Monday, April 3, 2017

Tennis Balls for Tight Muscles - self massage techniques from Yoga International

(copied from THIS link )

Imagine you have a friend small enough to fit in your purse or briefcase who will give you nightly massages, easing stress, fatigue, and muscle tension all for a onetime cost of about $3. Think yellow. Think tennis balls.

The procedure is simple: place a tennis ball on a part of the body that is sore or tight and rest your weight on it. The pressure softens tight muscles and increases circulation. Dancers have long used tennis ball self-massage to work out their kinked-up muscles, and body workers frequently prescribe the practice for clients healing from chronic injuries. Asana practitioners searching for ways to increase flexibility and comfort in their bodies are beginning to get on the ball, too.

Self-massage with tennis balls is greatly enhanced by stretching, which further increases circulation and reeducates the muscles to rest at a longer length. Combining asana with self-massage is particularly useful for those of us who have muscles that for various reasons—injury, overuse, or years of inactivity—resist stretching. Here are some tips for using tennis ball therapy to unlock the gluteals, lengthen the hamstrings and adductors, and restore balance to the muscles along the spine.

We’ll start with a simple technique so you can get a feel for how this works before going on to more complex applications. Lie in savasana and place the tennis ball in the center of the fleshiest part of the left buttock. The pressure may be painful, but if it feels like good pain and you can relax in it, stay there for a few breaths. (If you find you are contracting muscles in defense against the pain, move the tennis ball around to find a spot that is less painful, or practice on a padded surface, which will reduce the pressure.) Relax and breathe. Imagine the breath circulating around the pressure and visualize the muscle softening over the ball. After a minute or so, remove the ball. Before repeating the process on the right side, notice how the left buttock feels flatter than the right and softens more easily into the floor.

(click HERE to read the rest of the article!)

Monday, March 6, 2017

Belt Yourself - Working the Psoas (SEW-az) - Your Knee in Triangle Pose

1) A few tips on how to best use a yoga strap (aka, belt).

2) A little bit here on how to release that deep hip flexor (that one that lets you lift your leg in front of you when walking, climbing stairs, or even helping to hold you upright) that can give you back pain if it's too tight:

3) And how to get your legs and upper body and arms active in Triangle Pose so you never lean toward the ground, but always lift up (and avoid knee problems as well).

Saturday, February 25, 2017

#PPOTD Two-week Recap (from b'yomyoga on Twitter)

b'yom yoga‏@byomyoga Feb 14
#ppotd first day teach yoga #stmadeleinesophiescenter and i'm awash in goodwill. #lifeisgood #inmydharma

b'yom yoga‏@byomyoga Feb 17
#ppotd thank your body for all it does, forgive it for all it doesn't, support it growing strong with a positive mind and deep full breaths

b'yom yoga‏@byomyoga Feb 18
#ppotd if a friend offers a shared activity - accept! companionship does the heart good (thank you Claire Young)

b'yom yoga‏@byomyoga Feb 20
#ppotd @YMCASanDiego open to the public all day today - get your family activities on!!

b'yom yoga‏@byomyoga Feb 21
#ppotd never underestimate the power of alone time.

b'yom yoga‏@byomyoga Feb 23
#ppotd #worldbeatcenter our school's 1st & 2nd graders were enthralled learning west African drumming and dance - a joy and privilege 2 see!

b'yom yoga‏@byomyoga 19h19 hours ago
#ppotd never miss a chance to tell someone you care about them

Friday, February 10, 2017

Pratipaksha Bhavana - Cultivate the Opposite - and PPOTD

At a workshop/conference/seminar I attended at Univ. of CA, SD the other weekend one of the recurring themes (for healing) was Partipaksha Bhavana, or "cultivate the opposite."

In the Sutra 2.33, Patanjali stated:
Vitarka badhane pratipaksha bhavanam.

“When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite [positive] ones should be thought of. This is pratipaksha bhavana.”

In other words, if you are feeling blue/down, you might be best served by getting up and being a bit social, having some warm comforting foods and interactions. If you are overstimulated and overheated, then a cool dip either physically (think - a pool!) or emotionally (deep breaths, a nap) might serve you well.

You can check into one of many articles are this in detail here:

But I want to comment on something topical and personal when it comes to this concept of cultivating the opposite. Our political climate is rife with distress. It's equal parts distracting, depressing, and irritating and very difficult from which to disengage. In fact, if you completely disengage you lose track of what's happening and you may feel even more lost. So, how do you stay cool headed, but informed. How do you follow your instinct about taking action with your local government but also not let negativity seep into every aspect of your life? How do you save energy for your family, your yoga practice, when you've been "fighting the good fight" all day, on phones, on line, or in other ways, especially if you job requires it.

I suggest, just briefly, take a time out and cultivate the opposite with a positive thought. Not a snarky positive one, but a truly decent, calm, pleasant, uplifting reflection on something GOOD in your life.

I am going to start posting Positive Posts of the Day (PPOTD) on which will automatically post them on my byom_jackie Twitter feed. I welcome everyone to join in to the trend, not for "hits" and fame, but to spread a bit of good will and gratitude as quickly as we can spread frustration, outrage and bad news.

Use #PPOTD or #PositivePostoftheDay and feel free to tag me on Facebook as @byomyoga or @jackiegadd or @byom_jackie on twitter - I want to see the good things happening in your life. Because that will help ME cultivate the opposite when I"m feeling like the world is a bit out of control.

Extremely humble thanks to Amy Wheeler, PhD at for the inspiration.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Solidarity and Kaivalya

I just read my son a book called The Yellow Star - recommended to me by a friend at his school, who read it to their children. I think for me this sums up everything my parents ever taught me about "good" and "right" and being strong, and being a community member. It's how I always felt in my heart and how I want to teach my son to be. It's not just about "standing up for the little guy;" it's about being willing to put yourself out there to make a statement about justice. It's about knowing in your heart that you are part of a bigger community and you must act to support it even if you are not personally needing the direct support.

The story was the legend of King Christian X of Denmark. The book acknowledges that the story in it's oral and written history, nor the version in this book, were fully true, but adapted version of an allegory for solidarity and support for ones brethren. 

The author writes in the end notes:
And what if we could follow that example today against violations of human rights? What if the good and strong people of the world stood shoulder to shoulder, crowding the streets and filling the squares, saying ,"You cannot do this injustice to our systems and brothers or you must do it to us as well." - Carmen Agra Deedy, The Yellow Star
You've read about the family that hid Anne Frank, and you've heard of Schindler's list and the woman from Poland who rescued children from the Holocaust. Many people are offended by any reference to this horrid event with respect to current political issues in the US. But I think the larger point here is that some people are willing stand up for what they believe in not with violence and guns (which happens too) or a military coup, but by thinking clearly, following their hearts, and taking a risk...and this is important.. for someone else. 

For supporting others and ourselves we have terms like have ahimsa (non harming), seva (selfless service), bhakti (devotion), sattva (purity), satya (truth), and all the yamas (ethics) and niyamas (observances) at deal with self conduct/care and ethics.... and a new one for me - KAIVALYA.

In the yoga sutras, the fourth chapter talks about moving from "I" based consciousness to self realization - a release of ego to find enlightenment. The Sanskrit term for this liberation is kaivalya. The yoga path is designed to help us find our way to our truest self, so that we may free ourselves from the idea that we are individual, and rather we are all interconnected, part of one big universe - one divine thing.

In order for us all to be free, we must not only acknowledge that we are "in this together" (in the immediate but also metaphysical sense) but also that someone that affects one affects us all - and we are obliged by the deepest consciousness to support whatever needs supporting. To stand shoulder to shoulder (or mat to mat, or heart to heart) and say "we are one."

Love and light, Om Shanti, Shalom.