Pottstown’s High Street Yoga; Room to Stretch, Quiet to Reflect

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Stress Less for the Holidays with Yoga

Om for the Holidays

Feeling off balance is common, especially during the holidays. With all the pressure to shop, cook, spend and socialize it is easy to feel stretched beyond your limits. It can be difficult to enjoy the special times with friends and family and miss out on the true nature and genuine spirit of the holiday season when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Yoga is becoming a popular means of stress management and physical relaxation. By taking a yogic approach to the holidays you can find a sense of stability, nurture your own spirit, and create a happier family holiday.

If you have a regular yoga practice, you will appreciate moving and breathing to your favorite asana. For those of you who have never tried a yoga class, this is your time to experience this ancient system of mind, body and spirit connection.

When you find yourself thinking, “I don’t have time for yoga.” Think again, and carve out one hour a week just for you. By taking time to do yoga you will feel relaxed, yet invigorated and ready to face the commitments ahead.

This Holiday Season, give yourself the gift of health, well being, balance and more.

Tips to Finding Balance in the Holidays

• Live fully in the moment. Allow yourself to be fully present in with out looking ahead or mentally crossing off the ‘to do’s’

• Accept “what is”….Give up wanting what you don't already have and learn how to accept what you cannot change. During the holidays this yogic philosophy is especially important. Plans change, the ‘perfect’ gift can’t be found, cookies burn. If you are feeling overwhelmed try experimenting with this yogic affirmation: Breathe in and think to yourself, "What I have is enough." Breathe out and think, "What I am is enough." Breathe in and think, "What I do is enough." Breathe out and think, "What I've achieved is enough."

• Let go of attachments… You may have an idea of the perfect holiday visit or dinner with friends and family. Sometimes things may not go as you imagined. Let go and learn to look at all the planning the gifts and the love that went into the event. Release expectations and disappointments.

• Look at the calendar as a whole and try not over schedule. Accept invitations with joy and say no with love.

• Most importantly reclaim family time. Spend time together, quietly enjoying the spirit of the season.

10 Easy Chair Yoga Poses to do at Home or the Workplace to Help Reduce Stress during the Holidays and Everyday!

Move in and out of the poses on a breath and stay for 3-5 breaths.

Neck Rolls –drop your right ear to your right shoulder, left ear to left shoulder, chin to chest and then drop the head back. Stay in each pose for 3-5 breaths.

Extended Arms
– Extend your arms in front of you, clasp the hands and extend the arms over head. Keep the shoulders away from the ears.

Wrist Stretch - Hold up one hand in front of you like you would when saying "stop." Interlace your fingers with your other hand and pull your fingers back gently to provide a stretch to your wrist. Relax your shoulders. Change the position of your hand so that your fingers point downward, and the back of your hand faces away from you. Take hold of the back of your hand with your other hand and pull gently toward you to stretch the back of your wrist. Repeat on the other side.

Eagle Arms
- With your arms in front of you and forearms parallel to the floor, bring your right arm under your left, the backs of the hands can touch or the fronts of the hands. To deepen the pose, lift the arms a little higher and away from the body.

Modified Cow Face - Inhale and reach your right hand up and over the head touching the back of your left shoulder. Repeat on both sides.
Cat Cow - On the edge of your chair, Inhale and arch your back gazing up and opening through the chest and low back. Exhale round the spine and gaze toward the abdomen. Continue breathing and moving this way.

Seated Forward Bend - Sit at the edge of your chair, with feet hip width apart, on the inhale hinge from the hips and bend forward. Grab opposite elbow to opposite elbow, or let the fingertips rest on the floor.

Seated Twist - Sit on your chair with your right side against the back of the chair. Grab the back of the chair with both hands. On an inhale lengthen the spine and on the exhale begin twisting to the right. Twist first with the belly, chest, neck and finally the head. Repeat on the other side.

Hip Opener
- Sit on the edge of your chair, cross the right ankle over the left knee, if this is difficult for your knees cross your ankles on the floor. Gently hinge from the hips bend and forward. Repeat on both sides.

Modified Down Dog - Stand behind the chair an arms length away. Hinge from the hips, with knees bent or straight, bend forward and rest your hands on the back of the chair in an L shape. Breathe deeply and stretch the entire backside of the body.

A diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well." ~Unknown

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving Morning Yoga

15 Yogis gathered to begin their day with gratitude on Thanksgiving Morning. The class enjoyed watching the first snow fall of the year while they stretched moved and gave thanks. In the spirit of Thanksgiving $185 was collected and donated to the North Coventry Food Pantry.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Grateful Anniversary by Guest Blogger Susan Smith

November celebrates my first yogi anniversary, as Barbara’s student. So, when I received the email for guest bloggers, it couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time!

Looking back from where I am now, I return to the summer of 2007, when life as I knew it was changing before me, like it or not. An extremely private problem was becoming harder to keep under wraps. I have a chronic lung disease called
Cystic Fibrosis. Something I would rarely tell anyone about, since I did not (and still don’t!) want that disease to define me. I had to admit to myself that, for my own good, it was time to retire from the business world.

My priorities in life needed to change and taking care of myself was (and is) my new full-time job. I won’t sugar coat it. . It was a difficult transition. Over the next year or so, I cleaned out and organized about every nook and cranny of the house but when I found myself alphabetically organizing my spices I decided that, even if there were limitations to what I could do, it was time to work on reinventing a new life.

One day I worked up the courage to attend class at High Street Yoga. With Barbara’s welcoming spirit and gentle approach to the practice, I knew I was in the right place for me.

As I progressed in my appreciation for the benefits of yoga, I wondered if incorporating lessons from our weekly sessions would be helpful to do on a daily basis??? So, the experiment began with a few minutes at the beginning of each morning to see if I could encourage a more positive, healthful attitude . . . funny enough . . . it seems like if my head is in a better starting place, the glass looks half full rather than vise versa.

Thank you to Barbara for your part in enriching my life’s journey. I am grateful for what I am learning and can say that I am coming from a more healthful, empowered place. Each new day is a gift and it’s exciting to think of the possibilities that may be ahead!

Most recently, I added The Metta Meditation, to my morning routine. It can be found on October 6th blog entry. Let me encourage you to take a few morning minutes. . They just may influence your day too

Monday, November 1, 2010

Mom Finding Refuge in Yoga with Legs up the Wall by guest blogger Carrie Grabowicz

Legs up the wall is top on my list of favorite yoga poses. My love for legs up the wall began when I was doing my teacher training with Gurmukh Mike Noury of Yoga of India. He began each class with students starting out in legs up the wall as they came into class. When my kids were younger, beginning at ages 1,3 and 5 I would crave time to be still throughout the day. One of my tricks was this “hey lets see who can stay in legs up the wall the longest” I always won! Probably not my greatest parenting moment or even very ‘yogic’ but it gave me a few minutes of much needed peace in my day.

Recently I’ve been finishing up the inversion sequence with legs up the wall or supported shoulder stand at the wall and then settling into Savasana. Last week as we were settling into the pose fellow yogi Carrie, SAHM, and owner of
Hammi Jammi Jewelry shared a great story with the class about seeking refuge in legs up the wall and I immediately said “Can you write about that for the blog?” Parents with children of all ages can relate to her desire for a few minutes of peace throughout the day. I know I can!

I am a SAHM of two active boys and try to run a jewelry business on the side. I say TRY because my husband travels every Monday thru Thursday for work and I don’t get as much accomplished during the week, as I would like. Yeah sure, I can keep up with my blogging and Facebook for my business, but my real passion of creating is left for the weekends. If this doesn’t sound crazy enough for you try throwing in preschool, cub scouts, soccer, and house cleaning, wash, grocery shopping, cutting the grass and yard work…you get the picture. I do try to carve out little specks of “me” time to keep my sanity. We all have crazy lives; I’m not implying that my family is much different from yours. I just think that we can all relate in one-way or another. We all can have empathy and compassion for the plight of the SAHM (not sure why it’s called this….I’m rarely ever home).

I do try to practice yoga, ALSO not as much as I like. Barbara has been my teacher and my friend for the past several years. She introduced me to the practice of yoga and I’ve been hooked ever since. I practiced though out my second pregnancy and I think that it really helped with my delivery. For me, yoga is a much more spiritual and meditative practice more than a physical one. It calms and relaxes me. I also feel very connected to the other people who are practicing with me. It’s a connection of mind, body, and spirit and I begin to crave the classes towards the end of my busy week.

On a particularly crazy Saturday a few weeks ago, the vicious cycle of wash to be put away was piled all around me; the kitchen sink was piled with dishes; the kids we constantly nagging me for things; the dog wanted a walk; every toy in the house was dumped in my living room. I could barely think and focus on what I should clean up first. I silently went upstairs, went in my closet, and shut the door. I laid on the floor and put my legs up the wall (Viparita Karani). This is a very comforting and relaxing inversion and I instantly started to feel better. Then I heard, “Mommy, Carrie….Babe, where are you?” My peace and quiet was broken. My “me” time was done. Then the door opened up and my husband was dumbfounded. He asked, “What in the heck are you doing?” I just looked at him and simply said, “Yoga.” Then, with a clearer head and a different prospective, I was ready to tackle the mess of my house.