Concluding our half-term on saucha

I’m guessing you’re all pretty familiar by now with the idea that saucha means cleansing, purification! We’ll begin this our last class of the term with kapalabhati. It’s a great cleanser, being the skull-shining breath. Then we’ll stand for the Sun Breath. Now this one’s a superb cleanser for the aura – the energy field.

Let’s celebrate the summer with three salutations to the sun, followed by chanting the seed sounds. This practice is great for cleansing the chakras. Then we’ll work with three salutations to the earth and again chant the seed sounds.

Moving through squat (our go-to posture to take us to the mat), we’ll meet the camel pose. This beautiful posture allows us to open and cleanse the heart. Resting in swan will take us neatly into our challenge pose. Last time now – one big effort – variation on the swan has so improved!

We’ll complete our asanas with the mermaid. It’s always good to finish on a twist, and we know that twists are incredibly efficient at improving the digestive system. We think of saucha as we speed up elimination and make it more thorough.

Meditation is Bindu Kriya. This is a form of tratak which is one of the shat karmas – the six acts of purification. Closing the eyes you visualise a velvety blackness. Place a white square on the darkness and then draw a black spot in the centre of the white square. Focus on that black spot, bindi or bindu. This practise will cleanse the mind of it’s busy monkey-chattering. it’s enormously helpful for improving the memory, too.

Relaxation is Anu Loma Viloma Kriya. We’ve practised this relaxation technique throughout this half-term. The repetition will have allowed us to fully appreciate its benefits. They are many, but you may have noticed that it cleanses away worry, and allows us to totally relax on all levels.

Do have a brilliant summer holiday, and continue your cleansing. I look forward to our autumn term which begins on September 14th. Love, light and blessings, Carole.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

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Structure then liberation

We’re focusing on the first of the Niyamas – SAUCHA, cleanliness or purity. Last week we talked about tongue-scrapers and this week we’ll look at the practice of neti – a most efficient way of cleansing the nasal passages.

Whenever we talk about inner cleansing, our go-to practice is Kapalabhati. So we’ll begin our class here. Kapalabhati is the skull-cleansing breath where we make the exhalation active and the inhalation passive. Let’s do three rounds with 20 sharp pull-ins of the abdomen in each round, expelling the air briskly from the nostrils.

From here we’ll stand for Malla Kriya. This is another cleansing practice. As we whoosh out the air through the mouth, we expel excess carbon dioxide. It is this excess which makes us feel tired.

On to the tree of life breath – yoga being like a tree is an analogy used in our reading. The structure which yoga brings to your life gives you a strong, supportive frame-work. When that’s in place, we experience freedom, liberation. We’re safe to explore fully. Let’s add ujjayi breathing to the movements in tree of life.

On to some standing forward bends. These are wonderfully cleansing and calming for the mind. We’ll follow these with twists, cleansing for the digestive tract.  Let’s try forward bends with the legs wide, and then repeat the twists. Yoga’s so great for getting everything moving! The best way to cleanse is to stimulate all the flowing systems in the body, to work with total awareness, and to keep the mind connected to the flow within the body.

We’ll return to the reference of the tree as we practice the tree balance and then move into the eagle. This will stimulate the lowest part of the body and is a great lead into another go-to cleansing practice – uddiyana bandha, the abdominal lift.

Taking ourselves down to the mat through squat, we’ll come into the all fours cat position and then resume our work with the challenge pose – the variation on swan. This is sometimes described as the squashed frog, which is rather unkind but does give you the right idea!

After the cool-downs, it will be time for meditation. We’re going to focus on the sacral chakra and work with its seed sound, VAM. The sacral chakra is associated with water so it fits well with our flow theme. It brings us in touch with our emotions and the cleansing of them.

Relaxation is our energy cleanser – Anu Loma Viloma Kriya. A ‘kriya’ is an action of cleansing.

Years ago, one of my students used to say that she came into class like an old wrinkled shirt, and I sent her out again all ironed and pristine! I do hope that you all feel that way after this class…

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

Wishing All Creatures Well

We’re focusing on Ahimsa, non-violence, this half-term. Our reading explains the Buddhist practice of wishing all beings well before you interact with them.

Kapalabhati is a wonderful kriya and pranayama technique. We begin our practice with this exercise. Then we’ll lie down on the abdomen and re-acquaint ourselves with the creeping crocodile. On to cobra, locust, bow and then we’ll repeat from the creeping crocodile.

Pushing back into the swan posture, we’ll attempt the variation where the chest and chin rest on the ground. This is great for opening the shoulders!

Now let’s move on to the gate sequence – good old parighasana! Such a good sequence to open up the sides of the body and to release long-hidden frustrations.

Our challenge pose is cow-face posture, so we’ll explore and see how this feels today. And then let’s finish with a delightful little balance pose – the cosmic egg.

Meditation will be to work with the seed sound for the heart chakra – YAM. After all, Ahimsa comes from the heart-centre. Relaxation will focus on repetition and patience using the 22 body parts.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Emotional energy

Emotions are energy in motion and, as such, are very relevant to our study this term.
We’ll begin our practice with Kapalabhati. It’s a great technique to both cleanse and energise the system.
Then we’ll stand for Salutation to the Sun. Let’s start slowly and build up. On to the balance sequence. It’s interesting to see if we can remain alive to the flow of energy as we focus on staying balanced.
Now for Salute to the Moon. These two principle sequences, the sun and the moon, exercise every muscle in the body. During the sun sequence we’ll meet the challenge pose for this half-term, downward-facing dog.
Coming back to the mat through the squat we’ll move to the half-camel pose and then the full camel. These glorious postures open the heart and the heart chakra, Anahata.
The counterpose after the camel is really useful for relieving blocked energy in the shoulders, and then we’ll move to the half-headstand, the pose of devotion, the child and finally the mermaid.
The meditation features the seed sounds and the relaxation will use the hand movement from Kaya Kriya.
This class should give us a fresh understanding of how emotional energy can be released to ensure our health and well-being.
Next week is the last class of this term.
OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Kundalini

Yoga is the science of the self, and kundalini is the awakening of the self.
We’ve been focusing on sushumna, ida and pingala. Now we take a look at kundalini. ‘Kundal’ means ‘the lock of hair from the beloved’ and the word is sanskrit. The lock of hair is said to reside at the base of the spine, the root chakra. Yoga practice enables us to raise that energy up through the other wheels of energy and to the crown.
We begin this week’s class seated. We’ll work with forward bends in the form of paschimottonasana and janu-sirsasana. Then we’ll meet a wide-legged forward bend.
Let’s progress to butterfly knees, rocking buddha, and the balance known as merudandasana. Now on to the tortoise – kurmasana.
Seated twists will keep us focused on the spine, and awakening the kundalini energy. Now for the mermaid. I love this one!
Let’s stand for our last attempt on this half-term’s challenge pose – the deep forward bend. And then down through the squat, which we’ll use as a balance.
We’ll work with the seed sounds in meditation – lam, vam, ram, yam, ham, om, soham.
For relaxation we’re going to use part of the relaxation technique known as Alu Loma Viloma Kriya. Taking the awareness to the base of the spine, as we breathe in we draw the energy up to a point in the centre of the skull. As we breathe out, we take the energy from that point in the centre of the skull back down to the base of the spine.
Half-term next week.
OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Christmas class

Merry Christmas, everyone!

This week’s class will be very gentle and nourishing. Many folk feel fragile and vulnerable at this time of the year, so our yoga will come in behind us and support.

We’ll begin with gentle bridging using A – U – M to guide the breath. Let’s rest in the jellyfish pose, which is great for absorbing some bliss! We’ll repeat these two poses.

Coming to seated, we’ll work with A – U – M in a forward bend. Then rest and take a blissful moment. Repeat.

Coming to standing, we’ll use our A – U – M in a forward bend. Rest in mountain. Then repeat.

Tree of life breath with ujjayi breathing will keep us calm and steady.

Meditation will feature the sound of ‘OM’ on the in-breath and ‘OM’ on the out-breath.

In relaxation, we’ll touch base with the seed sounds to completely balance the chakras and the pranamaya kosha.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

We return to class on January 13th 2017 for the Friday classes, and January 19th for the Thursday class. Have a restful and light-filled break. Carole xxx