Drop to the floor and get your bouncing piriformis warm up and stretch happening.  Your back will love you!

Drop to the floor and get your bouncing piriformis warm up and stretch happening.  Your back will love you!

Drop to the floor and get your bouncing piriformis warm up and stretch happening.  Your back will love you!

Bouncing the leg to warm up the piriformis musculature - Yoga with Gail - Easing Back Pain
Bouncing the leg to warm up the piriformis musculature – Yoga with Gail – Easing Back Pain
Piriformis Bounce & Reclined Pigeon Pose - Ease Back Pain - Yoga with Gail
Piriformis Bounce & Reclined Pigeon Pose – Ease Back Pain – Yoga with Gail

Props and Gear for your Yoga practice . . .

Props and Gear for your Yoga practice.

Yoga with Gaileee Zafu Meditation Cushion
Yoga with Gail –  Star Meditation Cushion

Sew if you have any sewing ability, you can make these items for your Yoga practice.

  • A Yoga Bag by Amy Butler
    Yoga Mat Bag
  • A Lavender Eye Pillow by Amy Butler
    Lavender Eye Pillow
  • A Zafu Meditation Pillow taken down from the Michigan Buddhist Site.  Here are the instructions.

     

    Yoga with Gaileee Zafu Meditation Cushion
    Yoga with Gaileee Zafu Meditation Cushion
    • Zafu

      How to make a Zafu

    First, what is a zafu? It’s a cushion to sit on during sitting meditation.

    Do I need one? Nope.

    Having said that, here are some instructions which I borrowed from a wonderful web site called No Zendo. Unfortunately they are no longer online.

    The following information was originally published by the Zen Center of Los Angeles and was found in one of their fine books, entitled “To Forget the Self: An Illustrated Guide to Zen Meditation” by John Daishin Buksbazen. Unfortunately, this book is now out of print. It is gratefully presented here as a help for those getting started on their own.

    SUGGESTED FABRIC

    A sturdy material such as a cotton/polyester blend

    SUGGESTED FILLING

    Kapok fiber, although buckwheat hulls can be used for those who prefer a firmer seat

    BASIC PIECES

  • Length of cloth 59 inches long, 6 inches to 9 inches wide (depending on how high you would like your cushion to be).
  • Two circles of cloth, each with a diameter of 11 inches to 13 inches (depending on how large around you would like your cushion to be.)
  • STEP 1.
    Pleat the length of cloth. There should be fourteen 3/4 inch pleats, 3 inches apart. To pleat:
    a) Beginning 6-1 /2 inches from the left edge of the length, make three marks, 3/4 inch apart, thus marking out the first pleat:

    cushions1

    Three inches after the first set of pleat markings, make the second set, as indicated above. Continue doing this till you have 14 pleats. When you finish, the last pleat marking should be 3 inches from the right edge. (If you wish to have narrower pleats, of course, simply increase the number of pleats.)

    b) Next, iron the pleats and pin them. They should all be folded and ironed in toward the left-hand side. For each set of pleat markings, fold the third in toward the first as shown, and then pin as shown at below:

    cushions2

    STEP 2.
    Now, having completed the first step, take the right edge of the pleated strip cloth and pin it to the left end of the strip, 3-1/4 inches from the left edge:

    cushions3

    STEP 3.
    Mark each circle of cloth at four equidistant points. Turn pleated length of cloth inside out. Pin each circle to the pleated strip, one circle to the top edge and one to the bottom edge, at each of the four points:

    cushions4

    STEP 4.
    Next, ease (pin) all the pleats in to the circles, top and bottom. Sew the circles to the length of cloth:

    cushions5

    STEP 5.
    Turn inside out and stuff with kapok or buckwheat hulls (through opening in the side that the zafu will have) It’s best to use a lot of stuffing material. Kapok will slowly compress with use and buckwheat hulls eventually breakdown:

    That’s it!
    You could sew a zipper in the opening or simply sew it closed.

    Instructables instructions on making your own meditation pillow.

     

  • A Meditation Bench, bench to sit on during kneeling meditation.  Site down, so I’ve included the instructions here:

Seiza – Meditation Bench from Wood

How to make a Seiza

Seiza1

First, what is a seiza? It is a bench to sit on during kneeling meditation.

Sitting_Seiza

Do I need one? Nope.

WHAT YOU NEED

  • A sheet of wood, ¾-inch (2 cm) thick, and approximately 20 by 20 inches (52 cm). Alternatively, you might use scraps of wood of various sizes, according to the actual sections required.
  • At least ten 1¼-inch (3 cm) countersink woodscrews
  • A hand saw for wood (a cross-cut hand saw, if available, or possibly an electric table saw/rip saw)
  • A drill (or powerdrill), a small drill bit for wood, and a countersink bit or a countersink tool
  • Wood glue
  • Two or more C-clamps
  • Sandpaper (and perhaps a disc-sander)

CHOOSING THE WOOD

Any strong, solid wood used for furniture will work. Be sure the wood doesn’t bend easily (you’ll be sitting on this), and that it wont split when screws are put into the narrow sides.

A solid, single piece of wood like pine or cedar will probably look better and be easier to work with — especially if you plan to varnish or stain the wood later. Avoid standard plywood and chipboard, which will probably bend, flake or disintegrate. Make sure your wood is flat and not warped. Solid scraps of wood that match the sizes needed could work fine as well; your seiza doesn’t need to be fancy, just functional.

CUTTING THE LENGTHS

You need to cut five pieces of wood, like this:

seiza2

MAKING THE LEGS

Ensuring symmetry

After cutting, the parts may be a little rough — one leg may not exactly match the other. Even wood bought from a shop may not have edges that are exactly straight.

To fix this, simply clamp the legs together and sand the edges until they all match. If you can, get a few of the sides to line up before starting; it will provide a good reference point. Try to clamp the sides together in an ‘average’ position, to minimize how much sanding is needed. Don’t worry about detail sanding right now, such as rounding corners for aesthetic purposes. Right now you just want things to line up.

Before long, you should have two identical legs.

THE FIRST LEG

Attach the reinforcement to the inside edge of the leg, in the center of the slanted edge. Like this:
Seiza3

Line up the edges of the two pieces as best you can. Measure the distance to both edges, so that the little piece is in the middle of the leg’s edge. Clamp the two pieces together using C-clamps. Place one at each side, along the flat edges (not the slanted edge) of the leg, so that they’re not in the way of your work. You need to small drill holes in the pieces. The holes shown here are bigger, for clarity.

Seiza4

Using a drill, bore two pilot holes for screws into both pieces of wood. Pilot holes guide the screws and prevent the wood from splitting. Use a drill bit around half the diameter of the woodscrews, or a little smaller. If the diameter is too large, the woodscrews won’t get a strong grip and the seiza could break easily.

After drilling the pilot holes, you to countersink them. Countersink screws have a triangular head with a flat top, designed to sit flush with the surface of the wood. Countersinking makes a similar triangular shape into the top of the pilot hole, to allow the woodscrew to be flush to the surface:

Seiza5

Once the pilot holes are drilled and countersinking is done, join the pieces together. Release the C-clamps, add a little glue between the pieces, re-clamp, and screw the pieces together. Be careful to put the screws in from the outside — from the larger leg, into the smaller reinforcement:

Make sure the screws are tight, wipe off any excess glue, and leave it to dry for a few minutes.

THE SECOND LEG

Be careful which side you attach the reinforcement to on the second leg. It needs to be the opposite of the first. Take the first piece, and place it with the slant coming down from the back to the front. Whichever side the reinforcement is on will be the inside. Take the other leg, and place it further over, across the inside edge, and then place the second reinforcement on the new leg’s inside edge:

Seiza6

Line up the pieces, clamp them together, drill and countersink the pilot holes, unclamp, glue, clamp again, and finally screw the pieces together. Remember to drill the holes and put the screws in from the outside edge, opposite the reinforcement, and when finished, allow some time for the glue to set before removing the clamps.

COMPLETING THE LEGS

When the legs are assembled, sand off the top slanted edge to make sure that the reinforcement and the leg edge are even. The seat should be flat against the legs to best distribute your weight evenly.

THE SEAT

Place the seat on top of the two legs, making sure the reinforcements are on the inside edge. Line everything up, so that the edges of the seat are tight against the edges of the legs.

You could move the legs in slightly to allow the seat to overhang the legs, creating a more interesting shape. This could make it more difficult to line up the seat screws, and you need to have enough space for your legs underneath the bench.

Clamp your seat down by placing the C-clamps around the seat and the reinforcement bars. If you have a limited number of clamps, place them diagonally opposite around the seat. Even two clamps will do, but four would be ideal.

Drill and countersink three pilot holes in each side of the seat. Two should go through the seat into each leg, and the other should be further in, so that it goes into the reinforcement. Measure all the distances carefully, so that the screws are centered and symmetrical on each side. Something like this:

Seiza7

It’s particularly important to countersink the holes properly, since they’re on the seat that you’re going to sit on. If they’re not deep enough, the screws will sit up and be rough. Once the holes are drilled, release the clamps and apply glue to the top of the legs. Re-clamp, and screw down. Leave the clamps for a while so the glue can dry.

Once the glue dries, you’re done!

Finishing

Finally, check once more that it sits well. Hopefully, you won’t have any major problems with one leg an inch lower than the other. If you notice a little rocking, it should be easy to fix by sanding the bottom surfaces to be even.

You can cover the screw holes completely with a product called ‘plastic wood.’ Or try just mixing some wood glue with sawdust you made earlier, place it into the recessed screw hole, and sanding it down when dry.

You have a few finishing options. You can stain it to match your other furniture, or make it look like a more interesting kind of wood perhaps — or you can varnish it to give it a professional, glossy finish that’s easy to clean.

A smooth well-sanded surface is important. You don’t want to sit on, or even carry a seat that’s rough. Splinters aren’t much fun! If you are planning to use a varnish, sanding will be an important first step. Sanding by hand is pretty simple — just keep going in a circular pattern, with very light pressure, until things feel smooth. Pay particular attention to corners and edges. It’s nice to get those smoothly curved — especially at the front where your legs will leave the seat.

Suggestions

The folks at the WildMind website suggest that seiza benches require more hand support than other meditation methods. You may want to use an extra pillow to support your hands more fully above your waist as you kneel. WildMind has lots of great guidance on posture, though — I’d suggest referring to that site, if you’re having difficulties.

About this guide

http://www.michiganbuddhist.com/seiza – original site

  • And make your own bolsters. Now I found an article in one of my sewing books, “Sewing for the Outdoors”, but then I found this on the internet… the same concept. I used a roll of quilt batting, figured out how circle part on the bottom….well, kinda like the instructions for the yoga mat. Here’s a link…

I used some cotton material that I had around the house. I used this same concept, to cover a neck roll that I had so that I could also use this in restorative yoga poses.

Here’s another link for making a stuff sack, or a cover for your cylinder shaped bolster…

p.s.s. Update,Simplicity 3583 and McCalls 4261. Get them when they are on sale at Hobby Lobby or JoAnn’s Fabric Store, or Hancocks.

This just in. Yoga effective in lessening chronic back pain.

This just in.  Yoga effective in lessening chronic back pain.

This just in!
A new study reports that weekly classes of yoga or intensive stretching are equally effective at reducing low back pain and improving back movement. Both proved better than a self-care book, and their benefits lasted several months after the classes ended.

Each year, Americans spend over $50 billion on low back pain. It is the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading reason for missed work. A variety of treatments are available, but none have proved to be highly effective for chronic back pain. In addition, little is known about the comparative effectiveness of these therapies.

thisjustinyogaeffectiveinlesseningbackpain
Gentle Yoga for Low Back Care
National Institute for Health (NIH) – Yoga eases moderate to severe chronic low back pain

Researchers found that yoga was as effective as standard physical therapy for treating moderate to severe chronic low back pain in people in under served communities.

The results suggest yoga may be useful as a treatment option for people with chronic low back pain.

To study whether yoga helps alleviate pain and improve movement for people from under served communities, a team led by Dr. Robert Saper at Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center studied 320 predominantly low-income, racially diverse adults with moderate to severe chronic low back pain.

The participants were randomly divided into three treatment groups. One group received 12 weekly yoga classes designed specifically for people with chronic back pain; one received 15 physical therapy visits over 12 weeks; and one was given an educational book and newsletters about self-care for chronic low back pain.

The researchers found that all three groups reported improvement in physical function and pain reduction. However, people in the yoga and physical therapy treatment groups were significantly more likely than those in the education-only group to stop taking pain relievers after one year. These findings suggest that a structured yoga program may be a reasonable alternative to physical therapy for people with chronic low back pain.

“There are now a number of studies, including ours, that show that yoga is effective for chronic low back pain, but until ours those studies included mostly white and middle-class individuals,” Saper explains. “Chronic low back pain disproportionately impacts those who are economically disadvantaged. Therefore, we feel that it was important to test whether the yoga would be received well by an under served population as well as being effective.” —by Tianna Hicklin, Ph.D.

https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/yoga-eases-moderate-severe-chronic-low-back-pain

nihstudy
Gentle Yoga with Gail. Mondays 6:15 PM Thursdays 10:00 AM

Contact Gail to see about your session of yoga to help you with your back challenges.

 

Props and Gear for your Yoga practice – sew them up!

Props and Gear for your Yoga practice – sew them up!

Sew if you have any sewing ability, you can make these items for your Yoga practice.

  • yogamatbagA Yoga Bag by Amy Butler  – Yoga Mat Bag 

  • A Lavender Eye Pillow by Amy Butler – Lavender Eye Peyepillowillow

  • A cool headband, to keep that hair out of the way …. at Headband for the hair!

diyheadbandcollection

Head Scarf 1 

Head Scarf 2

Head Scarf 3 

Head Scarf 4

Head Scarf 5

zafu1
Part I on Zafu Instructions
zafu3
Part II
zafu2
Zafu III

.

zafu4
Last Zafu instruction
  • Make your own bolsters. Now I found an article in one of my sewing books,
    “Sewing for the Outdoors”, but then I found this on the internet… the same concept.
    I used a roll of quilt batting, figured out how circle part on the bottom….well, kinda like the instructions for the yoga mat. Here are some links.

Stuff Sack Instruction #1

I used some cotton material that I had around the house. I used this same concept, to cover a neck roll that I had so that I could also use this in restorative yoga poses.

Here’s another link for making a stuff sack, or a cover for your cylinder shaped bolster…

stuffsack_step14

Stuff Sack Instructions #2

and lastly here is another link for making the “stuffed bolster sack…”

Stuff Sack Instructions #3

Enjoy making your own yoga props!

Gail Pickens-Barger, International and Experience Certified and Registered Yoga Teacher

Additional sites for sewing up your yoga gear yoga props.

Fig and Plum’s Make a Yoga Mat Bag!

Threads 2003 Issue Make a Yoga Mat Carrier

Martha Stewart’s Yoga Mat Bag Instructions!

CraftBits Instructions on Making your own Yoga Mat Bag.

Making a yoga mat bag from an old pair of jeans!

A Yoga Mat “wrap”. A nice variation on transporting your yoga mat to and fro

Zafu’s – Zabutton’s or meditation seated cushions

Zafu

Vintage Yoga

Vintage Yoga with Jack LaLanne

Vintage yoga by Jack LaLanne. I remember watching him on TV, when I was young. It was on a black and white TV though…..years, years ago. Lots of “Chair Yoga” stuff that he did for folks. Accessible exercise from home.

Beginners Yoga with Gail Pickens-Barger,  Mondays at 6:15 pm. $10 at Wesley UMC, 3515 Helena Avenue, Nederland, Texas.  409-727-3177.  Come a bit early your first time.

36121385_10105853557121572_5686366782407835648_o
UpDog or Cobra on the chair
36245573_10105853557236342_9063727127504879616_o
Downward Facing Dog with the Chair
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