Beat the winter blues

As the weather forecast heralds more snow and rain, it’s easy to feel a little gloomy. The winter months can become dark days inside as well as outside as the lack of light, cold weather, rain and snow all make their unique contribution to our experience.  It is now generally recognised that the lack of light during the winter months significantly affects the way we feel. Symptoms can include:

  • Depression – feelings of lethargy, feeling unmotivated
  • Irritability
  • Overeating – craving carbohydrates and sweet foods, voracious appetite
  • Sleep problems – oversleeping and feeling fatigued, or disturbed sleep

dru surya namaskaraGetting enough light is one easy way to feel better. Light is measured in lux – and to give you an idea – indoor lighting is usually 50-200 lux.  At sunrise, with the first glimmer of light, the level is around 800 lux, on a cloudy day it’s 1000 -10,000 lux and on a sunny day, the light levels measure between 10,000 and 100,000 lux. Even on a cloudy or rainy day, the light outside is much brighter than indoor lighting. Our minds need 1000 lux for optimum concentration and emotional wellbeing.

So how can we overcome these challenging symptoms and rise above the darkness to stay bright and shiny inside and out?
 
1. Getting outside
Even if it’s cloudy! This helps to balance our natural internal cycles, and Vitamin D helps to prevent cancer. I find that in the dark winter months, it’s essential to schedule in a walk, either before work in the morning, or at lunchtime.

2. Invest in a full spectrum light
Bright, full spectrum light for half an hour every day has been found to be very effective in relieving all the above symptoms.  You may want to invest in some full spectrum light bulbs both at home and in the workplace if you really can’t get out much in daylight.
Now, what about the inside?

3. Essential Fats
Essential Fatty Acids, which are said to put light into the cells of the body. When the cell membranes are healthy and open and contain all the right fats, they will have ‘electron clouds’ around them which will draw in photons or light cells.  This is why it is crucially important to make sure you are taking enough essential fatty acids into your system.  You can do this through:
–          Omega 3, 6 and 9 – flax oils
–          Sesame and pumpkin seeds
–          Unheated nuts
–          Amino acid and herb supplements, such as barley grass (order it here) can help to adjust the effect on the chemical imbalance in the hypothalamus created by shortening of daylight hours and lack of sunlight.

4. Meditation with a candle
Tratak – and other meditation techniques focusing on a candle flame, can help to relieve some of the symptoms of winter blues. Order a CD of light meditations from our online shop here.

Wishing you a great week – from the snowy mountains of Snowdonia!

Jane Saraswati Clapham
Jane Saraswati ClaphamJane co-ordinates our Yoga retreat Centre in Snowdonia National Park as well as our Dru Yoga, Meditation and Dru Sound programmes. For more information about holidays in North Wales click here.
Dru Yoga Retreats Office
Snowdonia Mountain Lodge
Nant Ffrancon
Bethesda
Bangor
North Wales
LL57 3LX

01248 602900
For information on Dru Yoga retreats, walking holidays, meditation and sound courses, visit http://www.druworldwide.com

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Emotions – the manamaya kosha

We all have things we don’t like or appreciate about ourselves. Whether its the chocolate biscuit stash or the attitude to our boss there are just some things that don’t fit into our ideals of perfection. On the one hand our emotions are what make our lives rich, interesting and exciting – on the down side they can also pull us into feelings of inadequacy and weakness. So what to do?

Emotions, in yogic terms, is referred to as the Manamaya Kosha or layer of emotions. This is how we ‘feel’ about our interactions and the world around us. It is the layer that starts to put our thoughts into action by feeling and experiencing. Combined with the next layer Vijnanamaya Kosha or our thoughts and judgements, this is how we perceive our world. Our expectations, projections and judgements are all coloured by – tainted by – our previous experiences.

In our Dru Yoga classes we have the opportunity to not only work with our physical and energy layers (anamaya and pranamaya koshas) but we can also start to ‘feel’ the qualities and emotions that are enhanced or precipitate from the postures and sequences.

In order to explain this – imagine that the body is an electrical circuit. There are many invisible wires running through the system – and when connected in a particular way they light up one, two or even several light bulbs. In the same way our yoga poses and sequences help to direct energy in a particular way through the body’s energy circuit to create specific results. Sometimes we may have blockages in the system manifesting as physical symptoms, and sometimes mental and emotional resistance; in which case Energy Block Release sequences will be helpful as a major part of your practice.

What we do in a yoga session is to gently guide our emotions, our thoughts, feelings and experiences in the same direction. Exerting a small amount of control and focus is great practice for when we step off the mat! It is said that our emotions, like the mind can be compared to a weak muscle – without direction it falls back on old habits – familiar ways of doing things, even if they are the longer and more laborious simply because it doesn’t want to have to learn something new. Its a ‘lazy’ muscle. Its like doing your all the financial accounts of a multi-million pound business in ledgers, by hand, with an old fountain pen because you don’t want to put the effort in to learn how to switch on and use a computer – even when its sitting next to you on the desk!

So now we come to the crucial point… What can we do to train and engage the mind and emotions in order for them to help us and not hinder us?

This is one of the best top tips I have come across through my work over the years.

Method One: Distraction by Gratitude!
If you find yourself in a quagmire of emotion and don’t know how to get yourself out – STOP thinking about how much you are stuck in the emotion – you are simply entrenching that habit more and more deeply! The key here is to start with GRATITUDE. I know I have mentioned this quality before, but it really is one of the most important foundations to a happy life!
1. Sit comfortably in a quiet space. If you want you can light a candle, whatever you can do to take you into your own space – ideally shut the door and turn off the phone too!
2. Think of someone you deeply love – this can be a partner, a child, a friend or a member of your family. For this exercise choose someone you have a personal relationship with.
3. Really start to feel you love of that person in your heart. Feel it growing and becoming stronger – almost as if you are turning up the volume.
4. Allow that feeling of love to change subtly so that you start to appreciate everything about them, their physical appearance, their personality, and the joy you feel in their presence. Allow appreciation to become a deeper feeling still – as it turns into gratitude that that person is a part of your life. Again really feel the quality of gratitude and you focus on that person.
5. Start to turn that feeling of gratitude inwards now toward you; who YOU really are. Start to appreciate and love things about yourself, just as you did about the other person. Hold a sense of gratitude that you are here on this earth, that you are living a wonderful life, that you have a fantastic body that carries you everywhere… Recognise that, in reality, you have everything that you need. Right here and now.
6. When you are ready slowly bring yourself back into the present moment, but if you can, hold on to that feeling of deep peace and appreciation.

I hope that this short concentration technique will help you to become more focused on the amazing being that you are so that you step out with confidence and strength into your life. Know that you ARE fantastic AS YOU ARE! Once you have that under your belt THEN we can start with directing those emotions to bring you even greater joy and success in your life.

Thanks, Anouschka.

P.s. If you would like more information about how to live you life in the best way possible – you may wish to consider the ‘Power to live your dreams’ course. With some of Dru’s most senior tutors, this course is designed to help you to gain the knowledge and tools to live your life in a place of total success. For more information email us today at hello@druworldwide.com

February – The Bhima Posture

Dru Yoga Posture: Bhima

The Bhima Posture

This Dru Yoga posture is a great side stretch, as well as an excellent toner for the quads, glutes and abdominals. This posture is an extension of the lateral triangle: Utthita Trikonasana.

Like the gate pose and the extended triangle, this posture gives you a long side stretch, opening the intercostal muscles, the lungs and therefore the heart too. It provides a much needed alignment between the crown of the head and the lower energy centres. This posture, particularly – if used as part of a sequence such as the Inner Fire Sequence or the Vitality Sequence– really helps shift energy up through the spine. Both these sequences can be found in the book ‘Dru Yoga; Stillness in Motion’.

You can also watch this posture on the Vitality Sequence video at Dru Yoga Online. You can sign up for a 2 month free trial to access this video.

 

How to do this posture:

1. Start with your leg just wider than shoulder width apart. Feet facing forward. Turn your right kneww out 90 degrees to the right and adjust your left heel – pushing it away from you to about 45 degrees. Hips face forwards.

2. To check your alignment for the posture, bend the right (leading) knee. Check that the knee does no ‘overshoot’ the ankle or rotate inward. The ideal for this pose is to have a 90 degree angle between the calf and thigh (see image above), therefore the knee and ankle should be in a vertical line. Adjust the width of the feet so that you feel strong and comfortable. To make this pose easier or for during the first 3 days of your menstrual cycle, please keep the feet closer together (shoulder’s width) with the knee and ankle in a vertical line. Release the stretch through the leg and stand facing forward.

3. Breathe in and raise the arms sideways up to shoulder height. Contract the core muscles in the lower abdomen and bend the right knee, sinking down into your full stretch. Allow the right arm to extend to the right, allowing the torso to also move to the right slightly. Once you have reached your maximum stretch keep the torso where it is and allow the right elbo to come down onto the right thigh (if necessary you can modify or adjust by placing the right hand onto the thigh). Allow the left arm to raise to vertical.

4. Keep the thighs and core muscles strong. Breathe in and with the out breath allow the left arm to raise up and overhead into the full stretch. You should have a straight line from your left little toe all the way through to your left fingers. If you wish you can turn your head to look up at your hand (be careful of your neck if you are tight here).

5. To come out of the Bhima posture turn your left palm to face down towards the earth. Turn your hips and left leg so you are facing fully towards the right. Lower the hands to the floor on either side of your right foot, then turn your body and feet towards thr front, so you are in a wide legged, forward bend. Relax here for a moment as you relax the body. Walk the feet slightly closer together and when you feel ready, contract the core muscles and un-curl the spine raising your body back up to a standing position. Then repeat on the left side.

Top Tips for the Bhima Posture

  • With this posture remember to keep your abdominal muscles gently contracted.
  • Imagine you are between two panes of glass to keep the upper arm back and in alignment and not come forward of the centre line.
  • If necessary, place your hand onto your thigh instead of your elbow to ensure a) that your knee is directly above the ankle with a 90 degree angle between your calf and thigh and b) that your back foot, hip, arm and hand are all in one straight line.


Enjoy this beautiful, strong pose that we in Dru Yoga call the Bhima. Call on its strength, inner courage, passion and development of self will to help you to achieve your goals. And really FEEL the unshakeable truth: “I have all the strength and resources I need to be totally successful in my life!”

How amazing is Dru!

Last week I had the great enjoyment of traveling to London to participate int the B-fit Exhibition at London’s Excel. Dru Yoga were sponsoring Fitness T.V. a great sky channel dedicated to health and fitness. There we were with our fantastic looking stall, yoga mats at the ready and the film crew standing by to ask us all about the benefits of Dru Yoga. What an amzaing thought… not asking about ‘yoga’… but Dru Yoga…

It really struck me whilst at the exhibition that absolutely everyone who had come to our stall had heard about or regularly practiced some kind of yoga – it really is coming into the main stream of our society – and therefore it felt so exciting for me to see  that people are more and more confident in discovering that yoga had many facets, and that there is a perfect style for each one of us.,

I discovered Dru when I was but sweet 16! I had the privilege to be able to attend a youth event in North Wales under the guidance of some of the finest experts in the field of Yoga. Since then I have learnt, not only to teach Dru Yoga, but also to teach others how to teach! There is nothing I’ve found as quite so satisfying as seeing new graduates flourish and blossom under the care of Dru Yoga. Dru is a way of life, a subtle change of attitude towards positivity, empowerment and inner strength.

Over the years there have been many times, where just having met someone they’ll say ‘why is it you are all so…. nice? friendly? loving? What is it about you guys?’

There is so much to Dru – so many layers, so many facets: but what I do know is that there is also depth, peace, serenity and an ocean of joy. Underlying and underscoring everything we do is integrity and congruency to help others achieve their absolute highest potential. The motto I often hear our Dru Team live by is: ‘helping others by giving them the tools to help themselves.’ Dru is not a passive form of yoga where we do it to you and you feel better – the student has to engage, to learn, participate and apply themselves and step into their full power!

For more information about Dru Yoga and Dru events check us out on http://www.druworldwide.com

Anouschka Dack Dru Yoga teacher trainer and therapist