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.

 

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 ……..

Release and let go

bubbling stream

In Dru yoga, we work with sequences of movements called Energy Block Release sequences. We’ll usually do part or all of one of these sequences each week. They are very effective in releasing tension from the body, which in turn helps to release stress from body and mind. From the Dru yoga book – Stillness in Motion:

“You are a powerhouse of energy, but blocks in your inner circuitry may mean that you are operating seriously below capacity. The EBR sequence helps clear away these blocks and re-open inner pathways. This enables you to leave behind past conditioning and gives rise to a clear, open mind that can respond to each situation in a new, creative way.”

A stream that gets blocked with leaves and twigs becomes turbulent, muddy and flows more slowly in places, creating pools of stagnant water. So it is with our energy pathways.  If they become blocked, we’ll get more sluggish, emotional and dull. Like clearing leaves from a stream, clearing our energy pathways will make us refreshed, vibrant and glowing with health.

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