Sound and movement

Traditionally in the Christmas class we do something entirely different. This year is no exception. Are you wearing red and green?!

We’re going to combine sound with movement. As well as being great fun this is a marvellous tool for learning. We’ll commence with ‘OM Mani Padme Hum’ set to the tune of ‘Head Shoulders Knees and Toes’ and with the movements. We’ll then move on to the colours of the chakras – each colour has a corresponding arm position. Then we’ll progress to the seed sounds adding arm positions here too. (LAM/VAM/RAM/YAM/HAM/OM/SOHAM.)

Now let’s put the focus on Patanjali’s Eight Limbs, adding movements. These actions cement the order of the Limbs in our minds.

We’ll be about ready to sit at this point and we’ll make ourselves comfortable for something entirely new – the Five Tibetan Warrior Syllables. These are accompanied by a focus on five of the chakras, omitting the Crown Chakra and the Root Chakra. It’s a marvellous routine which features the Four Immeasurables – Love, Compassion, Joy and Equanimity. What gifts to give to your family over Christmas! Let’s spread joy, love, compassion and equanimity far and wide!

From there we embrace the Pranava Om Routine which features Chin Mudra, Chinmaya Mudra, Adhi Mudra and Brahma Mudra. Our energies will be so light and our vibrations so high that we will sing the Gayatri Mantra from every cell of our beings!

You will be so ready for your glorious relaxation, and I might even sing you to sleep with another chant!

Happy Holidays! Enjoy your Christmas break. We return on January 5th for an eleven week term.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

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Truth can be seen as a resonant field…

We’ve been dwelling on the yogic rule of Satya, truth. This week we’re going to focus on the spine, which is our support system. When the body is well, strong and supple, and we’re feeling in perfect balance, we can stand up for our truth.

Lets’s begin on all fours for the cat stretch and breath. We’ll count each part of the breath to ensure that we’re fully using the abdominal region, the thoracic region and the clavicular region. Then we’ll move into the swan-cat-dog sequence, which will form a link in our practice this week. Back to cat to add a leg movement which will help to strengthen the back and increase the flexibility of the spine. After a pause in the swan, we’ll repeat swan-cat-dog sequence. Now let’s come back to cat for the wagging of the tail. This is a great movement to release blockages from the lower back and hip region. When we feel the need to inhibit our inner truth, for fear of punishment or ridicule, we hold blocked emotions within the body. The lower back, indeed the entire back, expresses lack of support. Movement allows us to release the blockages. The word ’emotion’ is made up of E-motion. Movement releases feelings. And then we’re back to our swan-cat-dog.

Let’s use the dog pose to take us to standing and we’ll take ourselves into a moving meditation – Salute to the Moon. Feeling now in perfect balance, we’ll use the squat to return to the mat and visualise our way into the half-camel and the full camel posture. Then we’ll settle into the glorious counterpose, before continuing with the cool-downs, the meditation and the relaxation. Meditation focuses on the breath – imagine a crystal deep within your centre, as you breathe in imagine that crystal growing larger and brighter, as you breathe out imagine you’re letting-go into deep sapphire blue. The crystal represents the light of your truth – the sapphire blue is all about healing. As you breathe out, you let-go of all the tension that has been caused by having to repress your truth.

Relaxation will continue this good work as we move into ‘tense and release’.

Next week is the Christmas class. Such fun! Do wear your red and green…So that’s December 8th, the last class of this term. We return on January 5th for and eleven week term.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Satya and the fourth chakra

Satya is the second rule of yoga, falling into the category known as Yamas. Satya means truth, non-lying. We’re focusing on finding deeper meaning and truth in our yoga practice.

Let’s stand and begin with Malla Kriya, such a great exercise to rid us of excess carbon dioxide. It’s otherwise known as the whooshing breath.

On to Salute to the Sun, but remembering our Ahimsa, non-violence, we’ll adjust and adapt where necessary.

Now to work with Warrior 2, reflecting the idea of warrior energy defending our truth, which we meet in this week’s reading. From Warrior 2 to Triangle – a great stretch for the sides of the body.

Meeting a simple balance before we return to the mat through the squat, we’ll be calm as we approach this half-term’s challenge pose. We’ll observe the posture demonstrated, visualise ourselves in the posture, and then either try it or spend some more time visualising.

The counter-pose to camel is wonderful for opening up the shoulders, and that will take us into some seated twists. Let’s finish with the neat little cosmic egg balance.

Meditation is all about sitting in our hearts, the fourth chakra, and sitting in our truth.

Relaxation is tense and release. Are we truly, honestly relaxed?

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

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

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