Our Focus for 2019/20

The focus for our yoga practice this year will be the Elements –

Earth, Fire & Wind

There are actually 5 elements that we experience in all matter and in our bodies – the three above plus Water and Ether – we will save these for next year.

Up to Christmas we’ll have a think about the Earth Element – how it affects our yoga practice and our life in general. Firstly thinking about the earth as a solid and stable base, with a physical practice strengthening the legs, hips and core. We’ll use lunges, wide legged poses and make our bodies into triangles – wide at the base and narrow at the top like the mountains we see naturally occurring (well not in Rutland! but you know what I mean!). We’ll send our thoughts out to the 4 different directions improving our sense of place and connection. We will use the affect of gravity – lifting parts of our body in different ways to challenge the muscles and gain strength.

And we’ll consider how we can apply these stable poses when we feel adrift in our lives – as if someone has turned off gravity and things have gone haywire… We will come to stillness next to the Earth – our ‘Bedrock’, listening quietly for our heartbeat and reflect at how simple ‘Down to Earth’ things can bring us much joy and clarity.

After the half term we’ll apply the strength gained to test our Balance and try out some fancy footwork to enable us to be nimble and tread lightly on our Planet in all our efforts and endeavours.

Our Pranayama will work with the Stepped breath improving the capacity of our lungs and developing subtlety. Working in the 2nd half term towards Savitri Pranayama – the Square breath.

After a very enjoyable break I’m really looking forward to seeing you and getting stuck in with our yoga practice together.  See you next week, Deb

 

 

A bit of me time

photography of woman surrounded by sunflowers
Photo by Andre Furtado on Pexels.com

Nurturing yourself is time well spent – we feel so much better and can spread some of that happiness to our loved ones. Not nurturing ourselves brings the exact opposite…

“Many people have sacrificed themselves for others, thinking when they sacrifice themselves they are being a good person. Wrong! To sacrifice yourself can only come from thoughts of absolute lack, because it is saying, “There is not enough for everyone, so I will go without.” Those feelings do not feel good and will eventually lead to resentment. There is abundance for everybody and it is each person’s responsibility to summon their own desires. You cannot summon for another person because you cannot think and feel for another. Your job is You. When you make feeling good a priority, that magnificent frequency will radiate and touch everyone close to you.”
Taken from ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne

If you are looking to spend a bit of time on yourself, why not book in for a wonderful morning of yoga on October 19th? We will be at Tinwell Village Hall just outside Stamford for a 21/2 hour workshop based on the theme of Finding the Goddess Within which will be a combination of fitness, fun and reflection.

Find out more and book here

Chill Out with the Cooling Breath

Yoga breathing practices aren’t just for relaxation and helping us to feel calm…

You can literally alter the temperature of your body so that you feel a little more chilled – try it for yourself – it’s easy and may help you to keep your cool in this heat!

If you are able curl up the sides of your tongue to form a tube.  Inhale through the mouth – well through you tongue – a feeling of chilled air will hit your mouth and throat.  If you find it difficult to roll the tongue then inhale through the teeth – the same effect can be felt.

Draw the breath in nice and slowly, then close the mouth and hold the breath in slightly before breathing out through the nose.  Do it 9 times and feel the coolness of the chest.

This practice is known as Sheetali Pranayama – Chill Out and enjoy!

Time for a nap – er… I mean relaxation

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.

Holiday Reading

I know it’s usual to read a trashy novel while you are on your holibobs…

But maybe this year try something new? Why not settle down to a bit of yoga reading? You never know you might find it motivates you to do a bit of summer yoga.

 

apmb

My trusty yoga bible – if you only get one yoga book in your life, make it this one. It really does include everything you need to know. Some (about 10 percent) is a little bit bonkers, and really only for those having been brought up in the East with yoga since they were a kid – but the majority is sensible stuff giving plenty of background reading to the topics we cover in class. Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Sw Satyanada Saraswati

Pain free

Not a yoga book but this is a must for anyone living with a pain in the (insert your area here). Pete Egoscue has a fantastic, down to earth approach to pain – really that you have caused it by your own health and habits and that you can cure it by altering your ways… It’s not exactly yoga but uses many of the principles and asanas with a matter of fact ‘get off your butt’ manner. Please let me know if you get a copy and follow the advice, I’m always curious to find out how people have got on. Pain Free by Pete Egoscue

Mudras book

This book is a fabulous course in yoga for the hands and shows all the various mudras and asana practices for overcoming lifes ups and downs. It’s an enjoyable read to pick up and put down besides being a great guide for mudra and meditation. Yoga in you Hands by Gertrud Hirschi.

Give Yourself A Hug!

In the Summer term our beginners yoga classes will focus on our arms and shoulders. We have been moving through the body – starting from the ground up – working to strengthen, stretch and inform ourselves about all the different parts of our physical body.

In this final term we will loosen, strengthen and stretch out the arms and shoulders. Experiencing how movement (or lack of it) in the shoulders affects our hearts. We will play with Downward Doggy, Crow pose and the Universal Twist. And of course, give ourselves plenty of encouraging pats on the backs and hugs (very good move for the shoulders).

I’m not forgetting that we have 1 more body part to think about…. our heads. I’ll be teaching Ujjayi Breathing to calm the mind and ease the furrowed brows… an essential part of our practice 😉

Very much look forward to welcoming you 🙂

Just in case you missed it…

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 stilling the body and mind is equivalent to 4 hour sleep. I’m not sure about that, 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.

Well, just in case you missed the So Hum relaxation from a couple of weeks ago, I have recorded it for you to do at home – but please try to keep with it. This is a very soothing and effective style of relaxation practice – hope you enjoy it.

 

Inside Outside…

In our 90 minute yoga classes, the April/May half term will continue with the theme of opposites. We will be thinking of our yoga postures from the inside and the outside. After learning several asana (postures) and sequencing them we will begin to add in the appropriate Chakra focus… Why do this? It can help us to bring into balance the mind, energy and physical body. IN other words we are trying to get our mind, body and soul ‘singing off the same hymn sheet’. This is how we can reduce stress and enhance healing within ourselves.

Inside/Outside has been a topic of interest and exploration for artists and philosophers throughout time. The artist Henry Moore worked with historic armour and build a whole collection entitled Helmet Heads in which he places 2 separate sculptures together – an inner person or mind within a protective helmet/skull/shield.

Moore Helmit Heads

From the yogic perspective, for the least suffering in this life, we are advised to align our inner and outer worlds so that we can feel happy in our own skin and simply be who we are. It takes real guts to be honest and through our practice we can build a strong body and mind to enable this.

Perhaps you can think of some other famous examples from art, history or philosophy? Have a think as I wold love to hear them.

Seeing Our Inner Selves!

body worlds

The Bodyworlds Exhibition in Picadilly is a must-see. I wasn’t too sure as I’m very squeamish but I was absolutely amazed by this exhibition and would urge everyone to go and have a look.  For the first time our actual insides are on public display – they are not models!

The exhibits are actual bodies or body parts that have been treated and displayed to reveal the layers of our insides – muscles, bones, nerves and organs – to show us exactly how we work. And also, importantly they show us what happens when things go wrong.

It really is an incredible insight as to our ‘insides’ – I found it so fascinating that I am already planning a second trip.

https://bodyworlds.co.uk/

What are the Chakras?

chakras

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

http://www.zenlama.com/the-7-chakras-a-beginners-guide-to-your-energy-system/

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-91/The-7-Chakras-for-Beginners.html

http://www.yogajournal.com/basics/898?page=4