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.
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.
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.
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
Do you find it almost impossible to relax because you feel guilty when you’re not busy?
We increasingly live under constant pressure to be productive – doing something every moment of the day; multi-tasking; maximising every second.
The increase of mobile phones means we have messages coming at us 24/7 – there is never a quiet moment! And when there is we seem to worry – is the phone working? No one wants me – and the ‘Fear Of Missing Out’ on anything our friends are doing.
The stress that we are continually putting ourselves under will eventually cause a problem. According to statistics from the Government’s Health and Safety Executive 85% of serious illnesses are caused by stress. It costs our country £7 billion per year in lost work days and NHS services.
We all know the signs – heart rate goes up, sweaty palms, breathing increases and so on. This is due to hormonal changes within our bodies described as the ‘fight or flight’ response. The body reacts by instinctively preparing to run away or face down the problem. Internally this means that our oxygen and blood supply are totally diverted to get the muscles ready to run or fight. Our pupils also enlarge to take in as much information as possible and other unnecessary bodily activities shut down – digestion, metabolism, sex drive.
Does this ring any bells with you?
When we take time out to relax all the functions described above reverse. Our heart rate reduces, the oxygen in our blood is regulated, the muscles relax, and digestion, metabolism and sex drive are all improved.
Yoga offers a great way to relax and unwind the body and mind. A typical class will offer 1/3rd of the time in relaxation practices. A guided relaxation can take many forms – seated in a chair or laying on the back of the body. A teacher will use a variety of methods to help you to relax your body and mind. Visualisations, muscle tense and release, breathing exercises, meditation and music are some methods I use.
The benefit of a regular class means that you learn techniques and tips to stop you from doing your mental ‘to do’ list and allow you to simply be and relax. Giving yourself permission to relax is the most important and difficult thing to do. But given the benefits, don’t you think it’s your job to get busy relaxing?
If you feel rather sluggish now that the Easter Holidays (and chocolate) have left the building and landed on your waist – why not try a few yoga moves to give you some energy and elongate your muscles? Stand with feet in the correct alignment – knees under hips and ankles under knees. Interlock the fingers and take the arms up overhead turning the palms to face the ceiling. At the same time lift your heels and raise up onto your tip toes. All this happens in tandem with a nice long in breath and on the out breath return the arms and heals back to the starting point. Watch out if you have any shoulder problems – try it without the fingers locked. And if you find the raises give you too much wobbling issue just do the arms bit and try raising the heels when you have a stronger core. This move is called ‘Tadasana’ or sometimes ‘Tadasana with breath’.
The benefits include –
- develops your balance
- stretches the whole length of the spine
- loosens shoulder joints
- stretches the stomach area and the abdominal muscles
- improves the ankle joint and calf muscle
- improves lung capacity
Do 5 – 10 repetitions daily and you’ll soon feel the benefits!
Spring is in the air… it’s time to spring into action!
At this time of year yogis often ‘cleanse’ their systems with a variety of practices. They can be physical asana, breathing practices or literally cleaning out the sinuses or digestive system with a special kriya or yoga cleansing method.
I’ve devised a simple sequence of asana for you to give it a try – a few stretches including the all important twisting movement which help the digestive system to ‘flow’.
Please note – always work within your own comfortable range of movements. Do not strain! If you have any blood pressure issues it is not advised to do a standing forward bend, try one of the modifications we have done in class instead.
Happy spring cleaning!
I’m always interested in improving my sleep. And I have to say that since reading this book I have slept like a log! At the time I didn’t feel that it was telling me anything that I didn’t already know – but some of it must have seeped into my subconscious as it has made quite a difference.
It’s a quick read (which is always a bonus) as there are a few chapters that you can skip (sleeping for new borns, kids etc). There’s also a great long list of things that make no difference to how you sleep which is also worth a bit of a glance.
Totally recommend it, buy it, read it and pass it on. Who couldn’t do with an extra half an hours sleep? Let’s make the world a better place.
“YAY! OFF TO YOGA”
Would you like to share a lift to your yoga class? I would like to introduce ‘lift sharing’ as an option for students because we live in a rural environment and we always seem to have to get the car out just about everywhere we need to go! Is it time to think of the environment and try to share a lift to yoga with someone who lives near to you?
The benefits of lift sharing are – cost saving on fuel/wear and tear of your car, not having to drive after the relaxation at the end of the class every week, an extra bit of push to get to class every time.
The costs of lift sharing are – picking someone up you may not know well, going a little out of your way and thus taking a few minutes more, letting someone know if you can’t make the class.
It has been statistically proven that having a ‘buddy’ with any sport is very helpful in motivation. More people stick at their sport and attain their goals when they have a ‘buddy’ to help and support them. With this idea of lift sharing you are getting both a buddy and a driver – surely it must be worth a go?
If you are interested in participating in this scheme please email me here with your location and I will try to pair you up with another willing participant. There is no obligation to carry on if you give it a go and it doesn’t work – you can tell me and I will sort it out. But you never know it could be the start of something good!
Heal is a documentary film about the connection between stress and illness. It shows how the mind and the body can affect each other when they are out of kilter. It is a very life affirming film. Many examples are used where giving the mind and body the right conditions/therapy has had tremendous healing power. It’s well worth a watch.
You can find the film on Netflix if you are a member or buy it on Youtube. Below is a trailer from youtube.
“YOGA FOR A HAPPY HEART”
I hope you can join me for a wonderful day of yoga on Saturday the 22nd June – to celebrate World Yoga Day. Places will be limited, so please book by email as soon as possible.
22nd June 2019 – Exton Village Hall – 10am to 4pm – Cost £35
10.00 Welcome and introduction to the day
10.15 Meditation on the Heart
10.30 Yoga Postures – Opening the Heart-space
11.45 Coffee Break
12.00 Mudra and Pranayama for a Healthy Heart
12.30 Shared Vegetarian Lunch (Please bring a plate of food to share)
1.30 Relaxation – Yoga Nidra with focus at Anahata Chakra
2.00 Circle Yoga Postures
3.00 …When you don’t feel like being kind…
3.30 Joyful Chanting
3.50 Questions, further practice and close