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Posts Tagged ‘Energetic Effects’

The Journey Towards My Heels

The Journey Towards My Heels

Face Off with Change

My Face Off with Change

Backbends are challenging for me — both physically and on an energetic level. And as such, it’s a curious study to watch where my mind goes throughout the course of a backbending practice: I am aggravated, frustrated, invigorated and ultimately fascinated by them. If I learn nothing else from backbends, they do illustrate & remind me of the first principle of Anusara Yoga: “Open to Grace.”

These photos were taken at our Anusara group practice yesterday with Christina Sell. For more pictures, check out Christina’s blog.

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Gretchen Rubin writes The Happiness Project blog, a wonderful collection of ideas on happiness which includes everyone from ancient sages to new-age gurus, spiritual advisers and pop psych touters. Rubin shares her experiences “test-driving” these ideas and has written a book which will be released sometime this year.  Earlier this week, she recapped her 10 Myths about Happiness, along with links to her thoughts on each one.

Ten Myths about Happiness — Which Do You Believe?

Each day for two weeks, I posted about Ten Happiness Myths. Today, for your reading convenience, I’m posting the entire list, with links. ~ Gretchen Rubin

No. 1: Happy people are annoying and stupid.

No. 2: Nothing changes a person’s happiness level much.

No. 3: Venting anger relieves it.images1

No. 4: You’ll be happier if you insist on “the best.”

No. 5: A “treat” will cheer you up.

No. 6: Money can’t buy happiness.

No. 7: Doing “random acts of kindness” brings happiness.

No. 8: You’ll be happy as soon as you…

No. 9: Spending some time alone will make you feel better.

No. 10: The biggest myth: It’s selfish to try to be happier.

What do you think of her list? Are there ones you’d add or modify?  Which ones strike you in some way?

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"Reflections always include light and dark" ~ Ron Box

"Reflections always include light and dark" ~ Ron Box

As those of you who read this blog regularly know, my 6-word memoir posts are part of a challenge I made to myself: could I write one a day for a whole year?  The project is nearing the halfway point. While sometimes I am less than inspired in my posts, I continue to find it an interesting and insightful. The daily discipline alone sparks my creativity, and reminds me that benefits come through regular practice ~ true in writing as well as yoga.

In addition to recording my thoughts here, I also keep a separate blog, The Pam-oirs, that is dedicated to my six word musings. There is no other writing included with the posts, just my daily reflection and an occasional related photograph. As such, comments on that site are rare, but recently I received one from Ron Box, a professional photographer in Brentwood, Tennessee:

“Just browsing through the blogosphere and your site caught my eye. Not an easy thing to do. A cool concept which you are executing beautifully.” He followed up with his own 6 word post: “Challenge creates growth we never expect.”

I told him I LIKED that and was going to have to share.  A day or two later, another message arrived.  “I just downloaded some new pictures on my blog and tried my hand at 6 word descriptions of each picture.” Be sure to check out his beautiful photography and creative captioning. Six words inspires creativity in many different forms.

Creative energy builds when we are in collaboration, whether that be with one another or the universe as a whole.

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Personal Discoveries

Month #2 of my year-long project is complete. My goal? To record my daily life in exactly 6 words. No less, no more. While the day-to-day entries are somewhat interesting, I find the review of a whole month to be more revealing. (Think: Snapshot versus photo album; both are good, but one’s a bigger picture!)

I’ve enjoyed the comments and emails that I’ve received about this project. Some have even joined me on the ride. My “Anu-newbie” friend Leanne Kitteridge posted her own 6-word thoughts during her recent training with John Friend. (Leanne is an Anusara Inspired teacher near Vancouver, also a student of Christina’s, and my first OFFICIAL electronic kula-mate.) She describes the teaching benefits of practicing 6-word summaries.

I’ve also noticed some other “energetic effects” of this simple writing exercise. Remember what Socrates said, albeit in 7 words: “An unexamined life is not worth living.” (Note: we could tighten that up just a bit ~ maybe insert the contraction “isn’t” ~ and VOILA! Same profundity in six words!) But Socrates aside, here are three benefits that I’ve discovered from my 6-word diary practice.

I. Focus

As a life-long (though somewhat erratic) journal writer, I have blathered my way uncensored through more than a few spiral notebooks. I have also gone extensively without recording a word, simply because I didn’t have “time” to write. The 6-word summary forces you to BE CONCISE. It is your daily thesis. You must … (more…)

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Noting the Differences

There is no doubt that yoga poses have different energetic effects on the nervous system. While there are some broad generalizations ~ backbends are said to be energizing, forward bends soothing ~ each person has an individual experience. This is a topic I’ve been paying closer attention to recently.

As such, a couple of this month’s 6-word insights have been observations on the effects of various yoga poses on me: “Double Dips, Open Hips, Mood Flips” and “Backbends often agitate my nervous system.” I also wrote on Christina’s blog how balancing poses agitate me just SLIGHTLY less than backbends. This was after a challenging core and balance sequence that she taught on Wednesday night.

I love discussing these energetic effects with my friend Iyengar Anne. She is very tuned into this idea. I’m not sure if this is more of an Iyengar “thing” or just Anne the Insightful Philosophy Professor “thing”, but either way, she’s willing to go there with me. It’s been through my conversations with her that I’ve realized how unique each person’s reactions truly are!  Read Anne’s post on Yoga Energetics!

And Then the Mailman Came

So with all of this mulling around in my head, I ran across the November issue of Yoga Journal in which Kelly McGonigal writes about stress reactions and using yoga to alleviate its effects. She outlines different stress responses noting that one person may get highly agitated, while another goes into an inactive, low-energy funk. Just like our reactions to asana poses, stress reactions are equally individual. In the article, McGonigal describes a stress management technique of yoga therapist Elissa Cobb, and it all started to make sense.

“This practice will help you become aware of what happens in your body and your mind during stress. It can also give you insight into how a yoga practice can help you balance your body’s typical response.”

“Sit on your yoga mat and bring to mind a challenging experience you’ve had, something that triggered a strong stress response in you. As you do this, try to conjure up your reaction in your body and mind. Maybe that means clenching your fists or tensing your neck and shoulders. Whatever it is exaggerate or enhance the response. Don’t try to change it ~ go right into it, and try to amplify it. Notice the thoughts and emotions that go along with the body’s response.”

“After you’ve been with this experience for a few moments, think of a yoga pose that would bring you in to a completely opposite state.  Move into the pose. Notice the difference. Observe your thoughts, emotions, and sensations. Stay for as long as you’d like. After you release the pose, come back to a seated posture and take some time to reflect on your experience. Compare how the real response and the recaptured response felt, and notice the freedom you had to transform the first.”

Because we each have a unique reaction to stress, we will also find different poses soothing in those situations. Some people need the energy and lift that a backbending practice can infuse. Others (like me) find solace and comfort in the deep forward bends that bring us down from an agitated state. When we understand what we need, we can practice our own yoga therapy.

To be successful with this, you have to be cognizant of two things:

  • What is your typical stress reaction and pattern? Do you get worked up by stress or overwhelmingly lethargic?
  • Which poses (for YOU) create the necessary effect to counter your response?

Armed with this information, we can alleviate our own suffering. Hey, this is all sounding kind of Anusara-ish: When we know the SELF, BLISS follows!

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Part III: Sharing Strengths

In my recent posts, I have been reviewing the teachings of Marcus Buckingham as it relates to finding your true strengths – those activities in life that give you energy. Buckingham instructs that once you’ve identified your strengths you must begin to focus more and more of your daily actions and efforts on doing those activities. Through these endeavors, we are infused with energy and enthusiasm, which will ultimately increase both our productivity and success. This is the way to reignite the passion and joy in life.

But what do we do about those things that don’t give us energy, those tasks that are a necessary requirement in our lives or our jobs? Buckingham offers several effective ways to handle those “energy drains” including that sometimes you just have to pick up the shovel and shovel it! (My words, not his!) Shovels notwithstanding, one strategy is to team up with others whose strengths complement your own. By playing off our collective strengths we can create a mutually beneficial relationship where everyone’s energy is boosted, and all tasks get completed successfully.

This is something effective managers have known for a long time. Like a good coach, managers want to maximize the talents and gifts of their employees. Of course this makes sense in the sports arena, the corporate world, and even in family life, but how can we make use of this strategy in the seemingly solo task of planning and teaching an effective yoga class? Using Buckingham’s strength-based approach and this concept of sharing strengths, I’ve outlined five steps to guide you in this process, a.k.a. “How to use the Greatness of Others to be Great Yourself!” 😉

5 Steps towards Developing a Better Yoga Class

1. Determine your strengths as a yoga teacher. As you look at the components of planning a yoga class, what are your strengths? (Remember the criteria: anticipation, lose track of time, more energy at completion.) In an Anusara yoga class plan, we need a heart-oriented theme and a logical asana sequence with connection to the Universal Principles of Alignment. Maybe your strength is creating a theme, but sequencing drains you. Be astute in your evaluation. Discern without judgment.

2. Develop your strengths fully. Use the energy you acquire to study, develop, and enhance your strengths. If you are “in” to yoga philosophy and it energizes you, then deepen your understanding even further. Read more of the sacred texts. Study with a philosophy teacher. If the biomechanics of physical alignment excite you, take an anatomy class and learn more about the body. Too often we waste energy trying to strengthen a weakness. Instead, we could experience an exponential increase in our energy if we applied that same effort towards an area of interest. Read earlier remarks in comment 3.

Aside: I am reminded of what Christina advises aspiring teachers in the Anusara yoga immersion; teach what resonates for you! Represent the method accurately, but teach to your direct experience.

As you develop your strengths, compile your ideas and make notes. If your strength is theme development and personal connections, journal stories and anecdotes that could support a number of heart based themes. If your strength is in scope and sequencing, keep a record of those class plans. If the language of teaching comes easily to you, write down effective phrases. Record, journal, track! It will fuel the fire within.

3. Find people (or resources) with complimentary strengths. Team with fellow teachers, utilize your kula-mates. Tap into books. Build a reference library. If you struggle with sequencing, then look towards an informed source. Turn to the sequences in the Anusara Yoga Teacher Training Manual by John Friend. Write down a series when you’re in class with a teacher who does it masterfully (like Christina Sell). If you appreciate the way someone else centers their class or brings their students out of savasana, use that approach. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

4. Give credit to the Source, universally AND individually! Make sure you acknowledge where your material comes from, along with your teachers, and those who have helped you along the way, including — and especially — the Absolute. It is essential to credit your inspiration and sources.

5. Share your Strengths. Whether it’s working directly with fellow teachers, writing, or sharing resources that have helped you, offer your strengths and ideas to others. Don’t buy into the fear that you need to “keep it a secret” or someone might “steal it”. There is abundance. The more you put out, the more you’ll bring back in. Be seen as someone who is willing to share. Allow your energy to spark others.

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” ~Albert Einstein

Whether using this technique to plan a yoga class, or to create a holiday dinner, build a home or coach a team, maximizing your strengths in combination with the strengths of others will generate success and ENERGY for everyone.

* * * * *

Reminder: The Marcus Buckingham workshop as seen on Oprah is available for FREE on iTunes. Thanks to Kelly Sell for sharing that Marcus Buckingham also has a book on this topic available titled Now, Discover Your Strengths.

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Part II

In my earlier post on reigniting and finding your passion, I shared an overview of the criteria for identifying personal strengths as outlined by career counselor Marcus Buckingham. To reiterate: Your strengths are those things that give you energy and thereby, strengthen you. By his definition, a strength must meet these conditions:

  1. When thinking about the task, you are excited; you anticipate the activity;
  2. When doing the task you tend to lose track of time;
  3. Once the task is completed, you have more energy than before.

Buckingham helps clients identify their strengths with the following activity. For a period of one week, they are instructed to label each task they do as an energy boost (strength) or an energy drain. They are to make a list that answers the question, “I feel strength when …”

*** Important caveat: the activity must be something they actually “do” and not something that is done to them. “I feel strength when my supervisor praises me,” would not count as a strength. It may give you energy, but it’s not something you “do”.

Once a strength is identified the next step is to get specific — “drill down” as Buckingham says — and specify the associated conditions as clearly as possible. For example, if I were to say, “I feel strength when I teach,” he would delve deeper. “Do you like teaching anything to anybody? Hmm … well, no. I like teaching yoga to adults. And then go deeper still … what kind of yoga, what kind of adults, when, and where? I like teaching Anusara yoga to athletes, to middle-aged women, to … You get the drift. You must be specific.

As I digested the material from this particular lesson, I found myself moving much more consciously through my day – not just my workday, but at home – tuning into what things give me energy and what things are my drains:

  • Sorting & washing laundry (energy)
  • Folding laundry & putting it away (drain)
  • Grocery shopping (drain)
  • Writing on my blog (energy)
  • Conversing with someone about “deep” stuff (energy)
  • Being out in the sun (energy)
  • Loading the dishwasher (energy)
  • Unloading the dishwasher (drain, no pun intended)
  • Listening to my music (energy)
  • Listening to my teenage boys’ music (drain)

Try it! Simply, tune in and become a student of the energetic effects of your daily activities. Pull out your journal at the end of the day and make a list or a T-chart like the one below. It’s a great exercise that requires keen observation and awareness.

The workshop offers much more insight with Buckingham suggesting ways to redirect your focus to your strengths, along with strategies for handling your “energy drains.” He encourages teaming up with others for your mutual benefit as you play off each other’s strengths, from coworkers to family members (and of course, “kula mates”). So while I find loading the dishwasher to be an energy boost and the unloading to be a drain, perhaps my husband really likes the unloading part. Teaming up together to complete this task is a win-win! Everyone gets the energy, no one gets the drain!

Coming Up Next … Using the Strengths Concept to Enhance your Yoga Teaching! (Really! I swear.)

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The following is from Sacred Smile Yoga … Read the full text:

Body – Heart – Mind

The deeper we dive into the mechanics of our existence the more understanding we get how the body, the heart and the mind are one organism. To achieve long lasting effective healing and transformation we cannot afford to see and approach them as separate entities. New scientific studies have recently proven how emotions are ruled by our biochemistry and are stored on a cellular level throughout the whole body including the brain, all major organs and endocrine system.

Dr. Candace Pert is a leading scientist in this field who has written the book Molecules of Emotion: The Science behind Mind-body Medicine and has recently released 2 audio cassettes with an accompanying study guide called: Your Body is Your Subconscious Mind. The following is an excerpt from the accompanying study guide:

Molecules of Emotion

“ The opiate receptor is a molecule on the surface of our cells. When morphine or opium enters our bodies, its molecules travel in the fluid surrounding the cells and are attracted to the opiate receptors. The opiate and receptor molecules bind together, transferring information into the cell through the receptor’s ‘roots’. The cell responds by experiencing bliss.

Dr. Pert found that the opiate receptors, while densely concentrated in the limbic brain, also occur in every other part of the body. The implication is that the emotion – in this case, bliss – is not generated by the brain, but by the cells themselves. Since these receptor-bearing cells reside all over our bodies, the blissful experience occurs in the blood, organs, muscles, tissue and bones at the same time as it is registered in the brain. The limbic brain transfers the information to the frontal cortex, where we become conscious of it. It is only at this point that we begin to form ideas about what we are feeling. The experience itself occurs at a preconscious, physiological level.

Every cell in our bodies is studded with hundreds of thousands of receptor molecules, each one programmed to attract and bind with a particular peptide. Because of their crucial role in guiding our bodies’ responses to inner and outer cues, these peptides have been called ‘informational substances.

Your Subconscious Mind

The cellular level, where emotions are instigated, is also where unexpressed emotions are stored. The catharsis of illness expresses the sudden, overwhelming release of information that has been trapped in our bodies. What Freud termed the ‘subconscious’ mind is actually a measurable physical process. In other words, there is no ‘mind-body problem’. Your body is your subconscious mind.

The Chakra System

Dr. Pert’s work is beginning to reveal the scientific underpinnings of the chakra system. From this point of view, the chakras are ‘minibrains’: nodal points of electrical and chemical activity that receive, process, and distribute information from and to the rest of the bodymind. Physiologically, each chakra is the site of a neuronal plexus–a network of cells dense with neuropeptide transmitters. All are interdependently connected to each other, such that nourishing any one plexus enhances the effectiveness of the entire system. By the same token, trauma or neglect can manifest as a block at one or more nodal points, degrading the performance of all.

How the Chakras Interact

The activities of the physiological chakra centers constantly wax and wane in relationship to one another. In each plexus, vacant neuropeptide receptors stand ready to receive informational substances from other nodal points. When the bodymind requires any one chakra’s special genius, the plexus in that location can release neuropeptides to the other chakras, driving the activities of the entire organism. In some stressful situations, for example, digestion stops while the heart rate increases, muscles tense, perception shifts, and breathing speeds up. These changes could result from the first chakra–associated with survival–temporarily taking the lead and directing functions typically associated with the other chakra nodes. In such instances, the first chakra would act as a ‘brain’, governing certain key subconscious decisions.”

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