Relaxing Yoga practice for better overall flexibility

 

 

Namaste,

Full range of movement is a conscious and deliberate exploration of healthy movement including very small movements, large movements as well as movements in between. Learning to move intelligently is one way of ensuring that we keep the joints healthy and free from injury.

This is a 60 minutes practice including exploration of full range of movement in various joints in the limbs and in your spinal column. This sequence is also directed to notice relationships between different body structures, arms, legs, shoulder girdle, hip girdle, legs and spine. In addition, you will cultivate coordination between movements and integration with breathing. Finally, the sequence guides you through some simple breathing techniques for centering, relaxation and calmness. At the end of the practice there is a brief guided meditation to make the practice complete and satisfying.
In yoga there is no need to strain, struggle or self-judgment. Try to make the movements fluid and graceful. Make your breath simple and easy. Enjoy the practice with a gentle smile.

Noticing the effects during and after the practice can help you ensure that the practice is beneficial for you. If you find the practice beneficial, consider trying to practice a few times each week.

Video

Enjoy the practice and its effects.

Peace,
ruben

Simple guided meditation with Rubén

 

 

Yoga for Better Joint Flexibility

 

 

Namaste,

There is often a tendency to think that when we speak of range of motion in the joints we are referring to moving each joint to its maximum. In this sequence of 30 minutes the idea is to explore the different ways in which we can move the joints in our body. We can also use this practice as a way to observe how the movements in one part of the body are connected with other joints and muscles.

As usual, our attitude is to investigate with clarity, patience and fluidity the breathing and movements in this practice. Trust that you will receive all the benefits following these suggestions:

  • Do what you can, no more, no less.
  • Let go of struggle, tension and unnecesary effort.
  • Favor simple and fluid movements.
  • Breathe with soft and easy inhalations and exhalations.
  • Enjoy the practice with a gentle smile.

During and after practice feel its effects on your body, mind, emotional state and breathing.
What happens when you practice this sequence several times, maybe every two or three days?

Video

I hope that you enjoy your practice.

I hope you enjoy the practice and that it offers you some benefits.
Peace,
ruben

Peace,
rubén

Simple guided meditation with Rubén

 

 

Yoga guiding your life experiment

 

All of us are currently conducting an experiment with our lives. As Samuel Butler said “Life is like playing a violin in public and learning the instrument as one goes on.” As we mentioned before, most of us are not very good at predicting the future, because uncertainty is at the core of life and living. Some people are more or less successful at dealing with the uncertainty of not really knowing how the experiment will turn out, while others become good at pretending that they have it all figured out and yet other people find ways to flow in harmony with the eternal unpredictability of life. Whatever the case, your life is YOUR own experiment, and you get to decide how you want to go about it. Over two decades ago I decided to use yoga as the framework for my life experiment. I am grateful that I found yoga, because yoga has been a helpful system to help me show up to my life every day. I would like to share with you what has been most helpful to me:

  • Yoga is presence. Yoga is being in this moment, trying to pay close attention to what is happening and to what I am doing.
  • As I try to pay attention I notice that I get distracted constantly. With gentle persistence I keep returning to this moment after each distraction. Returning to this moment works best when I return without strain, without struggle, and most importantly, without self-judgment.
  • Smiling softens everything and it reminds me that, like everybody else, I am running my own experiment and that, like nobody else, I have not figured it all out.

Showing up and doing my best, is really what yoga practice (and life) are all about.

You may ask, how do I know if my experiment is working? The yoga experiment is working when there is less physical, mental and emotional pain in your life and when you feel more at ease, more cheerful and enthusiastic to participate in your life.

And you, how is your life experiment going?

Peace,
rubén

Affordable Yoga Retreat Costa Rica

Simple guided meditation with Rubén

 

 

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

 

 

5 useful tips for success in meditation

LightInRedWoods

 

 

A simple definition of meditation is: “Meditation is being with what is.” In meditation we take time to do two things:

  • meet ourselves where we are, right here and now
  • meet ourselves just as we are

Obviously, the attitude we have when we approach any activity will influence how we feel and how the activity will unfold. So, if instead of seeing meditation as a chore, we choose to see the practice as establishing an intimate relationship with ourselves, we may be more likely to enjoy it. This is key to establish consistency, because it is easier to practice something that we find enjoyable.

Favoring the following 5 suggestions can be very helpful in creating an effective and enjoyable practice:

  • Find a comfortable position
  • Choose a focal point
  • RELAX
  • Let go off any and all judgement
  • Persist with gentle curiosity

Often when we try to practice meditation we may find it frustrating to notice that the voices in our head cannot seem to stop. Another frequent challenge arises when we notice how often we get distracted. Noticing our internal chatter and that we are getting distracted are already signs that show that we can witness these activities from a different vantage point instead of allowing them to derail us. This is a sign that our meditation is working because we can separate ourselves from the habitual activites of our mind. I would suggest savoring that as we return to our focal point.

I hope you find many opportunities to enjoy connecting to yourself through your meditation practice.

Peace,
rubén

Simple guided meditation with Rubén

 

 

Yoga as Relationship: Going deeper

arch

 

 

In Sanskrit many words have a whole set of meanings. For instance, some of the meanings of the word yoga include: junction, union, putting together, connection and relation.
Even when we think about yoga from the most superficial perspective, just looking at the body, we can see that it makes sense to use the idea of relationship when we think about the physical aspect of yoga because it brings up ideas such as creating a harmonious relationship between:

  • the bones in the body
  • bones, tendons, muscles and tissues
  • nervous system and physical apparatus
  • inhalation and exhalation
  • breath and movement

Even more interesting is to notice that in yoga we are also cultivating efficient interrelationships between:

  • breath, body and mind
  • breath, mind and emotions
  • attitude and action
  • intention, attitude and actions

As we deepen our inquiry we cannot fail to notice that yoga is about the relationship that we have with ourselves because sooner or later the tools of yoga will help us notice:

  • the stories we tell ourselves (that we end up believing)
  • how those stories influence our thinking, actions and emotions
  • how those stories filter our perceptions
  • how our thoughts and stories create assumptions and expectations

Moreover, as we continue exploring in more directions we come to realize that the relationships we have established with ourselves interpenetrate with the relationships that we have cultivated with the people and the environment around us.

So the next time you think that in yoga you are just trying to stretch your muscles, consider inviting yourself to expand your definition so that you can access the full depth of the practice that will enable you to savor the complete experience of developing inner-connectedness and then moving from that inner-connectedness to interconnectedness.

Peace and joy!
rubén

 

 

Simple and Easy Exercises for Healthy Joints

Often people assume that yoga is about cultivating extreme flexibility. This assumption may be related to the media’s tendency to favor images of extremely flexible people in highly dramatic postures. However, it is more accurate, appropriate and useful to understand Yoga as a complete and integrated practice for cultivating balance in body, mind, breathing and emotions.

Since our body is constantly monitoring what we do, it takes note also of what we are not doing. So, if we choose not to move much, our body adapts according to our patterns of movement as well as our lack of movement.

When we consider the health of our joints we can keep in mind that each joint has a specific range of movement that can vary according to how much we use that joint. Here is where yoga as balancing may be useful. There may be some joints that we tend to use a lot, they may stay mobile and, if we overuse them, they may deteriorate a bit faster. Conversely, those joints we do not use much will tend to lose some of their mobility.

This video offers a very easy and simple sequence of movements to help us keep our joints healthy by maintaining the natural range of movement in our joints. You can see this brief, 10 minute sequence as a way to remind our body that we want to keep our normal range of movement. It is important to keep in mind that it is not necessary to make these movements extreme. On the contrary, by enlisting our attention and awareness, we may use this practice as a journey of exploration into healthy movement patterns. Explore these actions with ease and curiosity and please remember to keep your breath steady, smooth and continuous.

As usual, you can interpret any sign of pain as a message from your body indicating that that type of movement may not be appropriate for you at this time. As usual, after you practice it is a good idea to hydrate well and also to pay attention to the effects that you notice in body, mind and attitude.

I hope that you enjoy this practice with a gentle smile.

Namaste,
rubén

 

 

I don’t have time for this…

SandDunes

 

 

One of the many perks of being married to a linguist, is that it is easier to be aware of the importance of the words i use. In addition, as a teacher, i am very interested in using language appropriately and concisely. In addition, an essential part of yoga practice is to study our own mind, its actions and patterns (svadhyaya). So, I really try to pay attention to the words i hear and use. Often i hear expressions like: “i don’t have time for this.” As i pay attention i notice how interesting it is to explore what is meant by such an expression. I don’t have time for this seems to be used when we find an “obstacle” on our way to some destination. We are so motivated to get where we are going that we feel it would be much better, and much more efficient, to not have to deal with some unexpected distractions along the way.

This expression, i don’t have time for this, implies that we have much better things to do with our time. Often, when we use it, we are pointing out that there is something out of our plans, often something we see as negative because we have specific expectations and plans leading us in a different direction.

From the yoga perspective, if we understand that yoga is to be fully present, the practice is to actually give our attention to what is happening right in front of our eyes. Remember that our expectations are seeds for future frustrations and that those expectations will color our experiences as positive or negative. Furthermore, when we recognize that we are always only in one specific time, right here and now, in this moment, today, then it makes sense that it is important to clarify what we have time for.

One suggestion would be to make sure that we have a clear intention that motivates our hearts to move along the path that fulfills our intention. When our intention is very clear, it is much easier to decide what deserves our attention because we know if our actions are aligned to our intention. Along the way, as we recognize that we have very limited (if any) control over the world outside (ishvara pranidhana), we can learn to accept what comes our way. These “distractions” we claim to have no time for, offer us opportunities for clarifying our intention, for cultivating humility and flexibility and, quite often, those same distractions carry the gift of insight into the quality of our participation in this moment.

The next time you hear yourself say: “I don’t have time for this” i may suggest to pause and feel what is happening inside of you. Then take a soft and long breath, and perhaps ask yourself, what is my attitude right now? How does it help me to move towards my intention? What deserve my time and attention?”

I hope these ideas are useful on your path to greater joy, compassion and fulfillment.

Namaste.

rubén

 

 

Learning to Trust (or How to find your inner teacher)

FuchsiaOrchids
 

 

Yoga, when practiced with integrity, guides us on a journey towards increasing clarity and ease. Along the way, as we gradually fine-tune our sensitivity, questions emerge, especially questions such as, how can i know if what i am doing is right or wrong? If we are fortunate, we can seek the assistance and advice of a trustworthy source, somebody with knowledge and first hand experience of this process, our teacher or teachers. In the Yoga tradition, the Guru, or teacher, is that knowledgeable guide assisting the student in moving from a state of darkness, limitation or restriction to greater clarity, freedom and ease.

If we are fortunate enough to have access to a good teacher, we will probably find that the teacher will suggest a technique or practice to help uncover some misconception or limitation. Then, once the restriction is identified, we may gain more clarity towards life affirming choices. We will probably notice that the teacher will not make a decision for us, so we are still in charge of making our own choices.

Can we trust ourselves?

So, how can we know if we can trust ourselves? Very often we hear instructions in yoga classes directing us to listen to the inner teacher, inner wisdom or inner guidance. Yet, as we pay attention to what is happening inside, we often find a never ending monologue with varying opinions on what we are doing as well as on many other unrelated things. Which of the voices/opinions is our inner teacher? Is it the voice that is saying to try harder? Is it the one that is comparing what i am doing with what the person next to me is doing? Or, is it the part that is thinking about my to do list or what i should have for dinner? For most of us, it seems like we are having to make decisions constantly, and the inner chatter is more often an obstacle than a guide.

Our inner compass

My suggestion is that the majority of us, if not all people, are equipped with an internal compass offering us subtle guidance on a regular basis. One of the characteristics of this inner guidance is that it is gentle and not forceful. Consequently, external noise and distractions combined with our internal chatter may distract us, thus, making it less likely for us to notice and even less listen to that inner guidance. To verify that you have access to that inner compass, take a few moments to think about a recent decision you made (it doesn’t have to be a big decision) where, after you decided and acted according to your choice you went: “I knew this was not a good idea” or “I knew I shouldn’t have done that.” That knowing offering a light tap or inner nudge is our inner compass.

A simple suggestion

When you have to make a decision, you may get a gentle nudge, a feeling that prompts you to lean in a certain direction or to take a specific choice. It doesn’t usually come with words, that is why some people call it the silent whisper of the heart. This gentle guidance, just suggests or points without forcing or struggle. It feels like a gentle offer. It is a suggestion and not an order, so we can always make whatever choice we want, even if that means ignoring the whisper of the heart. Frequently, we might notice that if we have an expectation or if we are attached to one of the options we have, the suggestion we receive will probably be met with resistance on our part. In those cases, we will start coming up with arguments, explanations and justifications for taking a different path of action from the one suggested. I often think about a silly example to illustrate how this works: You are having dinner with friends at one of your favorite restaurants and you notice something inside of you indicating that you may have already eaten enough. However, you have not had dessert yet and this place serves one of your all-time favorite desserts. Even though you have noticed the inner signal that you have eaten enough, you may hear yourself coming up with justifications, some like: this week i have really worked very hard and i deserve a reward, or today i walked longer than usual, or i had a very small lunch today. You may even ask your friends for their suggestions or opinion. So, you convince yourself to override the internal advice. You get your dessert and eat it. By the time you get home or the next morning you will probably notice the effects of overeating the night before and you may hear yourself saying: “i knew i shouldn’t have eaten that much”. To clarify, the inner teacher offers an option, we can listen or ignore, and in the end we always have to make a decision. No matter what decision we make, we will have to deal with the consequences of our action.

Can you trust your inner guidance?

You may be asking, so, how do i learn to trust my inner guidance? Think about the many times you have felt that gentle nudge telling you to do something. Now, notice how many times you have chosen to ignore that nudge and you have ended up saying, “I knew this was not such a good idea!”. Probably, every single time. In contrast, think about how many times you have chosen to listen to that internal suggestion and have been glad you did. Most likely, every single time. Moreover, consider if the suggestions you receive ever work against you and the evidence from your own life will show you that the inner guidance you receive always works to your own benefit –even if you do not understand the logic behind it at the time. If your inner guidance offers you options to your own benefit every single time, why not give its suggestions a fair a chance the next time? Most likely you will not regret it.

Try this simple approach

Pause
Next time you need to make a decision, (maybe start with something simple), be willing to pause and listen. Maybe even ask internally, what would be best?
Pay attention
Listen with curiosity. The answer may not come in immediately, it may come in as a few words in something you are reading, or a song that you are listening to, or as part of a conversation you are having or on a billboard on the side of the road. As you notice something that resonates with you, see if it relates to your question, situation or dilemma. Learn to notice the difference in sensation when you are trying to convince yourself and when the message comes from deep inside of you.
Act
Follow the guidance without struggling.
Notice the outcome.
If it works and you end up in a place of a little bit more clarity and ease, consider repeating this procedure over the next couple of weeks. Notice if this helps you feel better and happier more often

I might add, that you can combine the approach suggested in the previous article about not trying to predict the future with trusting inner guidance.They work quite nicely together.

As always, I hope you find this useful.

Namaste.

rubén

Simple guided meditation with Rubén

 

 

i am glad that i am not good at predicting

riverBifurcation

 

 

Yoga can be understood as both the state and the tools to meet ourselves right when and where we are. However, for most of us, any time we attempt to meet ourselves where we are, we find that it is quite difficult for us to be fully present because our mind is usually preoccupied with never-ending thoughts, ideas, plans, memories, regrets, fears, etc. In other words, it is difficult for us to be fully engaged with the moment we are in because our mind is already filled with other, seemingly more important or pressing, matters. For instance, every time we try to practice some aspect of yoga, we may notice how it takes some time for us to overcome the tendency of our mind to continue moving in the direction it was moving. It is important to note that this is absolutely normal, particularly when we consider that we have been training our mind to keep running tabs on an ever expanding list of things.

Of course, every time that we notice our mind’s pattern we can choose to feel frustrated by our lack of mind control. Instead, the yogic way could be to try to notice what is it that we are choosing to give our attention and energy to. Once we identify this tendency or pattern, we can determine if it is helpful or not. If the activity helps us feel more balanced, vibrant and integrated, we can choose to keep the pattern. On the other hand, if the pattern is not helpful we can try to notice it and to drop it.

One fascinating pattern i have noticed in my own way of thinking and acting is the habit to predict what will happen. Upon noticing how prevalent this pattern was in me, i decided to be curious about it and to explore the pattern itself to establish, through direct experience, if this tendency to predict contributes or not to enhance the quality of my participation in my own life. What i have found, is that i have NEVER EVER been accurate in predicting the future. Even when running a simple test, like trying to predict what will happen in a few hours, i am just not good at it at all. When i look back, i am keenly aware that i would have never been able to predict my life and how it has unfolded.

In addition, the tendency to want to predict how things will go has less than desirable side effects. First, it generates expectations, also known as switching into “should” mode. Once, i have made up my mind about what i think will happen, i notice that my mind starts generating statements about what should happen. This is would be a logical development, and it would be useful, if only i were good at predicting. But, mind you, i am not good at predicting at all! Second, each prediction very easily generates an assumption that, “since i think i know what will happen, i do not need to pay attention.” Thus, the prediction also becomes a recipe to not being present, which contributes to not paying attention and to not noticing the connections between my actions and their effects.

Upon considering this simple idea: i have a tendency to predict what will happen, I learned that i am not good at it. Furthermore, i learned that my predictions generate expectations and their related frustrations as well as a tendency to not be present. This is clearly a pattern, indeed a habit, that is certainly not useful, and, honestly, a waste of my energy. So, i have been in the process of turning this pattern around, first by paying attention and noticing every time that i try to predict the future. Then, i pause and take a breath and i remember that it makes no sense to do something that has never worked.
So far, it seems to be working, and the energy that i don’t waste on predicting and frustration is available to me to be more present in whatever i am doing. Of course, as with any other habit cultivated over a long period of time, there is a tendency to switch into prediction mode, especially when we are distracted or tired. At those times, it is helpful to persist with patience and kindness towards ourselves.

Upon further reflection, I have come to realize that accepting and embracing that i am not good at predicting is actually essential to witnessing the newness and uniqueness of life as it blooms right in front of our eyes at every single moment. What an amazing gift! I am very happy that I am not good at predicting.

I am curious, are you good at predicting?

Namaste.

rubén