Monday, July 16, 2012

Wow!  It is hard to believe that i have not posted a blog since March!  My own healing journey required turning within .  With an intent to not over extend myself, the blog postings were part of the contraction,  in reducing my work load.

ONE YOGA continues on Monday night's in Sebastopol, at Devi Yoga Center, starting at 7:15pm.

In the last couple of months, i have been focusing the ONE YOGA classes to promote neurological health; sharing a variety of breath techniques, spinal fluidity stretches, and promotion of fluidic health
I am recalling when I first started practicing yoga, 40 years ago!  It was a similar transformational time in my life.  Leaving college at the end of my sophomore year, I was inspired to move to 'the land,' co-founding  a commune, and exploring the path of health- physical, emotional, psychological,communal, and spiritual.

This was a time of tremendous growth as i explored improving my health and the health of the community, by incorporating vegetarian cooking, organic gardening, chopping wood, baking bread; practicing good karma and taking on health and consciousness skills including daily hatha yoga, meditation, inter-religious dialogue, and the study of local flora with special interest in healing plants and herbs.  Oh yes, i also took up recorder!

This is an interesting time in our lives; whether we pay attention to it or not, we are all aging!  I am very confident of the importance of  regular physical activity and the tremendous benefit that we can gain from the practice of conscious yoga!  I invite you to drop in for a class or two during this summer season of One Yoga!
Best wishes for you,
Yusuf Quddus Erskine DO

Monday, March 12, 2012

ONE YOGA 3/12/2012


Tonight we further explored fluid-ic movement. 

After standing warm-ups, involved with stretching, lengthening and connecting with the earth below and the heavens above, we progressed to slow oscillating flexions toward the floor in front of us and then rolling up to upright standing and allowing in the subsequent exhalation, an gentle backward bend (extension).  Expanding beyond this basic frame of flexion / extension, we allowed the hips to rotate to one side and the other and explored pendulum like movements.

Preceding beyond the warmups, relying upon the foundation of classic yoga stretches, we moved around, through, in and out of a few classic poses, rather than holding them as 'completed statements'.  Utilizing the water breath, (in through the nose and out through the mouth),  we moved using two primary patterns:
circles and pendulums. 
 For example, about half way through the class, we came onto our abdomens and worked around the template of the COBRA, unwinding through space, inner and outer.
1. classic cobra, with a rise and a descent;
2. continuing with cobra but adding movement away from the mid-line and towards;
3. pendulum through the cobra, inhaling on the way up, breathing through the nose, and exhaling through open mouth,  as we descended towards the floor;exploring 180 degrees of space in front of us.  
4. Progressing from pendulum into circular motions, around the fulcrum of the cobra pose.  Inhaling through the nose on the way up, activating, an impulse of your will lifting..... then exhaling, through the mouth, surrendering to the exhale, flow, wave following the wave move through the continuum of your being.

Similar explorations were experienced building on Cat tilt pose, table pose and cow pose; adding side-bending away and towards the spine and rotations around the spinal axis.  

Then, lying onto our backs on our mats, with knees bent,, arms out at shoulders height, and the addition of some background soothing music, again incorporating the water breath, we explored a more classic continuum 'dive', allowing our knees and legs to explore the space within and without and progressively incorporating more of the totality of our body into a pendulum like wave through the body; continuing until arms and shoulders were participating as well.  Allowing the breath to take us into a deeper appreciation of the inner space within us, we explored the totality of our bodies, as if the skin of our bodies is like the canvas of a tent, and we feel the total volume of our beings.  Participants were encouraged to explore areas within the total volume where they felt density or dampening and allowed the breath to diffuse freely through the totality!  

Lastly, a classic final relaxation, with optional inner inventory scan from toes to scalp.  7 minutes of interior repose!

Greetings to you all.  Love to hear your comments!

Yusuf Quddus Erskine DO 

Monday, March 5, 2012

ONE YOGA with Yusuf Quddus Erskine 3-5-2012

March 5, 2012 ONE YOGA Class Synopsis       Class 2, Series 2, 2012

Namaste!  We began with the Buddha breath, 4-7-8. sitting in a comfortable upright position.

Tonight, we really worked deeply with Forward folds!  But, to be able to go deeply into these folds, we started with opening up the hips, knees and feet with progressive stretches, softening and lubricating the main joints of the body .
Hip openers, knee openers ( have you answered the phone?) prepared us for deeper forwards folding of our bodies.. Within the forward fold, we explored rotation and sidebending of the upper body, flowing with the breath, in pendulum like motions. While stretching forward over one straighten leg and the other leg bent and that foot resting on top of the straight thigh,  we stretched forward with the straight arms, along side our ears.  Then we explore left rotation and left sidebending followed by right rotation and right sidebending.  Changing the leg positions ( mirror image) we then repeated the forward fold and oscillating rotations and sidebending opening within the forward fold!   

Balance is always in my mind!  So after this deep opening forward fold, we placed our bolsters behind us,with  the long axis of the bolster mimicking our long spines!  Then we rolled down onto the bolsters, with the short side of the bolster snugged up to our lumbar-sacral junction.  And breathed deeply, balanced breathing, and allowed our bodies to open up with extension of the lumbar spine.

After thoroughly softening into the bolsters, we began to oscillate with the breath, turning the head to one side, allowing the shoulder blades to snug into the bolster.  After a breath or two, returning to the midline, only to then explore the opposite head rotation.   Explore different places within the arcs of these rotations of the head and play with sidebending into and out of the points in the arc that you feel drawn to experience!

Then, we explored Opening the hips and the shoulders with large circular motions of one extremity at a time.

Unwound, we began to settle into a final relaxation; allowing subtle nodding of the head to occur with the breath if further movement was felt appropriate individually.  Coming into stillness, into inner and outer peace.

When it is time to come out of the final relaxation pose, tonight, we closed with the breath that we started the evening with  4-7-8, which i refer to as the Buddha breath.  (see prior blogs for more details of how to do the 4-7-8 breath) promoting Autonomic Nervous System balancing. 

Yusuf Quddus Erskine DO

Monday, February 27, 2012

Feb 27, 2012 ONE YOGA CLASS

February 27, 2012 - Class one of  Series Two :  ONE YOGA with Yusuf Quddus Erskine DO

Tonight, we started the series with an exploration of our FLUIDIC bodies. Drawing on the Water Element Breath, (inhaling through the nostrils and exhaling through rounded open lips); we began exploring freedom of movement from within, which we can access when we identify with our fluidic bodies. In contrast to traditional yoga movements which often have a distinct linear quality and in which an endpoint is achieved and maintained for several moments, with this fluidic (Continuum movement inspired ) bodily expression, we explore deeply the fluidic qualities of movement within our bodies. 

After comfortably entering into this zone of fluidic awareness, we began to explore pendulum movements through the movement of the head and upper back; exploring the area within and around the body radiating from the neck's vertebral column.  Image the circumference which would be drawn by the chin if we completed a wide circular movement of the neck. Now, that this circle has been drawn, envision 360 points along the circumference of this circle. Furthermore, see the area of the circle as comprising of four quadrants.   Explore pendulum movements through these four quadrants starting in one quadrant for example left anterior quadrant and move in a pendulum like flow through the left and then right anterior quadrants and explore the right posterior quadrant, finding a resting point with the back of your head on the circumference.  After pausing, begin to move like a pendulum in the opposite direction, from right posterior to right anterior through to left anterior quadrant but pausing at a different point on the circumference then where you initially started. 

Explore further pendulum movements, going with the flow, incorporating rotational and side-bending motions as you move your head and neck.  Pausing intermittently to feel a pause and await the wave within to move in a graceful unwind.
When ready, expand your reference point from within the neck area to include the upper thorax, especially between the shoulder blades.  Allow your body to flex and extend, forward and backward as you further explore pendulum movements. Continue to explore making contact with the circumference projected around your body. 

When you start to feel it is time to come back to center, take your time, continuing with the water breath, to move through your center and pendulum until you feel at ease and still within your center.


Monday, February 20, 2012

It was a great class to end the first series of 2012.  New series starting next Monday.  Great time to come into our class energy.  We started tonight standing, stretching, opening and unwinding, a pre- Sun Salutation warm up.   A handout was given to help participants do the SUN SALUTATION at home!  We worked from the head downward, through neck, shoulder, upper back, lower back, pelvis and legs.
We explored Triangle pose and Warrior. 
Some of the basic components of Continuum movement were explored, open awareness, whole body fluidic experience, breath work and introduction of wave movement into the fluidic body.
Then a great Final Relaxation, several class members spent a few minutes in snore zone!
Finished with a round of 4-7-8 breaths.  Great momentum to move into the next series. Hope to see you soon!
Yusuf Erskine DO 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Tonight, we explored in depth - standing structural side-bending and rotation. Essentially, we worked from a regional perspective, starting with the cervicals, then upper thorax, progressing downward to middle and low thorax, and continuing down to lumbar and sacrum.  Of course we recruited the upper limbs and the legs to enhance our flexibility.  After working regionally, we moved more globally into Surya Namastar or the Sun Salutation!  Continuing to work the regions as we moved the whole body.

After our Sun Salutation circuit,  we did some neck rolls while seated in a comfortable cross legged position, then recruited the whole body with deeper circular movements encouraging head toward one knee and circling toward the other knee and then rising up and circling around toward the other knee.

We transitioned to final relaxation with practicing the Buddha Breath sequence 5-9-10.  ( see prior blogs for more thorough description).  Then we dove into a pleasant 5 minute final relaxation dive into repose.

Try this Buddha Breath and Final relaxation practice at home.  It takes less than 5 minutes...
Good health to you! 
Yusuf Quddus Erskine DO

Monday, January 16, 2012

January 16, 2012
             ONE YOGA with Yusuf-Quddus Erskine DO

Tonight's class began with me sharing a few thoughts about the recent NY Times article on Yoga (Jan 8) which has quite a few people agitated.   It is a delusion to think that Yoga is uniquely 'protected' from the risk of injury. I think with the publishing of this article, it is a good moment to remember that Yoga is about yoking, or integrating body, mind, spirit; it is about being fully present in your body, opening your being and the practice of  balancing strength and flexibility.  The article attempts to bust the notion that you can do yoga and not be concerned about injures. It  especially, focuses on  yoga classes, with examples of teachers prodding, pushing or overextending students resulting in injuries, some which have been permanent.

  When doing yoga, truly doing yoga, I have always encouraged students to tune within, to find an interior point of reference, observing locally and at the same time globally, as you move through yogic poses or Asanas.  Another way i speak of it, is for you to be in the zone around the edges of your capabilities;  after entering the zone, back off from your edge and utilize the breath, not the will or muscular strength to explore opening and releasing.  

I know i am dating myself, when i talk about the 'good old days'; the late 60's and early 1970's when yoga first broke into American mainstream consciousness.  However, the yoga I was exposed to was taught as part of a transmission of information, interior knowing, and an integrative relation to your body, mind and inner being.  The outer form may have been less defined, without 50, 100 or 250 hours of training certificates, but the student did not get invited to teach until the intention, inner insight and yoked experience was grasped. 

Yogic teaching included the tenet of ahimsa or non-violence, toward oneself and toward one another.
Therefore, instead of focusing on say 'the slaying a tight hamstring', one practiced developing attention skills, focusing locally and globally in your body, stretching,relaxing, letting go, and moving towards greater openness via concentration and relaxation;  and allowing transformational release to occur. The practice of concentration is called Dhyarana in yogic philosophy. With the practice of concentration, the yogic student can explore the triad of concentration, contemplation, and meditative realization.

(In my workshops, when we have a few hours to explore the depth and scope of yoga, I generally include explorations involving this triad. 

Yoga relies on the breath and prana or life force which is infused in the breath to be directed through the breath to open and vitalize the body, allowing the release of  restrictive strain patterns in the body, whether structural, traumatic, emotional or psychological in origin.  The practice of conscious breathing is called Pranayama and is a core tenet to the practice of yoga.

In the last couple of years, I have been encouraging the 4-7-8 Buddha Breath because of its ability to promote the fuller expression of the parasympathetic autonomic nervous system (core functions: sleep, eat, breed)  and to disengage, reduce the sympathetic (fight or flight) autonomic nervous system, which has been 'entrained' in our modern civilization, and finds its expression with disease patterns such as hypertension (high blood pressure) and heart disease.

So, continue to explore yoga,  ONE YOGA!  Enjoy the opening of your body, promote the flexibility of your mind as well as your body, expand the spectrum of emotions you are able to feel and express; and reconnect with your inner self!


Yusuf Quddus Erskine DO


ONE YOGA:  January 9, 2012
Second class of ONE YOGA 2012 winter series tonight focused on shoulder and upper extremities. Of course we warmed up, standing. Then we did a deep, sun salutation, exploring, deepening and opening up as we prepared for unwinding the shoulders.
Great group of students tonight. Drop in's welcome if you have some prior yoga experience.
Namaste! yusuf quddus

Monday, January 2, 2012

January 2012 ONE YOGA Class

First series of 2012 is off to a nice start. 

After centering breath work, we started with the cervical area tonight,  exploring cervical (neck) range of motion, gross and subtle.  Unwinding the myofascial cervical realm!

Then, we explored deep forward folds, culminating in the STAR pose, holding it as a restorative pose.
After this deep, relaxing forward fold, we transitioned to supine bolster supported lordotic curve enhancement stance.  Unfolding and lengthening our spines.

Deep final relaxation culminated the evening.

Drink plenty of water and sleep well tonight!

Yusuf Quddus Erskine DO