The first time I saw photos of people doing restorative yoga on bolsters I thought, “what a waste of time.” I was sooo wrong. Now that I’ve experienced the benefits for almost four years and am certified to teach restorative, I’m a big fan.
Do you use mudras during your yoga or meditation practice or even when you’re going about your day? Mudras are hand gestures or hand positions that have the purpose of channeling the body’s energy flow in a certain way.
This particular mudra – Gyan mudra – is one of the most widely used. The thumb and the index finger are touching lightly, making a circle, and the other fingers are straight.
Did you know that “asana” as described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali literally means “seat”? So asana, in the early days, was the part of yoga practice (see my previous post on the eight limbs of yoga) which basically involved sitting to meditate, often for hours.
Asana yoga poses as we know them now evolved as a way to make the body limber enough and the mind focused enough to – once again – be able to sit in a crossed-legged position (easy pose, half lotus or lotus) to meditate for extended periods of time without feeling aches and pains or restlessness.
Of the 8 limbs of yoga outlined in Patanjali´s Yoga Sutras, the first two attract me the most. These are the Yamas and Niyamas, which I read about over and over and try to embody. It´s not easy, but it´s not impossible. It takes practice though.
The Yamas and Niyamas are the foundation for a way of life that enables us to assume responsibility for our lives, all of our lives, past, present and future.
I admit I get a tiny bit tired of older women telling me all my life that I’m fit because I’m young. At 55, soon 56, I still have to hear that BS.
To prove that challenging oneself has nothing to do with a certain age, I´m sharing a photo I took a few months ago, of a yogini I admire tremendously, and a photo of myself doing the same asana, triangle pose.
Meet the fabulous yogini, Pauline Dimitry, who is 81 years old and has beaten cancer 4 times. At one point she was told by a surgeon she would not be able to practice asana yoga again, and she is certainly proving him wrong.
I was always one of those type-A, go-go-go people. I enjoyed only the most powerful and challenging yoga flows. Otherwise, you´d find me weightlifting, running or swimming laps until my muscles couldn´t take it any longer. This meant that I sustained many injuries throughout my life. It also meant that I missed out on the benefits of slowing down.
A friend recently asked me whether I had considered quitting my meds for anxiety and depression, now that I’m so deep into yoga and meditation. My answer was no. I’ve been on the same combo and dose for 15 years now, and it took me a lifetime to hit on the right cocktail for me. This doesn’t mean I will never quit the meds; maybe I will, maybe I won’t.
Yoga isn’t only about the poses, but the poses (asanas, as they are known in Sanskrit), practiced with care, along with yogic breathing, can be beneficial for unifying mind, body and spirit.
According to Yoga International, “In the contemporary world where many of us are perpetually on the go, practice can slow us down and help us bridge disconnections between the body, mind, and breath. It can also be practiced to increase strength and flexibility, improve balance and core strength, and bring a sense of mindfulness into our everyday lives.”
Asana yoga is just one of the eight limbs of Yoga which are the following:
Can you be joyful, no matter what is going on in your life? I believe you can. And no, I certainly don’t feel joyous all of the time. Yes, I’ve had my share of challenges, as most people do. However, during one of the toughest times in my life, when I woke up to being the single, broke and unemployed mami to two girls, then 4 and 7, I managed to find ways to lift my spirits—even if it was barely enough to get me through the day. Over time, these practices have helped me overcome depression and defeatist thoughts and have kept me going, despite the inevitable hurdles we all face at certain times.
If I´ve learned something after a lifetime of body work, it´s that strengthening our core is vital, not to get six-pack abs (I don´t have them), but to protect our back and help maintain our balance. I´ve had two babies and I´m 55. Although I practice yoga daily, I still have loose skin around my middle. I usually don´t wear a shirt in class to hide it because at this age (or any age, really) who cares?
However, I´m able to stand up from the floor without using my hands, and if I trip, I can usually recover pretty fast without falling or injuring myself. Hoping I can help others feel just as strong and confident, here are four yoga poses that are also used in general fitness classes that can help any of us have a strong core and good balance at any age.