Day 21 – Congratulations!!! You did it!!

Day 21: Congratulations!

 

Lokah Samashta Sukhino Bhavantu

 

“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”

 

We close our course together, by chanting this beautiful mantra, moving from our personal egoic small selves, with our limited world views,  to radiate a prayer of love for the world and global well-being.  In chanting this mantra, we remind ourselves that we are part of a vast universe and we have the power to positively impact all of creation.

Often chanted at the end of yoga practices, Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu is a potent Sanskrit prayer and invocation for personal and collective peace that has been used for centuries to invoke greater states of awareness, love, compassion and peace.

lokah: location, realm, all universes, seen and unseen, ancestors, future generations, plants, animals etc. existing now

samastah: all beings sharing that same location

sukhino: centered in happiness and joy, free from suffering

bhav: the divine mood or state of unified existence

antu: may it be so, it must be so (antu used as an ending here transforms this mantra into a powerful pledge)

At first, the blessing is for ourselves to help us cultivate self-love. Once we can easily forgive and accept ourselves unconditionally, we can see the light and are able to readily offer this love and compassion to others.

 

 

The great saint Amma – Sri Amritananadamayi Ma – the famous Hugging Saint, uses this mantra as a daily prayer for the world, and I invite you to as well!

 

May all beings be happy
May all beings be free from affliction
May all see auspiciousness everywhere
May none be sorrowful

May the spring of happiness prevail
May peace continue to prevail in the world
Let us remain without desire and be selfless
May we progress towards you

May all be happy in the world
May everybody see the divine in everyone
May the flame of love burn in our minds
May everyone ever live in harmony

Let us worship together,
Let us desire the same goal
Let us chant together:
Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu

 

Path of Practice

Do your “Big” or “Small” practice – Enter your “Yay” or “Nay”.

Journal  / 3 Gratitudes

Chant the ‘Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu” mantra a minimum of 9x

Make a plan: Moving forward, how would you like to keep your home practice flowing? Take 5 minutes and journal NOW.

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How did it go for you? Harder than you thought? Easier?  We wanna hear from you – Please make sure to leave us some feedback!

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Attitude of Gratitude

Attitude of Gratitude

Attitude of Gratitude

Wanna be Happy? ♥ Be Grateful!

 “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” — Albert Einstein

Gratitude is wine for the soul. Go on. Get drunk” – Rumi

Gratitude is a powerful and transformative practice that can increase our happiness levels 25% according to Robert Emmons, PhD–one of the world’s foremost experts on gratitude – in his book, “Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier”

Gratitude helps to shift the focus away from what you don’t have, to the abundance of what you do have.

It helps us to see where we have taken things for granted, or how can we bring more sacred presence into the mundane.  Even something as ordinary as the moment of stillness before you get out of bed in the morning, can be such a window into bliss and appreciation of this precious life.

Gratitude can help us shift our perspective after what feels like a negative event.  We remember that contained within each difficulty is the seed of an equal or greater possibility: the jewel in the lotus flower!

Make a commitment to keep going with your gratitude journal.  Or to take a few moments each morning to reflect on 3 things that you’re grateful for.  Moving forward, you will be grateful you have a gratitude practice!

Today I Invite to share a full live recorded 90 minute practice with me, Your body will thank you!

 

 

 

♥ ♥ 

 

 

Some awesome talks on the power of Gratitude:

 

 

 

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Day 19 – The 3 Jewels

Day 19:

the 3 Jewels of Buddhism

The 3 Jewels of Buddhism

Buddha, Dharma, Sangha

the teacher, the teachings, the community

 

“You alone are the author of your future—experience teaches you that. Your behavior is not an unchangeable law of nature.  At every moment, you have the opportunity to change—to alter your thoughts, your speech, your actions. If you train yourself to be mindful of what you do, and ask yourself whether it’s likely to lead to positive results or negative, you’ll be guiding yourself in the right direction.” ~ Bhante Gunaratana

 

With just a few days left of our challenge, our thoughts may be turning to the big “what next?” question.  How will I keep this daily practice of Yoga alive within me?!

Buddhism offers us a framework for integrating, known as the 3 Jewels, or 3 refuges:

 

Buddha

Each one of us has the potential to wake up from the dream of separation.  The word, “Buddha” translates to “awakened one”,  and the invitation of this jewel is to remember that awakening is our essential nature.

Waking up from the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and

from the fears that limit us.

We each have the potential to be free from suffering in this moment, here and now,

even though it can be hard, and situations will challenge us.

Anyone, from Mother Thesesa to Hitler, …..anyone can wake up.

And it’s not a simple meritocracy.

Being in full alignment; thoughts, words and actions, is ideal for setting up all the conditions in which waking up occurs., but so much more is involved.   Just because you do good in the world, doesn’t mean you will wake up or realise yourself.

Yoga reminds us to close our eyes. Look inside. Everyday. For as long as you can.

This will help connect you to your Buddha-nature.

 

Dharma

Dharma is the path, or the teachings of Buddhism.

The sacred and ancient practice of Yoga, offers us many tools, many scriptures, many masters, many philosophies to help keep us on the path of going deeper within.

Ancient scriptures and modern books share with us the essential teachings of the wisdom traditions: be here now, be love, forgive, allow, surrender, let go, this too shall pass, freedom is taking full responsibility for yourself in this moment, and so on…

Yoga offers us the 8 limbs to freedom – the Ashtanga Yoga system , which includes the yamas and niyamas, asana, prananyam, pratyahara, dhyana, dharana and Samadhi. We can model our lifestyles on these points.

We can read and immerse ourselves in dharma books or books by contemporary teachers like Eckhart Tolle, Wayne Dyer, the Dalai Lama….

We can spend time with living Masters and teachers.

You will find a lot of repetition on this path. Repetition is said to be the mother of all teachers. Even after a decade of devoted yoga practice, I am still amazed how the simple reminder from a yoga teacher to breathe in any given moment, can take me so deep.

Sadhana,  the practice, is always there for you to take you home to your true nature.  If you miss a day, a week, a month – no worries!  Your practice is always available and ready for you when your are.

Sangha

 

The Sangha is the community of truth seekers. That means all of you.

People need people.  We are social creatures and social learners.

People of all ages and backgrounds are coming to Yoga these days, all wanting more happiness, more freedom and joy.

To really help us rocket forth on our journeys, it helps to surround ourselves with people who are also working on themselves to awaken.

At the end of the day,  we actually all have a lot more in common that not – The first noble truth of Buddhism – all beings suffer.

We are united in our suffering and we are united in our desire to be happy and free.

Path of Practice

Do your “Big” or “Small” practice – Enter your “Yay” or “Nay”.

Journal  / 3 Gratitudes

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Day 15 – Progress on the Path

Day 15:

Progress on the Path

Progress on the Path

What does it mean to be “Good” at Yoga?

We are all works in progress, still in progress.

Everyone can practice Yoga and everyone can make progress on the path.

Our progress in Yoga, has less to do with opening our hips, and more to do with opening our hearts.

In Modern Yoga, many students come to the practice hoping to achieve a shape, or perfect their headstand, or master an arm balance.  Our culture often tells us that success is marked by these outer acheivements

In fact, some of the most remarkable changes that Yoga offers are often invisible, unacknowelged and far more ordinary and important, such as greater kindness, more respect, more compassion and forgiveness, strengthening of presence and awareness. 

Instead of how many hours did I practice, or what did I physically achieve, ask yourself, how am I living Yoga today?

Today I invite you to take 5 minutes and mediate / journal on these questions:

  • Am I making progress on the path? 
  • What does that look like? How did I know if I’m making progress on the path? 
  • Have I or has life evolved since starting this challenge? How? What are the side-effects of my daily practice?

How do you know that you’ve been making progress?

Please Comment Below:

Ask yourself the following questions: Do I feel…

Transformed, More aligned, Refreshed, Invigorated, Relaxed, Calmer, Softer, Kinder, More warm, Brighter, More spacious, Lighter, More slowed down, More connected to the self, More creative, More embodied, Less stressed, A more clear mind, Strength to overcome new challenges, More Resilience and ease to bounce back to joy after a set-back,  A heightened sense of flexibility, both in the body and in the mind

 

 

“Instead of measuring success in practicing a yoga posture by how far we go, we can ask how present we are in each moment. How aware are we of the movement of our breath, the sensations in our body, and the thoughts that pass through us? Instead of judging the correctness of a yoga posture by how we look, we can inquire what positioning makes us feel most integrated and honours rather than injures our unique physical body. If we are ill or emotionally overwhelmed, how skillfully can we make this challenge grist for the mill? Instead of, “How many hours did I spend meditating today, ” we can ask, “How did I live my practice in every moment of the day?” Something is tragically missing in our spiritual practice if through our most diligent efforts we manage to become a perfect yoga posture, rather than a person”. – Donna Farhi

Path of Practice

Do your “Big” or “Small” practice – Enter your “Yay” or “Nay”.

Journal  / 3 Gratitudes

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Day 14 – Flow: the Path of Happiness

 

Day 14: Finding Flow

the balance between effort & surrender

 

 

 

Finding Flow: The Path of Happiness

the balance between effort & surrender

 

Flowing through our lives with ease and grace, requires a balance between effort, showing up to our practice and discipline and surrendering to what is and how that can unfold.  This is the balance between practice & non-attachment, or allowing the moment to be as it is.

 

When we’re in flow, we drop out of the thinking, judging, comparing, rational mind and tap into a timeless state of simple be-ingness, of flow.

 

“Flow is the process of achieving happiness through control over one’s inner life. The optimal state of inner experience is order in consciousness. This happens when we focus our attention (psychic energy) on realistic goals and when our skills match the challenges we face”. – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

 

When we feel out of flow, we have a choice:  We can struggle against the current, we can resist, we can fight or flight our way into a temporary shortcut.  Or we can use those obstacles as fuel,  to show up to the element of fire, the practice of discipline, the fires of transformation and purification. 

 

A balanced practice of Yoga contains equal measures of Abhyasa, effort / practice,  and vairagya, non-attachment. We can compare our Yoga practice to the wings of a bird.  We need equal parts of abhyasa and vairagya, effort and surrender, to keep the bird flying free. 

 

We need persistent effort to know ourselves, to evolve and harness our challenges of life to realise the goal of freedom, and a corresponding level of surrender of how this can unfold in our external reality.

 

This is one of the reasons our school is named “Pure Flow Yoga” – to serve as a reminder: When you’re not in flow, the recipe is to purify – Fire! : find your discipline, your focus, your willingness to transform yourself so you can get back to that sweet element of water, of connection, fluidity, and adaptability that are the nature of flow.

Flow, the Secret of Happiness

Today I feel inspired to share 2 powerful and excellent talk to broaden your flow:

 

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi asks, “What makes a life worth living?” Noting that money cannot make us happy, he looks to those who find pleasure and lasting satisfaction in activities that bring about a state of “flow.”

 

 

 

What would Water do?

How do we find fulfillment in a world that’s constantly changing? Raymond Tang struggled with this question until he came across the ancient Chinese philosophy of the Tao Te Ching. In it, he found a passage comparing goodness to water, an idea he’s now applying to his everyday life. In this charming talk, he shares three lessons he’s learned so far from the “philosophy of water.” “What would water do?” Tang asks. “This simple and powerful question … has changed my life for the better.”

 

 

Path of Practice

Do your “Big” or “Small” practiceEnter your “Yay” or “Nay”.

 

Journal  / 3 Gratitudes

What does “go with the flow” mean to you?  How do you find flow? How can you cultivate more flow in your life?

Today I invite you to spend time finding flow. Choosing one activity that you love doing that helps you tap into that state of timelessness and do that!  It could be Yoga, dancing, writing, cooking…..anything!

 

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Day 17 – This is your Brain on Meditation

Day 17: 

 This is your Brain on Meditation

Why Meditate?! 

Why do we bother spending time alone with ourselves?!

 

Most of us have tried meditation, or else we’ve heard many reasons about why we should try it, and it’s potential benefits for our mental health and well-being.

Meditation allows us to have a complete, simple and direct relationship with who we are. The power of introspection allows us to cultivate our witness, strengthening our ability to see things as they are, without masking or veiling our ego’s fear and hopes, preferences, likes and dislikes.

More than something we effort to do, the practice of mediation is more about subtracting the things we do so that we can come into a place of stillness.  Meditation is a uninterrupted flow of concentration.

People have been using mediation for thousands of years, as a way to transcend the suffering borne from the ceaselessly thinking monkey mind and emotional upsets, to move more into peace, clarity and present moment awareness.

There are seemingly infinite meditation techniques and traditions, from simply focusing on the breath, to prayer, mantra chanting, self-inquiry (who am I?), Vipassana, metta, chakra, yantra, mandala … Essentially all techniques serve the singular purpose of cultivating awareness, mindfulness and expanded consciousness

The gifts of meditation are many.  Whether you come to meditation seeking relief from painful, fearful thoughts,for stress reduction or other health benefits, or simply for greater self-understanding, intuitive powers and increased concentration power, a regular practice of mediation can inspire profound physical, emotional, mental and spiritual benefits.

Science and direct experience share with us countless benefits of regular meditation:  From neuroplasticity ,to a more alert and relaxed brain, to increased resilence and life-span,

 

Neuroscientist Sara Lazar’s amazing brain scans show meditation can actually change the size of key regions of our brain, improving our memory and making us more empathetic, compassionate, and resilient under stress

 

“The human body and mind are veritable battlegrounds for the war between wisdom and the conscious delusive force manifesting as vidya, ignorance. Every spiritual aspirant, aiming to establish within himself the rule of King Soul, must defeat the rebels, King Ego and his powerful allies”.  – (Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita, p.24)

Gifts of Meditation

 

Meditation reduces stressimproves focus and concentration, encourages a more balanced and healthy lifestyle, increases Self-Awareness. increases happiness and longevity.  Meditation allows us to have a complete, simple and direct relationship with who we are:

The power of introspection allows us to cultivate our witness, strengthening our ability to see things as they are, without masking or veiling our ego’s fear and hopes, preferences, likes and dislikes. Seeing more clearly through our daily habits, our stories, our illusions, Maya, leads us to a life of wisdom, peace & equanimity.

Meditation leads to intuition, inner awareness of our true self and a state of peace and bliss. Meditation helps us focus the mind and keep it positive, helping us transcend fear, desire, longing, negative emotions and ever positive attachments.

Meditation opens the metaphorical 3rd eye, or Ajna chakra, allowing us to see that the spiritual world and material world are not separate so that we can transcend the ego to concentrate on a broader awareness of the universe and one’s relation to it. It gives us the immediate knowledge that unites the individual soul, jiva atman, with the Supreme Soul, atman.

Meditation is a practice of finding balance between effort and surrender; balancing the will power to sustain concentration and detachment from distraction to remain in the heightened state of awareness, and the ability to relax, surrender and let go of all expectations and desires. There are many simple techniques for meditation to bring the mind into focus, returning it to stillness; Slow and steady Pranayama can always be engaged to refresh and revitalise the mind if it’s feeling tired, fatigued or unfocused.

Key Meditation Practice Points

  • Be Consistent and Create a Habit
  • Create a Sacred Space and/or Alter Space
  • Time – Most ideal for practice is dawn and dusk, especially Brahmamuhurta between 3 – 6am when the atmosphere is most clean, charged and unruffled by the activities of the day
  • Establish a comfortable sitting position
  • Be mindful of the Breath
  • Commit to the Present Moment; give up dwelling on the past or worrying about the future

 

Today I invite you to spend some time in meditation. 

Set your timer for a minimum of 5 minutes, sit upright with a nice long spine, eyes closed, bringing your awareness to the breath.  Spend some time noticing how you feel, tuning into the rhythm of the breath, and set an intention or say a prayer if you like.

What effects do you notice within yourself from even just 5 mins of meditation?

Path of Practice

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Journal  / 3 Gratitudes

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Bhakti Bliss

Bhakti Bliss

 Bhakti Bliss

Yoga of the Heart

Bhakti Yoga / Mantra Yoga

Yoga of the Heart 

“The power of mantra lies in the vibrations, and these vibrations work on many levels, whether the sayings are pronounced out loud or silently …The simple act of saying a mantra will still bring the heart and mind into alignment with its subtle goal, which is to bring heightened self-awareness and a deeper sense of peace and calm.” – Alanna Kaivalya

Bhakti Yoga

Today, I invite us to turn our awareness towards the heart and explore the sweetest of the Yogic paths; Bhakti Yoga.

In Bhakti Yoga, or the yoga of devotion, we surrender the ego, our intellect, our doubts, judgments & fears, and we harness the power of our emotions to help fuel our connection with the divine.

In opening our heart in this way,  we create relax into a flow of universal love and trust, a greater awareness and understanding of our true nature, bringing us into deeper levels of contentment, sweetness, compassion, light and energy.

One of the main practices of Bhakti Yoga is Chanting, Singing and Mantra Yoga.

 

Mantra Yoga: “Man” – thinking mind, “Tra” – to protect or expand.

 

Mantras are powerful sound vibrations that have the ability to alter consciousness.

Through the practice of chanting, we center consciousness on Spirit through the repetition of powerful incantations and seed sounds of universal sounds. The power of mantra lies in vibrations, and it works on many levels, both subtle and overt. We can invoke an intention or the quality or essence of a particular deity.

 

 

Chanting – Chants are uplifting compilations of vibrations that can be used as prayers for peace, health, wellbeing, to focus the mind and empower whatever we want to give energy to. Chanting has the power to awaken our physical and energetic bodies. It can be used to loosen mental chatter to still the mind, becoming one-pointedly focused, and bringing the heart into alignment.

In kirtan, or call and response devotional singing, we lift our voices to heal our spirits and raise our vibrations by repeating mantras over and over, shifting our awareness from our heads to our hearts. Singing reminds us of our essential nature: joyful, openhearted, centered, and blissful

 

Bhakti Bliss: Music as Medicine

When we sing, we open the throat chakra and allow a free flow of energy to groove through the passageway that connects heart and mind.  This allows us to bring balance and a free flow of energy to the heart and mind, so that we are not too caught up in mental chatter or emotionality, When we sing, we rise in Joy, Freedom, Peace and Connection.

I Invite you to take a moment now, PRESS PLAY, closer your eyes, and use whatever emotions or energy present within you to fuel your voice in opening and singing this beautiful mantra with me:

Jai Sri Ma Kali Kali Ma Jai Sri Ma

Ananda Ma, Durga Devi

Jagadambe Sri Ma

 

“If you want to find the secrets of the Universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration”.Nikola Tesla

 

P.S. Check out this incredible video on Cymatics, the study of visible sound vibration that effectively shows us how sound affects matter:

 

 

We Love Hearing from You!

Do you have a favourite mantra? What do you love about it and why?

Please feel free to Comment & Share Below

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Day 11 – Consciousness – ABCs of Yoga – Part 3

Day 11: Consciousness

Abc’s of Yoga – Part 3

Who am I?

Know thyself: the Path of Self-Inquiry

“You are awareness. Awareness is another name for you. Since you are awareness there is no need to attain or cultivate it. All that you have to do is to give up being aware of other things, that is, of the not-self. If one gives up being aware of them then pure awareness alone remains . . .” – Ramana Maharishi

Once we’ve aligned our bodies through asana, and connected to the breath, we can bring our awareness into consciousness it’s self.

At this stage we understand that we are far more that just our bodies. We know that our body’s cells completely replace themselves every 7 years.  We know that the body we had at age 3 is a different body that when we are 73.  Our bodies, are more like the temple of our souls.

We know we are not just the breath, the air we breathe, the food we eat or the water we drink.. Our breath is moving through us without a conscious effort keeping us alive and in rhythm with the pulsation of all things in the universe.

As we slow down the breath, and begin to witness each thought  arising, existing, and falling away, we also begin to recognise that we are not our thoughts. Thoughts, feelings, and sensations are but fleeting moments to which we sometimes get attached or identified. 

When we let thoughts come and go without attaching our emotions and personal interpretation to them, we see that we are the witness of thoughts.  We are the like the clear blue sky, the thoughts are like the passing clouds.

So who are we? Who is the thinker of these thoughts? the perceiver of these sensations? The witness of these experiences?

 

 

This is the question that Ramana Maharishi went to the caves for 17 years to contemplate. Ramana Maharishi taught the practice of self-inquiry, as a method of following the “I” – thought in order to find it’s source.

It requires practice, effort and discipline to keep watching the thoughts and rest in our true nature, pure awareness itself.  It takes continual and consistent practice to overcome the strong habits of of the monkey mind that likes to jump from thought branch to thought branch, the mind that loves a good dose distraction, attachment, and identification.

“When we begin to see through the illusion we once took to be “me”, there is a simultaneous emergence of our true nature from the background, where it has been waiting patiently for us to sober up from the intoxication of seeking”. – Bob O’Hearn

 

Learn more about Ramana Maharishi & Self-Inquiry:

 

 

Path of Practice

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Day 10 – Breath – ABCs of Yoga – Part 2

Day10: the Breath

ABC’s of Yoga – Part 2

Pranayama: Art of Breathing

“For breath is life, and if you breathe well you will live long on earth.” ::Sanskrit Proverb

 

When the Breather wanders, the mind is unsteady,

but when the Breath is still, so is the mind still”. – Hatha Yoga Pradipika

 

Pranayama is the extension of life force energy in the body, which supports health and longevity. Pranayama is the breathing practice of yoga and is the disciplining of our life force energy (prana), to remove blockages within our physical and energetic system, to clear illness and pain and ignite the spine to help regulate the nervous systems, so that we may achieve higher states of consciousness and awareness.

 

Understanding and controlling prana is the key to health mind/body balance. Conscious breath control is the key to realizing the benefits of asana as it brings us into a deeper connection with our inner self.

 

Prana is the subtle energy or life force that links matter and spirit, the astral and the physical. This vital energy or life force, located in the body’s nadis or energy channels, is in all life forms and is central to all yoga practices. Prana is a subtle force of energy carried in food, air, water, sunlight, the atmospheres we spend time in, the people we surround ourselves with, and it animates all form of matter.

 

Ayama means extension, expansion, to stretch, lengthen, prolong, regulate

 

Benefits of Pranayama – Pranayama helps reduce stress, quiets the mind, enhances concentration, memory and focus, and invigorates, heats and purifies the body.

Once we’ve connected with the breath, and started sending the breath towards any part of our bodies that’s holding tension or tightness,  we can turn our awareness towards awareness it self, to explore the deeper layers of consciousness,  our inner world, and who we really are.

 

Take a few moments now to breathe with me:

 

Path of Practice

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Journal  / 3 Gratitudes

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Day 9 – Abc’s of Yoga- Part 1

Day 9: ABC’ of Yoga

Part 1: Attitude & Alignment

ABC’s of Yoga

Part 1: Attitude & Alignment 

 

 

Yoga chitta vritti nirodhah

Translation: Union or yoga arises when the fluctuations /waves of thoughts in the mind /consciousness cease.- From Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras

 

The word yoga literally means “to yoke” or “union”. Beyond the practice of physical exercises, Yoga is the coming together of the individual self or consciousness, with the infinite universal consciousness or spirit. Yoga is a method of inquiry in to the nature of the mind, which emphasises practice and direct experience. 

The “goal” of yoga is to align to the universal consciousness in order to experience joy, freedom, FLOW and the stillness of full consciousness. Alignment, is related to mind and body, and refers to how various parts of us are integrated and interconnected.   The world is what think and believe it to be. It is subjective in essence – a projection of what we feel it is, based on past experiences and conditionings. What we see in others is what we have inside, like a mirror that is only projecting what is inside.

How we carry the body is how we carry the mind.

 

Attitude’s of Yoga

 

Willingness

Transformation is a reflection of our willingness to connect, to let go, to aspire to realise oneself. In other words, you get out what you put in. Use this challenge as an opportunity to go deeply into self-reflection so that you can empower yourself to recognise and begin shifting patterns that no longer serve and integrating ones that do.

 

Beginners Mind

According to Zen Buddhism, when our rice bowl is full, so to speak, there is no room for more. Thus in order to stay open and keep learning, we must continually empty our bowls, so to speak. See if you can meet each moment with a child-like sense of awe and wonder, in a spirit of openness, curiosity and playfulness as we explore and discover our personal patterns and edges.

 

Mindfulness

Be conscious and mindful in your thoughts, words and actions. Honour and listen to your body’s messages, using this as an opportunity to be mindful and discerning of the food and substances you consume, remembering that attitudes and behaviours ‘off the mat’ are just as important, as those on ‘on the mat’.

The Obstacle is the Way

Everything in life the presents can be seen as our teacher.  If we allow everything that presents to reflect to us how we can expand, grow and expand then we evolve.  How can you see the anger, the frustration, the impatience, the jealousy, the criticism, the rain, the bad meeting….as your teacher?

 

Physical Alignment

Shrtire Sukham Asanam

 

This is the prescription for how all poses should be practiced from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras: Asana (posture, seated position, physical practice) is steady (strong; steady, stable, motionless) and comfortable (ease filled, happy, light, relaxed). Performed with willingness as well as acceptance. Firm as well as pleasant. Strong as well as relaxed. Maintained with effort as well as ease. Avoid pushing yourself or damaging the body.

There are many principles of alignment in yoga asana from many traditions. Here are just a few very basic ideas to keep in mind throughout your practice: 

 

Spine:

Yoga asana focuses on elongating the spine and increasing its range of motion. Because Yoga is ultimately of practice of working with subtle energies, maintaining alignment and length in the Spine is of the utmost importance in yoga asana alignment.

 

Hands /Feet: Our foundation:

We begin by setting up and aligning the foundation of the poses. Spread your hands / feet wide to create the most stable foundation possible to support our being, plant down through the 4 corners of your hands and feet, especially the big toes, then draw the energy in and up through the body though the domes or “nostrils” of the hands and feet. Mantra: Spread out. Plant Down. Draw in.

 

Soft Elbows / Knees:

There are no straight lines in nature and thus considering we are a creation of nature, this goes for our bodies as well. We can always maintain softness in these joints, ensuring that we are not hyper-extending, as this compromises the integrity of alignment in the pose. Teachers will often remind us to “micro-bend” or to have soft elbows and knees as this helps us to yield into the earth or whatever surface we are upon. Actively yielding to the Earth creates a rebound effect, elongating the body upwards into space.

 

Shoulders / Hips:

These are the gateways for the arms and legs to connect with the torso, and two common areas in which we commonly experience tension in the body. When the shoulders are hugging the ears, the body is being sent messages of stress! So think about relaxing and softening the shoulder, rolling your shoulders away from your ears creating as much space as possible in the neck. Keep the hips level, ensuring that their height is equalized.

 

Neutralize Pelvic tilt:

Think of the pelvis as a bowl filled with water. In standing and balancing positions, we want to keep the bowl level so that we are not tipping forward and hyper arching our low back, spilling the water out the front, or tilting it too far up, as is common in people with tight hips doing seated postures, spilling the water out the back. Make sure the hips and pelvis are level. If you find your low back rounding and your pelvis tipping up, then help yourself to a cushion or two or three so that you can be aligned and comfortable. We also want to make sure we neutralise the front to back placement of the hips so that it rests just atop the legs.

 

 

Neck and head:

In most active styles of yoga asana, the general principle is to keep the head and neck long and in line with the spine, bringing the chin back in if are heads are jutting forward. I know a body worker who tells his clients: “Take the head away from the computer!”.

Soft Face & Eyes:

Make sure your eyes are soft, your jaw is relaxed and soft, and your face is nice and released. Having a soft controlled gaze or focus, or Drishti, helps us to develop concentration, and focused consciousness to see the world as it is. When we are beginning our practice of yoga, we often lose balance by looking around and paying attention to all of the stimulation and distraction outside of ourselves. Focusing the attention inwards, by holding a soft gaze point either to our 3rd eye or our hearts, encourage stability and inward looking.

 

We have the potential, using conscious intentions, thoughts and words, to co-create the life we want, to go beyond our limitations and fears, to surrender and open, to choose the type of person we want to be, to flow with the divine grace, to see the beauty in and all around us.  The key is to ALIGN ourselves so the flow can move through us.

Daily Practice:

Step 1 – Path of  Practice

Do your “Big” or “Small” practice

Celebrate &  Mark your “Yay!”

Step 2 – Foundations of Flow

Journal the Journey – 5 minutes /  3 Gratitudes

What are some attitudes that you want to adopt to bring more FLOW into your life?  How can you align your thoughts, words and actions more so that the flow can move through with more grace and ease?

Step 3 – Reflect & this Connect:

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