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
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 😉
In the summer term (June/July 2019) our yoga classes will nourish the mind and body looking at the concepts of UP & DOWN. Spending time bringing our focus to the souls of the feet and the crown of the head (please bring a block if you have one).
We will work between Up Dog and Down Dog to strengthen the core, shoulders and help the flexibility in the spine. There will be the option to work with the Cow pose for those not quite ready for the intensity of Up Dog.
It will be a term of bringing together many of the threads we have been working with all year – how opposites can help each other and by offering a true perspective on all that life offers us. Yoga is all about cultivating a mindset that objectively sees where it’s at and actively seeks a broader appreciation of situations. Thinking the opposite can really aid this.
We will continue to work with the ups and downs in our Sun Salutations – finding a suitable practice that suits each of us as an individual – but appreciating where we are and where we need to put in some work 😉 We will learn about the idea of ‘Abhyasa’ – PRACTICE!
Our year culminates with the ‘King of Asanas’ – the headstand – a truly upside down situation! No, we won’t be practicing it in class but I will introduce the benefits of the posture and we can work with a variety of preparatory exercises, which I hope will give you a flavour of the effects of the full pose.
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
This year our yoga classes will revolve around the theme of OPPOSITES. This concept was used widely in yogic literature to help us understand ourselves and the world in which we live. Our first pair of opposites will be BIG and small. As always with Hatha yoga we begin with the physical body and using the body to explore ways of being big – like an Oak Tree or a Mountain and also being small – like a child, a bird or a seed. Moving from one to the other challenges our balance, and strengthens and stretches our muscles.
We’ll work with the breath, expanding the lungs with physical moves and breathing exercises – discussing the benefits of large breaths vs small breaths and taking time to feel what this experience is like for us. Throughout our work during the year there will be many ‘companion’ opposites – loud and quiet, easy and strained may well be other pairs as we develop our work with the breath.
There will be time spent on thoughtful reflection too – looking back at BIG life events and forward to BIG life goals. And then considering the smaller things in life too –
“Sometimes,” said Poo, “the smallest things take up the most space in your heart.”
(from Winnie the Poo by AA Milne)
I’m very much looking forward to exploring this concept and other OPPOSITES with you as the new year of yoga unfolds. Namaste xx
In this year’s Stretch & Relax classes we’ll be taking a tour around the body seeing how each part feels for us on a personal level and also how improvements with one area can often alleviate issues in others… We will begin with our FEET which form the foundation o f our standing postures and which we rely on for our mobility and independence as we get older.
Feet are actually quite fascinating once you get over the look of them. They consist of lots of tiny bones, with lots of tiny joints in between. When the joints in the feet aren’t as flexible as they could be the result is that the feet can’t operate as the ‘suspension’ mechanism of the body – so even walking (let alone running and jumping) can become problematic to joints further up the body (knees, hips and spine) as the foot is not taking the impact of the weight of the body as it steps/plods around. We will use a variety of means – movement, massage with a small ball and massage with our hands to help to get our feet more flexible. And do you know… that because of all the nerve endings in the souls of the feet working with the feet can be extremely relaxing and calming. A traditional yogic remedy for insomnia is self foot massage. We’ll spend some time working on proper alignment of the feet as this can help prevent and heal foot problems such as plantar fasciitis, bunions, and shin splints not to mention a variety of mis-alignments further up the body. Keeping the feet flexible and relaxed also helps circulation of fluids to this area which over time helps to keep the skin on the feet healthy. Poor skin health is what leads to the build up of bacteria, smells, verrucas, athletes’ foot etc
So before we pack our tootsies into the boots for winter let’s give them some TLC and – who knows you may notice that the pain in your neck goes as well 🙂
A HUGE BIG SMILEY THANK YOU to everyone who cooked, donated, photographed and joined in the ‘community’ yoga for our Yoga Party. We raised a whopping £492 for the Leicester based charity Hope Against Cancer.
For those that couldn’t attend, here’s a flavour of the evening…
Firstly, we did about an hour of yoga – mostly with chairs and then worked with a standing balance ‘Vrksasana’ (tree pose) both individually and as a group…
While we waited for the food to heat up Prof. Raghu Raghavan (Trustee of Hope Against Cancer) told us about the work of the charity – how it helps buy equipment, sponsors the work of PhD students and collaborates with other charities to do larger projects.
Then we ate a lovely feast of lasagne and salad (there was a choice of 4 different types and all were delicious)…
Afterwards we had a selection of homemade/grown desserts (of course I had to try them all)…
Finally we all kept our fingers crossed as the raffle was drawn… prizes included a photo shoot and print by Daniel McClean, vouchers for Cook, lots of wine, chocolates and candles. Everyone went home with a treat!
We all had such a good time that plans are already in motion to have another Yoga-Social in September… a picnic at Rutland water. Keep an eye out in the newsletter for further information.
Come along for a fun evening of gentle yoga, a meal and a raffle. This is a fabulous opportunity to meet properly the people who you practice yoga with. And you can bring your husband/wife/friends too! Everyone is welcome! We all have been touched by cancer – friends, relatives and fellow students…. so why not raise the roof and raise some funds at the same time with this summer evening event in Preston.
Hope Against Cancer is a local charity with a focus on clinical trials in Leicestershire and Rutland. Prof. Raghu Raghaven (Preston 6.00 class) is involved directly with this charity and will give us a bit more information about their work and how the money raised will be used. You can look at their website here.
SATURDAY 23rd JUNE 7 – 10pm at PRESTON VILLAGE HALL
1 hour class of simple no-mat yoga including postures, breath work and moving meditation.
followed by lasagne and salad, then a sumptuous pudding table
raffle – tickets sold and prize draw on the night
How can you help?
Make a lasagne/salad/pudding. Grow some salad leaves;) Donate a raffle prize.
Come along and bring your friends!
You can pledge a contribution on the clipboard at registration or email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Due to the severe weather conditions and the forecast of more snow, I’ve decided to cancel the classes today at Preston and tomorrow at Ryhall (27th and 28th February 2018).
Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause or perhaps it’s a relief to you??? Let me know!
Keep warm, be patient and stay safe! (We all know that our roads and transport systems only need an inch of snow or a few leaves for hold ups to occur.) You may find that one of our deep breathing practices or a mantra may help if you find yourself in a stressful situation.
BACK TO NORMAL NEXT WEEK – LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU THEN
In keeping with our theme of the heart we will work opening the heart space with the Bow pose (Dhanurasana). This is an excellent posture for improving the digestion and so we’ll also be thinking about food – our love of food. There will be some time spent considering our relationship with food, how we eat our food and we will start with the benefits of detoxifying and purifying our bodies – which one of the first steps on the path of yoga.