Opening to Divine Feminine Energy/Shakti Prana Class Plan

Here is the class I prepared for the retreat with a theme of opening to the DIVINE FEMININE or shakti prana.

Savasana: feel the energy of the earth beneath you, relax into gravitational pull, surrender into the earth, ground down to the core of the earth and then feel her energy supporting you and energizing you.

Breath: breath into central channel of energy – sushumna nadi – feel breath moving from nostrils down to pelvic floor on inhale and up from pelvic floor using mula bandha/root lock and out through nostrils on exhale, then add belly lock/uddiyana belly, pulling navel to spine on exhale, release abdomen on inhale, feel the prana cleansing the inner channel like taking a shower, energizing and rejuvenating you, continue this deep yogic breath throughout class.

Ardha pavana muktasana/knee to Chest pose: start with bringing right knee to chest, breath up through left groin to left nasal passage opening the Ida nadi or lunar channel of energy in the body (always open Ida first, receptive, feminine energy), hold 5 breaths, repeat other side opening Pingala nadi, solar energy or masculine energy in the body, hold 5 breaths, rest in savasana after each side to feel energy flow.

Apanasana/belly breath pose: both knees to chest, exhale knees in and engage locks, inhale knees away elbows stretched still holding knees, release locks, cleansing the energy in the belly, the womb of being, repeat 5x’s, rest in savasana and feel energy flowing through belly – 2nd chakra/svadisthana – water element.

Mandalasana/circling pose: knees to chest, circle 5 times one way with breath and then 5 times the other ways, massaging the back of the second chakra – womb of being, rest in savasana, feel energy flow, then roll onto side and onto all fours.

Adho mukha virasana/downward facing hero or child’s pose with knees apart: feel breath through sushumna nadi, also you can do a shoulder stretch by rotating the triceps to the mat as you bend the elbows to place palms on upper back and hug the head with elbows, feeling the upper spine release towards the heart, relax groin and rest 5 breaths.

Ardha bhujangasana/half and full cobra: hands by armpits, squeeze shoulder blades together and elbows into side waist, lift pelvic floor or mula bandha and hold it as you inhale up into half cobra, no weight on handing, draw energy of the earth/shakti prana up the spine, lifting from mula bandha/pelvic floor, lift higher and higher, as you hold 5 breaths, strengthening upper back as well, rest in reverse savasana surrendering to earth, repeat full cobra, lift energy from mula bandha up to navel and then heart, drawing energy up sushumna nadi, hold 5 breaths, drawing energy up, keeping elbows into side body/waist, fronts of upper arm bones/humerus drawing back to open heart, rest in reverse savasana and surrender to divine mother.

Surya namaskar/sun salutation with warm up: create energy/heat/solar energy in body

Dog to plank yoga push-ups: lift from inner arches to groins dog, firm front thighs tailbone to pubic bone plank, then add modified chataranga with knees bent, elbows into side waist into cobra, lengthen front of spine, rest in child pose, repeat, then introduce option of full cataranga and go from up dog to down dog, then teach half forward fold/ardha uttanasana, lengthen front spine, then full uttanasana, bend one knee and then other lengthen inner thigh to groin, reverse swan dive to come up, do full sun salutation twice, then variation with warrior I, back leg lifts to ceiling, front leg engage hamstrings by bending knee over ankle and tucking sit bone to back knee, engage bandhas before coming and hold bandhas as you hold virabhadrasana/warrior I about 5 breaths, and keep holding bandhas as you change sides, then come up to tadasana, feel breath in sushumna nadi/central channel of energy, drawing shakti prana into body up from the mother earth/shakti divine feminine energy of embodiment

Vriksasana/tree pose: open Ida channel first by standing on left leg, then pingala by standing on right leg, as you hold pose lift pelvic floor and breath from groin to nostril drawing shakti prana through nadi, left side first, then right, hold 5 breaths each side

Trikonasana/triangle: step out to side so that right leg is forward and turned out, to cleanse ida on left with shakti prana, also focus on stretching psoas by keeping outer rotation in front leg and revolving the navel to the ceiling, also back leg feel front thigh firm and inner thigh drawing to ceiling to firm outer hip/glut med/min, repeat other side to cleanse pingala nadi by breathing from groin to nostril, hold about 5 breaths each side

Prasarita padotanasana/wide angle pose: restore energy in wide angle, bow to earth, feel you energy releasing down into mother earth, hold 5 breaths, inhale up, exhale step back to mountain at top of mat and absorb shakti prana through feet.

Surya namaskar B/sun salutation B: go slow through utkatasana/thunderbolt or chair, feel groins back, lengthen front of spine, draw upper arms by ears triceps forward, then continue using bandhas in warrior I and through push through as we practiced before, after sun saluation do standing meditation to absorb solar energy – imagine you are in a cave and the sun is shining into the cave and absorbing into your body just as mother nature absorbs the suns energy to build vitality and strength and to promote growth

Parsvakonasana/right angle pose: step out to other side, right angle the same as triangle to open nadis and stretch psoas, repeat both sides, 5 breaths each then step to top of mat

Surya namaskar A/sun saluation A to go to child pose: imagine you are in a cave an absorbing moon light, to cool and calm the body and mind Parivrrta upavista konasana/revolving seated wide angle: back leg turned out to ground sitbone, front leg turned in to release psoas at insertion, torso rotates to leg that is it bending towards to stretch psoas at origin, about 5 breaths each side

Inversion: either viparita karani/legs up the wall or sarvangasana/shoulder stand with matsyasana/fish and pavana muktasana/little boat sequence to finish asana, emphasis on feeling energy and blood flow reverses, all nadis so that the internal kundalini shakti energy can flow up to third eye for pranayam and meditation (inner limbs of practice)

Pranayama: nadi shodhana/nasal passage cleansing, Ida first, use nasagra mudra to seal right nostril, inhale left nostril like you are breathing from groin, exhale lower mudra hand, take 2 gentle breaths, repeat 5 rounds, repeat other side 5 rounds

Meditation: watch breath at nasal passages, direct focus, then switch so that the breath is watching the body and mind, so that the shakti prana or divine mother energy is healing you, absorb the prana

Savanasana: with as little movement as possible to keep to avoid disturbing the flow of prana in the body, make your way to savasana and relax, feel the energy flow and surrender to mother earth, feel her supporting you and the energy flow that you share with divine mother

(Read) How hungry the human heart is for Divine Mother, an umbilical cord that connect us to the womb of being. Feel her energy, all her to restore your sense of trust, allow yourself to feel her with your deepest instincts.

Now place your hands on your lower belly, the womb of your being, and repeat your sankalpa 3 times…feel it vibrate in your lower belly, feel yourself in the womb of the earth and that you have planted your sankalpa into the great womb to be birthed into existence. Then come back slowly at your own pace and return to seated, chant MA three times to close the class.

Pilates Theme: September, 2010

Rollover is an advanced exercise but the warm-ups either one-leg roll-over prep or roll-over prep can be done instead.

With either of these two exercises you can further warm-up or prepare by doing front/back to help your students to find neutral pelvis and then have them place the heels of their hands at the top of their thighs and with the pelvis in neutral position on an inhale (as this prepares for roll-over breathing) you press the thighs away with your hands and flatten the lower abdomen or engage ‘the powerhouse’ and relax on the exhale.

By doing this you train the body to keep the pelvis in neutral position rather than tilting forwards into an anterior tilt as the thighs move forward in space away from the body on an inhalation.

This cueing encourages students to engage the transversus abdominus and the multifidus (‘the powerhouse’ muscles) to active core strength for stability while at the same time doing an inhalation which is opposite to what the body naturally wants to do and so require concentration and practice.

Then, as you do either of the two prep options (start with one-leg roll-over prep and then do roll-over prep either in the same class progressively on do one-leg on class and two-leg the following after which you could introduce the roll-over with just a slight pelvic lift and then a full and then the roll-over and students can stick with what they are able to do either the prep, slight lift or full exercise) and encourage the same awareness and muscle activation as the extended legs go away from the body on the inhale.

This way you gradually build up the ability, strength and muscle co-ordination to properly and safely execute the roll-up.

Yoga Theme: June, 2010

The teaching theme for the summer is not so much a teaching theme as a reinforcement of the idea of yoga as a way of learning to be intrinsically focused rather than extrinsically focused.

This idea is emphasized in the YES I course and is explained in the Class Structure section of the course and manual where motivation is addressed. On January 19, 2010 the Toronto Star published an article called HOW TO MOTIVATE A CHILD that emphasized the importance of teaching children to be intrinsically motivated rather than extrinsically motivated. They refer to extrinsic approaches to motivation as being ‘the
carrot and stick idea of external rewards’ and stated that this Behaviour Psychology approach is not appropriate for the 21st century. New research supports the claim that true motivation comes from within and has three elements:

2. MASTERY and

The article also emphasized that extrinsic or external motivators work for short-term results and simple things, but are not effective for longer term tasks. Teaching in a way that keep the minds of your students internally focused leads to AUTONOMY. Explaining how the body works and why you are doing what are doing in class leads to PURPOSE and keeping the awareness of your students deeply engaged in subtle adjustment to improve posture and body function leads to MASTERY.

“If…then” is terrific at getting compliance but not engagement. the pathway to engagement – whether it’s doing homework or helping around the house – is self-direction not compliance.

I like to call ‘engagement’, absorption or samadhi and teaching engagement is part of Yoga and is the essence of Yoga practice as outlined in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras as well as in other yogic texts. The emphasis on turning awareness inwards to absorb one’s attention into the sensations of breathing and asana through alignment in yoga practice develop within the practitioner intrinsic motivation or drive. This article also goes on to say that external motivators promote addiction, bad behaviour and short-term thinking. So people who are motivated to do yoga because everyone else is doing it or to achieve some kind of external ability such as doing handstands or contortionistic asana or to lose weight are externally motivated. Those who do it to connect with their interior as a way of unifying body, mind and breath which leads to absorption or engagement, well these people develop inner strength or intrinsic motivation and self-direction. Engagement or absorption is the essence of Yoga, but the practice has become polluted by the commercialization of Yoga and the emphasis on Yoga as gymnastics or contortionism.

Motivation is affected by genetics as well as environment, so some people are more predisposed to being intrinsically motivated than others, but it can be learned by anyone and Yoga class is a great place to develop a motivational approach that leads to long term fulfillment and enjoyment of life, because what is enjoyment? It is engagement or absorption which is called SAMADHI in Sanskrit.

Pilates Theme: June, 2010

It is getting harder to come up with Pilates themes as the classical system is limited in terms of themes, especially in comparison to yoga where there are infinite possibilities for teaching themes, so I have decided to go into fundamentals of individual exercises and building them up. You can do one exercise like this each class to improve your students’ mastery of that exercise, or you can teach a whole class that is fundamentals focused. This type of class is less vigorous but its always great to review fundamentals; even if you are physically fit, you can always refine and improve execution and self-awareness.This season I am focusing on ‘The Hundred’. I should have started with ‘The Hundred’ in the spring as it is the first exercise; I did ‘Roll-Up’ instead, but from now on I will go in order.
To build fundamentals for The Hundred, then once you have completed the ‘Pillar Warm-Up’ move into 5 count ribcage breathing as preparation for the rhythm of the breathing in ‘The Hundred’.

Then, it is important that everyone understands how to do a proper ‘C-Scoop’ as this is the first exercise in the mat-work and is done in c-scoop, it make sense to teach ‘C-Scoop’ as a fundamental warm-up if you are emphasizing fundamentals of this exercise.

This includes explaining how to engage the lats and how to do chin nod and then combining both hugging the body with ‘ab curls’ for 3-5 reps. Then you can use the ‘Arms Up/Down’ warm up from fingers to ceiling to the sides of the body on an exhale and then combine with ‘C-Scoop’ to teach how the arms move in one single movement into position next to pelvis when you lift the 5th press point off the floor into ‘C-Scoop’ and repeat this 3-5 reps checking to see that your students are starting with a ‘Chin Nod’ first and are lifting from the 5th press point and not the head.

Then start the actual ‘Hundred’ exercise and walk around to check that everyone’s 5th press-point is off the floor. If it is not, put your hand behind their back between the shoulder blades and lift the 5th press point up. Also check that everyone is looking at their navel (‘Chin Nod’) and remind them to check neutral pelvis; the tendency is to tilt the pelvis into a posterior tilt, so if that is happening the student should press their pubic bone to their tailbone so that the front seam of their pants is level to the floor. Also get them to look at the abdomen and to aim to draw the navel to the spine as they inhale so that they are hallowing or flattening the lower belly during inhalation. This is the essence of pilates breathing and is really emphasized in ‘Ab Curls’ but is done in all the exercises and is especially difficult in
‘C-Scoop’ exercises.

The last thing to check for is the arm movement, make sure that the upper body is not moving, it is still so that the ‘S-Scoop’ position of the body is frozen in space and only the arms move. I also check to see the size of the arm movement and place my hands between the person’s hands about 8 inches apart and tell them hit my bottom and top hand to make sure they are using the right range of motion.

Finally, I also cue that it is like their arms are moving through molasses or a think substances so the arm movement is firm and strong to engage a circulatory warm-up as ‘The Hundred’ is the circulatory warm-up.
Once you cue your students to come out of the ‘C-Scoop’ after 10 sets or 10 arm pumps, then you get everyone to relax the next either by doing neck rolls or chin nods or circles to release any tension in the next to complete ‘The Hundred’ exercise.

Yoga Theme: April, 2010

I feel myself learning to be more compassionate with myself and appreciate the peace and acceptance I find in treating myself with loving kindness and so I want to focus on the theme of caring for ourselves this spring.

At the start of class, once you get the breath flowing, you can focus the energy/prana of the breath into the heart. Feel it awakening the heart just as the earth awakens after winter.

Throughout the class you can focus the awareness of the posture into the heart center to release tensions and create open space in the heart.

As you reach the inner limbs of the practice focus on generating prana in the heart during pranayama and then in meditation bring awareness to all the space that has been created in the heart and then fill it with compassion/loving kindness and feel that energy towards yourself.

You can use the following quotes if you like in meditation and or savasana/relaxation:
Sometimes the smallest things can take up the most room in your heart
– Unknown
Kind words can be short, and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.
– Mother Teresa
(With this one you can also mention to speak kindly to yourself and others, to speak from your heart)

Pilates Theme: April, 2010

It is getting harder to come up with Pilates themes as the classical system is limited in terms of themes, especially in comparison to yoga where there are infinite possibilities for teaching themes, so I have decided to go into fundamentals of individual exercises and building them up.

This month I am focusing on ‘The Roll Up’. It is great to break it down and build it up slowly to give your students the experience of greater ease or new found success in this challenging exercise.

So you will first teach the modified basic variation, but even before you teach roll-back, sometimes called roll-down, in neutral position get your students to pelvic rocks/clock to feel the difference between tilting the pelvis forward and tilting the pelvis backwards, then focus on the backwards tilt which is imprinting the spine and then going to neutral position, after 5 repetitions of each, have your students roll onto one side and use their hands to push the floor away to transition in to ‘roll-back’.

Teach roll back progressively, once press point at a time, in other words, exhale to tailbone a couple times, then powerhouse then third press point, reminding them at the start of the exercise that they are going to roll the pelvis back just like you just finished with in the ‘pelvic rock warm-up.

Then teach ab prep as usual, emphasizing the 4th press point knitting the ribs and anchoring down as you relax the elbows side.

Then do ‘arms up down warm-up’, isolating it from fingers to the ceiling and exhale as the arms go back to the floor focusing on knitting the ribs and anchoring the 4th press point explaining to your students that all that is missing from roll up at this point is how to use the 4th press point to get from c-scoop to the end position of roll-back/down where the 3rd press point is on the floor.

Then do the modified roll up, inhale fingers to the ceiling, exhale chin nod lift the 5th press point off the floor arms parallel to the floor into c-scoop and reach forwards as you anchor the 4th press point to get it off the floor, keep the arms parallel to the floor as you roll up and as you roll down, widening the collar bones so that the movement is from the pillar rather than the shoulders.

Repeat 5-6 times.

Yoga Theme: January, 2010

Winter is the perfect time to practice meditation. Open with this quote:

Do not dwell on the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.

Then teach a whole class where you keep your student’s mind focused on a single point, in the present moment. Narrow the minds’ of your students through the whole class and remind them to return their mind back to the point of focus if their mind wanders. Be clear about what the point of focus is by stating it, use one alignment cue, re-phrase what you are saying or repeat it in the same way over and over again so you stick to that one point of focus for at least a minute, then go to the next one and do the same throughout the whole class. Once you get to the meditation the mind will be still. Close with this quote during meditation:

To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.

Then in savasana emphasize the expansion that occurs in the mind after narrowing the focus for a long time and this mind expansion is samadhi, expanded consciousness. Let them rest in samadhi in silence.

Pilates Theme: January 2010

The Power of Pillar

Focus on the pillar throughout the class. Start with the Pillar warm up and the focus on it throughout class, especially in side kick series, swan prep, swimming and mermaid. Keep the focus on the pillar of strength throughout class. At the end of class get your students to feel their inner strength and how physical strength can merge into emotional and mental strength. Remember your inner strength is available to you anytime you need it.

The Seated Forward Fold Pose


Susie’s Thesis: The Effects of Meditation on Perceived Stress

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