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frēdəm\  the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.



Are you nervous? Ashtanga yoga cleanses the nervous system

[Originally posted on my Yoga Robin blog]


Are you nervous? Many people do yoga to increase strength and flexibility, to lower stress and to gain mental and spiritual clarity. Those are great reasons. After a yoga practice, no matter which style (e.g., Ashtanga, Iyengar, etc.) you'll undoubtedly be left with an overall feeling of peacefulness that tops the way you felt before you moved your body.

uplift mood, lower stress

Physical exercise in general helps to uplift the mood and lower stress levels; in particular, it diminishes Cortisol, the stress hormone. Ashtanga yoga has an added benefit: nervous system cleansing.

This is especially true in the Ashtanga Intermediate Series, Nadi Shodhana (2nd series), and that is its main purpose. This goes back over 5,000 years. When practiced regularly (5-6 days per week), the "cleansing" of the nervous system can be felt in various ways and many are *not* enjoyable.

nervous system cleanse kicks your ass

It wasn't until after practicing Mysore-style Ashtanga six mornings per week (specifically, half of the Primary Series, full intermediate, and beginning of advance A—takes 2-2 1/2 hours) for approximately nine months that I was able to discuss the nervous system cleanse in a positive light. That is putting it lightly.

It can feel like overall fatigue. All. Day. Long. It can feel like anxiety, over-sensitivity to lights and sounds, depression, obsession, needs to be in solitude, drinking more wine, yet a pervading fearlessness that overrides it all... It can feel overly emotional. It can take over your life and force you to make some big lifestyle changes, like adding an afternoon nap, going to sleep earlier, eating more protein, taking more epsom baths, wondering what is wrong with your life, questioning love, feeling safest while hanging out with your cats, etc. But why do it if it causes so much upheaval to the system?

because it works

Because it works... I like to see the nervous system cleansing as I would any other type of cleanse where you're taking away habits that may be contributing to harm in your body. Whether this be detoxing from sugar, caffeine, or all food in general to clear out the intestines, a cleanse does not necessarily feel good while you're in the process of it. The idea is to rid your body of toxins; on their way out, you feel them full force as they rise to the surface, so to speak.

This is all a great way for me to understand the nervous system cleanses. I was feeling toxins in my nervous system and I was boldly letting them play themselves out, knowing that if they didn't, they would continue to control me from underneath it all. In this case, they were involuntary processes driving me, also affecting me physiologically, and were of a higher intelligence in the mind-body.

It all makes sense. The nervous system directs complex processes (seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling, responding). It regulates the internal environment and links to external environment. It directs the organs in the body so that they don’t act independently of each other; without a nervous system, there’d be chaos inside.

wants to feel that again

When the autonomic nervous system's sympathetic is out of balance, and escalated (fight-or-flight), your body reacts as if it needs to protect itself... your heart beats faster, your body temperature increases, you feel anxious, you feel like a victim, you are triggered by even small incidences (as your nervous system remembers and wants to feel *that* again).

I describe this as an electric feeling that will *not* go away no matter what I do to try to soothe it. It was probably even accompanied by a scared look on my face—or in my aura—that even animals would stay away from me.

Calming this side down illuminates the parasympathetic, bringing calm to your body, heart and soul. Here you can breathe calmly again and the electrical impulses are replaced with a softly-flowing river of prana, bathing you with each breath. Your muscles relax, your mind stops overthinking, you actually are relaxed.

I believe that the nervous system is smarter than the mind. Yet, its direct connection to the mind dissolves the protective boundary as it's easily triggered, vulnerable to the mind's overthinking and worry. A main purpose of yoga in general is complete cessation of the mind, as the thinking mind is what creates suffering.

i've been rewired

I'm different now. Subtleties such as no longer becoming easily startled by spontaneous sounds make me smile when I notice this new involuntary response of calm. The biggest change is an overall lack of emotional triggers that have historically affected me deeply, physically but also unconsciously; those natural responses—harmful ones—have dissolved. That's my reason in a nutshell for waking up each morning at 5:00 a.m. to return again to my mat.

Now I'm able to go to the next level, which used to be more of an act of will power or something that only worked for other people. The best way to feel your spirit and know—without a doubt—your next move in life is to first get STILL. This means, calming the nervous system first so that you can see the magic. Ashtanga Yoga works for me and essential oils are a big help too (next topic :)



© 2016 Robin Ellen Lucas, M.A.


(Mis)understood through silent insinuation: Day 21 of 30 of Write Yourself Alive writing challenge

WriteYourselfAlive 30 Day Challenge. Writing prompt: Write a dialog

Why does one write? What issue have you felt more misunderstood at or silenced about? How would you rephrase them?

she feels understood
because she is comfortable
with feeling misunderstood

she rises above misconceptions by creating allusion
that may or may not be understood
it is the goal

because she wants her security to rise
within insecurity
to create certainty amongst that which is not mentioned directly
balance within herself

she feels content within the realm of
being misunderstood
she doesn't care
she likes it...

when she thrives on hints,
veiled equivocal reflection
on indirect acts
she is left unaccountable
for saying anything at all

she is safe
she smiles
because she is a writer


© r.e.l.


Dialog with inner voice: Day 7 of 30 of Write Yourself Alive writing challenge

WriteYourselfAlive 30 Day Challenge. Writing prompt: Write a dialog

Recall an event that has had a great emotional impact on you but which you have a hard time talking about. Write a conversation between two people, real or imaginary, past, present, or future...

I can only think of the impact the cellos and piano music I heard last night had on me, and still ring in my ears. It's difficult to describe in words because I don't want to. Music speaks. Bruno Sanfilippo from Barcelona. I'd never heard him before. It infiltrated me as it reached into me with each sound, to say 'I understand you. I'm here. Don't worry.'

music that infiltrates

I start shrinking when I imagine being addicted to this music, not wanting to pull away. I brought it with me to my room and plugged it in to sleep. I wanted to learn through my dreams more of what it has to say. I drank extra wine just to make sure I heard it. Part of its reach is melancholy and heartbreak, while remaining intriguing and healing.

The fear is having vivid images (i.e., stories that need to dissolve) of whatever it stirs inside me. I instead want to feel the purity of the music and bypass my psychological mind, building a portal straight to the physical energy of whatever it is, to bathe it. I want to *feel* all of what it has to say. I fear that maybe I'm not supposed to feel it (whatever it is) any other way than a detached behavioral story to replay over and over in my psyche, for purposes of recreating "it" within the realm of my own entertainment.

Teardrops form and I like it, followed by my message I'm drawn to write and post or send; then I emotionally detach. It's soothing for me to do this; I see my quick mental processing working its magic as fast as my metabolism works me physiologically. And then I'm renewed, processed, lighter, freer, relieved.

a portal straight to the heart

Reversing the statement... I'm lighter and free so I process quickly in order to cry, so as not to replay a story for egoic entertainment. I feel somatically through a portal straight to my heart. I listen to music that speaks on the edge of fear and sadness. I'm impacted. hmmm

(Dialog with the inner voice, the behavioral pattern)
You are where I attach my heart
    I'm a projection, don't you see
It's you who doesn't see that I am able to see something in you that you cannot
    I don't want you to want me
I don't want to hurt you
    I won't let you hurt me because I won't open up
I will find a way in the crack, the one you least suspect
    I smile when I feel safe with you, but then I feel again
You feel your heart and it cares about me
    I want to trust that you don't love me
That isn't possible, and you can't control me in that way
    Is it really about control
I am who I am and so are you; you cannot direct its course
    I didn't realize I was
I want you to see me from where you are down there and rise up
    I don't know how
Trust me
    I don't know how to trust again, you will leave me
No I won't
    You already are
I'm trying to let go of you and wanting you to be more
    I don't want you to go
I have to run away, disappear... to reset who I am
    Then I will be able to see your love
Why are you doing this to me
    It has to be my idea
It is, I'm leaving

"Remember: despite how open, peaceful and loving you attempt to be, people can only meet you as deeply as they've met themselves."


My Writing Space: Day 3 of 30 of Write Yourself Alive writing challenge

WriteYourselfAlive 30 Day Challenge. Writing prompt: What is my writing space like?

Physically describe your dream home or writing space that has left a deep impact on you, in a way that makes the reader feel it rather than see it.

As I write, I usually see a cat hair flurry by through the air. Cats know when I need them, usually when I'm sad or something is brewing to the surface, and they know that their purr heals. They know instinctually to purr on me whenever I'm writing—at least when it's my heartfelt creative work. (If it's analytical, where I'm making lists, numbers or angry, they stay away).

This honest, creative energy—when it arises, never on commad—feeds my words; it's an indication that flood gates to my heart are open. I stay here. Here is anywhere in my house where I bring my laptop.

you are my dream

My dream space: You are by the sea and I can smell salt water in the air. You are warm and breezy, and you know my name. You send me words; I hear, feel, sense with my eyes closed when you're near. My hammock swings gently, birds chirp, the clouds make formations just for me to describe. When you call to me, I let the ocean waves lure me to watch them instead, swim in them, and then inspect the sea water droplets left on me as I dry in the sun. I write in my mind in these moments, clear and full. The sunset takes its time to arrive, and when it does I'm reminded of why you are my dream. Skies darken, and red wine enlivens my peripheral vision of colors and stars and you...


Why Do I Write? Day 1 of 30 of Write Yourself Alive writing challenge

WriteYourselfAlive 30 Day Challenge. Writing prompt: Why do you write?

Take note of the similarities in all of your regrets, and all of the differences in your accomplishments.

I write because I want to get in touch with my heart. There is a longing that rises to the surface through my fingertips, when I'm feeling safe to let it out. That expression allows me to be those expressed words, when before I was shielding myself from being me. In moments when I cannot write, doing yoga asana helps to unleash what's inside, as the subtle body is the guardian to the gems inside. Somatic release allows the words to come out, which I can also feel and read in my mind's eye through meditation (moving or sitting).

regrets and accomplishments

I reget
that I am not a Naturopathic Doctor
that I do not swim in the ocean every day 
that I let myself believe I am doing something wrong often 
that I did not buy a convertible for my current car 
that I'm dragging my feet on publishing my first book
                        I'm proud
                        that I am moving to Encinitas—warm ocean, yoga
                        that I earned my M.A. in healing arts
                        that I'm on to my tendencies, samskaras burning
                        that I decided to keep my mini until old age
                        that I am writing the chapters and framework for book

The similarities in my regrets are that I have not been treating myself well as I should have. I recognize that I should treat myself as if I'm in love with myself, giving myself these gifts. Each of the regrets I'm taking on as dreams, and attempting to fulfill within the next month.

integrals parts of a dream

The differences in my accomplishments is that they are each separate integral parts to my one dream come true. I'll heal myself once I'm warm and with the dynamic yoga teacher and community, and have the warm ocean to swim in, but until then I'm realizing that I could do some of that currently, before moving. But day by day, my ashtanga yoga (always calling me on my shit) is burning away these behavior patterns to a point where I no longer need to use will power. Samskaras burning...

I've been writing my book page by page as if I've had a heavy load on top of me or a stalker watching me waste time indulging in my own heart. The reality is that I give myself permission to shine and be who I am meant to be.

I know that my eyes are filled with the beauty of how I've been loved. The emptiness I feel is more of an echo that it's ok to not be all of those things at once, always. To be loved just as I am on each given day, to know that I'm always growing myself (for myself) until then, but always be me, and some day someone will want all of it, all of me—complications, worries, and unlying love and all. I am brave and I trust that I am enough, I am beautiful. That waves break at the right moment.


Day 30 of 30 day writing challenge

30-Day writing challenge through Kale & Cigarettes (500 words)

It's over and I wanted to reflect now on how this 30-day challenge has changed me.

Today, I spend the day motivating and helping my almost-18-year-old daughter write a 15-page play for the San Mateo Traffic Court judge in the Juvenille Court. We had the awesome experience of opting to meet with the judge on a speeding ticket of hers. We includes me because until she is 18, it's all about the parent.

Lucky us... the judge

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Destiny - Day 29 of 30 day writing challenge

30-Day writing challenge through Kale & Cigarettes (500 words)

I started out this challenge on Day 2, posting both 1 and 2 on that day. So, I thought I'd end in the same way, coming full circle. I'm all about balance and all about circles.

Dear Destiny, I am ready now. I'm ready for my dreams to come true. I'm ready now, but let's say my dreams are already true

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When wearing a suit reminds me that I love my split ends - Day 28 of 30 day writing challenge

30-Day writing challenge through Kale & Cigarettes (500 words)

I was dressed up today wearing a suit. This hasn't happened in decades, it seems. I'm a freelance writer and yoga teacher. And I'm a mother of three. For many years, I'm not sure I brushed my hair every day.

But I don't want to look like a man

Today I'm wearing a full blown suit. My daughter said to me, "Mom, you look like a

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