Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Allowing Ourselves to Just “Be”......


Yoga facilitates clarity, stillness and quiet of the mind.
It is so interesting how we carve one hour of time out of our busy day for our yoga practice with the purpose of nourishing our body and mind and what happens? Our mind is immediately off to the races. We focus our mind in the initial posture in integration series, Childs Pose, and the next thing we know we are thinking about all the tasks we need to accomplish, the bill we forgot to pay, the conflict we are having with someone, the event we need to get ready for after practice and on it goes….

One of the hardest things you will find once you get past an understanding of postures is keeping your mind in the moment, really present within the posture. I find it interesting how we are so willing to give of ourselves; to charities, work, family, friends, and to our HORSES but when we take only one hour for ourselves we struggle with staying present with ourselves we are still thinking of all things we need to do or solve but not allowing ourselves to just “be”.

Yoga facilitates the practice of quieting your mind, if you can get better and better at staying present in your postures it helps you off the mat to stay more in the moment. How often are you present when your husband is telling you about his day, how about when you have a deadline for work and an associate needs 5 minutes of your time and HOW about when you are with your horse? How present are you with your horse? Are you asking your horse to go forward and at the same time thinking about “I’d rather him not go” or “I’m fearful if he goes” or “when we get done here I need to run to town” are you staying clear with your intention in everything you are communicating to him or are you sending him mixed messages? HMMMM…..

On the mat, I tell my students to pay attention to what comes up for them, acknowledge it and let it go. Refocus their mind back into the posture and each time that occurs acknowledge and refocus. This is not only about staying present for yourself during the practice, but also practicing so that you can become more and more present, clear, in the moment off the mat. It is an exercise of the mind!

During your practice, increase your awareness of where your mind goes, don’t judge it, be aware of it, let it go and notice over time what that does for you and your horse and in your daily interactions.

Let me know how you are coming along in your practice and what you are noticing in your everyday life and horsemanship. Join ZennerYoga facebook page and post your progress or write me with questions at tzenner@fluidridingthruyoga.com. This will help me help you and others at the same time!

Be Blessed,
Theresa Zenner

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Are you argueing with your body?


One day in my yoga class I had a student that was arguing with her body during practice. I took notice right away and after the third or fourth argument I smiled and walked over and laid a gentle hand on her and said, “it’s all ok, just let it go”.

After class she came up to me and said “You saw me? I could do high to low plank in our last practice just fine and today, I can’t! I am so frustrated!” My response was and is “We all go through this and it will not be the last time this occurs! :-)”

Instead of feeling frustrated, embarrassed or passing judgment on yourself, just try to remain objective and just take note. As different parts of your body open up, this can cause a re-adjustment or a shift to happen elsewhere in your body. Your body is used to functioning a certain way day in/day out so when you are conditioning a part of your body to do something different, become better aligned more balanced, it can then impact parts of your body that seem totally unrelated to you, but are completely connected. This may mean you will have the ability to do certain posture(s) better than before and can’t do another posture as well as you did yesterday for awhile, and that is OK!

You may have also injured or strained certain muscles in work or daily activities that can cause your body to shout or be reluctant to participate in certain postures. It is a process not an end result so just let it all unfold remembering to modify when needed. As you are beginning it is very difficult to notice everything that is going on with your body, over time as you learn the postures and use your breath you will begin to become more and more aware of your body and what it is telling you.

I am in tune with my body through every step of the practice. I am checking in with my body through the entire practice quickly evaluating how my muscles are doing…. Hamstrings tight, lower back is open, shoulders tight, spine is flexing well etc.

About 6 months ago, through my yoga practice, I became aware that I had limited flexibility in postures that caused me to bend deep from my hips or to balance on my sit bone. My lower lumbar was screaming at me weekly and I decided to look into it a bit more and found that my coccyx was tucked under significantly (90 degrees), the normal coccyx should be tucked under at 30 degrees. I was reminded of an injury I had when I was a kid when I got kicked really hard in the tailbone, man oh man it hurt, but through life I never challenged my body enough in areas that would cause me to notice the injury. I had seemingly unrelated symptoms throughout the years, but never really looked into the cause, I just took Tylenol or Advil every night before bed to dull the discomfort and thought nothing of it! (Stay tuned for a later blog)

Once I made the connection, I got consistent therapy work done, to unwind my coccyx. I then found my body shifting again. My balance which is usually the most stable and consistent came off in my practice, but I started noticing that my lower lumbar slowly stopped screaming and I was able to fold into postures unlike any other time. So as I was unlocking one part of my body, my body was adjusting in other areas.

It is interesting how your body needs a little time to readjust and then finds its way back to where it ought to be. I was back on track in my practice again within 5 – 7 days.

Another example of change in my postures is when I returned from a trip in August, I could not hold revolving crescent lunge with any balance. For a little over two weeks, I struggled to stay balanced in that posture. You will see this in my level II asana practice in my DVD :-). After those few short weeks of imbalance, my body opened up deeper than ever before … How Interesting!

So, cut yourself some slack in your practice and be aware of what is going on with your body but don’t judge! You are evolving in so many ways so just allow it to happen and try to stay true and consistent with a regular dose of practices and watch what unfolds!

I love this and I hope you do too!Let me know how you are coming along in your practice and what you are noticing in your everyday life and horsemanship. Join ZennerYoga Facebook Fan Page and post your progress or write me with questions at tzenner@fluidridingthruyoga.com. This will help me help you and others at the same time!
Be Blessed,
Theresa Zenner

Monday, February 8, 2010

Are you listening to your body and intuition?


In my DVD I talk about the synergy between Yoga and Natural Horsemanship. One of the synergies I have found is listening. Listening to your body and listening to your horse. I came off my horse last week and it was because I did not listen to her. I had been on/off her all day no problem which is very normal. However, when it was 4 pm, I was ready to mount and ride back home. Her mind was set on getting to the barn, time to eat! I knew the right thing was not to mount, but I was direct line… after all I needed to get her back home, fed and ready for riding in the early evening... I didn’t want to waste my time doing the right thing and get her mind back with me, because it would take too long…. Hmmmm. I mounted, rode for awhile toward home as she was head long with one thing on her mind, and BAM, a dog came chasing over a hill and she went straight up and in the opposite direction and let’s just say I dismounted from her high point in mid air right then and there. I should have LISTENED and MODIFIED accordingly and again I KNEW before I mounted it was not the savvy thing to do. But, I had a plan and taking the time it takes wasn’t in my plan on that particular day, in that particular moment…Hmmmm.

I was not hurt, but extremely sore and it caused me then to do the right thing and LISTEN to my BODY and take the time it took to get my full yoga practice back. So, this time I did listen. I waited 2 days to do a yoga practice and when I went to the mat, my right arm could not lift my body in high to low plank, so I aborted, I went back to the mat a day later and I could do it, but there was a lot of tension so I modified my practice to do only the postures that would not put more strain on my healing body and within 4 days I was in my full practice modifying where I needed and by day 5, I was executing my full practice, like I never was injured.

It is humbling to write that I did not follow my own prescription with my own horse. But, I am writing this because it brought home to me the reality of how commonplace it is for us to have an agenda with our practice or an activity with our horse and we push through the threshold which can cause serious injuries and confidence issues in our horse and us. I rode Kip that day to work, over lunch, a 1/2 mile to get mail, and then had the issue later in the day. My thought pattern was “Hey, she was great all day today, she will be fine.”

It is important that we remember to stay in the moment, listen to our horse, and/or our bodies on that day and in that moment not looking at what happened before or what we believe should happen. When you go to the mat, remember to listen to your body. What you did with excellence yesterday may not be the case today. You may notice shoulder pain, knee pain, back pain, when you notice it, modify and if needed come back to childs pose and just breathe and rejoin the practice when you are ready. Real inner strength is to set our agenda’s and goals aside and listen to our body, not push our body beyond its limits. It is not about meeting an end point, it is about where your body is at on that particular day, in that particular moment. Same goes for the horse, really listening to what your horse is telling you and what he needs from you in that moment, this goes a long way in building a relationship and preventing an injury to you or your horse as well as shaking your horse or your own confidence.

I write this as a reminder to all of us, to LISTEN and MODIFY accordingly.

Let me know how you are coming along in your practice and what you are noticing in your everyday life and horsemanship. Join ZennerYoga facebook group and post your progress or write me with questions at tzenner@fluidridingthruyoga.com. This will help me help you and others at the same time!

Be Blessed,

Theresa Zenner