5 minutes to move is a short yoga sequence for anyone on a tight schedule who still wishes to practice daily: great for the morning or midday. TIP: Pose #3 or “swimming” is a backstroke like motion with the arms while treading the feet in a forward bend. This sequence is appropriate for most students including beginners and (as pictured!) pregnant mamas.
A conversation with Reba Gray and Poh Teng about their must have self care practices:
Poh: I love seeing what you’re up to on Instagram. Your self-care practices are random mid-day reminders for me to do self-care. What are some of your favorites?
Reba: Asana practice of course! Also massage, reading in a quiet space, and getting pedicures. In general, doing things more slowly and mindfully.
Poh: You do always have nicely pedicured feet! And you went to southern California this summer?
Reba: Yep, my hubby and I went to San Diego & Santa Barbara. My favorite moment was lunch on the beach with my toes in the sand, laughing with good friends and enjoying the sea breeze. We also got to visit Cold Spring Tavern, a saloon from the 1860s. We shared a really delicious cold beer. Having moments like that are so rejuvenating for me, creating sense memories, you know? I can remember the feeling of toes in the sand, the taste of that cold beer after traveling on a hot, dusty day… Tell me about your favorite self-care practices.
Poh: My favorites are yoga, massage and hiking with my dogs. But really, anything that helps me let go of stress buildup in the body, heart and mind. Last week, I took an hour-long savasana in a sensory deprivation tank. It was my first float. I had the best rest in a very long while. It was much needed as I had recently struggled for a few weeks with minimal sleep due to a nerve impingement injury. The injury is related to my history of neck and shoulder trauma, and was triggered when I broke up a dog fight on a hiking trail. Early this year, I started a new job that requires a long commute, which aggravates the injury. During recovery, I practiced yoga and self-massage daily in addition to receiving regular bodywork. Super thankful for my personal practice, the support of friends in my wellness community and for the body’s ability to heal. What are you working on in your yoga practice?
Reba: I’m really inspired by breath work and meditation lately. I’ve been taking 5-30 minutes a day to sit and observe my breath, or to do some favorite breath practice, like kumbhaka pranayama (breath retention). Breath retention helps me feel less anxious, helps me stay present – I tend to get ahead of myself with planning stuff that’s way off in the future.
Poh: I’ve been really inspired by breath and meditation, too. There’s two parts to the practice for me right now: 1) dharana – resting the mind on the rise and fall of the body, using the body as home base; and 2) svadhyaya – contemplating the habits of the mind that I noticed from the meditation practice.
Reba: And I love sweaty vinyasa with inversions. Home practice is sweet, but I really like the energy of practicing with a whole bunch of yogis in a studio.
Poh: Me, too! Throw in a handful of arm balances and I’m happy.
Reba: You know what else is also self-care? Always having my favorite foods in the fridge. Buying or growing food we like is a really important way to take good care of ourselves. It’s something I struggle with, but when I take the time to slow down and carefully prepare my own food, it is so worth it. I always have spinach, yogurt, Frog Hollow apricot conserve, cheese, and eggs in the fridge.
Poh: Yum! I always have eggs, too. And coconut water, kale, several varieties of hot sauce… and soy milk or soy pudding. My constitution is predominantly pitta-vata. I was advised by ayurveda practitioners to decrease intake of hot sauce and soy, to be careful I don’t go into pitta and vata overdrive. I struggle to give up hot sauce because I’m a child of Malaysia, and I can’t give up soy because it’s a part of my family’s diet for generations. I’m practicing mindfulness and moderation of my habits, slowing down to notice if the foods I choose nourish me or deplete me. It’s all a practice.
Make time for yourself – join Reba and Poh in Power Up + Power Down, an extended, self-care practice. You will power up with joyful and supported back bends, and power down with guided meditation and deep hip openers. Discover stillness in power, and power in stillness.
As we each develop and go deeper into our yoga practice we also begin to deepen our understanding of the connection between the breath and the body as well. This connection is absolutely fundamental to our ability to fully practice the yoga poses or Asana to their full potential and experience the most profound benefits. Pranayama may feel like a very advanced concept but fortunately Nubia Teixeira, one of our core teachers and the head of our Teacher Training at Namaste, is able to dissect and break down the meaning and uses for pranayama in our lives in a clear and useful way. Read on for Nubia’s insights on Pranayama and a practice exercise to begin your exploration:
*Excerpts adapted from the Namaste Yoga Teacher Training Manual
The word Pranayama is derived from two Sanskrit terms: prana which means vital energy, the very seed of life within and without; and Ayama, which means to control, to expand, to lead beyond death. The intention of the practice of pranayama is to breathe in a conscious way, to honor the life force in our physical bodies, the grace that breathes us into existence.
Prana is mostly present in the air we breathe (Air – Vayu), the wind and the electrical currents, the light of the Sun (Fire- Agni), the water we drink (Water- Apas), the bodily fluids, the food we eat (Earth-prithvi) and the forces of gravity and magnetism. It is also in the sounds we vocalize (Ether-akasha) and in the sounds we hear.
Developing a relationship with the breath facilitates the withdrawing of the senses (pratyahara) and our communication with the inner world. A pranayama practice supports the awakening of the dormant sensations and memories within ourselves and also teaches us how to heal ourselves by allowing the vital energy to move to the places of joy and sorrow within us. The practice of Pranayama is one of the most effective ways of balancing the energy in the body, mind and emotions.
FINDING OUR TRUE PURPOSE with PRANAYAMA PRACTICE
Humans often are blinded by the ego and uncertain of their true purpose, which can lead to the separation of the self from others, from life and from Source. As a result, confusion rises, despair creeps in and inner wisdom, intuition and sense of Self is forgotten. In this place of loss and confusion, it becomes only natural to grasp on to the material world.
Human evolution is intrinsically connected to spiritual growth, and it is only through our bodies and actions in this world of things that we evolve. Our approach to living our lives, moment-by-moment, fully present, rests on our ability to surrender to the Divine.
This, in turn, ignites our innate Wisdom. Developing the capacity to follow the in and out breath without interfering in the flow, awakening faith and confidence.
This “Thread of Life” that we call breath, is a thread that connects us, each individual soul to the universal soul’s trajectory, beyond time and space, beyond body, beyond the beyond. It is a continuum, without beginning, middle or ending. Life after life. One Love through infinity.
Listen below to an introduction to Bhakti based meditation with an intro “Twameva” – sung by Jai Uttal