Sunday, 22 January 2017

Living and Breathing Yoga

Patanjali's Eight Limbs of Yoga start with Ahimsa - compassion. 

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Original Truth Seeker (3rd Century BC).

A Jain Thirthankar

To seek the truth we need a clear, sattvic (balanced and clear), mind not a mind which is overly rajasic (overly active) or tamasic (inert, negative or dull). We can find this peace and clarity by practicing meditative yoga. Balancing pranayama techniques allow us to experience a balanced view. By consuming pure, sattvic foods we nourish ourselves and positively influence our thoughts. By truly knowing ourselves we gain understanding of others. Decisions are made with our true purpose in mind and we can follow our path with increased harmony. We find the strength to feel compassion and tolerance for others. In moments of mediation we feel the interconnectedness of all that surrounds us.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Living in Harmony: Yama - The First Limb of Yoga

Yamas - Our Understanding of the Universal Laws of Nature and Our Relationship with Ourselves and Our Environment.

Patanjali's Yoga Sutras describe the Eight Limbs of Yoga. It is important to note that these eight limbs are interrelated and can therefore only be experienced together as a whole, rather than as consecutive steps. The first limb of Yoga, Yamas, is about respecting and learning from the laws of nature. We regain our sense of union through postures, pranayama (breathing), and meditation, rather than feeling separate from nature.

The motivation is to decrease dukha, or suffering, to increase sukha, or happiness, and to lead towards sat-chit-ananda, the unitive yogic state of truth, consciousness and bliss. Even if we can only experience a glimpse of this in fleeting moments during meditation we are at the very least improving our well being and potentially feeling connected and inspired in the way that we need it most. When practiced with care, respect, and in the spirit of truth, non grasping and non competitiveness there should be no negative side effects, there should be no injuries, and in fact yoga is used in many therapeutic ways. This is possible because at yoga's heart is the principle of ahimsa, non violence, or in other words, compassion for all life. Being a scientific discipline as well as a way of life, actual practice is essential in yoga for it's philosophy to have relevance. At the same time, the philosophy is always important so that the practice can be done correctly and safely.

It must be understood that the yamas are not a list of rules, rather they are a selection of concepts for contemplation on an individual and personal level. Yoga is a journey that is unique for each person and although it may be necessary to be guided by it's timeless wisdom, it is equally as important to experience it and to figure out our own unique path. The beauty of the yoga texts is that we are even reminded of this, and by advocating this approach yoga combines the spiritual with the scientific.

Rather than being a religion, yoga is a spiritual path that enables us to connect with our inner guide. Students of all faiths practice yoga all over the world, as it is an adaptive, living, breathing science that has been developed with the individual's physical, psychological and spiritual needs, as well as the idea of adaptation in mind. The fundamental idea in the asanas, or yoga postures is to understand how to balance strength with flexibility, effort with relaxation, and firmness with happiness and this means in the body, the mind and the spiritual ideas.

Practiced correctly yoga can enrich our lives, making us stronger, more confident and better able to express ourselves. Yoga places great emphasis on relaxation allowing us to feel restored as well as energized at the same time, and improving our ability to cope with stress or illness. If we are in good health yoga can help us to understand that which is most important to us and how we can bring ourselves closer to it. A good yoga practice is also a natural high, and has the ability to uplift the yogi's mood to feeling joyful and at peace.
  1. Ahimsa - non violence to all living beings in thought, word and deed
  2. Satya - truth
  3. Asteya - non stealing
  4. Brahmacharya - conservation of vital energy for it's appropriate use
  5. Aparigraha - non possessiveness

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Yoga and Self Massage Techniques for Back Pain

Yoga postures, breathing techniques, yoga massage and aromatherapy can help alleviate back pain.  A continued practice can help to maintain the all important health of the spine.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Yoga Harmony

A nourishing yoga practice is a balanced one.  Yoga is the binding of the opposites to create harmony. Yoga is a tool for observation of what is happening in the present moment. Does our practice make us feel over energized, overly relaxed, or refreshed and at peace? Patanjali's Yoga Sutras remind us of "sthiram sukham asanam", or "steady happy posture". The posture is firm but at the same time happy, or at ease and there is the perfect combination of effort and relaxation. The posture is not just the yoga posture - the posture is there all the time. 

Ask yourself the following before, during and after yoga, and then it will become second nature: 

On what is my mind's awareness? 

Is my posture comfortable? 

Is my breathing smooth and easy? 

Is there a sense of "sthiram sukham asanam"?

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Yoga classes with Sejel

 Hatha yoga
 Yoga nidra
 Yoga and healing dance
 Gentle healing yoga

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The Sahasrara Chakra

At the Crown Chakra rests a thousand petaled Lotus flower representing the spirit of the infinite.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The Bija Mantras of the Chakras

ॐ - Om - Ajna
हं - Hang - Vishudhi  
यं - Yang - Anahata
रं - Rang - Manipura
वं - Vang - Svadisthana
लं - Lang- Muladhara

The above are the bija mantras for the chakras from muladhara to ajna. As there is no English word for the bija mantras, and many Sanskrit words, letters and syllables, when translated from Sanskrit to English, there is more than one way of spelling a word. Therefore,  the bija mantras are sometimes spelled: LAM, VAM, RAM, YAM, HAM, OM. 

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Yoga in Hyde Park: Balancing Poses - Warrior III

Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III) is a great balancing pose. It strengthens the legs, abdomen, spine, and shoulders and increases concentration and balance. This is the final posture but you might want to see my steps below!

Shift your weight onto the right foot, place your hands on your hips, and raise the left leg up. Focus your eyes on a point ahead. Stretch the left leg away from you and press the right foot into the ground.

When you feel stable, with even breathing, take the arms out to the sides to see how that feels.

It doesn't matter if you lose your balance and have to place your hands or foot back down. (You can always pretend you're picking something up like I did).... Just start again!

Finally, raise the arms out to the sides and bring them in front of you with the palms together. (See picture at top of page).

Please Note: For full instructions and guidance on yoga, and in the interest of safety it is advisable to practice with a qualified teacher.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

1. Universal laws of Nature (Yama) - non violence, truthfulness, integrity, divine conduct, and non attachment - “When we are established in non attachment, the nature & purpose of existence is understood."

How to Live in Harmony (Niyama) - simplicity, contentment, purification, refinement,  and surrender to the Divine - "From contentment, unsurpassed happiness is gained."

Postures (Asana) - "The physical postures should be steady and comfortable."

Breathing Exercises (Pranayama) - "Next come the breathing exercises, which increase the life energy."

Mastery of the Senses (Pratyahara) - "Once senses naturally withdraw inwards, mastery follows."

Concentration (Dharana) - "Dharana is when the attention is held focused on an object."

Meditation (Dhyana) - "Dhyana is when awareness flows evenly toward the point of attention." See more on the mind.

Enlightenment (Samadhi) - "Here, unbounded awareness flows toward the object, & the light of supreme knowledge dawns."

These eight stages described in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras are referred to as "limbs" rather than steps, as although we can see them as naturally progressing in the above order, they must be combined for the yoga practice to be a complete experience.