Moon Breathing

This is our last week for focusing on Brahmacharya, non-misuse of energy. To the ancient yogis this study would have involved being celibate. Nowadays, we are more inclined to think of it as being faithful and not promiscuous. Being involved in many relationships at once would dissipate the energies. But Brahmacharya is so much more than this. The positive side of this study is to use the energy for good; to use the energy as a channel for love; to use the energy as a force for helping others.

We’ll begin with a breathing exercise while seated, moving from Anjali Mudra on the in-breath, to Even-Hearted pose on the out-breath. We’ll then emulate this movement with the knees. This will prepare us for the challenge pose, half-lotus.

Now let’s lie on the abdomen and refresh our memories with the creeping crocodile. This is a great way to open the hip joints. Then we’ll move into work with the cobra, locust and bow postures. Rolling on to the side, we’ll practise our side-stretches and Vishnu’s couch.

From resting on the abdomen, we’ll push back into swan and then attempt the sequence swan – cat – cobra. Then can we progress to swan – cat – dog – cat – cobra? Staying in swan, finally, we’ll move into the variation. This is marvellous for opening the shoulders and hips!

Last asana will be the mermaid. It will feel so good to finish on a twist.

For meditation we’re going to work with Moon Breathing or Chandra Bheedana Pranayama. When we clear and cool our energies, we can utilise them wisely; we can open up our third eye and remove the pirate patch from over it! The intuition will instruct us how best to use our energies, best for us, best for all beings, best for the planet.

Relaxation is about breathing in the sun’s energy and breathing out the moon’s energy. Let’s feel the subtle difference.

This week is the last of our Spring term. We return for the Summer term on April 20th. That is for a twelve-week term, but we’re tagging on the week that we lost to the snow day. Hence we finish on July 20th. Have a great break!

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

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Connecting our energies with nature

We continue our study of Brahmacharya – non-misuse of energy. How can we help the Planet? How can we help all beings? How can we use our energies as a force for good?

We’ll begin with Kapalabhati, and then work on improving our challenge pose – half-lotus. Then standing for Malla Kriya and the Tree of Life breath.

Moving to forward bends, we’ll bow in gratitude to nature. And now let’s fully celebrate the moon with the Salutation to the Moon sequence.

Balance becomes a greater challenge as we get older and this is more reason to practise! Let’s meet the Tree Pose.

Back down through the squat for cosmic egg. This is a reminder of how the earth embraces and protects plants beneath its surface, until they’re ready to burst forth.

Meditation is silent repetition of the mantra, ‘OM Mani Padme Hum’. Let’s connect with all flowers everywhere as we focus on the lotus.

For relaxation we’ll place the left hand on the heart and the right hand on the lower abdomen. This is the position of self-nourishment. When we nourish ourselves, and build up our energies, we have more to give to the Planet and all beings.

Last class is next week – that’s March 23rd. We return on April 20th.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

A well-regulated life

Swami Sivananda describes Brahmacharya as self-restraint. The practice of this Yama leads to a well-regulated life. Many yoga teachers resist using the word ‘discipline’ to describe yoga practice. But a discipline it is. Patanjali shows us the way with his Eight Limbs. We’re looking in depth at the first of these Limbs – the Yamas. We’ve focussed on Ahimsa – non-violence, Satya, non-lying, Asteya, non-stealing, and now we’re looking at Brahmacharya, the non-misuse of energy. Swami Sivananda declares that, ‘Those who wish to attain the Imperishable Absolute should observe these canons uncompromisingly’.

We were snowed off last week, so we’ll do the class that I had previously planned for us. (Please refer back to the previous post.) Good to see how many of the Spring flowers survived the weather!

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Harmony of Soul

‘Day after day let the yogi practise harmony of soul: in a secret place, in deep solitude, master of his mind, hoping for nothing, desiring nothing’. BhagavadĀ  Gita.

Let’s add to that ‘Master of his energies’. We’re studying Brahmacharya – non-misuse of energy. Yoga teaches us the wonderful study of Pranayama – the gathering, storing and wise use of PRANA, life-giving energy. Through observation, we notice how we use, and sometimes abuse, our energies. Let’s keep our minds tuned to non-misuse of energy as we progress through this week’s practice.

We’ll begin with the leg moves from Pawanmuktasana, and then work with the challenge pose. Half-lotus is a traditional posture used for meditation.

Now we’ll find our way in the equestrian pose and on to the monkey. Many people experience sciatica at some time in their lives and our next pose alleviates it. This is the pigeon, and we’ll follow it with the swan – cat – dog sequence. Let’s use Ujjayi breathing.

Passing through the dog to standing, we’ll become grounded in the mountain posture. Let’s explore the energy effect of warrior and triangle, then find the joy in the dancer’s pose – such a lovely balance.

Now back to the mat through the squat, and we’ll finish our asanas with cosmic egg.

Meditation is silent repetition of a mantra: I breathe in prana, I breathe out waste.

Relaxation will test our imaginations! Here we work with Surya Kriya and bring some warmth into our solar plexus region.

Talking about warmth, the roads are clear here although we’re living in a white world. I’m proceeding as though we will have our classes tomorrow, but will review the situation in the morning. Should it have freezing ice on top of the snow, we’ll cancel so as to keep you all safe. Fingers crossed that we’re ‘business as usual’.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti