Yoga Retreat – Near Melton Mowbray

Local yoga teacher and friend Helen Spencer is hosting a yoga retreat not too far away near Melton Mowbray in January. Why not have some time out and enjoy a whole day of yoga with like-minded people? I can’t think of a better way to start 2020.

Taking time out of our regular schedule allows space to reflect and put things into perspective. In the words of William Henry Davis – What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare? full poem here Read on for details of Helen’s lovely workshop which not only includes yoga but home made lunch and cake!

Finding the Light

Yoga Retreat- Saturday 18th January 2020

Stonesby Community Centre 10am-3.30pm £35

Sometimes it’s nice to have a day out, just for you.

When you can forget about everything else and indulge in some self-nurture.

Helen runs regular Yoga Retreats at Stonesby Community Centre, near Melton Mowbray where you can do just that.

A whole day of yoga gives an opportunity to practice meditation and touch on some yoga philosophy, which we don’t generally have time for in our regular sessions.

In the depths of winter with the festivities behind us, it can feel constantly dark and cold. We can feel slow, sluggish and low.

On the January Yoga Retreat we will bring light to the dark regions of our body, mind and heart using asana, pranayama and meditation.

Let your inner light shine……..

Price includes lunch and cake at the end of the session.

Suitable for all.

Bookings only

To book contact Helen here

You can see more about the teacher on her website here

Chaturdik Pranam

Practice Chaturdik Pranam every morning to improve your physical and mental well being

Chaturdik Pranam is a simple yoga sequence to open the chest, improve breath capacity and most importantly, encourages an upright posture. Besides all this, the focus on sending out kindness, thanks and good wishes to all 4 corners of the world enhances our mental well being.

I’ve been working with this practice throughout 2019 and consider it a very special gift given by my meditation teacher Swami Pragyamurti. Not only is the sentiment so positive and compassionate, but the actual moves (back bending, opening the chest, raising the arms, moving the wrists and finally forward bending) that seem to bring more life into my body and more love into my heart each time I practice. And it only takes 7 minutes to do!

Boost Your Immunity

As we approach the winter and festive season, it becomes more important for us to build up our physical and mental strength and resilience. In doing so, we develop stronger immune systems which ward off illnesses like colds and ‘flu. In addition, there is the general ‘business’ and over-indulgence that affects us all throughout December. This brings with it the usual fatigue, fears and anxieties. Above all, a positive mental attitude helps us to get through these tough times and is scientifically proven to boost immunity. Further information can be found about this research here.

“How beautiful it would be if more and more people in every town, in every country, by the sea, on hilltops, in schools, prisons and countless homes would start each day by sending out loving greetings to the four corners, thus nurturing themselves, all sentient and insentient beings and all of creation.

This is my dream.”

Hari Om Tat Sat, Swami Pragyamurti

Swami Pragyamurti is the Director of the Satyananda Yoga Centre in London. You can find out more about their classes and courses on their website here.

Mooladhara Chakra Explanation & Meditation

What is Mooladhara Chakra?

Mooladhara Chakra is the lowest of a series of 7 energy centres that run vertically through the human body down the spinal chord. In Yoga and traditional Indian medicine the body is believed to have channels of energy which, if blocked, will cause illness and disease. These channels are called Nadis, and according to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika there are 172,000 Nadis running around our bodies. The purpose of Yoga postures and breathing practices is to unblock the channels so that our energy flows freely.

Similar energy channels or pathway structures can be found in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Accupunture and reflexology.

The most important of these pathways is Sushumna which runs down the spinal chord. When other channels cross over Sushumna there is an increase in energetic activity and this creates a wheel or Chakra (the Sanskrit term).

The physical position of Mooladhara Chakra is thought to be in the centre of the pelvic floor, although this differs depending on yogic tradition, and could potentially differ from person to person. One great exercise for connecting to Mooladhara (sometimes called the Root Chakra) is Moolabanda, where you draw up the pelvic floor (you can read more about how to practice Moolabanda here).

The element that relates to this Chakra is the Earth. If this energy within us is out of balance then we can feel unsettled and insecure. This is the Chakra that need the basics to be covered – shelter, food, warmth, rest – and when they are in short supply this energy is depleted.

It’s important to have the basics covered, to feel secure and that you have somewhere to relax and be yourself; in this way you’ll be able to keep Mooladhara balanced and happy.

Mooladhara Chakra

A Meditation on Mooladhara

Sit comfortably, relax the legs and feel your connection to the floor.

Be still, feel the weight of the body sinking down.

Feel the pelvic floor and imagine that there is a glowing red ball of light there.

Stay with this for some time.

Now move your awareness to the ground you are sitting on and imagine you are sitting upon a yellow square.

Stay with this for some time

Leave the yellow square and think of all the things that the Earth gives to you for free – fresh air, lakes, mountains, home grown vegetables, trees, grass, hedgerow plants and berries. Give thanks for all these things and pledge to visit one today.

For more work on Mooladhara Chakra you can visit this site

Moolabandha (Pelvic Floor Exercises)

Easy cross legged pose

You can do Moolabandha (pelvic floor exercises) anywhere once you get the hang of them. But to learn them sit on the floor – ideally in a cross legged position. You can learn more about sitting comfortably in this post

First of all get comfy and relax. Let your body and mind know that you are doing something a bit new and different but that it will be good for you!

Now focus on your breathing. Let it be soft and gentle, in and out through the nose.

Next, take your awareness down to your pelvic floor and, as you breath in, draw up the pelvic floor. Then as you breathe out, relax and let go. Keep going like this. This is the basic pelvic floor exercise or Moolabandha as we say in Yoga.

As with all Yoga, start simple and don’t strain. Build up gradually, adding more repetitions or doing say 3 sets per day. This exercise will help with a number of common ailments such as stress incontinence.

You can develop the pelvic floor exercises in a few different ways.

Equal inhale and exhale

First of all equalise the breath – count the same number for the inhale and the exhale.

Then begin to work the Moolabandha/pelvic floor area in unison with the breath.

Holding the contraction

Watching the breath first and becoming relaxed.

Drawing up the pelvic floor and holding the contraction for 3 to 5 breaths then releasing.

You can learn about Mooladhara Chakra on this website

How to do the Tree Pose

Do yoga! How to do the Tree Pose
Take your time and focus the gaze on a spot ahead.

The Tree Pose looks simple but takes strength in the supporting leg and flexibility in the bent leg/hip. (That’s not to mention the concentration).

Try first off, balancing next to a wall so that you can place one hand on the wall for support – follow all the same directions for the Tree Pose but you will have one hand on the wall to steady you.

Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

Start off in Tadasana with the feet parallel and about 20cm apart. Our lady in the picture (fig. 1) has them a bit close together for my liking. If you have your feet too close together you can feel off balance before you even begin!

Warm up your feet and ankles by alternately peddling the feet 5 or 6 times.

Next take the weight down through one foot and then turn out the other knee pivoting on the big toe. You can keep the big toe on the floor and bring the foot to rest against the standing ankle, I recommend this if you haven’t done Tree Pose before. As you progress, pick up the foot and press it into the calf muscle and eventually coming in to the full posture that our lady is doing in fig. 2 with the sole pressing into the thigh.

Don’t and I repeat DON’T push your foot against your knee joint or this could cause an injury.

Focus the gaze on a spot ahead of you. Hold the hands in either of the positions in fig. 3 or fig. 4.

Try to hold the pose for 3 breaths at first – then change over and do the other side. Work up to holding for 6 breaths. Take your time and breathe deeply.

For the best benefit work 3 times on each side – you could work through all 3 foot positions, progressing to the full position.

For information about the benefits of this pose see http://benefitof.net/benefits-of-vrksasana/

Gratitude

Gratitude – some say is the perfect antidote to feeling overwhelmed and stressed. I think being grateful is uplifting and healthy and for that reason I highly recommend it to you.

As a practice, gratitude can ease stress, boost happiness and even potentially improve health. In our sessions this term we have been giving thanks for the Earth. We’ve included our own little corner – Rutland – and all the 4 directions.

Deb King Meditation at Normanton
Normanton, Rutland Water, What a Wonderful Place!

I invite you to bring gratitude into your yoga practice with these quotes. It can be a beautiful way to begin or end your time on your mat:

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” ~ Charles Dickens

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

“Forget yesterday–it has already forgotten you. Don’t sweat tomorrow–you haven’t even met. Instead, open your eyes and your heart to a truly precious gift–today.” Steve Maraboli

“When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?” ~ G.K. Chesterton

If you would like to see more quotes on gratitude you can find some here.

Another site with lovely poetry is Mindful Living.

Enjoy!

Janu Sirsasana – learn the benefits

JanuSirsasana

Last term we worked on grounding postures including ones which had lots of earth contact and ones that worked especially in the pelvis area. Hopefully this work gave an experience of feeling supported, having strong ground beneath us and good foundations on which to build both stable postures and a stable life. In the last couple of weeks we worked with Janu Sirsasana, a complex forward bend. Read on to learn the benefits of this posture.

Janu Sirsasana (JAH-new shear-SHAHS-anna), may look simple, but it combines elements of a forward fold, twist, and side body stretch. The Sanskrit name translates to ‘Head-to-knee pose’ and it stretches the hamstrings, back, and groin while offering the benefits of a twist, such as massaging and stimulating internal organs. Because it is soothing to the central nervous system, Janu Sirsasana is also a great way to relieve stress in the body and mind.

Due to the intensity of this stretch it’s not advised to practice it on it’s own at home – you do really need to build up to the opening of the hips and lengthening of the back and back of the legs. Also, for this pose especially, it’s good to take your time to prepare with the various modifications we have talked about in class. It’s always best to practice safely – if you fancy some home practice over the half term try the Cat Sequence that was handed out in week 4.

You can also work with the cat and cow postures as detailed in a previous post here

Simple Crochet Slipper Pattern

crochet slippers (2)

These slippers are just the job for yoga now that winter is on it’s way.

Size – make them a little smaller than the length of your feet as they stretch

Materials – Approx 160m arran style wool, small amount of eyelash or other oddment wool for the edging, 5mm hook

Instructions

Beginning – Toe – ch 4, join with sl st to form ring

Round 1 – ch 3, 7 dc in ring, join (8)

Round 2 – ch 3, dc in same st, 2 dc in each st, join (16)

Round 3 – ch 3, dc in same st, (dc in next 3 st, 2 dc in next st) around (20)

Round 4 – ch 3, dc in ea st around (20)

Round 5, 6, 7 repeat R4

Round 8 – ch 3, dc in next 19 st, leave last 6 st unworked, turn (14)

Round 9 onwards – ch 3, dc in each st, turn

Continue to work until the length comes down to your heal when stretched.

Fasten off, leave a long tail for sewing the back seam. Fold heal area in half and sew together. Sew in the toe loose end. Turn slipper right side out.

Edging – Working across end of rows, join with sc at heel, sc in end of each dc row, 2 sc in each of the corners at the front. Join with ss at end of first round. Repeat for a 2nd round.

Contrast edging. Join yarn at heel, continue to work as per edging, depending on thickness of your contrast yarn (2 sc may look better if it is a thinner wool or you could do hdc) see what it looks like. I did 2 rows of sc edging using the eyelash wool. Fasten off and thread in ends.

Planet Earth Installation

Earth

Over the summer I took a trip to Peterborough Cathedral (well actually 2 because the first time we got the date wrong!) to see an installation of a model of the Earth, “Gaia”. It was a fantastic sight especially as the light faded. The 7 meter diameter model gently rotated and was a view of the Earth from space using detailed imagery provided by NASA.

I know we have all seen this stuff on the TV, but to be in the presence of our planet looking up at it and down on it was an incredible experience. Just to see how much water we have on the Earth’s surface was a surprise to me and how tiny the UK actually is.

The model is awe inspiring – it was wonderful to spend time sitting quietly and reflecting on the natural wonders of our world. It made me feel very humble.

Earth quote