More on Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti means love and selfless devotion.

We’re beginning with nose-to-knee challenge posture. Then we’ll continue with side-stretches and come to sitting through the boat. Checking that we’re up on the ‘sit-bones’, we’ll move into paschimottonasana, the east west stretch, followed by janu-sirsasana (all forms). Let’s do our purvottonasana back-stretch, before continuing with all the seated twists.

Butterfly knees next, with rocking buddha, merudandasana balance and the tortoise pose. Our last posture will be the cosmic egg – such a good balance, and it strengthens the abdominal muscles too!

During meditation, we’ll count mantra on our fingers. We’ll use the well-beloved mantra ‘OM MANI PADME HUM’.

Relaxation will be Anu Loma Viloma Kriya. This brings into balance the right and the left, the solar and the lunar.

Last class of this term next week, so that’s April 6th and 7th. We return on April 27th and 28th. This is for an 11 week summer term. The annual retreat this year is on July 28th/30th.

In true Bhakti Yoga spirit, I bid you farewell with love, light and blessings,

Carole xxx

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Focusing on Pranamaya Kosha

For the second week we’re focusing on Pranamaya Kosha, the energy sheath. We are made of many layers and engaging with the energy sheath allows us to connect with the chakras, the wheels of energy, and the aura.

We’ll begin seated cross-legged for an attunement. Here we’ll run through the seed sounds of the chakras.

Lying for relaxation, we’ll become aware of the body breathing and the flow of prana (life-force) within us. After the stretches, we’re working with shoulderstand, plough, fish and the side-stretches. Moving through the boat we’ll approach our challenge pose, the variation on the swan.Then ┬áto standing through the dog, and it’s time for Salute to the Moon and a balance. Down through the squat and we’ll sit on meditation stools for the cool-downs and the Pranayama breathing technique, Sitali the cooling breath.

For the meditation we’ll work with the well-loved mantra, OM MANI PADME HUM, which we will count on our fingers.

And for the long relaxation we’ll focus on the solar plexus chakra while practising Surya Kriya.

The reading this week is taken from ‘Daily Om’. It reminds us to start each day in the heart chakra.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Yoga means union

We’ve been looking at impermanence, but one thing that never changes is that yoga means union. Yoga classes are kind, caring and inclusive. Yogis reach out to others…

We’re going to begin our practice this week with Malla Kriya – whooshing away the breath. Then we’re going into Salute to the Sun featuring the slant-board balance. We’ll try a balance pose with the leg out-stretched before going back down through the squat to the mat.

Now let’s practise Half-Camel and Camel. These are beautiful backward bends which give flexibility to the spine and the opportunity to open the heart. We’ll encourage unconditional love, the kind, caring and inclusive vibe which is the watchword of yoga practice.

Now into the Mermaid twists, and some seated twists, too. (Marvellous for the digestive system!)

The meditation is a 12 minute brain boosting exercise taken from Kundalini yoga. We use the sounds SAAH, TAAH, NAAH, MAAH, whilst touching the thumbs to the index finger, middle finger, ring finger and little finger in turn.

We’ll stay with those mantra sounds for the long, restful relaxation.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Mudras, mantras and the breath

Whilst making all conditions favourable for meditation to occur, it is useful to explore Hasta Mudras (hand positions). A mudra is a seal or gesture, which brings about a change in consciousness. It has an effect on the physical, psychological and energy levels. Two popular mudras are Chin mudra, where we squeeze together the cushions of the index finger and the thumb, while the other three fingers are long, straight and together, and Dhyana mudra, where the hands are cupped, left hand on top, thumbs are lightly touching and the hands are placed comfortably in the lap.

Mantras are a great aid to lead you into meditation, as is focussing on the breath. Simply watching the breath at the nostrils – noticing the cool air as you breathe in and the warmer air as you breathe out, is wonderfully calming. You can combine mantra and breath work with SO-HAM. This is the eternal mantra. We make the sound of SO as we breathe in and the sound of HAM as we breathe out. So Ham means ‘I am that I am’. This mantra we are using 24/7!