Take a breather

In order to fully embrace the five Yamas, the ‘don’ts which Patanjali takes as his first rule of yoga, we need to give ourselves some space. We need space to re-evaluate our moral principles and beliefs. This is where the breath comes in…The breath is the bridge between that which is physical and that which is spiritual.

So let’s take a breather! We’ll begin with the complete yoga breath – Mahat Pranayama. We’ll continue with the skull-cl;eansing breath – Kapalabhati. Then we’ll meet an action which rids us of excess carbon dioxide – Malla Kriya. On to the Tree of Life breath adding the victorious breath – Ujjayi.

Let’s connect our breath and focus to the earth by working with Salutation to the Earth itself. And from ground prana we’ll move to solar prana as we work with Mountain Sequence. Feeling very aware of our surroundings and in touch with all of nature, we’ll attempt the Balance Sequence and then continue into Salutation to the Moon.

Down through the squat for alternate nostril breathing and the meditation will feature the square breath – Sama Vritti Pranayama. Relaxation will be a simple focus on the out-breath – sinking down into the mat, into the earth.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

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Subtle ways of stealing

The reading this week comes from Stephen Sturgess and he explains the subtle forms of stealing; Asteya is our chosen Yama.

We’ll begin with the left hand placed on the heart and the right hand a little higher than usual, over the navel. We’ll notice the next three exhalations.

Then lots of leg work! Starting with side-stretches, then moving through the boat to seated leg work. Let’s see if we can place the heel on top of the head, or even take the foot behind the head, Madonna-style! We’ll do some wide-legged forward bends, lots of work with janu-sirsasana, and meet our friend the tortoise. Then we’ll shine the light on the half-lotus.

Once the asanas are completed, we’ll move on to Brahmari the bee-breath. Those happy on their knees will work from there.

Meditation is about repetition. ‘Everyday in every way I’m getting better and better.’ One hundred years ago, a doctor gave this mantra to his patients. All were astonished at the effect it had on the speed of their recovery.

Relaxation will feature the legs again. Let’s make friends with the root chakra and mulabandha.

Observe your patterns through the coming week. Are you guilty of subtle stealing from others? Or are others subtly stealing from you? The Yama rule of Asteya, non-stealing, is worthy of your attention.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

More on asteya

Following a reading by Swami Vivekananda, forward bends, backward bends and twists are the order of the day.We’ll work lying, seated and then standing. This week we’ll have a particular emphasis on observing the next three exhalations…

Meditation is an exercise in mental concentration – dharana. We’ll be counting backwards from 200, but every time the mind wanders we need to return to 200 and start over. Interesting to observe the persistence of the mind in its restlessness!

Relaxation features sama vritti pranayama – the square breath. Can we stay present for the entire relaxation time, and thus adhere to the rule of asteya? If we allow ourselves to be distracted or to sleep, we’ll be stealing away the benefits of the relaxation from our entire being.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Asteya (non-stealing) the third of the Yamas or Don’ts

Happy New Year to everyone! You see what a positive wish that is. I wish for everyone to have a happy new year – now can I live in such a way that I make that possible for those around me? Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘You must be the change you wish to see in the world.’ If you think the world needs more love, then it’s down to you to manifest more love. Holding back, begrudging, criticising, these are all forms of subtle stealing from others.

We’re going to begin the new year with a run through the joints – Pawanmuktasana 1 is the anti-rheumatic group of movements. We begin at the toes and work methodically through all the joints of the body until we reach the neck. As we work we release stiffness and toxins from each joint.

Let’s move on to Pawanmuktasana 2. This is the anti-gastric group of movements. We work methodically through the digestive system releasing blockages and toxins.

And now to finish off with Pawanmuktasana 3. Here we release blocked energy from key areas of the body. This work is with the energy system of the being.

Meditation will take us right into our connection with the breath as we practise Sama Vritti Pranayama, the square breath. Ooh, isn’t it great to be back to class?!

Then relaxation will ensure that we finish our session with both sides of the body in total harmony – Anu Loma Viloma Kriya.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti