Breath of Bliss

Breath of Bliss

The Breath of Bliss Journey by Carla Wainwright, M.Sc., E-RYT500, IYTA, SOYA

When Prana awakens within you, you embrace the transcendental consciousness of the Divine. 

At this year’s SOYA Annual Yoga Retreat I will be facilitating a special Breath of Bliss ceremony on the Saturday evening, June 3rd. Breath of Bliss is a presence practice exploring breath, movement and sound to feel more connected – to others and to ourselves.

Breathwork is an ancient practice – cultures around the world since the dawn of humanity have been using the breath as a way to take in spiritual nourishment, purify the body, cultivate presence and to move into expanded states of consciousness. Some practices, like yoga pranayama, are formal and prescribed where certain types of breath control are used for specific purposes. Other forms like conscious circular or holotropic breath work are more organic and unstructured. All forms are extremely beneficial and powerful life affirming practices.

Breath of Bliss uses a circular breath pattern which becomes a portal into our emotions, memories, sensations, dreams and consciousness. I have experienced and witnessed incredible transformation from this practice. I have found that each Breath of Bliss journey acts as catalyst to transform and up level anything which no longer serves you, and helps to provide clarity about who you really are. This breathwork creates a nurturing space to welcome the whole spectrum of human emotions and sensation, leading us on a path to come home to bliss as our birthright.

Our ceremony includes several key elements, including eye gazing, intention setting, ecstatic movement, conscious touch, heart to heart sharing and an hour-long lying down breathwork journey followed by an integration. When we gather in community and co-create a deeper awareness of allowing everything to be exactly as it is, we see and remember that each of us is connected, resourceful and whole.

If you would like to know more about this practice, please visit Christabel Zamor’s (the Breath of Bliss founder) website: http://www.breathbliss.com/. Or feel free to contact me at carla.wainwright@gmail.com.

On June 3rd, discovered what wants to be felt, seem and realized within you. I do hope you will join me – looking forward to breathing together!

 

 

Upanishad Mantra Meditation

The Upanishad Mantra Meditation is one of my favourites in Letters from the Yoga Masters on page 165.  It includes four mantras that are intended to help awaken our consciousness to the spirit within. Along with the mantras we visualize the flow of prana. I have slightly modified this version of the meditation for flow. To hear the mantras in this meditation, go to sanskrit, chants and mantras and scroll to the last mantra on the list.

Sit in a meditative posture. Breathing is free. Gradually the mind is absorbed in experiencing the inhalation and exhalation (pranas). As a consequence of concentration, the breath becomes slow.

For several minutes experience the cool air entering inside the upper nostrils and the warm air exhaled along the lower part of the nostrils. Continue to feel the breath and contemplate on the unity of the cosmic prana (inhalation) and individual prana (exhalation). Inhalation represents peace, infinity, fullness, transcendence. Exhalation represents spiritual freedom, expansion of consciousness, diffusion of the individual breath. Contemplate on these qualities for some time, feeling the breath.

Once the mind is absorbed in experiencing the prana inside the nostrils. Mentally and slowly repeat the mantra “Idam prana ayam atma Brahma.” Contemplate on the meaning—consciousness of prana awakens in me the consciousness of my atma, which is one with God—feeling the breath. Continue for several minutes, feeling the breath flow in the upper and lower nostrils while repeating the mantra.

Breathe freely, feeling relaxed for two minutes. Breath is slow and deep again. Inhaling, now move the mind upward and backward along the convex outline of a new moon in the middle of the head, the forward point being the nostrils and the backward point inside the back of the head. Exhaling, move the mind from the back upward and forward along the lower line of the convex moon. Feel the breath thus for several minutes.

Continuing, mentally repeat slowly the mantra “Idam prana sarva bhuteshu gudah,” for several minutes. Contemplate on the meaning—through the experience of prana I experience the spiritual essence, which is in all as it is within me. Continue to visualize the movement of prana along the convex moon.

Relax for a few minutes, breathing freely, with eyes closed. Breath is deep again. Feel only the inhalation, the sensation of prana moving up to the top of the head and the Sahasrara chakra, in the shape of the lower half of the moon. Give no attention to exhalation. Constantly maintain the sensation of the prana flowing up and into the crescent moon bowl at the Sahasrara chakra, renewing it every time by feeling the inhalation.

For the next several minutes mentally repeat the mantra, “Idam prana pragnanam iti Brahma,” feeling the prana inside the top of the head. Contemplate on the meaning —the experience of prana awakens in me the transcendental consciousness of God. Continue to visualize the movement of prana toward the Sahasrara chakra, being deposited into the crescent moon bowl.

Conclude the meditation with the verbal repetition of Om or the Purnamadah shanti mantra if you know it.

Vinyasa of Life

Vinyasa of Life

The Vinyasa of Life – by Carla Wainwright, SOYA lead trainer, E-RYT500

“There is nothing permanent except change.” So goes the quote from the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus. In life things arise, they abide and then they dissolve.

Our asana practice also mirrors this cycle of impermanence. In Vinyasa we connect to the smooth flow of our breath and movement. As we move through each pose, we are given a brief moment to settle (sometimes only a breath) and then once completed, it transforms into something new. Our lives and our thoughts are like this too – each moment arises, is there for just that moment and then dissolves as the new moment takes its place.

On the mat this can embody a feeling of sweetness. The flow becomes a dance that attunes us to the body and the breath in each moment. It invites presence.

That same sweetness can be found in everyday life. Each action has a beginning (arising), its brief moment of sustaining (abiding) and then it moves to completion (dissolving). Resisting this flow is futile – it is the law upon which everything is bound to.

So when you are struggling in a difficult moment, take a deep breath, and remember that this too shall pass.

Carla Wainwright is a SOYA lead trainer for the 200 teacher training in Mexico and the 300 hour Upgrade. She will be leading a fabulous women’s retreat on “Embracing Shakti” in gorgeous Southern Italy this April. For more information please visit her website www.carlawainwright.com

Letters from the Masters

Letters from the Yoga Masters

Book Study Groups: Letters from the Yoga Masters

Article by Cindy Szekely, E-RYT500, Lead Trainer for SOYA

Letters from the MastersEvery Wednesday evening in Mackenzie, BC, for the past several years I have had the wonderful opportunity to share yoga practices and teachings with an amazing community of yogis, hungry to practice yoga while delving into yoga philosophy and lifestyle through book study.

What started out as a Mindfulness yoga class inspired by our first “Book Study” group. We have read a variety of yoga books by various authors such Michael Stone, Donna Fahri, Judith Hanson Lasater, Ram Das, Tara Brach.  The conversations have been rich and enlightening.

It was during our book study that I had the opportunity to mention the launch of Mugs’ new book, “Letters from the Yoga Masters”.  This was a perfect book for diving into the philosophy and lifestyle of yoga, presented in the words of the Masters themselves! The group unanimously agreed that we should make Mugs’ book our next read.  When I mentioned to Mugs we would be studying her book, she very graciously offered to schedule a time to talk to the group over SKYPE.  She spoke to the group on two occasions – once after the group had met a few times and had read through a few chapters, and then again when they finished the book.

Having the author call in and share in the discussion with the group really made a book of this depth accessible. Mugs answered questions on everything from doubt on the path of yoga to the greatest gift Hari gave her – humility. Mugs spoke so passionately about her teacher Hari, his teachings in the book, and her lifelong journey of Yoga.

The calls lasted over an hour and the group found that speaking to Mugs gave the book more meaning.

The group was truly grateful for the opportunity to have their questions answered and we even got a sneak peek at three chapters that were cut by the publisher.  Thanks again Mugs!!

Over the winter Mugs has also led a book study group in Mexico, meeting weekly over 13 weeks to practice the techniques from the book. If you have a book study group and are interested in studying “Letters from the Yoga Masters,” email mugs.soya@gmail.com to arrange a time for her to chat with your group!

Letters From the Masters

Breath of Bliss

Breath of Bliss

What is Breath of Bliss?

Saturday night at the SOYA Annual Retreat, everyone will be invited to experience the Breath of Bliss with Carla Wainwright, SOYA Lead Trainer.
Breathwork is a ancient practice. Since the dawn of humanity, peoples across the planet have used the breath as a gateway into transcendental realms, expanded emotions, life changing insights and connecting to the divine. In the last 50+ years there has been a surge of interest in breathwork in the West, not only yogic pranayama, but also circular continuous breathwork practices. Circular connected breathing, where we leave out the pause between the inhalation and exhalation, is a practice of surrendering fully and completely into the breath. The result? Powerful, mind-altering experiences of heart-opening and awareness!

Breath of Bliss™ is one such breathwork practice. It finds its lineage in the work for Dr. Stanislav Grof and Leonard Orr. Breath of Bliss™, created by Christabel Zamor, is a practice which allows you to experience the vast terrain of your humanity and connect you into a reservoir of ecstasy which is available to you at all times. This innovative program draws on the work of Advaita, Science of Mind, Tantra, sacred geometry, temple arts and vast array of conscious loving life coaching exercises which amplify your sense of wholeness, perfection and empowerment. By embracing and moving towards the entire spectrum of life experiences and emotions, instead of resisting and moving away, we can connect into incredible sensations of oneness and our divine nature.

Every Breath of Bliss experience is a ceremony with a specific theme. We will gather to move our bodies, deepen presence, explore connection exercises and enjoy deep sharing and conscious touch. Then we lie down to dive into an hour of circular connected breath guided by a facilitator and a carefully chosen musical tapestry. Together we discover what wants to be felt, seen and realized within. You are supported on this journey every step of the way.

On the Saturday evening, June 3rd, at the Annual SOYA Yoga Retreat, I am honoured to be bringing this practice to the SOYA community. Anyone is welcome to participate. There is incredible power and healing that happens in a group when we breathe together and I am so looking forward to sharing this experience with you. Please watch for upcoming articles in the SOYA newsletter that explore other aspects of this practice in advance of our gathering. And you are always welcome to contact me: Carla.wainwright@gmail.com Peace & Blessings!

Want more? Carla’s next fabulous Embracing Shakti adventure for women is in gorgeous southern Italy in April 2017 – if you are called to live wildly with a fully open heart, then this retreat is for you!

 

Yoga of Renovations

Yoga of Renovations

by Kamala Wilkie, SOYA lead trainer, E-RYT500

I received word late August that my Purple Lotus Yoga studio lease wouldn’t be renewed. After the initial hurricane of emotions, I rolled up my sleeves & got to work finding us a new location and team to make magic happen.

This will be my third studio creation in eight years. Through the uncertainty and creative process I’ve learned a few things.

  1. These yoga tools work. Deep breathing and holding fast to your reasons for creating the space are the difference between losing your mind when there are delays or unexpected expenses and adapting to the situation. Asana can keep your body ready to paint, haul, lift and squat for long periods and it’s what helps bring it back to balance after a long day of reno activities.
  2. Your vision can and hopefully will evolve. Sometimes, what you want versus what is in the budget are different things! Instead of staying attached to the original vision, allow it to morph as you gain information. It’s an awesome opportunity to refine your discernment around what is truly important to the flow of energy in your space (and life).
  3. Your team is what creates the magic. Your support network, contractor, friends, students, family. You literally cannot manifest this creation alone so be on the watch for awesome people who share your studio love or who just have a passion for the skill they bring to the table. Surround yourself with a team with all kinds of different personalities- the realist, the cheerleader, the devil’s advocate, the scientist, the poet the athlete. Invite them into parts of the decision making process. If renovations are not your strong suit (they definitely aren’t mine!) gather as much information from these people as possible and then make decisions based on how this information aligns with your vision.
  4. Open to Grace. Make skillful actions with a vision in mind while staying receptive to the flow of life. Intend for and trust the right space will present itself to you, the right people will come into your life to manifest it and that you will have all the resources you need.

The last one, in my experience, is the most important.  In fact never mind points 1-3. #4 is truly the yoga of renovation.

Blessings to you in any sacred space creation you are embarked upon. As with anything, the more intention you put behind it, the more vibrant it will become.

Kamala WilkieKamala Wilkie, SOYA E-RYT500 lead trainer, will be leading the SOYA extended 200 hour teacher training from March-June at Purple Lotus Yoga’s new location, #60 Calgary Ave, Penticton. She also leads the spring 200 hour immersion teacher training at Sorrento Centre in Feb/March 2017.

Pre-natal Yoga

Balanced Pre-natal Yoga Class

Creating a Balanced Pre-natal Yoga Class

by Natasha Scott, E-RYT500, RPYT, SOYA lead trainer

I never planned on teaching it,
Prenatal Yoga.
It found me.
And I questioned it.
Read books, watched videos, and taught a few classes feeling so intimidated by my lack of knowledge.
Who was I to teach Prenatal Yoga?
I decided to take a course; a Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training.
It changed me.
It left me sitting in my car in Calgary AB bawling my eyes out about my own births.
If only I had known what was taught between those walls for my births.   I had honestly never realized how important to me my births were!
I never knew this wealth of information, tools, and beautiful empowerment existed!!
And so the fire began.
I have been sitting in circles of women and their babes in bellies for close to a decade.  I have laughed, cried, listened, and shared all of the sacred wisdom of pre and post-natal women. Women supporting women on the most sacred of journeys.
Even if in the moment you are not aware of how sacred the pre-natal journey is, I hope one day you will look back and feel support and love.
That you will know that you partook in wisdom between walls that somehow carried you. Carried you into the most amazing experience this life has ever offered me….
Motherhood.

Natasha ScottEnjoy Natasha Scott’s interview with Kenna Riplinger, and learn more on creating a balanced prenatal yoga class, here on Pranic Body youtube channel.

Natasha Scott, E-RYT500, RPYT, is a SOYA lead trainer for the 200 hour immersion in Sorrento this Feb/March. She is also a doula and offers prenatal yoga classes at her studio. Her next Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training is Nov. 2017. All info is at www.starlityoga.com

http://www.starlityoga.com/doula-services/

http://www.pranicbody.com/single-post/2016/09/28/The-Power-of-Prenatal-Yoga

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiX34a3feac

Ajna Chakra

The Chakra Energy System

new-chakras

The Chakra Energy system is a concept used by many different modalities and disciplines. These energetic portals or vortices are often thought of as access points to life energy in the body. Working with the Chakras is found in healing work around the world including, but certainly not limited to; Reiki (Japanese Energy Healing), Ayurveda (Yogic Life Science), Chinese Acupuncture, and others.

The general theory of the Chakra Energy System is about how its balance or imbalance can affect your life. Rediscovering the powerful jewels within will give you an opportunity to learn about and experience each of these energy centres on a much deeper level. For example, we can explore one chakra at a time, moving from the root of the body all the way up to the crown.

Muladhara Chakra (“Moo-laah-daah-rah”)

I am.
I am grounded. I am safe.

This chakra implies strongly rooted connections and the satisfaction of our survival needs. In fact, the translation of the Sanskrit word, Muladhara, means “root support”. Where would we be without the support of our tribe, our roots? Sometimes this is family, sometimes it is a group of like-minded people to whom you feel a great connection. Where in your life do you feel supported? Where in your life would you enjoy a little more support?

Svadhistana Chakra (“Ss-vaahd-eee-staah-naah”)

I feel.
I am happy. I am creative.

Your second chakra is located at the area of your sacrum at the back of your pelvis or lower belly beneath the belly button. In Sanskrit, Svadhistana means “dwelling place of the Self” or “one’s own abode”. This is the sweet spot for dreams, desires and creativity. When you are deeply immersed in an activity that resonates with your true Self, you often find yourself in that “zone” or “sweet spot” where nothing else exists. Where in your life would you like to add a little sweetness?

Manipura Chakra (“Mah-knee-poo-rah”)

I do.
I am connected to my emotions. I am confident.

Manipura in Sanskrit means “City of Jewels” or “Lustrous Gem”. This chakra relates to your ability to step forward in your life, committing with confidence to your path. This area provides fire for the body and supplies you with energy, vitality and strength. Is there an area of your life where you feel smaller or less adequate? Where do you feel strong and full of confidence? What is it that you need to step forward in all areas of your life with a greater sense of power and strength?

Anahata Chakra (“Ahh-naah-haa-taa”)

I love.
I feel love. I am open to giving and receiving love.

The Heart Chakra, Anahata, means “Unstuck Sound” or “Deep Inner Listening” in Sanskrit. This chakra has a lot to do with balance and harmony in your body and mind. It is the mediator between the lower three (earthly-oriented) chakras and the upper three (spiritually-oriented) chakras. This is where we feel love and compassion for ourselves and for others. What language do you use when you speak to yourself and when you speak about yourself? Is it compassionate and kind or is it hurtful and derogatory? How would you like to change the way you treat yourself?

Vishuddhi Chakra (“Vih-shoe-dhee”)

I speak.
I trust my inner voice. I express myself freely.

This chakra is connected to self-expression and the language we use. Vishuddhi in Sanskrit means “Purification” or “Extremely Pure”. It refers to the subtle obstructions that get in the way of us being able to understand our feelings and dreams and express those deeper truths. How easy is it for you to share your truth? Are you able to express your inner most thoughts and feelings, and can you do this with kindness as well as honesty?

Ajna Chakra (“Aahd-ja-naah”)

I see.
My mind, body and spirit are connected.

The Brow Centre is an area that often receives a lot of attention. This sixth chakra is connected to your intuition and wisdom, to the beginning of the understanding that you are not alone. Ajna in Sanskrit means “Beyond Wisdom” and our instinctual activities related to the “third eye” correspond. How willing are you to see the truth behind a given situation? Perception is everything – how wide is your lens and does that change with the natural fluctuations of your internal connection to body, mind and spirit?

Sahasrara Chakra (“Sah-Hass-rah-rah”)

I understand.
I am connected to spirit.

The Sanskrit translation for Sahasrara is “thousand-petaled” which implies a vast significance of this chakra. This is where you begin to feel that you are completely supported by your source, that you have a connection to the Divine that works for you and that this connection helps you to trust more than ever before. Is there anywhere in your life where you feel alone or unsupported? What does trust look like or feel like to you? How do you know when you are connected to something greater than yourself?

Heather 2 croppedWant to learn more? Heather Thomas, E-RYT500, SOYA, is leading a retreat to Rediscover the Powerful Jewels Within – a Red Rock Chakra Yoga Retreat in the heart of Sedona, Arizona, Feb 12-18, 2017. This retreat includes delicious cuisine, hiking and sight-seeing, and daily classes based on the chakra system. For more information visit http://www.heatherthomas.ca/retreats/sedona-retreat-2017/

Pranayama

The Conscious Breath

The conscious breath – by Carla Wainwright, E-RYT500, SOYA

Did you know that the breath is the only function of the body that can be done both consciously and unconsciously? When we bring awareness to our breathing, we are really practicing taking something unconscious, or automatic, and making it conscious. This is a powerful practice whose benefits extend far beyond simple breathing. When we become more and more conscious of our breath we amplify the movement of prana within ourselves, life force energy contained within the breath. Each breath has the ability to create sacred space within ourselves. It can harness our innate capacity to increase our awareness of our senses and the capacity to be present in each and every moment.

This then can translate into the things that we do in our lives automatically, those habits, patterns and thoughts, so we can actually learn to slow down a little bit and make these things conscious. Imagine if our words, our actions and our thoughts were all conscious.

Our yoga practice is a powerful way to create the space for this transformation from unconscious to conscious. When we are on the mat and we make more room for breath, more room for prana, more awareness, then we can use what we learn in the physical practice and turn it into something that influences the rest of our life. Conscious breath, conscious life.

So where do we start? Always one breath at a time. So right now, pause. Close your eyes. Relax. Breathe in and sigh out. Then take a few conscious breaths – breathe slowly and fill the body. Take your time and notice what you feel. And then consider your next action – whether it contains words or actions and see what happens. The more we can connect our breath into our lives, the greater our capacity to fully awaken into ourselves.

carla-wainwrightCarla Wainwright is a lead trainer for SOYA at the 200 hour teacher training in Mexico and the 300 hour upgrade to RYT500. She will be leading a yoga retreat in Mexico in February, and in Italy this May. For more information visit www.carlawainwright.com

Shoulder stretch

Yoga for the Shoulders

Submitted by Helen Mikuska, E-RYT500, IYTA, SOYA, WAYT, YACEP, in Calgary, AB

With the shoulder joint’s high mobility, there is a decrease in stability.  Primary shoulder injuries are rotator cuff injury, over-use syndrome & tendonitis.  The shoulder girdle acts as a stabilizer to help us carry weight in our arms and also with the support of your spine.  Alignment of the shoulder girdle is vital not only for the health of your shoulder joints, but also for the health of your spine.  Your shoulders are open when the shoulder girdle supports the natural curve of your spine.  The shoulder muscles are conditioned for great mobility and these muscles must be balanced on all sides of the shoulder joint for optimum stability.  Every time we lift our arms, many shoulder muscles are activated and because of the structure of the shoulder girdle, misalignment of the shoulders leads to misuse and abuse of our shoulders.  It is beneficial to learn specific asanas or exercises to improve strength & range of motion. Here is a sample of one of the exercises to help prevent shoulder injury. 

position-1Standing Wooden Dowel Shoulder Warm-up [Internal Rotation]Note:  Great for those who work on the computer or who use their hands for fine mechanical work.

Stand with feet hip-width apart.  Hold a dowel behind back with a wide grip, with palms facing forward.  Inhale & raise the dowel overhead, behind you.

position-2Exhale & bring the dowel down the front body, in front of thighs. The wrists are still internally rotated – notice a profound stretch in the forearms.  The shoulders here are internally rotated and the forearms get a really intense twist which they don’t normally get to experience.  Grip very firmly with the pinky fingers on the dowel.

modification-1Modification #1:  If you cannot lift the dowel overhead from behind you, then prepare as if coming into the 90 degree forward fold in hands-to-feet pose (Padahastasana / Uttanasana), with feet wider apart. Raise the dowel overhead from behind you, then allowing gravity to take the arms forward towards the floor. Feel the stretch in forearms.  Then come back up to a standing position.

modification-2

 

 

Modification #2: If first modification is still not possible, remain standing & hold the dowel in front of you. You will perform the exercise twice, with each hand individually. Grip the dowel with your right hand in the overhand grip position (palm facing towards the floor). With your left hand, internally rotate the left shoulder so the left palm faces upwards towards the ceiling. Now slide the left palm under the dowel to grip from the underside of it. Hold for 30-60 seconds. Release, switch position of the hands and repeat on the other side. 

Interested in more? Helen is leading a “Yoga for Shoulders” workshop on Sunday, November 27th, 1:00-5:00 p.m at Harmony Yoga Pilates Studio in Calgary.  $50.00 (incl. gst). To register please contact info@harmonyyogapilatesstudio.ca or phone (403) 809-1402.