By Jean Koerner
One of the great necessities in our crazy, busy lives in this modern world is maintaing your equilibrium (Satva). My first blog for Happiness Series is about detox and de-stress to maintain balance and stay upbeat throughout 2011.
As a yoga teacher I like to check in with my students before teaching them, right now there seems to be two common themes going on with them all. Some are much busier with work, and they feel burnt-out and tired, and they want to use the yoga lesson to restore and regenerate. Or they are over-indulging (mainly in consuming more wheat, sugar and alcohol), and they feel tired, heavy and sluggish, and they want to move, detox and burn it out. Since these are two different practices, in order to know which one it is that we need, we need to first check in with how we feel. Take five and observe…
In the Sampkhya philosophy, there are three natures or states of being, which are called the gunas. Rajas(activity) is the force that moves us forward, going, motivates us to change. It’s creation; it wakes us up. Tamas(inertia) is the force that pulls us downward toward inertia, slow, heavy, dull, and dark; it’s what makes us tired and go to sleep. Satva (equilibrium) is a state where one is balanced, pure, clear, calm, open, free and genuinely happy. This is a higher state than the others but we have them all in us at all times. It is helpful to take a few moments each day to self-asses and notice the way that you feel throughout the day and then to use certain tools to help you to balance the way you feel. You can plan your practice accordingly as well. Keep in mind, when you notice your guna at this moment that it is usually the opposite which brings us into balance. So in other words, if you are on the go and running all around town, what would balance that energy is to stop and slow down and unwind.
Practice 1: An easy way to self asses is to stop, lie on your back with your knees bend and your feet flat on the floor. Even out your body and close your eyes. Notice if you feel like you do not really want to be there, that you have a lot to do and you need to get going. This is rajasic. Or maybe you feel like you could stay there, close your eyes because you do not feel like getting up. This is tamasic. Or if you do not feel either (lucky you!) and you can just feel open and light and free, then you’re satvic. Once you do the self assessment, and you notice that you are tamasic–stuck to the couch with residual food coma, feeling sluggish and foggy mentally–you can juice up your practice. Do an energetic five minute vinyasa practice. It’s this healthy activity that can get you through this season looking and feeling great about yourself and not getting bogged down by anything. Yoga is the perfect antidote to this state of being. Yoga like this will detox the body and the mind so that you feel light and can think clearly through the days and weeks ahead. Post self-assessment you notice you are rajasic, you can take a few moments during the day to stop, close your eyes, and regenerate.
Practice 2: An anidote to the whirling dervish in your mind for those of us feeling rajasic is the Pranayama technique, which are breathing exercises. Practice the bee buzzing breath (brahmuri). In this practice you take an inhale and on the exhale you make the sound of a bee buzzing. It is almost like you are chanting OM but with the lips gently closed and the facial muscles relaxed. Make the sound aloud and you can feel the buzzing through the entire body and brain. This breathing technique is to calm and soothe the body, the nerves and the mind. Sit or lie on your back, close your eyes and do 3-5 rounds of this breath. Amazingly, this expands off the mat and into your day, and of course you can incorporate this into your everyday routine to settle your nerves.
For Happiness Series, I have developed two 5 minute practices that you can add into your day that address these two states of being in order to feel more satvic. This then bleeds into the way that you live your life so that you are always coming from this place of balance and clarity. These two episodes Sheila and I did are availabe in a few weeks from now. Stay tuned!
Filed Under: Blogs
About the Author: Jean Koerner (www.jeankoerner.com) began practicing yoga in New York City in 1988, and is now a senior teacher of ISHTA (integrated sciences of hatha, tantra, and ayurveda) Yoga (http://www.ishtayoga.com/). Jean has used yoga to recover from a back injury, and avoided a second surgery in 1993 with the help of her daily yoga practice. Formerly a co-owner of Be Yoga Studios in Manhattan with her teacher Alan Finger, Jean developed and implemented a teacher training program for 2 major yoga studios in New York (Be Yoga and Yoga Works) which both gained a solid reputation among yoga teacher trainings. She is a teacher of teachers. Jean, considered a “Yoga authority” on iyoga Life, is currently director of the Workshop Program at ISHTA Yoga, teaches in NYC, and has been featured in many magazines highlighting her yoga career and in over 30 television episodes of “Yoga Zone” which were broadcast nationally and are currently available as retail dvds. Jean’s blog “Equilibrium” for Happiness Series explores ways to find balance and equipoise in life.