Love for and fascination with movement, alignment, and the body has only deepened since beginning this dance with the Pilates reformer. Alignment based yoga is not (as commonly thought) a static practice. A common thread running through both alignment based yoga and Pilates is the pursuit and practice of finding the most agreeable relationship between parts of the body and infusing those biomechanics with expanded breath or Prana. Alignment is the clear unobstructed flow of Prana through the body. Alignment in asana (yoga poses) becomes more refined and intuitive with study and practice. The same is true in Pilates practice. Alignment based movement practices can literally enhance the intuitive intelligence of the body’s systems as well as clear the inner-body energetic pathways for a heightened sense of comfort in embodiment. Over time an alignment based practice moves from physical to subtle-body awareness. This introduction of feeling and sensibility to technique evolves into art.
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This weekend while paddle boarding with my mother and her sweetheart on Fish River in Lower Alabama, dolphins appeared and swam beside us. It was an extraordinary blessing and reminder that all sentient beings are essentially bonded to and by
Nature, Spirit, and Love.
In their honor I did a variation of dolphin pose on my board.
“Dolphins have a wise, innocent, purity of being which reaches out to our inner nature. Follow their lead and open yourself to the energy of love, harmony, and balance. Express your inner truth, be true to yourself. Follow your inner joy. Dolphin is asking you to go back to your roots, to the depths of your being and rediscover the love that you truly are.
Dolphins spend most of their day playing. Their life is lived in joyful harmony with each other and their world. Apparently they have learned the lesson that love is the most important factor in life.
Dolphin wisdom includes – knowledge of the sea, change, patron of sailors, harmony, balance, communication skills, freedom, trust, understanding the power of rhythm in your life, water element magic, unselfishness.
Dolphin reminds us to get out, play, breathe and most importantly to love.”
-from shamanicjourney.com, Dolphin Power Animal, by Ina Woolcoat
Every object and being in the universe is a jar overfilled with wisdom and beauty, a drop of the Tigris that cannot be contained by any skin. Every jarful spills and makes the earth more shining, as though covered in satin…
You knock at the door of reality, shake your thought-wings, loosen your shoulders, and open.
It’s festival time! Every year for almost 40 years, there has been at least one (if not more) member of my family present, out ‘in the Gumbo’ of music, food, art, and culture that is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritge Festival. This year my cousin Savannah and I are carrying the torch. We have been festing together since we were kids.
The fairgrounds can seriously tap energy stores if not adequately prepared. From experience and lessons learned we know to carry a bag of survival essentials to deal with sun, mud, port-o-lets, and logging miles on the track. It takes practice and stamina to work it right.
Along with the festival comes about ten straight days of incredible night shows all over town that run into the wee early morning hours. A big fest day can literally mean 18 hours.
Considering that one of the main reasons to be out in all of the wonderful madness is THE DANCING, it’s essential to keep our bodies feeling good and well. This year at the fest I heard more than a few folks talking about aching backs. And this just breaks my heart. No suffering allowed at Jazz Fest!
But, I can relate and it’s totally understandable. My back gets tired and aches after doing anything strenuous for an extended time and a New Orleans party is no joke! Whether it is the joyful occasion of a marathon of music and dancing, or any event that calls us into full mobile action for a considerable duration of time, we can and should participate fully without it taking a massive toll on our bodies. This is about enjoying life after all, right? So how do we do it all and still feel great for another day?
And yes, my answer is once again yoga. In this year’s scenario of epic Jazz Fest stamina, I have been extra diligent about weaving 5-15 minutes of restorative yoga breaks throughout my days. When I do the poses, if it’s possible, I give myself the full treatment of bolsters, blankets and an eye covering. If that’s not possible (or if I am out on the fairgrounds) I simply lie on my back with bent knees and cover my face with a hat or t-shirt or something. I turn the cell phone ringer off, and use the cell phone as a timer to make sure that I stay in the pose for a good amount of time–at least 3 minutes, but preferably 10. Using a timer actually helps to calm and quiet my mind more deeply and quickly which leads to the deep relaxation of the muscle fibers that restores them. Then the timer lets me know when it’s time to resume with activity.
This past weekend I did a supported bridge pose for 10 minutes before leaving for the fest. After a full day of walking lots and dancing in the sun to funk, blues, and rock-n-roll, when I got home, my back was tired. I did legs up the wall and reclined cobblers pose. And voila, the ache-y tired back was completely restored in a matter of minutes and I was ready to go out for another round of fun. Saturday night required a few supported poses too, and the payoff was great. I had enough energy to stay up and watch one of the greatest music lineups of the year which started at 3am. Yes. Oh yes I did stay out all night long dancing! Which I have not done in as long as I can remember. My alarm clock (that wakes me up) went off before I went to bed. I can safely say that has never happened.
I even surprised myself that I was still up with energy to spare! No aching feet or back. And I am ready for another 4-day full weekend of it starting tomorrow. It hasn’t always been like this for me. There was a time when at this point in the festivities I was having to force and push myself into unhealthy places to endure the fun. That’s one way to do it, but I am much more happy and healthy (which is really what it’s all about) this go around. It’s all yoga and dancing and art and culture and most of all good company that fuels my fire.
At 40, I am more vibrant and have more stamina than I did in my 20’s and 30’s. This year’s Jazz Fest I feel better in body mind and spirit than ever. The longer I explore the art of restorative yoga as a daily practice, the more I believe in the healing and supportive gifts it offers in every scenario that life presents.
So…Get thee to a bolster, and then meet me ‘in the Gumbo’ for some dancing!
Yay! I am now officially a Cooper Trained™ Fitness Professional!
Last night I received my certificate of completion in education and testing in the Weight Management Leadership course from The Cooper Institute. Founded in 1970 by Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH, the “Father of Aerobics,” The Cooper Institute, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated globally to preventative medicine and to helping people live longer, healthier lives. The Cooper Institute is an esteemed organization recognized for customized training and courses for health and fitness leaders, including law enforcement, the military, and firefighters, and now, me!
My personal history with successful weight loss (and healthy weight management) through yoga has been a 17 year ‘one day at a time’ journey into a deeper relationship with myself, my behaviors, and my environment. The completion of this CI training has provided me with even more tools, methods, and vocabulary to help others tackle overweight and obesity and the behaviors and choices that contribute to it.
And just like with yoga, there is not one right way for everybody. Successful weight management – which is a trinity of not gaining weight, losing weight, and keeping lost weight off – is a blending of the three keys in a combination that is unique for each person.
I feel blessed and called to offer client-oriented, customized, one-on-one sessions that combine yoga with weight loss leadership skills learned at the Cooper Institute.
Scotta Brady, E-RYT 500 is a Certified Anusara Yoga Teacher who began her formal yoga studies in 1996 after graduating from Auburn University with a B.A. in Philosophy. She is the owner and lead teacher at Butterfly Yoga in Jackson, Mississippi. Blessed with the opportunity to study with many inspiring teachers around the world, she is full of immense gratitude for and admiration of each one. She is especially grateful to Anusara Yoga founder John Friend, who has been the greatest influence on her personal transformation and transition from law school student to full-time yoga student and teacher. Upon meeting John in 1999, Scotta dedicated herself to studying yoga and has been teaching yoga in service to the Mississippi community and beyond since 2000.
Date: Sat 6/26/2010
Time: 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Anusara Yoga Workshop with Scotta Brady, E-RYT 500. “Lightness of Being”. Using the Universal Principles of Alignment, we’ll find a balance of power and softness to open our hearts more fully in backbends. We’ll tap into our innate strength and lightness of being to take flight in arm balances. Learn also how curious use of our feet can help us cultivate more stability in inversions and arm balances. Join us for this fun-filled weekend of yoga! Saturday Session will focus on standing poses, twists, and backbends. $40. Register Online.
Date: Sun 6/27/2010
Time: 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Anusara Yoga Workshop with Scotta Brady, E-RYT 500. “Lightness of Being”. Using the Universal Principles of Alignment, we’ll find a balance of power and softness to open our hearts more fully in backbends. We’ll tap into our innate strength and lightness of being to take flight in arm balances. Learn also how curious use of our feet can help us cultivate more stability in inversions and arm balances. Join us for this fun-filled weekend of yoga! Sunday mid-day session will focus on “Flight School”- abdominals and arm balances. $40. Register Online.
Date: Sun 6/27/2010
Time: 3:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Anusara Yoga Workshop with Scotta Brady, E-RYT 500. “Lightness of Being”. Using the Universal Principles of Alignment, we’ll find a balance of power and softness to open our hearts more fully in backbends. We’ll tap into our innate strength and lightness of being to take flight in arm balances. Learn also how curious use of our feet can help us cultivate more stability in inversions and arm balances. Join us for this fun-filled weekend of yoga! Sunday early evening session will focus on “Nectarean” Inversions & Forward Folds. $35. Register Online.
You can now easily check the Yoga Birds class schedule on your iPhone by downloading the MindBody Online iPhone App. This application will help you find yoga locations all over the world who use the MindBodyOnline scheduling and check-in software.
Now all of you iPhone owners will be able to plan your yoga classes throughout your busy weeks to find calm, relaxation, and mental focus.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras define pratyahara as the state and practice of encouraging the senses to draw within, promoting a continuous inward flow of consciousness. This quality or attitude of pratyahara transforms the vigorous physical practice of Hatha Flow into an internalized moving meditation. Melanie Buffett, RYT will lead this slow flowing class. It will begin with music and gradually move toward silence and darkness, allowing you to go deeper and take your practice inward. Explore your practice on a more sublime, subtle level. Seasoned Beginner/Intermediate Level. Minimum of 3 months yoga practice required to attend. 2 HOURS $20 pre-register. $25 day of. Workshops are non-refundable.
Melanie Buffett’s Yoga 201 explores more advanced yoga poses and yoga pose flows with attention to proper form and alignment for maximum safety and benefit. Students should be prepared to work the prepartory poses leading up to handstands at the wall, backbends with straight arms, and arm balance poses. Minimum of 3 months of regular yoga practice is a requirement to attend. 3 HRS. $30 pre-registration. $35 day of. Workshops are non-refundable.
Offered regularly, Yoga 101 is a 3-hour Saturday afternoon workshop. This workshop will demystify yoga for the new student. Students will learn building blocks for practicing 30 essential yoga poses. Time is also devoted to introducing basic yogic breathing with awareness. This workshop prepares new students for flowing and faster paced classes. Also beneficial to give deeper insight of alignment in an already established practice. Participants must be able to move up and down from the floor to standing without assistance. BEGINNER LEVEL. 3 HRS. $30 pre-registration. $35 day of. Register and Pay online.