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Monday, February 25, 2013

Eight Limbs of Yoga

Aloha Everyone,
The Eight limbs of yoga comes from the Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra and it is the basis of the yoga philosophy we all should live by. This is a scientific, holistic approach to living healthy physical and spiritual life. 
 1) Yama – self-restraint and universal morality
 2) Niyama – personal observances
 3) Asanas – physical body postures
 4) Pranayama – breathing exercises
 5)  Pratyahara – withdrawl or control of the senses
 6)  Dharana  – concentration
 7)  Dhyana  – meditation
 8)  Samadhi – bliss, union with the supreme consciousness
Namaste — Cathi

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Meditation Mantra – Om Namah Shivaya

Aloha Everyone,
Om Namah Shivaya. This mantra is known as the great redeeming mantra as well as the five-syllable mantra.  Om Namah Shivaya means “I bow to Shiva, the supreme realty, the inner self.  Shiva is the name that is give to consciousness that dwells in all of us.  Shiva is the name of our true identity.
Namaste — Cathi

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Kundalini Yoga Sat Kriya

Aloha Everyone,
Sat Kriya is a tantric yoga technique. This Kriya seems to be simple but extremely powerful and it is one of my top 3 favorite Kundalini Kriyas.
Benefits of Sat Kriya include:
- Improvement of the the entire sexual system
- Channeling of sex energy upwards to be used for higher functions.
- Makes you courageous by curing deep seated fears.
- Promotes health and well being by massaging the internal organs.
- Improves the elimination system.
- Your personality is balanced and harmonized with the higher self.
Here is an easy to follow steps.
1.  Sit on your heels with your back straight — called rock pose.
2.  Interlace your fingers all but the index fingers
3.  Press your index fingers togethr and point them straight up.
4. Your arms, elbows should be straight up to hug your ears.
5.  Your spine is elongated.
6.  Lengthen your neck and bring your chin very slightly back and in.
7.  Begin chanting the mantra, SAT NAM.
8.  Say the sound SAT loud and powerfully and simultaneously pull your navel up and in and imagine that it is reaching your spine.
9.  Imagine that the SAT sound is hitting the base of the spine.
10.Say the sound NAM softly and simultaneously relax your belly.
11.  For beginners, try 1 minutes then work your way up to 3 then 5 minutes.
Do it at your own pace and your own intensity.
12.  To close SAT KRIYA, take a deep inhalaton and with your breath held in, apply mula banda (root lock, diaphragm lock and neck lock).  Visualize your energy being pulled up the spine and moving up into your brain.  Repeat mula banda three times.
13.  Rest for at least 3 minutes in Savasana (Corpse Pose).  If you are doing in chair, then sit with Gyan Mudra or modified Child’s Pose.
Namaste — Cathi

Friday, February 22, 2013

How to Avoid the Dangers of Kundalini Yoga

Aloha Everyone,
Yes, Kundalini Yoga can be dangerous.  Please remember the following 3 ways to help avoid the dangers of Kundalini Yoga.
 1)  Do not over do it.  Do not push yourself, yoga is not a competition.  It is your own practice.  And be sure to warm up before going to difficult kriyas or asanas.
 2)  Avoid excessive Chakra Meditation which can create imbalances.  Especially if you are new to Kundalini Yoga, follow instruction of your teacher.
 3)  Do not use any drugs and if you are sick, get healthy first.
Please review from time to time the five Kundalini Awakening Symptoms
 1)  Vibration or tingling sensations all over your skin and sometime in your brain.
 2)  Muscles twitch without control.
 3)  Burning sensation in different parts of the body.
 4)  Feeling of heat or cold in the Chakras.
 5)  Tingling in the body and brain region.
If you notice any of these symptoms, stop and rest.  Please let me know if you experience these in class.
Namaste — Cathi

Thursday, February 21, 2013

What is Kundalini Yoga and How Does it Work?

Aloha Everyone,
Here is an explanation on how Kundalini Yoga works.
Kundalini Yoga combines pranayama, meditation, mantras and mudras to develop mental, physical and spiritual awareness, strength, compassion and consciousness.   Kundalini Yoga is more spiritual than other types of yoga where physical asanas and breathings are emphasized.  Kundalini is yoga of energy and awareness and by evoking the Kundalini’s untapped energy and allowing more and more flow of energy through your body, it helps in disbanding or removal of granthis or blockages in both physical and emotional and help body nourish, rejuvenate and heal yourself as well as others.
Namaste — Cathi

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Subject of Impermanence

Aloha Everyone,
We are familiar with the concept the nothing is permanent that everything is constantly changing.
In Chapter 14 of Comfortable with Uncertainty, Pema Chodron writes, “The Facts of Life: Impermanence.   That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeting and changing, is the first mark of existence. We don’t have to be mystics or physicists to know this.  Yet at the level of personal experience, we resist this basic fact.  It means that life isn’t always going to go our way.  It means there are loss as well as gain.  And we don’t like that. 
We know that all is impermanent; we know that everything wears out.  Although we can buy this truth intellectually, emotionally we have a deep-rooted aversion to it.  We want permanence; we expect permanence.  Our natural tendency is to seek security; we believe we can find it.  We experience impermanence at the everyday level as frustration.  We use our daily activity as a shield against the fundamental ambiguity of our situation, expending tremendous energy trying to ward off impermanence and death.  We don’t like it that our bodies change shape.  We don’t like it that we age.  We are afraid of wrinkles and sagging skin.  We use health products as if we actually believe that our skin, our hair, our eyes and our teeth, might somehow miraculously escape the truth of impermanence.
Below are other quotations on the subject of Impermanence.
Namaste — Cathi
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” -  Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher
“From the Absolute to the Relative-from the Infinite to the Finite-from the Undifferentiated to the Differentiated-from the Unconditioned to the Conditioned and again from the Relative to the Absolute. That is the whole truth of the inexistence to the existentialist, formless to the form, Creator to the Creature, one to the every being, absolute to the in absolute and vis-à-vis, so forth every single thing is temporary, non-existed, so do I, the dream that I dreamed off is simply a ‘lie and impermanent too’ same as in the mortal world whatever I do experience.” – Upanishad, a collection of philosophical texts which form the theoretical basis for the Hindu religion.

“It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words, “And this too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!” - Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, February 17, 2013

“Connect With Unconditional Openness” – Pema Chodron

Aloha Everyone,
Source: Pocket Pema Chodron, Chapter 48
When we sit down to meditate, we can connect with something unconditional – a state of mind, a basic environment that does not grasp or reject anything.  Meditation is probably the only activity that doesn’t add anything to the picture.  Everything is allowed to come and go without further embellishment.  Meditation is a totally nonviolent, nonaggressive occupation.  Not filling the space, allowing for the possibility of connecting with unconditional openness – this provides the basis for real change.
Namaste – Cathi

Friday, February 15, 2013

Easy Yoga for Those with Arthritis

Aloha Everyone,
Here is an easy to follow yoga for arthritis:
For hands and wrists
1.  Close and open individual fingers
2.  Stretch your fingers wide make tight fists
3.  Press your fingers on a flat surface, be aware of each joints pressing firmly
4.  Mudra – work through thumb to index
5.  Finger circles – turn inwards and outwards
6.  Wrist circles – turn inwards and outwards
7.  Pressing fingers and hands, ending in the Namaste mudra
8.  Interlock fingers – pull your arms forward.  Push your arms forward, your fingers are still interlocked but palms out
9.  Elbows – turn them forward and backwards.  Open arms, hands up and down like flight of a bird
Namaste — Cathi

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Qigong Practice

Aloha Everyone,
1.  Raise your arms above your head, elbows bent.  Bring your arms down forcefully and making loud “ha” sound with your mouth open as you exhale and pull your stomach in, repeat 10 times
2.  Body tap – start from hand up to your shoulder, 5 cycles on both hands.  Tap chest, side of your body, back, stomach, buttocks, thighs, legs, breath normally
3.  Using the pinky finger sides of your hands, massage liver and spleen, back and forth 10 times
4.  Using knuckles of your hands, massage kidneys 10 times
5.  Bend down to hold your knee caps.  Rotate to left 10 times, rotate to right 10 times
6.  Open your arms to the side, elbows straight.  Circle your hands back 10 times, forward 10 times
7.  Turn your body from dantien – let your arms follow, left to right count as one, repeat 10 times
8.  Arms swing up to the shoulders left to right count as 1, repeat 10 times
9.  Arms swing and gently tap your arm pits, left to right as one, repeat 10 times
10.  Bend the knee of your standing leg slightly as you raise your arms slowly, palms facing down, elbows and writs slightly bent into crane spreading its wings pose, raise your knee of your free leg simultaneously
Long deep breath – 1 minutes on each side
11.  Arms stretched forward, palms down.  Slowly go down inhalation to squat position.  Exhalation as you remain squatting.  Slowly rise up as you inhale. Repeat at least twice
12.  Raise your right knee – standing left leg strong and straight, knee lifted.  Clasp your right knee hold tightly and pull it close to your body.  Keep your spine elongated.  Face and shoulders relaxed. Stomach relaxed.  Long deep breathing.  Stay here for at least 1 minute.  Switch leg
Relax in table top pose or downward dog pose followed by Child’s pose.
Namaste – Cathi

Thursday, February 7, 2013

“Have No Expectations, Just Be Kind” – Pema Chodron

Aloha Everyone,
Below is a teaching from Pema Chodron.
Source from Pocket Pema Chodron, Chapter 35

A meditation student I was working with, whom I will call Dan, had a serious alcohol and drug problem.  He was really making great strides, and then he went on a binge.  On the day I found out about it, I happened to have an opportunity to see my teacher, Trumgpa Rinpoche.  I blurted out to him how upset I was that Dan had gone on a binge.  I was so disappointed.  Rinpoche got really angry, it completely stopped my heart and mind.  He said that being upset about Dan’s binge was my problem.  “you should never have expectations for other people.  Just be kind to them,” he told me.  In terms of Dan, I should just help him keep walking forward inch by inch and be kind to him, invite him for dinner, give him little gifts and do anything to bring some happiness to his life — instead of having these big goals for him.  He said that setting goals for others can be aggressive — really wanting a success story for ourselves.  When we do this to others, we are asking them to live up to our ideals.  Instead, we should just be kind.
Namaste – Cathi

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Hatha Yoga Daily Practice

Aloha Everyone,
Here is an easy to follow daily practice list which you can do at home.  These asana (pose) are from Hatha Yoga.
1.  Long Deep Breathing to start your practice
2.  Table top pose
3.  Cat/Cow
4.  Tadasana – Mountain Pose
5.  Tadasama Urdhva Hastasana – mountain pose with arms stretched up
6.  Standing on tip toe while maintaining Tadasana Urdhva Hastasana pose
7.  Uttanasana 1 – Standing Forward Bend
8.  Uttanasana 2 – Standing  Forward Bend with table top
9.  Lunge
10. Viksasana – Tree Pose
11.  Utthita Parsvakonasana – Standing Side-angle Stretch
12.  Adhomukha Svanasana – Downward Dog
13.  Urdhva mukha svanasana -  Cobra
14.  Child’s Pose
15.  Seated Spinal Twist
16.  Seated Forward Bend
17.  Savasana – Corpse Pose- at least 5 minutes
The total practice time can be anywhere from 15 minutes to 60 minutes.  Always allow sufficient time for Savasana (Corpse’ pose)
Don’t forget to breathe while you are doing your asana, drink plenty of water after your practice and rest.
Namaste — Cathi

Friday, February 1, 2013

How to Improve Your Memory

Source: Mayo Clinic
Aloha Everyone,
Here is a list of practical tips to improve your memory:
1.  Stay mentally active
You all know that being physically active helps keep your body in shape.  The same can be said about your mental health.   Do crossword puzzles, learn a new language, learn a new dance, learn to play a musical instrument.  We all have skills we can share.  So define your skills and go out and share with your neighbors.
2.  See old friends, make new friends
Socializing regularly will keep you happy, ward off depression and stress both of which can contribute to memory loss.
3.  Unclutter your life
Organize your daily activities.  Make a daily “things to do” list and challenge yourself to complete them each day.
4.  Focus
This is one of my favorite words, people try to multitask but in reality, your attention is on one thing at a time.  So FOCUS.
5.  Consume brain foods
Start with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and add to your diet low-fat protein sources, such as fish and lean meat.  Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.  For snacks try a handful of unsalted almonds or walnuts.
6.  Be active physically
This will help you increase blood flow to your brain and the rest of your body.  Yoga is an excellent low-impact physical activity.  With yoga even doing a little is better than non at all.  So don’t skip our class.
7.  See your doctor
If you have any chronic conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, consult your physician.  Take good care of your body and your memory will improve.  Remember, medications can affect your memory.  Finally if your memory loss is affecting your ability to function normally, go see your doctor.
Namaste — Cathi