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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

 

 

The Jar of Life

jar-of-golf-balls
A professor stood before his philosophy class with a few items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large, empty jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of small pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly and the pebbles rolled into the spaces between the golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
Next the professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked again if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes’.
The professor then produced two bottles of beer from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar – effectively filling the space between the sand. The students laughed…
‘Now’, said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognise that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things – your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favourite passions – and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else – all the small stuff.’
‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for your life.’
‘If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.’
‘Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.’
‘Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit your grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18 holes. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn.’
‘Take care of the golf balls first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.’
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked that – the beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers with a friend.’

Enjoy your Jar Of Life this summer xx

In Control or Out of Control?

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Do you get anxious or angry when things don’t go just as you want them to? Do you feel you have to take charge of ‘everything’ or nothing would get done?

Feelings such as these really do cloud our enjoyment of life. They are often termed as ‘control issues’. Sometimes the simplest things make you irritated – say going for a coffee with a friend and the service being a bit slow or on a walk with a loved one and the moment being spoilt by a one-sided diatribe of complaining. These experiences feel like they are so far from the ‘perfect’ idea that you had in mind. But this is life.

Sometimes things don’t go as we planned – but it doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it. I’ve been learning ballroom dancing over the past couple of years – and it is the most fun when we learn something new and make a few mistakes in the process.

When we complain and are dis-satisfied about ‘inferiority’ or ‘mediocrity’ then we are only letting ourselves down and allowing our perception to cloak a situation in a pessimistic way.

Isn’t every aspect of our lives a matter of perspective?
“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.” ANNE FRANK, Diary of a Young Girl

We can alter our perspective on situations if we want to –

Don’t think MESSY – think LIVED IN/RELAXED

Don’t think SLOW SERVICE – think CAREFUL LOVING PREPARATION

Don’t think STONY SILENCE – think THOUGHTFUL/CONSIDERATE

I read Pollyanna (Eleanor H. Porter) recently – if you haven’t read it, well worth a look – and that has the thread of finding something positive about every situation you face. In fact Pollyanna makes it into a game – which is sometimes fun and often a challenge. Why not give it a go next time you feel like moaning?
LETTING GO OF CONTROL – A MEDITATION PRACTICE

1 Write about 3 recent occasions where you felt anxiety and wanted to take control of a situation or someone else’s behaviour.

2 Now come to a meditation space – seated on a cushion or in a chair. Take a moment to be still and watch the breath for about 5 minutes.

3 Chose one of the situations that you listed. Recall it in detail – especially the feelings. Perhaps a family member moved some cushions and didn’t replace them exactly as you wanted (small things can really get our goat) – what were your feelings?

4 Ask yourself why having things the way you want them is so important… Are you afraid of something? Do you feel that if you lose control you may become powerless? Alone? Abandoned?
There is no right answer – explore the feelings, even if you feel a bit silly now looking at them like this.

5 Let those thoughts go and commit to yourself to ‘letting go’ just a little bit at a time. See that by relaxing your grip (usually) nothing terrible happens. Look for a positive outcome when things are different from your expectations. Be kind and patient with yourself. Most people will have these thoughts at one time or another – you are not alone.

One final thought…

“All that we are is a result of what we have thought.” Buddha

Missing Your Yoga?

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If you are missing your weekly yoga class, why not sign up for the Side Plank Challenge?

I’ve created 3 short video yoga practices to strengthen the arms and the core ready for the Side Plank posture. The first was released yesterday – to get the next 2 please subscribe to the YouTube channel using the red button below the video.  You will then get notifications as soon as they are uploaded!

More will be released over the next term… so get signed up!

 

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

Every Smile Makes You A Day Younger

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There’s nothing like a nice smile to set you on your way in the morning or off into a peaceful sleep at night. Why not try this short meditation which focuses on the feeling of a smile…

Settle into a comfortable seated position.

Relax any tension in your jaw, let the lips part and separate the upper and lower teeth.
Without changing your facial expression, imagine the feeling of a smile.
After a few moments, bring that feeling of a smile to your heart and linger there.
Now feel the smile in both lungs and the space in your back between the shoulder blades.
From there, bring that feeling of a smile to your abdominal organs, digestive system and pelvis.
Allow the smile to flow down both legs, through the knees, calves down to your toes.
Allow the smile to spread across the shoulders down the arms, through the elbows, wrists and finger tips.
Feel your whole body as one large, open, radiant, beautiful smile. Resonate with that glow. Feel yourself as the embodiment of a smile, your whole being renewed, reverberating with the presence of a smile. Every single cell is smiling.

Now you can go about your day bringing that lightness and positivity to every situation.

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.

 

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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.

Keep Up Your Yoga Practice!

Although we will be taking a break from our weekly classes over the summer, there is no reason to stop your yoga practice. In fact this is a good time to make a resolve (in yoga we call this a Sankalpa) to do a bit of practice on your own. This will test your memory and motivation!

To help you I have made handouts for the Sun Salutes you have done in your class (if you haven’t got one, be sure to collect one this week) Plus I’ve filmed the following 2 videos -one is the Simple Sun Salute – best for beginner students and one is Surya Namaskara – more suitable for those that have got a couple of years experience. You can follow along anywhere you have WiFi – so no excuses 🙂

Please ‘like’ your favourite Sun Salute – and subscribe to the channel with the red button to see more videos later in the summer…