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Positively Radiant!

Warm Blessings!

In fall of 2014 I was stuck. Intuitively I knew I needed to revisit the transformative meditation practice that created a radical shift in my life many years ago.

Earnestly, I began practicing the mantra associated with each energy center or chakra. It became apparent the root and sacral centers were blocked.

The beauty of the chakra system is that it functions somewhat like windows in your home. Clean the window, see more clearly. In this case, we become more radiant as Essence can participate in our lives more freely!

Conversely – in this case –  when the first or root chakra is blocked, we may feel ungrounded, or struggle to manifest our dreams. No juice in the sacral center and our vitality, intimate relationships and creativity go on vacation without us.

The mantra or “seed sound” acts like a key or a tuning fork to clean, clear and increase each chakra’s energetic frequency. This is when the good stuff begins to happen! I spent time focussing on the areas I felt most blocked and began to feel more alive.

Quite by surprise, a new and inspired work to bubble out of me. One thing led to another and I am now specializing in yoga for pelvic healing (Sarton Physical Therapy, pelvichealing.com) Step one on a journey of women’s healing and empowerment work. Please stay tuned!

In addition,  I am delighted to be offering this potent practice, Radiance meditation as a six- week series. We will learn and discuss where in the body and what dimension of our lives each of the seven chakras govern. Classes we will combine yoga, movement, breath, sound, visualization and mantra meditation. Whether you’ve been yearning for a meditation practice and/or you’d like to experience increased vibrancy, healing of the heart or seeing more clearly, you’ll find this journey to be insightful, playful and profound. I invite you to join me!

Saturday afternoons, March 21st – April 25th, 2 – 4 pm. Irvine home-studio (Address given upon registration)

Cost: $240

To register or for further information please call (949) 246-8093 or email me at info@alisonbrownyoga.com

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Namaste

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“Your trials did not come to punish you, but to awaken you – to make you realize that you are part of Spirit and that just behind the spark of your life is the flame of infinity.”
Paramahansa Yogananda

In Conclusion (Please read parts 1 and 2 in previous posts)

A mention in regards to the role of the yoga therapist. He or she is in a key position to offer the potential of healing to the patient. As a result of living these life-affirming principles, and time-tested practices, the yoga healer can represent acceptance and an open heart. The yoga therapist gives time to support positive change and guidance with issues such as dietary choices, physical activities and social support and encourages the healing activities of forgiveness,connection, laughter and love.

The epidemic proportion of heart disease is a call for healing; not merely physical reparation, a cry for something deeper. The yoga journey is designed to open the heart, dissolve separation and discover that Something. Whether it is called, our higher self, our essence or the experience of the quantum field, if we slow down enough to listen with our hearts we may just heal ourselves and help create a more sane and loving world.

“When most people think about yoga they think hatha yoga, the stretching. To me that’s the least interesting aspect of yoga. It’s useful, but it’s a starting point. What yoga is really about is transformation. It’s about transforming your life, rediscovering inner sources of peace and joy and well-being, transcending the sense that we’re just separate. On one level you’re you and I’m me; on another level, we’re part of something larger that connects us. If we can have that double vision, it lends itself to compassion and altruism and service, as opposed to blowing people up and feeling like you’re different from them. What we’re really trying to do is more than just helping people lose weight or even unclogging their arteries or helping them live longer, as important and desirable as those goals can be. It’s really kind of a conspiracy of love, because ultimately that’s what we’re here for.”  Dean Ornish, M.D.

A Yoga Perspective

Upon mention of cardiovascular health, the first thing that generally springs to mind is diet and exercise. Is there adequate physical activity and is the person eating the right foods? A good diet and adequate exercise provide the foundation of any wellness program and from a yogic standpoint; the ability to relax into stillness and to breathe fully and deeply.

We are holistic beings and yoga has long recognized that. The yoga healing philosophy views a person as composed of of five different dimensions; the physical body, the breathing body, the mind, the personality and the emotions (some schools of thought differ slightly and also include the spirit). These dimensions are seen as completely interrelated and inseparable from one another. Consequently, what happens on one dimension affects the others. Access to these dimensions is facilitated by the yogic tools of asana (physical postures), pranayama (breathing exercises) and various techniques of meditation and visualization.

The beauty of the yoga philosophy and practice is that it’s designed to meet an individual where they are at, in this moment in time. It is empowering, helping a person take care of themselves at home with tools that are not only free but readily available; the body, breath and mind.

Yoga healing is not a one-size fits all approach. The unique situation presented by an individual requires a tailored solution based on the tools of yoga therapy for healing to occur. Having said that, it is safe to assume that a good 80% of our society is in need of reducing stress and learning how to relax deeply.

It was Harvard cardiologist, Dr. Herbert Benson who made famous the term “relaxation response”. His pioneering research was the first to describe in scientific terms, the connection between the meditative process and the physiological response. Thus, proving yogic techniques to be an antidote to stress, reversing fight or flight and reducing sympathetic nervous system activity; allowing the blood vessels to dilate, decreasing blood pressure.

In 1989, Dr. Brownstein and Dr. Dembert conducted a case study on the effects of yoga breath exercises on hypertension. Their subject was a 46 year old flight pilot who had been suffering from mild hypertension for six years. At the end of the 6-week study, it was reported that the pilot’s blood pressure had dropped significantly and continued to be steady for the next six months as he maintained a program of breathing, meditation, diet and exercise.

Other studies conducted by Dr. Chandra Patel on the effects of yoga breathing and meditation for hypertension provided similar results.

The yogis knew that conscious control of the breath gave them access to the autonomic nervous system – which controls the physical workings of the heart. Slowing the breath slows the heart rate and can modify a person’s physical, mental and emotional state. For those suffering with high blood pressure this is a great place to start.

Part 2:

Please note: Before beginning a yoga program for a patient with cardiovascular issues, it is imperative to receive a doctor’s clearance and patient’s report upon which to base a protocol.

The first step is to practice observing the breath. Teaching the ujayi (victorious) breath, which produces a slight constriction at the back of the throat, is beneficial in providing both a sound and a texture to focus upon (bringing the mind to focus reduces the mind’s agitation. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 1). The constriction also helps to naturally lengthen the breath. Gradually and without strain, the exhale is made longer than the inhale. Extending the exhale stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, eliciting “the relaxation response”. Lastly, observing a pause at the bottom of the exhale, experiencing a moment of stillness before the inhale, can help to introduce meditation to a new student. This is a powerful tool for patients with high blood pressure and can be used in “breathing breaks” throughout the day, especially during times of stress.

Plenty of time must be given to beginning stages of pranayama (breathing practices). There is often unconscious and restrictive holding patterns surrounding the areas of the heart and the lungs. With proper care on the part of the yoga therapist, tension can release without provoking undue anxiety.

Yoga treatment for most cardiovascular issues needs to focus on relaxation and a good 20 minutes can be given to progressive relaxation or savasana (“corpse pose”). Done with the guidance of a therapist (or a recording), progressive relaxation methodically scans the body in order to release muscular tension, allowing the mind to let go and become receptive. This provides an opportunity for engaging the mind in deeper healing. Often, it is helpful to chose a focus for the mind. It could be watching the breath at the tip of the nose, developing the“witness” consciousness (helpful in observing self and monitoring self-talk in our daily lives). It might be a positive affirmation or a visualization (bhavana); engaging the imaginative portion of the mind to assist in an intended outcome. This could be anything from physical health to spiritual development.

Yoga asana can be given as appropriate (more when there is a need to strengthen the heart and less when a person’s health has been compromised) with a focus on the breath, mind/body connection. Especially beneficial are those poses which extend the spine, open the chest and make space for the heart; improving blood flow and bringing more oxygen into the lungs. Emphasis can also be placed on opening the spiritual heart. Those with high blood pressure should avoid inversions and those recovering from certain cardiovascular illnesses (such as coronary arterial disease or recovery from heart attack) need to avoid forward bends to prevent further constriction of the heart area.

When the individual is ready, a daily a meditation practice can be encouraged. This need not be complex or esoteric. Beginning with a few minutes a day, train the mind to return to a focus on the breath, a sound or an image. The most important element of meditation is a passive attitude. When thoughts distract, rather than chase them or try to suppress them, simply observe and let them go. With patience, the benefits of meditation are exponential, not only as a technology to relieve stress, but also as a path to discover one’s spiritual essence. “Then the Seer is established in his own essential and fundamental nature.” (Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 3). To have a growing sense of our true nature, beyond the physical form and personality, is one of the greatest gifts of yoga. This knowledge has the capacity to heal on all dimensions of our Being.

Yoga philosophy states that the mind is the lens through which we perceive the world within and around us. To the degree the lens is clear, so will be our state of happiness and well being. Conversely, to the degree the mind is distorted, so will be our dis-ease. For this reason, the mind is given special emphasis in yoga healing. “No disease can come in through the body but through the mind” says Dr. Brownstein. Thus, the mind is key to healing. This is where yoga’s contribution to the prevention and potential healing of heart disease can have a profound effect.

Yoga also engenders a deep respect for the body, for the Self and life in general. When these life affirming attitudes are fostered, it is less difficult to let go of harmful habits such as smoking and eating fast foods. A diet rich in fresh plant foods will enhance vitality, eventually becoming a natural choice for those enrolled in a yogic program seeking cardiovascular health.

Excerpt from Term Paper:

Yoga Therapy Rx,  Alison Brown 2011

Beachyoga!

Beach Yoga

Years ago a friend asked me to teach yoga on the beach. I did so, somewhat tentatively at first but it was the class that launched my teaching career. I love to teach yoga anytime or anywhere. However, yoga in nature has something extra…..prana. Prana is the yogic term for life force, vital to our physical health and well-being. Yogis say we can cultivate this life force energy from the good foods we eat and through the breath. This is one reason that deepening the breath is central to the practice. The beach air is super charged with prana and lends itself beautifully to the practice of yoga.

Gratitude and beauty elevate the mind, open the heart and feed the soul. Each week, the ocean presents a new mood, a new face. Somedays dolphins appear. Some days the waves are huge and fierce drowning out all thought;  somedays soft and soothing.  Mind quietens and the true Self shines through.

Find yourSelf at the beach! Our all-level group class meets Wednesday mornings at 8:30 in the Newport area. For more about my teaching, please look on my website at: http://www.alisonbrownyoga.com or just give me a call at (949) 246-8093.
Namaste! Alison

Spring Duo!


Good-day friends!
It’s Spring and I am excited to share with you a melding of great things.

Yoga (breath) and hiking = PranaHikes

The perfect duo!
The idea overtook me one day while hiking the Shady Canyon trail. A vista revealing snow capped mountains “inspired” me to breath and yoga. Surrounded by nature, the fresh air felt good, within and without. As my mind moved into stillness, colors became brighter and the bird’s symphony lifted my Spirit.
There is a natural high that comes from being out in nature hiking with friends. Conscious breath and yoga make it that much better!

Prana is the yogic word for the lifeforce.  It is in every breath we breathe  and  we can cultivate it by being in nature, eating nutritious food and by the mindset of gratitude. Prana leads to vitality and the “natural-high” that circulates in our heart, minds and bodies.
While the earth is green, I invite you to join me most Saturdays 9 am and/or Tuesday mornings beginning in April.  Each outing will be approximately one and a half to two hours long in the Irvine/Newport and Laguna areas. Mostly gentle to moderate hikes, easy yoga (don’t worry, no headstands….. unless you want to!)

For details and for further information:

info@alisonbrownyoga.com or (949) 246-8093

Donation only.

“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”  John Muir

“Get to know your breath and you will never be alone.” Even though these words were spoken to me 40 years ago, they are etched into my psyche as encouragement from my teacher to practice daily yogic breathing. I did practice (sometimes) but was too young to give this awareness a great deal of thought.
My journey has taken many twists (ha ha yoga joke) and turns. Maybe now I am ready to hear these words from a more thoughtful place…
In last night’s yoga therapy reading, I found a passage from Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease. (Heart disease is rampant amongst us as young as 50!) We know the usual villains; a diet high in “bad” fats and not enough exercise. But there appears to be an underlying cause which, if not addressed, does not allow for true healing.
What is this deeper cause?
Loneliness and stress from isolation and lack of intimacy.
Dr. Dean goes onto describe two types of loneliness – vertical and horizontal. Vertical being a lack of connection to the Self (Nurturing Source, Higher Power). Horizontal, a lack of meaningful intimacy and connection to one another.
I put the book down to take a breathing break so I will not know until tonight what the good doctor says next, but here’s what I say.
We can be in marriages, in families, in communities, clubs etc but unless we are nurturing a connection to the Self within, we may still feel lonely inside and often try and cover it up in a number of ways.
Dis-ease can be our wake-up call.
I love yoga’s preventative approach to healing and transformation.
Get to know your breath! Ah, the breath, our one constant companion. Breath is the link between the mind and the body, but what about the spirit, that all pervading essence of Being? That too!
To quote one of my favorite teachers, Mark Whitwell, conscious breathing is our direct participation with Nurturing Source.
Hummm……
Why not take a breathing break right now?

Feel the texture of your breath coming in through your nose and softening down through the back of your throat. Imagine your body filled with life force energy. Follow your exhale until it is but a whisper. Be present… enjoy….. stillness…..

She (my first teacher) did say daily practice. Yes, breath and yoga, daily practices. Good thing about breathing, it is very portable!
I am spending more time on the importance of breath in my own practice and in my classes.
Won’t you join me??
Namaste,
Alison

Twenty-nine days into this new year! The world at large has seen some dramatic events the last couple of weeks. What about YOUR world? How is your everyday world so far? Go on, take a nice deep breath. Are your relationships improving? Are you feeling more joy? Are you living true to your intentions and still feeling some of the energy and hope that comes with the beginning of a new year?

Often, in my past, by the end of January some of the new year’s glow begins to disappear. All too soon it’s back to that “business as usual” feeling . Maybe my intentions were just too intangible or my goals lost in everyday challenges.

Well, recently, in one of my wonderful yoga therapy classes, one of my teachers suggested that we begin our day- intentionally. ( I LOVE THIS PRACTICE!!!!) This wonderful simple way of co-creating the day helps me keep alive the sense of intentionality; how I would like to live my life.

There are obviously many ways one can begin their day intentionally. Here is Arun Deva’s suggestion based on Ayurvedic principles.

Before you get out of bed, sit up and rub the palms of your hands together creating a sense of friction and warmth. Place the palms over your eyes. Allow your eyes to feel nurtured by this energy. Take the hands away from your eyes, look at your palms from a distance and then look at them up close. Do this several times as a way of stimulating your vision. Next, place your hands in namaste, palms together by your heart and here’s where you can get as personal and creative as you like. These are a few ideas; say a prayer or invocation, sing a chant, set an intention, visualize your day flowing smoothly (especially if you know there is a challenge up ahead), send love, or you can simply connect with Divine Source and feel gratitude. (The power is in the feeling!)

No matter what you choose, the important thing is that you begin your day CONSCIOUSLY, setting the tone for the day.

Did I mention this is a “practice”?? Some days I wake up and I remember to do this when I have already reached the bathroom and am brushing my teeth. I think that still counts!!! Yes, more and more I am remembering to begin my day this way.

Give it a go! I find it makes a difference. The quality of my day improves and sometimes I am rewarded with some really nice surprises.

Try not to be discouraged if you have never done anything like this before. It is like exercising a muscle. It may not be strong at first but with a little practice it becomes noticeably stronger, more skilled and in this case, more creative.
Have fun. Live well. Stay tuned!!!
Namaste,
Alison