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

Transform inertia to dynamism

girl in sunlight

In classes at the moment, we’re thinking about the energy centres (chakras), and how yoga postures can help to balance them to give us optimal health and well-being. As I mentioned in my last post, it’s a stressful time of year at the University with exams, assignments and deadlines. Postures and sequences that balance the sacral energy centre (swadhistana) help to give us emotional stability. If panic sets in or you can’t sleep at night with thoughts whizzing round your head, then doing some forward bends or the moon sequence can have a calming effect.

The next energy centre up the spine is the solar centre, or the manipura centre. When this is balanced, it gives us the qualities of confidence and dynamism and helps us to thrive on pressure, rather than collapsing under it. All really good for enhancing your performance in exams and presentations.  Surya Namaskara, salutation to the sun, is an excellent sequence for energising and balancing the solar centre, as is the sitting twist. So, if you’re feeling a bit sluggish, can’t be bothered, or can’t get motivated then the sun sequence just might get you going!

And if you can’t even summon up the enthusiasm to move, try a breath with visualisation. Breathe in and out of your solar centre (located just above the navel), visualising a golden light glowing there, like the light from the sun becoming brighter and brighter. Imagine yourself filled with warmth and vitality from that glowing light, and feel that light spreading out around you, surrounding you with a bubble of golden light that fills you with confidence and energy.

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.

 

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 🙂

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.

Yoga for the winter solstice

Sunrise over a snowy field

In the stillness of the solstice we pause and become aware of our visions and the seeds of our future growth waiting for birth. A time of reflection and celebration of the return of the sun as the days begin to lengthen.  (from Earth Wisdom by Glennie Kindred)

A lovely way to spend the winter solstice, preparing for the workshop I’m running tomorrow.

Although the darkest time of year, for me it marks the return of the sun as the days begin to lengthen once more. Doing Surya Namaskara, the sun sequence is a wonderful way to express our gratitude for the sun and to visualise it’s warmth and light, filling us with energy and vitality.

I also associate solstice with candles and the light of flames, as the sun is one huge mass of fire and light. We’ll be practicing a sequence based on a Dru dance called Becoming the Flame, which inspires you to strengthen your own inner flame.

And this darkness at the turning point of the year gives us time for reflection, for turning inwards. Looking back and looking towards the year ahead thinking about what seeds you’d like to sow in your life in order to grow into who you really are.