The five senses

The five components of creation – ether, air, fire, water and earth – have given us our five senses: hearing, feeling, sight, taste and smell. We’re considering ways that yoga aids us to withdraw from the senses and establish inner focus. This process is called pratyahara.

We’ll begin with the bridge movements. Let’s close our eyes and really focus on the breath moving the body.

After resting in the pose of a goddess, we’ll work with gentle spinal twists. Now we’ll rest in the little bear.

The shoulderstand allows us to look at the world from a different angle, and the plough posture allows us to engage the chin lock.

We’ve been working with TRE – the tension and trauma release exercise. We’ll meet it again here. Gradually you’ll become more accustomed to the feeling of the legs shaking of their own volition. It’s the same idea as the body shivering on a really cold day! This happens without instruction from the mind…

Let’s now practise the fish pose, before using the boat to come to sitting. The tortoise posture waits for us here, followed by a powerful backward stretch – purvottonasana.

Our little balance to complete our asana work is the cosmic egg. After cool-downs, we’ll sit for meditation.

Working on the right hand we’ll touch the thumb to each finger in turn, beginning with the index finger. We’ll silently repeat the sounds SA/TA/NA/MA. This practise is so efficient at taking us directly into the state of pratyahara.

For relaxation we’ll focus on the breath – breathe in and out for the count of four, then repeat for five, repeat for six, seven and eight. Then resume normal breathing, and sink into a deep, restful relaxation – a holiday for the senses and the nervous system.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

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Pranic healing

All methods of healing are really indirect ways of awakening the life-energy (PRANA) within a dis-eased body.

We’re studying the fourth limb, pranayama. We’ll look at unblocking areas of the body¬† so that prana can flow through freely. To this end we’ll practise classical postures this week.

Let’s commence with the shoulderstand and the plough. We’ll follow these with the fish – such a great way to open the chest, the heart, and to improve the breathing.

Using the boat to move to sitting, we’ll work with a forward bend, backward bend, and then a wide-legged forward bend.

One of my all-time favourite poses is the camel. This is a classical posture which strengthens the back while increasing the suppleness of the spine. And what a chest-opener! The prana will be flowing freely around the chest cavity after this! We’ll start with the half-camel.

After resting in the variation of the swan, we’ll move through the dog to standing. Here we’ll prepare for the challenge posture – the eagle balance. Repetition of the same posture through the half-term allows us to gain a greater insight into its complexities. The eagle allows us to thoroughly unblock the pelvic region.

Cool-downs, then we’ll practise pranic healing during the meditation. Yogis who practise pranayama have access to a store of prana which they are able to use for self-healing or healing others.

Relaxation involves breathing in a golden yellow light through the nostrils, breathing out a silvery blue light through the nostrils.

Next week is our last week of this yoga year. So, last class is July 19th, and we return for a 12 week term on September 13th. I’m so looking forward to reuniting with our wider yoga family at the annual retreat!

Keep healing…

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Myths of the Asanas

Namaste

We’re focusing on the third of the Eight Limbs – asana. Our reading this week is about trees and comes from ‘Myths of the Asanas’.

We’ll begin with an inverted asana – the shoulderstand. We’ll continue on to the plough, and then work with the fish. This latter asana is great for anyone with breathing issues.

Coming up through the boat, we’ll work into a forward bend and backward bend. Then down on to the abdomen where we’ll meet three powerful asanas – cobra, locust and bow.

Resting briefly in the variation of the swan posture, we gather our energy for our challenge – 3 salutes to the sun. This sequence contains 12 asanas and we’re endeavouring to become more graceful in this classical salutation.

We sit for meditation after the cool-downs. We’re going to focus on the base or root chakra which connects us to the Earth and our physical life on the Earth. We’ll draw up a red glow from the base of the spine on the in-breath, and take down that red glow on the out-breath.

Relaxation is concerned with our bodies lying on the mat. Each time we breathe out we feel the physical body sinking down into the Earth.

Asanas strengthen the body, make it more flexible, and work with all the internal organs and systems. Choose an asana from this week’s selection and work with it. Examine it’s benefits for you and your life…

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Know yourself

Swadhyaya teaches us to know ourselves. Yoga is a journey of self-discovery and a journey of Self-discovery. We work constantly with self-awareness.

We’ll begin this week with kapalabhati, the skull-cleansing breath. Then we’ll stand for Salute to the Sun and Salute to the Earth.

Down through squat for some forward bends including our wide-legged challenge pose. Then a good stretch into the inclined plane.

Let’s explore the bent knee yoga sit-ups before lying down for the shoulderstand, plough and fish. On to a resting pose – the jellyfish or little bear. Then we’ll come up through boat and proceed to cool-downs and meditation. Here we’ll ask ourselves the eternal question, ‘Who am I?’

Relaxation will be all about listening to our bodies – listen to your toes, listen to your feet, listen to your lower legs etc. We’ll give our bodies a really good listening to!!

Half-term is February 22nd.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

When contentment becomes your way of life

Santosha, contentment, is our watch word for this half-term. Can we firmly establish the state of contentment right here, right now?

We’ll commence this week with bridges. Let’s move through them all with mindfulness – mindfulness on the breath and mindfulness on the movement of the spine.

Now to lying twists, and then we’ll take a look at the shoulderstand. Those for whom shoulderstand is not suitable will work with the column – taking the legs high in the air, whilst supporting the lower back on the hands. From shoulderstand to plough, and then we’ll work with the fish.

Let’s introduce a dynamic movement, taking ourselves from shoulderstand to seated forward bend. This we’ll repeat several times, if possible.

Now let’s go into the seated forward bend and hold it. Can you feel that stretch through the back of the body? We’ll balance that with¬† a wonderful stretch through the front of the body – inclined plane. And then we’ll explore seated twists. These are marvellous for increasing the suppleness of the spine and also for the digestive system. Last week we mentioned the gunas. Yoga practice encourages us to choose satvik foods, organic fruits and vegetables and pure water. These lead us to a balanced state, contentment.

Okay, now to our challenge pose – camel, ustrasana. Here the suppleness of the spine comes into play. How well can we hold that bay window?!

Let’s use the child as a counter pose, and finish off with another twist – the mermaid.

Meditation features the universal hymn, the eternal mantra, OM. Relaxation connects us with our breath. How contented do you feel at the end of the class?

For my weekly students, next week is class as usual – the following week is half-term. So, no class on October 26th.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

The Alzheimer’s Solution

I was reading about a book by Dean and Ayesha Sherzai. It explains their research into Alzheimer’s disease and they give a list of ‘Six things to do right now’in order to prevent the disease. The first on the list is GIVE UP MEAT. This absolutely echoes our theme of Ahimsa, non-violence. Most yogis are vegetarian or vegan precisely because of the first rule of yoga.

This week we’ll begin with dancing legs and then move into an inversion, the shoulderstand. On to the plough and the fish, before working with nose-to-knee postures. We’ll follow these with bridges and then spinal twist. Coming to seated through the boat, we’ll move on to butterfly knees, our rather amusing balance, Merudandasana, and then we’ll work with the classical half-lotus posture. Our challenge is cow-face posture and I’m hoping that our previous work will have opened our hips well. This will serve us here. We’ll complete the asanas with cosmic egg.

Meditation is repetition of the mantra ‘OM Mani Padme Hum’ – the jewel in the heart of the lotus.

Relaxation is repetition again – this time OM on the in-breath and OM on the out-breath.

Next week is class as usual, but the following week is half-term. So no class on October 27th.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Inner energy and the classical path

It’s launch day for my latest book! YOGA POSES QUESTIONS is now available from Amazon and I’m delivering the pre-ordered books to my classes today and tomorrow.
This week’s class is continuing the theme of working with the inner energies. We’ll begin with the complete yoga breath, mahat pranayama. Then, after stretches and warm-ups, we’ll work with the classical poses: shoulderstand, plough, fish, nose-to-knee and twist. Coming up through the boat, we’ll meet forward bend, backward bend, twist, before coming on to all fours for the cat and the dog. The dog has been our challenge pose for this half-term.
Meditation is about sitting in the heart and experiencing being embraced by the energy of love. Relaxation is the foot movement from Kaya Kriya.
Our classes recommence on September 15th for a 12 week term. I do hope you enjoy your summer reading! YOGA POSES QUESTIONS explores all the queries you may have had but in novel form. It’s a follow-on to HOME FROM OM, but stands happily alone. Enjoy some healthy reading!
OM Shanti Shanti Shanti