Annamayakosha

Let’s begin with the left hand on the heart and the right hand on the lower abdomen. The short relaxation is a time to let go of our busy lives and to step into the present moment.

After the stretches we’ll stand for Malla Kriya, the whooshing breath. And then we’ll meet some wide-legged forward bends. Let’s balance that with assisted backward bends and then standing twists. After resting in the mountain pose we’ll move into the mountain sequence. We’ll do this first of all with the arms shoulder width apart and then with the hands in ‘namaste’, Anjali Mudra. On to a balance with the leg extended.

Having returned to the mat through the squat, we’ll come on to all fours for the cat pose. Then back into swan, and the variation of swan. Now this is going to be our challenge pose for this half-term! It’s a good one, opening the hips and the shoulders very effectively. Returning to kneeling, thunderbolt pose, we’ll finish with a neat little twist.

After our cool downs we’ll meditate on the breath and a mantra. ‘I am well’ on the in-breath, and ‘I am safe’ on the out-breath. Then resting in our physical body, physical sheath, annamayakosha, we’ll run through ‘I’m relaxing my toes, my toes are relaxed…I’m relaxing my feet, my feet are relaxed’ etc.

The reading this week gives us a good explanation of the food sheath, annamayakosha.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

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‘Out of Brahman…’

We learn from the Taittiriya upanishad: “Out of Brahman, who is the Self, came ether; out of ether, air; out of air, fire; out of fire, water; out of water, earth; out of earth, vegetation; out of vegetation, food; out of food, the body of man. The body of man, composed of the essence of food, is the physical sheath of the Self.

From food are born all creatures, which live upon food and after death return to food. Food is the chief of all things. It is therefore said to be medicine for all diseases of the body…From food are born all beings which, being born, grow by food. All beings feed upon food, and, when they die, food feeds upon them.”

There! We have come full circle…Food is medicine!

From the ‘don’ts’ to the ‘do’s’

The second of the EIGHT LIMBS of YOGA is the NIYAMAS. These are the observances, the things that we should do to live a fulfilling, ethical life. The first of the Niyamas is SAUCHA, cleanliness. In the western world, we are very clean on the outside i.e showering, washing our clothes, hoovering our floors, but generally we are less concerned with the inside. Practises such as ‘neti’ or nasal cleansing are used by yogis. Tongue scraping is another favourite, and does really prevent some colds and infections. Eating nutritious, carefully chosen foods keeps our digestive tract clean and healthy. Many people nowadays are in to detox, which is helpful, focussing the mind an keeping the insides clean. Meditation is a powerful tool, used by all yogis, to clear and cleanse the mind. Yoga practice itself cleanses the energy channels and the aura.

There’s a lot to think about with this Niyama. We have been noticing the increase in rubbish thrown out of cars on the motorway. This is irresponsible and dirty. It goes against the Niyama, saucha. It is just as important to keep our neighbourhoods, our countries, our planet clean, as it is to keep ourselves clean! Dirt clutters the mind…

The seventh chakra

Now we come to the last of the wheels of energy. This seventh chakra is called SAHASRARA in Sanskrit. It means the thousand petalled lotus, its colour is violet (often white in classical texts) and some authorities say that it has no seed sound. Other authorities recommend using the sounds ‘So Ham’ to stimulate this wheel. So ham means ‘That I am’. It is the unconscious mantra that we repeat with each breath – so is the sound of the in-breath, and ham is the sound of the out-breath. So represents the cosmic consciousness , ham represents the individual consciousness.

The crown chakra connects us to a Higher Power, to Spirit World. It is all about our spirituality. In as much as we have stimulated and balanced our previous six chakras, then we are ready to open up to Sahasrara, which is located two inches above the crown of the head.

The prana that we gather through our connection with the Earth, with the Sun, with the food that we eat and the pure water that we drink, this prana is the fuel which runs the seven main chakras. In perfect health and well-being, the wheels spin freely and constantly, giving out energy and taking in energy.

The fascinating brow chakra

The sixth wheel of energy is often referred to as the third eye. The brow chakra is known as AJNA in Sanskrit, which means to perceive. Its all about your intuition – think about that word for a moment. In…..tuition….(teaching from within.) This wheel of energy puts you in touch with your inner guru, or teacher. It is connected to the element of light, its colour is indigo (royal purple), and its seed sound is OM. Try turning your eyes upwards to the position of the third eye when you meditate.

Foods that might awaken the brow chakra include black grapes, blackcurrants, blackberries and black olives. However, listening to your intuition and working with awareness are the most effective ways to proceed. It’s rather lovely to create a PUJA, which is a ceremony or sacred place. Choose a peaceful corner in your home, and on a table or shelf place items which resonate with you at the time. If you wish to stimulate the brow chakra, have perhaps an indigo candle, some beautiful indigo tulips, a picture or photograph of a place where you have received insights and realisations.

Always source your food organically, and feel gratitude as you eat.

Communication

The fifth wheel of energy is situated at the throat and it’s concerned with communication. The Sanskrit name for this chakra is VISHUDHA, which means purification. This wheel develops between the ages of 7 and 12 years. Its colour is blue and its seed sound is HAM.

Vishudha awakens when we chant and when we repeat mantra. Folk with a¬†healthy, well-balanced throat chakra have resonant voices, are good listeners and are articulate. Food to support the throat chakra could be blueberries, and surrounding yourself with blue candles, blue cushions etc will bring healing to this wheel. Do gaze up at the blue skies that we are enjoying at the moment! Free healing for all…