I know that it’s sometimes hard to stay awake during our deep relaxations! But you should try to… when we relax the body and mind for about 15 minutes we have a chance to truly nurture ourselves. The ancient yogis said that this type of rest is equivalent to 4 hour sleep. I’m not certain that’s scientifically proven, but I do feel that during the relaxation exercises we are teaching our body to be still (when it is otherwise still?) and our minds to stay focused on just one thing and allowing all thoughts to drop away into the background. If we just give in and go to sleep – well it’s good to get a little nap – but that is all it is. It can also be a bit disorientating to wake up on a village hall floor and can make you feel woozy.
When we have trained ourselves to remain alert during relaxation we can move on to the practice of Yoga Nidra – in this state where the mind is between being awake and asleep we are very receptive to ideas and this is where a ‘Sankalpa’ is used. A Sankalpa is a resolution for change – after we find our resolve, we repeat it during the practice and rather like sowing a seed into the soil, this resolve is placed deep within us. I hope that we can begin to use this technique next year in class, so please consider your own Sankalpa – it can take some time to figure out and find the right one, so be patient.
Here is the Deep Relaxation with Introduction to the Chakras – it’s a good one to repeat as you can learn the position and names of the Chakras while having a good rest.
Chakras are energy centers… ancient yogis developed a concept of energy pathways running all around the body – rather than our energy just radomly ‘fuzzing’ about inside us. This is similar to the system of meridians used in Chinese medicine, reflexology and acupuncture.
One of the main energy pathways (nadis) is along the spine. Where pathways cross the spine, the energy is said to become greater and move in a circular motion hence the name ‘Chakra’, which means wheel in Sanskrit.
You can find more out about the Chakras on the following websites
Our focus for this term will be the Chakras – working with a sequence of postures to balance and stabilise our energies. This will be tested with a range of balancing poses… (see below) some challenges for us!
We shall certainly need our energies calm, strong and balanced to hold these postures!
Our meditations will be based around the practice of Om Kara (please bring your malas) and the Gayatri mantra.
I very much look forward to teaching this term and welcoming you. If you would like to join one of my friendly groups simply email me here to book your place.
On Saturday 26th April I’ll be doing a 2 hour workshop in Ryhall Village Hall – using yoga asana and pranayama to stabilise the energy centres of the body known as the Chakras. The workshop will take the format of our usual classes; beginning with a meditation to focus the mind and followed with a physical range of posture work to experience where the Chakras are and what it feels like to get the energy moving. Our breath work and relaxation will be slightly extended – leaving all students feeling a deep sense of calmness and harmony.
The workshop costs £10 and everyone is welcome to come along – beginners to experience, flexible to stiff as a board. The elements at work ‘layer’ onto our practice in class – why not come along and give it a go? Places are limited – book now by emailing me so that you don’t miss out.
This half term our focus will be on yoga for and from the heart. Both the physical heart and the heart centre (chakra) are vital and they both need nurturing. The postures (asana), breath work (pranayama) and a healthy diet support the functioning of your physical heart. They also make the work of your physical heart easier by improving your circulatory and respiratory systems. (Get ready for a bit of work!!) Meditation enhances the health of the spiritual heart centre. It opens the channels of understanding that enable you to look at your thoughts, words and actions within the context of love.
I very much look forward to this work with students and when could be a better time than the run up to Christmas?!?
As we delve deeper into our practice, we learn that the layers of our body can become disjointed and out of touch with each other. The ancient yogis devised tools and exercises to help realign and re-associate the subtle body using the energy flow around the body. The energy channels depicted in yoga are similar to those of the meridians in Chinese medicine – the major one to focus on is Sushumna which runs roughly up and down the spine. Along the spinal pathway are energy centres where the channels cross – these are known as the Chakras. Pick up a Chakra hand-out next time you are in class. In the mean time, see the wonderful diagram below which depicts the energy ‘cross roads’ as cones spiralling out from Sushumna….
When we greet with Namaste! We are greeting the light within the person or people we see. It is not their physical shape, attitude or energy of the body but the light within. You can think of this as a persons soul or spirit.
Yogis consider a person or being to be made of several layers and, by the practice of yoga (meaning to yoke), we can bring together these layers (Koshas) so that our life and well being is in harmony. To simplify this philosophy, in class I offer the suggestion to think of the Mind and the Body as 2 halves of our being – rather like husband and wife. They are on the same team but quite often have different approaches. As we get used to this as a concept we can then begin to consider and connect with the other aspects of ourselves, such as our energy, our emotions and our true ‘Self’.
Our light or true ‘Self’ can be hidden by these layers rather like 5 lampshades dulling the light of a bulb. We endeavour to ‘dust off’ these shades with our yoga practice so our true ‘Self’ can shine through and we can be at peace with the world around us.
In simple terms we have our food body, energy body, mind body, intuitive body and joy body. All these surround our light or true Self.
If you want to find out more http://www.swamij.com/koshas.htm has a down-to-earth description of these layers of being or Koshas with their Sanskrit names and attributes.
In the wise words of the Buddha…
“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.