April: Asteya

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Asteya has been a really interesting limb to focus on for me. It requires much more discernment than I’d had to use than with ahimsa or satya. I actually relied a lot on satya to point me in the right direction much of the time.

The third of the Yamas is Asteya which translates to non stealing. In my teacher training, my teacher explained it as not taking what is not earned or given to you. Of course this manifests in the physical realms- don’t steal objects from stores or people- but it also manifests in an energetic sense. This is the aspect I found most interesting this month. Not stealing people’s time & energy- not taking what isn’t mine and not letting others steal my time & energy.

ON THE MAT ASTEYA PRACTICE

I’ve been practicing asteya on my mat in two ways. The first is that I’m not trying to force myself to be on my mat at a certain time. I’ve allowed myself a freedom of time and space that doesn’t feel like yoga has been something to check off of my list. Of course- it depends where you are at in your life when t comes to this. If you have 4 kids running around and you have to schedule in your yoga time then this too is practicing asteya! This is where the discernment piece comes in. I found myself leaning to satya (if you haven’t read March’s limb satya, I’ll link it here) to figure out whether I was really having my time & energy ‘stolen’ by busing myself with something else or my thoughts. Trying to figure out the truth of the situation allowed me to see whether I was avoiding yoga practice or whether it was something I was using to avoid something else.

This became a back and forth of ‘I practice to support my best self’- practicing asteya on the mat meant I was able to arrive there entirely, without leaving part of myself with another task or person.

The second way I’ve been practicing it on the mat is within my thoughts. What am I giving my energy to? Is it necessary to be expending that thought or energy right now, during my sacred practice? The mind is very good at wandering. At squandering your sense of peace on things to keep it busy. I’ve been trying to not allow myself to slip into worry or fear while on my mat- in my ‘time’ for practice.

OFF THE MAT ASTEYA PRACTICE

Off the mat asteya tends to be a bit more difficult. I like to plan and I also like to wing it- but how can you ensure you are getting the most out of your time and other people’s time? I often wonder, am I taking up their time or do they have something else they’d rather/should be doing other than being here with me?

We are all so. busy. But how much of that ‘busy’ is just stolen energy or time, expended on things that don’t end up serving your purpose anyway?

I personally, end up sucking my own time where I don’t need to. This past month, the that students i’m tutoring were leaving on break. I compiled this worksheet document to keep them academically growing while they were away. I spent maybe an hour and a half on it. Do you think they completed it? No. There was no reason for me to put my energy into that- I ended up taking away my own energy, my own prana, on something I pretty well knew wasn’t going to be fruitful anyway. It was no one else’s fault and no one ‘sucked my time’- it was me. In the end, there are no time suckers or energy thieves-We make the choice to give what we give, to expend what we expend. We ultimately control how much we put out there, no one forces you to give up your energy (except maybe if you’re a mama or dad!!).

Practicing asteya off the mat simply means being in tune with what is yours to keep and yours to give.

Next month (MAY) is brahmacharya which translates to conservation or moderation(or more traditionally celibacy)- so it should be an interesting one!

xx

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Spring Bliss & Cleaning

Welcome to spring! The snow is melting and the birds are singing but most importantly, the sun is shining! This time of year I always feel so much appreciation, so much so that I think Thanksgiving should maybe be a spring holiday. I work much much better in the heat and the sun and so when I finally start seeing it, all I feel is gratitude.

As such, this spring practice focuses on two Niyamas (self care/observances): Santosha &Shaucha.

Santosha translates to contentment or gratitude. As you move through this spring practice, I encourage you to feel the abundance of your life. This is not always an easy practice, we tend to get caught up in to-do lists and moving on to the next thing. Wherever you are the moment you decide to practice, create a list of things you are grateful for- even if they seem simple or silly. A practice of gratitude can actually manifest abundance, as you are putting your energy into the things that bring you bliss. Here is my list when I sat down to create this practice:

  1. Parents & little brother
  2. Extended family
  3. Luna & Bella
  4. Andrew
  5. Friends who are like family
  6. Yoga 
  7. My job
  8. My apartment
  9. My coffee mug
  10. Coloured highlighters

Shaucha is the practice of cleanliness of body, mind and environment. In this practice create a clean, quiet space. We will focus on twists and full breath in order to detoxify the body (twists ‘wring’ out toxins in the body and get things ‘moving’, breathe cleanses the energy channels & nervous system). As you move and breathe visualize your body letting go and being restored. A little spring cleaning is in order!

The poses in this practice are:

  • Seated Spinal Twist
  • Seated Cat/Cow
  • Seated Lateral bends
  • Cat/Cow
  • Downdog
  • Warrior 1
  • Warrior 2
  • Goddess (repeat with the flow of breath!)
  • Forward Fold
  • Tree (its spring, its a must.)
  • Squat pose & Squat twist
  • Butterfly

There is also a playlist for YOGA TRAVEL TEACH SPRING PLAYLIST ON SPOTIFY

Feel free to save or print this practice guide. Be sure to flow at your own pace. Set an intention. Be safe. Only move towards bliss. Happy SPRING!

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Have fun and if there are any questions, please ask away!

xx K

Spinal Asymmetries Intro

Diagnosed around 13 with scoliosis which progressed to involve 2 severe curves by the time I was 16, I’ve found yoga to be a wonderful technique for reducing pain and creating balance. At 17 years old I underwent a spinal fusion for most of my thoracic spine. Lucky this means I still have much mobility in my low back (as that curve wasn’t corrected) though hardly any in my upper. This means that when I attend a yoga class I tend to be aware and uber conscious of the effects of each pose on my spine. Post surgery I remember wishing there were classes I could take for post spinal fusions. This got me thinking into the possibilities of targeted classes before my fusion. Now that I’m fused, i’m actually MORE stable than I was before- I have EXTRA sthiram, just gotta work with the sukham (ease). Previous to the fusion, I had absolutely no stability or ease.

Many I have spoken to have said their doctors recommended physiotherapy or yoga to either help with their functional scoliosis, kyphosis or lordosis in guiding the spine back to its 4 natural (and deemed ‘regular’) curves. This is done through strengthening and conditioning, usually of the core, back/ hips or shoulder blade muscles.

Structural scolio, kypho & lordo is very different although it is still recommended by doctors that one partake in yoga or physio . Structural asymmetries have unknown causes (some could be hereditary, like scoliosis), a doctor may call them idiopathic. This means that regular work outs and strengthening doesn’t exactly stop the progression of the curve, its simply the way the spine wants to grow. As such, structural asymmetries are usually diagnosed in the early teens since one is going through a major growth spurt.

So why yoga?

Two reasons: pain management & emotional coping. It is not about ‘fixing’ your curves. It is not about making yourself ‘less deformed’. This practice is for balance and lightness. You are not deformed because you have a curve (my first doctor called my scoliosis a deformity, which haunts my mind to this day) and you are NOT meant to live in pain. You can in fact live with an asymmetry and manage your pain and an integrate your body/mind. Yoga is the vehicle that can get you there my friends!

SO all my scolio, kypho, lordo friends- I got your back!

This is something I’m still learning and don’t claim in any way to be an expert on! Please listen to your body if you decide to practice this sequence and do not BY ANY MEANS EVER move toward pain. This practice is for those with asymmetries which do not currently have any affects on organs, If your doctor has told you your ribs are twisted against lungs or heart (mine were a little), please be slow and listen to your body. If somethings not working- don’t do it. If you are new to yoga, take it slow, feel it out, notice how your body is feeling, not looking.

Most importantly know that if asana is not available to you, you can always move in your mind. Sit and meditate. Guide yourself through practice in your mind. Love yourself in all you are.

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Start with meditation. Set your intention- what do you feel, what will you put energy into? Move into a flowing lateral bend, inhaling raising arms, exhale lowering to one side. This opens up the side body and gets the core active which supports your spine. Next move into dandasana, flexing the feet, shape your body like an ‘L’. Feel your spine elongate. Inhale arms up. Exhale lower. This works deep in the core helping to stabilize the low spine.

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Inhale, exhale into a mini forward fold over your legs. Don’t go far, the moment you feel something stop and feel it. When you feel this is complete come to hands and knees in table. Here flow with some cat cow, arching the back towards the sky and then away from it. This is great for all 3 asymmetries and really warms up the spine, getting it ‘juicy’. Repeat as many rounds as feels good. Then push up and back into downward dog. Take a few moments, peddle the feet.

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From downward dog, bring one foot forward planting it between your hands in a lunge. Option to keep the back leg active or to lower the knee. This pose works into the hip flexors which can help stabilize the low back as well. However, we don’t want to work into them too much- only go to wherever is comfortable. Now we will take a tiny twist. If you have been advised to not to twist by a doctor- please don’t do so. Plant the hand on the inside of the foot and use your core to raise the other, exhaling and twisting toward the bent knee. Keep foot firmly planted. Breathe. Lower and DO THE OTHER SIDE. Downdog, opposite foot forward. Lunge. Twist. Exhale, sitting back into child’s pose, head to mat arms in their most comfortable position for you.When ready inhale, push back into down dog.

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Exhale float into plank. Inhale back to down dog. Flow here with the breath. When complete, walk your feet up and into a forward fold. Take a moment to breathe. Notice your spine. I suggest bending your knees to help stabilize. You can also place a block in between your thighs (this is my favourite). You can now either float up into chair pose (using the core! Be careful of the low back, is it dipping forward?) or sit back into boat pose. For boat pose bring feet and arms off the ground and engage the core. Inhale, bend the knees, exhale straighten them. Lengthen through the crown of the head- keep your spine long and pain free!

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Exhale, lay back. Take it sloooow. Hug the knees into the chest. Rock back and forth, massaging you beautiful wonderful spine. It is what carried you here to practice today, say thank you for all it does FOR you, for it is never working AGAINST you, though it may feel that way. Takes some twists if available to you. Stretch out your hamstrings by lifting one leg closer to you body. Then allow your body to melt into the earth. I invite you to revisit your intention. Does your body feel different than it did before you practiced today? Where? How can you bring more love into those areas? More appreciation?
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Allow yourself to breathe and feel, feel and breathe. Your spine is the core of your being, the centre of your body in this world of form. It has curves, just like everyone else. It has bones that protect and synovial fluid that keeps it moving. It can move in 7 different directions and guides you through your day and sleep. Whether it is off balance or laying in its 4 natural curves, it is there, working ever so hard for you. Love it, no matter how it looks. Help it, no matter how it feels. Love it,because it is a part of the wonderful,beauty of you.

The videIMG_8637.jpgo of this practice is posted on my Instagram. If there are any questions at all, ever, big or small, please feel free to email me. I’d love to hear comments, questions, concerns, epiphanies or requests.

Namaste

xoxox