19 October 2018
A bit of background about me
I have decades of yoga experience. Luckily for me, my first yoga teacher taught spiritual yoga, so I just thought that this was what yoga was about. And this is the path in yoga which I have steadfastly followed. And some of those years were in intensive training in an ashram, but many years were spent with me just living life and continuing my Path.
The spiritual path
Of course, much of the deepness within yoga, is to do with chakras and kundalini. There is much, much, more than this, though. And there is far more within the realms of chakras and kundalini, than which is widely known.
To be honest, my knowledge did not come from books. Firstly because those sort of books about the deeper aspects of yoga weren't available, and secondly, because when I did get access to such books, they did not tally with my very real experiences.
I discovered so many secrets of the chakras
Some of which did surprise me. They surprised me, again because what I experienced was not tallying with the books about chakras, some of which were from a large ashram.
With the chakras, I went from my first chakra awakening, which lead to other things waking up inside of me, to all seven being awakened, then to my amazement..... more aspects followed. Right down to the preforming of them. It was not what I expected, nor even thought about, to be honest.
The heart space holds many surprises
And there are spiritual spaces, within which are contained chakras. Of course, the area where the heart chakra, Anahata chakra, is housed, is called the heart space. In reality, it is actually part of a triad of chakras in this space. There are three chakras there.
Each of these three chakras has a different function. Each stands alone. But, the secret of these three is that they are also part of the Soul's journey. Of course. Because Anahata itself, is about love, and the main thing that I have learnt about our journey between realms, from lifetime to heavens to lifetime... you know how it goes. The main thing, that interconnecting thread, is love.
love is what connects the Soul's journey of our incarnations
The Soul holds secrets of these three chakras
I can imagine people saying: "well, of course, because the Soul is to do with all of the chakras". But, I tell you, the heart space chakras, they are very specific with the Soul's journey.
And I am doing a seminar, only about these three chakras, with Linsey Smith, on October 28th. It's called:
te karanga o te manawa: the call of the heart
I am so passionate about this. To be honest, I do intend to do two other different workshops about the heart space, and the other is the spiritual heart (not the heart chakra), and hopefully these will be next year. They are complimentary to this coming workshop.
We do have some spaces left for our beautiful coming yoga day, you can book via facebook or through Linsey's website Arohanui Yoga. It will be so profound.
10 October 2018
Why yoga for spring?
Why, indeed? I feel the need for a change, coming on, with the yoga practice that I do. And, I feel this way, because it's spring, and my physical needs are different in spring, to what they are in winter.
Different needs for different seasons
In spring we definitely feel lighter, and we are less likely to go the "cozy" route. The "cozy" route actually is not me, but I have had friends who do nurturing, cozy yoga in winter. I'm not even sure that I know what cozy yoga is.
Maybe, for me, spring is about waking up the body, after a sort of hibernating in winter.
I am feeling the need to do more stretching, and yes, I do know that yoga is not stretch, but perhaps I could say instead that I'm feeling the need to extend my body a bit more.
And being me, I shan't be holding poses for longer than 5 breaths. If that.
I am not feeling the need to do so many flexibilities. I do more of them, and it's actually not many, in winter. Because then my body is stiffer, and needs some loosening, of the sort that postures do not usually give. And those flexibilities warm me up, too.
What I am doing, instead, is:
- a standing dynamic, loosening twist
- hip circles
I always do these two anyway, as they help prevent back problems
I also changed surya namaskara, sun salute, so that there is more light movement:
- from standing, then stepping or lunging a leg back
- go to plank, mountain, and/or all fours
- then to child
- slink forwards to cobra
- up to mountain/down dog
- lunge, or step forwards, to standing.
There is another way to come forwards after mountain, for those who have problems stepping or lunging a leg forwards: go back to child, lift up your torso and step forwards to come into standing.
If you like a stronger sun salute, such as the Mysore or vinyasa type, because it gives good body tone, you will find that going from:
child > cobra > mountain, still gives an arm workout.
I find that this change of sun salute produces a type of lightness and fluidity which marries well with spring.
What else can we do to produce lightness?
- inversions. If you can only do 1/2 shoulderstand, and need a wall to do it, then that's ok too.
- arm balances
- easy movement. Never underestimate this, whilst teaching. It helps students get supple and stronger, faster.
How do we make the yoga easier?
It's all in the way that the yoga is taught, and/or, practised. This is the key.
And it has to do with lightness. Our body remembers this feeling of lightness, this sensation, and when we tap into it, we are able to move more, and hold poses easier.
"recall the sensation of lightness"
"let your body feel light "
Tone down the strong poses. Again, it has to do, 100%, with the way that you teach. I'm not saying don't do hard poses, because a lot of people like them. And some people are always going to stretch and strain. But for the others, you can give this lightness option, if it appeals to you.
hasta (hand) mudras (gestures) within poses, or between them, can instantly induce lightness
Change of pranayama (breathing)
It was a hard winter this year, in terms of the viruses going around. I managed to hold them at bay, with a small morning practice and specific pranayama (breathing techniques) to build up my immunity to viruses. However, I did end up getting a major bug. Luckily, I was able to recover well, and I do think that this was because I had build up my life-force, my prana reserves. With pranayama practices.
But, for spring, I have changed what I am doing. I'm now doing an unknown kapalabhati (breath of glow/little sneezes) which uses body motion, and is done lying down. I learnt it, decades ago, from my first teacher, and I have never, ever, encountered it elsewhere. Strangely, it also induces lightness, but I'm doing it because:
- I like the effect
- it's helping with reducing hayfever by building up a big bubble of prana around most of my face, and this is like a wall which protects against incoming pollen
- it reduces body inflammation
But kaplabhati (sneezing breath), any version, is good.
And I'm still doing nadi shodan (alternate nostril breath) each morning, starting with inhaling into the right nostril. I have found that this increases vitality. It doesn't impede morning meditation, but it does stop me being a bit drowsy after.
And, that drowsiness after a morning class, is not really beneficial.
5 October 2018
Ethics, Spirituality, and Oneself
At one point I felt as though this was all that I ever wrote about. When I started writing about ethics, behaviour, and such, at the time I had really "been through the mill", And I had experienced such bad times from so many people in the yoga scene, from day one. It had been relentless. And, I was so sad, and angry, at the lack of ethics with so many people in yoga.
Yes, yes, I know. So-o-o unyogic to get angry.
Yet, so yogic, to be so honest.
And, I was beginning to feel like a moral watchdog, of spirituality. Not a good look. And, to be honest, whilst I do not believe in supporting bad behaviour, I also believe that each of us has our own journey, our own choices. It really was not up to me to point the finger of blame. There were enough people doing that. Pointing the finger of blame regarding
- doshas (ayurveda body types, to put it mega simply)
- koshas (the 5 sheaths comprising our entire framework of being in an incarnation)
- gunas (states of being)
- what a person says/said/did. Or didn't.
- how a person teaches
It was up to me, however, to not support bad behaviour. To remove myself from it. And I did. That old choices thing. The choice between being a decent person, or not.
Bad behaviour is every darned where
But, of course, it's not just within yoga, that some people do not have a code, nor behaviour, of ethics. We can find lack of ethics in every area of life. And, in every area of "spirituality", as well. It just seems to be a facet of human nature which some people gravitate towards.
And, weirdly, whilst I was wondering if I should write about ethics, yet again, a friend from overseas, contacted about me that very same thing. In this instance, it was "why are people following 'gurus' who have a history of abuse, manipulation, self promotion?" ...... the list goes on. She was, in effect, wondering about the mentality of the person who supports such behaviour. Which is a good point. Why do people do this?
Why do people do this?
I took this conversation as a sign, and thought..... better keep going with that post about ethics!
From the top
Another human frailty is
- wanting to be At The Top.
- The One Who is Adored.
- The Great One.
There is great power in having thousands directing their love, devotion, and money (money is very important) towards oneself.
But, take it all away, and one is Nothing. There have been so many rise and fall, within spirituality.
Why do we support it
Ah. Another frailty. Yep, I did it, too. Before. Why do it?
- our desire to be loved
- our longing for spirituality
- wanting to be "special"
- fear, and this is also a big one. Fear of
- not belonging
- being nobody
- losing position, fame, fortune
- having to stand on our own two feet
In any abusive situation, and let's get over this rubbish once and for all. Abuse is abuse!!
- it's not bl---y spiritual!
- it's not for our welfare, nor spiritual growth
- it's not because we "deserve" it
These are really bad justifications of abuse. By seeing it for what it is, we start to "see" and "feel" things for what they really are.
And once you see it, you can't unsee it.
Any form of abuse, is abuse.
What happens when we remove ourselves
Actually, it can be traumatic. B-i-g loss of identity. And heartbreak. And I am talking from personal experience here. Twice, I have walked from spiritual abuse.
But... this is only a 1st World problem. It really isn't that important in the grander scheme of things.
But, yes, at the time of leading up to separating from any bad behaviour, separating, and then the after-period, yes, it can be hard. And painful. We have to question everything. Everything that we believed. And did. (because, it truly does Take Two To Tango)
But something else happens. Something more important. Something unbelievably wonderful.
Rewards of integrity
We get self respect. We might have to rebuild our life, but, we get to like ourself.
26 September 2018
A few poses done before bed, can be highly beneficial. Especially if you know what sort of poses to do, for your own needs.
A restorative way to breathe
I would suggest that for evening yoga, move slower, and breathe deeply. Which you were doing anyway with the breathing. Weren't you?
To make it more R & R, you can use this style of breathing. It is so profound, and will completely relax, and also restore, you. It will make you happy.
So, what postures would one do?
I was told, years ago, by The Yoga Powers That Be, that backward bends in the evening are too stimulating.
Hmmmm....... or not, methinks.
For example, doing the bridge pose a couple of times with the breath, eg inhale as you raise your hips, exhale as you lower them to the floor, is in itself, greatly relieving of stress. Particularly if you have had to sit a lot that day. Furthermore, opening up the chest in this pose, encourages deep breathing, and this, in itself, will encourage a better night's sleep.
Even holding this pose for 3 -5 breaths will not overstimulate.
And if you precede this, with the cat pose, when you exhale and stretch the back, so much tension just melts into the ether. Doing 3 rounds will suffice. We are restoring, remember? So, less will be more. If the correct breathing is done, as suggested in the above link.
A wide legged forward bend, such as the Star pose, is also deeply calming. Hold for a few breaths.
A reclining spinal twist, is perfect. Relax into this pose.
And finally, if you can manage:
- the 1/2 shoulderstand, that is perfect. Relax in savasana after. On the floor - or - in bed!!!
- if not, legs up against the wall
- or reclining butterfly.
There are other poses, however, starting with just a few is totally doable.
20 September 2018
In a restorative, relaxing class, with props, only a few poses are actually used. In a Yin class, and also in some Iyengar classes, props such as pillows and blankets, may also be used.
But first, a most important aspect against incorporating long rests in poses
I do use restorative, relaxing (R & R) poses in many of my classes, and I have taught hundreds how to do this, too. I only do these R & R poses, for about 30 - 60 seconds each:
- in order to take a pause, and refresh
- to allow the body fluids and energy to re-circulate, after doing a series of poses
If I even do it at all.
For, holding a pose, relaxing with the breath, for R & R, has an adverse, or opposite effect, in these cases. It can bring up anxiety, panic, and overheating. When we are traumatised or deeply stressed, our body is silently screaming at us to take flight (or fight), and in holding a pose whilst we aim to relax, we are doing just the opposite. This just does not work.
People need to keep moving and keep their eyes open, in these cases. Please don't impose "yoga relaxation", in any form, on someone in this situation. For it's the opposite of non-violence.
How to introduce and incorporate restorative, relaxing poses, into your classes
to start a class:
- lying in savasana
- body awareness
- breath awareness
You can also include one or more of these options
- brings in the aspect of relaxation
- creates a beneficial pause between the daily activity, and turning more within
- is restorative in that it brings us closer to ourself
during the class:
- as a pause between groups of poses
- after a strenuous pose
- between repetitions of certain poses
- if it's a dynamic class, such as strong poses, especially standing ones, or lots of sun salutes, or lots of vinyasas, a pose such as child could be used for a short R & R after bow pose, not for too long, as you would want to keep the movement of the class going
at the end of a strong class, whether or not you are doing pranayama, and/or meditation:
- this will serve also to "cool down" the body
- returns the breathing and heart rate to normal, if that is needed. Especially if there is no time for a long relaxation at the end
- having a fixed routine for this, especially after a dynamic class, is a really lovely and beneficial, touch
It is helpful to know that you can do all of this without props, in classes. A yoga teacher needs to be versatile, and able to teach in many varied ways, Which is not always easy. And it is a skill which comes from teaching. Researching hints and methods helps, too.