Personal Practice, Yoga at Work in Your Daily Life

By Amber DeBarge Come As You Are Yoga www.cayayoga.com

& Amy Lepine, Lepine Law Group http://www.lepinelaw.com

Group yoga is really popular here in the West. In fact it has become so popular that when I started taking yoga classes, I assumed yoga was practiced in groups. And for most people group classes are a great way to make it to your mat. But traditional yoga is typically only taught to children in groups — and as we get older and our needs start to differ from others, we move to individual yoga. To create an individual yoga practice, you would likely have a teacher guide you toward a practice that would help you achieve your goals and live your best life. I have helped countless people create a personal practice that helps them get to OR stay in a physical condition that helps them and supports them in living their best life. Sometimes a personal practice consists of movement, breath, or mediation but could also be a combination of some or all of these components.

When I met Amy, she was already practicing yoga on her own, daily. A personal practice is well… personal and eventually Amy told me more and more about her practice. I feel honored that Amy confided in me and am so incredibility impressed by her intention and commitment to her practice and journey. Recently, Amy told me that she was going to share her personal practice with a group. Amy has been kind enough to share her personal practice here!

As you may already know, yoga pre-dated religion. Yoga is not religion, and although many people find there way to religion or spirituality through yogic practice, yoga doesn’t give people religion or steer them in the direction of any religious or spiritual belief. That said, if your personal practice includes any kind of religious practice AND that is what is right for you then THAT is the right choice.

I love helping people identify the things they are already doing that constitute a personal practice. Take a moment and think about what you are already doing that is part of your “ritual” which basically means you do it routinely… that you have consciously committed to the experience or activity. Examples include but are not limited to: breathing and counting to 10, bubble bathes, playing ball with your friends, surfing, walk, reading, praying. I don’t mean things you do when you get a chance, but things you do … things you make time for and schedule. Any of these self-care activities count! Now think about how these activities make you more successful at your job, a calmer better parent or partner, and physically prepare you to live a better life.

Your personal practice can be a 10 minute routine, or if you have more time it can be an hour or longer. Does your day require that you sit for extended periods of time? Do you need to have command of your voice OR is your day full of giving and leaves you needing to continually recharge?

Below Amy has shared her personal practice and her intention. I especially like the way that she has incorporated words and phrases that are particularly meaningful and useful for her life and her daily routine. After Amy’s practice I have included detailed descriptions of many of the poses. I hope you enjoy this practice or your own… Happy Practicing!

Affirmative Yoga, a Moving Meditation, Welcome to my personal practice

By Amy Lepine

I didn’t set out to create a personal practice — it is something that developed organically. I had done yoga for decades and was trying to develop a meditation practice. For me, the challenge of meditating was quieting the monkey mind. And while I always enjoyed yoga, focusing on my breath was not enough to clear my head either. So, similar to a mantra in meditation, I use words – affirmations of significance and power –  that I have matched to yoga asanas in order to keep me here, present and focused on the moment.

I heard someone once describe a mantra using the story of a genie in a bottle, the genie pops out and asks the woman, “What is your wish, your wish is my command.” No sooner does he grant the wish, does he ask again: What is your wish, your wish in my command. On and on it goes, as soon as the wishes are granted the genie again insists, what is your wish, your wish is my command. It’s exhausting and finally she gets some advice from a yogi who plucks a whisker from his chin and tells her when the genie asks for your wish, give him this curly hair and tell him to make it straight. When the genie appeared again and asked for her wish, she gave him the whisker and told him to make it straight. Over and over she gave the command, busying out the genie so she could have some peace. And that is what these affirmations are for me in my yoga practice. A way of anchoring my mind.

I come from a fairly traditional Christian background and if you did too you’ll recognize some of the biblical references that I use. I also draw on ancient wisdom and new thought. I am a student of A Course in Miracles. I have dedicated an entire asana called The Kingdom, or Warrior One, to The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. This powerful little book had a real life-changing effect on me and if you haven’t read it, I encourage you to.

I use Affirmative Yoga for all kinds of reasons. I particularly enjoy the vocalization of the affirmations. As an attorney, with the work we do, I believe it’s important for us to hear ourselves, and our truth. I use it to bring up my own vibrational level so that I’m sending positive energy ahead of me. I also find it very helpful when I just can’t meditate because I have too much going on in my mind — maybe I’m in trial and consumed with facts, or opposing counsel is stressing me out. Repeating the positive affirmations calms and centers me. Having done it for a while now, just rehearsing the movements and the affirmations in my head, without even doing the actual movements, can have the same calming effect on me.

The affirmations are designed to bring meaning to the poses. I use the primary series and sun salutes as basic structure for the flow. Altogether, it is like a prayer, a song, or a dance, that I repeat as many times as I need.

  • Setting Intention – I start in Wide Chair Stance which I refer to as Woman Holds up the World. I state the affirmation and make my intention of what I am working on or focusing on that day. Today I will hold up that part of the sky that it mine to hold up with . . . love, gratitude, or my favorite, forgiveness.
  • Grounding –  Plank position, or as I call it, Stepping stone – I am solid, I am steady, I am a steppingstone for those who come after me, bringing my awareness into the larger picture of life.
  • Self-compassion –  Downward Dog in my practice is referred to as Mind of God. I use this position to remind me to have self-love, self-compassion. The Mind of God is where I believe we live, rest, and have our being, as ideas in the Mind of God.
  • Approach the Throne – consciousness – Standing Splits, the image is bold approach Jesus taught that we should use to ask for what we want.  Here I reaffirm my desire to see myself as a child of God, an idea in the mind of God forever burning brightly.
  • The Kingdom, or Warrior One, I affirm the Four Agreements: I speak with impeccability (meaning without sin and always in favor of myself, I do not take thing personally, I do not make assumptions, and I always do my best.
  • Reverse Warrior – using all power for the good of all, I am a Warrior for Peace
  • Grounded Truth – a Side Angle Pose, the image is that I’m grounded in truth and reaching to the light, move into bind. We are Bound by Love
  • Each walking our own path, mindfully with intention.

     

 

A detailed description of most of the poses.

CHAIR POSE

1.Lay your mat out or remove your socks.

2.Stand with you back to the wall and your heels about 12 inches from the wall.

3.Bend your knees and rest your back against the wall.

4.Once you are stable move your feet away from the wall until your knees bent at no more than 90 degrees.

5.Your weight should rest in your feet with the wall for support. Only bend your knees as far as you can without forcing or pressing into the wall. You are looking for an equal balance between effort and ease.

6.To come out of this pose, move your feet toward the wall and push up to standing.

PLANK

1.Start on your hands and knees on your mat. With your hands directly under your shoulders, press into every knuckle in your hands (index finger pointed forward). Step your feet back until your body makes a straight line from the crown of your head to your heels.

2.Lift the middle of your back up so that your shoulder blades rest firmly on your ribcage.

3.Isometricly (press your hands and toes into the mat. Flex the muscles that would make the action without actually moving your hands and feet) pull heels of your hands toward your toes.

COBRA

1.Lay on your belly. Place your hands underneath your shoulders (no weight on your hands). Elbows hug in toward your ribcage. Tops of feet on the mat.

2.Press your pelvis into your mat. Inhale and lengthen your spine. With soft gluts, exhale and look forward lifting your chest off the mat. Inhale and lower you head to the mat. Repeat.

3.Feel your back muscles activate and lift and hold you off the mat.

4.Press your lower legs and the tops of your feet into the mat.

5.Relaxing your shoulders down your back leaving your neck long and relaxed. 
*Modify by pressing into hands and gently lift your chest a bit higher. 
*Only lift as long as you can maintain a consistent curve in your spine.

DOWN DOG

1.Start on your hands and knees on your mat. Curl under your toes and press into every knuckle in your hands (index finger pointed forward). Exhale, bring your belly button into your spine and lift your hips up toward the ceiling.

2.Relax your shoulders and neck, and lengthen your back. Keeping a long spine and start to straighten your legs. Relax your ankles and begin to lower your heels toward your mat.

WARRIOR I

1.Stand facing a wall. Place your hands a little lower than shoulder height on the wall and step one foot back at an angle (toes closer to the wall than your heel). Bend your front knee while keeping your back leg straight. Keep both hips and shoulders even with the wall.

  1. Lift and lengthen your spine while pressing your back heel and outer edge of your back foot into the mat. 
*Front knee bent no more than 90 degrees. (Knee directly above or behind ankle) 
*When you feel stable lift your arms overhead with relaxed shoulders.

WARRIOR II

1.Stand with your toes pointed toward
the long side of your mat. Raise your
 arm straight out to the sides at shoulder height. Step your feet out until both of your ankles are directly under your wrists. Point one foot toward the front of your mat and bend that knee.

2.Your front heel will bisect the back foot at the arch. Hips line up directly under your shoulders. Relax your shoulder blades down your back. Look over your front hand.

REVERSED WARRIOR

1.Stand with your toes pointed toward
the long side of your mat. Raise your
 arm straight out to the sides at shoulder height. Step your feet out until both of your ankles are directly under your wrists. Point one foot toward the front of your mat and bend that knee.

2.Your front heel will bisect the back foot at the arch. Hips line up directly under your shoulders. Relax your shoulder blades down your back. Look   over your front hand.

  1. Keeping your lower body here… place your front hand palm up, shift your upper body toward the front of your mat. Slide your back hand down your back leg and lift your front arm up and back. 
*Keep the focus on a long spine, lift up out of your pelvis lengthening both sides of the spine.

LATERAL ANGLE

1.Stand with your toes pointed toward
the long side of your mat. Raise your
arm straight out to the sides at shoulder height. Step your feet out until both of your ankles are directly under your wrists. Point one foot toward the front of your mat and bend that knee.

2.Your front heel will bisect the back foot at the arch. Hips line up directly under your shoulders. Place your front hand outside your front foot, on your mat. Stack your shoulders above your wrist and lift your second hand straight up in the same line. 
*Your bent knee stays above or behind your ankle.

UPWARD FACING DOG

1.Lay on your belly. Place your hands underneath your shoulders elbows hug in toward your ribcage. Tops of feet on the mat.

2.Press into your hands and the tops of your feet. Lengthen your spine and relax your shoulders away from your ears. With soft gluts, shine your heart forward with shoulders back.

2017-09-28T15:21:52+00:00