Monday, November 20, 2017

Thank You

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Perhaps the two most important words we can think or speak are “Thank You.” When we express sincere gratitude, we spread loving kindness to everyone around us and we improve our own lives. By focusing on everything we appreciate, we open our consciousness to all the mysteries of the universe. Living in a state of gratefulness naturally invites more of what’s good into our life. It’s magic – and it’s real.

To embody thankfulness, first connect to the earth. Our beautiful blue planet supplies everything we need for life. A seed becomes a plant to nourish us. The atmosphere contains oxygen for us to breathe. The darkness of the night sky welcomes peaceful slumber. Begin in Child’s Pose (Balasana.) Fold your body forward widening your knees to give your tummy space to breathe. Gently press your forehead to Earth. Relax your arms by your side or stretch them out in front of you. Take 3 or more deep belly breaths.

Next, slide your hands forward while keeping your tail in the air. Your arms are strong and straight. Lengthen your spine by pushing down on your hands while you reach your chest toward the ground. This is playful Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana).

From here, move into Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana).  Breathe in and press through your arms to lift your head and chest off the floor. Relax your shoulders away from your ears. Tuck your chin like a magnificent Sphinx. Take long deep breaths as you ground your hips into the earth. Finish in Crocodile Pose (Makarasana.) Rest your forehead on Earth and stretch your arms overhead in a full prostration of gratitude to all that is. You may also turn your head to rest on one cheek and move your arms to the side.

Breathe deeply and smell the air. Your life is a gift. Now is the present. Thank you.


Image: Yoga Teddy Bear Thank You Sequence with fall colors by K. Mae Copham
Video: Yoga Teddy Bear Thank You Sequence by K. Mae Copham, filmed by Robert Oakley, Guitar by K. Mae Copham.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Change

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The changing seasons invites us to reflect upon change. Is there anything in your life you’d like to change? By actively identifying your intentions and asking the Universe for support, you’re already well on your way. I recently asked help with releasing rushing and welcoming in clarity, and focusing on these two aspects has already made an enormous difference in my life.


Add these five simple words and you’re well on your way to the change you desire: “I am willing to change.” By being willing and open to the lessons of life, you help remove obstacles to your own personal growth.
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Standing Star Pose (also known as Extended Mountain, or Utthita Tadasana) epitomizes our willingness to change.  In this pose you are completely open to all that life has to offer you, and your openness signifies your willingness to embrace change.  To practice this pose, stand with your legs wide apart and your feet firmly grounded. Stretch your arms and fingers wide. Make yourself look like a big letter “X”. Breathe deeply and welcome in all your experiences with joy and curiosity. Imagine you are a twinkling star, because that’s exactly what you are.


Images: Yoga Teddy Bear Plush with a background of leaves and moss in New Paltz, NY. K. Mae Copham in Standing Star, Vail, CO. Photo by Robert Oakley.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Knowing When to Fly

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As wildfires rage California, many people must flee their homes and evacuate entire towns. Others are staying behind to fight fires, report, or help neighbors escape. Part of being a warrior is knowing when to stand your ground and when to fly. This decision mostly comes from a place of intuition and inner guidance. It is also informed by external knowledge. 

The yoga pose Warrior 3 (Virabhadrasana C) – known also as Airplane Pose – is a great metaphor for the idea of cultivating warrior-knowledge. As a balancing pose, Virabhadrasana C embodies the idea that tough decisions are best made when we are in a place of equilibrium and calm.  Pose variations have spiritual correlations: arms at the sides and looking down mirror inner reflection, arms outstretched overhead suggest reaching for help from others, while arms opened fully in Airplane Pose remind us to embrace everything that unfolds in our lives.

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To practice Warrior 3, begin standing in Mountain Pose. Shift your weight to one foot and lean forward with your leg stretched out behind you. Look down at the ground for balance and lift your outstretched leg while flexing your foot. Next stretch your arms forward as if reaching for help from another. Lastly, bring your arms out to your sides like airplane wings. Breathe deeply while you imagine all the places you will fly! Can you look forward while maintaining your balance? Fly high above the clouds like a superhero. Be sure to spend an equal amount of time on each side.

As the fires continue to burn, we hope for the safety and well-being of all the warriors who left and those who remain behind. Once the danger has passed, may the best opportunities for change, growth and rebirth arise from the ashes.


Images: Yoga Teddy Bear A-B-C for the letter “A.” Available as full color book or coloring book. Photo of K. Mae Copham practicing Warrior 3 in Vail, CO by Robert Oakley.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Dive Deeper into Dolphin

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Here’s an effective way to tighten your tummy and your triceps at the same time: dive into Dolphin Pose (Ardha Pincha Mayurasana or Makarasana). Sometimes called “Pike”, Dolphin is a fantastic way to strengthen your core and arms without compromising your back. Dive even deeper by adding a forearm plank, and you’ll really make a splash!


Start on all fours with your knees under your hips and your forearms resting on the floor. Keep your hands flat on the floor, or if you prefer you can press the palms of your hands together like a dolphin fin. Tuck your toes behind you to make your way into a forearm plank. Hold for 3-5 slow breaths pulling your belly toward your spine. Next, lift your tail upward. Bend your knees or straighten your legs, but make sure your back is long and strong.
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Let your head hang or look down between your hands. From here you might walk forward and lift one leg, then the other. If it’s part of your practice you might move into an arm stand. For a short workout, shift slowly between Dolphin and Plank, holding each for 3-5 breaths.  When you’re finished, lower to the floor, turn your head to one side and breathe deeply. You’ve done it swimmingly!

Images: Coloring page from Yoga Teddy Bear’s Big Little Coloring Book of 108 Yoga Poses colored by Miss Michele Palumbo, Bay Shore, NY. Enter our free coloring contest to win prizes. Pictures of Yoga Teddy Bear creator K. Mae Copham by Robert Oakley in New Paltz, NY.