Welcome the royal guest

Imagine you’re expecting a cherished guest – royalty perhaps or a much revered teacher – you would want to clean every corner. You would want to open all the windows, freshen and air all the spaces. And then you would want to stand open the gates and the doors and roll out the red carpet. This is exactly how it is with PRANA. The magic ingredient to yoga practice is PRANA, life-force, life-giving energy. The practice which actions the magic is PRANAYAMA.

We’ll begin this week’s practice with kapalabhati. Having cleansed our breathing apparatus and cleansed our skulls, we’ll move on to cleansing and unblocking all the joints of the body. Let’s work with Pawanmuktasana 1, which is the anti-rheumatic exercise. We move through all the joints of the body, methodically, working from the toes to the neck. Each movement is repeated 5 times.

Then we’ll work to cleanse our digestive system’s with Pawanmuktasana 2. This is the exercise where we work, methodically, through the entire digestive system. We’re preparing for the royal guest!

Before we move from lying on the mat, let’s practise the Eagle. We found last week that working with this quite challenging balance posture whilst safely lying had enormous benefits! We could really ‘feel’ the posture without anxiety about tumbling. That foot readily tucks behind the other calf whilst prone!

Now we’ll meet three movements from Pawanmuktasana 3. This is the energy-release group of movements. How cleansed and cleared do we feel? Can we go lightly into our challenge posture?

In meditation, we’ll visualise preparation for the royal guest. We’ll allow ourselves to understand the magic of PRANAYAMA in a deeper way. We will have the summer holidays for processing this essential part of yoga practice, and really understanding the PRANAYAMA techniques.

Relaxation is Surya Kriya. Let’s fill the energy reservoir in the solar plexus with wonderful PRANA. Surya means ‘sun’ and solar plexus means ‘the place of the sun’.

This is our last class of the summer term and this yoga year. It’s been a good one! We’ve looked, in depth, at Patanjali’s first 4 limbs. Have a great summer. I shall still post on the blog, and look forward very much to seeing you back on your mats on September 13th.

Meanwhile, only one week until the annual retreat! Yay! How I love reuniting with our larger yoga family…

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

 

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The third limb

More work on the third of the Eight Limbs – asana.

The sun is shining and, guess what?, we’re beginning our class with the challenge – salutation to the sun! It’s our challenge to practise surya kriya until it is graceful, smooth and effortless…

Now let’s focus on a deep standing forward bend. We’ll repeat this but add a shoulder rotation. Then on to a supported backward bend. Now we’re limbering up! The standing twist will be helpful here. It increases the suppleness of the spine, trims the trunk, and aids with the digestive process.

On to some balance asanas – the tree, the dancer and the eagle. The balance asanas are designed to give us strength, steadiness and focus.

The mountain sequence features the movements we’ve already worked with in this class – forward bend, backward bend, twist, but with the addition of a side-stretch. Great for releasing frustrations!

Now let’s finish our asana work with the salute to the moon, and return to the mat through the squat.

Meditation features some advice from a tree…

Relaxation is surya kriya. This is an excellent practice for bringing prana into the solar plexus, and we exercise our imagination as we use visualisation…

When the sun shines everyone is more positive – let’s bring sunshine into our asana practice and sunshine into our lives!

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti and a big welcome to newcomers to my blog!

Hidden energy

We’ve been exploring the three main energy channels and discussing kundalini. Yoga teaches us that there is more to the human being than meets the eye!Let’s harness our inner store of energy…
We’ll begin on all fours in the cat pose. First of all, we’ll focus on the movement of the spine with the breath. Then we’ll focus on the complete yoga breath, Mahat Pranayama, counting into all three areas of the body that are concerned with the breath.
Let’s add a leg movement. This will tone the abdomen, increase the suppleness of the spine, and get the hidden energies moving.
After resting, we’ll ‘wag the tail’! This neat little movement frees up blocked energy and stiffness from the base of the spine and the lower back.
On to a balance – we’ll lift alternate limbs from the mat.
Now we’ll take an in-depth look at the downward-facing dog pose which will be our challenge posture for this half-term. There is more to this asana than meets the eye, too!
Working with swan – cat – dog will give us an opportunity to use the breath and energy flow to improve the dog posture.
We need a twist about now. We’ll meet an old favourite, the mermaid.
If there’s time left in our hatha yoga section, we’ll try the half-camel and full camel, and complete with the counterpose.
Meditation is using the mantra ‘I AM’. On the in-breath, I AM means I EXIST. On the out-breath, I AM means I AM MORE THAN I REALISE.
The weather’s unsettled. I feel that it’s reflecting the general feeling of being unsettled in the country and indeed the world. Let’s create our own sunshine, our own summer, with surya kriya.
OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Raja Yoga

As we continue our journey through the classical paths of yoga, this week we’ll be looking at Raja Yoga. Raja means royal or king, and this is the yoga of meditation. Our previous subject, Hatha Yoga, has led us here through self-awareness and a growing knowledge of our inner being.

Let’s begin by looking at the world from a different angle. We’ll practise shoulderstand, plough, fish and the bridges. After a gentle twist movement, we’ll work with supine side-stretches. Coming up through the boat, we’ll move on to the camel. Those with knee problems will be given an alternative.

All standing for the mountain pose! This is the posture that we’re repeating each week this half-term. We’ll continue into the mountain sequence, with the arms shoulder width apart

Now let’s attempt the tree balance. Can we open the arms wide like branches?

Back to the mat through the squat and, after the cool-downs, we’ll meditate on SO-HAM. We ‘think’ the sound ‘So’ on the in-breath, and the sound ‘Ham’ on the out-breath. These two sounds mean ‘I am that I am’. Raja yoga leads us to a deep understanding of ourselves.

Oh, do let’s have some sunshine for our relaxation! We’ll work with Surya Kriya and recharge our batteries.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Overview of the Koshas

This week’s class looks back at the five koshas or sheaths – the physical sheath, the energy sheath, the everyday mind, the intellect or intuitive sheath and the bliss sheath. We’ll explore the idea of splitting each day into five sections!

Standing, we’ll work with some tapping to remove energy blockages. Then try malla kriya, which is great for expelling excess carbon dioxide. Fresh and ready, we’ll perform three salutations to the sun.And we’ll follow this with a balance.

Moving back down through the squat, we’ll prepare for a series of forward bends, Paschimottonasana, Janu-Sirsasana and our wide-legged challenge. It will feel good to stretch backwards after that into Purvottonasana. Let’s complete our asanas with a twist and the neat little cosmic egg.

Pranayama will be alternate nostril breathing, Nadi Shodhana. And meditation will feature silent repetition of the well-beloved mantra ‘OM MANI PADME HUM’. Relaxation will be all about warming the core as we practise Surya Kriya.

Next week is the last class of our term. It’s the Christmas class, so we’ll all be decked out in red and green! We return after the Christmas break on Thursday January 19th and Friday January 13th 2017.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti.

My Latest Book

My latest book will be available at the end of this month!

This week our theme will be on Impermanence.

We’re going to begin with the Tree of Life breath. Then we’ll take ourselves into the first part of Salute to the Sun. Once down in slant-board, we’ll meet our challenge posture for this half-term. By swivelling the feet we can balance on one arm, raising the other one to the sky. This is a great strengthener for the upper arms! After resting on the abdomen, we’ll proceed into the cobra and complete the Salute to the Sun sequence.

Now we’re going to practise forward bends, all forms, backward bends and twists.

Let’s see how the balance skills are progressing! We’ll look at Tree, Eagle and Dancer before going down through the squat.

The meditation will feature the Square Breath, Sama Vritti Pranayama, and we”ll round off our class with Surya Kriya – such a delightful relaxation.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Inner peace

This week we are continuing to find ways to uncover our Inner peace.

We’ll begin with mindful breathing in relaxation posture. After stretches and warm-ups, we will stand for the Tree of Life breath. Moving then into the asana work, we will meet Warrior 2 and the Triangle. Let’s follow this with a deep forward bend, supported back-bend and then standing twist.

The mountain Sequence is excellent for developing stamina and endurance. We will practice three times. Then we’ll see how we’re doing on balance. The Tree balance helps us find outer and inner balance. Salute to the Moon will follow, also practised three times.

Going down through the Squat, we will sit for butterfly knees, rocking buddha, then work with the challenge pose – Tortoise, Kurmasana.

For meditation, we imagine that we have a large crystal within. As you breathe in the crystal grows larger, and as you breathe out you release into sapphire blue.

Relaxation will be the beautiful Surya kriya. Imagine that you have your own personal sun, hovering three foot above you. As you breathe in, draw down the warmth and the energy of the sun into your body. As you breathe out, radiate that warmth and energy through every part of your being.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti