Category

Inspiration

Cleanliness is next to Godliness 😇

barre, fitness, health, Inspiration, lifestyle, pilates, Space Foundation, yin

Patanjalis first Niyama- or Personal Observance is “Saucha” is broken down here by Kara-Leah Grant 😍

The first yama is Saucha, usually translated as purity and sometimes as cleanliness.

No matter what kind of yoga we’re doing – asana, pranayama, meditation, chanting, Bhakti yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga – we’re always working with purification. Yoga as a practice purifies our system and by extension, our lives.

This clearing out, on all levels, allows Prana (life force) or energy to flow freely. We release and dissolve all kinds of blockages.

This is what saucha is about – clearing out the dirt and removing the unnecessary. On a basic physical level it applies to how we clean ourselves. It’s the way we shower, scrape our tongues, clean our teeth, wear clean clothes and eat life-supporting, nourishing foods that move cleanly through our systems. Done daily, and with reverence, these simple practices will lay a strong foundation to our lives. We’ll feel better about ourselves.

On a deeper level, saucha shows up in our lives in other ways.

Saucha is about purity of energy, so in our homes, it’s about the way we organise and maintain our space.

Compare the feeling of walking into a zen-style room. The floor is wooden, there is a rug on the floor, aligned perfectly with the walls. Two pot plants fill separate corners. There is a sense of everything in it’s place and a place for everything. The room is light and airy.

Now walk into a cluttered lounge with furniture at haphazard angles, dirty dishes strewn around the room, weeks of newspapers stashed on the coffee table, clothes hanging over chair arms and toys strewn across the room.

How does it feel walking into each room? What is your inclination walking into each room?

In the zen-style room, my inclination is to sit and breathe. The energy of the room is pure.

In the cluttered lounge, my inclination is to clean up and find a place for everything. Then I can sit and breathe because now the energy of the room is pure.

That is saucha in action – the recognition that everything has it’s place and there is a place for everything. From that place of places, energy can flow smoothly. There is nothing to do but breathe.

There is good reason for this niyama and I notice it in my own life. Whenever I move into a house, first I have to get everything in order. It’s not a pristine manic order, but a sense of discovering where everything belongs so it can fulfill it’s function with maximum efficiency and beauty.

Living with a child means there’s often toys littering the lounge floor. But those toys have a place and when it’s time for bed, Samuel helps me put all his toys in their place. Underneath the daily messiness is a sense of order which we always return to, maybe not every single night, but most nights.

This adds a clarity to my life that makes my mind work better. I write better in a clean space. Everything flows smoother. The light of my life can shine brighter in a clean, orderly house when I’m clean and pure!

Imagine this – each of us has a light inside that shines out to the world. If the glass that surrounds that light is smudged, or blackened, our light will be dull or faded. The practice of saucha cleans the glass so the light can shine brightly.

My light-shining often takes the form of housework.

I’ve noticed that when I feel scattered or heavy I naturally do housework. I’ll start organising.

Maybe I’ll go to put something away in the fridge and notice the fridge door has smeared ketchup on it. I’ll fetch a cloth and clean that ketchup. In doing so, I’ll notice crumbs in the door shelves so take out the bottles and clean the shelves.

Half an hour later I will have completely cleaned out the fridge and arranged everything according to how we use it and how it best fits. The cleaning and ordering of my physical environment has a comparable effect on my psyche. I feel clean and ordered and clear again.

This is a completely different experience from cleaning a fridge because it ‘has to be done’. There’s almost a merging between myself and the fridge as I attend to it’s needs in the moment 😉

I known this about myself for five or so years now – that housework is meditative and therapeutic. It’s only through my study of saucha that I’m now able to put a name to my action. Making this conscious means I can choose to take action when required now – I can notice when I’m feeling out of sorts or scattered, take a look at my surroundings, and figure out what needs sorting out and cleaning. It’s brilliant!

How might saucha show up in your life?

How do you keep your body clean and pure? Your clothing? Your room? Your house? Your life?

Words and Wisdom via Kara-Leah Grant 🙏🏾

Connective Tissue Health & Myofascial Release

fitness, Inspiration, lifestyle, Space Foundation

An international yoga teacher, author & health & wellness expert, Tiffany Cruikshank is known as a teacher’s teacher & has written for & graced the cover of many prominent publications.

Tiffany imparts some wisdom on the subject of the connective tissue below: Check out the source of this article for a full list of references 

Connective tissue has a long history of being overlooked in favor of what seem to be more important features in the body. In medical school cadaver dissections, the connective tissue is carefully extracted and thrown away to reveal the more precious structures and organs, but our low prioritization of it is finally being reconsidered in light of recent research putting fascia and other connective tissue in the spotlight. With so many new studies opening our eyes to the crucial functions of this tissue, the need to reexamine our understanding of it and its potential contributions to our health and quality of life is undeniable.

Fascia, a type of connective tissue, has a broad array of functions, including linking nearby tissues, supporting organs, reducing friction that comes with muscular force, forming compartments that enclose groups of muscles and other structures, separating tissues, investing the tendons (thereby adding to their strength and resilience), creating functional chains of muscles that allow us to move more smoothly and efficiently, and much more. This tissue also contains important immune  cells, protective adipose cells, myofibroblasts that assist tissue healing, and a complex communication system to help oversee it all. Another important feature of fascia is that it is a continuous intermeshed system of fibrous tissue that weaves through the body, from head to toe. This interconnected system can be the reason your pain in one area may be influenced by changes in another part of your body, and it is also a big part of how we adapt and respond to stress via a body-wide tension-distributing system. Every year, half the fascial fibers (collagen) are replaced in a healthy body, providing us a powerful intervention point to steer these changes in the tissues at any time.

MYOFASCIAL RELEASE

The term myofascial release refers to any technique that works on the muscles and the fascia. There are many different modalities; however, the most common self-myofascial release (SMFR) techniques usually involve the use of balls or foam rollers. The beauty of SMFR is that it can be done with simple tools and training, making it accessible to the general public. There are numerous articles and studies showing positive outcomes for these modalities. The main limiting factors of these studies are that many of them are small and their methods can vary considerably. Nevertheless, most of them show significant positive outcomes with only minor side effects, which usually involve temporary soreness and/or bruising.

Fibroblasts, cells within the fascia that are responsible for producing the fascial matrix, play a large role in how the tissues remodel over time in response to the demands placed on them. These demands can have relatively positive (as in yoga, stretching, exercise, or myofascial release) or negative (in the case of poor posture, repetitive motions, or injuries) effects on the way the fibroblasts remodel the components of our  connective tissue. Myofascial release is thought to both stimulate and regulate fibroblasts; it helps break down excessive connective tissue deposition as well as stimulates them to produce new, more resilient connective tissue. It also enhances hydration of this tissue.

Probably the most well-known uses of SMFR are to increase mobility and relieve pain and injuries. The effects of SMFR on mobility are probably the most commonly studied, with positive but often temporary effects seen. Immobility, repetitive movements, poor posture, and injuries can all cause excessive collagen deposition that leads to fibrosis or adhesions between the tissues, resulting in diminished range of motion and mobility. SMFR helps to reduce and prevent excessive collagen deposition by increasing collagen turnover to keep the tissues strong, elastic, and resilient. This feature is critical both for working with injuries and helping to prevent them. Also, one of the great advantages to using SMFR is that the increases in mobility do not initiate the temporary decrease in muscle power and performance seen with stretching.

A key feature of connective tissue that we are still learning about is its function as a communication system. With six times as many sensory neurons than are found in any other tissue (besides the skin), the fascia is a huge sensory organ important both for proprioception (spatial awareness) and interoception (internal body awareness). One of the often-overlooked benefits of myofascial release is this increase in proprioception, which you feel right away. Try, for instance, rolling out your feet before attempting a challenging balance position, and you can experience this firsthand. Research suggests that increasing proprioception can also decrease pain. What’s even more interesting is the new research pointing to the fascia having its own internal communication system, which functions independently from the nervous system via vibration, crystallinity, and electricity. This suggests an inherent body-wide intelligence within this system.

Within the fascial layers, we also find important immune cells that help to modulate inflammation and tissue healing. Many people think of the fascia as just surrounding the muscles, but this tissue also interweaves through the muscles and surrounds organs, bones, nerves, and blood vessels throughout every part of the body. Since it envelops just about every structure of the body, you can imagine how important the immune function in this protective internal fascial layer is.

There is increasing evidence that the physical and mechanical environment of the tissues can influence cell behavior and tumor progression. In fact, some of the newest research on fascia focuses on its effects on cancer and suggests that healthy fascia could be an important component in treatment and prevention.

The hydration of the connective tissue is a key component in its health, influencing communication, adhesions, and immune function. Imagine dry tissues rubbing over each other with every movement. Impaired hydration of the fascia causes increased friction, stimulating the fibroblasts to lay down more collagen cross-links between layers of tissue, eventually leading to adhesions between the layers. You might think drinking more water would solve the problem, and though that may be part of the answer, it doesn’t necessarily equate to connective tissue hydration. Gentle SMFR techniques help to increase the hydration of the connective tissue to decrease adhesions, enhance communication, and facilitate healthy immune function. Think of the connective tissue as being like a fish bowl; not only do you need to add more water, you also need to clean it out from time to time.

CONCLUSION

There are also other body functions that SMFR influences—the parasympathetic response, the blood and lymph circulation, and possibly many more that may be revealed as the studies continue. In addition, there are mental and emotional implications of the connective tissue system that we don’t fully understand yet. Practitioners may observe this in their clients as an unexpected emotional release that may spontaneously arise with SMFR. The beauty of SMFR is that you don’t need to understand the emotional history of a trauma or injury to let it go; you need only provide the space to allow it to pass. Studies suggest that receiving SMFR just once or twice a week will yield a more resilient fascial system in six to twenty-four months, so slow and steady wins the race for connective tissue health. As with any healing modalities, it’s important that you consult your doctor before using SMFR and seek the help of someone trained to use it.

Though there is still a lot of research needed to show the extent to which the fascial layer may be involved in many pathologies, there is already more than enough to indicate the need for further inquiry into how the health of this tissue can affect so many interconnected systems. Myofascial release techniques show promising outcomes in enhancing mobility, increasing proprioception, supporting injury prevention, promoting tissue healing, regulating inflammation and immune function, and optimizing tissue resilience. As SMFR has so few side effects, I believe it’s our opportunity to pursue further study to see how we can best use this simple, cost effective modality that could have a significant impact on pain, inflammation, injuries, tissue health, and possibly pathologies such as cancer.

AUTHOR NOTE

Thanks to the Fascia Research Congress for promoting the work of so many researchers who help bring this information to the public, and many thanks to all the researchers out there doing the work.

Check out the source of this article for a full list of references.

See you on the mat XXX

The Yamas: Brahmacharya: Right use of Energy

fitness, health, Inspiration, lifestyle, Space Foundation, Uncategorized, yin

We found this babes musings on this often misunderstood (and brushed over quickly) Yama. Let @emmanewlynyoga break it down for you- Brahmacharya is not what you may have been thinking…..

What does Brahmacharya mean?

The fourth of the Yamas, Brahmacharya is often translated as ‘celibacy’ or ‘chastity’, which doesn’t always make for a very popular Yama…! Traditionally, ‘Brahmacharya’ was meant to encourage those involved in the practice of yoga to conserve their sexual energy, in favour of using that energy to further progress along the Yogic path.

The common misconception that Brahmacharya is all about celibacy means it is often overlooked or considered irrelevant in our modern culture.
However, the practice of Brahmacharya or ‘right use of energy’ as it is widely translated, is more prevalent now than ever.

Contemplation: The word Brahmacharya actually translates as ‘behaviour which leads to Brahman’. Brahman is thought of as ‘the creator’ in Hinduism and Yogic terms, so what we’re basically talking about here is behaviour which leads us towards ‘the divine’ or ‘higher power’.

Regarding Brahmacharya as ‘right use of energy’ leads us to consider how we actually use and direct our energy. Brahmacharya also evokes a sense of directing our energy away from external desires – you know, those pleasures which seem great at the time but are ultimately fleeting – and instead, towards finding peace and happiness within ourselves.

“Brahmacharya also evokes a sense of directing our energy away from external desires … and instead, towards finding peace and happiness within ourselves.”

Where is your energy directed?

Consider for a moment where your energy is most directed. I’ll have a guess that a large part of it is put towards worrying and generally concerning ourselves with things that don’t really serve us best. A lot of our energy may also be spent on trying to present ourselves as someone we’re not in order to please or impress others, or maybe we direct our physical energy towards endlessly pushing ourselves to be fitter, stronger or skinnier…. Does any of this sound like you? If so, it might be time to look a little closer at that Yama you’ve been avoiding….

In order to be the best version of ourselves and to use our energy in the right way, we need first of all to listen to what our bodies need. After all, to be able to spread our message to the world and really make the most of what we learn from our yoga practice, we need to have enough energy within ourselves.

In order to be the best version of ourselves and to use our energy in the right way, we need first of all to listen to what our bodies need.

 Boost your happiness to boost your health

As many parts of the world move towards Winter, our immune system naturally needs a little boost, but we don’t always listen to what we really need the most. By becoming aware of our energy levels and really listening to what we need, we can take action to ensure we feel at our very best.

Yoga is an all-natural happiness booster – you may notice that if you’re feeling down, nothing helps more than a great yoga class – and happiness is actually a proven immune-booster too! When we’re unhappy or fearful, our bodies respond by switching on our stress-responses (that infamous ‘fight or flight’ system we’re always hearing so much about), which heightens our blood pressure, lowers our energy levels and weakens our immune system. When we’re happy and relaxed however, our nervous system switches on our healing mechanisms, which helps to keep our bodies in a vibrant and powerful state.

If we are able to direct our energy towards something positive each day – rather than directing our energy towards our often negative thoughts – we’ll not only be able to boost our immune system, but we’ll also actively be making the right use of our energy!

Listen to your body and let your practice serve you

We’re often encouraged to listen to our bodies in a yoga class, but if we’re accustomed to practicing Yin, butterfly pose in one particular way, it can be difficult to change our habits – even when our bodies are asking us to. To make the most of our energy, we can enhance our health and well-being with the right yoga practice for us at that time; if you’re accustomed to a strong yoga practice and your body needs restoring, allow some time for a deep Yin practice. If you always opt for a soft and still practice, try some Power Yoga to give yourself a boost of strength and energy. Your body is always talking to you; listen and see what it has to say!

Listen to your body! Think about where you’re directing your energy – is it helpful or hurtful?

Brahmacharya in your Yoga class

Mixed-level yoga classes are increasingly popular, which means there are lots of different abilities, Yoga class needs and energy levels together in one class. Often in these classes, lots of different options are given so everyone can make the most of their practice. You may be offered variations and modifications of postures, the option to move through a vinyasa or to rest in Balasana (Child’s Pose).

This situation can lead us in two different directions; surrounded by other practitioners, you might feel pressure to ‘keep up’ or impress others, but consider whether taking the posture is helpful or not – your practice is about your body, no one else’s. On the other hand; if you’re the type to shy away from taking it to the next level, consider stepping out of your comfort zone a little – outside of that little bubble of familiarity is where we grow the most!

Brahmacharya in every-day life: How do you use your energy?

Right now there seems to be an over-emphasis on how ‘busy’ we should all be – that busy is better – and that if you’re not busy, there’s something wrong. The point is, whether we’re constantly ‘busy’ or not doesn’t matter – it’s whether what we’re doing is worthwhile. Filling our schedule with as much as we can may seem impressive on the outside, but when it comes to how this makes us feel on the inside, it doesn’t leave much space to breathe.

“Brahmacharya encourages right use of energy, so if your energy levels are flagging at the moment, consider whether your daily tasks are draining you of your vitality. Could you find a way to take a few moments a day to just stop and breathe and find a little peace?”

This ability to slow down will not only allow your body and mind to take a much-needed break, but you’ll be much more aware of how you’ve been using your energy that day. As we mentioned earlier – listen to your body! Think about where you’re directing your energy – is it helpful or hurtful? Be aware of how you feel physically and energetically when you’re in certain situations – do some people drag your energy down? Do others make you light up? Is there something you love doing that really gives you a boost? (For most of us yes, it’s probably yoga!) Whatever your day-to-day schedule includes, become aware of not just what you do, but how you do it, and how it affects you.

By becoming aware of how our bodies and minds respond to certain situations, we can begin to cultivate a life that does serve us, and that does make the best use of our energy. By contemplating Brahmacharya within our every-day actions, we can take our yoga practice off the mat and into our lives and allow it to serve us at all times….

So what behaviour leads you towards your higher power and helps make the right use of your energy?

x Emma

 

Blog reposted from Ekhart Yoga 🙏🏾

Remember the Breath

fitness, health, Inspiration, lifestyle, Space Foundation, yin, yoga

Resident Yin Yogi @terrafirmayoga shares her musings on the magic of the Ujjayi Breath.

Ujjayi Pranayama is the most simple of all yoga’s breathing practices. And because it is so easy to do, it is so effective. It can be done in any position. Sitting down, lying down, standing up, doing yoga asana, driving in a car, going for a walk and even listening to a friend talk…

Effective at slowing down your nervous system, your heart rate and your racing mind.  You need to breathe.  Especially if you have anxiety, stress or depression, aches or pains, injuries or illness. You need to breathe.

In Yin Yoga we learn to breathe the Ujjayi breath in a yin way.  Slow, steady and soft.  There is effort, but it is minimal.  This takes time and practice.  I like to teach it at the beginning of every yoga class, as the breath is the essence of yoga.

The key to Ujjayi is a gentle narrowing of the throat passageway.  This exaggerates the sound so you can hear it. The most important element of Ujjayi is the sound. As you slow down your breath and smooth out the flow, the sound becomes consistent and steady while becoming quieter and quieter.  It is the internal sound that is so divine.  It is the internal sound that heals our wounds and replenishes our cells.  This breath is guaranteed to detox your body and cleanse your mind.

The slow pace of the breath allows time for oxygen to be absorbed into the cells with each inhale, improving the efficiency of your cellular breathing.  Did you know that you have 50 trillion cells inside of you?  If your cells are breathing efficiently this improves your metabolism which affects how your body handles nutrients from your food.

At the same time each exhale carries out toxins and waste product.  Which yoga describes as purification. A way of making your body less dense.  Simultaneously, your mind and emotions are cleared of the density as well.

The word ‘prana’ is a Sanksrit word which means life force.  It is also called chi, mana and oxygen.  Pranayama means you are moving this force through you.  A body with high levels of prana is vibrant and doesn’t succumb to sickness. Any dis-ease will be improved by increasing your levels of prana.  The level of prana moving through your body determines your health, vitality and glow.

In a general class you may have enough time for 5-8 minutes of Ujjayi.  It is merely an introduction to the full practice of 20 minutes everyday.  But 5-8 minutes is enough to get you started on your journey to wellness and it will help you go deeper when you practice the yoga poses which follow.

It is a mystery how this simple breath can weave magic into your life, but if you remember to breathe an Ujjayi breath or ten everyday, I guarantee it will change your life for the better.

Remember to Breathe…

Love Tara X

You can download a 7 minute guided Ujjayi practice with Tara on Spotify or iTunes. 

Type in Tara Fitzgibbon or Breathe, Rest, Let Go.

 

Loving Mindfully

fitness, health, Inspiration, lifestyle, Space Foundation

Well this one just about sums me up for the moment…. (being deep in my cycle 😩 but hey we are all human and one of the big upsides of this process is feeling it all (well at least thats what I tell myself on the off-days). 

Yogi-go-getter @byronbayyogi breaks it down for u here in this bite-sized snippet of whatcha need to know to keep groovin the way that only you can do #mylove. So settle into your fave chair/cushion/Turkish towel and drink this in babe ❤

There is only one of you after all- and you came here to #shinebright darling girl X

Image via @arterium

We so often waver between knowing that we are enough and the innate, biological desire to be intimate. As a woman, a long time practitioner of yoga and mindfulness, and a girl who never forgets the impossible portrayals of love in the plethora of Disney movies of her childhood, I’ve found myself in the life-long predicament of looking for love – inside and out.

And I found it – over and over again – or at least I thought I did. I found best friends, lovers, adventure companions and, eventually, someone to divulge all of the messy details of my psyche to and plan a future with. What I expected to come with these discoveries was ease. A falling into the metaphorical arms of eternal security, and a deep knowing that no matter what happens in my world, I am worthy because somebody loves me! But what I started to understand was that no matter how picture perfect my relationship is, there will always be times when I feel the earth beneath me shake – that that security is an illusion.

The yogis and spiritual masters tell us over and over again, and as I walk the path of understanding in my own life, I’ve begun to take note of these valuable lessons.

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY

One of the major benefits of a regular yoga or mindfulness practice is body awareness. Through tuning into our bodies we begin to understand how emotional tension can manifest itself in our physiology. Liz Koch (coreaware- ness.com) is an expert on the psoas muscle – a long fusiform muscle located on the side of the lumbar region. Koch says that we hold a lot of emotional tension in this area, which is why it’s not uncommon to experience strong emotions in certain yoga poses; “A primal messenger of the central nervous system, the psoas is an emotional muscle expressing what is felt deep within – what is commonly referred to as “gut feelings”. Remember the last time a relationship ended badly and thinking ‘I should have listened to my gut’? Start to trust the sensations in your body. You don’t need to immediately react to those sensations, but ultimately they may be giving you some very necessary insight into your subconscious, and you can use these insights to guide your decisions in relationships.

BE PRESENT

Modern mindfulness guru and founder of the Headspace app, Andy Puddicombe, suggests some advice for staying present during turbulent and uncertain times (and, let’s face it, love can be pretty turbulent). He recommends that instead of using our energy for wishing that a situation were different, we can put that energy into simply being – being in the moment with our self or another. When we do this our life (in relationship) “becomes a journey we are on together, day by day, discovering what is new and meeting each and every moment afresh. If we can do this, then we will experience an increasing sense of confidence, in being at ease with both comfort and discomfort, difficulty and joy.” The way to achieve this is through a simple practice of mindful meditation. “Make sure you take some time out each day”, suggests Puddicombe. When you commit to a formal practice of meditation (even a short one), it will be easier to allow negative thoughts and judgments to emerge and easily pass. Enjoy your relationships in the now and allow them to unfold organically, basking in the newness that each day brings, every day.

LEARN TO NURTURE YOUR INNER CHILD

Mindfulness master and Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh reinforces: “To take good care of ourselves, we must take care of the wounded child inside of us…if you listen every day, healing will take place.” We all carry wounds from our childhood, and these can be triggered and re-emerge in romantic relationships. When you notice yourself experiencing strong emotions in reaction to a situation in a relationship, see if you can sit with that feeling. Sometimes when we feel the urge to strongly react, we’re experiencing trauma from our past, and often this has little to do with the current situation. Take time to listen to and take care of your inner child before reacting. Hahn suggests that we can meditate on our inner child (breathing in – I see myself as a five year old child, breathing out – I smile with compassion to the five year old child in me), spend time listening to our inner child, talk to our inner child and write letters to our inner child to facilitate healing.

DON’T TAKE THINGS PERSONALLY

In his book ‘The Four Agreements’, spiritual teacher and author Don Miguel reminds us not to take things personally in relationships. He writes, “nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream.” When you can understand this, he goes on, “you can say, “I love you,” without fear of being ridiculed or rejected. You can ask for what you need. You can say yes – or you can say no – whatever you choose – without guilt or self-judgment. You can choose to follow your heart always.”

Modern philosopher and author of numerous books and essays on the topic of love, Alain De Botton, supports this advice, suggesting that when we find ourselves in conflict in our relationships, we should sometimes treat our partner like a child. He says, “one of the kindest things that we can do with our lover is to see them as children. And not to infantilise them, but when we’re dealing with children as parents, as adults, we’re incredibly generous in the way we interpret their behavior.  And if a child says, “I hate you,” you immediately go, okay, that’s not quite true. Probably they’re tired, they’re hungry, something’s gone wrong, their tooth hurts, something.”

LET GO

One of my favourite philosophers, J. Krishnamurti, has some enticing words of wisdom when it comes to love. He says, “the demand to be safe in relationship inevitably breeds sorrow and fear. This seeking for security is inviting insecurity.” When we rely on another to make us feel good about ourselves, we lose the ability to take control of our own self worth. We cannot force our lover into a vicious cycle of placating us – that’s not love. “Fear is not love, dependence is not love, jealousy is not love, possessiveness and domination are not love, responsibility and duty are not love, self-pity is not love, the agony of not being loved is not love, love is not the opposite of hate any more than humility is the opposite of vanity”, says Krishnamurti. He says, simply, when you are “not seeking, not wanting, not pursuing, there is no centre at all. Then there is love.” When we understand this, we can begin to see the importance of letting go in love. As the Buddha said, “you can only lose what you cling to.”

MAKE SELF-LOVE YOUR PRIORITY

“Authentic self-esteem comes not from improving your self-image but from knowing and accepting that core self within that is beautiful, wise, and loving,” explains Deepak Chopra. From this place of genuine self-love that doesn’t rely on external validation, you put yourself in the best position to love others and be loved. If you truly loved yourself, you wouldn’t need others to substantiate you. Instead, you could enjoy the delight of your own company. Develop the habit of continually asking yourself the question: What would I do if I loved myself?

Words by Jessica Humphries.

The Science of Yin Yoga

fitness, health, Inspiration, lifestyle, Space Foundation, yin, yoga

Resident Journo @byronbayyogi has something spesh for all you yinners out there……  She is about to give you the down-low on why Yin is so god-damn juicy…. and why you should get yourself on yo’ mat girl ❤

(Repost from our friends @ Uplift Connect:)

Image: Unknown

Creating Balance in Your Practice

The long-held, deeply restful postures of Yin Yoga provide a welcome contrast to the more dynamic, Yang dominated practices that are popular in the modern, Western world. A remedy to our fast-paced lifestyles, Yin is a practice that encourages people to slow down–immersing in the kind of stillness that can lead to the expansion of consciousness.

Today’s Yin Yoga is highly influenced by the philosophies of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which say that the body contains meridians–invisible energy highways that carry Qi (energy). The physical postures of Yin are said to work with these meridian lines to improve health and wellbeing.

Western science is also discovering the impact of the practice on a physical and psychological level. Yin creates the space to activate the parasympathetic nervous system(our rest and digest) and the longer holds work to unwind the body’s deeper layers of fascia (as opposed to working with the muscles in more dynamic movements). As we work with these layers, we create the conditions to release deeply held tension in the body and mind.

The Evolution of Yin as a Yoga Practice

The introduction of Yin Yoga to the West happened in the 1970s and is credited to yogi and martial artist, Paulie Zink. The roots of Zink’s practice are in Taoist Yoga, where Hatha Yoga poses are held for longer periods of time. The current style of Yin Yoga, however, was popularised by Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers, who have infused more Traditional Chinese Medicine and anatomical science into the practice.

Paulie Zink
Paulie Zink brought Taoist yoga–the beginnings of Yin Yoga–to the West in the 70s.

Truth Robinson, a long time meditator, yoga teacher and Chinese Medicine Doctor, teaches Yin Yoga training for esteemed yoga school Power Living, and has passionately studied the practice and its origins. He says:

The meridian theory Paul Grilley used is over 2500 years old and originates in China… It is based around the idea of Qi, which is erroneously translated as energy.

Sarah Powers, who was teaching at the same studio with Paul, “came to love the quiet floor poses that Paul was teaching”, says Robinson. He says, “Sarah suggested that… they should call these long-held, floor poses Yin Yoga… Paul and Sarah then taught the Yin Yoga practice to a growing number of students and it eventually became the practice we have today.”

Yin and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine is a system in which practitioners use herbal medicines and mind-body practices, such as acupuncture and Tai Chi, to treat health ailments and enhance wellbeing. In these Chinese systems of health, meridians are said to be channels throughout the body that direct the flow of Qi through an interconnected network that forms a complete energetic circuit. Qi can be weak, strong, agitated or balanced, and this impacts on our physical and emotional health.

Each meridian is associated with a different internal organ, and therefore the health of this organ is affected by the way that energy flows. For example, author of Brightening Our Inner Skies: Yin and Yoga, Norman Blair, says:

If the stomach meridian is blocked, we could feel nervous and unable to feel satisfied with receiving support. If there’s an imbalance in the Liver meridian, this manifests as anger and a feeling of hopelessness.

Yin for your meridiansYin Yoga affects our meridians–channels of Qi that run throughout our bodies.

According to these philosophies, there is no difference between our physical and emotional health–they are interconnected. Hence the health of the organs has a direct impact on our emotions, and vice versa.

When Paul Grilley delved into these traditional Chinese philosophies, combined with yoga asana, he discovered that certain yoga postures could impact the meridians and the way that Qi flows through them. Blair explains:

Certain Yin poses have greater influence on certain meridians and it is possible to construct a Yin Yoga practice that is based on this knowledge. In Butterfly, we strongly affect the Kidney meridian and the Bladder meridian. Frog accesses the Spleen meridian, supporting our creative potential.

The Anatomy of Yin

Sarah Owen is one of the leading Yin Yoga teachers in Australia and has been mentored by Sarah Powers for over a decade. She explains that the lower parts of the body, as well as the internal tissues, are more related to Yin Yoga than the upper body or the external tissues, such as muscle. She says:

“The more internalised tissues are best nourished when the muscles are not engaged but instead kept relaxed, and when the poses are held for longer periods.”

One of these internalised tissues, and a word we often hear associated with Yin, is fascia. Author of Fascia–What It Is And Why It Matters, David Lesonak, explains that fascia is like “a silvery-white material, flexible and sturdy in equal measure–a substance that surrounds and penetrates every muscle, coats every bond, covers every organ, and envelops every nerve.” He explains:

The most important thing to keep in mind… is that the fascial net is one continuous structure throughout the body…The ‘everywhereness’ of fascia also implies that, indeed, it is all connected, and thus is ‘connective tissue’, which is a term often used interchangeably with ‘fascia’.

FasciaFascia surrounds every muscle, covers every organ, and envelops every nerve.

Erin Bourne holds a Bachelors of Exercise Science, as well as extensive training in Yoga and Myofascial release. She teaches the anatomy of Yin Yoga on teacher trainings and is currently writing a book that looks at Yin poses from a physiological, energetic and meridian perspective. She explains that if we stop moving parts of the body in particular directions then the fascia begins to dehydrate, solidify and constrict. She says:

Think of a kitchen sponge that’s left to dry for days. It has no spring or flexibility. Yin Yoga lengthens the fascia, releasing the stuck spots and allowing the tissue to rehydrate and glow again (like soaking the sponge).

Fascia needs at least 120 seconds of sustained pressure to start to change. “This is why Yin, with its long pose holds, actually lengthens the fascia,” says Bourne.

Bourne explains that the poses in Yin Yoga also work the lines of the meridians, opening the whole length of a meridian and bringing light (Qi) to those dark spots in the body. Recent research has confirmed that 80% of meridian points in the arms correspond to the fascial planes, indicating a link between these Eastern and Western philosophies.

Robinson illustrates the importance of remodeling this connective tissue through adopting a dedicated Yin Yoga practice, to counteract the effect of how we hold our body in our daily life:

We all practice Yin all day every day, in whatever pose you adopt the most. Your body will see this as an important posture for it to hold and so will alter its structure to support your activities.

Yin and the Nervous System

Simon Borg Olivier is a long time yoga teacher, physiotherapist and university lecturer. He acknowledges that many of the fitness-dominated practices we see today are putting practitioners into fight or flight mode; activating the sympathetic nervous system and inevitably leading to anger, aggression and competitiveness. In contrast to these heart rate increasing practices, Yin Yoga works to activate our parasympathetic nervous system, which allows us to rest and digest. Simon says:

I believe that if you are doing real yoga then you should be feeling love, happiness and safety while you are practicing, not only in your relaxation after your exercise… To generate yoga on a physical level by improving blood flow without needing to increase heart rate is not only possible but it is the way of healthy people and the way of real Hatha Yoga.

Yin yoga activates our parasympathetic nervous systemYin Yoga activates our parasympathetic nervous system, which allows us to rest and digest.

Tara Fitzgibbon, one of the most well known Yin Yoga teachers in Australia, agrees. “Yin yoga gives us permission to be still. It provides balance against all of life’s Yang activities, and allows us to reach deeper levels of rest, which open us up to higher consciousness.”

Yin and the Mind

The ‘mood’ of a Yin Yoga practice is one of self-acceptance, compassion, and simply being present, rather than an attitude of striving to improve ourselves or berating ourselves for any difficulties that may arise. Instead, the practice becomes like a meditation in which one can observe mental habits and accustomed ways of reactivity. The Yin Yoga practice creates a ‘holding space’ to practice mindfulness or other meditation practices, and to observe the inner and outer experiences as they arise. – Sarah Owen

As both Eastern and Western science are unveiling, when we relax in Yin Yoga, we begin to heal the body’s deeply held tensions and change the patterns that leave our body constricted, and impact our emotional health. As we progress through these physical, emotional and spiritual layers, the opportunity for expanding our consciousness easily follows.

Author:

Jessica Humphries- catch her Mondays and Fridays 9:30 am ❤