On & Off The Mat – A Yoga Blog

by Christy DeBurton

 

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BY MADISYN TAYLOR

 

Breaking your family patterns may be the most important work you do and the most challenging.

 

It is easy to believe that in leaving our childhood homes and embarking upon the journey of adulthood, we have effectively removed ourselves from harmful and self-perpetuating familial patterns. In looking closely at ourselves, however, we may discover that our behaviors and beliefs are still those that were impressed upon us during our youth by our parents, grandparents, and the generations that preceded them. We may find ourselves unconsciously perpetuating cycles of the previous generations, such as fear of having enough, not showing affection, and secrecy patterns. Yet the transmission of negative patterns from one generation to the next is not inevitable. It is possible to become the endpoint at which negative family cycles that have thrived for generations are exhausted and can exert their influence no longer. Breaking the pattern is a matter of overcoming those values imprinted upon us long ago in order to replace them with pure love, tolerance, and conscious awareness.

 

Even if you have struggled with the cumulative effects of family cycles that were an expression of established modes of living and a reflection of the strife your ancestors were forced to endure, you can still liberate yourself from the effects of your family history. The will to divest yourself of old, dark forms of familial energy and carry forth a new loving energy may come in the form of an epiphany. You may one day simply realize that certain aspects of your early life have negatively affected your health, happiness, and ability to evolve as an individual. Or you may find that in order to transcend long-standing patterns of limiting beliefs, irrational behavior, and emotional stiltedness, you have to question your values and earnestly examine how your family has impacted your personality. Only when you understand how family cycles have influenced you can you gain freedom from those cycles.

 

In order to truly change, you must give yourself permission to change. Breaking family patterns is in no way an act of defiance or betrayal. It is important that you trust yourself implicitly when determining the behaviors and beliefs that will help you overwrite the generation-based cyclical value system that limited your individual potential. Many people are on the earth at this time to break family cycles, for all of you are true pioneers. In breaking negative family cycles, you will discover that your ability to express your feelings and needs grows exponentially and that you will embark upon a journey toward greater well-being that can positively impact generations to come.

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BY MADISYN TAYLOR

 
Making time for the activities that contribute to your spiritual growth has little to do with being selfish.

 

Modern life compels us to rush. Because we feel pressured to make the most of our time each day, the activities that sustain us, rejuvenate us, and help us evolve are often the first to be sacrificed when we are in a hurry or faced with a new obligation. It is important we remember that there is more to life than achieving success, making money, and even caring for others. Your spiritual needs should occupy an important spot on your list of priorities. Each task you undertake and each relationship you nurture draws from the wellspring of your spiritual vitality. Taking the time to engage in spiritually fulfilling activities replenishes that well and readies you to face another day. Making time for the activities that contribute to your spiritual growth has little to do with being selfish and everything to do with your well-being. Regularly taking the time to focus on your soul’s needs ensures that you are able to nurture yourself, spend time with your thoughts, experience tranquility, and expand your spiritual boundaries.

 

It is easy to avoid using our free moments for spiritual enrichment. There is always something seemingly more pressing that needs to be done. Many people feel guilty when they use their free time to engage in pursuits where they are focusing on themselves because they feel as if they are neglecting their family or their work. To make time for yourself, it may be necessary to say no to people’s requests or refuse to take on extra responsibilities. Scheduling fifteen or thirty minutes of time each day for your spiritual needs can make you feel tranquil, give you more energy and allows you to feel more in touch with the universe. Writing in a journal, meditating, studying the words of wise women and men, and engaging in other spiritual practices can help you make the most of this time.

 

Making time to nurture your spirit may require that you sacrifice other, less vital activities. The more time you commit to soul-nurturing activities, the happier and more relaxed you will become. The time you devote to enriching your spirit will rejuvenate you and help you create a more restful life.

 

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Besides yoga-related topics, I post all kinds of good articles on my Yoga Room Facebook page about the benefits of a vegan lifestyle, recipes, etc. In case you’re not a Facebook follower, I thought I would post some of the links here on my blog too. Check them out! 

 

27 Diagrams That Make Going Vegan Way More Approachable

 

CORY BOOKER’S VEGAN 50TH BIRTHDAY CAKE WINS OVER THE SENATE

 

NATALIE PORTMAN MAY HAVE JUST TURNED 16,000 STUDENTS INTO VEGAN FEMINISTS

 

5 Tips for Making the Vegan Transition

 

30 VEGAN RECIPES FOR A PERFECTLY PLANT-BASED APRIL

 

Animal Planet to air show on Barn Sanctuary in Chelsea

 

Forks Over Knives – Plant Based Living – Official Website

 

More to come!

 

I get these at Whole Foods.

I get these at Whole Foods.

 

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Time for another installment of helpful tips from my Yoga Welless Educator training! Try these out–in your yoga practice or any time–and see if they help you improve your posture!

 

1) Align feet parallel and knees tracking forward

2) Tone legs and gently lift knee caps

3) Lengthen tailbone down

4) Side ribs long, abs toned and lifted/zipped

5) Lift heart, pull shoulder blades toward one another

6) Head floats up from back of ears, throat soft

 

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BY MADISYN TAYLOR

 

Going on retreat is a time to cocoon, so that we may emerge ready to return to our lives with a new perspective.

 

Occasionally, we need to pause – and step away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. One way to do this is to get away from our daily life and go on retreat. Far more than a vacation, a retreat offers us time to ourselves to rest, heal, reflect, and renew our spirit. It is a time to cocoon so that we may emerge renewed, refreshed, and ready to return to our everyday lives with a new perspective. A retreat gives us time for uninterrupted meditation so that we may go deep within and spend time with ourselves.

 

A retreat may offer quiet, solitude, and sometimes even silence. Retreats often take place in humble dwellings with simple fare so that our senses may be reawakened to the beauty of unadorned tastes and the sights and sounds of nature. When we spend days in contemplation, we can more easily hear our heart when it speaks to us. We also are able to really listen when a bird sings, deeply breathe in the smell of flowers, grass, or earth, and delight in a soft breeze blowing on our cheek. When we go on retreat we have time to connect to the sacred geometry of a labyrinth, discover epiphanies through asanas, or take a long, reflective walk through the woods where we can give each step our full attention.

 

Without the pull of deadlines, relationships, the Internet, or other media, we give ourselves time to go deep into our own solitude where we can fully reflect on our joys, sorrows, and fears, owning and releasing them as needed. We may even come to know and understand our life path more deeply. Hopefully, when we return home, we can take a little bit of this time alone back with us and create the space for deep reflection on a daily basis. We also may come back to our life renewed and ready to take on the world. The beauty of going on retreat is that no matter where you go or how long you stay, you’ll always meet yourself when you get there.

 

Check out the details HERE for The Ann Arbor Yoga Room’s 2019 Fall Retreat. Join us!

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Plantar fasciitis is a pretty common complaint that I hear from yoga students. Since I just had another student asking me about it I thought I would post these two short videos from some anatomy-based yoga teachers here so that you can educate yourself in the hopes of preventing plantar fasciitis yourself, or mitigating it the next time you have a flare up. And…remember what I always say about lifting your arches in poses like Warrior 1?!?! It can make all the difference in the world. 

 

 

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BY MADISYN TAYLOR

 

Remembering to pause and take a breath before we react, can shift the energy of the outcome.

 

We have all had the experience of reacting in a way that was less than ideal upon hearing bad news, or being unfairly criticized, or being told something we did not want to hear. This makes sense because when our emotions are triggered, they tend to take center stage, inhibiting our ability to pause before we speak. We may feel compelled to release the tension by expressing ourselves in some way, whether it’s yelling back at the person yelling at us, or rushing to deliver words of comfort to a friend in trouble. However, there is much to be said for teaching ourselves to remember to pause and take a deep breath before we respond to the shocks and insults that can come our way in life.

 

For one thing, our initial response is not always what’s best for us, or for the other people involved. Reacting to childish rage with childish rage will only escalate the negativity in a situation, further ensnaring us in an undesirable dynamic. Similarly, when we react defensively, or simply thoughtlessly, we often end up feeling regret over our words or actions. In the end, we save ourselves a lot of pain when we take a deep breath and really tune in to ourselves, and the other person, before we respond. This doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t say anything, although in some cases, that may be the best option.

 

Some situations require a fairly immediate response, but even just a moment of grounding ourselves before we do so can help enormously. The next time you find yourself wanting to react, try to pause, and in that pause, take a deep breath. Feel your feet on the floor, the air on your skin, and listen for a response to arise within you, rather than just going with the first thing that pops into your head. You may find that in that moment, there is the potential to move beyond reaction and into the more subtle and creative realm of response, where something new can happen.

 

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Some of you may have heard me mention the year-long Yoga Wellness Educator training I am in the midst of taking. Although I’ve been teaching for over 20 years, there is always so much more to learn. This training is a great source of continuing education for me, especially because most of the classes are taught by physical therapists and doctors who also happen to be yoga instructors. I am excited to bring what I’m learning into my group yoga classes and private sessions, and am happy to report that at least one of my students has commented on all the new cues and concepts she notices me giving students to work on! 

 

Besides bringing new ideas into my yoga classes, I will also be sharing some learnings on my blog and Facebook page from time to time. I thought I’d start with the topic of balance, since it is something that gets more challenging as we age. 

 

Per one of my recent trainings, 7 things that can affect your balance as you get older are:

  • Changes in your inner ear
  • Infections
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Circulatory problems
  • Lower activity level
  • Poor leg alignment
  • Weak spinal muscles

 

Do any of these sound familiar to you? If they do, be kind to yourself when you practice balances and just do what you can. As I always say in class, even if you don’t hold the balance perfectly, just the effort you’re putting forth is making you stronger!

 



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BY MADISYN TAYLOR

 

There is power in knowing your personal limits – your willingness to accept these limits can give you the means to flourish.

 

Every human life is defined, to some extent, by limits. No one person is capable of fulfilling every possibility. We are all born with unique aptitudes and sensitivities, and it is these qualities that largely determine the paths we will travel in life. What invigorates, excites, and inspires one individual may exhaust or overwhelm another. When we understand what we as individuals are capable of reasonably handling, we gradually learn to accept that we have control over our wellbeing. Yet determining where our limits lie can be difficult, as it is likely we have been told time and again that the discomfort, fatigue, and stress we felt while engaging in activities outside the range of our comfort zones was all in our heads. If you have never before given thought to the notion of personal limits, creating a list of those tasks and situations that leave you feeling drained can give you insight into your own.

 

You will know definitively that you are operating within your limits when you have the necessary energy and drive to address your personal and professional commitments. This is not to say you should not push yourself or work to extend the range of your capabilities. The wisdom you gain through dynamic self-examination will give you the tools you need to create an individual life strategy that allows you to achieve your goals without compromising yourself or your needs. The limits you honor by focusing your energy on what you can do rather than what you cannot do will not interfere with your ambitions unless you allow them to interfere. You can thrive within your limits, actively shape your circumstances, and avoid anguish by simply recognizing that certain aspects of life nourish you while others drain you, and doing your best to perceive the fine line between applying yourself diligently and overworking yourself.

 

You may be surprised to discover that your limits change over time. Your willingness to accept these limits as they reveal themselves to you can smooth your passage through life and give you the means to flourish.

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I thought I’d write a little blurb and post some pictures to show what we’ve been doing in the Yoga Immersion Program so far this winter! We’ve had some great discussions revolving around the 8 Limbs of Yoga and the qualities of a good yoga teacher/yoga class. We’ve touched on the benefits of using pranayama (breathing techniques) and the bandhas (energy locks) in our yoga practice. I think the most ‘a-ha moments’ have come from our Posture Clinics, as the pictures below demonstrate: examples of hanging in your shoulder joints in Down Dog vs. finding stability and using your shoulder muscles more; using the wall and blocks to find proper spinal and knee alignment in standing poses like Warrior 2, and more. It has been great to spend time ‘geeking out’ about yoga with fellow enthusiasts this winter. I look forward to more Posture Clinics, sharing how to design a well-rounded yoga class, discussion of the Yoga Sutras and more over the next couple months!

 

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