The Mountains

Mountains

Classes this week are being inspired by a 5-day Dru meditation retreat that I’ve just experienced at Snowdonia Mountain Lodge in the heart of Snowdonia. I always benefit from the stillness of the Mountain pose (tadasana), but discovered a much deeper stillness when surrounded by the presence of the mountains. If you find it difficult to stand in the stillness of Mountain pose, try and visualise your favourite mountain, or find a photograph of one that you like. Imagine yourself standing in front of that mountain, feet firmly planted on the earth and breathe that stillness and stability of the mountain into yourself.

The Mountains

Heads in the clouds, the mountains stand guard.

High and tall.

Clouds constantly shifting, revealing, then hiding.
Croaks and cries of ravens and buzzards,
Slow wingbeats, barely perceptible against the mountains.

The mountains watch, immoveable.

A road winds through the mountains.
Tiny cars crawling, carrying tinier people.
The road a narrow scar on the mountains.

The mountains stand, impeturbable.

Solid and still.

Water off a mountain’s back.
Water refreshes the mountain.
Waterfalls tumble, cleansing and washing away the debris.

A sliver of silver moon rises behind the mountains.
Slowly revealing it’s fullness.
Ghostly shapes of sheep at the foot of the mountains,
White in the moonlight.

Protected by the mountains.

A hooting of the wise owls.
Blessed by the mountains.

The fading moon drops behind the mountains across the valley
As morning awakes.
The mountains awake to a sprinkling of snow
Scattered from the heavens.

The hearts of the mountains are peaceful.

Unfurling

unfurled fern

Now is the time to mirror the flowering in the plant world by expressing your own creative fullness in your heart, life and expression in the world” ~ Shiva Rea

Unfurling: unfolding, expanding, developing, opening out, spreading out…..

The natural world often inspires my yoga practice, and I love doing yoga outside on the grass in my garden, on a hillside or on the beach (with my husband pretending he’s not with me!). At this time of year, the ferns in my garden are just unrolling and unfurling, changing almost by the day. I took some of them in to my classes a week or so ago, and got a few strange looks when I said how much they remind me of the spine unfurling.

The spinal wave is a key concept in Dru yoga, and we often mention unrolling the spine from the base up to the crown of the head with a flowing wave-like movement. To me, the fern perfectly illustrates that concept as it grows taller and unfurls from the bottom of it’s stem right up to the top. As it unfurls, its leaves expand too – like the ribs on either side of the spine. So it ends up like this……

Fern

Tall, open, expanded, strong yet flexible. All qualities that I aspire to through my yoga practice.

Does anything in nature inspire you or help you with your yoga practice?

Resilience

flowers in the snow

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. ~ Maya Angelou

Given a slight rise in temperature and some sunshine, I know these cyclamen in my garden will unfurl and perk up again. They’ve had to adapt to the snow and frost that we had overnight, but are resilient enough to cope with it. We can learn from nature, knowing that we can’t control what happens in our lives, but develop that resilience to cope with it.

I’m sitting here smiling to myself this morning, as I’m preparing for the ‘Springtime Dru Yoga’ session that I’m running on Saturday. When I first thought of doing it, I was imagining daffodils swaying in a gentle breeze, green leaves unfurling on the trees and feeling the warmth of approaching summer in the air.  Not howling blizzards, temperatures falling to -4 overnight and the flowers still wrapped up inside their buds!

This is only a small example, but when life presents you with bigger challenges, you can use yoga and breathing practices like the calming breath to help you cope. And with regular practice, you’ll build up your own inner strength and resilience, so you won’t be knocked down quite so often and will bounce back more quickly.

What amazes you with joy?

snowdrops

“What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination will affect everything.
It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings,
what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends,
what you read, who you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.” ~ Pedro Arrupe

What amazes you with joy and gratitude?
For me, its the beauty of the world around me – sunsets, an early ladybird, a bird of prey soaring in the sky, bright stars, masses of snowdrops, sunshine and shadows.

Autumn lessons

autumn wordle

“To contact the richness of the season, its various ways of letting things go …to open the window and to look out and welcome the elements nature offers us – the sounds of the leaves when we walk or how they float through the air and rest on the ground, also the darkness and tediousness of rainy days and the special atmosphere of mist and fog … yoga practice offers a way to welcome all these elements and learn how to savour their special subtlety.” (from Yoga through the Seasons by Sandra Sabatini and Silvia Mori)

I think we not only come to know ourselves better through yoga, but we become more aware of everything around us – to notice those subtleties and appreciate the beauty of nature.  To actually look at the leaves and the fruits, rather than rushing or drifting through life without participating in it. How often do you get to the end of a day only to wonder where it went and how you spent your time?

There’s a tendency to become a bit melancholy in the autumn, as the nights draw in and it gets colder. But it gives us an opportunity to snuggle up under a blanket, light some candles and give ourselves the opportunity to slow down and rest. To maybe do some yoga postures that draw us inwards, such as Paschimottanasana (sitting forward bend) or Vipariti Karani (supported inversion), and to do lots of lovely deep relaxations.

Autumn abundance

Yoga by the sea

Back refreshed from an invigorating break by the sea in Pembrokeshire. There’s nothing like doing yoga outside within sight and sound of the sea, filling the lungs with all that wonderful life-force. Still, my back garden’s almost as good! Red berries, apples, leaves beginning to turn and fall and seeds forming on the sunflowers and fennel.

We’re thinking of the abundance of autumn over the next few weeks, and doing a lovely sequence of movements in class this week to bring abundance into your life. As the nights draw in and it starts to get colder, the winter blues can start to set in. Doing some sort of exercise, whether it’s yoga, dancing in your living room or going for a brisk walk can get the happy hormones flowing. Light some candles, take a long bath and enjoy the cosiness of autumn. Take time to reflect on where you are in your life and think about what plans have come to fruition and what seeds you’d like to plant in your life to grow into the person you’re meant to be.