Live each moment as a moment of pure joy!

The Radiance Sutras are a wonderful set of verses which help us to stop and appreciate the present moment. They are translated from an ancient text and give us  112 ‘yuktis’, or yoga meditation practices, for opening to the divine mystery within everyday experiences… here is yukti 51…

Wherever, whenever you feel carried away,

Rejoicing in every breath,

There, there is your meditation hall.

Cherish these times of absorption-

Rocking the baby in the silence of the night,

Pouring water into a crystal glass,

Tending the logs in a crackling fire,

Sharing a meal with a circle of friends,

Embrace these pleasures and know,

“This is my true body.”

 

Nowhere is more holy than this.

Right here is the sacred pilgrimage.

Live in alertness for such a moment, my beloved,

As if it were your one meeting with the Creator.

(Taken from The Radiance Sutras by Lorin Roche)

Why Sanskrit?

Yoga is a way to keep healthy and happy. It was developed way before we had the science of medicine and so relied very much upon nature and observation. Yoga was developed by Sages and Gurus (wise men and teachers) thousands of years ago. Sanskrit was the language used to pass the methods on (by word of mouth for centuries and then in written format). It is said to be the oldest language and is often referred to as ‘the language of the gods’. Many of the Sanskrit words we use in class (including the names of exercises) have been passed down from these ancient times. So why should we still use them? Aren’t they a bit old fashioned? Well, I think that it’s good to keep the Sanskrit in circulation as a way of remembering that we who practice in this day and age are simply a link in a very long chain of people who have practiced yoga. True that we must acknowledge new developments in science and medicine and we wouldn’t want to be without them but, respecting the lineage of yoga gives us grounding and deep roots from which to grow. You may feel differently, but in case you are interested I’ve compiled a short list of Sanskrit terms which I feel are important to understand when you are embarking on your yoga journey…

  1. Asana.

The correct pronunciation is AH’-sah-nah. Literally, it means “seat,” but in yoga class it’s pretty much interchangeable with the word “pose.” For example, Bhujangasana = Cobra Pose, Navasana = Boat Pose… and so on.

  1. Namaste.

This is my favorite Sanskrit word because it’s fun to say–nah’-mah’-stay. It means: ‘The light within me respects and honours the light within you’. My incredibly simplified translation: Isn’t it awesome that we just practiced yoga together? Thanks for your presence.

  1. Om.

Ooooooohhhhhmmmmmmm. This is the sound/vibration of the universe. But what does it mean? Essentially, we are all a part of this universe–always moving, always changing, always breathing. When you chant Om, you’re tapping into that vibration.

  1. Shanti.

Peace. When you chant, “Om shanti shanti shanti,” it’s an invocation of peace. In Buddhist and Hindu traditions you chant shanti three times to represent peace in body, speech, and mind.

  1. Sthira Suka Asanam

The posture should be steady and easy. This guidance from the great Sage Patanjali means that we should not strain to get into any posture or for it to be too much effort to hold.

Sneak Peak into next terms yoga… April 2018

Throughout this year we have been seeking to open our hearts – both from a physical and emotional point of view. In our work over the next 6 weeks we will be looking to release anger and fear which can often block our opportunities to show kindness and compassion. We’ll use some sideways bending to stretch the chest area and make the spine more flexible – and where the spine goes the mind tends to follow. (This is also a great workout for the inner thighs and hips – areas associated with holding deep emotions). Eventually making our way towards a suitable Pigeon pose which brings openness to the hips and, depending on the variation, openness to the chest. We’ll use some of the postures to relax deeply into, bringing a calming and relaxing quality towards the end asana work.

The technique of our breathing will be enhanced with a return to some of the basics of Pranayama and, for those who wish it, to develop their Sama Vritti Pranayama. Our relaxations will include some visualisations and story telling.

The aim is for an uplifting practice to warm the heart and bring joy.

Rutland Poppy Project

On Saturday 14th April there will be a poppy making workshop at Tinwell Village Hall to make ceramic poppies as part of the Rutland Poppy Project.  You can drop in at any time between 10 and 12 to make a poppy.  The poppies will then be used to create a sweeping sea of handcrafted poppies to commemorate the centenary of the end of The Great War.  The installation will be staged at Oakham Castle during October and November.

The idea is to bring together people from the community – young and old – all tuition will be given. Its good fun & refreshments will be available!

 

Date and Walnut Cake

This is a super-moist and sweet loaf, ideal with a cuppa in the afternoon…

Ingredients
Serves: 10

  • 200 g (7 oz) stoned dried dates, chopped
  • 30 g (1 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 240 ml (8 fl oz) boiling water
  • 140 g (5 oz) light muscovado sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 280 g (10 oz) plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1½ tsp ground mixed spice
  • pinch of salt
  • 115 g (4 oz) walnuts, chopped

Method
Prep:20min  ›  Cook:1hr15min  ›  Ready in:1hr35min

  1. Place the dates in a bowl with the butter and bicarbonate of soda. Pour over the boiling water and stir until the butter has melted. Set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF, gas mark 4). Lightly grease an 18 cm (7 in) round deep cake tin and line the bottom with baking parchment.
  3. Place the sugar and eggs in a large bowl and beat well to combine. Add the cooled date mixture, then sift in the flour, baking powder, mixed spice and salt. Add the walnuts and stir together until thoroughly mixed.
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and level the top. Bake for 1–1 1/4 hours or until the cake is risen and nicely browned and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  5. Turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool. The cake can be kept, wrapped in foil or stored in an airtight container, for up to 5 days.

A Pilgrimage of Leicester Temples

On Snday 25th March there will be a Tirth Yatra (Pilgramage) of Leicester’s Hindu Temples.

Why not join in this Yatra to celebrate the 20th year of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and the 10th year of the Leicester Friends group on the auspicious day of Ram Navami?  This is a Sponsored Walk visiting the glorious temples of Leicester raising money for Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. The day will run as follows –

8.00am Registration (Jalaram Mandir, Narborough Road, Leicester, LE3 0LF)

£11 fee is required for registration (Health and Safety). However this will be deducted from from sponsorship raised and a minimum sponsorship of £25 is kindly requested.

8.30 Walk starts

The walk is at a steady pace so that it is enjoyable and manageable for all.

Everyone is welcome to join in. Lunch and refreshments are provided.

For more information and registration please contact 0116 268 0306 or 07845 286057

or email leicesterfriends@ochs.org.uk

PUT YOUR FEET FIRST! WORKSHOP COMING SOON 21/4/18

Did you know that you can relieve pain in the back, neck and shoulders by looking after your feet?  In fact, by giving your feet just a little attention your whole body can feel a lot better.

Yoga can sooth the feet, strengthen them and ease foot pain besides improving circulation, reducing swelling and smelling!! Thought that would get your attention! We tend to dislike and ignore our feet – plodding round on them all day, crammed into tight fitting boots and shoes. The only time we think about them is when the summer first comes around and we have to get them sandal-fit or when they cause us trouble. The result of this is that 7 in 10 of us will suffer from foot problems as we age – most of which are entirely preventable.

Problems that occur with our feet include –

Bunions – a bony deformity of the joint at the base of the big toe. The medical name is hallux valgus. The main sign of a bunion is the big toe pointing towards the other toes on the same foot, which may force the foot bone attached to it (the first metatarsal) to stick outwards.

Hammer Toe – a bending deformity of one or both joints of the second, third, fourth or fifth (little) toes. This abnormal bending can put pressure on the toe when wearing shoes, causing problems to develop. Hammertoes usually start out as mild deformities and get progressively worse over time.

Tendinitis – an inflammation or irritation of a tendon, a thick cord that attaches bone to muscle.

Plantar fascitis – pain in the heel and bottom of the foot. The pain is usually most severe with the first steps of the day or following a period of rest.

Whilst some may see these as niggling minor ailments, foot problems can alter the foot’s structure and trigger pain elsewhere in the body. If your feet show any signs of pain or discomfort it’s most important to treat it as early as possible or EVEN BETTER prevent them from happening in the first place.

Yoga is great for prevention and can be used to correct some foot ailments. If you habitually place more weight on one foot than the other this will throw the knee joints, hip joints and spine out of alignment causing problems and pain at some point in the future.

Yoga treats the feet as the foundation of all standing postures. Keeping the joints structurally aligned over the feet ensures that the weight distribution is correct.  Stretching the feet and taking them through their full range of motion keeps a healthy circulation which in turn helps to reduce inflammation and swelling. Yoga gives the feet a far better workout than any other form of exercise as we work bare foot – it’s a great set of tools for awakening and enlivening our feet.

In this workshop we’ll be bringing the focus to our feet – using them for balance, building strength, getting creative and super flexy! Be prepared to work in bare feet, as this is the best way to see and feel what is going on.

We’ll be working with a short routine that you can practice at home (a take away sheet will be provided). The more you can do yourself to keep your feet healthy, the better – little and often is the key.

To end the first section we’ll work with Viparita Karani ( Legs up the Wall pose) which helps to relax the feet (and the person as well!!).

Following a short coffee break, we’ll develop a stronger routine to help build strength in the ankles, legs and feet. This work aids good alignment of the lower body which in turn will help to prevent back problems. Finally we’ll conclude with a relaxation exercise to sooth the feet, body and mind.

As space is limited, early booking is recommended. You can book your place by emailing me here.

NEW PARTNER YOGA WORKSHOP 24th March 2018

Partner yoga allows you to gain a another dimension to the usual yoga practice. It’s way more fun and far easier! And a great way to start yoga.

If you want to get the maximum out of yoga with the minimum effort  – then try partner yoga. By using each other for heat, motivation, anatomy analysis, and not to mention physical support, every aspect of the yoga class benefits. Getting stronger, relaxing deeper, releasing tension mentally and physically, letting go and opening onto another level.

In this new workshop we’ll warm up by sitting back to back with a partner. In an instant you’ll be asking yourself why you haven’t tried this before. The heat from the other persons back warms you with no effort at all. The spine feels better already – back ache? What back ache? And then we begin to move – very gently – communicating at all times with our partner (remember you can’t see them).  And so the class goes on, twisting, balancing, watching, supporting, encouraging, learning all done in the spirit of fun and investigation.

We’ll spend the first hour with gentle poses easing tension from the body with the focus on the back, neck and shoulders. Afterwards taking a relaxation exercise based on the Buddhist Metta Meditation (sending our thoughts out to those we love, don’t mind and finally don’t really like). Seeing the benefits of sharing our practice with a partner helps our comprehension that we are not alone, we are all in ‘it’ together and this is felt on many levels.

Following a short coffee + biscuit break we’ll begin to work developing more supported standing and balancing postures. Focusing on the alignment of the body and where support can be used. We’ll then take a breathing practice helping to balance our energy before reclining into Shavasana, relaxation, in a practice that will imbue a sense of deep peace and connection with all humanity.

You can come with a partner or find one at the workshop. You’ll have the option of working alone at any time if you prefer. The workshop is designed as a gentle, heart opening practice and will leave you feeling stretched, relaxed, deeply nourished and truly a part of one world!

As space is limited, early booking is recommended. You can book your place by emailing me here.

Is it time to find yourself a yoga buddy?

I know, it sounds a bit American, but it’s so true – a yoga or fitness buddy is a valuable resource to keep you motivated and save you money. We’ve all experienced the initial enthusiasm of a new sport or New Years’ Resolution, but as it wears off people often find that they give up despite the fact that the new routine is really doing good things. Research shows that having a fitness buddy in fact helps to keep you on track and motivated. The same is true with a yoga buddy, there are so many advantages that you’d be mad not to go out and find yourself one right now! Here are just 5 ways that they can help you…and you can help them…

1 – Safety in numbers! It sounds silly, but even as grown-ups, if you are starting a new class, you can feel a bit intimidated by the other class members who have been coming a while and know the ropes. Bringing along a pal is a great way to overcome this sense of intimidation.

2 – Ensure that you turn up! We all have those days when we just want to crash on the sofa… If someone is relying on you to help them then you have to find the energy. And you know that you’ll feel better yourself too.

3 – Share lifts! A great way to save money, especially in our area where we often have to drive for 15-20 minutes.

4 – It’s more fun! By creating shared moments you will develop your friendship and have more fun along the way particularly when you travel together and can review the highs and lows on the way home!

5 – You can make your yoga a social event! Why not have a drink or meal afterwards once a month as a reward for sticking at it? What about a yoga day? Or a yoga holiday? Look out for workshops where you could go along with your buddy and have a new experience, delving a little deeper but still with the comfort of knowing your buddy is there with you.

No Classes 27th & 28th February 2018 Due to Severe Weather Conditions

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