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Monthly Archives: May 2017

May 7, 2017

The Beauty of Yin & Yang

In all experiences, there is the Yin and the Yang. These are the two opposite, yet complementary energies that we encounter in our lives. Although we tend to perceive our experiences as good/bad, right/wrong, the qualities of these experiences are completely interdependent. It is impossible for Yin and Yang to exist separate from one another. This is shown in nature everywhere: night/day, light/dark, cold/hot, winter/summer, fall/spring. Without one, you cannot experience the other. The concept of Yin/Yang creates a wholeness that is at the true essence of our soul/spirit/human experience.

The interesting truth surrounding Yin/Yang, is that nothing is ever black and white in its essence. Take, for example, night and day. There is always a transition between the two. There is never a definite line when it suddenly becomes night or it suddenly becomes day. There is dusk and dawn. This is the same concept with seasons in that there is never a moment in time when it is suddenly winter. Life gives us a transition period. In this transition period, things can seem painful or even can bring the essence of death into our experience. Ego will use fear to dislodge us from the understanding of the true harmony and balance that are at work.

In all things, there is an element of yin in yang and yang in yin. The symbol of Yin/Yang itself represents this concept in that there is a piece of white illustrated by a dot in the yang and a piece of black illustrated by a dot in the yin. Transformation and transition between the two can easily occur because they are part of one another and cannot be independent of one another or else they simply would not exist. The beauty of this concept lies in the idea that there is a constant balancing energy between the two. The dynamic energy at work is constantly working with these energies to create harmony. This happens everywhere in nature and weather, but also in our lives.

The suffering that we experience in our lives has everything to do with not finding peace and harmony with the forces that are working to create balance in our lives. Our egos like to perceive and define situations and experiences as either bad or good, right or wrong and negates the understanding that there are balancing forces at work at all times. In order to experience the pure joy and bliss in our lives, we must know what sadness is. In order to know what feeling our best and at optimal health, we must understand and experience physical pain or illness. While experiencing some of the traumas in our lives, we can negate the rapid spiraling into depression and long-term struggle by understanding that it is simply a balancing force in action. This, my friend, is THE understanding that will bring harmony and peace into your life.

This balancing energy takes place not only on a small microscopic level and in our personal life experiences, but also in the over-riding human-soul experience that is woven together and finds us all as One.

We tend to keep ourselves busy and our lives complicated because our egos thrive in disharmony and imbalance. Our true essence lies in the harmony energies of the Yin/Yang, which provides for harmony in the small and large aspects of this human experience. The simple understanding of this concept will lead you to more peace and less struggle in your own life. Harmony is the only truth in our existence, as it is the very foundation beneath us and the very air we breath. It is at the essence of our Life Force.

A result of ignoring this simple concept of Yin/Yang in our own experiences is physical disease, mental disease and emotional traumas, which will all repeat as if in a pattern. The busy-ness we create in our lives is the root cause of our suffering because we do not slow down enough to see the root causes of our problems. Know, however, that the pattern of the Universe is one of harmony and balance. Understanding this will break you out of your struggle patterns and will release you to the peace that you seek and will help you understand your purpose.

If the Universal Law is one that is constantly balancing and harmonizing, why would this also not be the case in your own physical, mental, and spiritual body and experience? The concept of a Universal Law is one that applies to all things. The simple realization and awareness of this Law will quickly transform your life to the one that you yearn for.

In only 33 years, I have learned this in every major life experience and lessons. However, I struggled and fought through out each of these events because I did not understand the simple concept and law of the harmony and balance in the Universe. My reason for these words is to help you by sharing my own experiences and by portraying how the Yin/Yang have been at work since I was conceived. Spirit has guided me to share this with you so that you can use my experiences to understand your own. At the end of this book, I will also share the tools that I have learned in my own life to illustrate the balancing energy of the Universe through Yoga. Through movement and alignment, we can find strength in our stillness--complete balance and harmony.

May 7, 2017

Solutions for Those Pesky Wrists in Your Yoga Practice

As a yoga studio owner, I have taught thousands of yoga classes now, as a instructor of private classes, group classes, workshops, and trainings. One of the issues that I see in the majority of my students is wrist weakness and/or pain. Most of these complaints come from the overuse of the wrists at a keyboard, serving jobs and heavy tray-carrying, a previous fall, or (even worse) repeat patterning in their yoga practice.

The wrist problem often arises in our Vinyasa style class, which is my favorite style to teach. I have found that it is a great way for new students to understand some of the most basic, but also most important elements, of a practice. Vinyasa Yoga encourages breath with movement, and the breath, in my opinion, is one of the most important elements in a yoga practice. However, the foundation of Vinyasa Yoga includes our Sun Salutation sequence. This sequence includes plank, chaturanga dandasana (four limbed staff), cobra (or upward dog), and downward dog. All of these poses can cause major pain or injury in the wrists if they are not mindfully practiced. I am also a huge fan of props, so I will explain some ways to integrate props into your practice to avoid repetitive patterns that cause injuries in the wrists. When reading this, please remember that your experience may be completely different than others'. This is why I will give you several tips and solutions to ease wrist pain in your yoga practice, but it is up to you to decide what works best for you. You can discover this by....you guessed it...practicing and trying these solutions!

It's important to discuss the primary reasons that yoga can cause or perpetuate wrist pain. There are two main elements in all poses that take precedence in our practice: Foundation and Alignment. In our asana practice, our awareness begins with our foundation. This carries into our wrists in many of the poses when our hands are our foundation. People tend to misplace their foundation into certain areas of their hands when they are in poses like plank and downward dog. They place the majority of the weight on the heals of the hands, right near the wrist crease. This puts undo pressure on the small wrist joint and, over time, will cause pain. Be sure that you are distributing the weight of your body into the "balls" of the fingers and the knuckles, as well. I've even found it helpful to try "gripping" the floor with the fingertips. Mindfulness of where you are placing the weight in your hands is key.

You may also find that a thinly folded blanket can be helpful if placed underneath the heals of the hands. This tends to assist in the grounding of the forward parts of the hands and the knuckles, displacing the weight away from the wrists. However, while in plank pose, you might try "clicking back though your heals." This will increase the angle of your wrists and keep the weight from being placed directly above your wrist joints.

Also, keep in mind that your yoga mat is an important prop in your practice, as well. If you have a mat that causes you to slip, you will bear down and tense up more in the wrists to prevent your hands from sliding in poses like downward dog. It is well worth the extra money to purchase a mat that really does allow you to ground into your hands without being sticky. I recommend the Manduka eKO mat line. After trying several different brands of mat, the eKO mat is, by far, the best for creating a non-slip and non-stick foundation for your hands and feet.

Chaturanga Dandasana can be one of the main reasons that wrist problems originate or get worse for yogis. While moving through the vinyasa sequence of a sun salutation, we tend to rush through their decent from plank into cobra or upward dog. When done incorrectly, we either push our weight back too far when coming down to the floor or come too far down (to hover) altogether. Another pattern is that practitioners will lower down faster through their head and chest, causing mis-alignment in the wrists and elbows.

To solve these issues, we can easily practice Chaturanga by following one of two options. First, shift your weight slightly forward and then lower down (SLOWLY!) all the way to the floor with the elbows hugging into the ribcage. This would be directly followed by cobra pose. Or, we can lower down half-way, so that the elbows come to 90 degrees, again, hugging tightly into the sides of the torso. From here, you move slowly into Upward Dog, with the chest forward and lifted.

Additionally, I have also found it incredibly helpful to practice Chaturanga with a block under my sternum at its lowest setting. It gives me a very good measurement of how far to come down to bring my elbows at 90 degrees...and no more! Remember, when practicing this transition, you can always modify by lowering the knees to the floor. And one more tip...try to remember to pause in the actual pose itself--four-limbed staff. All to often, people tend to "dip" through the movement, which is what causes the issues in the wrist to worsen.

All-in-all, it is worth your time and effort to try these different suggestions. The distraction of sore wrists can take you away from the Bliss of your practice, which is why we come to our mat in the first place! Being mindful and finding solutions for your wrist problems so that you can continue with your practice is you showing compassion to yourself! And that is where the healing aspect of yoga begins.

In Love and Light,

Sharli