Take a breather

In order to fully embrace the five Yamas, the ‘don’ts which Patanjali takes as his first rule of yoga, we need to give ourselves some space. We need space to re-evaluate our moral principles and beliefs. This is where the breath comes in…The breath is the bridge between that which is physical and that which is spiritual.

So let’s take a breather! We’ll begin with the complete yoga breath – Mahat Pranayama. We’ll continue with the skull-cl;eansing breath – Kapalabhati. Then we’ll meet an action which rids us of excess carbon dioxide – Malla Kriya. On to the Tree of Life breath adding the victorious breath – Ujjayi.

Let’s connect our breath and focus to the earth by working with Salutation to the Earth itself. And from ground prana we’ll move to solar prana as we work with Mountain Sequence. Feeling very aware of our surroundings and in touch with all of nature, we’ll attempt the Balance Sequence and then continue into Salutation to the Moon.

Down through the squat for alternate nostril breathing and the meditation will feature the square breath – Sama Vritti Pranayama. Relaxation will be a simple focus on the out-breath – sinking down into the mat, into the earth.

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

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

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

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

The second of the yoga don’ts

Mahatma Gandhi devoted his entire life to the first of the YAMAS, or don’ts (the Eight Limbs of Yoga were sey down by Patanjali.) The first one is Ahimsa, non-violence, and the second one is SATYA, non-lying.

All the YAMAS are a challenge, and this is a big one. Look at how we are manipulated by the media, and the politicians; how statistics can be read in many different ways and how the spin-doctors ‘bend’ the truth. Satya encourages us to live with clarity, to come back to honesty and simple truthful values. This involves not lying to others, recognising when others are lying to us, and (most importantly,) not lying to ourselves.