Hatha Yoga (the yoga of physical movement).

Hatha is the branch of yoga in which we use the physical practices – including postures, breathwork, dietary selection, and other “external” means – to build better control of our thoughts in order to move ultimately toward one-mindedness.

As part of this, we strive to balance the body and mind, with the understanding that they are always in fluctuation.

Goal: To gain freedom through physical discipline.

How to get there: Through practicing the 8 limbs of yoga.

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Yamas and Niyamas,

The five yamas are moral directives intended to guide the practitioner’s behavior towards others.

  • Ahimsa: Nonviolence towards others.
  • Satya: Truthfulness.
  • Asteya: Not stealing from others. Though this probably had a literal meaning originally, it has been extended to mean not putting others down to build yourself up.
  • Brahmacharya: Chastity. Whether this means celibacy or simply controlling one’s sexual impulses is open to interpretation.

While the yamas direct one’s behavior towards others, the niyamas describe how to act ethically towards oneself.  The 5 niyamas are:

  • Saucha: Cleanliness. Again, probably a practical meaning originally but has a modern interpretation keeping your intentions pure.
  • Santosa: Contentment with oneself.
  • Tapas: Self discipline. Having the commitment to sustain a practice.
  • Svadhyaya: Self study. Having the courage to look within yourself for answers.
  • Isvara pranidhana: Surrender to a higher power. Whether that is a deity or the acceptance that the world is governed by forces outside of our control is up to you.

Together, these two sets of rules were meant to guide one to a righteous lifestyle.

Asana

The practice of yoga postures, although it should be noted that the word asana means seat.

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Pranayama

The practice of breathing exercises. Choosing to control the breath for specific effects.

Pratyahara

The withdrawal of the senses, meaning that the exterior world is not a distraction from the interior world within oneself.

Dharana

Concentration, or the ability to focus on something uninterrupted by external or internal distractions. Dharana builds upon pratyahara.

Once you can ignore external stimuli, you can begin to direct your concentration elsewhere.

Dhyana

Meditation. Building upon dharana, your are able to expand your concentration beyond a single thing so that it becomes all encompassing

Samadhi

Bliss. After you have achieved dhyana, the transcendence of the self through meditation can begin. The self merges with the universe, which is sometimes translated as enlightenment.

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Bhakti Yoga. (the yoga of devotion)

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While Hatha Yoga requires a strong and flexible body, Raja Yoga requires a disciplined and concentrated mind, and Jnana Yoga requires a keen intellect, the only requirement for Bhakti Yoga is an open, loving heart. 

GOAL: To develop a personal relationship with the ‘divine’, which could include a higher power, nature, or the self.

HOW TO GET THERE: Prayer, chanting or your own preferred way of expressing devotion.

MORE INFO:

Bhakti means “devotion” or “love” and this path contains various practices to unite the practitioner with the Divine.

Bhakti Yoga is considered the most direct method to experience the unity of mind, body and spirit.

This deeply spiritual practice draws heavily on the Hindu deities. Each of these deities is seen as representing a human aspect of the single Godhead or Brahman (similar to the way Christian saints represent specific attributes and qualities of God). The use of Hindu deities in Bhakti Yoga can be a large obstacle for Western practitioners, especially for those with a deeply religious background. But the use of the Hindu deities is not required for this practice.

 

The most popular limb of Bhakti Yoga in the West is  Kirtan,  with national and local Kirtan walas performing weekly in small to large cities. Bhakti Yoga can be practiced by itself or be integrated into other types of yoga or spiritual practices.

Branches of Yoga.

branches of yoga

What opens your heart to being receptive to new ideas, creativity and compassion?

There are many branches of yoga that reflect the diversity in our temperament, personalities and goals.

There is a style of yoga for everyone! Maybe your goal is to exercise, or open your heart and quiet your mind, maybe it’s music or service to others?

Here are a few of the modern forms of yoga and I will be writing a short blurb about each individually.

 

BHAKTI YOGA (Devotion)

HATHA YOGA (Physical Exercise)

JNANA YOGA (Wisdom)

KARMA YOGA (Service)

MANTRA YOGA (Sound)

RAJA YOGA (Meditation)

TANTRA YOGA (study of the universal from the point of view of the individual)

One Love San Francisco

one love serve

I’d like to invite you to join me and my friends, Danni Pomplun, Martin Scott and Susannah Freedman to take your yoga off the mat and help us give back to underserved and homeless youth.

Please join us for One Love’s San Francisco 2016 Charity Yoga Event! Help us give back to the SF community and make a positive impact in the lives of local and global underprivileged youth. Your ticket purchase will be a direct donation locally to Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco, aiding to get homeless and at-risk kids off the street, and globally to the One Love shelter in India, which is home to 20 kids rescued from the streets.

Date: Saturday, June 18th 2016
Time: 1:30 – 3:30pm (doors open 12:45pm – arrive early to save your mat space)
Location: Yoga Tree, Castro (97 Collingwood St, San Francisco, CA 94114)
Tickets start at $30. available here: https://www.movewith.com/at/onelovemovementsf

one love logo

Yoga Teachers

teachers

Thank you to LYFT for making it easy for our yogis to get around
NEW LYFT USERS get $50 in credit towards their first 10 rides. Promo code: lyfttoonelove
https://www.lyft.com/invited/lyfttoonelove

EXISTING LYFT USERS get a 25% discount on their Lyft ride to or from Yoga Tree Castro on the day of the event (June 18th). As long as your ride begins or ends at the event, the code will be applicable. Promo code: Ridetoonelove
https://www.lyft.com/invited/Ridetoonelove

Easy Cheesecake

This past weekend we celebrated my big brother’s birthday, HAPPY BIRTHDAY Justin!

I made a no-bake cheesecake that I thought was super tasty and thought I would share the recipe with you here.

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I decided to make the crust myself by combining 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/3 cup melted butter (I also added a little cinnamon, but that is optional).

Press the mixture into a 9-inch pie plate and bake for 8 minutes in a preheated 350°F oven. Cool completely.

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces prepared whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 prepared graham cracker crust (6 ounces)
  • 1 pound fresh berries for decoration

From cell to birth… (a yoga lesson)

The human body (which is made up of about 100 trillion cells) begins as a single, newly fertilized cell.

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Nutrients need to get through the cell membrane, and once inside, the cell metabolizes these nutrients and turn them into energy that fuels its life functions. As a result, waste is generated and needs to somehow get back out through the membrane.

Any impairment in the membranes ability to let nutrients in, or waste out, will result in the death of the cell via starvation or toxicity.

The observation that all living things take in nutrients provides a good understanding of Prana, which is what nourishes a living thing. Prana is not only what is brought in as nourishment, but also the action that brings it in.

The yogic concept that complements prana is apana. Apana refers to what is eliminated as well as the action of elimination. Prana and Apana describe the essential activities of life.

In order for a cell to thrive, certain conditions need to exist. The cell needs to be permeable so nutrients and waste can pass in and out of the cell, but it can’t be so permeable that the cell wall loses its integrity.

The yogic term that reflects these opposites are sthira and sukha. All living things need to balance containment and permiability, rigidity and fluidity, persistence and adaptability, space and boundaries, etc…

 

Let’s look at the things that happen at the start of life on earth.

In utero, oxygen is delivered through the umbilical cord (the mother does the breathing), your lungs are sealed off and non functional or mostly collapsed. The circulatory system is largely reversed, with oxygen rich blood flowing through the veins and oxygen depleted blood flowing through the arteries. (I will go into much finer detail of this in another blog post)

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Being born means being severed from the umbilical cord, which has sustained you for nine months. Suddenly, and for the first time, you need to engage in actions that will ensure your continued survival.

The first breath causes blood to surge into the lungs; the right and left sides of the heart to separate into two pumps; and the specialized vessels of fetal circulation to shut down and seal off. Your first breath is the most forceful one as it needs to overcome the initial surface tension of your previously collapsed, fluid-filled lungs.

 

Another first time experience that occurs at birth is the weight of the body in space. Inside the womb, you are in a weightless, fluid filled environment. At birth, your universe expands and you can move freely in space, your limbs and head can move freely in relation to your body and you must be supported in gravity.

 

Right away, you have to start DOING something, you have to find nourishment, which involves a complex action of simultaneously breathing, sucking and swallowing. All the muscles involved in the act of survival create your first postural skill – supporting the weight of your head.

Postural development continues from the head downward, until you begin walking, with the completion of your lumbar spine at about 10yrs old.

 

To summarize: At birth you are confronted by two forces that were not present in utero: breath and gravity. The practice of yoga can be seen as a way to consciously explore the relationship of breath and posture.

 

In the language of yoga: Life on this planet requires an integrated relationship between breath )prana/apana) and posture (sthira/sukha). When things go wrong with one, they go wrong with the other.

 

Content from Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff

 

Put life into action.

While listening to a podcast today, a Professor of Psychology was interviewed on her unique perspective that positive thinking is in some ways hindering or stunting us from achieving our goals.

Gabriele Oettingen believes that indulging in our positive fantasies is actually hurting us. In a fantasy you are already imagining yourself completing the task and achieving your goal. She has come up with a system called WOOP that shifts gears from indulging in fantasy to how to realistically achieve you goal.

 

WOOP

 

WOOP:

WISH – Ask yourself what it is that you want from today, for the next week or for your life .

OUTCOME – Spend time thinking about what the BEST outcome could be if you achieved your wish. Vividly experience all aspects of this outcome.
OBSTACLES – Then ask yourself, what is it in myself that is holding me back? Is it an old or irrational belief, is something from your past? If these obstacles are once that you feel you could conquer, then you really commit to achieving this goal. But if you decide that these obstacles are too big or you are not able to get over them, you can then postpone or let go of that idea and make space and availability for achievable goals.
PLAN – Ask yourself this : If (imagine obstacle) then I will (imagine how you will handle that obstacle). This instills non conscience processes.
Example: You have a test on Monday an you have been invited to a party on Saturday. Ask yourself “If I go to the party on Saturday then my test on Monday will suffer” Going to the party becomes the obstacle.
Find obstacle within yourself because those are the ones you can change. You can not change your husband or your boss.
It is the imagery part that of this exercise that propels you into action. Really sitting with your imagination and seeing yourself in the best outcome. But also really seeing your obstacles and if they are obstacles that you are able to over-come.
Analysis is not what propels you into action. Analysis will give you hypothesis about your parents, old relationships, teachers, etc… but it doesn’t put you into action.
For more information check out:

Natural ways to relieve pain.

As most of you know, I have been dealing with a sick dog for the past few months.

On top of his torn ACL, he has also been diagnosed with an arthritis that is very similar to Rheumatoid Arthritis. He has been in a lot of pain and I have done extensive reading about how to help him live a relatively pain free life. We have had major success with a few tweaks in his diet and all the research I have done is relevant to humans, and animals alike. Here’s what I have found!

1). Decrease Inflammatory Foods.

Foods that increase inflammation include:

Sugar: processed sugars trigger the release of inflammatory messengers called cytokines.

Saturated Fats: saturated fats trigger adipose, or fat tissue inflammation, which is not only an indicator for heart disease but it also worsens arthritis inflammation. Pizza and cheese are the biggest sources of saturated fats in the average American diet. Other culprits include meat products (especially red meat), full-fat dairy products, pasta dishes and grain-based desserts.

Trans Fats: Known to trigger systemic inflammation, trans fat can be found in fast foods and other fried products, processed snack foods, frozen breakfast products, cookies, donuts, crackers and most stick margarines.

Omega 6 Fatty Acids:  The body needs a healthy balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Excess consumption of omega-6s can trigger the body to produce pro-inflammatory chemicals. These fatty acids are found in oils such corn, safflower, sunflower, grapeseed, soy, peanut, and vegetable; mayonnaise; and many salad dressings.

Refined Carbohydrates: white flour products (breads, rolls, crackers) white rice, white potatoes and many cereals are refined carbohydrates. Processed carbohydrates may trump fats as the main driver of escalating rates of obesity and other chronic conditions.

MSG: mono-sodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor-enhancing food additive most commonly found in prepared Asian food and soy sauce, but it can also be added to fast foods, prepared soups and soup mixes, salad dressings and deli meats. This chemical can trigger two important pathways of chronic inflammation, and affect liver health.

Gluten and Casein: Common allergens like gluten and casein (proteins found in dairy and wheat) may also promote inflammation. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley and any foods made with these grains. Casein is found in whey protein products.

Alcohol: Alcohol is a burden to the liver. Excessive use weakens liver function and disrupts other multi-organ interactions and can cause inflammation.

Introduce Fish Oil and more of the foods in this image below to your diet.

anti-inflammatory-foods

*Please note that garlic is toxic to dogs, do not feed your dog garlic.

2). Stay Hydrated.

One of the effects of dehydration is stiffness of the muscles leading to pain in various parts of the body, including headaches. Dehydration can occur due to lack of adequate water intake, decreased electrolyte intake, or increased intake of coffee or black tea. Ensure you are drinking at least 1-2L of water per day, and remember to replace each cup of coffee with 2 cups of water.

3). Reduce your stress.

Your body and mind are intimately connected, and stress can manifest itself in many ways in the body. One of our first reactions to any stressor is tightening and tensing of our muscles, especially the muscles in our back, shoulders, and neck.

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Chronic stress is also linked to sleep disturbances. Sleep is restorative and regenerative and without adequate sleep our body doesn’t get the chance to heal. This can contribute significantly to aches and pains throughout the body.

4). Move around.

In order for our muscles and our joints to receive nutrients, stay healthy, and work for us, we need blood flow to these areas. Blood flows properly through our body when we move our muscles and joints, and so to promote adequate blood flow, we need to dedicate time every day to movement.

Many of us spend most of our days sitting at a desk, or in a car while commuting. To incorporate more movement in your day, try taking the stairs instead of elevators or escalators and get up every 30 minutes to go for a quick walk. The best way to incorporate exercise is to find something you enjoy that gets you moving and do it a few times a week.

5). Stretch.

In addition to moving, we also need to stretch our muscles to prevent stiffness. Tight stiff muscles not only contribute to back pain, but can also lead to headaches and joint pain. Yoga is a great way to increase blood flow as well as stretch all the muscles in our body that would otherwise not get stretched.

6). Vitamins and Minerals.

We need certain vitamins and minerals for many processes and reactions in the body, and unfortunately the Standard North American diet often doesn’t provide enough nutrition. One example is the lack of magnesium in our top soil, which is required for relaxation of muscles as well as many other processes in our body.

A magnesium deficiency can manifest in various ways including muscle pain, joint pain, chronic headaches, and constipation. Improve your vitamin and mineral status by including a variety of vegetables and fruits and focus on getting more whole natural foods in your diet.

Yin Yoga explained.

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“Why does my body not move the way I want it to?”

To answer this question we will look at our joints. There are many tissues that form a joint: bone, muscle, tendon, ligament, synovial fluid, cartilage, fat, and sacks of fluid called bursae. Sufficient to our purpose we need only consider three of them: Muscle, Connective Tissue and Bone. Each of these tissues has different elastic qualities and each responds differently to the stresses placed upon them by Yoga postures. By learning to feel the differences between these three tissues Yogis can save themselves a great deal of frustration and possible injury.

We begin our analysis by classifying the three tissues according to quality. Muscle is soft; it is the most elastic, and mobile. So Muscle is the most Yang of the three. Bone is hard; it is the least elastic, the least pliable and is immobile. So Bone is the most Yin. Connective Tissue lies between the two extremes.

It is interesting to note that this classification of the Three Tissues remains the same when we examine them not by quality but by location. The muscles are the most external and exposed. They are Yang. The bones are the most internal, the least accessible. They are Yin. The connective tissue lies literally between the two.

Why bother with this analysis? Because Yang tissues should be exercised in a Yang way and Yin tissues should be exercised in Yin way. The characteristics of Yang exercise are rhythm and repetition. The characteristic of Yin exercise is prolonged stasis or stillness. We are all familiar with Yang exercises like running, swimming, and weight training. All of these activities are rhythmic. We alternate the contraction and relaxation of our muscles to run or swim or lift. It would be unproductive to just contract a muscle and hold it until it spasms. It would be equally unproductive to just let a muscle stay relaxed. Healthy muscle requires the rhythmic contraction and relaxation that Yang exercise provides. The rhythm is very important. Indeed, it could be said that it is rhythm that distinguishes exercise from simple manual labor.

Manual labor is rarely of the proper rhythm or of adequate repetition to make a person “feel good”. It is usually a haphazard mix of too much of some movements, not enough of others. This leaves us feeling sore and “kinked” at the end of our labors, not pleasantly perspired and relaxed. In cultures where long days of manual labor are unavoidable Human Beings have responded by making up “Work Songs” and soldiers have invented an endless variety of “Marching Songs”. The purpose of these songs is to create a rhythm to work to. Labor is still labor but it is made more palatable and less destructive by moving, singing and breathing with a rhythm.

Yang exercise is easy to define and identify. It is what we are all familiar with. By contrast Yin exercise seems a contradiction in terms. How can something that is gentle and static even be called “exercise”. One purpose of these articles is to expand our conception of exercise to be more inclusive. Yang exercise is not the only form of exercise.

The characteristic of Yin exercise is stasis or stillness for long periods of time. Yin exercise has a rhythm but it is a much, much longer rhythm than Yang activities like running. A common misinterpretation of Yin stillness is “passive” or “inactive”. But this misconception is due to our cultural bias to muscular, Yang activities. If nothing were happening in Yin exercise then it would indeed be a contradiction in terms. But tissues are being stressed in proper Yin exercise, particularly connective tissue.

The most common example of Yin exercise is traction. If someone’s leg were broken it would not be beneficial to rhythmically pull on the injured area. But gentle, steady, continuous traction might be absolutely necessary for healthy recovery.

An even more common and less dramatic example of the Yin principle of prolonged stasis is orthodontia; braces on our teeth. Teeth are bone anchored in more bone and yet even they respond to the practice of Yin Yoga which we call “braces”. Bone is the ultimate Yin tissue of the body. If we were to exercise our teeth in a Yang way it would be disastrous.

Imagine an enthusiastic body builder taking what she learned from the gym and applying it to her mouth. If she had decided she was going to straighten her crooked teeth by rhythmically wiggling them back and forth in multiple sets it would not be long before her teeth fell out. Yang tissues should be exercised in a Yang way and Yin tissues should be exercised in a Yin way.

We will finish this article with a reminder of the Taoist conceptions of Yin and Yang. When we analyze things we are comparing them to something else. There is no absolute Yin. There is no absolute Yang. If we recall the Tai Ji symbol of spiraling half circles of Black and White we must remember that there is a black dot within the white spiral and a white dot within the black. This is to remind us that when we use language such as “Yang is rhythmic but Yin is not.” that this is not absolutely true. Yin has a rhythm but it is much longer than Yang. Likewise it is not absolutely correct to say “Yang is active but Yin is not.” There is activity in Yin but it is of a different type. It can be tedious to be meticulously accurate in our speech. One of the great benefits of Yin/Yang terminology is that we can express ourselves in terse, memorable ways but always with the understanding that this is not the final word. Like poetry; a deeper analysis might be necessary for different purposes.

To learn more about Paul Grilley, visit his website at www.paulgrilley.com