Happy Diwali!

Wishing you all light, love and blessings on Diwali.

Our theme of this half-term has been Ahimsa, non-violence. How the world craves this abstinence. We’re going to begin our practice with some standing breathing exercises. Let’s open the chest and draw in the good prana! We’ll then progress to all forms of forward bend, followed by all forms of backward bend. On to the twist to increase the suppleness off the spine and to massage the digestive system.

It will be good to meet Mountain sequence here. Such a good way to tone the trunk and strengthen the arms. Have we gained stability balance from the mountain? Let’s see as we go into two balance poses, the tree and the dancer.

Now we’ll experience moving meditation in the Salute to the Moon – Chandra Namaskar. Lovely…

Back to the mat through the squat and here we prepare for cow-face pose. Last time as our challenge, Yogis!

Meditation, after the cool-downs, is the square breath, Sama Vritti Pranayama. Relaxation will be all about the breath. Breathe in golden yellow – breathe out sky blue.

Half-term next week.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

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The Alzheimer’s Solution

I was reading about a book by Dean and Ayesha Sherzai. It explains their research into Alzheimer’s disease and they give a list of ‘Six things to do right now’in order to prevent the disease. The first on the list is GIVE UP MEAT. This absolutely echoes our theme of Ahimsa, non-violence. Most yogis are vegetarian or vegan precisely because of the first rule of yoga.

This week we’ll begin with dancing legs and then move into an inversion, the shoulderstand. On to the plough and the fish, before working with nose-to-knee postures. We’ll follow these with bridges and then spinal twist. Coming to seated through the boat, we’ll move on to butterfly knees, our rather amusing balance, Merudandasana, and then we’ll work with the classical half-lotus posture. Our challenge is cow-face posture and I’m hoping that our previous work will have opened our hips well. This will serve us here. We’ll complete the asanas with cosmic egg.

Meditation is repetition of the mantra ‘OM Mani Padme Hum’ – the jewel in the heart of the lotus.

Relaxation is repetition again – this time OM on the in-breath and OM on the out-breath.

Next week is class as usual, but the following week is half-term. So no class on October 27th.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Wishing All Creatures Well

We’re focusing on Ahimsa, non-violence, this half-term. Our reading explains the Buddhist practice of wishing all beings well before you interact with them.

Kapalabhati is a wonderful kriya and pranayama technique. We begin our practice with this exercise. Then we’ll lie down on the abdomen and re-acquaint ourselves with the creeping crocodile. On to cobra, locust, bow and then we’ll repeat from the creeping crocodile.

Pushing back into the swan posture, we’ll attempt the variation where the chest and chin rest on the ground. This is great for opening the shoulders!

Now let’s move on to the gate sequence – good old parighasana! Such a good sequence to open up the sides of the body and to release long-hidden frustrations.

Our challenge pose is cow-face posture, so we’ll explore and see how this feels today. And then let’s finish with a delightful little balance pose – the cosmic egg.

Meditation will be to work with the seed sound for the heart chakra – YAM. After all, Ahimsa comes from the heart-centre. Relaxation will focus on repetition and patience using the 22 body parts.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Ahimsa and Compassion

Ahimsa, non-violence is the first rule of yoga – the first of the Yamas as set down by Patanjali. Gandhi lived his whole life dedicated to ahimsa.

This week we’ll begin our practice with Malla Kriya. Let’s rid ourselves of excess carbon dioxide. Then we’ll move into the very lovely Tree of Life breath. Feeling centred, we’ll continue with a forward bend, backward bend and twist. On to a warrior pose and through to the triangle. Strong postures to bring strength to the body, mind and inner spirit. Let’s attempt the tree balance – working with adaptations where necessary. And then it’s back to the mat through the squat.

We met cow-face posture last week, and this is quite a challenge. It will be our challenge posture for this half-term. Always really good fun to see how we progress within a pose.

Meditation will be working with, ‘May you be happy, May you be healthy, May you be free from suffering, May you be at peace.’ This wonderful mantra instils a deep sense of compassion – towards ourselves, towards others, and towards all beings.

Relaxation is focusing on the breath. In many languages it is the same word for breath and for life.

My latest book, ‘Yoga Poses Questions’, will be available in class this week.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Back to class, back to basics

How lovely to be back for the autumn term! We’re going to work with Ahimsa, the first rule of yoga. It means non-violence.

Let’s start with some good arm stretches, then on to bridges done with attention and mindfulness. Ahimsa is just as important as a guideline for ourselves as it is towards others. We’ll bear this in mind as we work gently with our bodies. Gentle twists follow the bridges, and then we’ll come safely to sitting. Let’s try assisted Paschimottonmasana, the seated forward bend, coupled with Purvottonasana, the backward stretch. Wide-legged forward bends will be next, approached with awareness. It will feel lovely to work with some gentle twists in the seated position, too.

On to all fours where we’ll meet cat stretch and breath, then the rest position of swan. Then we’ll attempt cow-face posture, Gomukhasana, and proceed to butterfly knees and the tortoise, Kurmasana.

Meditation will be all about working with kindness. This is Ahimsa in positive mode. Then relaxation will focus on the breath.

The Eight Limbs of Yoga are a life-time’s study. Here we go back to the basics. The Yamas are the first of the Eight Limbs and they involve ethics relating to others, but also to ourselves. The first of the Yamas is Ahimsa.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

‘Home from OM – the last yoga retreat’

My latest book is now available on Amazon! It’s a novel way to navigate the ageing process, and uses story to spread the teachings of yoga.

Buy your copy of ‘Home from OM – the last yoga retreat’ now! They’re selling fast…

Click on the cover to purchase.

mumyoga

‘Home from OM’ employs the ancient yoga technique of story-telling to put across spiritual teachings, the infinite wisdom. Following the progress of ten occupants of a residential home, we engage with their lives and their pasts. Can living in a yoga community bring grace and fulfillment to their last years? Could this be a way for the elderly to progress instead of diminish? Or will new challenges emerge from the experiment? Carole Kerton has been teaching yoga for forty-one years. She believes in using humour and anecdotes to facilitate learning. Whilst yoga supports all age groups, the elderly in Carole’s classes thrive on their practice.

Chapter 16

The start of Chapter 16 in the Gita descibes the difference between the man who is born with divine tendencies, and the man who is born with demonic tendencies: ‘A man who is born with tendencies towards the Divine is fearless and pure in heart. He perseveres in that path to union with Brahman which the scriptures and his teacher have taught him. He is charitable. He can control his passions. He studies the scriptures regularly, and obeys their directions.He practises spiritual disciplines. He is straightforward, truthful and of an even temper. He harms no one. He renounces the things of the world. He has a tranquil mind and an unmalicious tongue. He is compassionate toward all. He is not greedy. He is gentle and modest. he abstains from useless activity. he has faith in the strength of his higher nature. He can forgive and endure. He is clean in thought and act. He is free from hatred and pride. Such qualities are his birthright.’

See how this description overlaps with the teachings of Patanjali in the Eight Limbs of Yoga.