More on asteya

Following a reading by Swami Vivekananda, forward bends, backward bends and twists are the order of the day.We’ll work lying, seated and then standing. This week we’ll have a particular emphasis on observing the next three exhalations…

Meditation is an exercise in mental concentration – dharana. We’ll be counting backwards from 200, but every time the mind wanders we need to return to 200 and start over. Interesting to observe the persistence of the mind in its restlessness!

Relaxation features sama vritti pranayama – the square breath. Can we stay present for the entire relaxation time, and thus adhere to the rule of asteya? If we allow ourselves to be distracted or to sleep, we’ll be stealing away the benefits of the relaxation from our entire being.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

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Asteya (non-stealing) the third of the Yamas or Don’ts

Happy New Year to everyone! You see what a positive wish that is. I wish for everyone to have a happy new year – now can I live in such a way that I make that possible for those around me? Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘You must be the change you wish to see in the world.’ If you think the world needs more love, then it’s down to you to manifest more love. Holding back, begrudging, criticising, these are all forms of subtle stealing from others.

We’re going to begin the new year with a run through the joints – Pawanmuktasana 1 is the anti-rheumatic group of movements. We begin at the toes and work methodically through all the joints of the body until we reach the neck. As we work we release stiffness and toxins from each joint.

Let’s move on to Pawanmuktasana 2. This is the anti-gastric group of movements. We work methodically through the digestive system releasing blockages and toxins.

And now to finish off with Pawanmuktasana 3. Here we release blocked energy from key areas of the body. This work is with the energy system of the being.

Meditation will take us right into our connection with the breath as we practise Sama Vritti Pranayama, the square breath. Ooh, isn’t it great to be back to class?!

Then relaxation will ensure that we finish our session with both sides of the body in total harmony – Anu Loma Viloma Kriya.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

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

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

Essence versus ego

Our focus continues on Satya, truth. We’re beginning this week with the Tree of Life breath and then we’re going to work with all three Warrior poses. On to an exploration of Triangle, Reverse Triangle and the Half-moon balance. Now from strong postures to a supple one, the wide-legged forward bend. Then we’ll open up our hearts with a supported backward bend, and progress into standing twists.

Let’s meet our good friend Salutation to the Moon before using the squat as a balance pose. We’ll visualise our way into half-camel and full camel and then work with these two challenging postures. Let’s complete our asana work with the counterpose which is so excellent at opening the shoulders.

In meditation we’ll work with Sama Vritti Pranayama, the square breath, and then follow that with a glorious long relaxation. Tense and release the fists three times, sigh three times on the out-breath, then LET GO.

Two more weeks in this term. Our last class is December 8th.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Working with truth

On with our theme of Satya, truth or non-lying. We’re shining the light of truth on our entire practice and on our many layers.

Nose to knee poses begin this week’s asana work. We’ll do it first of all with the knee bent, and then with the leg straight. Then we’ll move into all the bridges, and even work with the preparation for the wheel. Lying twists will follow, realigning the spine and stimulating the chakras.

We’ll come to seated through the boat, and then sit comfortably for a visualisation on the half-camel and the full camel. This is our challenge pose for this half-term. After our shoulder-opening counterpose, we’ll complete our asana work with a wide-legged forward bend.

Meditation features the symbol and the sound of OM, while relaxation is tense and release.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Truth – the second rule of yoga

Let’s look at Satya – truth or non-lying. We’ll examine finding truth in our own yoga practice.

We’re going to begin with our three gentle movements, knee to the body and stretch the leg up, gentle bridge and gentle twist. Let’s connect with our centre and our inner truth.

Through the boat to sitting, and then we’ll explore a different way to get into the equestrian pose and the monkey pose. Now let’s shine the spotlight on our challenge pose – the camel. We’ll spend some time in the half-camel first of all. After the counterpose – so helpful for the shoulders – we’ll finish our asanas with the mermaid.

Meditation will be focusing on the words of the Dali Lama, ‘Wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it; right is right even if you’re the only one doing it.

Relaxation will focus on the truth of our practice. ‘I’m relaxing my toes, are my toes really relaxed?’

Fake news is talked about all the time now. There are so many grey areas. Homework will be to sift through all that you hear and find what you believe to be the truth…

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti