Focus on the heart

heart on tree

“Have respect for yourself, and patience and compassion. With these, you can handle anything.” ~ Jack Kornfield.

With Valentine’s day coming up, this week’s classes had to have a heart-centred theme. Whether you are in a relationship or not, you can give yourself some love and compassion. We are often so busy caring for others, that we forget to look after ourselves. Yoga is a great way of looking after your body, mind and emotions, helping to restore balance and harmony to every part of your being. Time on the mat is time for you to replenish and relax.

Parsvottanasana (the charity pose) is a gentle backbend that expands the chest and opens the heart, giving rise to feelings of generosity and compassion. It’s also great for stretching the hamstrings, strengthening the core muscles and increasing flexibility in the spine and around the hips.¬† In Dru yoga, we work with the breath and do a lovely flowing form of this posture, encouraging a fluid, wave-like movement in the spine.

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 ūüôā

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.

Are you kind to yourself?

 If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.  If you want to be happy, practice compassion.  РDalai Lama

Field of buttercups  

When we think of compassion, we might think of it as being kind to other people. We don’t often think of being kind to ourselves, and if we do, we might think we’re being selfish. How often do you do something that you know that you need, that will nurture your body and mind? But then you¬†think, ‘No, I haven’t got time for a bath/relax/walk’, or ‘No – person A/B/C really needs me to do x/y/z’, or – ‘No, I must do the ironing/weeding/wash the car’. How important are these things compared with looking after yourself? We assume that our bodies and minds will just keep on going and will cope. Sometimes we need to say ‘Yes – I will do something for me. I will be kind to myself’. Do something to gently replenish, nourish and heal, such as a walk, yoga, long bath – whatever feels right for you.

“Self-compassion does not make us spoiled or weak, but rather is a learned coping strategy that research shows can decrease anxiety and enhance resilience and recovery from the effects of stress.” – Melanie Greenberg writing in a Psychology Today blog.

In our yoga classes, we’ve been working with the Dru Seat of Compassion sequence that can help to open our hearts to have compassion for ourselves and others.

What do you do to be kind to yourself? And if the answer doesn’t readily come to mind, think about how you could change that.

Blossoming

Words for springtimeInspiration for the next few classes comes from nature where everything is blossoming and growing. Flowers are opening to the sunshine, as we ourselves take off our winter layers and feel ourselves opening in the warmth (today anyway!).

We’ll be doing postures and sequences that focus on opening the chest and heart areas, such as Parsvottanasana – the charity pose, which invokes compassion for ourselves and others. It’s also good for improving posture, and a wonderful posture for the spine, creating strength and flexibility.