Ashtanga and Ayurveda workshop with Mary Flinn – Reflections by Gert McQueen

Satyana Yoga Studio workshop participants

Satyana Yoga Studio workshop participants

What: Ashtanga & Ayurveda workshop with Mary Flinn

When: October 17-19, 2014

Where: Satyana Yoga Studio (Facebook and Website)

by Gert McQueen

Unknown to Kathy Falge, our most excellent Ashtanga instructor, when she set up this weekend of great yoga for us, there also was scheduled, in the building, the annual ‘Haunted House’. Our yoga studio is on the second floor of a ‘historical’ Paddock Arcade building, in Watertown NY.

The first session of our workshop started Friday at 5:30p.m., just as the first group of folks arrived to be ‘scared’ by ghosts, ghouls and other creepy creatures. The ghoul-guides were helpful, in directing, both folks arriving for yoga and those wanting to be scared, in the darken stairs and hallway. The ‘sound effects’ of creepy wind howling actually was a help in keeping me (us?) focused. We were lucky, there wasn’t much screaming or banging around with the haunting as we thought there would be. We yogis were so focused, on our breathing that Dracula could have entered the room and we would not have noticed.

No doubt about it, Friday evening’s energy was quite high. Many of us, who shared last year’s workshop with Mary Flinn, were ready to do it again.

That first evening’s session was concentration on three areas of attention; posture, gaze and breath. The program said ‘1/2 of the primary series’ but that night we did the complete primary series. The natural deep concentration, on all our breathing, created a ‘natural high’. Many of us, not only experienced the high, that night, but marveled about it for a week.

While the weather turned to heavy rain Saturday morning, the session was quite lively as Mary discussed the doshas and other aspects of Ayurveda thought. She also had scheduled individual consultations during the three days. We then moved in our practice trying out various ways we could increase or decrease breath/movement for each of the doshas and for high or low energies and conditions. Before we knew it is was lunch break.

I had brought myself a bag lunch and drove to one of the most beautiful ‘park’ cemeteries we have here. I drove around one of the several ponds that were filled with the local population of ducks and geese as well as those on their migrations. They are beautiful to watch. I found myself in a visual meditation as I watched rain drops slid down the window with leaves flying around as the ducks passively drifted in the pond. Contentment!

Saturday afternoon’s session was focused on techniques used in assisting others. I paired off with Sandy, my once-a-upon-a-time Tai-Chi instructor and sometime yoga instructor. While learning these techniques are interesting and valuable, I would not utilize them myself, that is a personal preference. It is always good to learn more about yoga postures and how to help yourself and others with proper alignments.

Sunday morning’s session started with the complete standing postures of the ‘first’ or primary series, which also is the beginning of the ‘second’ series. The primary series, standing and sitting postures, is called ‘yoga therapy’ because it detoxes the body making it ready for the second series which goes into more advanced twists, backbends and more.

Once finished with the standing postures, we came to sitting on the mat, where we immediately started in on second series postures. Generally speaking, we normally do not get to do many of these postures in our class schedules. So this exploration was very helpful in learning various preparations for backbends — backbends themselves and some arm balances and head stands.

All too quickly the session and workshop ended. As always, everyone learned and shared much together. We all are looking forward to more workshops with Mary. We all thank Kathy and Jeff for all they give to us and for bringing Mary to us. And a great thank you to Mary!

~Gert McQueen

Find Gert on Twitter @gertmcqueen!

Yoga heals the body and the mind

Yoga heals the body and the mind.

Yoga heals the body and the mind.

Yoga is not just a passing fad for exercise elitists. Yoga is a safe and highly effective form of therapy for individuals seeking relief from post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety in the aftermath of abuse and trauma. Do you know how yoga works?

To learn more, read my latest story on CDN:

Yoga therapy for survivors of trauma and abuse

Namaste!
~Paula

Paula Carrasquilo is a certified yoga teacher, health coach and author of Escaping the Boy: My Life with a Sociopath. Follow her on Twitter and on her Love-Life-Om blog.

 

Yoga as therapy for victims of all types of abuse

I don’t compare or put a severity level on trauma. All trauma, regardless of the source, type, or duration, has powerful consequences and impacts a person’s identity and sense of self-worth. Also, I do not believe trauma victims are permanently damaged or destroyed. From those who suffer PTSD and abuse through military service/war to those who suffer from sociopath/narcissistic abuse as children, I absolutely believe recovery is possible.

I have tried lots of traditional methods and approaches to recovery. The one that works for me is yoga, and I started practicing yoga not aware of the impact it would eventually have on my trauma and triggers! I simply stumbled upon the healing and transformational power of yoga.

During a traumatic event and/or periods of perpetual trauma, our ability to physically move and act is hindered. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that everyone who suffers from trauma holds trauma in their physical bodies…in their muscles…in their connective tissues. The combination of focused breathing and movement that yoga requires has been proven to release that internal tension and “free” a patient slowly and gradually over time.

To add to its credibility as an effective tool, yoga is gaining the spotlight in the integrative health field. Non-profits like Boulevard Zen and Yoga Hope have provided yoga as therapy to DV survivors and to survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing respectively. Many survivors of cancer also have yoga as part of their recovery programs in hospitals and institutes. In addition, med students are even being encouraged to become yoga practitioners and teachers, so they understand the power of yoga in order to recommend yoga therapy to their future patients.

If I had not seen and experienced the positive results in myself and in others whom I have personally met and been in contact, I would not feel confident enough to share and encourage others to give yoga and meditation a try. To just consider it.

But it does require a commitment of at least several weeks of consistent practice. Recent studies conducted with older generation veterans concluded that after just 8 weeks of a regular and consistent practice of transcendental meditation (TM), vets with PTSD experienced a 50% decrease in their symptoms and triggers. That’s huge to me, considering TM requires zero movement of the physical body beyond the rise and fall of the lungs, pumping of the heart, and the flow of oxygenated blood to all our organs.

So I feel internally motivated to make an effort to influence and persuade folks who happen to find this blog to try yoga. I am starting to put together Introduction to Yoga and Meditation videos to share on this site very soon. I can’t wait to offer these to you.

For now, check out Yoga and Meditation Therapy for Survivors of Sociopath Abuse on this site.

Namaste!
~Paula

A little science behind why I recommend yoga to survivors of sociopath abuse

If you have been reading and following my blog or Facebook page, you know I love yoga and have a regular practice. As a reader of this blog and others like it, you also understand that the toxic love we experience as a result of sociopath and emotional abuse results in layers of imbalance within our body and our minds. These imbalances are a direct result of the two major players that keep us in the relationship long after the abuse begins: the betrayal/trauma bond and cognitive dissonance.

Unfortunately, these major players don’t magically disappear once we are physically outside the relationship. In many cases, these two players become stronger and more powerful (probably because we expect answers that we never receive), leaving many of us overwhelmed with feelings of hopelessness, depression, and despair.

How do we bring balance back to our lives? How do we align our logic with our hearts? How do we end the ruminations, the blaming, and the shaming and stop allowing the doubts to creep into our conscious thoughts?

I believe yoga and meditation offer the most natural and holistic approach to bringing ourselves back into the balance we desperately need and deserve.

Yoga helps to align our conscious proprioception (body alignment and awareness of our physical bodies within our surroundings) and our unconscious proprioception (those conditioned patterns of thinking that we’re often too busy to observe also called “samskaras” in yoga philosophy).

When we practice yoga, the skeletal/muscular/neuro proprioceptors (sensory nerve endings throughout our bodies that naturally ignite when imbalance is sensed) are activated and nurtured. This concurrent activation of proprioceptors in our body and mind silently work to bring us back into balance.

Poses like tree pose and warrior 3 and twists and lunges…really all of the postures/asanas, because they all require us to pay attention to our body balance and alignment…work to balance both our conscious and unconscious proprioceptions.

Do you find that as amazing as I find it?

So committing to a regular yoga practice can naturally cure our addiction and our cognitive dissonance. Other ways yoga tackles imbalances and disease:

>>Internal organs are massaged

>>Nerves are toned

>>Respiration, energy, and vitality are restored

>>Mind relaxes and anxieties are released

>>Self-acceptance is encouraged

>>Body is purified from the inside

But you worry. You have fears. You’ve never tried yoga. You aren’t flexible. You think you’re too fat or too short or too uncoordinated to do yoga. Many believe yoga is just about moving our bodies and being flexible in our joints and in our limbs.

I’m here to tell you that none of those things matter once you’re on the mat.

First, yoga isn’t a sport or a competition of any kind. If you fear doing yoga because you think you won’t be good at it, ask yourself this:

“Can I breathe and move at the same time?”

If you answered “Yes” to this questions, then you will be fantastic at yoga.

At the heart of yoga is breath awareness. Yoga requires that we come into total and complete awareness of how we breathe, when we breathe, and when and if we stop breathing. Combine this mental and thoughtful awareness of our breath with movement of our limbs and core and one is doing yoga.

It’s that easy.

Regardless of how flexible your body is when you begin practicing yoga, the healing benefits begin with your first practice as long as you do two things:

1. Focus on your breathing by paying attention to your inhales, your exhales, and when and if you stop breathing.

2. Maintain proper alignment of each pose by following the teacher’s cues and only going as deep as your body permits you to go…today.

Restorative yoga, Kripalu, Iyangar, or viniyoga styles are great options for anyone suffering from fibromyalgia, trauma, cognitive dissonance, and/or addiction. Beginner classes of most styles are also good options. Ideally, find a teacher who understands trauma and/or has yoga as therapy training.

For me, yoga is not a passing fad. I become certified as a yoga teacher later this summer. I love all of the gifts yoga has given to me and have a deep desire to bring those gifts to others.

To learn more about proprioception, read this!

Namaste!
~Paula

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