Tag Archives: focus

Yoga Break 4 Writers: Got Distracted? Refocus and Center

Did you get distracted? Hit a mental brick wall? Lost your train of thought? Ate too much Thanksgiving Turkey? No problem. Yoga’s balancing poses help you to focus, center, and be aware. When I get distracted or lose my train of thought, I do Tree Pose. It takes a lot of focus and concentration to complete Tree Pose, so after you’ve gotten in the pose, use that focus to finish writing.

You can use the desk to balance you, if necessary. Tree Pose is good for refocusing and centering your mind. When you are writing/working, there are often distractions or your mind might start to wander. Just stand up and do Tree Pose, making sure that you tailbone is tucked in, your shoulders are down & back, your abdominal muscles are engaged, and your gaze is focused on a non-moving object.

Stand up straight in proper posture, which means that all parts of your body are engaged. You are the trunk of the tree, strong and powerful. Tucking your tailbone in, tightening your buttocks, pressing your shoulders down and back, and raising your knees helps you to balance better. You can place your foot at your ankle, below your knee on your shin, or above your knee on your thigh. Just do not place your foot on your knee. After you get your foot positioned, turn your knee outward, which means that your inner thigh is turned straight ahead and your knee is pointing to the side. Lift your neck and head.

Concentrate, inhale through your nose, and bring your palms together in prayer position at heart level. Balance. When you feel balanced, you can raise your palms above your head. You can stop here or you can keep going and widen your arms above your head. Now, you are the tree branches and leaves, soaring, steady, and strong. As you inhale, imagine yourself breathing in light, energy, positivity, and power.

When you are ready to exit Tree Pose, bring your hands into prayer position, exhale, and bring your hands down to prayer position at heart level. As you exhale, expel all toxins, frustrations, mental blocks, and self-deprecating thoughts. Place your foot back on the floor, and raise the other leg.

Namaste and Happy Writing,
Trina

*Disclaimer: As with any exercise regimen, consult your doctor or physician before you start. The Leisure Living Blog, its contributors, or listed resources are not responsible for any injuries.

© 2009 KaTrina Love
www.leisurelivingblog.com

Yoga Pose Series:Legs up the Wall Pose

LegsUpTheWall

Legs up the wall pose is a restorative, submissive, passive pose that enables you to surrender your thoughts to peace.  It is an inversion pose that helps you to rest and center and improves blood flow to your eyes, ears, and brain. It also eases anxiety, headaches, and depression. I usually do this pose after a vigorous Yoga Flow class to warm down, before I go to sleep at night to calm my mind, or anytime during the day when I need a mental break. It is a great pose for centering and calming.

Preventing Injuries

Use caution if you have neck or back problems. If your toes, feet, or legs begin to tingle, bend your knees, and slide your feet down the wall. Because this is an inversion, it is not recommended to practice during your menstrual cycle; however, some maintain that the pose eases menstrual cramps.

Getting Your Lets Up the Wall

*You want to be as close to the wall as possible. The wall is your support. If you are not close enough, bend your knees, and scoot your bottom towards the wall.

  1. Lie on your side on the floor with your knees bent. The side of your thigh, the bottom of your feet, and the side of your bottom are touching the wall.
  2. Turn on your back with your knees still bent, your bottom touching the wall, and the bottom of your feet touching the wall.
  3. Slide your feet up the wall until your legs are fully extended. The back of your thighs and your bottom are touching the wall. Your back, shoulder, and head are lying on the floor.
  4. Gaze at your feet, which are not pointed or flexed, but they are parallel to your head.
  5. Extend both arms out to the side on the floor or place them on your abdomen with your palms facing down.
  6. Breathe deeply and easily.

What You Will Feel

You will feel a stretch in your hamstrings, lengthening of your torso, opening of your chest, and stretching in your neck.

*Disclaimer: As with any exercise regimen, consult your doctor or physician before you start. The Leisure Living Blog, its contributors, or listed resources are not responsible for any injuries.

© 2009 KaTrina Love Abram 

 

Yoga Basics Part 3: Focus, Intent, Attitude

FocusAttitudeIntentYogaIn this Yoga Basics series, we discussed how important it is to breath and listen to your body when you practice Yoga. In this article, we discuss the third most important aspect of Yoga: Focus, Intentions, & Attitude.

If you are concerned with what other people in your class are doing, you lack Focus. If you are unhappy with your current Yoga practice, then you must assess your intentions. If you are not getting the mental benefits of Yoga, check your attitude.

Focus

For most people, the Yoga Balancing Poses are their least favorite. Why? Because balancing poses require total Focus, as well as balance, control, and concentration. You must be totally in the moment, in the current pose, and Focused, to be successful. Yoga teaches us to Focus and concentrate, which is the only way that you can remember all of the correct placements of each part of your body in a specific Pose. You must Focus on you. Forget that there are other people in the class. Exorcise the images on DVDs of perfect bodies in perfect poses. To totally be who you are, where you are, in each specific pose, you must Focus. Concentrate on the instructions that your teacher gives you, how your body feels in each Pose, and on the specifics of the Pose that you’ve learned.

Intentions

What are your intentions with your Yoga practice? Is it to lose weight, to become more flexible, to exercise, to become more aware of yourself, to gain peace and calm, to eradicate depression, to treat an injury, or to become stronger? There is no wrong intention; however, you must identify your intentions. When you know what your intentions are, then you can choose the type of Yoga practice that aligns with your intentions. If you want to lose weight, then Gentle Yoga is probably not what you need to take. Bikram (Hot) and Ashtanga Yoga are faster moving, more intense Yoga practices, which are better for weight loss. If you want to stretch and relieve stress, you probably want more Gentle Yoga. Checking different Yoga Studios and classes and talking to the teachers and discussing your intentions and goals will help you to get the most out of your Yoga practice and to get started in the Yoga practice that is more beneficial to you. Visit the Studios. Research the different types of Yoga, so that your practice mirrors your intentions.

 Attitude

A positive Attitude is imperative. A negative Attitude works against you and obstructs the healing principles of Yoga. Yoga connects your mind and body, soothing your conscious, and increasing the positive functions of your body. Your mind is one of the most important organs of your body. There is a process for everything…Yoga is no different. Stay positive that you will reach your goals and reap the benefits of your Yoga practice. Every time you practice Yoga, notice the strides that you make. And you do make positive, productive, forward strides every time you practice Yoga. Your Attitude affects the mental benefits of your Yoga practice. A positive Attitude helps you to Focus and Concentrate better. It also helps you to stay mindful of the intricacies of each Pose that you are tasked with remembering and putting to practice. During every warm up session, establish your intentions and have a positive attitude.

Conclusion

Maximize the benefits of your Yoga practice by focusing inward, establishing your intentions, and having a positive attitude. Yoga is what you make it. You cannot approach Yoga with a competitive mindset, skewed intentions, and a negative attitude. If you do, you are counteracting the positive benefits of your Yoga practice. Your Yoga practice is about you. Focus on you!

Yoga Basics: Part 1
Yoga Basics: Part 2

*Disclaimer: As with any exercise regimen, consult your doctor or physician before you start. The Leisure Living Blog, its contributors, or listed resources are not responsible for any injuries.

© 2009 KaTrina Love Abram
http://www.leisurelivingblog.com

Yoga Pose Series: Camel Pose

camelCamel Pose

Camel Pose is a backbend that stretches the chest, abdomen, and quadriceps. It also stimulates your internal organs and improves spinal flexibility. Practicing backbends helps to improve your posture and helps you to stop leaning forward as you sit at your desk or drive. 

Before You Begin: Put extra padding under your knees. If you have bad knees, you probably don’t want to do this pose.

Camel011. *Rise up onto your knees, which should be hip-width apart.

2. Reach your arms towards the ceiling, and open your chest.

3. Reach your hands back one at a time to grasp your heels. If yourModifiedCamel hands cannot reach the heels of your feet yet, put your hands at the small of your back.

Camel024. Bring your hips forward so that they are over your knees.

5. Lift your nose to the ceiling, which opens your throat. But don’t let your head hang, keep control of it.

6. To come out of Camel Pose, lift one hand at a time off of your heel and put it into the small of your back to offer support to your back.

7. Counter pose Camel pose with Child’s pose to get a good balance. You can also alternate backChilds pose and forth between Camel and Child’s pose.

 CAMEL NOTES: Make sure that you push your hips out in front of you. You should feel a nice contraction in your back and a stretch of your shoulders and arms. Remember to breath…inhale and exhale through your nose. Relax your face, and don’t fight or struggle with the pose. Make sure that you counter pose Camel with Child’s Pose.

*Disclaimer: As with any exercise regimen, consult your doctor or physician before you start. The Leisure Living Blog, its contributors, or listed resources are not responsible for any injuries.

© 2009 KaTrina Love

Applying Yoga to Daily Living

Tree Pose

As a professional writer, my goal is to write compelling, pertinent content, that inspires, informs, and captures the interest and emotions of my readers, but when I am stressed or distracted, I fail to pen the prose that helps my readers, which stresses me out more.  The worst thing for a writer is to be unable to write or to be able to write, yet be unable to focus and pull enough concentration to write useful, effective content. The result is decreased confidence and productivity. Lately, when I sit down to write there are often so many ideas, words, situations, and problems assaulting my mind that I cannot concentrate or focus. The problems and responsibilities of the day descend upon me at the very moment that I sit down, still my mind, and conjure my creativity and innovation to write. All of that chatter, noise, and chaos shows up in my writing, and I end up being unable to use it.

In Yoga, when we perform balancing poses there is so much to think about as we attempt the pose: are our feet straight ahead, toes spread, weight evenly distributed on the foot, are our hips squared, shoulders down, tail bone tucked in, chest lifted, arms, legs, and neck in proper position, if I straighten will I lose the balance. But Yoga teaches us to harness those thoughts into one fluid motion so that our only concern is where we are in the moment, thoughts on nothing but the pose and breathing. That is the main purpose of the balancing poses, to make us focus, be present in the moment, and to control our thoughts.

One day after a very successful practice with balancing poses, I thought, what if I could bottle up this focus & concentration that I get from Yoga and let it loose while I write. And then I realized later on, as I sat in front of my computer rewriting, that I can apply that discipline to writing and other projects too. If I grab one idea, word, thought, or a single character, I can streamline my thoughts and channel them to one pertinent space.

It helped! Now, I can concentrate on one character at a time and make each scene applicable to one character, even if there are multiple characters involved. For my creative non-fiction, I take one phrase, word, or scripture, and I narrow my thoughts to one entity. If thoughts of other items arrive, I invoke  the discipline that Yoga teaches me. I simply bring my focus back to my breathing and that one item I am nurturing, which helps me to avoid distraction and continue to completion with my original thought.

 There are so many things that I learn in Yoga that I can apply to a multitude of areas in my life. I’m more disciplined, in tune, and aware. I’m learning to integrate the principles of my Yoga practice into my everyday life. And it is helping tremendously.

Namaste & Happy Writing
Trina

*Disclaimer: As with any exercise regimen, consult your doctor or physician before you start. The Leisure Living Blog, its contributors, or listed resources are not responsible for any injuries.

© 2009 KaTrina Love Abram

Writing and Yoga

author03Writing and Yoga

It takes courage, discipline, and perseverance to write. As I write, there is a duplicitous, imaginary critic peering over my shoulder chastising me for using the wrong grammar, not rewriting immediately, and any number of other things. We are encouraged to block out that inner critic, but to no avail. That inner critic hates that I stifle it and summon it whimsically.

Yesterday, I read an article by  Jen Grisanti entitled Writing and Yoga. When I first read this article I was floored because I am a Yoga fanatic. After I thought about it, since I’ve been practicing and teaching Yoga, I haven’t fought with my inner critic. I don’t beat the critic away with a stick to concentrate. That critic is tucked away until I summon it. And I cannot pinpoint the day that I took control over my inner critic instead of my inner critic controlling me, but I know that Yoga was an accomplice.

Tree Pose

Yoga helps me in so many ways that I cannot list them all. Yoga and writing go hand-in-hand. When I practice Yoga, I focus, concentrate, and center. Yoga is a mental exercise in self and body awareness and balance. Through breathing (prayana), the body and mind connect, and this state-of-mind does not go away after my practice is complete. Sun Salutations stimulate and warm the body (among other things) and balancing poses, such as Eagle, Warrior III, and Tree Poses, help you to balance, focus, and be in the moment. Balance is very important in Yoga. For every pose (asana) there is a counter pose. If you do something on the right, you must do it on the left too. Focusing and balancing help me to grab one thought at a time, deal with it, and move on to the next thought. I reach inside of myself and literally pull my creativity out, mentally, as I am meditating after Yoga.

So when I sit down to write, my creativity is stimulated, alive, and vibrant,100_2534 (2) coaxing confidence. I can focus on one thought at a time, I’m peaceful and calm, and my mind is lucid. I accept where I am at the moment and embrace my limitations. I am patient with myself. This focusing, balance, acceptance, and patience blankets me as I sit at my keyboard and escape into my plot, allowing my characters to live and breath through my fingers.

If you are a writer, embracing Yoga can enhance your  creativity and writing as well as your mental, physical, and emotional dexterity. I would love a Yoga/Writer retreat.

Namaste & Happy Writing,
Trina

© 2009 KaTrina Love Abram

Yoga: Sun Salutations Part 2

Yoga01Sun Salutations Part 2

By Trina Love Abram

 Lastweek in Sun Salutations Part 1, I gave you a Sun Salutation series that contained base Yoga Poses. There are a variety of ways that you can customize Sun Salutation, and this week, I’m giving you a harder variation.

Sun Salutation is a Salute to the Sun. We are advised to perform this vinyasa just as the sun is rising. The Sun Salutation series is an invigorating, body warming, flow of poses that improve strength and flexibility. Do Sun Salutations right after you warm up to prepare your body for the remaining poses in your Yoga practice. The base poses in the series are: Mountain Pose, Forward Fold, Plank, Four-Limbed Staff Pose, Upward Facing Dog, and Downward Facing Dog. In Sun Salutations Part 1, we added a lunge to the base poses. The lunge is either a low lunge (gentler Yoga), which occurs with one knee on the mat, or it can be a high lunge with your knee off of the mat.

Today, we add Warrior I Pose and Chair Pose to our Sun Salutation series.

100_2491

Warrior I

 

Warrior I is a powerful pose that strengthens the thighs and the calves and stretches and opens the back muscles, the chest, and the shoulders. It builds, shapes, and tones the entire lower body. It tones the abdominal section and helps to prevent, reduce, and eliminate back pain. Because we are moving the entire upper body, Warrior I increases the respiratory system’s capacity. It can reduce fat around the hips and tone the ankles and knees.

*Disclaimer: As with any exercise regimen, consult your doctor or physician before you start. Injuries can occur if you do not  have a licensed instructor present when you do these poses, especially for the first time. Leisure Living, it’s contributors, or listed resources are not responsible for any injuries. Remember to always listen to your body. Yoga isn’t about straining or pain. Also, match your breath with the poses to get the maximum effect.

 

Chair Pose

Chair Pose

 

Chair Pose works the muscles of the thighs and reduces flat feet. It also strengthens the spine, ankles, and calves. When correctly in this pose, you stretch your shoulders and chest. Chair pose also stimulates the abdominal organs.

 

To do Sun Salutation with Chair & Warrior Poses:

  1. Stand in Mountain Pose: Legs strong, spine straight, tail bone tucked,
    torso lifted, hands to your side, regal head.

    Mountain

    Mountain

  2. Inhale into Chair Pose: Bend your knees and stick your tail out as if you are sitting in a chair, attempting to make your thighs parallel with the floor. Lift your chest and torso. Make sure that your knees do not pass your toes. Most of your weight is on the heels of your feet. Engage your abdominal muscles to assist your thighs.
  3. Exhale into Forward Fold Pose: Lead with your chest as you fold toward the mat, as you straighten your legs, and sweep your arms down in an arc to rest on the back of your calves. Gaze at your toes.

    Plank Pose

    Plank Pose

  4. Inhale and then Exhale into Plank Pose: Jump or step your feet back to stretch your body out. Your feet are tucked under, abdominal and glutal muscles are contracted, and arms straight and strong. Alternately, you can stay on your knees.
  5. Lower into Four-Limbed Staff Pose: As if doing a push up, lower down to the map keeping your elbows close into your sides, and hover just above the mat. 
  6. Inhale into Upward Facing Dog: Straighten your arms, and using teh strength of your arms, pull your chest forward and up. Nothing on your body touches the mat except your palms and the front side of your feet. Press your pelvis to the map without touching the mat. Keep your legs active, and tuck your tailbone under. Keep your shoulders down and back away from your ears. Look slightly upward.   
  7. Exhale into Downward Facing Dog: Tuck your toes under, push your tailbone up and back. Press your chest toward your
    4 Limbed Staff

    4 Limbed Staff

    thighs, hang your head between strong arms, and gaze between your knees.

  8. Inhale and pull your right foot up between your arms into Warrior I: Pivot your left foot at a slight angle or lift on the ball of your left foot (which ever is comfortable). Lunge forward on your right leg, your knee must not go past your toes (if it does, pull your right foot up). Your eventual goal is to have your thigh parallel to the floor. After you are balanced, pull your arms up towards the ceiling, lifting your ribcage away from your pelvis, shoulders down and back. Lift your chest. Look striaght ahead. Feel powerful.
  9. Exhale back into Plank Pose: Place your hands on either side of your right foot, and pull the right foot back into Plank Pose.

    Upward Facing Dog

    Up Dog

  10. Inhale into Upward Facing Dog.
  11. Exhale into Downward Facing Dog.
  12. Inhale and pull your left foot up between your arms into Warrior I:
    Pivot your right foot at a slight angle or lift on the ball of

    your right foot (which ever is comfortable). Lunge forward on your left leg, your knee must not go past your toes (if it does, pull your right foot up). Your eventual goal is to have your thigh parallel to the floor. After you are balanced, pull your arms up towards the ceiling, lifting your ribcage away from your pelvis, shoulders down and back. Lift your chest. Look striaght ahead. Feel powerful.
  13. Exhale into Plank Pose.
  14. Inhale into Upward Facing Dog.

    Down Dog

    Down Dog

  15. Exhale into Downward Facing Dog.
  16. Inhale and walk or jump your feet to the front of the mat just behind your hands. Your knees can be slightly bent.
  17. Exhale into Chair Pose.
  18. Inhale into Mountain Pose.

Namaste,
Trina

*Disclaimer: As with any exercise regimen, consult your doctor or physician before you start. The Leisure Living Blog, its contributors, or listed resources are not responsible for any injuries.

© 2009 KaTrina Love Abram