A cleansing breath

Waves on beach

As I write this, the wind is howling outside. I can imagine how it might feel by the sea as it reminds me of some really windy weather that whipped up the waves on a Devon beach a couple of years ago. Walking by the sea then felt like being cleansed inside and out, with the wind not only taking my breath away, but forcing the breath in through the nostrils. Lungs filling with ozone, and all the stale air being expelled.

The cleansing breath that we’re going to practice this week expels the stale air, leaving the lungs feeling clean and refreshed. It helps to clear the sinuses and brings clarity to the mind. I love Sandra Sabatini’s reflections on this breath, called kapalabhati: shakes….

“It’s about rhythm
it’s about releasing
cleaning
letting go
it’s about exhalation
it’s very powerful
it goes very deep inside
it really shakes the spine
and it shakes your whole being
with quick, short motions.

It sets the spine free
it cleans the inside of the sinuses
it takes the dust away – the clouds

the body becomes rooted down below
and ready to absorb up above.”

From her book, Breath – the essence of yoga

 

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Sunshine in the snow

snow on witch hazel

I always look forward to the witch hazel coming into bloom in January, as it brings some much needed colour and sunshine into the garden. Even though it’s covered in snow at the moment, you can still see the yellow petals, like rays of sunlight. It made me think that however cold or miserable we might feel, our inner sunshine can still be warm and glowing.

The sun sequence (surya namaskar) is a wonderful sequence for re-igniting that inner sunshine, filling us with warmth and lifting our mood. In the Dru yoga book, Stillness in Motion, we read “Over the millenia, solar therapy has been used by numerous cultures to heal a wide variety of diseases. The sun sequence has a similar effect. The internal heat it creates stimulates physical healing and activates your inner resources. Will-power and enthusiasm are awakened and creative decision-making promoted”.

So, if that sounds good, come along to one of my classes this week to experience this flowing, energising sequence.

 

Dream your dreams

Archer

“You shape your future reality by what you do in the present. Look to your dreams” – James Borg

I believe that yoga helps us to improve our lives in many ways, and we can use the powerful tools it gives us in whatever way we need. In Dru yoga we use a lot of visualisations and affirmations to complement the physical movement and relaxation. It’s fairly well known now that sports people visualise themselves achieving a goal to help them to actually achieve it. In the same way, we can visualise ourselves doing a yoga posture if we find it challenging, which helps the body to move into it and overcome any fear that’s holding  us back.

We can also use visualisation or the power of our imagination to take us forward in life. The Dru sequence, Energy Block Release 3, helps us let go of limiting thoughts and encourages us to focus on our dreams, whether that’s to eat more healthily or become prime minister! The highlight of this sequence is the powerful archer posture, where we aim for our goal. Any action we take in life begins with a thought, so positive thoughts create positive action.

From the book Mind Power by James Borg….

“The reason why visualisation is so powerful and effective? It creates new neural pathways of experience – even though we haven’t actually lived the reality. Neuroscience has shown us that our thoughts alter the brain’s wiring and its neurochemistry”.

The next time you start daydreaming, go with the flow and don’t automatically dismiss it as a waste of time. Just think where it might lead you….

 

 

 

Seat of compassion

… posture of the month from Dru yoga.

heart and sun

(No, it doesn’t look like this, but what a great way of doing some side stretches with a friend).

From time to time we probably all get angry, impatient or irritable and then regret something we’ve said or done in the heat of the moment. This lovely posture helps you to act from your heart, developing kindness and compassion so you share those feelings with those around you, rather than bite their heads off! Your friends and family will thank you for practicing it, and it might be worth encouraging them to do it too 🙂

It is based on the runner pose, which is one of the postures in Surya Namaskara – Salutation to the Sun, so is a good preparation for this energising sequence that we’ll be working with over the next few weeks.

See a description of the seat of compassion posture, together with it’s many benefits.

The middle path

cup of coffee

“Yoga is not for one who eats too much, or for one who fasts too much, nor sleeps too much or sleeps too little, but instead lives in a harmonious flow along the middle path” – Bhagavad-Gita.

In the pub yesterday lunchtime (New Years Day), it was noticeable that the guy serving coffee and other hot drinks was doing a roaring trade. Was it the effect of over-indulgence the night before, or resolutions starting to kick in? Also noticeable just after Christmas was the number of people pounding the pavements. All very laudable, but you wonder how long it will last.

By doing yoga, I’ve found that it’s easier to avoid the extremes and live a more balanced life. I still have a drink, but avoid the excesses (usually!) as I’m much more aware of the negative effect it has on my body. And I still make resolutions, but I tend to look at the bigger picture now, aiming for a healthier, happier lifestyle overall without starting a fitness regime that I won’t keep to.  A little yoga every day keeps me flexible, happy and calm. It’s worth giving it a try ……..