yoga journey – april – june
weeks 1 – 5: S.T.O.R.Y
We are by nature meaning makers and meaning seekers, puzzle makers and puzzle solvers, story tellers and story listeners. This series has been inspired by my pondering of the importance of story. Sessions are informed by my recent re-introduction to Joseph Campbell’s ‘The Hero’s Journey’ (an archetypal story lived by all of us, many times over), and the stories we literally carry in our bodies, minds and hearts. These stories profoundly effect our experience of life, our sense of the world, and our vision for the future. STORY conveniently has 5 letters, and with some musing I have created a story about STORY. Each letter a dive into some aspect, or view, or actual story from the Yoga Tradition … and here’s how it goes …
S = Spacious … notice the background story … make room for the unexpected
T = Telling is creating. What story are we telling ourselves? … and how does it effect our physiology
O = Open … to being surprised. We are more than we think. We have greater capacity than we think. Let me tell you a story about a monkey-god who leapt over the sun
R = Refresh. Like refresh on your computer takes care of assumptions it makes we need to refresh ourselves. What are we missing? A cautionary and celebratory tale about underestimating a many limbed goddess.
Y = You. You are every character and every characteristic in the story.
weeks 6 – 10: Fascia wellness
Stability & Freedom
Connection & Separation
Fascia Wellness … Connection & Separation
Start with some gentle mobilising and then settle in with Restorative Yoga. We are now seeing that everything is interconnected, that neither the world, nor our bodies function as machines. That we can’t change or fix a part and ignore the whole. In our environment, we now know we cannot make change in one aspect of the ecosystem and expect other aspects to be unaffected. In our bodies, what the endless web of our fascia connects everything. The other seemingly paradoxical but incredibly important function of fascia is that it separates, though bundling types of cells for specific functions in organs, and through layering deeper and more superficial sheets and wrappings, allowing sliding and gliding between layers. Our practice is a wonderful way to nourish ourselves in our wholeness, and what better way than with some Restorative Yoga as we end our season of classes. Enjoy.
Fascia Wellness … Elasticity
Our structure is essentially self-supporting through the innate tone of the fascia allowing for resilient elasticity. We can be ‘light and springy’ or ‘heavy’ depending on how we tension our tissues. The ground reaction force remains the same but we can modify HOW the forces move through our connective tissues through preparatory countermovement and loading. In this session we start on our backs and play with rolling to effortlessly to sitting or standing. Find elasticity in our shoulders , ankles, and spine through a standing pose flow, find your spring in dog pose and maybe even take it to the wall for a handstand or two (expansive and express sessions). Settle in childs pose, return to where you began, on your back with some hip elasticity, and then rest. Enjoy.
Fascia Wellness … Sensory Refinement
There are two key aspects of this sensory function are: proprioception (knowing where your body is in space),and interoception (knowing how your body feels from the inside). We can use our practice of yoga to stimulate and refine the perception within our body wide connective tissue network.
Elsa Gindler says, “The more human beings are aware of their internal sensations, the better they can function”. Her research found that directing attention kindly to a place in the body immediately results in more efficient functioning, more balanced tone and increased circulation. In this session we wake up the rich sensing in our feet and our hands, We sense into our whole body through a wide range of poses, including some balancing in tree pose and side plank pose. Enjoy.
Fascia Wellness … Fluidity
We are, in a large part, water. The brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are watery: 31%.The fascia is composed of about 70% water is a tensional fluid system. Just as all water on earth needs to move to be cleared and purified, so we need to move to keep the internal oceans within us healthy … just as you wouldn’t enjoy bathing or drinking stagnant water, your cells I imagine feel the same. This practice focuses on hips, legs, core, and fluidity. We warm up on our back, come to hands and knees to bring fluidity to your spine, then stir your inner ocean in a boat pose variation before flowing through some moon salutations, settling into childs pose and pigeon, a flowing bridge pose, and rest. Enjoy.
Fascia Wellness … Stability & Freedom
Fascia in the body limits movement and provides stability and it also allows movement and affords possibility. These two seemingly contradictory functions can be cultivated in our practice and each of us can apply principles and focus in practice to meet our needs personally, seasonally, and across our lifespan. In this practice we explore balance of strength and freedom in our hips, upper back, and chest through a range of standing one leg poses, and some active backbends. Enjoy.
Y is for You …
I’m guessing we all love a good story … and stories are powerful … the stories we tell and the stories we live, for good, or bad, are everything.
I’ve had some teachers from the yoga tradition who are philosophers and story tellers and they say that in any story you are every character, including the non-human characters, like mountains, trees, birds.
Our practice invites us to explore stories, the traditions teaching stories, our own bodies stories, the stories of our culture, and those we simply make up in our own minds.
In this session we’ll play with some shapes full of story (warrior poses, tree, eagle, crane, bridge) and I invite you to embody all the characters and characteristics with curiosity.
R is for Refresh, Reframe, and Reconsider your story
A good story has us change our own limited story, invites us to question our assumptions, see things differently.
When I am seeking a wider, fresh view I often think my go to fix all choice when I have issues with the computer. I turn it off, and then I turn it on and invariably the problem magically goes away. When we have challenges in our lives we can do something somewhat similar. We can step back, away from our assumptions and habits that might be contributing to our suffering in some way, be open to looking at the situation with a fresh perspective, and choose something different … something more life affirming and more in line with where we are now and how we seek to be and to live.
This accessible practice invites you to release fascial limitations in your shoulders and in twisting.
O is for Openness … you are not limited
The first principle of our practice, as I learned it, was that we are not as limited as we think we are. The small story we tell about ourselves, the limitations from conditioning, the limitations from what we are taught and told, are not firm boundaries. We can leap beyond them … As Hanuman did in the story of his leap over the sun which surprised everyone, even himself. In this practice we cultivate hip strength and mobility as well as core stability, both anterior and posterior. Enjoy.
T is for Telling
The stories we tell about ourselves and our experiences make a difference. In this practice I invite you to be mindful of the stories you are telling about yourself and the world … we’ll settle our nervous system so we can descend beneath the surface stories to a deeper current. We can choose our stories … more so than we often think. The bolster is your friend in this session. Use the bolster to support yourself in (dog pose, standing forward bend, wide leg forward bend, pigeon), to help expand in some accessible backbends, and to rest in baddakonasana and savasana. Enjoy.
S is for Spaciousness
First principle of our practice is to soften, get spacious, and open. In softening, we let go, not just physically … we let go of limiting ideas, beliefs, patterns of tension, habits of thinking, of moving, of reactivity. It is almost as if we step back and find a more expansive experience of ourselves, our situation, we open to the unexpected, we are willing to unlearn and to begin again. It is like the settling in to receive an exciting and surprising story. It is listening to ourselves and our surroundings … and being willing to be changed by what we hear. The wall is our friend in this session, giving us feedback, support, and inviting us to greater awareness of our unconscious patterns. Enjoy.