March 2010 – Maui Retreat :)

Maui Retreat 🙂

I want to share some of the fun and discovering we did at our first annual Maui retreat. What a special treat to re-”treat” in Maui!

One of the benefits of taking classes at Nancy’s studio in Maui is many of the students there are teachers . . . and teachers or not, many of the people there have been practicing a long time–many over 20 years. So it is fun to get into discussions and to get advise from those who have so much time in the practice is invaluable.

In one of our discussions I was told (Guruji said this); the Ashtanga practice is 90% breath, 9% bandha, 1% asana . . . the asana is only decoration for the breath!

We also had some discussions about the breath and bringing the breath to your heart. I want to share with you how I discovered a way to bring my breath to my heart by linking the breath and bandhas:

  • sit relaxed and allow your abdomen to expand on your inhale and soften inward on your exhale. Feel how the diaphragm descends into the abdomen and pushes your belly outward. Your diaphragm contracts on the inhale as it pushes downward and relaxes upward to its umbrella shape in your rib cage on the exhale, feel that.
  • Next work the exhale actively, first using your abdominals to accentuate the exhale; now try to work the diaphragm and actively pull your diaphragm upward (you can control your diaphragm!). You will notice the air will leave your lungs a little quicker when you actively work with your breath, hence the reason in the ashtanga practice that we do not have a slow sleepy breath.
  • You can add your loud breathing.
  • Now do the same on your inhale, start to be active with your inhale pushing down consciously with your diaphragm. Feel how you can pump your diaphragm.
  • On your next exhale connect with the inward upward li.; HOLD that inward upward li. and inhale (this is your uddiyana bandha!)–now instead of your abdomen expanding on the inhale your rib cage will expand. Feel this rib cage expansion 3D–front to back, side to side, top to bottom.
  • Feel as you inhale with your bandha how your breath spreads around your heart. Surround your heart with your breath. Now take this breath into your practice!

Get some mud between your toes
Maui is a nice mix of oceans and mountains. I love hiking the mountains and finding waterfalls and swimming in the waterfall pools! There are many places it is possible–and preferable to hike in your bare feet. Due to rainfall it is o.en muddy on the hikes and it is much easier to clean the mud off your feet and legs than your shoes . . . and bare earth has energy! Hiking or even just walking on bare earth (not grass–grass is not a natural substance) is good. The earth absorbs 47% of the sun’s energy, combine that with the constant upward flow of heat from the core of the earth and we have a lot of earth energy available to us. Our hands and feet are good at absorbing this prana from the earth as our hands and feet have their own little chakras–this makes them better at absorbing earth energy automatically and unconsciously while walking barefoot!

There have also been some very compelling studies suggesting that when you are “grounded” free electrons (anti-oxidants) can easily come up from the earth and essentially nullify free radicals in your body. Just like the food we grow in earth absorbs the nutrients from the soil it was grown in, we too can absorb some of this goodness through our feet. Why do you think people pay for mud baths and mud masks, etc? You don’t need to pay for it–go and play in it! Also barefoot walking is like reflexology for our feet.

So hike in your bare feet and let the mud squish up between your toes 🙂

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