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January 31, 2011 / yogasabri

The Story behind the Pose. Warrior.

I recently dedicated one of my classes to a special little girl; her name is Daniella and she is fighting for her life. Daniella is a little toddler who was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma. For the past several months, she has undergone aggressive chemotherapy, and is now receiving bone marrow transplant.

Daniella needs blood, and in just a couple of days, there will be a blood drive. Please see all the info at the end of this blog article. You can make a huge difference in someone’s life. Even if you are not a match, the blood gets swapped with a matching one. Please donate if you can. Daniella deserves a chance at life.

So, as I was thinking about what I wanted to share with my students this past Saturday, Daniella was constantly on my mind. And I didn’t try to stop thinking about it. Her life, her experience, her suffering and her resilience ought to be pondered and considered.

Suddenly it dawned on me that she, albeit her age, is a warrior.  I started reflecting on what it means to be a warrior.

In Yoga, each Warrior posture seems to have a powerful, yet peaceful image.  Warrior postures bring the focus on building strength, and on fighting the urges to give in to our weaknesses. Warriors teach us to find balance and strength in our own legs.

A warrior is not a soldier. A warrior is not a fighter. A warrior doesn’t fight because of  an impulse, of a reaction.  A warrior is someone who looks inside for the strength and wisdom to transcend all that is painful. The fight is not with others, rather, it is with the side of one’s self that refuses to be controlled or that wants to give up. Sometimes, being a warrior means to keep hope when there seems to be none; to keep fighting the unfairness of destiny, to hold on to life and refuse to let go.

As I looked at my students in a Warrior posture, I asked them to think about what it means to be a Warrior. Sometimes it could mean something as easy as fighting the urge to sit down when a posture is too tiring. Sometimes, it means to take the determination and focus we learn in our practice and use it in our daily lives, with their  trials and tribulations.

Just as we learn to use our breath to help us in difficult postures, just as we focus on this breath to leave little space for our mind to play tricks on us, just as we focus on our posture to fend off distractions, so, in life, we can focus on our stance, mind, breath and strength to face obstacles. We must look for our strength, when all we see is weakness. We all have this strength. It’s human nature to have it.

So, each time I am in a Warrior posture, I allow my mind for a few moments to wander off and think about Daniella. I hope from the bottom of my heart that she will keep holding on. I hope she will keep having this strength. And I hope that everyone who reads this post can find it in their heart to make time for something so important. What happened to Daniella and her family could happen to anyone. Each moment we are granted on this earth is a gift. It’s up to us to make it count.

Namaste, and love, always.

Sabrina

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2011 – BLOOD DRIVE FOR DANIELLA HAYA GANNOT

At Imperial Tile

7211 Whitsett  Ave. in North Hollywood. From 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

Click here for more info:

http://www.imptile.com/blog/index.php

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January 26, 2011 / yogasabri

Yoga: a practice, a tradition, a cultural treasure, a path and so much more…

Recently, I decided to add 1/2 hour to the beginning of a new class to give a short introduction about Yoga. 1/2 hour is hardly enough  to present the discipline, but it had to do, as I wanted to dedicate enough time to the actual physical practice. The reasons leading up to my decision were many, but mostly, I became concerned about the misconceptions I often hear about Yoga.

I don’t believe I can change the perspective of everyone who holds prejudgments, nor do I believe it’s my job to do so. However, I think that often times people are afraid to begin practicing Yoga and miss out on the countless mental and physical benefits of the practice because of the wrong assumption of what the practice entails.

Personally, I have heard some quite funny descriptions of Yoga: it’s a brain-wash practice, it’s a religion, it’s something for hippies…of course I get a little giggle in my head when I hear such. Sadly, however, sometimes people don’t place judgments just on the practice. They place judgments of themselves: “Oh, I can’t do Yoga, I am not flexible, I am not strong, Yoga is for contortionists, I am too stiff!!” – and in these cases, I can’t help but note the irony of it all, because those who are so prone to judge themselves might just be the ones who need Yoga the most!!

So, I can’t expect everyone to be inclined to the practice, of course. BUT! I am giving here the chance to learn about this incredible practice, so that one can make an educated decision to either take up the discipline or not. The decision will not be based on hearsay and misconceptions.

So, let’s start at the very beginning. What is YOGA? The Sanskrit word YUJ means to join together, to unite. More specifically, the discipline refers to the union between MIND and BODY.

I might be stating the obvious here, but I want to share that this discipline originated in India. Yoga has been practiced for at least 5,000 years, but the first written documentation mentioning the practice is the YOGA SUTRA of PATANJAL YOG DARSHAM, dated between the year 100 B.C.E. and 500 C.E.

There are 6 major branches of Yoga:

RAJA YOGA – the Royal Path, from the word Raj, meaning Royal. This is the Yoga outlined in the Sutra. I will dive into more details about this practice later.

BHAKTI YOGA – the Path of Devotion. This type of Yoga entails the practice of selfless giving and tolerance.

MANTRA YOGA – The Yoga of Chanting. Practice entails chanting Vedic Mantras to achieve supreme consciousness.

KARMA YOGA – The Yoga of Good Deeds. It teaches that all present experiences are influenced by past actions. It’s considered the past of good service.

TANTRA YOGA – A Yoga practice characterized by rituals meant to teach us to be aware of everything we do; often misinterpreted to be a practiced focused exclusively on sexual relations, this practice focuses highly on purity, humility, courage and passion.

JNANA YOGA – A Philosophical Branch, it focused on nurturing the mind. It teaches to become aware of one’s TRUE SELF.

But today we will concern ourselves with RAJA YOGA – THE ROYAL PATH.

Vinyasa Yoga is a style of Raja Yoga, and it follows the system outlined in the Yoga Sutra. All styles of yoga including a physical practice are HATHA YOGA styles, and belong to the realm of RAJA YOGA.

The Yoga Sutra is undoubtedly the most relevant Yogic text of all times. In this text, Patanjal Yog Darsham described all obstacles enountered by the mind, hindering us to achieve our full potential and therefore from knowing our true self. The text instructs us that all these obstacles are created by the mind itself, and with practice, one can learn to control the flow of thought that become obstacles, and can therefore focus on reaching the state of Pure Bliss, the STATE OF YOGA, as UNION BETWEEN THE MIND AND THE SOUL.

There are 8 different stages to achieve this state of Pure Bliss, known as the 8 LIMBS OF YOGA –  from the Sanskrit Ashta, Eight, and Anga, Limbs.

These 8 Limbs are:

NYAMAS – Abstinences – Non-Violence, Non-Gossip, Non-Stealing, Non-Lying, etc.

NYAMAS – Observances – Modesty, Inner Contentment, Endurance, Self-Cleanliness, etc.

ASANAS – Postures – The Baby Cake of our Vinyasa Practice 😉 – Postures designed to restore well-being, increase strength and focus and aid meditation.

PRANAYAMA – Breath Control – Perhaps the MOST IMPORTANT feature of a Vinyasa Practice. The breath is the channel that guides our attention from the external world to our inner self. As we practice Yogic breathing, we learn that meditating on our flow of breath, we leave less space for our mind to create unwanted thoughts that can control our senses. In a Vinyasa practice, each movement is connected to either an inhalation or exhalation. The word Prana means “LIFE FORCE, VITALITY” and Ayama means “EXPANSION” – so as we expand our belly with each inhalation, we are not just taking in oxygen, we are also welcoming vitality into our bodies. Hence, the importance of deep, long, diaphragmatic breathing in yoga.

PRATYAHARA – Withdrawal of the Senses – At the stage, one internalizes consciousness, and focuses on the internal effects of cause-action, rather than the external ones, over which one has no control.

DHARANA – Concentration -The practice of focusing on one object and to bring the mind’s attention back to that object whenever it wanders away.

DHYANA – Meditation – An unbroken state of concentration, where the mind is fully controlled and follows the will to focus exclusively on one object without trying to escape.

SAMADHI – Superconsciousnes – the State of YOGA – the State of BLISS. Where one needs nothing to feel contempt and in union with the Universe.

This last stage can be achieved for a mere moment or for a lifetime, depending on one’s dedication to practicing each limb. All obstacles of the mind have been removed.

So, in a nutshell, I tried to describe what Yoga is about. The countless physical benefits of the practice are just a bonus, compared to everything that Yoga is.

I felt obliged to share this bit of knowledge with you, especially for those who are not familiar with Yoga at all and would like to know more about it before starting the practice.

It will always be my pleasure to share what I know. It will always be an honor to do so, knowing that someone appreciates it and might consider practicing Yoga as a result.

I leave you for now with love, as always. Namaste.

Sabri

January 10, 2011 / yogasabri

Think you need a back bone? Think again! Muscles are the real deal!

The most common claim I hear from people on a daily basis is about pain in the lower back, or more specifically, in the lumbar area.

There are many causes of chronic pain in that area, from overuse, to improper use, herniated disk, muscle spasms and so forth.

Generally speaking, all these problems could be easily avoided with a little bit of education and mindfulness.

See, to begin with, the disconnect between mind and body is the first obstacle towards a pain free life.  So, I decided to shed a light on the subject.

Most people get back injuries because they do not understand the function of back muscles. Along the spine, we have a group of muscles called “Erector Spinae”. As the name suggests, the function of this group of muscles is to keep the spine, hence the torso, erect or to flex it.  These muscles are very long and thin. It is NOT their job to carry weight.

For that function, we have 4 layers of large, flat muscles in our abdomen – the ABDOMINAL MUSCLES:

Internal obliques, external obliques, rectus and transversus abdominii. These puppies are designated to carry weight, releasing it from the spine.

Nowadays, however, we seem to make very little time to strengthen the abdominal region (it’s not exactly a fun activity, right??) and have the bad habit of using our back to carry weight. MAJOR MISTAKE.

Also, back problems are  caused by tightness in the  PSOAS MUSCLE GROUP.

This group, composed by the Iliacus and Psoas Major, is a group of muscles located in the pelvic region. It’s the major flexor group of muscles in our body. It’s responsible for movements in the lower back as well as lower limbs.

Often times, this group of muscles is tight, and because of its location, it’s quite hard to release it. The nerves running through these muscles are receptor of pain in the lower back region.

So, my dear friends, I would like to share with you some yoga poses which will help release lower back pain. These postures, or asanas, when practiced properly and synchronized with breathing, are an incredible, chemical free solution.

Please remember, that as with any other physical practice, Yoga should be practiced with consent from a doctor. Also, results vary among individuals, but constant practice, at least twice a week, will surely bring upon many physical and mental improvements.

Padangusthasana – Hanging Forward Bend – The weight of the head and gravity will help release compression along the spine.

Stand with feet together and heels apart, about 1 & 1/2″. Flex thighs, grab your elbows and allow your head to dangle for a few moments. Breathe.

To release from this pose, let your arms come down, hands are aside your feet. Inhale, arms out to the side, spine long, come up to standing. With your inhalation,  bring your arms above the head. Exhale, lower your arms down in  prayer pose in front of your chest. Repeat 3 times, slowly.

Uttihita Trikonasana – Triangle Pose – It increases flexibility of the hips, releasing tightness of the Psoas. It also  decompresses the sides of  the spine. It opens the chest, elongates the leg muscles and brings awareness to the pelvic region.

Standing with legs apart, turn the left foot about 45 degrees  and align the right, front heel with the arch of the back foot. Your pelvis is turned to the left. Inhale, raise your arms above your head – torso is straight, spine is long. As you exhale, lower your arms straight out to the side.   As you inhale, reach towards the right with your right arm and torso. Exhale, place your right hand on your right shin and bring your left arm above your head. Turn your head to gaze at your left hand. Hold for three, full, slow breaths.

To release: bring your left arm down, placing your hands on each side of your foot. Inhale, come on to your toes of the left foot. Exhale, come to downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). Repeat for the other side.

Balasana – Child Pose – This pose releases compression along the spine, in particular in the lumbar area. It’s     a    resting pose,  ideal also for a break at any time during the practice.

Sit on your heels, toes touching. Inhale. On your exhalation, bring your forehead to the ground, slowly, placing your arms alongside your body, palms facing up. Stay in this position as long as you want.  Breath gently and deeply.

Alasana – Plow Posture – This posture increases flexibility of the spine, tones the muscles of the back and releases tension in the nerves of the spine.

Lie on your back, arms along the side of the body, palms facing down and elbows pressing against the floor.

Inhale. As you exhale, place the palms into the floor and engage the abdominal muscles to raise both legs  over the head. Bring your toes to touch the floor. Keep legs long. The back of the head and shoulders are pressing onto the mat. Hold for a minimum of 10 breaths.

These are just a few poses that you can practice in the comfort of your own home, carefully and slowly. I will make sure to add some more to the list in the near future.

Namaste, and love, always.

Sabrina

January 4, 2011 / yogasabri

Out with 2010, in with…now!

Another year over, a new one just begun. How many of us have been hearing Lennon’s lyrics in the back of our head?  It seems to me the holidays have come and gone. And the new year just showed up, one can say, almost, unexpectedly.

So, I was not ready with my resolutions. I had not thought deeply about the personal-impossible to achieve-laundry list of goals that I set myself up to fail so very often year after year.  But as I tried to think about my resolutions, I realized something: I am not that person anymore. I am no longer the person who makes countless resolutions and forgets them a couple of weeks later.

Personally, my yogic journey has taught me to be present, in this very moment. We often do not realize that the only moment in time that we can truly control is now. As the past is gone, there is absolutely nothing we can do to change it, and the future is yet to come, so, rather than expecting myself to make countless radical changes in the future, which is not realistic, I will just focus on making small changes today, now.

Let’s assume  that the resolution is to save money this year – for example,  a person wants to save $ 10,000. Chances are, along the year, he/she sees how difficult it is to save such a big sum, as bills and expenses come along, and the individual will give up pretty soon.   Let’s say that this same person focuses on each time he or she is handling money. Perhaps,  this person puts a dollar on the side each and every time he handles money through the day – no unrealistic goals, no expectations.

Most likely, at the end of the day, there will be a nice amount on the side, and it will be kind of a nice surprise. Now, I am not saying that at the end of the year there will be 10K saved up. But there will be a sum. And when one expects nothing, a sum, even a small one, is a nice surprise. Also, if this same person tried to keep up with an unrealistic resolution, it is very likely that there would be no sum at all at the end of the year, since most people give up their resolutions pretty soon after making them. So, what I am saying is, a small sum is better than no sum.

By being faithful to this moment in time, by making the best of it,  I actually don’t even need resolutions that are so far fetched – changes happen as an evolution. And I am learning about myself along the way.

So, my advice,  is not to be mindless about what your future will be. If anything, I am suggesting the very opposite. I am suggesting to own this moment.  Our dedication to live this moment is setting the foundation for a better future. Our future is the home of all our experiences to come, and we need to create a solid foundation for it now.

In conclusion, my dear friends, I wish you a happy new year. Most of all, I wish you a happy new NOW.

Namaste, and love, always.

Sabri

Mahatma Gandhi

“The future depends on what you do today.”
Mahatma Gandhi
December 22, 2010 / yogasabri

Another serving of….Insecurity??? NO THANKS!

Allright, I had to bring this up. A few days left before Christmas. Hannukah has just passed. Wonderful times, great athmosphere, and food. And then some more food. And then some more. So, I had to turn the attention to myself and start reflecting. Most of my peeps know that I dealt with and eating disorder in the past. I was bulimic for a little over 14 years.It’s not a fun place to be. So, I am standing proud for the battle I have overcome. The practice of Yoga has helped me so much, not only from  a physical stand point, but also psychologically. I practice self-acceptance on a daily basis and work to avoid self-judgment.

I have learned to know myself for the first time since I was a child. One thing that I had to acknowledge about my nature, during my days of struggle, was that my insecurities turned me into a people-pleaser. I could not see all that I am and the wonderful qualities that I can share with others. I could not see that others loved me for who I simply was. I always felt that I had to go out of my way to earn the love and affection of others. Now, one can say that at some level we all do that. We must make an effort to be kind sometimes. But I took things to a whole new level.

Particularly during holidays and celebrations, when invited for dinner or social occasions, I would find myself in a recurring, uncomfortable situation.  I would be enjoying the meal carefully prepared by my friends and loved ones. Compliment the delicious food. But then, I would have some more. I wasn’t hungry. I wasn’t craving it. I was eating more simply because I didn’t know how to use one simple phrase: No, thank you. These three magical words can change a life when used properly. See, I could not refuse another serving when offered. I had to eat it, because my insecurity and need to please everyone told me that I had to accept it or I would offend the host.

Some of you reading this,  must think this is a really stupid thing to do. Here’s the thing: a person with an eating disorder is a person with an addiction.  Food is not the addiction. It’s the need to fill a void. Whichever possible way. The host didn’t know that by accepting the meal I was abusing myself. I had to get rid of all I ate afterward. So, as I accepted the food, I allowed the anxiety of what was coming to take over me. And many times, a bulimic tries to calm the sense of anxiety by stuffing  his or her mouth (note the HIS. Yes, there are men bulimic. It’s serious people). It’s a vicious cycle.

However, there is more to this. As I learned to recognize my triggers, my lack of self esteem, and the behaviors triggered by my insecurities, I started noticing even the insecurities of others. I had a little epiphany. Truth is, when the host offers another serving, most often he or she is just being polite. However, often, a simple “no” is not enough. Sometimes the host insists that you take another bite. Now, at that point, it’s the insecurity of this person that interacts with you. His or her need to hear the affirmation that the food is good, the hosting was wonderful and what not, pushes the person into your own privacy. Your body knows when enough is enough. By allowing the host’s insecurity to take space, we ignore our body, therefore we allow our own insecurity to take space.

So, please, believe me when I say that you do not have to be pushed. You do not have to be forced. A kind NO THANK YOU will not hurt. Enjoy your meals. Enjoy the company. Do not sabotage yourselves. It’s not worth it. If a person gets hurt by you being full, this person has other issues to deal with and was truly not genuine with you in the first place.

Once again, I wish you nothing but joy, now, and after the holidays. You are responsible for how much joy you allow into your life.

Namaste, and love, always.

Sabri

December 22, 2010 / yogasabri

New Class Info! Limited Space Available!!

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December 21, 2010 / yogasabri

Check out the Holiday Specials Here!

Check out the Holiday Specials Here!

 

December 21, 2010 / yogasabri

Let’s take the I’s out of gIvIng!!

Last time I shared some tips about reducing the stress of the holiday season. True, I remind, that during this time a year we focus mostly on purchasing gifts for loved ones; stress is just the side order of our planning, budget limitations and of not knowing if our gift will delight the receiver.

We often say that it’s the thought that counts, but do we really believe it when the eyes sparkle just at the thought of a new piece of jewelry, a new pair of heels, the newest I-POD-PAD-PHONE-ETC and what ever else we wrote Santa about?

In reality, we give with the same generosity that we expect. There is a certain pleasure in giving, in letting others know that we care. But our times and environment program us to expect, to want, wish, desire. So, on that festive day of giving, we cannot help ourselves but expect something in return. That’s just how it is. No blame here, I am part of this game.

I wish everyone to enjoy each and every gift,  but I ask to just stop and reflect on a few data:

On any given night, there are over 90,000 homeless people in the City of Los Angeles.

In average, 10,000 are children.

20% are veterans.

30-50% are women.

An estimated 20% are physically disabled.

41% of adults were employed last year.

48%  are high-school graduates.

Fortune, like everything else in life, changes according with the observer. We might consider fortunate those who do not look at a price tag while shopping, those who will receive everything they want for the holidays, or maybe those who can take time from work and take a trip somewhere. Yes, indeed, these are perks in life. But if the observer is the one without a home, without a blanket in this rain, without a sense of hope for tomorrow, and just the desperation for a meal, then we appear  fortunate. And so we should appear when WE are the observers.

In times of trials and tribulations it is difficult to count our blessings – I just ask that for once we keep a perspective. This is why, on Thursday, the 23rd of December, I will donate food to homeless shelters in the San Fernando Valley and other areas of Los Angeles County. I ask you to consider doing something, even a little gesture. People are hungry. Please, make this a true season of giving.

I wish to thank those who have generously donated food for my cause.  Your actions made a difference.

Happy Holidays everyone, count your blessings.

Namaste, and love, always.

Sabri

They who give have all things; they who withhold have nothing

Hindu Proverb

December 18, 2010 / yogasabri

Wellness doesn’t come with a bow.

This the season to be … STRESSED!

Did we remember everyone? Will they like their gift? Is it the right size?  Did I just burn 2 months of salary???

These questions are probably just the tip of the iceberg. Sure, we want to feel the joy of giving, show our love to our dear ones, but it all comes at an expensive price: STRESS!

Most often, the one we forget during this time a year, is the SELF. We are so busy, running around, searching for the perfect gift, the perfect card, wrapping paper, bow, and what not…all this, because we want to make the experience of receiving a gift as special as possible. So, here I ponder: why, oh why, when it comes to us, we do not invest as much attention and care?

Bottom line is, the happiness of giving will not make up for all the trips around town carrying 20 lbs of shopping bags, if at the end of it all, we are exhausted and burned out. Hey, Santa wouldn’t make it on his own, don’t forget! He’s got an army of helpers for a reason!

So, I make it a point during the holidays to slow down, in the midst of the chaos, and BREATHE. Sounds crazy enough, but the trick does it. See, when we are stressed, we do not breathe properly. We tend to breath with our chest , rather than the belly, creating that sense of anxiety and pressure that tells the body to produce adrenaline.  It’s no surprise that during the holiday season we gain weight! Yes, yes, I know, we are a bit more “generous” with the portions, been there, done that! But also, stress produces Cortisol, the stress hormone. This monster is the main cause of storage of fat around the waist.

As we breathe deeply, engaging our belly, we lower our blood pressure and send more oxygen to our organs. It’s proven to reduce stress and anxiety, and as the mind slows down, the thinking becomes clearer (therefore, you might think about it twice before you purchase something for your aunt neighbor’s cousin!!!)

So, while we all love the sparkles this time a year, let’s remember to breathe…After all, you are the only one in this entire Universe who can give you the most important gift of them all: Well being.

Happy Holidays, Namaste and Love, always.

Sabri

December 17, 2010 / yogasabri

Oh ginger, what art thou???

It has been an active day. To say the least. In between errands, I walked almost 6 miles in the morning, practice Yoga, of course, and even took a Zumba class. Imagine my poor muscles at the end of the day.

Needless  to say, those babies needed some R&R   – so, I filled my  tub with hot water, took a ginger root (YES, a ginger root!!), cut it up in pieces and dove right in the wonderful concoction.

Yes, my friends, because this wonderful root, also known as Zingiber Officinale (I just had to show off!) is a natural, wonderful, super-powerful anti-inflammatory – in fact, scientists have compared its effects to those of anti-inflammatory drugs. After a work out, the strenuous holiday shopping, or whatever else might get you just a bit too, what’s the word, pooped  by the end of the day, try this wonderful ritual and you will feel just like new in no time.

I prefer to cut up the root into big chunks, so I don’t need to worry that it might go down the drain.

So, during the holiday season, you hear ginger this, ginger that, but now, you can use this incredible little natural friend for your wellness, not just to delight the tummy with gingerbread cookies and ginger-venty-soy-mocha-something-something!!

I will keep it short today… I don’t wanna take time away  from your lovely ginger-soaked baths!

Namaste, and love, always!

Sabri