Yoga and Meditation 9th Jan – 17th Feb 2017

shakti-serie

Following our theme Bringing About Balance we will be working with Mantra to still the mind and relaxations to calm the nervous system – all good for us after the busy period of Christmas and New Year. Our asana will focus on improving energy flow in the body with the Shakti Bandha series. We will also be revisiting, chanting and reflecting on the Yamas to see how they may influence balance in our lives.

yamas

This class is suitable for people with experience of yoga. There is no need to be super fit but an understanding of the holistic approach that yoga takes means that you would gain the most from time spent in this class.

Please contact me here if you would like further information about joining one of these groups.

Yoga For Your Face

eye exercises

In the Stretch and Relax classes this term we’ll have some time dedicated to our faces…. working with the muscles around the eyes, mouth and neck yoga can be used to literally give yourself a ‘facelift’.  By toning the muscles of the face and giving them a ‘workout’ we improve the contours underneath the skin which can help to reduce fine lines and sagging. The circulation of blood and oxygen is improved and toxins are removed; giving a healthy glow to your skin. Don’t underestimate the power of our relaxations on your face too – 15 minutes of deep relaxation is said to be as valuable as 4 hours of sleep… and they don’t call it beauty sleep for nothing!

We will of course be working around the whole body with exercises some old favourites (Trikonasana) and some new poses (Dwikonasana) to give you a complete practice ending with a deep relaxation.

These classes take place

Monday Tinwell 7.15 – 8.15

Tuesday Preston 8 – 9

Wednesday Ryhall 6 – 7

The term runs from Juse 6th to July 22nd and the cost is £42. If you would like to sign up for this course please do get in touch asap and I can let you know the availability.

Patanjali’s Sutras Chapter 1 Verse 3

clear water

“When the mind is silent and at peace, the true self is revealed. The connection to the soul can be made. It is like a pool of still water, with no ripples or waves, the water becomes crystal clear.”

This version of Patanjali’s Sutras is interpreted by Michelle Corrigan and is called Your Quest for a spiritual life. I think it is one of the best interpretations for our time, copies are available on Amazon.

MONDAY YOGA IS BACK! WHY NOT GIVE IT A GO?

Pretty young woman doing YOGA exercise at home

The Monday classes will begin again on 22nd February. There are 2 classes to chose from ‘YOGA FIT’ – a physically active class of mostly posture work or ‘STRETCH & RELAX’ – a combination of posture work with a deep relaxation to end with. Both classes are 1 hour long and are suitable for beginners or those with some experience of yoga.  These classes will take place at the freshly decorated Tinwell Village Hall, just outside Stamford on the Tinwell Road (turn left at Tinwell Forge). There is a large car park and the hall has soft lighting for relaxation and a wooden floor.  Read on for a sneak peak of what we will be doing during the term…

YOGA FIT – we will study the postures of the classical ‘Sun Salutation’ with an emphasis on alignment and correct posture throughout the flow. Where there are limitations in flexibility to perform the ‘true’ postures we will look at modifications and other useful postures to develop the necessary dexterity in the body to be able to perform a modified version that is safe to work with. There are many benefits to practicing the Sun Salutation including reduction of weight around the middle of the body and balancing the hormones.

STRETCH & RELAX –  in these classes our focus will be on the hands – give us a wave! We’ll work on routines to ward off and give relief to arthritis and carpel tunnel syndrome. There will be some balancing on the hands and feet (Downward Facing Dog, Elephant Twists) and we’ll work through the whole body with simple Elephant Salutes to keep the circulation flowing out to the full extremities of the fingers. Continuing our year-long theme of ‘Freedom’ we will be considering what it might be like to live with restricted use of the hands and how we can use our hands in the service of others. Gratitude will form an important element of our relaxations. We will also have an introduction to the use of Mudras which are ‘seals of energy’ often using different positions of the hands.

Fees are paid at the first class for the term – this term runs from 22nd Feb to 21st March (5 weeks) and costs £30 which works out at £6 per class. You will need to bring your own mat and blanket.  These classes are not suitable for people under 18 years old or those who are pregnant. For examples of the kind of work we do in class you can have a go at home by following along to the free yoga videos and audio relaxations here. Please let me know if you would like to book in by emailing me here or if you know someone who may like to join us please pass on this email.

Peaceful River Relaxation

Often in yoga we use imagery of water to help us to relax. A smooth millpond can be visualised to slow down the endless ripples of thought in our minds… as the Gheranda Samhita tells us –

“Visualize the quintessence of water as a divine nectar which is white as a jasmine flower or a conch shell. Fix the consciousness on the Water element; it will destroy all sorrows” – Gheranda Samhita

The following relaxation practice visualises laying in a slow, meandering river – allowing the warm currents to gently take with them your tension, leaving you calm, cleansed and relaxed.

Sit or lie in a comfortable position – try reading a sentence then closing your eyes and visualising.

Imagine a wide, shallow slow-moving river… with a soft sandy bed… see yourself now lying in the middle of the river looking up at a beautiful blue sky. Close your eyes and see this in your mind.

You are quite motionless but you can feel the warm water of the river gently moving past your head to your ears, over our shoulders and past your finger tips. The softly flowing current carries on past your thighs, knees and ankles and finally you feel it flowing past your little toes.

Again you notice the gentle touch of the water passing by your head to your ears, over our shoulders and past your finger tips. The softly flowing current carries on past your thighs, knees and ankles and finally you feel it flowing past your little toes. Close your eyes and imagine the sensations described.

The water and sand support your body and you notice that as the water washes down you it takes with you all of the tension.  Your body gently sways with the current as all the stiffness leaves your body and you become pliable and flowing – just like the water.

Feel how light your body has become, feel how your mind too has become less busy, feeling relaxed.

Weekend Yoga Workshop – “The Natural Face Lift”

yoga facial

Do you fancy a facial treat? Forget potions and lotions – yoga has all the ingredients you need to keep you looking radiant at any time of your life.

Why not come along for a wonderful yoga workshop – either Saturday morning 9th May or Sunday afternoon 10th May. Both are perfect opportunities for you to chill out and rejuvenate the body and the face.  Better still, why not come along with a friend?

Yoga tells us that when your exercise is right, your diet is right and your thinking is positive, your face glows naturally and above all your smile illuminates the world!  This lights up the lives of all those around you too.

The Do-yoga! workshop offers a range of exercises for the body to get the circulation flowing – especially to the head with the help of inverted postures.  These body poses will be interspersed with exercises for the face muscles, eyes and neck.  Each participant will leave with a handy guide to follow the exercises at home.

There will be plenty of time set aside for rest, guided relaxation and breathing exercises – all designed to relax and rejuvenate the head, neck and shoulder areas to leave you feeling youthful, calm and radiant.

Classes run Saturday morning, 9th May 10 – 12.30 at Ryhall Village Hall and Sunday afternoon, 2 – 4.30 at Edith Weston Village Hall.  The cost is £15 per person.

Book your space in class or email me here

Nasagra Mudra and Nadi Shodana Pranayama

nasagri mudra

This hand position is used for Alternate Nostril breathing. Use the right hand always and place the forefinger and middle fingers at the eyebrow centre; this leaves the thumb available to shut off the right hand nostril and the ring finger to shut off the left hand nostril. Once the practice is learnt, awareness is focused at the centre of the head at Agni Chakra. The eyebrow centre is the trigger point for this Chakra.

Alternate Nostril breathing (Nadi Shodana Pranayama) begins by inhaling through the left nostril (closing the right with the thumb) and then exhaling through the right nostril (opening the right and closing the left with the ring finger). The next inhale comes in through the right nostril and then the exhale goes out the left nostril and this completes 1 round of the practice. It sounds more complicated than it actually is – imagine the flow of breath makes 2 inverted V shapes.

You can practice this at home if you have been taught the practice in one of my classes, otherwise I suggest that you come along to my Pranayama workshop on 20th June so that you get supervised in the beginning and don’t get off to the wrong start.

It is essential with all Pranayama practices to sit upright with the spine in a straight line, this will help you to breathe correctly using the correct muscles.  Use a chair if you find that you are sagging or your attention is being drawn to joints or muscles that cannot support you at the moment.

There are many benefits of practising Nadi Shodana – from the fist practice you will notice that both nostrils work effectively even if one was a little restricted at first (this is usual).  Improving the breath flow means a greater supply of oxygen around the body and brain. The practice helps to induce tranquillity and clarity in the mind and is great for concentration.

Where on Earth is your ‘tragus’?

a) On your heel

heel

b) On your elbow

Elbow

c) On your ear

ear

The answer is c) on your ear!!

The Tragus is the flap of cartilage that runs up from your cheek over your ear ‘hole’!  In the practice of Bhramari Pranayama we gently push the tragus with the thumbs to ‘stop up the ears’ and close off outer sounds.  This helps us to focus on the inner sound of the humming and feel the soothing vibrations in the head.

This term, in the general classes, we’ve been practicing Bhramari, using it to quiet the mind before our relaxation.  One of the many benefits of Bhramari is to lift depression; it’s a good practice to learn so that come the moment you need it you can bring it into your practice to alleviate any symptoms of feeling blue or a bit down in the dumps.

There is an excellent article by Dr Timothy McCall here if you are interested in learning more about this practice and it’s therapeutic uses.

https://yogainternational.com/article/view/5-ways-to-practice-bhramari

6 Exercises to relieve tension

1 Tadasana

Tadasana

Remove your socks and shoes if possible. Allow the feet to spread out on the floor or your mat, positioning them directly under your hip joints. Bring awareness into the soles of the feet and feel your weight sinking down evenly through the whole surface of the sole. If you feel unbalanced, bring awareness to each side of your foot in turn – leaning forwards, backwards and side to side. Come to stillness – an evenness of weight now descending through the soles of your feet. Feel the pelvis as a level bowl and the spine ascending as you take a deep inhalation bringing the awareness up to the crown of your head. As you slowly exhale feel the skin on your face soften, the shoulders relax down, the elbows bend slightly and the fingers gently curl. A soft but strong mountain.

2 Neck Exercises

After a few breaths in Tadasana, gently begin to scribe a small circle with the nose  – no bigger than a tangerine. About 6 – 10 one way and they the same amount in the other direction. Come once again to stillness – feel the balance and symmetry of your posture for a few smooth, quiet breaths.

When you feel ready, on exhale take the right ear gently towards the right shoulder and press the left palm down towards the ground.  Stay in this position, breathing smoothly and quietly for about 5 breaths.  When ready, inhale and come back to Tadasana. Take a few breaths in the centre and then practice to the other side.

3 Shoulder Rolls

On inhale gently begin to roll the right shoulder up and then backwards, as you take it down exhale and bring it forwards to complete the circle. If there are any areas of tightness or sore spots, work smaller and gentler until it feels free and comfortable.  Work about 10 repetitions.  Rest in stillness for a moment or two and then work on the left side. This exercise can be repeated either working separate shoulders again or working them both together.

Now repeat your previous shoulder sequence, but this time take the shoulder in a forwards rotation.

4 Gentle Bridge

bridge

Come to lie on the back of the body, have the knees bent, feet flat on the floor and arms by the sides. Check that your spine is in a straight line. Focus your awareness at your abdomen, watch the breath, inhaling feel the abdomen move upwards and exhaling watch the abdomen move down.  This is abdominal breathing – a soothing and calming practice.

When you feel ready, allow the inhale to gently lift the buttocks and lower back off the floor, pressing down through the soles.  As you exhale lower back down.  Work gently, smoothly and slowly with the emphasis on bending the spine evenly – feeling each vertebrae lift off the floor and then placing each vertebrae back down.  Don’t push up any further than feels comfortable and keep the movement smooth and linked to the breath at all times.  Work about 5 – 8 repetitions then rest.

When you are ready hug the knees to the chest for 5 breaths.  Rest the feet back down and go back to abdominal breathing for a few moments.

5 Supine Twist

semi supine twist

Remaining in the bent knee position, bring the knees and feet close together.  Take the arms out to the sides to form a T shape.  As you exhale allow the knees to gently come down to the right side and rest in this twisted position for about 5 breaths.  You can intensify the stretch by twisting the neck to the left if that feels comfortable.  Return the knees and head to centre on an inhale and then exhale and practice on the opposite side.

You can repeat this set if it eased your tension.  Twists are both relaxing and rejuvenating to the spine.

Rest and go back to abdominal breathing when you are finished twisting.  5 minutes of abdominal breathing would be good if you have the time.  When you need to get up, roll onto your left side and pause for a few breaths before pushing up with the right hand to a seated position.  Hopefully rested, tension free and ready to get on with your day!

Namaste!

Stillness in a crazy world

Stillness in Rutland

If, like me, the start to your year has been an onslaught of decision making, you may enjoy and take solace in the passage below by Eckhart Tolle. In our yoga this term we have been meditating using visualisation and awareness of the breath. Reading passages such as the one below can be used as a focus for meditation – sit comfortably with the spine erect, relax and read the passage through. Gently close the eyes and allow the mind to be still – when thoughts enter, accept them and see them float away as clouds. An alternative, if this doesn’t work for you, is to allow one word from the passage to be silently repeated. Stay with it for a few minutes and then open the eyes and take a couple of deep breaths.

When you surrender to what is

and so become fully present,

the past ceases to have any power.

The realm of Being, which had been obscured by

the mind then opens up.

Suddenly, a great stillness arises within you,

an unfathomable sense of peace.

And within that peace, there is great joy.

And within that joy, there is love.

And at the inner most core, there is the sacred,

the immeasurable, That which cannot be named.

Eckhart Tolle