The Power of Fire

Candle and lotus

As the weeks pass, we move on to the element of fire for the theme of our classes for the next couple of weeks.

Fire – energising, warming and transformational as you burn the old to make room for the new. The sun is a huge ball of fire, unconditionally shining it’s light down on to the earth. So we’ll be practicing some postures and sequences to ignite our inner flame, bringing us strength and confidence.

The warrior postures (Virabhadrasana) help to activate the solar centre behind the navel, giving us courage and motivation. Chair of the heart (Utkatasana); another strong posture that strengthens the core muscles and opens the heart centre where we can visualise a golden flame, glowing brighter with each breath.

With the evenings becoming longer, it encourages us to light candles, bringing the light and warmth of the flame into our homes. Focusing your gaze on the flame helps to calm the mind and stimulates the pineal gland.

Some of the founders of Dru yoga were instrumental in bringing the World Peace Flame into being, drawing together numerous flames from around the world into one. As you gaze at your candle flame imagine it filling you with peace as you breathe in, and as you exhale, spread that peace out into your home, your street, your town and beyond.

“‘Fire is divine water’ they said, ‘flowing back to its source on high’. I remember looking at the huge flames and thinking that they were indeed like a huge waterfall flowing upwards. This, again, is an indication to us that fire is always reaching up to connect with the very highest forces of life.”

From ‘The Secret Power of Light’ by Mansukh Patel

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.

Transform fear into courage

Warrior yoga posture

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be thinking about the chakras, and working with postures that help to balance each of these energy centres. At the University, where I teach yoga, a stressful few weeks are approaching as students prepare for final assessments, and staff are busy too. Each of the chakras is associated with different qualities, such as confidence, all of which can help to get us through stressful, busy or difficult times in our lives.

We’re beginning with the root chakra, Mooladhara, which is located at the very base of the spine. When in balance, this gives you a sense of security, of being grounded and having the courage to face life’s challenges. The warrior postures (Virabhadrasana) work on this energy centre at the base of the spine, inspiring us to be strong in body and mind. Good postures to practice if you need to boost your confidence before an exam or presentation, and done regularly will make you stronger, more resilient and less fearful.

“Fear would have you never leave the house, or turn on a lamp, or be in love or have a pet, or go for a drive in the country… Fear would seal you away and demand that you listen all the time or something terrible will happen. Fears lie. …. Your fears are not larger than you are…”  ~ SARK – Living Juicy.

F – False

E – Evidence

A – Appearing

R – Real

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.

Grounding and strengthening

Tree

This week our focus is on grounding and strengthening. As the new school term starts, even if you don’t have children of school age, this time of year can bring back feelings of insecurity, excitement or anxiety. Yoga can help to restore a sense of calmness and stability through grounding movement and calm breathing.

Our feet provide that stable connection with the ground beneath us, and being firmly rooted to the earth through our feet gives us that wonderful feeling of strength and security. The Dru earth sequence, Prithvi Namaskara, is a flowing sequence of simple movements co-ordinated with the breath that helps you connect with the earth beneath you.

 

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.
 

Remove obstacles

Ganesha reclining

Ganesha, the Hindu elephant god, is the remover of obstacles. He has the strength and power of an elephant, but spreads a message of peace and tranquillity. He’s also the god of new beginnings. We can imagine his form and draw in the qualities of strength, calm and courage.

Ganesha mudraThe ganesha mudra “stimulates heart activity, strengthens heart muscles, opens the bronchial tubes and releases any type of tension in this area.  It opens the fourth chakra and gives us courage, confidence and openness toward other human beings”  – Mudras, Yoga in your Hands by Gertrud Hirschi