Thursday, January 21, 2010

Yoga for a Strong Core

Take advantage of these special classes and offerings that focus specifically on the core!
Everything held at One Yoga Studio unless otherwise noted.
Core Strength Yoga Class, Wednesdays, 10:45-11:45am, Ongoing/Drop-in
Master Class—The Core, Saturday, January 30, 3:00-5:00, Preregister to reserve your spot
Special Class—Uddiyana Bandha for Core Strength, Sunday, January 31, 6:00-7:15pm, Drop-in
Yoga for a Strong Core Teacher Training Level 1: Power in the Pelvic Floor, Dates TBA

My mission as a yoga teacher is to help people connect to the truth of who they are. This is my personal quest as well, to know who I really am—and to live from this place of authenticity.

Inspired by this mission, I find that my focus in teaching is to get people to go inside of themselves. The entry point is the body and the way in is to begin feeling. But, as a species, we have become so disconnected. Being up in our heads all the time, our bodies tend to feel numb and/or way over-stimulated. So much so, that being in them is difficult and uncomfortable.

The beauty of yoga is that this disconnect to our body is taken into consideration. The practice of asana (postures) works to return the attention of our mind, which is also our energy and power, to the sacred domain of ourselves.

As the body starts to move through unfamiliar and possibly challenging positions, a connection must be made between the body and the mind. This can be painful, irritating, uncomfortable, and disorientating. When we are vacant from our body for long periods of time, other negative energies tend to accumulate. Often, these energies are unresolved emotions that if left unprocessed, can wreak havoc on our health and peace of mind. These are the underlying energies that contribute to diseases like cancer. Moving, feeling, and paying attention to the body means getting in touch with these energies so they can be resolved and cleansed from the body.

I refer to this period as the “thawing out stage”. If you’ve ever been frost-bitten you’ll understand this analogy. Once the body thaws, greater sensitivity is achieved. You will find you can feel your body so much more. You may have profound breakthroughs in regards to your range of motion or your ability to perform a posture you could not do before. You become more present.

Once people have made it through the first thaw, my aim is to help them go deeper to their very core. The physical core of the body, once penetrated, opens doorways to the subtle world of energy which is what yoga is all about—bringing us back to our energetic essence.

The physical structures of the core are the pelvis and spine along with their deeper musculature, the “corset” of musculature surrounding the mid section of the body, the internal organs, nervous system, and the endocrine glands. These anatomical places offer a tangible reference point to help anchor the mind inside our physical center.

As we connect to these deep physical structures within, we get closer to our energetic reality and expansive states of mind are accessed. This is where immense creativity and limitless energy are found. Many people will experience their chakras clearly when they arrive within this inner space.

To help you more fully enter the sacred domain of your personal core, try these things during your next yoga practice. Teachers, guide your students inward using these ideas.

1. Create an intention to connect to your core self.
Intention is everything. You can take a class at a health club and spend a whole hour working your “core” but that does not mean you will arrive at the truth of who you are. An intention aligns your mind with your actions and helps you arrive at the destination you desire. Be clear with yourself what your aim is and the end goal you wish to achieve.

2. Center yourself and check in—Sift through the layers of your physical reality.
As you dive deeper into yourself make sure you pause long enough at each border of your physical reality to breathe and just be.
  1. Be aware of and feel the space around your body. The boundaries of the room you are practicing in or the four corners of your yoga mat are sufficient borders to reference.
  2. Be aware of and feel your skin/outer shell of your body. Acknowledge the space you physically occupy. Visualize yourself, but then try to feel yourself—your skin. Do a once over of your body by stroking the skin with your hands. This can awaken the skin’s sensory nerves and sensitize you to your outer body casing.
  3. Be aware of and feel your muscles/tissues, bones, organs. Go deeper into your physical self and explore what your capacity is to feel these structures. Notice if emotions arise that you would rather not feel or if the mind distracts you away from yourself as you move further inward.
3. Be aware of and feel the breath’s movement through your inner-body chambers
Deep breathing naturally creates movement throughout the whole core of the body. However, you can also regulate the breath and direct its movement to instigate specific effects. Imagine your breath is like a flashlight. Breathe in and shine the light of your breath and awareness around your inner core space. Visualize it first, and then try to feel it.
  1. Pelvis
  2. Abdomen
  3. Ribcage
  4. Neck
  5. Head

4. Make your navel center home-base for the attention of your mind
Explore moving from your center. With your focus on your navel, initiate all of your movements into and out of every yoga pose from this place. Experiment and note the impact it has on your body and state of mind.

5. Establish inner body connections in every yoga pose
Lastly, once your navel has directed you into a pose and you are steady and stable begin to make inner body connections between your home-base and your periphery. As if you are playing a good game of “connect the dots” start to internally “see” and “feel” the head connecting to your navel, as well as your hands, feet, and tailbone. Every pose will become a unique expression of your own inner starfish. Physical integration and connection supports a feeling of wholeness in the mind. Additionally, linking up the energy of your core with the periphery of your body invites your authentic self to emerge in the outer world!

Have fun exploring. Please leave any questions and/or comments you may have.

And, be sure to check out my Core offerings listed at the top of this blog!

In light,
Amy Patee

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