Morning Yoga: From Waking to Awakening

Please enjoy my latest article on My Yoga Online to explore the benefits of practicing yoga in the morning. 

On a cellular level, exposure to morning light initiates the body’s start-up procedure. Upon first exposure to light from darkness, the brain shuts down melatonin production thereby stimulating physical systems and corresponding bodily functions. Unfortunately, our eyes do not distinguish between natural and unnatural light sources, so that middle-of-the-night glance at a smartphone screen to check the time, is like telling your body it’s party time. 

 

 

Yoga Every Day: More Than a Hashtag

MORE THAN A HASHTAG

If you’re a yoga practitioner in 2016, chances are you have had some exposure to the yoga of social media. You may even be familiar with the “yoga every damn day” hashtag that unites a community of yogis in the pursuit of a devoted daily practice. But what does #yogaeverydamnday really mean and is it in the realm of wise practice? While some are quick to condemn this social media movement with cautions of injury, demands for moderation and a strict adherence to tradition, perhaps it warrants closer examination.

Maybe #yogaeverydamnday is meant to celebrate the yogic lifestyle and encourage committed daily practice. Or maybe there exists a deeper level of embedded insight in this seemingly innocuous hashtag than what can be communicated in a well-staged image or video. At the very least, it serves as an entry point for discussing how yoga every day is actually a lifestyle choice.

SAY YES TO YOGA EVERY DAY

From neuroscience to somatics, we are in the midst of a burgeoning curiosity about human experience and consciousness that has inspired the application of modern methods of observation, measurement, and analysis to substantiate the positive effects of daily yoga practice. As research catches up with the sages, this systematic scientific inquiry has, in many cases, confirmed the poetry of ancient wisdom and sacred texts. Common to both the science and the spirit of sadhana, we find the benefits of yoga every day are undeniable.

Excerpts from my latest article on My Yoga on Gaia, you can read the full article here: Yoga Every Day: More Than a Hashtag. 

 

The Intimate Experience of Self-Practice

Below is an excerpt from my article on Gaia on how to develop and sustain an intimate home practice. You can read the full article here

BE YOUR OWN ENERGY ALCHEMIST

When we commit to a devoted practice of yoga at home, we get to choose our own adventure with each new arrival on the mat. Simply going through the motions is no longer an option because when the practice isn't serving us on a particular day, we have the power to change it. This how we become energy alchemists. Alchemy is "a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation or combination" and as alchemists, it is up to us to combine different elements of the practice to yield our desired transformation.

YOUR PERSONAL PRACTICE RHYTHM

As Pranic beings, our energy levels may be affected by everything from the book we are reading to the weather. However, as you begin to enjoy yoga at home more regularly, you may begin to perceive the subtle underlying patterns in your body as they relate to different days and times. In my practice for example, Tuesdays are generally my courageous heart, nothing-can-stop-me, bring on the week, days. Conversely, Mondays are typically much quieter and it takes a lot more energy just to get my body moving. As a result, I typically start my week on Tuesdays, which happens to suit my fluid schedule. Similarly, when I know I have a busy day ahead, I try to wake up a little early and move through at least 5 Surya Namaskar A and 5 Surya Namaskar B to keep yoga alive in my body in the event that I'm unable to squeeze in a practice elsewhere. The idea is to let whatever rhythm you choose provide the energy alchemy that serves you best.

BALANCE IN CONTRARY COMPLEMENTS

We all have our favorite categories of asana and even if you're in the nascent stages of a yoga practice, yours will reveal themselves soon. As such, we organically gravitate toward the shapes that fit into these categories (backbends, twists, hip openers, etc.) because they feel good in our bodies. We must, however, also spend time with the asanas that we don't love. Those that we are re-kindling a relationship with or those we have yet to meet. Are you a lover of backbends? Try simmering in deep forward folds. Naturally flexible? Explore ways to develop muscular strength and endurance. We have as much to learn from pratikriyasana (reverse action) as we do from the fullest expression of any posture. Despite what poses we think we should practice, it is prudent also give adequate devotion to the shapes we shy away from and inside that devotion, ask the question: why?

SET INTENTIONS, NOT GOALS

I will be the first to admit, I am a strong proponent of goal-setting, goal-chasing and overall goal-related enthusiasm. In most circumstances, I believe setting measurable goals and declaring them aloud is like saying to the Universe, "I mean it, I really want this". The mat, however, is one place that I prefer to keep metric-free. In my experience, a practice that is rooted in the desire to achieve an external pose or aim does not sustain me long-term and keep me coming back for more. If the aim is too challenging, I have a tendency to become discouraged. Too easy and I will likely become disinterested. Intentions, on the other hand are living, breathing forces of consciousness. Our relationship with them changes and evolves giving them the potential to surprise in new, wonderful ways all the time. Consider how inviting courage onto your mat might get your feet off the ground in crow pose one day and give you the permission to rest in child's pose the next. With their infinite forms, intentions are better equipped to support the purpose of ongoing sadhana.

Continue reading the full article on Gaia - Yoga at Home: The Intimate Experience of Self-Practice.