Archive for September, 2015

Key Elements of a Kapha Balancing Practice

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

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Some Key Elements of a Kapha Balancing Practice:

Choosing the following practices when feeling sluggish, stuck, clingy, unmotivated, tired, depressed…will move you back towards balance.  The more consistently you work with these elements in your practice, the deeper and more sustained the effects will become.

Move your body!  Although it may be difficult to tap into at first, Kapha types have a lot of stamina!  Push yourself to do a little more.  Include sun salutations and other vinyasas, jumpings, balancings, inversions, and then include them all over again ☺

Chest up! Arms up! Spirit up!  Lift your chest high, and lift your arms straight up over your head and your energy will come up too.  Lifting the chest and opening the armpits is one of the most important tools in yoga therapeutics to ward off depression.

Jump!  Jumping from pose to pose (rather than stepping one foot at a time) brings levity, excitement, enthusiasm, joy, delight, and freedom.

-Open your chest!  Opening your chest brings joy and allows the breath to move freely.  Begin with shoulder-opening work and move on to practice some backbending poses.

Adho Mukha Vrskasana & Sirsasana.  These inversions (handstand and headstand) create heat in the body, and increase strength and stamina.  Both poses also increase circulation of blood and lymph.

Practice balancing.  Working on balancing poses gives a sense of poise, achievement and grace.  And if you’re not quite at the “grace” part of your practice, be childlike in your practice: Have fun!  Fall over!  Try again!  Try a different way!  Be tireless!!

Don’t go to sleep.  Savasana is not naptime!  During Savasana, challenge yourself to stay alert and present.  Remember that you are the Witness to your own self.  The body relaxes, while you observe this relaxation.

Do one thing.  If the thought of getting up and doing your yoga practice seems impossible, what’s one thing you can do?  Can you go stand on your mat?  And since you’re there, can you stand in Tadasana?  And while you’re at it, maybe take your arms up overhead?  What else?

Vanessa Serotta

Vanessa Serotta is a 500-hour RYT.  She received her certification from Eileen Muir.  She values the way asana practice brings us to know ourselves more intimately, and looks to the teachings of yoga philosophy to go deeper still.  In each of her classes, Vanessa offers her students an opportunity to make and savor this connection for themselves.

Email: vanessa.serotta@gmail.com

Key Elements of a Pitta Balancing Practice

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

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Key Elements of a Pitta Balancing Practice:

Choosing the following practices when feeling irritable, defensive, angry, frustrated, judgmental, jealous, resentful…will move you back towards balance.  The more consistently you work with these elements in your practice, the deeper and more sustained the effects will become.

Easy does it!  The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.  Pitta types are ambitious and physically capable, which can lead to a tendency to want to push their limits.  Pace yourself to avoid a crash and burn situation.

Stay cool.  Especially during Summer (Pitta time), be sure that you’re not overheating.  Work with a slower practice of fewer, slightly longer holdings of poses, rather than a more active practice with Vinyasas or jumpings.

Forward bends.  As a category, forward bends are physiologically cooling to the brain and body.  They teach us surrender.  Begin with standing forward bends to begin to open the hamstring muscles, and move into seated forward bends, for maximum cooling, quieting and settling.

Don’t overdo backbends or twists.  When practicing backbends, moderate you exertion and your energy.  Backbends release a lot of energy and a lot of heat.  Twists also release a lot of heat, so be sure to follow up with plenty of cooling poses.  Work slowly, and turn your focus inward.  Pause after each pose to feel the effects.

Sarvangasana.  Sarvangasana (shoulderstand) is deeply, wonderfully cooling and balancing.  If Sarvansasana is new for you, practice Setu Bandha (bridge pose) for as long as it takes to learn the correct alignment in your body before beginning to practice Sarvangasana.  Always practice Sarvangasana or another cooling pose after practicing Sirsasana (headstand), which can be a very hot pose.

Ahimsa.  The very first in the eight limbs of Yoga is the list of five Yamas (moral abstentions), and the first in this list of five is Ahimsa, which means “non-harming”,  Be sweet with yourself!  As you practice, from moment to moment, ask yourself, what is Ahmisa in this moment.  Minister this question with total Love and total acceptance

Isvara-pranidhanad.  The second of the eight limbs of Yoga are the five Niyamas (moral observances).  Isvara-pranidhanad is last on this list of Niyamas.  It means surrender to God.  If this concept doesn’t work for you, work with the simple practice of surrendering.  In life, in our minds, and in our bodies, there is much we can’t control.  In your asana practice, do what you can, and let the rest go.  Thank your body for everything it does for you each and every day.

Vanessa Serotta

Vanessa Serotta is a 500-hour RYT.  She received her certification from Eileen Muir.  She values the way asana practice brings us to know ourselves more intimately, and looks to the teachings of yoga philosophy to go deeper still.  In each of her classes, Vanessa offers her students an opportunity to make and savor this connection for themselves.

Email: vanessa.serotta@gmail.com

Key Elements of a Vata Balancing Practice

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

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Some Key Elements of  a Vata Balancing Practice:

Choosing the following practices when feeling fatigued, stressed, anxious, ungrounded, nervous, agitated, unable to sleep, overwhelmed, indecisive, frazzled, depleted (need I go on?) will move you back towards balance.  The more consistently you work with these elements in your practice, the deeper and more sustained the effects will become.

Most importantly, less is more!  When we are feeling depleted or overwhelmed, one supported pose held for 5-30 minutes will restore you deeply.  A more active, exertive practice can exacerbate your symptoms.

Support yourself, especially your head.  Use bolsters, blocks, blankets, chairs, cushions, the couch, the edge of your bed, and anything else that does the job .  Supporting the head quiets the brain and soothes the nervous system.  Supporting the rest of the body allows it to rest deeply.

Sandbags.  Applying weight to the limbs is extremely soothing to the nervous system.  Place sandbags on the arms, legs, sacrum or shoulders to teach the body to release and surrender.  A sandbag on the forehead of an overactive brain is bliss (think Shirodhara).

Pratyahara/withdrawing the senses.  Use an eye pillow or a head wrap to turn the senses (sight and hearing) inwardly.  Sights and sounds draw our attention outward, which takes its toll.  When we turn the eyes and ears towards our inner self, we take a break from the stimulations of life, and can rest.

Inversions.  Inversions balance the hormone systems in the body, including stress hormones.  Choose well-supported inversions that allow the body to relax.  Chair Sarvangasana (shoulder stand), Viparita Karani (legs up the wall), and Viparita Dandasana (inverted staff pose) over a chair are excellent choices.

Pranayama.  Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) and Samana Vayu (equal lengths inhalation and exhalation) are very balancing.  Bhramari (bumblebee breath) with Sanmuki Mudra helps sooth insomnia.  Focusing on your exhalation will sooth and relax, and focusing on the inhalation will energize and replenish you.

Keep warm.  Restorative yoga brings the body temperature down, and Vata types run cold, so wear your sweaters, cover yourself with blankets, and camp out in front of the wood stove or a space heater.

Vanessa Serotta

Vanessa Serotta is a 500-hour RYT.  She received her certification from Eileen Muir.  She values the way asana practice brings us to know ourselves more intimately, and looks to the teachings of yoga philosophy to go deeper still.  In each of her classes, Vanessa offers her students an opportunity to make and savor this connection for themselves.

Email: vanessa.serotta@gmail.com

Intro to Ayurveda

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

The 5 Elements create everything in the universe- including us!

• Space
• Air
• Fire
• Water
• Earth
.
The 3 Doshas

imgresVATA: Communication + Transportation

Space + Air
Cold, dry, light, fast, mobile, rough
Balanced: friendly, creative, busy, social, upbeat

Unbalanced: Anxiety, insomnia, constipation, memory problems
 Treatment: Warm, well-spiced foods, abhyanga, meditation

imgres-1PITTA: Metabolism + Assimilation

Fire + Water
Hot, light, sharp, oily, smooth, fluid
Balanced: Intelligent, charismatic, organized, productive

Unbalanced: Irritable, critical, skin + eye problems, inflammation
Treatment: Cooling foods, anti-inflammatory diet, calm environment

imgres-2KAPHA Structure + Lubrication

Water + Earth
Heavy, dense, cold, wet, static/slow, oily
Balanced: Loving, strong, loyal, steadfast, peaceful
Unbalanced: Overweight, depressed, exhausted, listless
Treatment: Light spicy foods, daily exercises, cleansing routines

 

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Ayurvedic Practices

  • ✴  Establish a proper diet for your constitution and eat seasonally
  • ✴  Develop a healthy Dinacharya (daily routine)
  • ✴  Take herbal preparations as recommended
  • ✴  Receive Ayurvedic Bodywork- abhyanga, shirodhara, etc
  • ✴  Participate in seasonal Cleanses 1-2 times each year

Sample Dinacharya

  • ✴  Rise with the sun
  • ✴  Drink a cup of warm water
  • ✴  Brush teeth, scrape tongue, oil pulling, nasya
  • ✴  Evacuate bowels
  • ✴  Yoga (or other exercise)
  • ✴  Meditation, pranayama, mantra
  • ✴  Abhyanga before shower or bath
  • ✴  Eat a warm breakfast
  • ✴  Drink warm water throughout the day
  • ✴  Eat your largest meal in the middle of the day
  • ✴  Walk or take some quiet time after eating
  • ✴  Practice one-minute mediations throughout the day
  • ✴  Eat a small dinner at least two hours before going to bed
  • ✴  Drink a nourishing beverage
  • ✴  Oil the crown of your head and your feet
  • ✴  Do a few minutes of meditation or pranayama, yoga postures or gentle stretching
  • ✴  Give thanks
  • ✴  Retire

This Introduction was prepaired by Brooksley Williams of Valley Ayurveda. If you have any questions please contact Brooksley via email brooksley@valleyayurveda.com or by phone: 413-320-8333.

Yoga for your Ayurvedic Constitution

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

Karuna is currently leading a series of workshops Yoga for your Ayurvedic Constitution. Each workshop is focused on one of the three Doshas or constitutions: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The workshops are co-led by Vanessa Serotta, RYT- 500 and Brooksley Williams, certified Ayurvedic Practitioner.

VataVATA: A Grounding Practice
 Saturday, Aug. 29th, 1-3:30pm

PittaPITTA: A Centering Practice
 Saturday, Sept. 5th, 1-3:30pm

KaphaKAPHA: An Uplifting Practice
 Saturday, Sept. 12th, 1-3:30pm


 

In order to help us understand the way the body is perceived in Ayurvedic Medicine, Brooksley has provided some supplemental materials that we will be featuring here in the blog. If you have any questions please contact Brooksley via email brooksley@valleyayurveda.com or by phone: 413-320-8333.

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10 Pairs of Opposites

Ayurveda draws on ten pairs of opposites to describe and in a way categorize all matter that exists in the universe. These qualities, or gunas, describe the interaction and inner-workings of the main energy forces – the Five Great Elements – on a particular object. They reflect the positive and negative, yin and yang of all forces in the universe. They are the basic qualities of all objects – physical or subtle. They provide a spectrum to describe the essence of our life.

Heavy ⇔ Light

 Cold⇔ Hot

Dull⇔ Sharp

Oily⇔ Dry Rough

 Smooth ⇔Rough

Dense ⇔Porous

Soft ⇔Hard

Static ⇔Mobile

Cloudy ⇔Clear

Solid ⇔  Liquid

 

At a practical level, our bodies as well as the foods we eat reflect a prevailing yet shifting degree and combination of these qualities. The underlying premise of all Ayurvedic practices and treatments is: like increases like and opposites balance each other. In this way, Ayurveda prescribes the use of foods, herbs, exercise, and daily routines with a specific set of these qualities in order to counter and heal specific imbalances in the body and mind.

In particular, all foods can be described using these 20 qualities – or ten pairs of opposites. For example, heavy foods include grains, cheese, yogurt, salty processed food and red meats whereas light foods include leafy veggies and herbs like turmeric and coriander. Cold foods include cucumber, watermelon and fennel while hot foods include ginger and chile peppers. Dry foods include millet, barley, dry fruits and toast, whereas oily foods include butter, ghee, oils, nuts and seeds, and fried foods. It is helpful to start thinking of food through these adjectives, in order to know what foods to eat to balance qualities that prevail in you based on yourMind/Body Constitution.