked properly in the past.  Then see what happens. 

And if you like what you see, pass on this newsletter to your peers, and be the positive leader who will help others bounce out of survival and into performance zone! 

For more great tips please visit: www.smartsandstamina.com

5 Reasons You Need A Break

If I told you that the average American adults spend about 90% of their lives indoors, I expect you wouldn’t be surprised.  As long as we aren’t stuck in the dog house too often, most of us work, eat and sleep inside, which leaves little time for us to enjoy the outdoors. 

But if I told you that taking an outside break has clear health and productivity benefits, that might be more of a surprise.  Here are my top 5 reasons why you should make it a habit:

- Your stress level will go down.  Research shows that when it comes to recovering from a stressful event, being in nature is of greater help than trying to work things out inside. 

- Your vitamin D will go up.  Since vitamin D is related to wide-ranging health benefits from cancer to depression to heart attack prevention, it’s certainly noteworthy.

- You are likely to be more active.  Of course you could also just sit and take in the scenery.  But generally speaking, people who step our for a break engage in activities such as walking, biking, gardening (for those who work from home) and the like.

- You will complain less.  People who are exposed to natural light tend to feel a lift in mood.  Step out, feel better, complain less.   

- Your concentration will improve.  Research done with ADHD children showed that they performed better in school after an outdoor versus an indoor walk.  Another research study showed that people who go outside come back more refreshed, which helps them think quicker once back in work mode.

All things considered, a mid-day walk outside will help you be healthier, happier and more productive.  And now is the time to form the habit before the weather gets colder and going out is less tempting.  Not sure how it will be perceived within the context of your organization?  Pass on this newsletter to your peers.  Or better yet, invite me for a 30-minute seminar on how greater health leads to higher productivity!

For More Information please visit: www.smartsandstamina.com