Benefits of Yoga Retreats

 

 

The main reason I go to my yoga mat every morning is because there I find a safe space for exploring the interconnections between my body, my breath, my emotions and my mind. My practice is a process of integrating all these different aspects of myself into the present moment. For me, the practice creates a sense of balance, meaning and purpose. My practice sets up the tone for my day,for my actions and for my interactions with others. In other words, my yoga practice prepares me for participating harmoniously in my life.

Our Yoga practice offers us a refuge where we can center and connect to the best possible version of ourselves. That’s why one of my favorite activities is to go on Yoga Retreat because away from the usual distractions I can create a space to invest time cultivating a more intimate relationship to my own being.

The retreat provides a place where we can:

  • forget about our usual tasks, chores and responsibilities
  • have time to rest and relax
  • reconnect with what is truly important to us
  • verify that we are moving along the best path to contribute our uniqueness to the world with grace, kindness and friendliness

Of course, since we are social beings, our journey is made sweeter by sharing with other people who are also exploring ways to be in greater harmony with themselves and with the world.

I would like to invite you to join me for the Joyful Being retreat in Costa Rica from June 3rd to June 10th, 2017. Everything is ready for you: a beautiful location in the natural environment of the Costa Rican mountains, comfortable accommodations, delicious food and plenty of time to rest, relax and recharge. Join me on this unforgettable journey!
For more information on this wonderful yoga retreat in Costa Rica please visit the website below:
yoga-here-now.com/retreats.html#next

Peace,
rubén

Affordable Yoga Retreat Costa Rica

Simple guided meditation with Rubén

 

 

Learning to Breathe efficiently

SeagullsBeach

 

 

Recently, at a social function i was unexpectedly and pleasantly surprised. My wife and i were talking to somebody we had just met and eventually this person mentioned that she liked yoga. I asked her about her practice and could not believe my ears when she said that her favorite aspect of yoga was Pranayama, the breathing awareness practice, and that she practiced her pranayama exercises 6 days a week for an hour each day. I found her response truly inspiring because it is quite unusual for me to meet people with a consistent pranayama practice.

It seems rather obvious that our breath is essential to our life. Some of the benefits from breathing consciously include:

  • Breathing keeps us alive
  • Breathing can help us focus
  • Breathing can help us release stress
  • Breathing can be energizing
  • Breathing can be relaxing
  • Breathing can help relieve pain
  • Breathing can help us be present
  • Breathing massages your organs
  • Breathing can enhance your mood
  • Breathing can strengthen the heart and lungs

With so many benefits, i would think that more and more people would be interested in tapping into this FREE resource for improving our quality of life, well-being and overall health.
In yoga, in my opinion, the two single most important elements in the practice are awareness and breathing. Yoga without one or the other is robbed of the tools that make yoga powerful and transformational.

Unfortunately, very often i hear from students:&lquot;i really don’t know how to breathe&rquot;. Also, often during class i notice that not everybody is clearly attuned to their own breathing process, and ability. I know that making the breath the keystone of my yoga practice, has had a powerful effect on the quality of my practice and on the quality of my life, attention and energy level.

If you are reading this right now, you are breathing well enough to stay alive. The question is, are you breathing efficiently and to your full capacity?

You can test your breathing awareness pretty easily:
Observe your breath without changing the way you are breathing at this moment notice:

  • Is your breath continuous?
  • Is your breath steady?
  • Do your exhalations empty your lungs fully?
  • Is your breath smooth?

If you answered yes to all the questions, it is likely that you have a good level of what i call Breathing Intelligence.

If you answered no to any or all of the questions, i would submit that you can benefit from simple and easy breathing exercises.

For instance, you can try these simple ideas for a few minutes each:

In a comfortable position, relax your belly and allow your belly to move freely in response to each inhalation and each exhalation. It is important to remain relaxed and to breathe without forcing or agitation.

Keeping your breath relaxed, try to minimize the interruptions or pauses between the inhalation and the exhalation.

After a few minutes of trying the exercises above, notice if your mind got a little bit more relaxed and if you feel calmer and with less tension. I you found these simple ideas helpful, i would like to invite you to give yourself the treat of conscious breathing for a few minutes every day and notice the effect these simple, free exercises have on you, your mood and attitude.

There are other easy breathing exercises you might enjoy:

To increase your breathing intelligence, you may also be interested in attending the upcoming workshops:
BREATH FOR HEALTH & VITALITY: Introduction to Pranayama 1 & 2

For more information and to sign up:
http://www.yogaetcstudio.com/schedule-classes/workshops/
Yoga Etc, 727-644-4554, 3338 Tyrone Blvd. St Petersburg, FL 33710

Namaste,

rubén

 

 

Complete Yogic Breathing for Health, Calmness and Concentration

 

 

If you are alive, you are breathing. A remarkable aspect of the respiratory system is that it can work automatically, that is without our conscious intervention; but the breathing system can also be directed by our conscious mind. In yoga we know that the quality of our breath has a powerful influence in the quality of our life, in the way we feel physically, mentally and emotionally.

As a student of yoga I have been exploring a variety of ways of breathing for a number of years and i remember that it was quite confusing to know how i was “supposed” to breathe during the practice of yogic postures. Most of us, are never trained in the art of breathing and thus it is not surprising that we may not be very aware of the wide range of options that we have for breathing. For instance, on a regular basis I notice that some people, in order to calm the mind and feel peaceful, try to take “a deep breath” as a forceful inhalation into the upper chest, and they experience some confusion when they feel that “deep breaths” seem to have the opposite effect to the one they are looking for. The explanation is that breathing intensely into the upper chest tends to generate a response of alarm and, in many people, it can also create a feeling of anxiety.

When exploring breathing techniques, it is common to come across the word diaphragmatic breathing. However, i have learned that the definition of diaphragmatic breathing is different for different people. Some people even argue that all breathing (with very few exceptions) is diaphragmatic because it involves the diaphragm, the main muscle in the breathing process.

The video below offers a, hopefully simple, approach to breathing that guides you into deep and easeful complete breaths in a way that connects you with the complete range of movement of the diaphragm. I find that breathing in this way can help us improve our general health, it can calm our mind and it can be a helpful tool to focus the mind. Please keep in mind that there is no need to struggle, strain or force. This is important! The breath needs to flow without abruptness and without any agitation. Notice towards the end of the video that there is a way to make this exercise even more powerful.

Since many of us have not been practicing this type of breath,it may take several weeks for us to grow in our awareness of the expansion of the torso. So, this way of breathing can also teach us how to be patient. It is worth giving this exercise your time and attention every day. As you do, notice the effect that complete yogic breathing has on you at all levels. I hope that you enjoy breathing this way and I invite to try this way of breathing during the practice of yoga postures and before practicing meditation.
Enjoy the journey of becoming intimate with your breath.

Namaste,

rubén

Simple guided meditation with Rubén

 

 

Sitting

There are many reasons that lead us to spend a good amount of time sitting everyday. Our bodies are so adaptable that if we stay in the same position for long periods of time different parts of our bodies will adjust in a number of ways, for instance, some muscles will shorten while others may lengthen or loose their tone. Adopting a posture regularly will cause consistent and sustained changes in soft tissue over time.

Ideally, the postures we practice will be anatomically sound and will contribute to a greater sense of clarity in body, breath and mind. But even when we sit in an anatomically correct and appropriate posture it is essential to take frequent breaks so that we allow for the muscles that are contracting to release and those that are lengthening to contract. If we are sitting just standing up for one minute will be helpful.

It is not difficult to notice how people’s bodies adapt over time to sitting for extended periods of time. Some of the common patterns include a rounded spine where the natural concavity at the back of the neck and at the lumbar spine tends to disappear. This convexity of the whole back body tends to tighten muscles in the front of the torso, shoulders and hip joints resulting in limited mobility in shoulders and hips. In addition, this posture tends to constraint the full expansion of the lungs thus limiting our breating capacity including the full oxygenation of our system through the inhalations as well as the release of toxins through complete exhalations.

Keeping in mind that it is best to change positions frequently, these are some suggestions for a healthy sitting position:

  • Ground through your feet aligning knees above ankles
  • Ground through the sitting bones
  • Center the torso between leaning forward and back as well as between left and right
  • Bring the navel slightly in
  • Lift the ribcage and crown of the head up
  • Breath with long smooth inhalations and exhalations
  • Remain aligned with a clear and luminous intention in your mind and heart

Enjoy this brief video with tips on improving your sitting posture:

As usual please be aware that your own body, breath and mind offer you continuous feedback on your activities. If the feedback shows you more agitation, strain, or pain you can choose to use this information as guidance to create changes towards feeling healthier, more lucid and more vibrantly alive. Please remember that taking breaks often is a simple, inexpensive and healthful way to prevent future pain, limitation and restrictions.

I hope you find these suggestions for sitting helpful during your day.

Namaste,
rubén

 

Savor your breath: easy breathing exercise

Fall in love with your breath or at least befriend your breath.
Allow your breath be your guide to the present moment. Let your breath be the vehicle for awareness; guiding your movements and focusing your mind while at the same time refreshing and nourishing you.

Often pranayama is translated as breath control, however, ayama in Sanskrit means to stretch, expand, extend. From that perspective it make sense that pranayama is about expanding our breath so that our breath and the vital energy it carries reach every part of our body. Thus, make your pranayama practice an exercise in becoming well acquainted with your breath, with how your breath flows for each inhalation and each exhalation. Allow this exploration to be guided by respectful curiosity instead of ambition.

If we recognize that each breath is unique and that we have no chance to repeat it we maybe more likely to appreciate and savor each and every breath. I would even suggest to make the breath joyful and to incorporate this joyful awareness of your breath into your day, whenever you can. Certainly, incorporate this awareness during your yoga practice and just observe what unfolds…

Below is a simple breathing exercise to increase our breath awareness:

As I suggest in the video, practicing just this posture can be the perfect way to start practicing yoga at home. Do not hesitate to contact me with questions or to post comments to the video.

Savor your breath.
Namaste,

rubén

 

Being Effective: How to stay focused on the present

park/parque

Very often we go into a thought pattern that goes something like this:

  • “I am not where I want to be” or
  • “I am not where I think I should be” or
  • “I am not where I need to be” or
  • “I am not where I would like to be” or
  • “I am not where I was to be”.

This is not unusual. On the contrary is something many of us deal with on a regular basis. Actually, if we observe our mind we will most likely notice a tendency to give our attention to other times and places by going into planning mode, into expectation, speculation and other future-oriented ideas. Another common distraction is giving our attention to remembering or regretting and other past-oriented ideas.

I am not saying that it cannot be helpful, useful or productive at mental, psychological and emotional levels to engage with past or future. However, the only place where we can be effective is in the only place where we can act. That moment is here and now. If we are constantly thinking about other times and places, it is difficult for us to give our complete attention to our current experience. As a result, we may miss some of the details and feedback that help us fine tune our actions.

If you find yourself distracted, you can use this simple and easy technique to help you be effective by focusing on the present. This exercise can be done in a sitting, standing, walking or lying down position:

  • Lengthen your spine
  • Ask yourself, “Where am I? Am I here?”
  • Observe your natural breath and on the inhalation mentally say, “I”
  • On the exhalation mentally say, “am”
  • On the next inhalation mentally say, “here”
  • On the next exhalation mentally say, “now”
  • Repeat for 3 to 5 rounds.

Notice how you feel. Immerse fully in your present moment, circumstances and situation and see if there is more clarity as to what deserves your full attention right here right now.

Yoga is only useful if it helps us show up fully for our lives.

I hope you enjoy this technique and that you find it useful.
Namaste

Simple guided meditation with Rubén

 

Take a Deep Breath : Calming & Relaxing Breath

Take a deep breath yoga/Respira profundamente

A simple exercise that can be used to start practicing yoga at home

I think many people, if not everybody, have heard this simple and valuable piece of advice: “if something is bothering you or you are feeling anxious, take a deep breath.” It seems quite simple and helpful. As a result of observing my breath during my daily yoga practice for several years I have come to realize how the breath is the foundation of most, if not all, yoga techniques and how it could be argued that all of the postures and movements are basically a way to expand and deepen our breath. However, as I observe how students in my individual and group classes breathe I notice a remarkable yet not surprising trend, very often taking a deep breath does not look like a relaxing and invigorating experience. In fact, for a high number of people taking a deep breath seems to create more tension and even anxiety. What I notice is that the intention is correct, to deepen the breath; but when the actions include lifting up the shoulders and tensing up the jaw the effect is not calming and relaxing at all.

From a simple anatomical perspective a slouching posture tends to limit our breathing capacity by limiting the expansion of the ribcage. Try this: Take a moment, sit in a chair and let your chest collapse onto the abdominal area, round your shoulders forward and lower your chin slightly toward your chest. Then try to take 3 deep breaths. Notice the overall effects in body, mind and general state of being. Now let’s try a different posture to notice any difference(s): Slide your sitting bones to the front end of your chair. Separate your feet hip-width distance apart or slightly wider. See if it feels comfortable to align the knees above the ankles. Spread your toes, press your feet down, and activate the muscles in your legs to create a solid foundation. Then tuck the tailbone in to make the pelvis level and press down your sitting bones against the seat. With this solid foundation lengthen your spine and lift your breastbone up rather than forward. Let your arms fall to the sides and open comfortably while rolling your shoulders back and shoulder blades down. Now try 3 rounds of breath starting with soft belly expanding then allow the expansion to continue in your ribcage and finally in the upper chest without any tension in shoulders or jaw. Once again, notice the overall effects in your body, mind and general state of being. Most likely you will notice a difference in the length of the breath and its effects. You can even try to breathe the second way again and compare it with breathing while lifting your shoulders and bringing the chest forward. Through your own experience you will notice which way of breathing is deeper and most importantly which way of breathing feels more calming and relaxing. Please remember that no yoga technique creates new pain or strain. If you find yourself straining or forcing you are trying too hard. So, please make sure that your breath is never strained, ever.

In yoga we are trying to integrate all aspects of our being. This simple exercise is an excellent example of how our posture can influence our way of breathing as well as the way we feel overall. My suggestion is that the next time we need to take a deep breath we start by creating a solid foundation through our posture. Also, if you don’t have much time to practice yoga at home, this simple breathing exercise would be the best way to start practicing yoga at home, especially since it does not take more than a few minutes and the effects will be beneficial. If you practice regularly you will notice that in addition to feeling more calm and relaxed you might also feel more energized. Over time you may even notice that your breath may start expanding gradually. Moreover, by paying close attention to your breath you will also be immersing in the present moment which will help you notice more clearly your immediate circumstances and how you feel. This is the foundation for mindfulness.

Please let me know if you find this breathing exercise helpful. Thank you for reading and savor your breath!
Namaste,
rubén

Simple guided meditation with Rubén

 

January 2012 Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica

January 2012 Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica - Enero 2012 Retiro Yoga en Costa Rica

As suggested in every practice is a retreat , when we remove distractions our practice helps us notice our habitual ways of moving, breathing, thinking and feeling. These habitual ways of being tend to limit our level of awareness and clarity. Certainly making each practice into a retreat is a valuable tool for all of us. Obviously, the power of actually withdrawing away from our usual surroundings is unsurpassed because our awareness heightens in response to a new environment and circumstances. In January this year I felt very honored and grateful to guide a yoga retreat to Costa Rica. Our group soon came together with a heartfelt sense of camaraderie and friendship clearly inspired by the beauty of the pristine rainforest, the welcoming people and atmosphere, the inviting practice spaces as well as the delicious food prepared and served with much love. I am happy to announce that we will return to our yoga haven in Costa Rica in January 2012. If you are interested in letting go of the stress and tension of the year and to start 2012 feeling refreshed, balanced and invigorated this retreat is for you:

  • 5 nights/6 days retrea
  • Arrive: Sunday January 1st
  • Begin: Monday, January 2nd
  • Return: Sunday, January 8th
  • Cost: US$1299

This is a retreat that is tailored to participants at all levels, so that each person’s level of practice benefits from a gradual natural unfolding. You are welcome to read some of the reactions to this year’s retreat.

For more information, visit http://stpeteyoga.com/retreats/CostaRicaSamasati2012.html or call 727-894-9642 / 727-458-8664.

Enjoy the day!
Namaste,

 

 

Free Yoga Classes in September at New Tampa Regional Library

I am glad to announce that thanks to the support of the New Tampa Regional Library and the The Friends of the Library of Tampa-Hillsborough County I’ll be offering FREE classes at the New Tampa Regional Library in September. Starting tomorrow, every Thursday (8, 15, 22, 29), 6-7pm, a Yoga for Well Being class for students at all levels.
Bring your mat, comfortable clothing and let’s breathe and move together.

Location: New Tampa Regional Library 10001 Cross Creek Blvd, Tampa, FL 33647-2581. Telephone: 813.273.3652