All posts by SpiceYoga

Deep body presence

Transforming Pain into Presence

Life is full of moments of disappointment, suffering and loss. We all know this. Nobody's life is perfect, although carefully curated Instagram posts or other public profiles of individuals seem to suggest otherwise. Since we can expect to have to weather life's ups and downs, it would make sense to understand how our handling of painful events can help us adapt and cope, and ultimately, to thrive.

In this post, I'd like to highlight the dangers of unhelpful coping strategies, share some excellent resources, and offer you a 5-minute yoga nap!

Think about the last time you faced a painful event. How did you respond? What did it feel like in your body? Do you remember?

Our natural stress response to emotionally painful events translates to pain that is palpable in the material body. For example, when we say we have a heartache, it is due to tightness across the chest, constricted breathing and increased heart rate. Some people withdraw from these distressing sensations, or numb the pain with activities, alcohol, drugs, sex, etc. Others suppress their emotions and demonstrate a stoic front, although inside they may be crying for help. And some others are overwhelmed, sucked into the whirlpool of negative emotions, ranging from self-loathe, anger to depression. These strategies are unhelpful as they run us aground.

Psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk in his book The Body Keeps the Score, highlights how excess stress and the physiological changes in the body and brain can be debilitating in the long run, predisposing us to autoimmune diseases and more. He worked with trauma survivors of all stripes, but the implications are the same for those who have suffered other emotional pain. The body does not forget.

Can we find a more skillful response to painful events that are part of life?

If you are hurting, one possibility is to switch from evaluating the event (which has caused the hurt) to acknowledging what is happening at the raw sensory input level. So, we move from cognitive processing of "What went wrong?", "Can I handle it?" and "Why me?", to noticing the sensations in the body, of "I'm feeling heavy in my heart," and "My breath is shallow and rapid." We stay with the direct felt sense of the ripples of an event on our emotions and body. This is mindfulness in practice.

As we stay present to what is happening in our own bodies, we are a witness to our processing of pain, and begin to de-couple the binding of sensations to our go-to conclusions of aversion, overwhelm and other judgments.

To begin to transform pain, learn to befriend yourself. Be kind. Stay present for as long as you need you. Cultivate a daily practice of just closing the eyes for 5-10 minutes to check in on your bodily sensations. Tell yourself you are not alone to experience such pain. Humans for millennia in the past, and today all around the world, experience suffering of different magnitudes. It is part of the human condition. 

Hold this space for yourself. Trust the process. You'd begin to integrate the painful event and see it for what it is - just one of life's moments. And before long, you might notice less and less of the pain you used to notice, and develop a deeper awareness situated in the body. This feels safe, nourishing, and healing. 

You've transformed pain into deep inner connection and presence.​

If you find it hard to sense your body, you are not alone! Get literate with the felt sense, and practise with a Focusing community near you.

Restorative yoga is an excellent way to cultivate interoception (perception of inner environment and bodily self) at the same time as the poses and calm breathing can help calm the nervous system. Louise Carr shares a list of great reasons for practising restorative yoga.

Here's the 5-minute yoga nap I promised. The pose is restorative, and we are borrowing it to cultivate presence, relaxation and bodily awareness. Breathe with me!

Instead of a power nap​, practise this restorative yoga pose for 5 minutes (and more, as you get more comfortable). 

In gratitude,

Ling

If you haven't experienced my body sensing online course yet, here's an invitation to sign up. It's another way to cultivate deep body presence, and is very suitable for those who are new to more subtle mindfulness techniques. From me to you, with compliments!

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this. Reach out through any of these channels, leave a comment. I look forward to discussing with you!

#ProfoundPause

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Headstand yoga pose

How to Flow with Boundless Energy

"On this path effort never goes to waste, and there is no failure." - Bhagavad Gita.

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Many people stay away from yoga and tell me that "I'm just not flexible enough," or "I can no longer twist", or "some poses are too challenging for me."

But are we missing the point when we count ourselves out based on a self-imposed pre-requisite of strength and flexibility? Perhaps we can be more flexible in exploring yoga without fixating on whether we would succeed or fail in it. In yoga, we don't have to meet any performance benchmarks.

The practice is the practice itself.

If we are open to exploring yoga, we begin to discover that the practice will soften and strengthen us in ways that we have never imagined possible.​

Yoga Retreats in Nature


Physical strength and flexibility will come through a regular asana (physical pose) practice. At the same time, there is a softening through the surrendering of the ego and opening of the heart, and a strengthening of our personal resilience to face life's vagaries.

Beyond the physical, yoga as meditative practice and as a philosophy is an effort in reconnecting to our center, to our true essence of being. Every effort counts.

We'd find at this center the essence that is unafraid to be vulnerable, that abounds in unselfish love, that is immaculate; the essence that does not get stuck in petty pros-and-cons dilemma, and is free from prejudice, hurt and blame. It welcomes 'failure' as part of the process. It does not dissipate energy in constant worrying about the past and anxiety about the future.

This reconnecting with the true essence of being is the euphoria we sometimes get to taste at the end of a yoga class, or experience in life's moments as a sensation of flow, orgasmic bliss, or as a second wind.

IF there is one goal to this practice, it is to tap into this vast potential, to flow with this boundless energy.

Remember, effort is all that is needed. The practice is the practice.

The practice itself is the practice.

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Deepak Chopra Yoga Journal Live New York Promotion

Special Giveaway: Study with Master Teachers

We are all drawn to the idea of change at some point in our lives.

Where does transformation happen? Should we focus on our bodies, our beliefs and conditioning or pursue spirituality?
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Excited about Deepak Chopra at Yoga Journal LIVE New York on Friday April 21 for his keynote address, You Are the Universe.

Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, is the founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing. This is an excellent chance to hear from the renowned author and illuminating speaker on ways to experience our higher consciousness, transformation, and healing.

Some of us follow our hearts and work out our own answers. It is not impossible, albeit it is often slow, and at other times, we get side-tracked, lost, or dedicate ourselves mistakenly to something that takes us backward rather than forward. Learning with a supportive community and the right mentor is important, so that they hold up an honest mirror for us and offer us feedback on the alternatives for where we are headed to - like a GPS - so that we can navigate our journey more effectively, or even choose to go the longer but more scenic route!

SPICE YOGA GIVEAWAY

First guests to register for the Refining Your Practice Mind-Body Retreat 2017 will receive a One-Day Pass to attend the Yoga Journal LIVE New York event ($295 value for FREE!)

Limited to first 2 guests only! Book early!

The right teacher can accelerate our learning and show us a clearer pathway to where we want to go.

When we can acknowledge that we don't know enough to go on our own, that's when we make room for our personal change and growth. That's when we are ready to humble ourselves before another and call them our teacher.

Take your practice and knowledge of yoga topics deeper from April 21-24 in New York. Study LIVE with master yoga teachers such as Seane Corn, Kathryn Budig, Bo Forbes, Gary Kraftsow, Shiva Rea, Dharma Mittra, Rod Stryker, Rodney Yee, Colleen Saidman Yee and more. 

Use the Friends of Spice code YJLIVENY to save 15% on any pass.

YJLive Spice Yoga Studio Partner Discount
Body sensing, mala, meditation

Free Course: Body Sensing

If you feel anxious and unsettled, it may be that your mind is someplace else and completely disconnected from the body. Our lives demand our thinking minds to be turned on all the time, processing information, making decisions, scheduling ahead, reading and typing on computers, navigating subways. Our minds are everywhere but here in the presence of our bodies.

Our minds are everywhere but here in the presence of our bodies.

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Meditating at sunset Marina Bay

If you have a lot of nervous energy, you probably have tried sitting meditation, focusing on the breath, and find it difficult to keep up with the exercise. As multi-taskers by default, leaping into concentration meditation on the breath is highly challenging!

FREE Body Sensing Course

Starts today!

3 Deepening Mindfulness Practices

1st: Deep Body Presence

2nd: Whole Body Sensing

3rd: Moving Body Sensing​

Most of my students seek me out to find means to de-stress through yoga, and to be more at ease in mind and body. My advice is often not only limited to stretching and meditation. We need other ways to get out of our heads. Helen Sanders has a great article on Health Ambition on 15 easy ways to relax under 5 minutes. Pick any of these that fit you best, and implement it daily, for a week.

For those who want to explore the wonderful benefits of meditation, I advise them to start with the body. One wonderful technique is body sensing, where you turn your mind to the sensations and messages from your body - throbbing, pulsing, dullness, tightness, tension, space, lightness, hollowness, fullness, and so on - without any judgments, making it into a deeply calming exercise.

Ling Acott Quote Beginner meditators should start with the body

Body sensing is a mindful technique which involves scanning the whole body and being attuned to whatever that may arise. You give yourself permission to note anything and everything that may come up for you, resting your awareness on the most palpable sensations, but also tuning into other subtler sensations.

4 KEY BENEFITS TO PRACTICING BODY SENSING


  • Become more attentive to subtle changes in the body and mental states, which may otherwise go unnoticed. Small discomforts may be noted and addressed with proper changes in habits, which can impact on overall health and wellbeing in the long run.
  • Experience a peaceful wholeness as you find your mind-body connection again and feel more embodied.
  • Start to welcome every sensation with calmness, cultivating your relaxation response over stress response.
  • Switch from cognitive processes to sensory processes, creating and strengthening richer neural pathways in the brain.

Give it a go?

Join my popular Body Sensing 3-Day course with me, as my guest. Being able to rest in our bodies is key to naturally soothing our nervous system. This is one of the most important primal skills that we can all train to regain. What you'd need is 30 minutes a day, for 3 days. If you are willing and ready to train with me, see you there!

Humble warrior yoga pose

Glutes and Hamstrings Sequence

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Goloka Juice and Smoothie Blends Coconut Refreshers

Yoga and Detox for Weight Loss

FASTING AND CLEANSING

So I am a big fan of taking a break, a retreat.

And you know what? It’s our internal systems that need a retreat. Consuming large food portions when dining out, having irregular meal times, processing food additives and other habits tax our digestion, assimilation and elimination systems. Overworking wears the systems down, lowers our immunity and ages us. 

Fasting is one way to hit pause, by abstaining from all or certain kinds of foods, to allow the body and the mind to rest and restore. This is a common spiritual practice, but also has clear physical benefits, when done properly.

Green apple on top of red apple
Apples green and red

Cleansing is a special kind of fast. It is intentional, replacing one’s usual diet with purifying herbs and tonics. The process encourages elimination, so typically, there’s weight loss just from letting go of all the built-up waste. In the process, you’d develop a stronger and more effective digestion-assimilation-elimination system

Ayurvedic principles also support this. The belief is that diseases are caused by the accumulation of toxins in the body, or the creation of an imbalanced state. A balanced state is pure (sattvic). There is a lot of focus in Ayurveda on purification practices as a means to restore the body.

I like cleansing once a month. I’ve tried a lot of different methods, including the lemon master cleanse. I love an apple fast, as I like the crunchy tartness of green apples. These may not be for everyone though.

LIMITED TIME ONLY – Yoga & Cleanse Packages – Up to $100 of detox blends included, plus further 20% discount on additional cleanse blends, limited time only.  SOLD OUT (Feb 2017 update)

5 KEY THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR IN A PERFECT CLEANSE

Almond Smoothie
Almond Smoothie

#1 A cleanse should be delicious. Choose a cleanse program that gives your body a mix of what it needs, in simpler forms, i.e. juices, porridges, soups, and with enough energy to keep you going. You need to love it to stay on it.

 

#2 Ease the body into and out of it.

Blended Soup
Carrot soup

Remove complex foods from your diet a day before and after the cleanse. Remember, we are giving the system a break. Wholemeal toast, unpolished rice, mac and cheese, all out! Have a simple soup like carrot or orange split lentil (split and polished = easier to digest = rest and recovery for the stomach and intestines) and little or no grease in your meals. 

#3 Always ensure that you get proper hydration during a cleanse. Coconut water is a great natural way to rehydrate with essential electrolytes.

#4 Go into a cleanse intentionally, with love and care. The energy and intention in everything we do is so important. You shouldn’t be starving yourself for rapid weight-loss (and worse, throwing your metabolism off balance). Cleansing has long-term benefits, so enjoy the process. Be mentally prepared for it. It might help to commit to writing a short reflection daily in your journal.

#5 Stay active. Have a cleanse without hitting pause on your life. Keep your appointments, go to work. Take note that your body would likely respond to the detoxifying effects of the cleanse, so make room for that. You don’t want to start it when you have a major project deadline and a stressful week. At the same time, you want to stay active and not feel lethargic. Gentle yoga can be practiced instead of vigorous sports, and specific yoga poses can encourage detox.

YOGA & CLEANSE

We have a special offer for Yoga & Cleanse packages, which includes everything that you’d need in a perfect cleanse, combining detox yoga with personal consultation and tailoring of your cleanse blends.

$100 of detox blends included, plus further 20% discount on additional cleanse blends, limited time only.  SOLD OUT

FIND OUT MORE HERE

Goloka Go Immunity Extra Juice Refresher Cleanse

 

Images with gratitude to Pixabay and Goloka.