In classes this week, we’re thinking about what it means to be ‘in balance’ and working with postures, breathing techniques and relaxation that can help to restore some balance in our lives.
When you think about balance, what comes to mind? It might be physical balance, which becomes increasingly important as we get older to avoid falls, but it’s good to feel steady at any age. Or a balanced energy, having enough energy to take you through your day, without having dips or feelings of exhaustion. Maybe you think of emotional balance – we all have those days when hormones or stress gets to us and we experience an emotional roller-coaster and seem to be at the mercy of our mood swings (or someone else’s!). Sometimes our mind goes into overdrive, and we lose our mental balance. Things get out of proportion when our thoughts spiral out of control as we lie awake worrying in the middle of the night.
If any of these sound familiar, yoga can help. Helping to restore the work life balance, and restoring balance in the whole of our lives, so we can cope more calmly and enjoy life more.
“When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight………
…..Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced”.
From The Prophet, by Khalil Gibran
From ‘The Inner Life of Asanas’ by Swami Lalitananda…….
“…. in the city, I see the effects of stressful lifestyles often related to work – the tight shoulders, the worried brows, the feeling that ‘I don’t have time’…The principles that are learned in class can be taken back to work. Once you experience the difference between tension and relaxation, you can relax in the moment. … The spinal twist, in a modified form can be discreetly practiced in most work situations. Symbolically, too, the twist relates to work. How often do you wind yourself into action and only take time to ‘unwind’ when you leave the workplace?”
Twisting movements are very good for keeping the spine flexible, and also give the internal organs a nice massage, so are good for the digestion and for detoxing. The spinal twist (ardha matsyendrasana) can transform negative emotions into more positive ones by spiralling our energy upwards, and often has a rejuvenating effect. As above, the twisting postures remind us to unwind and release knots of tension.
One of the seven keys of Dru yoga is the Spinal Wave.
“Life and vitality are brought to the spine by the natural wave-like movements created from the base to the top of the spine when we move and breathe correctly. These movements also encourage the free flow of cerebrospinal fluid and other bodily secretions. Muscles receive their instructions from the brain via the spinal cord, therefore it is vital to maintain a healthy, flexible and strong spine through this natural wave-like movement”.
From Dru Yoga, Stillness in Motion by Barrington, Goswami and Jones
Yoga is incredibly good for the spine, both in preventing problems and in relieving back pain. In Dru yoga, the spine is thought of as a dynamic, living being, with the spinal wave being a key to the movement. This wave encourages movement of the spine from the base to the top and makes you aware of moving each of the 24 (movable) vertebrae individually. Tadasana, the mountain pose helps to improve our posture by maintaining the normal S-shape curve, which takes strain off the spine. Developing core strength through many of the postures creates a circle of strength around the centre of the trunk, protecting and stabilising the spine.
Every yoga class benefits the spine, but this week in particular, we’ll be thinking about the spine and doing some postures for spinal health.
Top five tips for spinal health
- every day, move the spine forwards, backwards, sideways and twist it
- drink plenty of water to keep the discs hydrated
- if you sit or drive a lot, take a break regularly and arch the spine backwards
- be aware of your standing posture – stand tall, weight balanced equally on both feet
- take care when you lift anything – bend the knees and engage your core muscles
Be honest – how often do you feel like this?
Over the next 6 weeks in my classes, we’ll be focusing on a different theme each week, and thinking about all the many benefits that yoga can bring.
Starting this week with boosting energy levels.
In the busy lives that we all lead, how many of us haven’t said at some time, ‘ I’m too tired’, or ‘I’m exhausted’. You go to bed tired, and you wake up tired because your mind’s too active. Monday mornings are a real struggle, and you feel like you haven’t got the energy to lift a foot out of bed. Babies, snoring partner or noisy neighbours keep you awake, and you end up feeling completely frazzled.
Yoga has some great techniques for giving you a quick energy boost, and I’ll be sharing some of those this week. It won’t transform you into a human dynamo overnight, but you might go away with a bit more of a bounce in your step!