Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pain Symptoms I'm Addressing with Hands On Yoga Adjustments

Sciatica - A set of symptoms caused by the compression or irritation of spinal nerve roots in each sciatic nerve or by compression/irritation on either sciatic nerve.
The sciatic nerve is longest and largest nerve in the human body and begins in the lower back, travels through the buttocks and into the lower limb. The sciatic nerve supplies feeling to the leg's skin, and muscles of the back of the thigh, and those of the leg and foot.

Decompression Adjustments: 
In seated forward fold, ground the hips into the earth with both hands. This works to decompress the spine.

In marichyasana C, engage and straighten the spine with the meaty part of my calf muscle. Place the palm, fingers facing downward, on the back of the rib cage on the extended leg side, and grip the opposing shoulder, and on an exhale gently lift the ribcage and assist the client into the twist. The lift in the ribcage decompresses and then increases spinal range of motion.

Today is a day of poetry A.K.A. Happy 300!

Today is a day of poetry and this is my 300th post!
Here's to forward motion and thanks for reading.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Saving Your Back with Yoga

"I'll be starting a pretty intense fruit-packing job from next week. It involves carrying heavy boxes full of fruit to and fro, and since the last few months of my life I've been quite sedentary and not very active, I'm sure that if I don't warm up before-hand at the start of every work day I'll quickly mess up a muscle or my back. Could anyone advise me on a few poses that'll help warm me up for a day spent on my feet, using my arms, shoulders, and back a lot?"

Submitted by Latvis on reddit.com/r/yoga/

 Saving Your Back with Yoga by Alexander Smith

As a yoga teacher, I recommend Sun Salutations to warm up the body. You will be exercising your legs, core, chest, arms and shoulders. This sequence is taught in every Vinyasa yoga class.

During the course of your new job, it sounds vital that your spine is in alignment while you are lifting the heavy boxes.

One way to become more aware of your spinal alignment: With your toes to touch, inhale arms up, lift the chest, exhale swan dive over your legs, hinging at your hips hands to your shins or the ground. Inhale look up and lengthen your spine, exhale release deeper over your legs. In Uttanasana (standing forward bend) release the muscles in the back of your legs and butt as they are suppose to stretch. Engage the front of your thigh to straighten your knees but only as straight as possible for you don't push hard. Just breath and feel the sensation of the stretch. Yoga is a process of deepening. Take a few deep breaths here, lengthening your spine on the inhale and deepening the stretch in your back body on the exhale. On an inhale, slowly rise up to standing, stacking vertebra on top of vertebra. Feel the alignment of your spine and how the skeleton naturally holds your weight. Raise your head up last.

If you practice keeping the integrity of your spine, you will be able to perform your job healthier.
Another way to promote awareness of your spinal alignment: Start playing with the range of motion with your pelvis. Tilt your tail bone down toward the earth and then reverse this motion. Feel how your lower back arches when you tilt the front of your pelvis down and straightens when your tilt the back down. Keep this body alignment in mind while doing heavy lifting.

Friday, October 25, 2013

I know there is infinity in an instant

I know there is infinity in an instant
I keep reaching for it:
In sounds and breath.
It eludes me yet, but I am not deterred.
For its evidence is all around.

The falling leaf seesaws to the earthen path.
The wind-carried litter wafts up from the subterranean pit.
The unexpected ecstatic kiss from my lover.

Within so much magic lives the infinite.
How deep it must go.
Down from a second to a nano second to a nano-nano second to a something even smaller.
The depth within the minute is gigantic and unfathomable.

But it's there, I know it.
My mind might be too slow to see or too quick as it moves on,
But that second can last forever,
And does,
Every second.

The voice doesn't stop but vibrates on.
The leaf doesn't stop but just leaves my view.
The litter misses my leg but do I really think it was aiming just for me?
The kiss electrifies.
And something infinite lives deep within.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Intro to Meditation - 20 Minute Workshop

Intro to Meditation
In this session, we’ll take a few minutes to relax our bodies and mind, discuss what meditation is, and try a few meditation techniques.

What is meditation?

 “In meditation, the mind is clear, relaxed, and inwardly focused. When you meditate, you are fully awake and alert, but your mind is not focused on the external world or on the events taking place around you. Meditation requires an inner state that is still and one-pointed so that the mind becomes silent. When the mind is silent and no longer distracts you, meditation deepens.”
“Meditation is a practical means for calming yourself, for letting go of your biases and seeing what is, openly and clearly. It is a way of training the mind so that you are not distracted and caught up in its endless churning.”

Meditation Techniques

Pranayama -- Breath Focused Meditation

“Once the body is relaxed and at peace, bring your awareness to your breath. Notice which part of your lungs are being exercised as you breathe. If you are breathing primarily with your chest you will not be able to relax. Let your breathing come primarily through the movement of the diaphragm. Continue to observe your breath without trying to control it. At first the breath may be irregular, but gradually it will become smooth and even, without pauses and jerks.”

One-to-One Breathing – Breathing with a balanced count on your inhale & exhale.

Extended Exhale with Retention - Count to four on your in-breath, and retain the in-breath for a count of two. Exhale for a count of seven and pause at the bottom of the breath for a count of two.

Ujjai Breath – “Victory Breath” - With your mouth closed, exhale your breath through your nose as you constrict the back of your throat. The result will be an ocean sound like waves washing onto the shore. The Ujjai breath allows the mind & body to relax and provides a point of focus.

Body Meditations

Walking Meditation – with your hands gently clasped in front of you, slowly step one foot in front of the next feeling the sensation of your foot connecting with the earth. Release thoughts that arise by first recognizing them and second by focusing the attention of your mind on your walk. This can be practiced anytime throughout your day.

Body Relaxation Scan – While lying on your back in a safe place, slowly scan your body starting from your toes and ascending up your legs, torso, arms, neck, head and face. At each stop along the body, release any tension you may be holding and allow gravity to pull your body towards the earth.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

20 Minute Restorative Chair Yoga Sequence by Alexander Smith

Restorative Introduction to the Practice of Yoga by Alexander Smith

Sit Straight: Rest your arms on your thighs, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.

Neck Rolls: Begin by slowly rolling your neck in circles in one direction. Switch and move in the other direction. Look Left, Look right. Inhale, look up. Exhale chin to chest

Shoulder Rolls: Bring your head back to center and begin to roll your shoulders up and back finding your range of motion. Switch directions and feel your shoulder muscles relaxing as they move

Release Hands: 1. Raise your hands up to 90 degrees and shake out your hands, releasing the finger and wrist joints. 2. Squeeze your hands in tight fists, feel the muscles in your forearm contracting, spread your fingers wide, repeat this a few times. 3. Interlock your fingers and press your palms outwards 4. Grab the top of your hand and bend the wrist down then switch and bend the wrist back, switch hands

Ujjai Breath: As we begin to move our torso, we will link our breath & movement. Today we will practice the Ujjai breath. Close your eyes, inhale deeply then exhale with your mouth open as you make an ‘H A’ sound as if you’re fogging a mirror; notice the feeling in the back of your throat. We will now close the mouth halfway through our exhale and still focus on the constriction at the back of your throat as we make the ocean sound through our nostrils. Inhale – ‘H A’, close ‘Ujjai.’ This time inhale through the nose and exhale through the nose creating the ocean sound of the Ujjai breath throughout the entire exhale. Throughout our workshop today we will use our ujjai breath as a point of focus, relaxation and as a way to connect with our bodies.

Take a few more Ujjai breaths…inhale…exhale…

Cat/Cow: Inhale, arch your back as you stick your front body forward into Cow position. Exhale and bend your spine like a crescent moon bringing your head towards your knees into Cat position. Inhale into cow. Exhale into cat. Inhale into cow and exhale into cat. 

Side Bends: With your feet planted firmly on the ground and your seat connected with the chair, inhale your spine straight.  Feel the vertebrae stacking one on top of the next. Exhale your right arm to the arm rest or your lap and raise your left arm up towards your ear as you stretch the left side of your body. Inhale, feel your spine straighten and exhale into the side stretch. Keep your seat and feet firmly planted. Inhale slowly rise up. Exhale left arm to arm rest or lap and raise your right arm up towards your ear. Inhale and exhale Ujjai breath and feel your breath washing away any tension as your body relaxes into the stretch. Inhale back up. 

Arms Up: With your seat toward the edge of the chair. Inhale and raise your arms up about your head palms facing each other. Shoulders draw down along the back.

Uttanasana: Exhale as you bend at your hips, hands to your ankles or the outsides of your thighs. Uttanasana. Inhale lengthen your spine and exhale allow your body to fold forward deeper over your thighs. You may feel the stretch in your glutes, lower back and back body. Don’t strain yourself, allow your breath to enter any area of tension and watch as the tension begins to dissolve as your body becomes more flexible and alive. Inhale…exhale… let the head hang heavy

Modified Seated-Triangle Twist: Exhale your hands to your hips and rise up half way. Place your left elbow on your left thigh and grab your right knee, inhale, and lengthen your spine and the crown of your head towards the front of the room. Exhale all your breath out as you sweep your right arm up towards the ceiling. Spiral your chest open to twist and gaze up towards your right hand. Take three ujjai breaths here. On your inhales straighten and on your exhales allow the body to twist a little deeper. Exhale your right elbow to your right thigh and grab your left knee. Inhale, lengthen your spine and exhale, and twist open to the left side. Inhale…exhale release back down into Uttanasana, forward fold, release everything toward the ground. Roll slowly back up straight stacking each vertebra on top of the next.

Arms Up: Inhale and raise your arms up about your head. Engage your legs and core. Feel your feet connected to the earth as if roots 

Chair Eagle Arms: Exhale, cross your left arm over your right and touch palms. Inhale and rise up your arms then exhale them downwards until you feel a stretch in the shoulders. Inhale…Exhale. If you’d like to increase the stretch, on an exhale bend forward at your hips while holding your arms in position. Release your arms to your thighs. Inhale rise your arms up, engage your thighs and your core. Exhale, cross your right arm over your left and touch palms. Inhale…Exhale… Release your arms down to your thighs.

Chair Pigeon: Come back up to sit. Bring your right ankle to rest on your left thigh, keep your knee in line with your ankle. Inhale straighten your spine and exhale, rest your right hand or elbow onto your right knee and your left arm on your left ankle, bend until you feel sensation in your right hip. Slowly rise up on an inhale, switch your legs and repeat.

Chair Spinal Twist: Sit towards the edge of your chair and firmly plant both feet into the ground. Inhale, raise your chest and straighten your spine. Exhale, your left hand to your right thigh and push your right hand into the arm rest twisting towards the back of the room. On your inhale lift your chest and straighten your spine and on your exhale twist deeper.



Designed to offer a restorative introduction to the practice of yoga, this 20 minute sequence connects breath with body movement in an effort to relieve the back, neck and shoulder pain that often comes from working on a computer and improve posture.
Alex Smith will lead seated participants through a series of gentle yoga poses adapted for an office chair. Whether you are an experienced yogi or a beginner, this workshop will get your body and breath flowing.
This Carenival Yoga session will be held in Conference Room C at 2:40pm. Participation is limited so arrive early or RSVP to Alex Smith (asmith@indemand.com) to guarantee your spot or express your interest.
Yoga Office photo: Office Yoga Classes in Mumbai OfficeYogaClassesinMumbai.jpg
Alex Smith has completed a 150-hour meditation training course through the Shambhala Meditation Network and is currently attaining his yoga teacher certification through the Yoga Alliance.



Meditation not only helps people relax and reduce stress, it is a doctor recommended way to naturally lower blood pressure.
In the Intro to Meditation session led by Alex Smith, we’ll take a few minutes to relax our bodies and mind, connect to our breath, and learn a few meditation techniques that we can take with us anywhere. We will practice breathing and walking meditations (which can be used at the office and on packed trains) and body relaxation scans that you can use to prepare for a relaxing night of sleep.
This Carenival intro session will be held in Conference Room C at 2:10pm.
Participation is limited so arrive early or RSVP to Alex Smith (asmith@indemand.com) to guarantee your spot or express your interest.
meditation photo: Meditation meditation.jpg
Alex Smith has completed a 150-hour meditation training course through the Shambhala Meditation Network and is currently attaining his yoga teacher certification through the Yoga Alliance.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tips on Being More Meditative at the Office

Often the office world seems miles apart from that of a mediator's, but there are many ways to practice meditation throughout the office day without formally sitting down to breathe.

  • Create calendar notifications that remind you to take a breath. These can be reoccurring and help promote meditative practice at the same time everyday thus making it more habitual.
  • Practice walking meditation when you go to the restroom or kitchen. When walking count your steps or connect them to your breath in order to practice mindfulness in between.
  • Typing meditation. While typing a message, mindfully feel the keys underneath your fingers and hear the sounds they create. Meditation doesn't have to be formal, it can be found in moments at all times of the day.
  • Take a breath before hitting send. Sometimes we regret the emails we send because they are shaded with an emotion like anger or fear. Practice taking a calming breath before send and reassess whether it's the right time to click.
  • Wash your dishes mindfully. If you bring lunch and need to wash Tupperware or your coffee mug, take some time to feel the process. The warm water can sooth you and be calming. You can also practice hand washing meditation.

Monday, October 21, 2013

CMJ Post Choice Survivor photos are live online

Last week Post Choice Survivor played the opening night of the CMJ Music Marathon in New York City at Leftfield. Photographer Matthew Lomax took live event shots and band stills after the gig. Some of the action shots are so hot. Jeremy looks like he's on fire in one!

CMJ Photos for Post Choice Survivor

Our next gig is at Desmond's Tavern on Halloween Night.
Desmond's Trick or Treat Show

Come have a drink and enjoy a night of free entertainment.

As always it'll be a lot of fun!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Rehabilitative Yoga Specialization

As I work to complete my yoga teacher training, I start to develop my specialization. In addition to using my RYT certification to teach restorative yoga classes that aim at deep relaxation, mental clarity and unkinking blocks in the body, I am exploring yoga as a rehabilitative skill. While searching the internet, I found this Indian study from 1997 on PubMed.

The article's abstract (directly quoted from the website - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9355699) is inserted in this post for my reference at a future date and for others interested in the benefits of yoga as a rehabilitative practice.

Yoga for rehabilitation: an overview.


Vivekananda Kendra Yoga Research Foundation, Banglore.


The use of yoga for rehabilitation has diverse applications. Yoga practice benefited mentally handicapped subjects by improving their mental ability, also the motor co-ordination and social skills. Physically handicapped subjects had a restoration of some degree of functional ability after practicing yoga. Visually impaired children children showed a significant decrease in their abnormal anxiety levels when they practiced yoga for three weeks, while a program of physical activity had no such effect. Socially disadvantaged adults (prisoners in a jail) and children in a remand home showed significant improvement in sleep, appetite and general well being, as well as a decrease in physiological arousal. The practice of meditation was reported to decrease the degree of substance (marijuana) abuse, by strengthening the mental resolve and decreasing the anxiety. Another important area is the application of yoga (and indeed, lifestyle change), in the rehabilitation of patients with coronary artery disease. Finally, the possible role of yoga in improving the mental state and general well being of HIV positive persons and patients with AIDS, is being explored.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Yama and Niyama

The Five Yamas

Ahimsa: non-violence
Satya: benevolent truth, absence of falsehood
Asteya: non-stealing
Brahmacharya: spiritual advancement by education and training, sexual restraint
Aparigraha: non-appropriation, absence of avarice

The Five Niyamas

Shaucha: cleanliness of thought, mind and body; purity.
Santosha: happy satisfaction; good contentment.
Tapas: spiritual effort; austerity, consistent practice
Svādhyāya: self-study, study to know more about God and the soul, which                             leads to introspection on a greater awakening to the soul and God within.
Ishvarapranidhana: surrender to God, the Universe and the Highest Self

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Best Outdoor Places for Quiet Reading in Hudson Square NYC

Having worked at an office in the Hudson Square neighborhood for almost two years now...and being an introvert...I have scouted out and found some great places to quietly read a book. Although this neighborhood is devoid of a large park where peace and quiet are readily available, there are numerous niches that can provide you with a quick getaway from work and the speed of the city.

James J. Walker Park - Now that the construction is done at this NYC Park, you are free to enjoy one of the many benches under trees while enjoying your reading.

Just a block down on Leroy St. from James J. Walker Park, you'll find the hidden gem of the Hudson Park Library. There is a back room where less than a half dozen people quietly read and work. Often there will be a fabric arm chair available for reading or evening napping.

Winston Churchill Square on the corner of Downing Street and Bleecker offers another shaded area that is home to the introverted. This small area offers a quick escape from the traffic and pedestrian wayfarers as you sit and read.

A new improvement to the neighborhood is the Urban City Park seating and lunch area near the Trump Soho. Although a gathering place for chatty lunch breakers, this area offers a sunny location adorned with both benches and tables.

The Hudson River Greenway offers several locations to layout in the grass and read your book. I've spent countless hours both north of Pier 40 and near the Canal St. and West Side Highway intersection.

Separated from the street by stone walls, the Garden of St. Luke's Church on Hudson St and Barrow St offers a fresh and relaxing oasis. Although people walk through the garden on a visit to see the flowers and other flora, claim one of the benches and relax into your novel.

Despite the hustle and bustles of this 9-5 business centric neighborhood, there are a few places where one seeking a peaceful getaway can find a place to read.