Mindfulness Via Yoga

align. renew. transform.


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March 2020

My new pet  …………

………and other things I like a lot

about this unexpected moment in time.

Mindfulness is a highly overworked word these days. It has become a marketing word. But let me use it one more time, in Jon Kabat Zinn’s sense of sitting with Just What Is.

At least, here it is from a point of view,  suddenly unemployed,  an extrovert without companions.

The hustle is gone. A certain sense of ennui has set in, at least for me. What is there to want?  To go for?  There is a new pace.  New kinds of discipline.  Find one project per day and take time to finish it.  

Roll out of bed and go right straight to yoga class. Select any one of many world class teachers, Wear any old clothing that meets minimal Zoom requirements.

Which brings me to the pet.  I have longed for a dog for several years. But pets are forbidden in my apartment house.  However, I realized that a certain very very small black spider was traveling across the ceiling while I was down on the floor in the one-student yoga class in my sunny office. He became very important to me. A companion without a mask !  And I learned a lesson when I spied him emerging on a close by wall.  I tried to take his picture.  He was too fast. And now he is hiding somewhere, waiting for me to let him go.  With no scrutiny.

And that brings me to the list of just what is :

* The weather. Spring has caught the slowed pace. It has been cool. Daffodils have had  their day and another day and another. Those early magnolias were with us for a very long time this year, in spite of being just a little bit out of their zone.

* The light. The lack of smog in the air has allowed special clarity in the bright,  natural light bouncing against the white-walled barns.

* The fresh air.  The stars. More stars. The easy breathing. The spaciousness.

* Old friends from everywhere. It’s no longer my habit to ignore phone calls from unrecognized area codes.  More than likely, someone remembered me from a long time ago and is calling to check up, to send me a photo of our younger selves or a page from a hiking journal.

* The open highways. No need to jockey for lanes, to dart into a tiny opening. And with the less than $2. price of gas – this unfamiliar feature is eye candy if nothing else. Together, the temptation is there to just go the open road, set off on that cross-country trip always dreamed of. But then there is the relaxation of that ennui again. Can’t cross the state line so there is no need to pack the car, make the list, stop the paper. Why go?  Everyplace is just like here, now.

* Cleaned out closets. the pantry. the book shelves.

* Sobriety. I promised myself, from the first, that I would not hoard. And so the liquor closet is bare and tries to be the bright side of that story:  No single factor has been able to privatize the liquor stores until coronavirus shone its spotlight on our open, neighboring states.

Like any new love. This one appeared suddenly, with no warning, carries unexpected and unpredictable traits.

            As we are all, now, fond of saying:  This is the new norm. it just is.


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Using time to best results

the Ayurveda way to see your day

Here are the instructions to draw The Ayurveda Clock. You can skip to the end to read text of the legend. Or, to learn it as you go, begin by drawing your own copy as I explain how to move through your day – and your night. Plan to use ideal times of day or evening for regular activities, such as the sometimes elusive practice of meditation. If meditation is hard for you, study this chart and memorize it by making it visual .

To begin, get a blank sheet of paper, a big one at least 8 1/2 by 11 . You might want a black marker and 3 other colors to represent the dosas of Pitta ( the Fire element), Vata ( the Air element) and Kapha ( the Earth element).

Remember that every normal person contains all three of the dosas. Now and then your primary dosa might go out of balance.

The secret to a balanced life, via Ayurveda, is to prevent any one dosa from going out of whack and leading you – and all the other dosas – astray.

Draw a circle as you see it here. Label the circle as though it is a clock face. The number 12 goes at the top and represents both noon and midnight. The number 6 goes at the bottom to represent 6 am and 6 pm.

The numbers 10 and 2 are written to the left and right of 12:00 just where you would find them on a clock.

Remember they will represent both AM and PM.

Next. Create three equal blocks that will give you pie shapes for each of the three primary dosas.

A pie cut labelled P for PITTA begins at 10 and connects to 2 after traveling to the center of the clock.

Draw a line from the center of the clock to the number 6 and voila! you have a pie shape for Kapha to the left and Vata to the right. Letter those blocks accordingly. Soon, you will write the most suitable activities into blocks that represent times of day ( 12 to 2 — 2 to 6 — 6 to 10 ). But first,

Within the Vata-dominant morning, the hour of God is the hour before Sunrise. As you will soon see, at that time of day, before sunrise, Pitta has cleansed the liver, removing bodily ama. Creative Vata is beginning her morning tour. Just before dawn is an unusually great time for meditation. The birds will sing to signal your beginning or your ending; your choice.

Kapha, of course, is still sound asleep ! For Kapha is strong between 6 am.and 10 am. Label those hours for strong exercise and steady work projects. Be on the move for sturdy Kapha will be supportive. But between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. Kapha wants to be an earthly self. Eat a small meal, Slow Down! Go to bed.

You wonder about Meditation. The best time slot for a quiet mind straddles the 6:00 line between Vata and Kapha. So, let’s look at Vata next. She governs the bottom left – call that the southwest – corner of our pie. In the early morning hours ( the Hour of God before Sunrise) after 2 a.m. – until 6 a.m. – we want to Cleanse, Study, Meditate, and even Dream, for Vata rules Creativity. If you are awake early, it will be easier to meditate and easier to find novel solutions to problems old and new. In the evening, Vata wants to be ready for the Kapha-ruled slowdown that begins at 6 p.m. So, in the late afternoon, book a gentle massage, plan a quiet and restful sort of yoga practice and for sure plan to meditate.

Notice that Kapha emphasized a small meal in the evening. That sets us up for the Pitta-governed hours of 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. when Pitta cleanses the liver, nourishes the blood and internally clears the body of toxins and prepares it for the next day. In the morning hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the agni ( fire) of Pitta is strong. There is already enough heat there: Do not Overwork, no fiery standing poses or you will send Pitta into overbalance. But because agni is good, eat a big meal and allow the fire to transform nutrition into usable blocks for a healthy body.

If you have any questions do ask away. Write to me at mindoveryoga@yahoo.com. or call at 717-576-2099.

Enjoy your Ayurveda day.

roberta strickler RYT 500-E and Ayurveda health counselor.


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Yoga at Work

Maybe you are not asked to balance on a rooftop. My yoga therapy training has applications for people who sit all day at a desk as well. We use different techniques for people who have to be nice to customers while standing in place for hours at a time.

Recently we worked with employees who assemble small parts on an assembly line, hour after hour, day after day. Managers sat in with that session. Then we met separately with managers to address their own needs ( more stress than fatigue, reactions not repetitions). With them we finished with a discussion of how to use the yoga exercises in followup, on the floor.

I love to do this kind of work. It’s spontaneous, the problem solving. And each organization has a collection of individuals with different temperaments and body types. In the midst of a group of go-getters there is always a set of people who need gentle movement and mindfulness cues.


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Turn Signals

I realize this is a yoga-related blog site so I will suggest  you envision cactus arms or maybe even khapalabhati breath, should you envision the latter as a regular exclamation/exhalation.

adult arms balance beauty

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This summer I am spending a lot of time traveling the speed induced highways of Routes 283 and 222, on my ways from Lancaster to Harrisburg or New Jersey.  Everyone is in a hurry.  Once upon a time I was one of those aggressive drivers who always had to be first. It was a fun game to dart in and out of spaces in the flow of traffic.  By now I am just a PIA elder who sets cruise control at the speed limit when I am in the limited single lane of the 6 mile construction site.  Control freak to the nth I suppose.

Anyhow. When traveling, I have often noted that you can tell the age of a bicyclist by the way he or she signals a turn.  At one time, to pass  your drivers test, you had to stick out your arm and point to the left,  bend your elbow  to put your fingers skyward ( and perhaps give the finger) to show the right turn, and drop your arm straight down to signal slowing or stopping.  I still make those signals when I am in a line of bicycles making a turn or a slow or a stop.  It feels right.

The first patented mechanical turn signals were registered in 1925. The first flashing lights were installed by Buick in 1939-40. This was very helpful during rain and snow, especially, because, back then, you had to crank the window up and down to stick your arm out and get all wet and cold.

Anyhow, the other day I remembered something even deeper in my mind. Honking. When you wanted to pass a car ahead of you, you honked to signal your intention. As I recall, you honked twice to say “I’m coming around” and someone ( perhaps a courteous driver who had just been passed ) would honk once to say ” All clear. You made it.” With all that was going on then – window cranks, tiny rear view mirrors and an even tinier back seat window in my VW Beetle – a lot was happening.

Cruise Control. What a fantastic advance.  So, yes, this is a yoga blog. Being in a really fine state of meditation. THAT feels like cruise control.  What say you?


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23 Years, a yoga teacher

One of many memories, from the BadAss Yoga Teacher Training class at Evolution, 1901438_10153855028635548_1746671048_nprobably about 2015.    Other photos- and sayings – were posted on the wall at the site of the Lancaster Tennis & Yacht ( & Yoga ) Club on Saturday March 24, 2018, when we remembered the first yoga reunion held there.

It’s was both a reunion and a Find Them Opportunity to seek out students that I remember from Very Long Ago.

Some of the rosters are long lost:

  • The first class in the Bricker Room at Lancaster Theological Seminary, March 21, 1995.
  • The ten year reunion in March 2005, in Lancaster.
  • The six years of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, a legacy of the Saint Joseph Hospital when it became a profit center.  Now closed.IMG_0866

 

 

  • Ten years of yoga in Harrisburg at WomanCare, Kunkel School.

Seven Bridges of Harrisburg 2003

Under one of Harrisburg’s 7 bridges.Bike ride with photographer from high school yearbook

Trying to find students from all these Lancaster Classes:

  • The Yoga Room, when it was across from the celery farm ( now a Sheetz at East Petersburg.
  • the Leola area class at the community center way out past Lancaster Labs.
  •  Radiance.
  • Above the swimming pool at the Village of Olde Hickory ( Later, they replaced the drafty, cold, full frame glass doors that we loved),
  •  the Sunrise class at the Jewish Community Center ( now Emerald community center on Oregon Pike).
  • That very first Bikram class, full of heat and energy, in the tiny room at Gary Terriman’s house on Clearview Avenue.
  • Then, driving every week to Reading to do hot Bikram yoga up on the hill.

Soon after, I drove to Harrisburg/ New Cumberland every Wednesday night to join the Kundalini Class with Siri Neel ( the man) with its wonderful community spirit.

Later that year, I went to monthlong Teacher Training at Kripalu in February 1995.  The day they fired the guru. Hmmm. #MeToo-ism 23 years ago .

There were so few yoga teacher then. It was possible to teach in sequence.  Classes were full with waiting lists. Students signed up for 6 or 8 weeks and they showed up. Yoga was new then and everyone wanted to learn. If you missed a week it was difficult to catch up. There was NO Drop In.

Well, now the student is in charge and the teacher never knows just who will be there. So its a welcome challenge for an experience teacher to teach to the needs of the student on the spot.

Recently, very recently, I was introduced as “old school.” That might be an insult wrapped in a compliment. But I bow to it. I teach yoga as a path to meditation. I teach yoga as a system of alignment and balance, with every body a miraculous individual set of muscle, bone, energy fields, and desire.

 

 


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The Waxing Crescent Moon

Tonight ( Feb 19)  the Moon will be in a Waxing Crescent Phase. A Waxing Crescent is the first Phase after the New Moon and is a great time to see the features of the moon’s surface. During this phase the Moon can be seen in the western sky after the sun dips below the horizon at sunset.

pexels-photo-149988.jpeg
Kapha will be predominant between 6 and 10 p.m.  and its qualities are predominant as we move toward spring.   Kapha’s qualities include cold, soft, dense, static and slow.  
Calming, not too glamorous, but steadying.  The mucus quality of Kapha , which resides in the chest, may be more prominent as the moon moves into a full state.  Kapha in the body is soma. 
 
Soma is the moon ( Surya, on the other hand, is the sun –  Surya Namaskar, the sun salutation, is fiery. )
The Moon Salutation is cool and calming. I will be teaching it tomorrow ( Saint James, noon) and other qualities of this quiet, transitional time of year.
 
Ayurveda tip for tonight:  As part of your body care ritual, your nails reflect your good health :  
 
The hair, beard, and nails should be trimmed twice a month, preferably during the waxing period of the moon.
The nails should be clipped, scrubbed, and buffed with a small amount of sesame oil.
The cuticles should never be clipped, but gently pushed back with the blunt end of a nail file.

Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m I will be leading the joint warmup ( Darsha Chalana, the ten churning) prior to the regular 7 p.m. Contemplative Meditation practise at Saint James Episcopal Church, Duke at Walnut Sts, Lancaster Pennsylvania.
Sat Nam


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A New Year in 2018

This new year brings more ways to learn and grow :  

To meditate, to set a personal yoga practise,IMG_1182 to explore your self through principles of Ayurveda for wellness and good health.

So much depends on finding balance, even when our world seems upside down.

Look for discipline and routine in this  winter setting that can be dry and cold and windy. The weather can be unsettling, especially for yogis inclined to Vata excess, but the end of winter into spring is a time to learn, re-group, grow.

Here we have a list of dates to note, beginning 2018 in Lancaster PA. I am cutting back on group classes so that I can focus on work with individuals. Private lessons are available on an occasional schedule or with small groups of like folks.

Noontime Yoga Class.  TUESDAYS.

 January 3 through March 27, 2018.

This hour-long midday class is suitable for all levels of yoga practice.

We incorporate many ways to breathe, moments of stillness on the path to meditation, with stretches and poses to relax the body for the afternoon ahead.

How to Find this Class:

Find your way downtown on a Tuesday,  also a day for buying fresh food at the Central Market.

( A plus to walk to market before or after class.)

The address for Saint James Parish House is 119 North Duke Street. The building is across from Lancaster City Hall, next to the downtown Library, and at a midpoint between Saint James Episcopal Church at Orange and Duke Streets and the popular Square One coffee shop near the corner of North Duke and East Chestnut St.@ Duke Street Garage.

*  Plenty of meter parking: Behind the library and often in front of our building. Parking meters take coins or credit cards.

* Plan to feed the meter the first time and we will give you tips on how to find free parking with a little walking.

Truth be told: This below-ground, large room has a wonderful energy, conducive to focusing, to forgetting the woes of the day, and to resting in its stillness.

The Cost:

Buy a 6-card ticket for $75. for the best bargain. The Six-class card will have a generous expiration date, but it will expire because it is designed for getting you to follow a carefully sequenced pattern of learning.  Drop In Fee is $15.

I am hopelessly entwined with the old style of teaching yoga in a way that helps you develop a personal practise. Heat is generated and sustained from within by accessing prana through the breath.

Props are available to help you find the pose without straining to be perfect. We lead up to complex poses with a series of simple poses. Just like sentences. Each person can stop at his or her comfort level and then move on to new achievements.

You get as much personal attention as you want or need and you decide when to stop the pose because you understand it now. Or just perhaps it is too difficult today.

Try it this way and give it your resolve for the new year.









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Side By Side

Side body chimpsSo here we are ready for position 4 of the joints warmup. That’s the side- body -long stretch where we all bend to the right and, later, to the left, while dragging our knuckles all the way up — from knees to arm pits – massaging that long line of lymph nodes and emphasizing the wonderful feeling of ” Side Body Long.”

I can’t get these chimps to do lateral stretches. But you get the picture; it’s about the arc of the body , the entire primordial body.

Gate Pose

If you haven’t read the previous post ( below ) you will want to be familiar with Vishnu’s Couch pose. This week we are going to add The Gate, another lateral bend.    Here it is.

See you next Tuesday, noon, at 119 North Duke Street, for the next step in our yoga sequences.

Our last class in December, in the midst of all the hurly burly of holiday life, as well as change in weather, will be a fun trip to the famous sequence of All Animal Poses.  This class plan come  complete with a blizzard of animal-themed corny jokes.  Put it on your calendar as a relief from busy-ness.  As usual it involves fun, learning, meditation, in a very quiet space.

 


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Vishnu’s Couch

This, of course, is not actually Vishnu because Vishnu reclines on the coils of the serpent with one thousand heads, wearing an ornate crown on each of the heads, while floating in the ocean of the changing world.

It’s more like celebrating the transition from drumsticks to yoga class in a way that is challenging but relaxing.  Fun. And always downright interesting.

We’re still working on shoulders, but we are going to add the groins today, with lots of props and many choices of adaptations of the pose.  Come and visit with our special guest: AID_0043.2_450_253_80_int Now that I have your attention:  Noon, Tuesday, Saint James Parish House at 119 North Duke Street. Bring your market basket and be brave about parking. it’s a beautiful day for a downtown walk. The building is the next one south of the downtown library ( behind which are more meters in the Cherry Street Alley off Chestnut Street. )

 


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Agni Sara

Fire in the belly, can be destructive when it signals Pitta imbalance. It shows up in oh so many ways:  depression, stomach aches with fancy names, indigestion, and emotional triggers of anger, irritability in all its forms.    Through thoughtful practice of the yoga sequences of agni sara, fire can be contained and it becomes useful, good, energy.

My downtown, noontime class, TUESDAYS, at the Parish House of Saint James Episcopal Church ( 119 North Duke Street, next to the Public Library ) works on balance in all ways. So Agni Sara is part of our practice, along with alignment and learning to manage our bodies in space.

Email me if you have any questions about this class: MindOverYoga@Yahoo.com