Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fall cleanse - Yoga and Ayurveda principles

image compliments of wall art hd

This is an amazing time!  The equinox, the new moon in Libra, and the beginning of fall.

I first noticed something was up with the energy around the change of the seasons when a friend was struggling with overeating and feeling rather driven and dissatisfied.  I received an Ayurvedic email newsletter from Vaidya Mishra that talked about Pitta imbalance and described this friend's issues to a tee.  I asked around with my other Pitta (dosha type) friends and could feel something energetic going on.

Vaidya Mishra has way more Ayurvedic expertise than I do, so I'll simplify.  Summer keeps the channels of the body open.  When the fall comes, the cooler temperatures naturally cause some congestion of those channels (heat dilates, cool constricts).  We need a little extra help pushing out the toxins that were naturally being helped out in the heat of the summer.  It's a perfect time for a few days of self-care.

I, personally, do not suffer from a pitta imbalance.  I have a kapha imbalance that is "pushed" by my vata imbalance.  So for me, pacification of vata energy allows me to calm down enough so that my kapha coping behaviors don't kick in too strongly.  I'm grateful to Debby Andersen for helping me to figure out my vikruti.  To learn more about Prakruti and Vikruti go here. 

I've spent a few days now with the following protocol:
  • Abhyanga (vata-pacifying self-massage with vata oil containing magnesium and Vitamin D)
  • Nasya Oil in the sinuses - very helpful for my bells palsy
  • A trip to the pool including some hot tub action
  • A trip to the sauna for some hot/cold/hot/cold (sauna and a 30 second cold shower alternated)
  • No alcohol
  • Little caffeine
  • Little meat (no red meat)
  • Light exercise
  • Increased Veggies, detox tea, and water
  • Reiki (self-applied)
  • Detoxifying yoga practice emphasizing twisting on exhale and twisting on suspension after exhale.  
I feel great!  I feel better than I have in a long time and my bells palsy is almost completely gone, as evidenced by feedback from my neighbor and my Dad.  I also feel more space, calmer, and my energy feels excellent.

Just a few notes about the detoxifying yoga practice I did last night before my reiki session.

1) Cakra vikasana with sitoli tongue action, increasing the length of exhale (cooling, calming)
2) Urdhva Prasarita Padasana variation - one leg up to the ceiling, opposite arm overhead, turning head opposite the moving arm on exhale.  Long slow movements.
3) Supta Baddha Konasana - open and close, then close over a number of breaths.
4) Supine twist (Jathara Parivirati)  was the main focus of the practice.
                   A few repetitions back and forth with long exhale
                   A few repetitions 6-0-6-6 (inhale-retain-exhale-suspend)
                   A few repetitions where I stayed an extra breath in the twist with 6-0-6-6
                   Lastly, I twisted, exhaled, suspended, then inhaled, exhaled, and suspended then vocalized a low note to push the last of the air out and vibrate all around the pelvis.

Building heat gently in the abdomen is excellent for detoxifying and pushing ama out of the body.  
5) Paschimottanasana gently draping the body over the legs
6) Apanasana
7) Seated breathing 6-0-6-6 then moving to 6-0-8-6 and adding uddiyana bandha on suspension
8) taking 6-0-8-6 with uddiyana bandha on suspension with pratiloma ujjayi nostril breath technique.
9) Om Samana Vayu Namaha chant
10) reflect
11) self applied reiki with symbols.

Wow... I woke up feeling wonderful.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Allowing Chanting to Find a Home Part 2

image compliments of wall art hd

Part 1 can be found here.

Chanting is so energetically important because it has the immediate effect of marrying body and mind through vibration.  Yet it is tricky to get the chant right (tune, content, volume, setting) so that the mind willingly buys into the process.

In working with a client with a specific physiological condition, I took the sequence my teacher gave me at my most recent training, diluted it, and attempted to teach it in pieces.  It is a multi-faceted practice, using chanting of a mantra, gesture, breath-centric asana, pranayama, and meditation.  About 90% of the content of the practice is landing and is being received and processed by the client.  However, the chanting is meeting resistance.

I was able to take what works from the chanting practice, and scrap the rest.  We kept the OM and used it in place of any other sanskrit.  We also kept the nyasa (gesture) attached to the practice - namely bringing hands to eyes, hands to heart, and hands to belly.  We also had a conversation about chanting in Hebrew.  My client was happy to note how open I was to changing the chanting.  I looked at her and said, earnestly, my teacher has asked us to help our clients tap into sources of meaning.  I want to help this come alive for you!  Let's work together.  She is off to find phrases that make her spine tingle.  I sent her with those instructions because that little tingle is always a truth-beacon for me.  She is heading to Rosh Hashana services this week and will have a chance to drop in and swim in mystical currents of renewal.  I wish her a wonderful dip in the current!!

My teacher's practices are complex, elegant, deep, and esoteric in nature.  It's gratifying, in a way, to know that what landed well with me (the practice my teacher gave us therapist-trainees) does not necessarily translate to a client.  The gratification comes when I think of the many hours of studying, time away from my family, and financial sacrifices my family has made to allow me to receive this training.

The most fascinating thing of this process is that the chant that I gave the student, upon practicing it myself, has become my own.  I've entwined it with some tantric practices (Reiki symbols), nyasa, and mantra in pranayama.  It is truly alive in me and my bells palsy is responding.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Allowing Chanting to find a Home

By Jon Sullivan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Aaaah... Chanting.

We're getting to that point in training where the deeper practices of chanting, pranayama, and meditation are at the fore.  I'm working with a client who has rheumatoid arthritis, and the practice I'm suggesting has chanting in it to activate the deepest inner alchemy - the relationship between prana, ojas, and tejas.  It is a deep practice, and the client is receptive to working this deeply, which is a true blessing.

Prana is energy.  Ojas is that which provisions the energetic flow of prana.  Tejas is the intelligent use of ojas-fueled prana - like the way we metabolize (insert anything here - food, experience, feelings, etc.)  There is much more to this discussion that I will leave for another day.

The resistance to chanting is something I'm very familiar with.  I was not chanting but knew I "should" be before I started to work with this client.  Working on her practice and reviewing my notes from training awoke an interest in me.  I'm familiar with the teachings governing this inner alchemy, but my student is just learning, with much less formal training.  We will see, with interest and awareness, whether it clicks for her and nourishes her?  Or whether it will be adjusted and fine-tuned to meet her needs more fully.

Chanting can be quite challenging as you have to hear your own voice reaching out into space.  It's easier to do in a group than on your own.  It's much more vulnerable when you chant in your own silent space.  Mental chanting is a way to ease into full chanting.  Full voiced chanting, whether loud or soft, high or low in pitch, creates tremendous energetic effects.  In my experience, it short circuits the mind-body duality we seem to live with so much of the time as we move through "real life" off the mat.

These energetic forces governing deep inner alchemy of physiological processes are well suited for chanting when dealing with a physiological condition.  In fact, I was so drawn to this "inner alchemy" that I have adopted this chanting myself.  I'm self-treating for nervous system condition of bells palsy.  In the lines with more than one syllable, the second to last syllable is a raised pitch, then back to the starting pitch.

Om Ojosi
Om Nourish Me
Om Pranosi
Om Enliven Me
Om Tejosi
Om Enlighten Me
I have added this to my personal practice before my pranayama, which is an alternate nostril and krama practice given to me by my teacher.

At the end of my pranayama, I repeat the chanting, low and quiet, and add nyasa (gesture).

Om                            hands to eyes
Om Ojosi                  hands to heart
Om Nourish Me        hands to belly
Om                            hands to eyes
Om Pranosi               hands to heart
Om Enliven Me        hands to belly
Om                            hands to eyes
Om Tejosi                 hands to heart
Om Enlighten Me     hands to belly

I drop into a beautiful meditative space.  It feels wonderful to inhabit my body and take care towards healing every morning.

I have adopted the chanting, but will the client?  Her most recent email to me:

Just printed this practice & we'll see if I chant this week!

Aaaah... chanting.  You bring out the emotions in us!