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YOGA, MIND AND BODY – A RETURN TO WHOLENESS INSPIRED BY DONNA FARHI

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Expanding upon the teachings of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the core text of the yoga tradition, Donna Farhi describes yoga’s transforming power as a complete life practice, far beyond its common reduction to mere exercise routine or stress management.

Classes Overview

The mind is like the wind and the body like the sand: if you want to see how the wind is blowing, you can look at the sand.”
— Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen

Our tissues and organs provide the essential components of the patterns from which we weave our personal stories. These stories are then recorded by and stored in the templates of our autonomic nervous system. As we embody our cellular patterns of expectations and responses, we gain understanding of their relevance and importance in past experiences.

Classes Lesson

We move with the seven principles. Seven moving principles” that, she says, underlie all human motion: breathing, yielding, radiating, centering, supporting, aligning, and engaging. Yoga, she asserts, is properly understood as “a life path rather than a form of sophisticated calisthenics.” Rediscovering the spiritual essentials that are lost “when we strip yoga to its mechanics” leads to a change of mind that “is desperately needed to bring about healing in the world today.”

What’s going on beneath your skin from the long-term impact of trauma Understand the connection between your nervous system and your spine See how your psoas and diaphragm determine each other’s reality. Don’t ignore pain. Unwinding pain involves unwinding patterns. here’s a third part of the nervous system: the enteric nervous system. It infuses the gut and helps you bring integrity to your core.

  • BEGINNER

FROM 1ST-10TH OF THE MONTH
A Broader Definition of Core Stability:
The focus is on the goal of “realizing our intrinsic wholeness.

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She notes that “the goal of asana practice is to live in your body and to learn to perceive clearly through it,” Here we will do the yoga positions to balance the spine in relation to psoas.
The spinal column is the central axis of the body and when aligned with integrity allows the human being to form a conducting rod between the forces of heaven and earth. In this intensive we will explore the anatomy, kinesiology and functional movement of the spine learning how to practice Yoga postures with greater efficiency and thus less strain on the back. We will focus intently on the correct transmission of force through the sacro-iliac joint and how to both prevent and alleviate discomfort in the lower back and pelvis. We will also investigate the way in which human developmental movement patterns can offer central support for the spinal column and how engaging these patterns can create ease and fluidity not only in the spine but throughout the whole body.

Defined as a “deep” abdominal muscle, the psoas lies in the back or posterior of the abdominal wall and cannot be readily palpated. From their origin in the back of the body, the left and right psoas muscles are anchored to the lumbar spine. The muscles swoop diagonally forward to the front of the pelvis and then make a backward detour to attach to the inside of the thigh bones. Given their distinct angles of pull on the spinal column, pelvis, and hip bones, the psoas are a key determinant of the position of the pelvis and have a profound effect on the functional stability of the body. For this reason, we believe balancing this muscle should precede strengthening of the secondary core muscles. Once the psoas is acting as the primary initiator of core movement, the other secondary core muscles contract in concert to achieve optimal strength and function.

when the psoas does its job in centering the pelvis and stabilizing the lumbar spine, it minimizes the effort of more external muscles. When the psoas is functioning optimally, the pelvis and lumbar spine will be in a neutral position and stabilized from deep within, creating an experience of effortless verticality that is expressed in graceful integrated posture and movement. This physical centeredness can liberate energetic resources and promote a harmonious flow of energy and breath in the body (known as prana within the Yoga tradition or qi or chi in martial arts traditions). Creating core balance also may help you to feel more emotionally secure and able to meet previously overwhelming situations with robustness and resilience. Knowing how to hold your ground may correlate to a powerful psychodynamic stability and imperturbability that gives skillfulness to your speech and action. However we quantify the meaning of core, being centered in the present moment can help us to live from our deepest values and to focus on what ultimately matters.
Integrating Breath and Core Engagement
WE WILL PRACTICE ABDOMINAL BREATHING ALSO CALLED DIAPHRAGMATIC BREATHING.

  • REGULAR YOGI

FROM 11th to 20th OF THE MONTH
Here we will practice yoga poses for back health and we will work on creating and maintaining Sacroiliac Joint stability.

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We will practice full yogic breathing and ashwani mudra. We will practice the mahamudra.
A Broader Definition of Core Stability: A Koshic Perspective
Before we begin learning about the anatomy of the psoas, we have to work on core stability. We cannot think of the physical dimension of core stability without understanding that core is a multifaceted experience of self that is centered in the present. From a Yogic viewpoint, the visible physical body is only one dimension of our total embodiment. When we watch an airplane take off, we see the obvious external structure of the plane that is essentially an aluminum cylinder. Yet we’re equally aware that what we can see (the visible plane) is not what gets the plane off the ground. The complex hidden wiring of electrical and computer systems, the engine and jet fuel, and the decisions of the pilot make the plane airborne yet are largely invisible to us. Similarly, our physical structure contains muscles, bones, connective tissue, internal organs, and body fluids, but a larger intelligence orchestrates these raw elements. In the Yogic tradition, we recognize that these invisible elements that operate on the level of the energetic, emotional, mental, and spiritual planes are all interwoven. What Yogis have known for centuries is now being scientifically backed by the discovery that our mind and emotions have a profound effect on our physical body. Conversely, the state of our physical body and health can have both positive and negative consequences on our mental and emotional state, as well as our ability to function in the world. In the Yogic paradigm, the body consists of different sheaths or koshas, which range from the gross experience of our physical structure, such as our muscles and bones,
to subtler dimensions of embodiment, such as the flow of breath or a persistent pattern of thought or negative self-belief. Although you can’t measure your thoughts and emotions with calipers, you know how deeply unsettling it can be to move through the day literally “off-balance” because your clear thinking has been eclipsed by a strong emotion such as anger or fear. Similarly, having a mental habit of always “being ahead of yourself” can have you sitting on the edge of your seat, pelvis tipped forward in anticipation of the next moment. The following koshas listed below may give you a broader perspective of what it means to find and sustain a sense of your true center.

1. Physical Body (Annamaya Kosha)
Structural Core Stability is defined as the ability to center your body in a clear relationship to ground, gravity, and space. Bringing awareness to the core structures of the body can assist in the synergistic activation of both primary and secondary core muscles. Your body is then able to organize itself around a fluidly stable and responsive core. This supports you in your ability to transfer and direct force from the feet and legs up into the pelvis and through the spine into space and to mediate the force of gravity coming down through your body with minimal stress through your structure. Working with your physical body can become a doorway to deeper aspects of your self.

2. Energetic Body (Pranamaya Kosha)
Energetic Core Stability is defined as having a steady, reliable supply of energy to support daily
activity. This is not the agitated energy that arises from stimulants such as sugar, caffeine, or alcohol, but a calm vibrant energy that is the result of a well nourished body and the ability to settle into your center. Eastern traditions call this energetic center the hara or tan dien and both finding and learning to move from this potent center is a lifelong process. In Western science, we refer to this center of intelligence as the “abdominal brain” or enteric nervous system, known colloquially as our “gut instinct.” The enteric nervous system of the gut constitutes an independent brain that is in an ongoing communication with the rest of the body. In the Yogic tradition, the energetic body is understood as prana or life force, the mysterious animating force that orchestrates all the self-regulatory functions of the body, such as the movement of the blood, digestion of food, and elimination of waste. Prana underlies the support for the microcirculation of oxygen and nutrients at a cellular level and is expressed in full-body breathing through the movements of external respiration. These different roads all lead to the same destination: a deep navel center acting as a “Grand Central Station,” coordinating impulses as they move in to and out of a firm center to each of the six limbs (the head, tail, two arms, and two legs). When energetic centeredness is mastered, even the smallest gesture appears to be orchestrated from the vital center, as can be witnessed in the movement of any great athlete, dancer, or martial artist. Although not all of us can become masters, anyone willing to invest a little time and energy can attain better posture and more grace in their movement. The psoas muscles are the primary physical scaffolding supporting the energetic center. When you establish a stable structure with the help of the psoas, prana can circulate freely throughout your body. Movement that is initiated from your core is more efficient and requires less energy, which leaves more energy for you to enjoy your life.

3. Body of Feeling and Emotion (Manamaya Kosha)
Emotional Core Stability is defined as acquiring the ability to feel a broad range of emotions without losing a sense of a stable unchanging center. Cultivating emotional stability involves learning to welcome, meet, and greet your feelings and emotions through a neutral witnessing process that neither suppresses emotions nor inappropriately vents or expresses these emotions in a way that causes harm to others. Through this process, you learn to view your feelings and emotions as messengers offering valuable information about your experience, without eclipsing an awareness of the unchanging Self. Far from creating a cold-hearted detachment, being able to disidentify with emotions allows you to register your experience in high resolution without shutting down or becoming overwhelmed. This can increase your ability to remain centered and
present for others who may be in the throes of their own strong emotional experience. The psoas can be viewed as a repository of the instinctual emotions of the abdominal brain. Working tenderly with the psoas can sometimes unleash these emotions, but at the same time, it can provide access to the strength and innate wisdom necessary for the healing journey toward emotional wholeness.

4. Body of Thought (Vijyanamaya Kosha)
Mental Core Stability is the ability to establish and sustain the practice of pratyahara. Pratyahara is a Sanskrit term that refers to the restoration of the senses to their fullest function, whereby you begin to notice the unchanging ground from which experience arises. To be truly centered is to have a simultaneous awareness of both the changing patterns of your mind and the unchanging ground of consciousness. Balancing your mental process includes identifying and compassionately looking at the tendencies, habits, and programming that consistently draw you out of your core and preven the emergence of your deep inner wisdom. Such presence of mind allows you to respond to each situation perfectly and appropriately. The psoas can register the mental programming and metaphors with which we live, often resulting in excessive muscular tension. For example, if you live with a belief system that no one can be trusted, your vigilance will be embodied as tension in the psoas and other muscles of your body. When the psoas is hydrated and balanced, it can be used as a reliable physical tool to tap into the stillness that underlies and contains all thoughts, feelings, and emotions. It may help to establish a sense of being seated in your Self, accessing and relying on your authentic power and wisdom.

5. Body of Liberation (Anandamaya Kosha)
Spiritual Core Stability is about having a connection to your core purpose or dharma and truthfully maintaining a faithful allegiance to your unique life path. When you live with a sense of connectedness and intimacy with the world and others, ultimately there is no center and no periphery, no you or me, only an indivisible oneness. Working with the psoas can help you to have a felt sense of connectedness within yourself that can overflow into your relationships in the outer world. The physical stability that results from balancing the psoas can even result in feelings of greater connectedness. One of the most tangible and immediate ways to begin the process of centering yourself is through and in the body. Because each kosha is inextricably linked to all the others, centering the physical body is one of the simplest and most immediate
ways of balancing the other koshas. The psoas can function as a “touchstone” for accessing and balancing all the koshas. Ultimately, it does not matter which door you choose to walk through while in the process of developing a better sense of center, but we encourage you to return again and again to your body as a reference point. See if the structural work you have done has evoked any change in how you feel energetically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually. We call this observational process “body weather reading,” and we encourage you to use this practice not only during and after you complete your class with Gems Of Yoga but also frequently throughout your busy day. Learning to recognize when you’ve moved away from center is the first step in finding your way back.

Body Weather Reading: The Importance of Baseline: Perception
If you’ve ever gone for a walk in a large botanical park, you will be familiar with the maps posted at the entranceways with red arrows declaring “you are here.” Because unless you know the point from which you are starting, it’s impossible to navigate to where you want to go. Similarly, by doing a little body weather reading at the beginning of each practice session and noting how you are feeling, you then will be able to appreciate any changes that occur as a result of your practice. This process can be especially important when you are trying to ascertain which practices are most helpful in ameliorating discomfort and healing injuries. Before you begin a practice session, take a little Before you begin a practice session, take a little time (walking, standing, sitting, or lying down) to check in with yourself. Using the koshas can be a handy framework for structuring your observations:
▪▪ How do you feel in your physical structure?
Note any areas of tension or discomfort.
▪▪ What kind of energy level do you have today?
Is your breath rhythmic?
▪▪ Are you aware of any particular feelings or
emotions that are visiting today?
If so, can you identify the nature of these visitors?
▪▪ Were your spirits high or low this morning?
Reflect back to when you woke up.
After you practice an inquiry or exercise, take a few minutes to reflect again: has there been any physical change? If so, can you define it? If you began your session feeling depleted and fatigued, have your energy levels improved? If you began the session feeling anxious and unsettled, do you now feel more grounded? When you come up to standing at the end of each session and begin to move about your day, has your practice made a qualitative difference to the way you are operating in the world? It is through this careful observation and inquiry that you can come to know how to center yourself and to sustain that centeredness even as you step out into the world.

  • COMMITTED YOGI

FROM 21st TO 30th OF THE MONTH
Here we will deepen our yoga poses for back health by maintaining pelvic and spinal stability. We will do Yoga for pelvis and swadisthan bandha and kegels and moolabandha with Ujjai breathing.

What You Get From This Classes

No Pain Is Your Gain
Each time you enter a practice, notice whether it is best supported through Abdominal Breathing or Diaphragmatic Breathing. Feel whether particular movements are best practiced on an inhalation or exhalation. Also consider that the particular CRP that best suited you yesterday may not be the ideal fit today depending on what you are feeling in your body. Forget the cultural credo of “no pain, no gain.” Pain is the body’s way of saying, “Try another pathway.” It is the clearest message the body can give you to alter your position and instead explore how “no pain can be your gain.” Having an impeccably high standard for comfort will lead you toward the best alignment of your unique structure and move you ever closer to your true center.

The mind is like the wind and the body like the sand: if you want to see how the wind is blowing, you can look at the sand.” — Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen

Our tissues and organs provide the essential components of the patterns from which we weave our personal stories. These stories are then recorded by and stored in the templates of our autonomic nervous system. As we embody our cellular patterns of expectations and responses, we gain understanding of their relevance and importance in past experiences.

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Class Info
January 1, 2018 December 31, 2020
Gems Of Yoga Studio
Hatha Yoga - Vinyasa Flow

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