Friday, December 19, 2014

Winter Zen

When the weather outside is frightful, create an inner fire that's so delightful! 

 It's tempting to skip out on our regular practice of Yoga throughout the winter months. I'm guilty! There's nothing so wonderful as being wrapped up in a warm blanket, sipping tea on a frosty morning. By all means, indulge, hibernate when possible! But also set aside a moment on your yoga mat each day, whether it's at home or out in your yoga community. Try not to put demands on yourself as to what your practice "should be". Instead, meet yourself in the moment and move into what is needed, which might not include much movement at all. Your practice might not have one single sun salutation or downward dog in it on some days. Maybe it will be as simple as pausing for 10 fully present breaths, or taking 15 minutes of Savasana.  Below, you will find instructions to a powerful pranayama called Kapalabhati that you can practice this winter to keep your immune system strong and your head and heart clear and radiant this winter. See you in 2015!
Kapalabhati (frontal brain cleaning breath) is the skull shining breath.  Kapalabhati is an invigorating, energizing, and purifying pranayama and purification technique( of the nasal passage and lungs). As a purification technique,  Kapalabhati  is one of the six purificatory exercises (Kriyas).    Through the rapid succession of sharp expulsions of the breath, the nasal passages are cleaned and purified.
The name Shining Skull comes from the physiological process whereby the cerebral spinal fluid, which changes pressure according to the rhythms of normal respiration, receives a tremendous shift if pressure through the swift and forceful exhalations. This creates a massaging effect on the brain, enlivening every cell and creating an "aura" of light and vitality around the skull.
      Sit (padmasana, siddhasana siddha yoni asana) comfortably with your spine erect.
      Take a few deep breaths and relax - allow for a free flow of breath.
      Inhale and allow your belly to expand.
      Exhale forcefully through the nostrils by contracting the abdominal muscles and then passively (spontaneous free natural ) allow the inhalation to happen. Repeat this several times slowly (up to 5 times; when this is comfortable can increase to 20).
Gradually pick up the pace to find your own rhythm.
After each round, exhale completely, holding the breath out briefly. Inhale when needed, holding the breath in briefly. Exhale when ready and repeat or return to normal respiration. 
      unmedicated high blood pressure,
      recent surgery, injury or inflammation of the abdominal or thoracic region (colitis, cancer, hernia, active stomach ulcer, emphysema or heart conditions)
      High Blood Pressure  
      Strengthens the diaphragm, the heart and the entire nervous system.  Energizes, revitalizes and recharges the entire system with prana and stimulates cellular metabolism. (great for a pick me up instead of coffee) Brings mental clarity and alertness.Gives a deep, stimulating massage to the abdominal organs.  The constant movements of the diaphragm up and down act as a stimulant to the stomach, liver and pancreas. It also aids in curing consumption, removes impurities from the blood, and tones up the circulatory and respiratory systems. Clears out the stale, residual air in the lungs and saturates the cells with oxygen and prana.
 Releases large amounts of carbon dioxide and toxins, thereby purifying the body.   Persons suffering from asthma will find this very helpful.