Sound therapy

Continuing our work with Swadhyaya, which is self-study, brings us to the consideration of sound therapy. Can we get to know ourselves better by the use of mantra, chanting and repetition of the seed sounds?

We’ll begin our practice by sounding ‘OM’ three times. We’ll then lie down for the short relaxation and sigh away three breaths. I’ll sing the Gayatri Mantra to relax you all.

Once standing, we’ll employ Malla Kriya – the whooshing breath. As well as making a very satisfactory sound, this rids you of excess carbon dioxide which causes tiredness.

Now on to Salutation to the Moon. After each round we’ll chant the seed sounds beginning at the root chakra and working up to the crown chakra: Lam, Vam, Ram, Yam, Ham, OM, Soham.

Moving to the Mountain Sequence we’ll become aware of our feet rooted to Mother Earth. After each round we’ll sound the seed sound for the base chakra – 3 lovely loud Lam’s.

Then we’ll move to the sequence of poses which takes us from Warrior 2 into Triangle.These are powerful and fill our solar plexus chakras with prana, so let’s sound Ram – the seed sound for the solar plexus.

And now we’ll practise the Dancer’s pose. See how we look up to the Brow chakra – the seat of our intuition. We’ll sound the appropriate seed sound – OM.

Spreading the legs wide on the mat, we’ll practise a different form of our challenge pose. Can we go deeper if each out breath is accompanied by a loud sigh?

Through squat we move back down to the mat for Brahmari breath. Humming is a wonderful way to lengthen the out breath and to calm the mind.

Meditation features us all chanting the Gayatri Mantra. This is transformative.

Relaxation will feature the repetition of the seed sounds, but this time internally. Inner sound is deeply spiritual.

Do we know ourselves a little better at the end of this practice? Have we moved along the path of self-study? Try chanting while you’re waiting at the traffic lights, doing the ironing, cooking. Everyone benefits!

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti


Bringing ourselves into a meditative place

We’re continuing our focus on raja yoga. We’ll begin our practice in relaxation pose, thinking the sound ‘OM’ on the in-breath and ‘OM’ on the out-breath. Then, after the stretches and warm-ups, we’ll sit for kapalabhati.

Standing, we’ll review the mountain pose before doing three rounds of salute to the sun. Having returned to the mat through the squat, we’ll attempt the crow balance, followed by the gate sequence. (There’s a sitting version for anyone with knee issues.)

Moving on to the abdomen, let’s spend time with the cobra, locust and bow. Then it’s time for a lovely counter-stretch in the form of the swan, and its variation.

After the cool-downs, we’ll sit for meditation – silent repetition of ‘OM MANI PADME HUM’.

During the relaxation, I’ll sing the GAYATRI MANTRA to you.

This practice is designed to bring us to a meditative state of mind. How long will it last?!

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Working through methodically

This week we’re going to work with Pawanmuktasana part one (the anti-rheumatic group of exercises), Pawanmuktasana part two (the anti-gastric group of exercises), and some of Pawanmuktasana part three (the energy release group of exercises).

Our pranayama technique will be working with stepped inhalation and stepped exhalation. This is such a good exercise in control!

For meditation, we’ll immerse ourselves in the Gayatri Mantra.

Relaxation will be all about tense and release. In fact, the whole practice is about release – release of stiffness, release of toxins, release of blocked energy. Just the way to set yourselves up for the half-term next week!

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

A practice which focusses on the sacral chakra 25/1/2016

This week’s class focusses on the solar plexus chakra (Manipura). This is known as the city of gems.

We begin with a reading from the mindfulness book. After the short relaxation, the stretches and warm-ups, we will work with a pranayama technique known as Kapalabhati. This involves exaggerating the exhalation. The emphasis is on the pulling in of the abdomen, sharply, in order to exhale briskly. Kapalabhati is great for toning the abdomen, clearing away stale air from the lower part of the lungs, and cleansing the mind, brain and head. It literally means ‘skull cleansing.’.

We will follow this with three salutations to the sun (Surya Namaskar). Then move on to some work with the second of the main locks, Uddiyana Bandha. We met the root lock two weeks ago, now this is the abdominal lock. We’ll practise Agni Sara, which stimulates the digestive system making it faster and more thorough.

Warrior two follows, standing firm on the ground and feeling our power, we stretch our arms to the side. On an out-breath, we bend the right knee until we can no longer see the foot. Then we gaze back at the left hand, stretching beautifully through the shoulders. On an out-breath, we place the right hand at the top of the right thigh and take the left arm over until it touches the right ear Рa diagonal slash. On an in-breath, we straighten the right knee, take the back of the right hand to the inside on the right leg and the left hand straight up to the sky.  On each out-breath, we slide the right hand down the right leg, coming into triangle, Trikonasana.

We’ll introduce a standing twist next, followed by the Mountain Sequence (Tadasana) and the tree balance (Vrksasana). Then using the squat, Utkatasana, for sitting, we’ll work with butterfly knees, also known as cobbler’s pose, (Baddha Konasana) and go into our challenge posture of this half-term, half-lotus (Ardha-Padmasana.)

Meditation will either be the Gayatri Mantra or ‘Sun-blessed’, a visualisation, depending on the group.

During the relaxation, we’ll look at the traditional colours of the chakras, which differ from the New Age version of rainbow colours. The solar plexus is in modern terms yellow, traditionally it was blue.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Mindful practice 18/1/2016

We are continuing our readings about mindfulness and are focussing on the sacral chakra this week. January can be a time for low energy and grey weather, so lets remind ourselves to let go and have fun with our yoga!

We’ll begin with the Equestrian posture (ASHWASANCHALANASANA).

Then on to the Monkey pose (ANJANEYASANA).

Moving on to the Pigeon (KAPOTASANA) which is so helpful for anyone with sciatica.

The Gate sequence (PARIGHASANA) is a great way to tone the trunk and to release those frustrations from the sides of the body!

From a four posture sequence we hop to a three posture sequence – swan, cat, dog. A flow of movement really helps with the letting go.

Having thoroughly warmed up, we can approach the supine thunderbolt (SUPTAVAJRASANA).

Following that with the Pranayama technique BHRAMARI.

Our challenge pose of this half term is the half-lotus, so now we will do butterfly knees, rocking buddha and half-lotus (ARDHA PADMASANA.)

Our meditation will all be about the Gayatri Mantra. This is the second time we have met it this term, so we’ll be able to let go and really enjoy it!

We’ll focus on the seed sound for the sacral chakra (SWADHISTANA) for the long relaxation.


Our class this week. 4/1/2016

This week we will be all about breathing in the new and breathing out the old! We’ll begin with 3 resounding OMs.

Then attention on the breath for relaxation and a reading from ‘Peace of Mind’ by Thich Naht Hanh.

After the stretches and warm-ups, we will work with CAT stretch and breath. Followed by the sequence SWAN – CAT – DOG.

We’ll use the DOWNWARD DOG to take us to standing where we will perform some mindful breathing exercises.

Then we’ll work with a standing forward bend – PADAHASTASANA – a supported back bend, and several standing TWISTS.

Returning to the mat through the squat – UTKATASANA – then working with butterfly knees, rocking buddha and the challenge pose for this half-term, ARDHA PADMASANA.

After the cool-downs, shoulder rotations and neck moves, we will sit for the GAYATRI MANTRA. This is the mantra of all mantras – very powerful. It clears the nadis and takes us all to a positive place for the New Year.

Relaxation will take us back to breathing in the new and breathing out the old.

I’m so looking forward to our first class of 2016!