Consider Yoga as Part of Back-to-School Routine for Stress & Anxiety | Part 2

A two-part interview with Karey Lynn Krampota, RYT-200

(by Bernice Thill)

Karey Lynn Krampota teaches Viniyoga, a style of yoga linking your breath with your movement that is adapted to support your physical and emotional needs. She offers classes for students throughout various stages of life: sunrise (children) mid-day and sunset (senior). In this second part, Karey Lynn shares specific ideas and techniques for children and parents alike to help alleviate stress and anxiety throughout the school year.

What kinds of advice or practices can you share for parents of kids dealing with higher levels of stress and/or anxiety related to the start of a new school year?

First, it’s okay not to be okay! There will be hard days, but taking a breath makes it easier. When we feel frustrated or overwhelmed what happens? Our breath becomes shorter just like our temper. Use your breath as a guide for ease and support.

When we become aware of our breath, we become more mindful of our feelings. Within this awareness and mindfulness, we can set an example for our children.

Having a set routine each day for your child helps them know what to expect and reduces anxiety. Depending on age or developmentally where your child is, you can have a calendar with different stickers for certain activities. Utilizing a clock with stickers by certain times for daily routine tasks, such as (for younger children) 4 PM has a book sticker for homework and 7 PM has a bed sticker for bedtime. You can also color code the clock for different tasks and have a chart with coordinating colors as a key (for older children).

Getting their backpack ready, lunch made, homework completed and clothes picked out the night before limits morning rushing and stress kids and parents alike.

What are some of the techniques you teach in your classes that can help alleviate stress or anxiety for children?

Here’s an example of something you would learn in my classes, called Tense & Release.

The idea for this Mindful Activity is for families to come together to learn and notice the difference between feeling stress/tension vs. relaxation/calm in our minds and bodies. Recognizing the difference between the two helps promote a healthy coping skill to begin the process of releasing the tension we may be experiencing and potentially creating that sense of calm.

To begin:

Invite your Little Yogi to either lay on their back, belly or sit in a comfortable seated position next to you or on your lap. Take a few breaths here. In through your nose and out through your nose.

Inhale creating a fist with your hands, exhale unclenching your hands. Do 3 Times.

After Inhale Ask: Do you feel your hand feeling tight? 

After Exhale Ask: Do you feel your hand feeling relaxed?

Inhale bringing your toes towards your nose, exhale drawing your toes away from your body. Do 3 Times.

After Inhale Ask: Do you feel your legs feeling tight?

After Exhale Ask: Do you feel your legs feeling relaxed?

Inhale extending your belly out. Exhale drawing your belly in. Do 3 Times.

After Inhale: Do you feel your belly growing big?

After Exhale: Do you feel your belly growing small?

To end:

Take a few breaths together. Give each other a hug.

How can parents incorporate more play at home to help alleviate stress or anxiety?

I like to use everyday activities to help parents and children become more connected with their breath and to practice being more mindful. A few examples include:

Bake Cookies:

Before, during and after baking, engage all of your senses. Take time to notice one thing you can see, hear, touch and feel, smell, and finally, taste! This exercise can help kids slow down and be present.

Wiggle & Giggle: 

Turn on your favorite music and dance-wiggle around. After moving through a song or two, sit in a comfortable position. Share a joke or many and laugh-giggle. Movement + Laughter = Stress Reduction

Walk & Talk: 

Take a walk each day with your child to talk. Talk about anything and everything. Talk about your day: What was the best part of your day? Was there a part of your day that wasn’t easy? Is there anything that you need help with? What was your favorite moment today? Walk + Talk = Conscious Connection

Rest & Digest: 

After school when your children come home, give them time to transition. During this time, offer them a quiet space, creating the opportunity to rest from their day and digest the reminder. Rest + Digest = Calm Transitions

Learn more about classes Karey Lynn offers on the 5 Koshas website.

Consider Yoga as Part of Back-to-School Routine for Stress & Anxiety | Part 1

A two-part interview with Karey Lynn Krampota, RYT-200

(by Bernice Thill)

Part I

Karey Lynn Krampota teaches Viniyoga, a style of yoga linking your breath with your movement that is adapted to support your physical and emotional needs. She offers classes for students throughout various stages of life: sunrise (children) mid-day and sunset (senior). 

With school just around the corner for many students and parents, Karey Lynn discusses the benefits of yoga to ease stress and anxiety. Part I of our interview focuses on understanding the stress triggers that affect children and the benefits of introducing yoga at a young age. Part II will share specific ideas and techniques for children and parents alike to help alleviate stress and anxiety throughout the school year.

At what age can children begin to use yoga?

Adults seeking to incorporate yoga into their children’s lives can do so through each juncture of parenthood. From before birth to after. Some opportunities available to interested parents include prenatal yoga, postnatal and baby-bonding yoga, and family yoga. These opportunities can be found in the form of classes at your local yoga studio, online video content or even at the public library through books.

My son was introduced to yoga before he was born! When I was pregnant, I practiced prenatal yoga to prepare for birth and labor. After he was born, I found that my practice shifted to not only self-care, but bonding with him. I would practice while he had tummy time on the yoga mat. As he grew bigger and older, my yoga practice adapted to holding him in certain poses or him sitting on my yoga mat while in full observation. When he was a toddler, he began mimicking my postures and asking questions. Such as, “Mom what are you doing?” and “Mom, don’t I look like you?” As he reached school age, he started becoming more interested in breathing techniques. As he grew, so did his interest in the different aspects of yoga. Most school age adolescents begin as observers then become absorbers!

Based on your experience with working with children, what kinds of anxieties do they tend to exhibit? What triggers them?

Anxiety in childhood can change as they encounter different life experiences, and interruptions in routine related to school can be a big one. Many situations can trigger their anxiety, such as being over-simulated in an environment that is loud or with a big group of people, learning how to navigate a new situation and even witnessing learned behaviors from parents or caregivers that display nervousness or unease.

During the different transitions of age, children may experience anxiety about:

  • Early childhood (birth to age 5)
    • Being away from parents for the first time or starting school
    • Learning to share toys or making new friends
  • Middle childhood (ages 6 to 12)
    • Not knowing an answer when called on at school 
    • Realizing they aren’t a little kid anymore, but they aren’t a big kid yet
  • Adolescence (ages 13 to 18)
    • Going through puberty
    • Becoming an adult and what will I do with my life?
  • Other examples of exhibited anxiety may be from:
    • Worrying about grades
    • Struggling with managing school and/or extracurricular activities 
    • Problems with friends, bullying, or peer pressures
    • Moving or changing schools
    • Dealing with home problems or parents separating

How can yoga help parents and kids manage their stress and anxiety?

Yoga helps reduce stress and anxiety in adults and children alike by helping them become aware of their body and breath, which can help them become mindful and present. When children become mindful, we then can present them with skills for dealing with stress and anxiety.

Yoga fosters benefits within a family, too. Family members that practice yoga become more in-tune with their feelings, which results in limited reactions due to stress. The family moves away from absorbing and reacting to observing and responding.

Are children more open to embracing different techniques for managing stress?

Absolutely! Children throughout each stage and age from early childhood to adolescence are naturally curious. Children are born full of wonder as they develop and so do the questions of Who? What? Where? When? Why? Children are growing while they try to understand their environment and everything around them including their emotions, stress, thoughts and experiences.

What are some of the techniques you teach to help kids?

Children typically have limited attention spans when they are young, so yoga techniques for children are all about play. Some of the yoga tools that benefit children are:

Breath – learning how the body works with breathing mechanics:

  • Blowing bubbles—creates the awareness of breath through the nose on inhale and out through the mouth on exhale
  • Smelling flowers—develops the breath through the nose on inhale and out through the nose on exhale
  • Fogging the mirror or window—demonstrates how to breath through the nose on inhale and out through the mouth on exhale
  • Creating animal noises with the breath like a bee or farm animals—explores breathing through the nose on inhale and out through the mouth on exhale (making the sound)

Movement – expanding the body mobility and developing flexibility:

  • Moving through static movement that begins slow and progressively gets quicker or movement begins quickly then proceeds to a slow pace
  • Linking movement with songs like head, shoulders, knees and toes or the hokey pokey

Learn more about classes Karey Lynn offers on the 5 Koshas website.

Balance Your Summer Heat Using Ayurveda

An Interview with Pauline Zweck, E-RYT 200 Certified Viniyoga Wellness Instructor

Summer. It’s officially here. It’s a time of excitement—travel, visiting friends, family celebrations, summer projects. 

Summer. It also can be a time of excess—excess heat and humidity, over-scheduled social calendars, indulgent celebrations. We pack a lot into our short summers. They can become a whirlwind of activity. We may find our lives begin to match the intensity of the season. 

To find balance, consider incorporating Ayurvedic principles into your physical or asana practice. Pauline Zweck, E-RYT 200 Certified Viniyoga Wellness Instructor, explains how Ayurveda can help when the summer heat—and busyness—is on.

First, some perspective. Ayurveda is an ancient health system, founded in India over 5,000 years ago. It teaches that everything is made up of the five elements: earth, water, fire, air, and ether or space.

“According to Ayurvedic teachings, each of us is born with a unique combination of these elements. This is your basic constitution, known in Sanskrit as ‘prakriti’. Your constitution never changes, and it’s expressed as doshas,” Zweck says.

The three doshas and their associated elements are:

  • Vata (air and ether) 
  • Pitta (fire and water) 
  • Kapha (earth and water) 

“When life starts happening—our diet, lifestyle, environment, and even the seasons—can put us in vikruti, or an imbalance of our doshas. Ayurveda, the science of life, suggests introducing opposite qualities to find balance and maintain good physical and emotional health,” explains Zweck. “In Ayurveda, the seasons are also assigned related doshas. Summer is known as pitta (fire and water) season. Even if pitta is not your basic tendency, this hot, fiery season may cause pitta imbalance in our bodies.”

If you are experiencing excess pitta, it may show up as: 

  • Heartburn
  • Skin rashes
  • Irritability
  • Impatience
  • Excess heat in the body

“As someone with pitta as my dominant dosha, during the hot summer days the excess heat makes me quite miserable and I can feel irritable and impatient,” Zweck says. “However, when pitta is in balance, we have mental clarity, vitality, and are joyful to be around.” 

So, how can you get to a more joyful place? Using the Ayurveda teachings that balance is found in opposites, Zweck shared these tips to try during your asana practice to cool and soothe your body and mind:

  • Practice in a cool, dark room
  • Practice before 10:00 a.m. or after 2:00 p.m.
  • Keep your gaze soft at the horizon 
  • Let go of precision and rather find grace and flow in your movements
  • Take time to pause—summer is not a time to be agenda-driven
  • Relax effort to 70 percent 
  • Use forward bends, side opening poses, and simple twists to “vent” the “fire” in the solar plexus (naval and upward) area
  • Lengthen your exhales to release any built-up anger or frustration
  • Be aware of your back body as you breathe

For those new to Ayurveda, Zweck shared this quick, pitta-pacifying hand mudra you can do anytime, independent of an asana practice:

Bring the tip of each thumb to the web between the ring and little fingers of the same hand. Relax your hand and fingers and hold the mudra up to 5 minutes. The fire element represented by the thumb, bows to, and is pacified by the earth and water elements represented by the ring and little fingers.


Zweck recommends incorporating a few of these ideas into your practice. Notice how you might bring some of these ideas into other activities throughout your day. Your body, mind and spirit may welcome the balance.

Yoga for Men: Dealing with Stress and Pain Before it Gets Out of Control

An interview with Andrew Beaumont, M.D., Ph.D., Yoga Therapist & 5 Koshas Yoga Partner
By Bernice Thill, Writer and Yoga Practitioner

Andrew Beaumont, M.D., Ph.D., was inspired to become a yoga instructor after seeing so many patients in his neurosurgery practice with back and neck pain and few options for self help. In addition to his medical work, he now teaches Viniyoga and yoga therapy focused on helping men and women tackle their structural issues as well as stress.

 

“I realized the benefits of yoga after trying to deal with my own injuries,” Beaumont explained. “I wanted to bring those benefits to others.”

 

While men and women are equally affected by back and neck problems, Beaumont’s experience is that men tend to get into more pain before they seek help. “Some men have a fear of showing weakness, or complaining about pain. They can be less likely to take care of themselves with preventive strategies,” he said.

 

Beaumont sees two consistent and related problems men endure.

 

The first is increased muscle tension, which can cause neck, back, leg and pelvic pain and headaches. The second is stress and anxiety. Stress and anxiety make muscle tension worse, and increased muscle tension and pain makes stress worse. 

 

“The accumulated pain and stress can start to influence relationships with wives and children and extended family, which in turn causes more stress,” he explained.

 

“Men and women in middle age are often wearing many hats. They are still raising children, but might be caring for parents as well. They often have to do physical work at their own place of residence and sometimes at their parents as well. There may be workplace stress that compounds all this.” 

 

Beaumont finds that men dealing with these issues often react to the stress by tensing up and holding that tension in their back and necks, hunching their shoulders over and walking with a flexed posture. This is a physically defensive position, brought about by the mental stress. All this muscle tension leads to fatigue and pain.

 

“Yoga can help relieve muscle tension,” he explained. “Through breath work and meditation, it can also help with anxiety and stress. So with regular yoga practice you can begin to unravel the vicious cycle of muscle tension, pain, stress and fatigue.”

 

For men in particular, yoga therapy can help in several ways:

  1. Stress reduction
  2. Muscular relaxation
  3. General and cardiac fitness
  4. Help with neck and low back pain
  5. Improved relationships with family and friends

“Men and women are prone to developing structural spine problems in middle age,” he said. “The most common symptom is pain. It can be hard to distinguish the pain of muscle tension and stress from the pain of structural spine problems. Numbness, tingling, pain shooting into the arms or legs and weakness would all be unusual symptoms for muscle tension and stress, and these symptoms should make you think of underlying spine problems.” 

 

Yoga therapy, when performed with a yoga therapist, has the ability to help with spinal disorders too, and regular yoga and other exercise is an important tool to help prevent flares of symptoms related to degenerative spine disease.

 

“To get the benefits from yoga, it is important to have a regular practice. When you are tired, stressed and in pain, it can help heal you, but it’s also really useful as a way to prevent the build up of stress,” Beaumont added. “Keeping up with that ‘you time’ is key to being able to keep going through all the stress and physical demands we face in life.”

 

With Father’s Day just around the corner, consider giving a 5 Koshas gift card to the men in your life HERE. Gift cards can be used toward exploring various classes and getting started with a new practice to help ease pain and stress.

Taking Time for Self-Care

An interview with Mary Kluz, RYT-200, 5 Koshas Yoga Teacher 
By Bernice Thill, Writer and Yoga Practitioner

Your body is an engineering marvel. And like any well-engineered marvel, it needs maintenance and fine tuning. That’s where self care comes into play, according to Mary Kluz, MS, RYT-200, Viniyoga Teacher at 5 Koshas.

 

What is self care? “Self care is about checking in on oneself, identifying unmet needs and seeking ways to meet those needs,” explains Kluz.

Self care can evolve from our responses to various aspects in life —from physical and emotional, to spiritual, professional and relational, or to some or all of these things at any given time. “Human needs are universal, but how we satisfy those needs vary greatly,” says Kluz, who along with teaching, has been dedicated to a personal yoga practice for 16 years. 

“A good way to check in on yourself is to pay attention to how you are feeling, physically and emotionally. Are you feeling agitated? Do you have a short fuse? Do you feel down?” she says. “Sometimes these ‘bad’ emotions are good indicators that your body is waving a flag. It needs some help. This is a good time to consider self care.”

Kluz acknowledges that society doesn’t always allow people the time they need for self care, or that self care can be viewed as selfish. She believes that you can’t take care of others, whether you are a parent or a caregiver, a leader at work, or a partner in a relationship for example, without taking care of yourself first.

Self-Care Self Checkin

How do you get started?

First, recognize and embrace self compassion. “You have to believe that you deserve to have this care, that it’s ok to focus on your own needs without feeling selfish,” Kluz says.

Second, take the time to slow down enough to check in with yourself and reflect. “Look inside yourself and recognize the feelings you have, and use those feelings as guideposts,” she says.

Third, identify the needs that may be driving those feelings. Can you pinpoint what is serving you and what isn’t? Be open, and also give yourself permission to consider different strategies to better meet your needs. It can be as simple as giving yourself permission to change your mind.

Finally, take action toward self care. “Ask yourself, ‘Can I do this on my own or do I need to ask for help?’ This is where yoga can play a role, because it focuses on creating unity between your body and mind,” she adds. “Yoga cultivates more consistent communication between our bodies and our brains.”

Yoga as Part of Self-Care Practice

There are different triggers in life that may bring students into a yoga practice. When they join her classes, Kluz meets her students where they are and helps them explore the benefits of yoga.

“Yoga can provide students with an opportunity to practice interoception — that is the sense of what is going on inside our bodies,” she explains. Interoception is what helps people recognize different emotions, and also can help with understanding and responding to them. 

Yoga also provides an opportunity for proprioception, or the perception and awareness of where our bodies are in space. “For example, if you’re doing a yoga pose and have to put one foot behind your body where you can’t see it, proprioception allows you to be certain that your foot is still back there, supporting you. Focusing on this sense allows one to be more in the moment, feeling grounded to the earth.”

Lastly, yoga helps tone the nervous system, fostering unity between the body and mind. 

Self care is for anyone — and while Moms are on our minds as we look toward Mother’s Day — self care is critical for anyone in a caregiving role. It’s a life skill that can be modeled for our own children to help them approach and experience life on a more even keel.

For further exploration, 5 Koshas offers an in-studio and online class, Gentle Yoga for Beginners and Beyond learn more HERE Consider a gift card for the caregivers in your life this Mother’s Day. You can learn more and purchase HERE

Cakra (or Chakra) Practice to Refresh the Body Temple One Room At A Time

By Mary Hilliker, E-RYT 500, C-IAYT

“Each cakra represents an essential chamber in the temple of the Self.  Each one houses an aspect of the sacred and is necessary for wholeness.  The more we clean and properly decorate the temple, the more we court the presence of the divine.”

– Anodea Judith in Eastern Body, Western Mind

When The Body Temple Needs Refreshing

Do you ever feel off, stagnant, stuck, spinning out, unable to propel forward, unable to achieve something, unable to manifest something that you know is possible or less connected to your sense of faith or the divine?  If you answered “yes,” welcome to being human.  There are times when our prana (life force) is not flowing freely or it’s too active at some level in our energetic body.  Those times tend to be reflected in a lack of harmony in how we feel about ourselves, how we relate to others, and how we connect to sources of inspiration and the divine.    It’s like a house in need of spring cleaning.

What Are The Cakra-s? 

The ancients conceived of the cakra model to help us understand the energetic nature of who we are in relationship to our self, others, time and change, and death.  The cakra-s are “whirling vortices that receive, assimilate and express vital energy in its many forms.”

Coming back to the idea of a temple with rooms, we might consider each of the rooms of the temple as an energetic center with a purpose and action.  The first floor takes care of survival needs and grounds us.  The second floor produces innovative ideas.  The third floor helps us take an idea and make it into something.  And up we go until the seventh floor dials us up (hopefully with a good cable connection) to our relationship with the divine, faith, God, source.

Where Are These Teachings From?

These teachings come from the ancient transmission of Laya Yoga.  My favorite sources on the cakra-s besides what I’ve learned from my teacher, Gary Kraftsow, is Chakras: Energy Centers of Transformation by Harish Johari and Chakra Meditation by Swami Saradananda.  In more modern times, teachers like Anodea Judith, have added a synthesis of the ancient teachings through the lens of Western psychology which may be of interest to teachers, health care, and mental health professionals.

Why Do Cakra Practice?

One of the most important reasons to consider cakra practice is to refine our relationship to ourselves, to better harmonize with others, to be able to manage the changes that occur through life, and as my teacher Gary says, “have a good death.”  Well, we hope that isn’t coming anytime soon, but we must face that we have an expiration date.  Why not slide into our final passing with all our humanly work done and our relationships in harmony?  Why not elevate our potentials now?

At an overarching level, the cakra model helps us understand the interplay between the microcosm and the macrocosm.  At an individual level, the cakra model helps us understand our challenges and potentials in relationship to the macrocosm.

The Cakra Model in Brief Form

There are several models of the cakra system but for purposes here, let’s focus on seven major energetic areas in the body.  Each of these areas are associated with qualities of potential and dysfunction.

 

Major Potential of Cakra

 

Sanskrit Name Location in the Body
1 Survival, Trust, Stability

 

Muladhara

Base of the spine

Pelvic floor

2 Creation, Bringing to Life

 

Svadhistana Just above pubic bone
3 Transformation and Self-Esteem

 

Manipura                                                                          Navel
4 Yummy Qualities of the Heart

 

Anahata Base of sternum
5 Communication and Listening

 

Visuddhi At Adam’s apple
6 Decision-making and Discernment

 

 

Ajna Above nose and between eyes
7 Inspiration and Connection to our Faith

 

Sahasrara Crown of the head

Creating the Conditions for Transformation

How can we cultivate the conditions for transforming our potentials and weakening dysfunctions?   The roadmap of the cakra-s link the microcosm to the macrocosm, especially in any cakra meditation practice.  The first five cakra-s (the earthlier duty ones) are associated with the five elements and the five senses (jnanendriya).   Each cakra is associated with an action (karmendriya) and an organ of action.  In meditation, we connect to the elements, senses, cakra actions, and organs of action to surface what’s there.  Then we use that information to meditate on the potentials that we want to strengthen.

Cakra practice may focus on a variety of yoga tools including:

  • Yoga asana and pranayama that regulates flow of prana in different areas of the body
  • Mantra-s (sounds, chants)
  • Mudra-s (hand gestures)
  • A variety of meditations including the use of mantra repetition and yantra (geometric designs)
  • Other practices (example: Take a walk near water, go swimming)

We can return to cakra practice throughout our lifetime to help us continue to transform through life’s changes, develop our potentials, work with our challenges, and continue to refine our relationship to time and change.

The Fruits of Practice

I’ve been doing cakra practices for about 30 years, adapting the practices to what’s happening.  These practices can be incredibly helpful during grief, big life changes, or periods of feeling stuck, rudderless, and indecisive.  They are also helpful in continually checking in with yourself to surface your blind spots and to address what’s pushing your buttons.  It’s like doing spring cleaning on a regular basis so nothing piles up into a big mess.

If I can leave you with three words to describe the fruits of cakra practice, it’s process, harmonize and elevate!  If you want to learn more about the cakra-s, what and how to practice, and discussion around exploring each of the cakra potentials, consider joining 5 Koshas Yoga & Wellness and the River Flow Yoga Teacher Training School for our upcoming Meditation + Cakra-s Intensive.

Meditation + Intensive_200hrTTFlyer_2021-22_010922

 

 

 

Pilates through the eyes of a Yoga Therapist

By Heather Van Dalfsen, Certified Yoga Therapist, Yoga Teacher & Pilates Teacher in Training

Movement.

Everyday you have the opportunity to move.

• From fingers, toes, limbs and spine
• To creating facial expressions
• To subtle internal movements through shallow breathing, deep breathing
• Through softly singing, humming or
• Even imagining these ‘movement’ practices

Pilates and Yoga work as team-mates, adding more tools within the movement toolbox, giving you a variety of options and fresh perspectives as you check in with your short term and long term goals of physical and mental health.

Many foundational layers of a Pilates practice are similar to the building blocks of an intentional Yoga practice. Each of the following ‘foundations’ could create ongoing discussions and learning curves within your lifetime of practice. Let’s review and keep the dialogue and practice going.

Foundational Intentions:

Breath as a Guide – Breathing can be the bridge between mind and body, supporting you in understanding how you are moving in the space you are in and how you can continue creating alignment and stability from feet to pelvis to shoulders; from spine through limbs. Breathing can support controlled movements while offering a rhythmic pace to your practice. When do you most notice you are breathing and how does it support you?

A Neutral Spine – There are many verbal cues within movements and pauses of movements that ask you to explore and create a neutral spine. What is this and why? A neutral spine equals the natural curves of the spine. This can support the spine’s bones, discs, ligaments, tendons and muscles to handle weight and impact, letting the body work with efficiency and minimal damage. What do you notice about your spinal curves?

Directions of Movement of the Spine – A lot of our daily activities is moving forward – leaning over things, sitting, walking. In our movement practice we can also explore backbends = spinal extension, side bending = lateral flexion/extension, twisting = rotation of the spine and axial extension = verticality of the spine. Practicing all of these builds our stability, mobility and overall balance. What are your daily movement habits?

Stability Supports Mobility – It is quite amazing to move in ways that sharpen awareness of the pelvis as part of the “360” core of the body. The core is more than the stomach! How the pelvis is in relationship and alignment with the knees down through the feet; how the pelvis is in relationship and alignment with the shoulders and neck are all examples of creating stability throughout the body. When there is stability and alignment of your structure, mobility can be explored, feel more natural and create less stress. What are the ways you would like to increase your mobility?

Everyday Snacks – Like Yoga, Pilates can be practiced everyday – even if short snacks of practices once a day or throughout the day. At some time each day we are either standing, seated or supine. Within these positions of the body, there are ways to check in with your neutral spine and how you can create stability within this foundation throughout the habitual movements each day. What short practices do you already integrate into your day? What else would you like to learn?

As a Yoga Therapist I continue to learn and practice Yoga and Pilates using these foundational intentions and many more. Yet for now, these are a kind reminder that these movement modalities should be and can be accessible and effective, sustainable and even joyful for everyone.

Whether you are new to movement practices or a consistent student of movement, what are you interested in learning and integrating into your daily routine? How would a practice support your short-term and long term health intentions?

5 Koshas Yoga and Wellness has many compassionate and educated teachers who continue to be students of movement. You are always welcome to join us in learning more through attending in-studio or online classes or participating in a private session individually or with a small group of friends and family.

Email: Office@5koshasyoga.com or Heather@5koshasyoga.com to continue dialogue.

Matters of the Heart – em.bodi.ment

By Pamela Luedtke, Certified Brain Gym Instructor, Dance Instructor, Certified Pilates Instructor & Creator of em.bodi.ment 

The Fire Element symbolizes our passion for life through the quality of our relationships with others. The connections we make with each encounter is a balance of giving and receiving unconditional love with others and with ourselves

Our heartbeat accelerates with every emotion or physical action we take or slows down to a peaceful waltz during a quiet moment of meditation. Noticing our heart field and imagining our heart field expanding into the space that surrounds us is an opportunity to direct our unconditional love outwards towards others.

The heart field is an energic connection that reaches from our heart space through our distal reach and can expand as far as we can imagine. Noticing our heart field also provides insight to our abilities to receive unconditional love. To create true balance within our heart field, we must be able to give and equally receive love.

The following integrated movement from em.bodi.ment provides the imagery and physical gesture that explores our heart field.

The Fire Element is one of five elements of the Element Wheel. Each element has one action referred to as an integrated movement. This action is repeated multiple times and provides a movement experience that focuses on personal choice-making. Authentic movement is movement that you choose to make however slow or fast you wish to move. The impulse or motivation to move is based on your breath, eyes and internal affirmations creating a reflective process of movement.

The single movement that is repeated is a starting point, where your gestures take you is a precious moment of choice and expression of your authentic self. The movements are based on Brain Gym ® and Touch for Health ® concepts of integrated movements.

Integrated movements are specific movements that correlate to specific areas of the brain. For example, when we walk, we move through cross-lateral movements which activates both hemispheres of the brain while moving our right arm only, activates the left hemisphere of the brain. The potential of daily movement is not only valuable to our body but also to our brain.

In the following video, join me in exploring our heart field of the Fire Element through the em.bodi.ment  actions from the Element Wheel.

Fire

Meridians: Heart/Small Intestine (Unconditional Love & Assimilation) and Pericardium/Triple Warmer (Bonding & Harmony)

  • Standing in neutral placement, feet parallel with the knees unlocked. Take a moment for intentional breathing and place your hands over the heart or lower abdominals. Slowly extend the arms outward and then return to the surface of the body. Breathe in open your eyes and exhale and close your eyes. Breathe in open your eyes and internally state or speak out loud “I am” as your internal affirmation, exhale close your eyes and notice one word that may come to mind. Repeat your inhale with eyes open stating “I am” and exhale notice your key word that may complete this simple but powerful phrase.
  • The integrated movement begins by noticing your heart field. Through the gesture of reaching out and returning to your heart center, notice how far your heart field expands. Does it extend to your fingertips, pass your fingertips, through the walls or does it extend miles away?  Allow the eyes to look outwards with your reach and bring your focus closer following the return to the surface of your body. The gesture of extending out is to direct your intention of giving unconditional love, the gesture of drawing the hands back to your heart or lower belly, embodies your acceptance of unconditional love. Layer this movement experience with your breath pattern described previously, along with your internal affirmation of “I am”.
  • Reach out into your distal space which is as far as you can reach to your fingertips. Our personal space includes the distal reach of our front/back, side/side, up/down and diagonal front/back space. Each direction we reach out into has three levels, low, middle, and high. Expand your heart field by reaching in different directions in a variation of levels. Your authentic movement may expand this gesture into stepping into the direction where you reach. This action of stepping also challenges leg tracking of your gait and balance.
  • Finish by arriving in stillness, take a deep in-hale and ex-hale in stillness to conclude. I find value in taking a moment to write and reflect on your movement experience recalling imagery, emotions or inner dialogue drawn out by the affirmation of “I am”. Observe your reflection through the viewpoint of a witness and not of judgement. Consider exploring this Element for one week.

Join Pamela in her upcoming 11 Video-On-Demand Series: em.bodi.ment Shen & Ko Cycle & One Private Session learn & register HERE

Begins Monday, February 14th – April 25th | Videos are uploaded each Monday; Practice when it’s convenient for you!

Pamela Luedtke NCPT-CPT completed her Comprehensive Pilates Certification through Studio B Pilates/Balanced Body in 2014 and Balanced Body Master Instructor Training, Sacramento, CA, in 2020. As a Pilates Instructor at Studio B, she has worked with individuals of various backgrounds and abilities in both large group classes and with clients in one-on-one consultations. Pamela was certified as a Brain Gym® Instructor in 2005 and continues to integrate the theory into her teaching which inspired her to develop a movement exploration titled em.bodi.mentem.bodi.ment  links movement development and reflexive repatterning  that creates a physcial exploration of layered  activities that can enhance and support your  physical practice of authentic and integrated movement.

Pamela completed the 500-hour certification of Brain Gym ® through the Educational-Kinesiology Foundation teacher program in 2005.  As a certified instructor (2005-2010), Pamela facilitated trainings through-out Central Wisconsin instructing; Introduction to Brain Gym ® and Brain Gym ® 101 course work for elementary and high school educators. She has also consulted schools to bring more movement into the learning process by accessing Brain Gym® activities in the classrooms. As a Practitioner, she continues to advocate the integrateation and implementation of movement into our daily lives to enhance comprehension, focus, organization, and emotional health. For additional information about Brain Gym ® visit www.braingym.org to learn more.

Pamela is an active artist in the Central Wisconsin community for more than 20 yeasr. She is the founder and artistic director of Point Dance Ensemble, a co-founder of The Artist In Residence Project (AIR Project) and a founding member of Shuvani Tribal Belly Dance. Pamela was a soloist with the Mary Anthony Dance Theatre in New York, NY for eight years, during which time she also worked with such dance luminaries as Anna Sokolow, Bertram Ross and Agnes de Mille. She is currently a Lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point where she teaches Ballet and Modern Dance technique, as well as a Pilates Mat class.

Let’s take iRest Meditation for a Test Drive – Your Mileage May Vary

by Jay Coldwell, RYT-200 & iRest Meditation Level 2 Teacher 

The stream of consciousness below is similar to what many people experience in an iRest guided meditation practice. As you do your test drive, be sure to notice some things:

  • Moving into direct experience, beyond thoughts and language. Embodiment of sensation, emotion, thought, belief. This is a somatic experience. An experience that welcomes whatever arises. No attachment or aversion. No “trying not to think”.
  • A slow release of the I-centric thought. Noticing presence without reference to “I”. Not trying to do that, but it happens because of the somatic technique of the body scan and breath awareness.
  • Curiosity as to what is coming into Awareness; what is real; defensiveness falling away; letting truth emerge out of insight from the heart.
  • Noticing a Stillness that is always there. It gets covered by the noise of the world, but as we practice iRest, we also notice that Stillness is ALWAYS available, and that everything arises in Stillness.

Enjoy your test drive!

Here I am, attending iRest guided meditation. I hope it’s not too weird. I hope I don’t fall asleep. But how could I fall asleep in a room full of other people, or on Zoom? That’s not going to happen.

Why am I here? What is bugging me? Something is bugging me. Not sure – maybe there is something wrong with me. My boss seems to think so, sometimes….

So. Here we go. Tuning in to the sensations of the room – light, sound, touch, smell, taste….presence of others…..I hope I have time to get to the grocery store. I hope people are wearing masks now……Oh yes, sensations in the room…..Noticing how senses are more vivid when I focus attention on them one-by-one.

Why am I here – oh yes….what is bugging me…is there something wrong??? I should have worn more comfortable clothes, or at least something that looks better….Yes, what IS BUGGING ME? Hmmm. calm down a bit.

Feeling into that memory of Lake Superior, its sounds, movement, deep vitality, it’s gentle swells evoking a feeling of dynamic security, safety, attunement with life……sanctuary…..in the flow.

Remembering that my motivation is for the benefit of all…for myself for sure, but also for all…I even contribute to charity….and I develop skills that help people….I took CPR certification, right? So some things are right with me…..

Ok – let’s focus…..I wonder what the new restaurant across the street is like….we’ll have to go there soon….oops – OK –

Feeling sensations in the jaw…..the teeth….gums….tongue….sides of the mouth….roof of the mouth……any tastes present……and then moving awareness to the inner ear…..really – can people be aware of their inner ear??? ….the structure of the outer ear…any sensation in the outer ear…..hmmm….what was it I needed to do tonight? Something I needed to remember…..feeling the weight of the eyes pressing back into the head….and behind the eyes…..whoa…I do feel something here….following the guidance….really aware of the hands….palms of the hands…..left, then right, then both together…..brain doesn’t talk so much now….oops, focus……..feeling the surface of the body….feeling beyond the body….hey you can!…focus…..following energy of breath on left side, then right side, then both sides…..hmmm…this feels sleepy…..I CAN’T fall asleep – what if I snore???

Now noticing what is present…(what does that mean)….curious…what IS there?…..sensation…pain in left shoulder…..tight….warm…..deep red……pulsating…..radiant……Hmm…it changes as Awareness moves there….bigger, then smaller…..How would it be if that wasn’t there??….curious…..attending…..feeling…..words don’t describe it, but the sensation is distinct…….Now feeling both the pain and the other sensation at the same time…..amazing….shifting…..

A belief comes into Awareness……my boss thinks I’m not good enough……yes, that constricts, right there…..noticing size, texture, movement……..and an opposite belief comes into Awareness……I’m ok….feeling that…size, texture, movement….alternating then feeling both at once….. …… …… …… hmmm….communication could change…..remember that…..

And letting Awareness rest……mind rest….. …… ….. Noticing Stillness…… a brief moment of Stillness….. Resting…… Stillness pervading…. Timeless, Spacious, Familiar, Whole, Perfect…..Resting… Stillness…. …… ….. …..

Remembering – oh yes, change in communication — and – stillness. Feeling surroundings, light, sound, touch, smell, taste…..stillness… opening and closing eyes….was I asleep? Sanctuary….Peaceful….Aware….oh yes, I need to run that errand….and still a sense of Stillness. Breathing deeply, stretching, really back in the room. Moving on with my day.

Lightness & Luminosity in Yoga Practice & In Life – The Play of the Guna-s

by Mary Hilliker, RDN, E-RYT 500, C-IAYT

Do you ever feel that you have a carnival in your mind, heart, or body? 

A stuck emotion here, an attitude lingering, a ruminating thought there, an ache or pain in a joint, tight back or neck muscles – all these possibilities creating either a ‘stuckness’ or a constant motion instead of lightness and clarity.  

The ancient wisdom of yoga says that the natural state of our mind is lightness and luminosity (a state of sattva).  This lightness and luminosity can extend to our thoughts, feelings, memories, emotions, physiology, and physical bodies.  Through yoga practice that is skillful and intentional, we can foster more self-regulation. We can create the conditions to be discerning, less reactive, and positive even in the face of life’s ever-changing reality. 

Our yoga practice can teach us about the nature of things that are constantly changing and that which is always the same. It’s in the quiet space of our practice that we develop the inner muscle of awareness to see what is.  Through a skillful approach to practice, we can feel the universe within us and us within the universe. 

So, what’s constantly changing?  Pretty much everything! In yoga philosophy, we know this concept as Prakṛti.  In their book, Embodying the Yoga Sutra: Support, Direction, Space, Ranju Roy and David Charlton, refer to Prakṛti as “outside.”  

Anything with form or substance is changing and is Prakṛti.  That rock, this river, my thoughts, our loved ones, the earth, the universe – it’s all in a state of constantly changing materiality.  The qualities of all materiality are the guna-s. The qualities of the guna-s are described as:

Sattva Guna – Lightness, Clarity, Harmony, Buoyant, Joy, Understanding

Raja Guna – Movement, Activation, Mobilization, Turbulence 

Tama Guna – Inertia, Stability, Stickiness.

In life and on the mat, the play of the guna-s will find us. If we have too much raja guna, we may experience more pain, anger, greed, agitation, and anxiety.  More balanced raja guna will support motivation and creativity for changes that are necessary.  

When tama guna is dominant, we may feel stuck, deluded, indifferent, heavy, ignorant, limited or restrained. When tama guna is balanced, it may provide a sense of stillness, stability, groundedness and structure.  

When we balance tamas and rajas, we come closer to the state of sattva where inner wisdom, discerning awareness, clarity, and a sense of connectedness persist. Our yoga practice can cultivate a sattvic state where we are able to perceive unchanging source, referred to as Puruṣa.  Think of this as “inside.” 

You may have had the experience of taking yourself from a rajasic state (anxious, in constant motion, distracted) or a tamasic state (dull, listless, foggy, sluggish) and landed in a place in your yoga practice where you feel light, luminous, and more knowing of inner truths.  This is the sattvic state and a goal of yoga practice. 

The sattvic state is where we “park” everything – aches and pains, symptoms our bodies experience, the reality of constant change, the drama of our thoughts, feelings, attitudes, moods, reactions, and behaviors. When we “park” everything, we’re not suppressing it. We’re just resting it in the support of our practice so that we experience the light and luminosity of unchanging source.  By parking everything, we can often be more discerning in how we transform through difficulties.  Call this whatever you want for yourself, knowing that resting in the awareness of unchanging source is helpful, healing, and whole.  It is there that we can allow all of life’s experiences to be a source of growth and transformation.

If we can take the time to see the guna-s at play in our lives and then collaborate with them in our practice, we can avoid being trapped or enmeshed by them.  Like often attracts like. If we’re in constant motion, we may be attracted to constant motion and distraction in our yoga practice and in Life.  If we’re dull and listless, we may not even make it to the mat, avoiding the work that may be helpful. Ultimately, a goal of yoga practice is to bring about a sense of lightness, luminosity and clarity. 

Observing what’s happening without judgement and taking a small step in the opposite direction is a start toward creating a more proportionally helpful soup of the guna-s.  We can use the play of the guna-s in our practice and be grateful for what each guna provides in our practice and in our life.  

Tama Guna 

Prepares the structure for our practice

Put supports in place like a chair, the earth, a view of a tree, a candle

Cultivates stability, trust, and groundedness

Raja Guna

Provides a starting point

Puts forth a goal or intention for the practice

Helps us take intelligent steps toward the goal of our practice

Cultivates creativity and change

Sattva Guna

Cultivates illumination and light, spaciousness, and openness 

Provides insight into suffering and the causes of suffering and how it manifests in our life and in our relationships

Provide the means to change habitual tendencies that create suffering

Helps us track progress 

“Sattva is the natural quality of the mind, rajas of the life-force and tamas of the physical body.”

-David Frawley in From the River of Heaven

 

My teacher, Gary Kraftsow, has advice about cultivating a sattvic mind. He offers recommendations like:

  • Study and understand teachings
  • Cultivate discernment and non-attachment
  • Avoid being excessive in acquisitions and actions 
  • Avoid laziness and too much sleep
  • Practice self-care
  • Watch what you feed your mind
  • Be in good company
  • Practice serenity in the face of praise or blame
  • Be humble
  • Be truthful and respectful 
  • Help others
  • Awaken your faith
  • Endure during times of stress 

The guna-s are always in constant movement, co-mingling in different proportions.  We get our own individual experience of how the guna-s impact our physical bodies, physiology and minds through personality, cognition, emotions, and identity.  We can use our yoga practice to observe the guna-s (aka the carnival!) and gently coax them into the proportions that help us connect to lightness, luminosity, and clarity.