Grounding

Columns in garden

that path is you
that is why it will never tire of waiting
whether it is covered with red dust,
autumn leaves,
or icy snow,
come back to the path.
you will be like the tree of life
your leaves, trunk, branches,
and the blossoms of your soul
will be fresh and beautiful,
once you enter the practice of Earth Touching

~ Thich Nhat Hanh ~

Over the next few weeks, we are taking inspiration for classes from the five elements, beginning with the element of earth. We’ll be doing postures and sequences that help you feel grounded and strong.

Life can throw us in all directions at times and postures like tadasana (the mountain pose) help us regain a feeling of balance and centredness – of coming home.  We feel our own inner strength, standing immoveable like the mountain. Utthitta trikonasana (the extended triangle) gives us a feeling of stability with the wide triangle base and weight grounding down through both feet.

Dru yoga has a wonderful grounding and calming sequence called Prithvi Namaskara – the earth sequence, which combines flowing movements with the flowing breath. It reminds us of the endless cycles of the earth around the sun, and of how life is always changing. If we keep our feet firmly grounded on the earth, we can absorb strength and security from the earth beneath enabling us to cope with the ups and downs of life.

Inner radiance

reflecting candle

“The warrior of light concentrates on the small miracles of daily life.

He is capable of seeing what is beautiful because he carries beauty within himself, for the world is a mirror and gives back to each man the reflection of his own face. The warrior knows his faults and limitations , but he does all he can to maintain his good humour in moments of crisis.

The world is, after all, doing its best to help him, even though everything around him seems to be saying the opposite”.

From the Manual of the Warrior of Light by Paul Coelho

And as your own inner light glows more brightly, so it shines out and reflects back to you, making the world seem a brighter place. Some lovely flowing movements in class this week based around a Dru dance named Becoming the Flame, which will help you to develop your inner strength and become more radiant.

Spinal health

Ocean Wave

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

  1. every day, move the spine forwards, backwards, sideways and twist it
  2. drink plenty of water to keep the discs hydrated
  3. if you sit or drive a lot, take a break regularly and arch the spine backwards
  4. be aware of your standing posture – stand tall, weight balanced equally on both feet
  5. take care when you lift anything – bend the knees and engage your core muscles

Go with the flow

Flowing river

Easy to say, but not so easy to do. How often do we plan something, then find that our careful plans are thwarted? How often do we have expectations of ourselves or others, then find that we/they don’t live up to those expectations? Generally, we like to feel that we’re in control and don’t like it when we feel out of control.

Remember the river, and go round the obstacles, rather than fight with them. Pause, take a breath and accept.

Yesterday evening, I went to my yoga class (as a student), and found that our room had been double-booked. The venue had another room, but it would take a while to prepare. So my teacher went with the flow. She could have got angry and sent everyone home, but instead, as it was a sunny evening, we did the first part of the class outside. Then calmly came back to the other room when it was ready. It was also a challenge for everyone attending the class. We’re all creatures of habit, choosing the same spot in the same room. So to be faced with going outside, and then a different room isn’t easy. Resistance kicks in, and we think, ‘oh no, it will be cold’, ‘people might see me if we’re outside’, ‘ why did this have to happen?’……… and I’m sure you can think of some others. Pause, take a breath and accept. Enjoy all the benefits of practicing outside on the grass, with trees all around, the blue sky and sunshine.

In my classes, we’ve been working with some seated forward bends, which can teach us about resistance and going with the flow. Accept where you are, breathe into the stretch and gently encourage the body to relax. Let go of the expectations and enjoy where you are at this moment.

See some reflections on listening to your body in the sitting forward bend from one of my friends.

Flow like a river

Flowing river
 
The warrior of light sometimes behaves like water, flowing around the obstacles he encounters.Occasionally, resisting might mean being destroyed, and so he adapts to the circumstances. He accepts without complaint that the stones along the path hinder his way across the mountains.Therein lies the strength of water: it cannot be shattered by a hammer or wounded by a knife. The strongest sword in the world cannot scar its surface.
 

The waters of a river adapt themselves to whatever route proves possible, but the river never forgets its one objective: the sea. So fragile at its source, it gradually gathers the strength of the other rivers it encounters.

And, after a certain point, its power is absolute.

From Manual of the Warrior of Light by Paulo Coelho

 
Yoga encourages us to go with the flow and be flexible. Sometimes, when you’re stiff you might try and push yourself into a posture, which invariably doesn’t work. If you accept, relax and breathe into the stretch, you’ll find the stiffness starts to melt away, little by little, working gently with your body. And if the tightness in your body remains, accept that, work around it and develop your own inner strength to find the stillness and peace within you.
 
In Dru yoga, we work with the flowing warrior posture to develop that inner strength and use it so we can help others.