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Saturday, April 28th

2-5 pm

at

Jennifer Brilliant Yoga

732 Carroll St.

Park Slope, Brooklyn

 

Thai Massage, or Nuad Bo-Rarn as it is known in Thailand, is an ancient holistic therapy with its roots in Buddhism, yoga, Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine. Thai Massage sees illness as reflecting an imbalance in the body/mind/spirit, and seeks to re-establish harmony by an interactive manipulation of the body using passive stretching and gentle pressure along acupressure points and energy lines (called Sen lines). The effect is uniquely relaxing as well as energizing. Sessions are traditionally performed on a floor mat with the client comfortably dressed in loose clothing. Therapists and clients both feel the positive, meditative effects of the massage.

This class is a fun way to learn some Thai stretching and massage techniques that can easily be done on friends and family.

 

Who Should Attend:
No massage experience needed! This class is for couples, friends, parents and teenagers, yoga teachers/students, physical therapists, massage therapists, personal trainers, and anyone else with an interest in learning and experiencing the gifts of Thai Yoga Massage.

Class Time is fun and interactive. After an explanation of the techniques and demonstration of the movements, students are led through the series.

 

What to Bring:
Work is done fully clothed, so wear loose, comfortable, modest clothing, long pants preferred (no short shorts or skirts or jeans); bring layers in case if you get cool or warm; have finger and toe nails trimmed short; bring clean socks; any cuts or wounds treated and covered, do not eat a heavy meal before class.

 

 

Early Bird Sign Up (before April 26th): $65 per person or $115 per couple

After April 27th: $75 per person or $130 per couple

 

 

Email Jennifer Brilliant to Sign Up

Jennifer@JenniferBrilliant.com

The woman who taught me Thai Yoga Massage is about 9 inches shorter and 40 pounds lighter than I am and yet, I once watched her lift and balance a heavy, muscle-bound guy who was three times her size on her knees, as if it was the easiest thing in the world.

This display of super human strength is what drew me to Thai Massage in the first place.

That and the massages.

But my gluttonous love of massage aside, the idea that I could move, lift and bend people into yoga stretches that they normally couldn’t deepen into on their own appealed to me. For years, I’ve been engaging in a form of dance called Contact Improvisation, one of the aspects of which involves using momentum and the body’s structure to lift and be lifted by another person somewhat effortlessly. It’s a wonderful partnership built on listening, compassion, and surrender. The idea that there was a body therapy that combined this with yoga and massage seemed too good to be true.

Thai Yoga Massage is very much like a partner dance between practitioner and client. The practitioner uses their hands, feet, arms, legs, and body weight, leverage and momentum to gently guide the client into various passive stretches that often resemble yoga postures. A rhythmic, rocking motion is used to fluidly position the client and increase the amount of stretch. The more attuned the practitioner and the more relaxed the client, the more harmonious, healing and beneficial the dance becomes.

My teacher once asked us which we preferred, giving or receiving Thai Massage. None of us had a direct response one way or the other. Both were equally enjoyable, albeit for different reasons. As a practitioner, you create sacred space of all that is within the boundaries of the Thai Massage mat, yourself and your client included. The movements are swift and slow, like Thai Chi. The gentle rocking and sway of your body is akin to floating in a calm ocean. It creates a meditative peace that washes over both you and the client.

The meditative buzz for both the practitioner and client makes sense when you consider that Thai massage was developed by The Buddha’s personal physician, Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha, more than 2,500 years ago. From India, the practice traveled to Thailand, where the Ayurvedic techniques implicit in Thai Massage gradually became influenced by traditional Chinese medicine. Drawing from both influences, the philosophy behind Thai Massage is to view physical illness or discomfort as a result of an imbalance in the body, mind, and/or spirit. The practice then is to re-establish harmony through guided manipulation of the body using passive stretching and gentle pressure along Acupressure points and energy lines called Sen lines. There are said to be 72,000 of these lines, however, there are 10 main lines that are sufficient to treat the whole body and its internal organs.

When energy flow is blocked or restricted, the result is physically felt, whether in the form of fatigue, muscle aches, sickness or disease. Thai Massage works to clear these blockages and return stasis to the flow of energy. The result is a seemingly paradoxical sensation of feeling both relaxed and energized at the same time. Added benefits of Thai Massage include reduction in stress, improved flexibility and circulation, and mental clarity. The effects are felt and visible immediately. Recipient and practitioner leave sessions with a glow of peaceful calm.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch Changes

“In this world, nothing is certain but death and taxes.”
–Benjamin Franklin

After months of procrastinating, I just this week sent off my tax returns. And while adding up my receipts, this Ben Franklin quote kept going through my head. The thing that kept me from from getting my taxes done earlier – as I am typically quite an advanced planner, is that I am also preparing to move to a new apartment. Taxes weren’t the only thing I found myself avoiding; I’ve been putting off packing too.

At first it didn’t make any sense. I’ve been talking about moving for quite some time and I am actually looking forward to it. But I couldn’t bring myself to begin packing. Over the three years that I’ve lived in this apartment, I’ve grown to become rather comfortable here. I created quite a beautiful sanctuary for myself and I found that I have been reluctant to take the pictures off the wall, gather up all my little treasures, put them into boxes and go somewhere else. It is the change I am resisting – that other pesky little thing we can all be certain of – that things change.

Even now, looking outside my window at the magnolia tree in the backyard bursting with flowers or the daffodils that seem to have sprung up overnight, I am reminded that in nature, there lies a world that continuously gives and receives, gets and let go. Each season transitions to the next, the new moon becomes a full moon, leaves fall and new leaves take their place.

Our lives and events are governed by the same universal cycle – birth, growth, decline, rest, and renewal. Endings are not an exception to the rule, they are the rule. So why then do we blame ourselves or others when we are faced with change? Why do we fight so hard against it?

Maybe we believe that there is something wrong with endings, that they are unnatural. Perhaps, like myself, we are comfortable and want to avoid the temporary upheaval that change will bring.  Do we fear the unknown? Is it because we are not in control of how and when endings and change will occur?

Whatever the reason, yoga teaches us that change is not only inevitable but necessary for growth and transformation. So instead of resisting the changes that will undoubtedly occur, try celebrating them. When we graduate from school, it not only signals the end of an era but the beginning of a new one and we have a “commencement” ceremony. When you experience an ending of any sort, think of it in the same way – as a commencement ceremony, a new beginning.

Life is schoolroom and in many cases our endings are graduations or promotions to the next level. Most of the time, endings come because we have learned one lesson and are ready for the next, or we’ve exhausted a situation and it’s time for a change of scene and new possibilities.

So as we head into Spring and towards the many changes that we will all face, recognize their necessity in your life, for when change appears, you can be sure it has a purpose. I’ll be keeping this in mind as I begin to load up my things into boxes, and tip my graduation cap in honor of the next stage in my life.

Namaste.

I can’t get enough of this delicious, easy breakfast! Oatmeal is fantastic for your heart. It is rich in soluble and insoluble fiber which work together to lower bad cholesterol. It is always best to soak your grains overnight for highest benefits and assimilation.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of steel cut oats
  • 2 cups of warm filtered water plus 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Optional yummy extras

Directions

Mix oats with the warm water mixture, cover, and leave in a warm place for 7-24 hours. Drain and add 2 cups of water with sea salt to soaked oats. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and add your own yummy extras like almond, coconut, or oat milk, natural sweeteners like maple syrup, raw honey and agave nectar, dried fruits, fresh fruit, nuts, coconut, ground flax seeds, and other seeds.

My favorite combination is crushed walnuts, 1/2 tsp of ghee or clarified butter, and dried cherries.

Yoga Love

“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire Universe, deserve your love and affection.” –Buddha

Today, I bought myself flowers. I had no reason to buy them for myself other than they were bright yellow and made me smile. I would like to be able to say that I do these little random acts of kindness for myself all the time, but I don’t. I give up my seat on the subway for those who need it, I compliment and smile at strangers, I call friends and family regularly just to say ‘I love you’, but I sometimes forget to extend these types little courtesies to myself.

So, this month, as Valentine’s Day approaches, consider showering yourself with a little self-love – whatever that means to you. Maybe you buy yourself a special treat at your favorite bakery, take a bath, skip to work, write yourself a love note, or try a class at that new pottery school that just opened up. Whatever self-love means to you, give it try. You deserve it.

And since sometimes, I like to practice theme-appropriate yoga around certain holidays, this month, I will focus on a heart opening practice. Here are a few heart-opening yoga poses for you to try on your own:

  • Cat/Cow – On your hands and knees begin by breathing in deeply and lifting your head, heart, and tailbone. As you exhale, curl your head and tailbone under as you look at your naval. Repeat 6 times.
  • Downward-Facing Dog – From your hands and knees, curl your toes under and push with your hands to lift your hips and lengthen your legs. Allow your heart to open and your head to gently hang from the neck. Stay for 5 deep breaths.
  • Bound Bridge – Come onto your back, knees bent, feet hip distance with heels under the knees. Lift your hips, and press your palms down by your waist. Begin to bring your shoulder blades together as you open your chest. Hold for several breaths before rolling down through the spine back to neutral.

End in a comfortable sitting position with your hands in a prayer pose in front of your chest, your thumbs lightly touching your heart. Visualize the sun coming into your heart and radiating throughout your body.

Here are some tips for awakening self-love during your yoga practice:

  1. Practice your poses with total attention on your breath.
  2. Take a moment to sit in stillness and focus on someone for whom you are grateful.
  3. With your focus still on that person, flood him/her with forgiveness whether he/she needs it or not.
  4. Extend those same feelings of gratitude and forgiveness on yourself.

~ Namaste ~

Pain in the neck

Many of my clients and students have to come to me recently with stiff necks, tight shoulders and sore backs. Most spend the majority of their day hunkered over a computer while others are just weighed down by heavy bags and busy schedules. I often times even catch myself completely slumped over during my commutes and it takes it toll. Stress often winds up stored in the neck, shoulders, and back, which eventually weakens our muscles, limits our range of motion, strains our joints and commands our attention – when our body is in pain it takes up our time and focus. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. The shoulder girdle is designed to allow the neck and arms to move freely and once we learn to fully relax the muscles, we can then strengthen them.

Yoga doesn’t have to be strenuous or super hard core. Try practicing poses with the least amount of tension and effort and focus on finding comfort. Use your breath for support and listen to what your body is telling you. Be mindful of tight or painful areas as you move.

 

Easy poses to release tension –

 

For sore necks try:

Lying on your back with a blanket or towel rolled under your neck. The roll should be large enough to wedge between the base of your skull and your shoulders. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Elbows together, place the palms of your hands on your forehead. With deep breaths, gently begin to slide the shoulder blades away from your skull. Remain up to 5 minutes, then remove the roll and continue to lie on your back for a few more breaths.

For sore backs try:

Standing with feet hip width apart and parallel. Bend your knees enough so you can drape your belly and chest on your thighs. Release your arms and your neck. Relax muscles along the spine and breathe, patiently waiting for them to release. To come out, curl hips under and slowly roll up stacking each vertebrae, one on top of the other until you are upright.

For sore shoulders try:

Beginning on your hands and knees. Thread your right arm under your left until you are resting on your right shoulder and the right side of your face. Ease into rolling a bit more into your shoulder and stay for a few breaths. Come out and try the other side.

New Year, New You

“What you are is what you have been. What you will be is what you do now.”
~ Siddhartha Gautama, Buddha

I love this quote. I have it hanging above my desk. It’s a nice reminder that every day, I have the power to determine my future. As we move towards the new year, it is not only natural but socially encouraged for us to look forward and to take steps towards bettering ourselves. With just these few words, Buddha teaches us that as students of life, it is good to look at where we are coming from in order to see where we are going.

Where we are now has been determined by the past – the choices we’ve made and the paths we’ve followed have brought us to our current place in life. It’s a life that we’ve created. We are all creators of our circumstances, good and bad. Even a mess takes creativity to occur. The phrase “Bless your mess” is a call to take responsibility for your life. None of us are victims here. At any given moment, no matter what your life situation, you can turn it into something better – the trick is to not get stuck on how bad it is today. Your creativity led you to this place and your creativity can get you out of it too.

Think about it. Creativity is a thing that comes to us when we are shaken up, when things go wrong. That’s when the brain wakes up from auto-pilot and begins to think about how to do things differently. I remember a quote from “180° South” where Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia said “The word adventure has gotten overused. For me, when everything goes wrong, that’s when adventure starts.” Wherever you are, you can use your situation as a launch pad for something new and better.

One of the yamas, or principles of yoga is Aparigraha or “non-attachment” which encourages us to approach change with curiosity and possibility rather than attachment and loss. Change is ongoing and inevitable. Suffering comes when we grasp or hold tightly rather than remaining open and curious to the winds of change and what they have in store. Something that I like to do when I am feeling overwhelmed, sad or stressed is to take a moment to journal. I begin with some deep breathing, emptying my thoughts and arriving at an intention to learn. Then, I ask myself the question “what’s not working?” and let the pen fly. I don’t put myself under the pressure of needing to find a solution to these problems right away. The only thing I need to do is write out what it is that is causing me discomfort. More often times than not, the answers are already there, I just needed to first state the problem. Usually, I discover that I am unhappy because I am putting the needs and desires of others before my own, or that I am stuck in inactivity because I am afraid of failure, or that I am feeling bullied by life because I have forgotten my own creative power over it.

When we take responsibility for our lives, let go of our attachment to old systems, beliefs and fears that are no longer serving us, and remain open and curious to what change has to offer, then our future becomes what we want it to be.

Buddha reminds us the importance of looking back in order to look forward. So as 2012 approaches and you begin to gather your thoughts around stating intentions for the new year, take the time to celebrate all that you’ve created so far. Make a list of all of your greatest achievements, from birth to the present, acknowledging your creative power in action. And then make a toast to yourself – to all that you’ve been and all that you will be.

Happy New Year. Happy New You.

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