Posts tagged #yoga practice

Kids Holy Yoga: Class and Resources to teach John 10

Kids at VBS Yoga at New Life Church Community Center in Chicago

Kids at VBS Yoga at New Life Church Community Center in Chicago

I have been having so much fun this Summer teaching VBS yoga at the New Life Community Church Center in Humboldt Park. I am happy to share my resources here so that you are able to use them with your own children or classes. This particular class teaches the message in John 10 and the takeaway of the class is that Jesus is the gate, and only through him we can make it to the father. The video, class script, and all resources I used are below.

Warm up:

Class today is surrounds the concept of Sheep! What do you know about Sheep?

  • Sheep wander
  • Sheep are weak
  • They need their master to protect them
  • They only respond to the voice of their master 

Show kids the following video to exemplify the idea that sheep only respond to their masters:

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e45dVgWgV64 

Jesus tells us that we are also his Sheep. Why do you think so?

Breath Exercise: What sound does a sheep make? Now we are going to try to breathe like sheep. Take a deep breath in making your belly grow into a balloon, then breathe out like a sheep as long as you can.

Son salutations

FLOW (Script)

If a person climbs over [mountain climber] or through the fence of a sheep [sheep pose (cat)] pen instead of going through the gate [gate pose], you know he’s up to no good—a sheep rustler!

The shepherd [mountain pose] walks right up to the gate [standing Gate pose -( tree)]. The gatekeeper [warrior II] opens te gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice [Warrior I].

REPEAT WITH THE OTHER SIDE

The shepherd [mountain pose - reach to the sky to your sheperd Jesus] calls his own sheep by name and leads them out [Dancers] When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice [warrior III]. They won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it.”

REPEAT THE OTHER SIDE

I am the gate; [gate pose]  whoever enters through me [super man] will be saved [kneeling lunge] They will come in [child’s pose] and go out [lift up into kneeling], and find pasture [camel pose – open your heart to God].

Now what's the take away of today's class in pose form?

Jesus (reach for the sky - mountain pose)

Loves me (reach for your toes - forward fold)

He died in the cross ( bring both arms out to the sides)

He is the gate (gate pose)

He is the light (gate pose on the other side)

Final Meditation

Now let’s slowly come to a lying down position and imagine that you are melting. Like ice cream in a hot summer day. Just let your body sink into the floor and I want you to close your eyes and imagine in your head what I am about to say.

Meditation Script:

Imagine you are lying down on a beautiful green pasture. The grass is wet, the sun is shining. It is the most beautiful sunny day. You feel the warmth of the sun on your skin. The warmth of the sun relaxes your head and neck…. Your shoulders…. And your arms. Your hands feel heavy and relaxed resting in on the grass. Around you sheep are roaming the grass. They wander, but they walk together. You see a little boy trying to call the sheep and move them. But they don’t move. The sheep don’t pay attention to them. The sheep continue to wander mindlessly. They eat the grass. They admire the day. But then all of a sudden they hear the sound of his master. Their shepherd call and little by little every sheep on the pasture looks at him. He calls again and every sheep follows their master. Anyone can call the sheep, but they will only obey their true master. That is how it should be with us. At the sound of His amazing grace. Our heads must turn. At the sound of His amazing grace. Our eyes should open. Now slowly. Open your eyes.

 

 

 

 

Lectio Divina

I first learned about Lectio Divina during Holy Yoga retreat from Jill Fisk. Her Lectio Divina sessions were calming and taught me a lot about myself and the God that loves me. Before that, I viewed meditation as a person and her thoughts. But, since then I started bringing scripture into my daily meditations either in the form of mantras or as lectio divina. Today I will teach you this new type of meditation so that you can add it to your meditation toolbox.

You start Lectio Divina by taking a comfortable seated position. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Allow yourself to become silent for a few minutes. I like to repeat the word maranatha to help me focus my thoughts.

Once you feel a sense of calm come over you, open your eyes and read a passage in scripture. Read it slowly and gently. Savor each phrase, really letting the scripture sink in. Close your eyes and sit with the scripture. Let it talk to you. Close your eyes and just sit with what you read. Repeat this 3 times. When you are meditating on the scripture, allow thouhgts to come by without judgement. Allow any inner pondering, any struggles to take you to a deeper dialogue with God.

If you would like to go through a guided Lectio Divina, take a look at this video and I will guide you through it!

Stay Blessed everyone!



 


Finding strength in the Lord: Astavakrasana

Some days are true battles. Everything goes wrong, you are misunderstood, you are attacked without reason, you are put down (sometimes by things you say to yourself)... These are spiritual battles. Sometimes it is hard to fight these invisible battles, because you can't see your enemy... So it is important to practice strength in our lives through our yoga practice. Understanding our reactions when we are not strong enough and training ourselves to go to the Lord instead of victimizing ourselves is paramount to win these battles.

Today in class we will find strength in the Lord through arm balances. By trying to get into different arm balances including astavakrasana (eight angle pose), we will notice how we react during times we need strength. Do you quit?? Do you tell yourself you are not good enough? Do you keep trying? We need to learn to turn to the Lord as we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philipians 4:13). Can you do it? Maybe not today, but through consistency, and faithful obidience we can develop our practice and do anything. This is a lesson for our yoga practice and lives. 

Don't ever quit! We can do anything because our God is the God of the impossible.

Stay blessed and enjoy class!

Stuck in Supta Kurmasana? Read this!

I always thought I would fly through Supta Kurmasana.... Except that was not the case at all... Despite my decade long affair with Ballet during my childhood and teenage years, despite the open hips I had always been proud of, despite all of that, I was stuck in Supta Kurmasana for much longer than I had anticipated. For a while I felt frustrated. My ego thought: "How can my ballet hips not be open enough for Supta Kurmasana?" Then, as months went by and I still could not bind independetly, I became obessed. I thought about Supta Kurmasana day and night. I googled things like: "Impossible supta kurmasana" or "are my thighs too big for supta kurmasana?"... I became completely consumed by the pose. Adding to my frustration, everyone kept telling me I should be able to bind independently in the pose... "You are definetely open enough, you can bind with assistance... it must be a mechanics issue"... I wanted to get into that pose independently so badly... But, I continued to struggle... As a result, I tried using even more strength, I tried different hand positions, but the harder I tried, the more I struggled. Day after day I felt more frustrated and obsessed. 

However, amidst the frustration I started noticing some changes in the poses that preceded supta kurmasana. I already knew that the primary series was an ingenius sequence and that poses built on each other, but I did not know that working on a pose at the end of the series would impact a pose that anteceded it so drastically. It was some sort of Supta Kurmasana magic. The harder I worked in Supta Kurmasana, the more positive change I saw in the poses leading up to it. The first change I noticed was that my Parivrtta Trikonasana (revolved triangle) and my Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (revolved side angle) became much looser and easier to get into. Medial rotation has always quite challenging for me, so finding some space in these poses was quite surprising. Even more puzzling was the fact that my supta kurmasana, an exterior rotation pose, was aiding my poses that required medial rotation. That same day, my teacher told me I was just two inches away from binding. I was finally getting somewhere. 

One week later, I easily bounded in Marichiasana D and had all this new found space in both Marichis C and D. As I mentioned previously, Medial rotation is usually very challenging for me. In fact, when I first saw Marichis C and D I was convinced those poses would be impossible for me. But all of a sudden they had become really easy. Getting in them felt like butter... The day that I easily got into marichiasna C and D, was also the day that I felt my fingers graze each other lightly in the back. Somehow my medial rotation and my supta kurmasana were weirdly connected. 

At that point, many months had gone by so I became convinced my thighs were too fat to bind in Supta Kurmasana by myself. Either that, or my big butt... I was so close, but at the same time so far away. Frustrated, I started surverying people that bound in supta krumasana by themselves in class. I noticed they were either 1) tall and legnthy, 2) really skinny, or 3) both tall, lenthgy and really skinny. I never saw a person with tree trunk thighs like mine bind by themselves. Well, except for Kino, but that's an entire different species of yogi... I am neither tall nor skinny, so I figured supta kurmasana was not in the cards for me. In fact, I let my teacher know of my informal survey. Alexia Bauer, bless her heart, she is so patient with my crazy antics... Being the amazing teacher she is, she promptly found a counter example that crumbeld my twisted logic.mSo really, the only thing keeping me from binding independently in Supta Kurmasana was really myself. 

Another month went by and I had completely given up. One day, Alexia's assitant Kirk gave me a very deep adjustment in Marichiasana A. I noticed that when he gave me that adjustment, I was able to touch the tip of my fingers to the other one in a semi-bind. I coulnd't bind yet, but I was one pull away! I rejoiced in excitement. Instinctively, I noticed I needed to create length on my backside. I was not sure exactly what was the problem, but I decided to: 1) Go deeper in my forward bends, 2) really work the dog pelvic tilts in all forward bends 3) bring my legs closer in kurmasana and try my hardest to legnthen the spine, keep a dog tilt and bring my legs off the floor while in that pose. The next day after doing all of that, I bound! I screamed in excitement.

I started doing some research and found that the likely culprits were my piriformis muscle and my hip rotators. As a long time dancer, these muscles get stuck on external rotation and they shorten (Duck walk anyone??). As they shorten they compromise your forward bends. When I started working on my pelvic tilts in my forward bends, they legnthened these hip rotator muscles that had been shortened over many years of ballet training. As my hamstrings are pretty open, I never noticed that my hip rotators were shortened and stuck in this external rotation. My ego never let me notice these external rotators were compromising my forward bends. Upon this discovery I could focus my efforts on lenghtening these muscles throughout my practice. I am still in awe of how binding independently in Supta Kurmasana completely changed and impacted my practice. My medial rotation poses improved drastically, my padmasana became more open, which also impacted my ardha baddha padmottanasana, my ardha baddha padma paschimottanasana, and my tiryam mukha eka pada paschimottanasana. At the end of this frustrating journey, Supta Kurmasana was my key into every pose in the primary series. 

Supta Kurasana has, to date, been one of the hardest poses for me to tackle. But once I found out what I had to focus on, and started doing things correctly and focusing on the basics, everything fell into place. In many ways, Supta Kurmasana is a lot like life... When you focus on doing the right things, when you focus on the basics, the rest just falls into place and you start seeing success in your life.

Posted on October 6, 2015 and filed under Articles about Yoga.

Beginners flow from 1/17/2015

If you missed class last Saturday or if you would like to establish a home practice, this might be the perfect flow for you this week.  There are 4 parts: A warm up, a flow that focuses on the legs, one that focuses on arms, and a closing. Feel free to do the entire class, or to start by doing just the warm up and one of the flows focusing on a particular body part. The playlist is also available here so that you can follow the flow (CLICK HERE FOR PLAYLIST  yoga class). Make sure to hold each pose a minimum of 5 breaths (slow breaths!) Any feedback on the flows will be welcome! 

Meditation:

Start the flow in a cross legged position and place your arms on your knees. Take a moment to close your eyes and place your attention on your breath. Don't make an effort to breathe in any particular way, but just focus your attention in your exhales and inhales.

Maybe roll your shoulders back and forth, lean your head from side to side, and stretch. Take a few minutes to just be.

Part one  - Warm up:

Part II: Standing Sequence (Leg Flow)

Part III: Arm Flow

Part IV: Closing


Posted on October 6, 2015 and filed under Yoga Flows.