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

Non-misuse of energy

Brahmacharya is the fourth of the Yamas – the don’ts. Here we discuss non-misuse of energy. To the ancient yogis this would have meant sexual energy. They would have chosen to be celibate. But there are many ways to misuse the energy. When we live an ethical life, adhering to the rules of ahimsa, non-violence, satya, non-lying, asteya, non-stealing and aparigraha, non-greed, we are already conserving energy. We’re not scattering it far and wide in negative circles, but keeping it for what is right and pure. Through yoga we learn to direct our energy correctly.

We’ll begin this week’s practice with butterfly knees and rocking buddha. Then we’ll check in with our hip joints as we move forwards and backwards. We’ll attempt Merudandasana, the balance, and then move into some work with tortoise posture. Now we meet our challenge pose for this half-term – half-lotus. And for those advanced yogis – full-lotus.

Let’s now come up on to one knee for the gate sequence. This is such a good series of movements for opening the sides of the body and toning the trunk. From the gate sequence we’ll move into a mermaid twist. More work on toning the trunk! And then into cat stretch and breath. We’ll employ ujjayi breathing, which is a great way to become focussed and to gain pranic energy.

Meditation is a visualisation – the crystal cave. Here we give our imaginations a good work-out!

Relaxation will focus on the solar plexus chakra. This is the seat of our energy reservoir. We’ll use the seed sound RAM to recharge our energy stocks, whilst fully conserving energy in the relaxation pose.

Watch your use of energy as you progress through next week.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Random Acts of Kindness

It’s global ‘random acts of kindness day’ on February 17th. There are so many ways to show little acts and gestures of kindness. When we look at the Yamas or Don’ts, we’re made aware that yoga is based on kindness. Do not harm – do not lie – do not steal – do not misuse energy – do not be greedy. If everyone in the world lived by these rules, what a kind place it would be!

This week we’ll explore the bandhas or locks. Standing, we’ll first of all introduce our bodies to the root lock – mulabandha. This is all about the pelvic floor and is a small. subtle movement. We’ll then continue to the abdominal lock – uddiyana bandha, and move on to agni sara, (drawing the abdomen in and out on a non-breath.) After a pause, we’ll work with forward bends and acquaint ourselves with the chin lock – jalandhara bandha. we can use this technique in the many forms of forward bend which we’ll meet this week.

Backward bends balance our practice, and then we’ll enjoy standing twists. This movement is missing from salute to the sun, which will be our next destination. Let’s try three.

Down through the squat and we’ll move into our cool-downs. Meditation this week is, of course, on kindness. The Four Immeasureables – love, compassion, joy and equanimity – combine to create kindness.

During the relaxation, we’ll ‘kindly’ relax each of the 22 body parts.

Remember: Do good, every time you can, every way you can, to every one you can.

Half-term is next week – February 16th. Random Act of Kindness Day is February 17th.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Asteya and forgiveness

Let’s do a practice on forgiveness. Holding on to bitterness and resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. We’re literally stealing peace of mind from ourselves. Asteya is the third of the YAMAS and it means non-stealing.

We’ll work on some classical poses this week – shoulderstand, plough, fish for starters, Then we’ll continue with nose-to-knee, bridges and all the supine twists.

Passing through the boat, we’ll work with cat stretch and breath, then lie on the abdomen to meet the cobra, locust and bow poses. Stretching back into the variation on the swan will put us in the right place to finish with the mermaid twist.

Meditation features the colours of the chakras, while relaxation uses golden yellow on the in-breath and silvery blue on he out-breath.

It’s half-term on February 16th.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

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