Deepening Alignment: Yoga Workshop with Avery Kalapa in West Virginia!

heartstrings flier 2014 image

Most yoga students know alignment is important, but what IS “good alignment,” and how can you use this awareness to get the most out of your practice? In this fun, experiential afternoon workshop, we will explore what is “neutral:” the archetype of key asanas (poses), through the lens of their functional anatomical architecture as well as how they move prana (life energy). As we learn to move towards neutral, our habit patterns become clear, and we can begin to free ourselves from these often destructive habits and move into greater vitality and freedom, not only in our bodies, but also our minds.

Private Sessions with Avery will also be available. Please contact her at yoga@averykalapa.com to make an appointment.

for more information on the workshop, and to sign up visit

heartstringsacademy.com 

435.232.2860

151 Feamster Road, Lewisburg WV

 

Six Things I Love About the Pelvic Floor.

In preparing for my upcoming workshop, “Yoga and the Pelvic Floor: Anatomy, Asana, and Energetics,” I am once again in a place of digging deeper, and becoming amazed at our incredible, vital, tender, strong pelvic floors… how without certain care, our bodies do become problematic in numerous ways as a result of collapse, aging, repetitive stress, and the nature of temporal existence… but that with small, committed, simple practices, with understanding, compassion, and appreciation of our bodies, we can maintain a foundation of vibrant health. Not only do we want healthy enduring function, but we want to be able to sense, enjoy, and explore all the possibilities of this special area. What is your relationship to your pelvic floor? What comes up when you think about it? How might getting in touch and loving your body help you be more in touch and loving with others aspects of your life and world?

Here are 6 things I love about the pelvic floor, in no particular order. (What would you put on your list?)

1.  The perineum! It’s so especially soft to touch, yet SO STRONG! The center of the perineum, or central tendon, is an anchoring point for all the surrounding musculature. It is a powerful epicenter of connective tissue where the following muscles insert: the deep transverse muscles of the perineum, the bulbospongiosus muscle, the levator ani, and  the anal sphincter. perineum

2.  GOOD SEX. The more awareness, ability to relax, and ability to contract our pelvic floor muscles we have, the more we can control, feel, and enjoy when we reach orgasm during sex. In healthy women, as this study shows, the stronger the PC muscles are, the more powerful orgasms are. In 1952, Dr. Kegel published a report in which he claimed that the women doing his exercises were becoming more easily, more frequently and more intensely orgasmic. However, it is key to not just practice”kegeling” but having a healthy relationship to your pelvic floor, again that important mind-body piece. The combination of healthy tone, flexibility, AND hormonal release (read: ability to relax, feel safe, dip into the parasympathetic nervous system…) is what I come up with when I saw this study that shows PC muscle exercises alone don’t improve satisfaction. In the instance of pelvic pain, for men and women, releasing and relaxing is key. For folks with male genitals, more tone can lead to avoiding premature ejaculation, and delaying and building more orgasmic power. Yoga practices that are carried out with mindfulness, and include toning and releasing pelvic floor muscles are a very good way to care for your pelvic floor and your healthy sexual expression.

3. Psoas support. A healthy pelvic floor helps enable the psoas to be long and lush, which helps to enable grounded femurs, reduce lower lumber compression, release the kidney area, inhibit habituated fear response, allow healthy space for breath and the vital irrigation and function of the vital organs.psoas

4. Avoiding/ Diminishing Prolapse and Incontinence. In both men and women, especially mamas who have given birth, toning the pelvic floor muscles is key for avoiding prolapse and incontinence. If you’ve ever jumped on a trampoline and peed your pants, you know what this story is about.  It is very important that the median muscles of the levator ani (the puborectalis bundle) have good tone in order to actively support the bladder, and in ladies, the uterus. Weakness of this muscle is almost always the cause of prolapse or incontinence. As our bodies age, this becomes much more a potential issue. Rather than going down the road of shame and frustration, what if we practice appreciating the amazing job our pelvic floor is doing? After all, it is relatively new in our evolutionary history that we have been walking around with the spine in a vertical axis, and all the weight of our inner organs resting on the pelvic floor. This clever drawing from Eric Frankin’s book Pelvic Power illustrates this major shift. With care, we can strengthen this foundation, our true core, and support our vital organs, inner body length, radiant movement, and energetic resonance. pelvisevolutionMuladhara_Chakra_by_JewelOfSong

5. Muladhara Chakra. The pelvic floor energetically relates to our base chakra, Muladhara, the ROOT chakra. Symbolized by the four petals, it makes a square shape which corresponds to the anatomy of the perineum. Energetically: earth, survival, stability/ freedom organization, boundaries, safety, being grounded.  When there is balance and vitality here, we feel safe to take up space in the world, we feel at home in ourselves, able to know what our boundaries are, in relationships, in how much energy we can give… in how much we can receive.

6. Mula Bandha. Bandhas are techniques used in yoga to guide the flow of prana, vital life energy, through our being. There are 3 bandhas, and this Mula Bandha, meaning “Root Lock” can be felt as an energetic seal, valve, or lock, that allows the energy pouring down, “apana vaya,” to be contained and sent upwards. This feeds inner body length, an important element for the 2nd bandha, Uddiyana bandha, to be practiced. The multidimensional physical-energetic action of mula bandha is key to creating subtler relationships of freedom and equilibrium in our asana practice.  This work can then radiate into our life, nurturing an ability to be deliberate with the way we use our creative energy, with how we live and connectP1020497.

Centeredness can be a deep form of self love, acceptance, protection. This work can foster a sense of knowing your own center, your own power.

 

If you are interested in experiencing some of these yogic explorations in embodied awareness, and you are in or near Albuquerque NM, join me this Sunday May 4th 2-5 pm for the workshop at High Desert Yoga. Be sure to preregister online, on the phone, or in person. Or, let me know what you think, here, or on my facebook page. I love to learn about this topic and am curious what insights you have.

Pranic Alignment

Recently, I had the pleasure co-teaching a workshop with Judy Mortellaro exploring entry points to experience prana and creating our physical asana based on this energetic alignment.

When we practice yoga, many times the main focus is on the outer layer of our being: our physical bodies. However, the shift we feel in the subtler layers (or koshas) –our energy levels, our emotions, our thoughts, and our connection to center– reveal how interconnected and dynamic the effects of yoga are to our whole being. How do we access understanding to these subtler realms? What IS the connection between the body and the mind? When we begin to explore prana, from an experiential level, we can gain insight into the dynamic relationship between the body (ana maya kosha) and these subtler layers. As we learn to feel/navigate the inner map of how energy flows, we can create our poses, and our movement through the world, from an inner listening to how the energy moves, and what combination awareness, action, and release guides the prana into a balanced flow.

Prana is the current of life. “Pra” mean consistency, “na” means life force. Prana flows through all that is alive, and is what’s missing from the body when we die. Prana is the electromagnetic field that animates and coordinates the tides of consciousness, the subatomic dance of particles and waves, the cells, the body, the systems of life on earth, and the greater universal movements and rhythms. It is what moves the breath in and out of our bodies. The circulation of fluids and the body, the currents of response echoing throughout the nervous system, the patterns of thoughts and feelings we experience, all are facets of these different layers of our being, all of which reflect how prana is moving –or not moving– through us.
Just as a river carves the earth, and creates the pathway for the movement of its waters, our habitual ways of breathing, moving, thinking, and feeling carve the path within us that guides where the prana will flow. As we develop a felt sense of these pathways of energy moving through the body, we can learn to sense where and how to open the flood gates, and where we need to contain that flow, to create balance. A crucial element to this work is, of course, the pelvic floor. As we open to cultivate apana vayu, the downward grounding  flow of prana, of energy, creating a container for our energy, sending it upward through prana vayu, becomes exciting and empowering work. Through exploring these patterns to learn what biases exist, and using yoga practice to re-organize our multi dimensional selves, we can align our bodies, minds and spirits with the greater rhythms of pranic movement, creating vital harmony within, and in the world around us.