A couple of days ago I went to the Grand Canyon (South Rim elevation 7,000 feet (2,100 meter), North Rim 8,000 feet (2,400 meter).
The view was breathtaking! Was it the view only though? I know, high altitude can affect your breath as well.
What is breath?
Breath (definition): the air taken into or expelled from the lungs. An inhalation or exhalation of air from the lungs.
Breath is the force that sustains life; conscious breath is the force that sustains awareness. In the practice of yoga, the breath is fundamental.
Yogapedia explains Breath:
Conscious breath is a cycle that infuses the body with oxygen and channels prana (vital energy) throughout the physical being.
The full breath cycle includes four discrete, and equally important, elements:
Puraka (inhalation) - The steady drawing in of air; filling the lungs and creating an awareness of the vital force that is entering the body.
Abhyantara Kumbhaka (pause after the inhalation) - The intentional cessation of inhalation, a full pause with the body motionless.
Rechaka (the exhalation) - Release of the breath in a steady, conscious movement. Lungs return to a relaxed state.
Bahya Kumbhaka (pause after the exhalation) - A state of calm awareness preceding the next inhalation. A moment of quiet reflection; a present state of being. (Source: www.yogapedia.com)
There are several breathing techniques and exercises helping with breath awareness. Here is one suitable for all ages and all levels (beginners to advanced):
4 x 4 or box breathing
Sit in a calm and comfortable position
Breathe in through your nose counting to 4 (or 4 sec)
Hold your breath counting to 4 (or 4 sec)
Breathe out through your nose counting to 4 (or 4 sec)
Hold your breath counting to 4 (or 4 sec)
You do this for about one minute and you will feel yourself calm down.
This breathing technique can be utilized at different times of the day.
It can be helpful to wind down at the end of a busy day, or right before bedtime. It can calm your nerves before a meeting or a difficult conversation. A great thing about 4x4 or box breathing, you can adjust the rhythm that suits you the best.
Why breathing in Yoga is so important?
When practicing Yoga one important aspect is learning to control your breathing.
Proper breathing allows your body to retain as much oxygen as possible.
Synchronizing your breath with movement allows you to perform poses with ease and comfort.
- releases tension
- relaxes mind and body
- brings clarity
- relieves pain
- strengthens the immune system
- improves posture
- increases digestion
If you would like to practice breathing and/ or start your Yoga journey, send me a message via contact form.
I am looking forward to practice with you!
Taking care of self before taking care of others is a principle that applies in real life situations. For example, listening to the flight crew before takeoff, as they explain how to use oxygen mask and life vest. The oxygen mask is a very good representation of the above-mentioned principle.
I have taken much needed time off to reflect, recharge, and recover.
"Self-care is not selfish. You must fill your own cup before you can pour into others."
With new gained perspective and drive I am ready to continue to serve my community. Here are a few lessons learned during my "time out":
1. Acknowledge your feelings (positive or negative). While all your emotions are valid, they may not be justified. Check if your emotional response matches the circumstance.
2. Self-care is a reminder to you and others that your needs are valid and a priority.
3. Evaluate your friendships (social media vs real friends). Social media time out may help differentiate between the two.
4. Spend time in your own company (the quiet space to reflect and meditate).
5. Entertain yourself (the creative space to practice your skills or learn something new).
6. Giving back to your community (connect with likeminded people, e.g., volunteering).
Reflecting on this time out, I ask myself: What progress have I made? I've found the perfect quote from one of the stoics:
"What progress have I made? I have begun to be a friend to myself." ~ Seneca
Take care of yourself!
"Yoga is not for me!"
I hear this statement often. But when I inquire about the why, it is heartbreaking to hear the most common answers:
I also hear:
Saddened by the answers and the thought of missed opportunities, I am motivated to share the benefits of Yoga. I hope this blog can clear up the most common misconceptions about Yoga.
You don't have to be flexible to practice Yoga, the practice will help you become flexible.
Older people can't do Yoga. Yoga is for people of all ages and body types. If you have physical limitations, the instructor will show you modifications for each Yoga pose.
People refrain from indulging in Yoga as they feel it is expensive. This is a complete myth. You don't need to spend any money on Yoga practice. The internet is full of free online resources that help you learn Yoga efficiently. *Yoga with Oma offers free Yoga!
Yoga should be done only by thin and fit people. This is far from the truth. No matter what body type, you can take advantage of Yoga. You can make your body fit by practicing Yoga. It can help you control your weight and keep your body in shape.
What to wear to practice Yoga? Generally, it is important to wear clothing that is both comfortable and made from breathable fabric (like cotton, bamboo or jersey). Once you chose your outfit, try practicing a range of motion in it before you leave the house. This will ensure you can move freely and that you’re not exposing more of your body than you are comfortable with during practice. Click the link to read the full article How to Know What to Wear for Yoga (with Pictures)
Everyone is going to be watching me, and probably laughing. In Yoga, often a gazing point is taught with each pose. Students are encouraged, for example, to look at their outstretched hand, or at a point on the floor or wall in front of them. As you will discover if you do start Yoga, when your eyes are wondering about the room, it is a lot harder to stay balanced. In short, your fellow classmates won't be paying attention to what you are doing because they'll be busy paying attention to what they're doing and trying not to fall!
I hope this helped to debunk the most common misconceptions about Yoga. Join me for free Yoga in the park, choose an online practice, or join a studio. Hoping you will experience how beneficial Yoga truly is. However, it is important to seek medical advice before performing any Yoga.
For additional information, click below link to Yoga International article on the subject.
20 Reasons You Can't Do Yoga... And Why None of Them Are True (yogainternational.com)
See you on the mat,
Fall is in the air, Thanksgiving around the corner, and people can't help but be thankful. Everyone is starting to express their gratitude for what the season brings. What is gratitude?
Psychology Today defines it as follows:
"Gratitude is the expression of appreciation for what one has. It is a recognition of value independent of monetary worth."
It answers the following questions:
Is gratitude an emotion?
Gratitude is an emotion, one that makes a person feel happier. Gratefulness is also a mood as well as a personality trait. Some people are just more inclined to feel grateful as a daily habit.
Is gratitude a feeling?
Gratitude is both a temporary feeling and a dispositional trait. In both cases, gratitude involves a process of recognizing, first, that one has obtained a positive outcome and, second, that there is an external source for that good outcome.
The practice of gratitude has been proven to increase one's well-being. Although the cooler and cozier time of the year can inspire feelings of gratefulness, gratitude can be practiced year-round.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
It doesn't matter how you practice gratitude, by doing so it can help you get out of your head. It can give you a new perspective by reminding you of the good things in your life. And it will focus your attention on someone else's well-being.
Being in a constant state of gratitude can be challenging. You can try to cultivate it by practicing yoga. Below I have listed a Gratitude Yoga sequence. The next time you are on your mat give these gratitude inspiring poses a try. For best results hold each pose for 5 - 10 breaths (if it's available to you).
This holiday season I have a lot to be thankful for! I want to thank you all for your continuous support. I am looking forward to new opportunities in 2022. I want to wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season.
May your hearts be open, receiving only what is good, and may you be full of gratitude!
Read the full article here:
Gratitude | Psychology Today
Giving back to the community is one of my favorite things. I recently had the opportunity to do so at the Care + Share Expo.
I was able to do Chair Yoga demos, story time and Yoga for children, Aromatherapy and Mindfulness.
It was such a well planned and executed event. The city of Surprise created a space to connect with the community to educate about available services.
On a personal level, it was very meaningful to be part of this event, being able to share the benefits of Yoga.
I hope that all Expo visitors enjoyed themselves as much as I did!
Spending time in nature has so many benefits. The Sonoran Desert is beautiful, especially this time of year. The temperatures are just right to spend time outdoors.
Frederick Law Olmsted, the 19th century architect of many great American parks, captured the experience well:
Nature employs the mind without fatigue and yet enlivens it. Tranquilizes it and enlivens it. And thus, through the influences of the mind over body, gives the effect of refreshing rest and reinvigoration to the whole system.
Some people say spending time outdoors is taking a nature bath. Overwhelmed by a full schedule (work or personal), long hours of screen time, what better way to unplug. Soak up the sun, listen to the sounds of nature and recalibrate. If it's available to you take a few moments to meditate or even practice a few yoga poses.
This morning I started my day with a beautiful hike. Greeted the day with a few rounds of sun salutations, before I hiked back down. My mind is clear and refreshed, ready to face the world.
If you would like to learn more about the benefits of nature, full article by the Greater Good Science Center How Nature Helps Us Heal | Greater Good (berkeley.edu)
As for Yoga with Oma, more info about Yoga practice and mindful walk/ hike coming soon.
There's nothing to it, but to do it!
This was my motto for the weekend. I started out with an idea, a few measurements, a hammer and a staple gun. Home Depot here I come! Purchased a drill, a saw, wood, screws, chicken wire, roofing. I made a promise to myself, if my plan to build a catio doesn't turn out - I will build something! Luckily the catio turned out the way I pictured it in my head. I had done some minor YouTube research. Contemplated Ikea shelf vs building a frame myself. After a brief cost analysis, it was cheaper to build the frame myself (minus the tools). It took me 2.5 days to build (I didn't work all day long, still too hot in AZ). I learned a lot! I remembered helping my grandfather and my father build stuff. I remembered little workarounds I picked up watching them. I rediscovered my passion for building stuff. And most important, I learned that I CAN DO IT! I had a nice playlist on Spotify to keep me going. I was going from classical piano, to Boat Jazz (Christians BJJ Globetrotters playlist), to Bossa Nova, and I had to listen to Thundercat, of course. All in all a great weekend! Most important, no injuries! I hope Daisy will enjoy the catio as much as I enjoyed making it for her.
In summary, don't let anyone tell you or make you feel you are not capable! Don't let an empty tool chest stand in your way! "Where there's a will, there's a way!"
My summer sabbatical is almost over and I will continue Yoga with Oma in the park. I can't wait to see you!
Monday June 21st is international Yoga day or World Yoga day. 2021 theme: “Yoga for Well Being”
All the world is passing through COVID-19 pandemic and almost every country has imposed lockdown in a certain form. In this situation, it is hard or impossible for people to remain mentally and physically fit and healthy. People are suffering from anxiety and depression even if the lockdown is getting softer in some parts of the world. 2021 theme focuses upon telling people to stay motivated at home and adopt a healthy lifestyle by doing exercise and yoga.
If you would like to learn more
International Yoga Day 2021 :Theme, Meanings, Celebrations, History, Quotes (internationaleventday.com)
Since we are in Arizona and experiencing the dry heat, Yoga with Oma in the park is on sabbatical. But I don't want to leave you without any ideas how to participate in World Yoga day.
Here's what you can do:
*If you have limited space, Chair Yoga might be a solution. It is multi-generational and multi-level. From children to grandparents, beginner to advanced yogi. I've put together a chair yoga sequence for your well being. This sequence can be beneficial at work or in your home office. I hope you find value in this short sequence. Please use a sturdy chair (no office chair with wheels!), hold each asana (pose) for several breaths and practice each side x 2 (pose 2 - 10).
If you would like to practice virtually, I am offering Yoga practice via Zoom. Send me a message via contact form.
On May 15, 2020 I received my RYT 200 certificate. I was officially certified and able to call myself a Yoga Teacher. Why celebrate this accomplishment, or the 1-year anniversary? If you have a couple minutes I will explain.
In 2020 when the entire world was faced with the pandemic, a cloud of doom paralyzed most people. Working in health care I was getting information about the severity of the pandemic quite frequently. I knew I had to do something to stay sane, especially during lockdown/ social distancing. I decided to take my passion for Yoga to the next level and completed 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training. Not only did the daily Yoga practice help me stay healthy physically, it helped my mental well being as well.
Yoga with Oma was born (to learn what Oma means, go to "All about Oma" tab).
I wanted to be an example for my children and grandchildren. I wanted to show them that even during a difficult time something beautiful can be created. Just like a Lotus flower.
"The lotus flower's daily resurrection is certainly interesting, and surely symbolic of revival. (This makes it the perfect gift for anyone recovering from injury or a traumatic experience.) But the flower also has a fascinating will to live. A lotus seed can withstand thousands of years without water, able to germinate over two centuries later.
The flower also blooms in the most unlikely of places such as the mud of murky river water in Australia or Southern Asia. Not only does it find sanctuary in the muck, but due to the waxy protection layer on its petals, its beauty is blithely unaffected when it re-blooms each morning. It continues to resurrect itself, coming back just as beautiful as it was last seen. With such refusal to accept defeat, it's almost impossible not to associate this flower with unwavering faith. Although cultures have largely dubbed the lotus as a spiritual figurehead, it is most emblematic of the faith within ourselves. It is particularly what the Buddhist proverb, aims to edify; living life with unwavering faith, as the lotus does, ensures the most beautiful revivals". Source: "The secret meaning of the Lotus flower" by Katie Robinson
When life gives you lemons,......you know the saying. I, instead decided to become a Yoga Teacher. I wanted to share the benefits of Yoga, but how? I decided to host monthly free Yoga practices in the park. Each month I choose a local non-profit organization and fundraise for them. If you attend my free Yoga practice, you have the opportunity to donate towards their cause. So far I have collected funds to fight food insecurity of the Navajo Nation. Hosted a food drive for local food bank. Collected hygiene products for local women's shelter. Rounded up Arts and Craft supplies for local Family Resource Center. I have been blessed with a group of wonderful people who support me and my vision.
I wanted to give back to them, so I decided to host a 1-year anniversary celebration. It was a beautiful morning in the park. We took a closer look at Sun Salutations and possible modifications. The Chair Yoga session was well received and we ended with Spring Yoga for children. Throughout the event the talented photographer McKenna took pictures that captured the essence of this celebration.
In closing, I want to thank all my supporters, my friends and family, and I am leaving you with this quote:
"Don't grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form" - Rumi
Temperatures rising quickly in Arizona! A good time to talk about hydration. Not only do plants and animals need more water, we humans do too. A good way to remember to drink water on a regular basis is to have a water bottle with you whenever you go out. I prefer to use an insulated, reusable one. It will keep my water nice and cold and it's eco friendly. Children and senior citizens are more susceptible to dehydration.
"Babies and young children are more prone to suffer from dehydration than older children. It is due to the fact that young children lose fluid more quickly than others. Some of the common reasons for dehydration among children are low fluid intake, increased sweating, frequent urination, vomiting, diarrhea or a combination of these conditions."
"As the body ages, the amount of water in it decreases, and this is one of the main reasons elderly adults are at a higher risk for dehydration. Whereas younger people can afford to lose more water, adults over 60 can lose the same amount and develop dehydration faster."
Here are a few tips to stay hydrated:
This is a good start to keep you hydrated during the Arizona summer. Should you find yourself dehydrated and you don't feel better after rehydrating, seek medical assistance.
If you would like to learn more about how much water is enough or too much, click on below link.
Water: How much should you drink every day? - Mayo Clinic