September – Vipariti Karani

Vipariti Karini – supported inversion

This powerful yet gentle yoga posture is classed as an inversion, but for those of us who think ‘up-side-down’ means head stands, wheels and peacocks; this posture is most definitely a welcome relief!

Annie Jones, one of the founders of Dru has been practicing this posture for years: “Vipariti Karani is one of my favourite postures, indeed, the whole of my personal yoga practice builds up to this point. Not only is it calming for the mind, but it seems to create space around my thoughts – giving me the perspective and time to think. It’s said to be beneficial in preventing conditions such as alzheimer’s as well as helping us to keep our minds alert and our memories sharp.

It is a calming posture which helps to lower blood pressure, and yet, if you are tired, a simple 5 minutes of this posture will see you restored and ready to face your next task. Due to the inversion, the downward pressure of gravity is taken off the organs, allowing them time to relax, it also helps gently increase the blood supply to the brain, and therefore nourishing the cells with fresh oxygen and nutrients.

Finally, my favourite benefit of this posture is that it helps to nourish and calm the area of the throat. The gentle compression of the thyroid gland stimulates the metabolism assisting in weight management and physical energy levels as well as gently activating and nourishing the vishuddhi chakra, the centre of our self expression and communication which resides at the level of the throat. In fact, Vipariti Karani is perfect for anyone like me who does a lot of communicating.”

> watch how to do this posture here

Who shouldn’t do this posture?
As a low supported inversion this posture can be done by most people. It is even said to be beneficial  for those with high blood pressure, as it has a calming effect on the body, and you can choose to have a very low inversion or higher, depending on how you feel. If you have extreme high or low blood pressure, you can get the same benefits by simply placing the legs up a wall with you back flat. Take extra caution during pregnancy, as you shouldn’t be on your back for too long, especially after 4 months, but placing the legs up the wall for a short period of time in early pregnancy can help reduce swelling and tirdness in the legs. If you have glaucoma, you are on the first 3 days of your menstrual cycle, have a neck problem or a heart condition, please don’t do this posture.

How to do this posture
1. Place a blanket on the floor, it needs to be folded so that your hips to your shoulders are on the blanket, with the head comfortably on the floor. This ensures when you are in the posture that the neck is free to move easily.

2. Place more folded blankets, a folded duvet, or cushions on top of the base blanket.

3. Sit carefully onto the pile of blankets. Reach one hand back to balance your weight as you lie down onto your back, with you hips supported by the blankets. Your head should be on the floor, and the shoulders on the base blanket.

4. Engage your core stability muscles and begin to raise the legs till they are vertical with your arms resting comfortably by your sides.

5. Relax for as long as you feel comfortable. You may need to bring the knees to the chest to give your legs a break if they get tired. To come out of the posture, place the feet on the floor and roll to one side. Pause for a minute to balance the blood pressure before you push yourself up into seated.

6. Sit quietly for a few minutes and absorb the incredible benefits of this posture.

> You can do this posture as part of Annie Jones’ Natural Weight Loss Class 1 on the Dru Yoga Online Studio
> Watch this posture here
> Posture taken from the Dru Yoga Teacher Training course
> Yoga retreats in Snowdonia

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Practice makes perfect

Top tips for keeping your yoga and meditation practice strong through the summer months.

Summer is often the time when many of us drop our yoga and meditation practice.  Follow Jane Clapham’s tips to make your practice work, even through the holidays.

So many of my students on the meditation training course tell me that holidays can be the worst time for maintaining a regular routine.  Perhaps the children are on holiday from school, or you might go away.  You might have extra guests around or just find the British weather disappointing.

 

Whatever your excuse, a change in routine doesn’t have to mean the end of your yoga ‘me-time’.

1.       Get real.

I find that many people have unrealistic expectations of the length of time they can devote to their daily yoga or meditation. Then, when they don’t manage a 90 minute session daily, they think they’ve failed.  So be realistic.  Plan to do a 10 minute practice – warm ups, a swift EBR and one posture, for example, could be a minimum practice.

2.       Have a mobile practice

Going out to the beach? Then take a few minutes of me-time – with your family – and do some stretches or postures.  If you’re going for a walk, you could practise a walking meditation or chant a mantra quietly.  Don’t limit yourself to your yoga mat or meditation shawl and bell and you’ll find it easier to adapt it to your environment.

3.       Involve your family

As yogiyou teachers know well, kids adore yoga!  So if you have children, involve them in your yoga practice.  Very small children will love the animal postures (cat, dog, cobra etc), older ones love competition (how long can you stand on one leg in the tree posture?), while for teenagers, tips to tackle stress might go down well.

We’re doing the next yogiyou training this September if you’re interested in teaching yoga to children!

4.       Use your senses

On holiday, you might simply forget about your yoga because you’re in a different environment.  So use your senses to get you back on track.  Take your phone or ipod with your yoga music on, and play it!  Or take a couple of sticks of your favorite incense or essential oil which you associate with your yoga ‘smell’.  Our senses are evocative so use them to remind you how great you feel when you practice.

5.       Use different media

Many people find holiday time a good way to ring the changes – to watch Dru Yoga DVDs or downloads from the training courses in Wales.  You might prefer to catch up with lessons from the Dru Yoga Online Studio.  If you’re into meditation, you can download meditation recordings and instructions with the online meditation course – and listen to them while relaxing on the beach!

6.       Read around the subject

Summer can be a great time to catch up on yoga related reading (which can in turn inspire you to actually do some!).  Essential yoga reading which I always recommend my students get from our Dru mail order include The Dru Bhagavad Gita series, Krishna Das – Chants of a Lifetime, Victor Frankl – Man’s Search for Meaning, and any of Swami Rama’s books.

7.       Be kind to yourself

Lastly, don’t give yourself a hard time if your personal practice has a summer (or winter) break.  Everyone needs a holiday from time to time.  So, without judging yourself, make today the time to restart your practice – with fresh determination and an unbeatable attitude!

Jane Saraswati Clapham

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/

August – the archer

The archer is the highlight of EBR 3 – the sequence to awaken the heart. This sequence as a whole is very powerful. It activates the heart centre and then we put all that energy to very effective and powerful use by focusing it into the archer. It is a posture that is dynamic and moving; it is focused, intense, and yet also detached. A paradox indeed!

The important thing with the archer is that we do it with a high intension or goal. It is the way we can express our heart energy out into the world around us, and helps us to understand and move towards our goals. It is the dynamic forward motion of this posture, which helps to drive us towards our goals. If you would like to use the archer as a part of EBR 3 you can buy the CD here. Below is a story about one of the greatest archers who ever lived. This story will help you to understand a little more about the energetics, and the benefits of this posture, and how it came into being. Enjoy!

How to do this posture: >     Stand with the feet about shoulder width apart. Pause for a few moments to bring to mind an image of your current goal. Choose one, powerful image that you think most reflects your goal. It could be an image of you as you would like to be emotionally or physically, it could be your ideal new house or it could be a situation at work or home. Just draw it into your mind and make it real.

>     Turn the right foot out 90 degrees, and drop the left heel away from you. Raise the right arm up sideways to shoulder height with the palm facing away from you. Bring the left arm up, elbow bent, so that the palm of the left hand is level with the collar bones. Extend the thumb up towards the ceiling and tuck the ring and little fingers in towards the palm.

>     Imagine you are holding a bow in your right hand. Bring the left arm across the body to the right hand. Imagine you are taking hold of the bow string. Slowly pull the left arm back – the left hand towards your left ear.

>     Bending into the left knee, keep the right leg straight, and very gently raise the right arm a fraction, so that your bow is pointing above the horizontal, still keeping a straight line between the bent left arm and the extended right arm.

>     Bring your mental picture into your mind. Focus on it. And imagine it out in front of you. When you are ready take a deep breath in and with a dynamic out breath allow that arrow of energy, passion and success to fly straight to your goal. As you release your arrow your body weight shifts forward onto the front leg and your left arm moves forward to meet with the right hand.

>     Repeat twice more to the right. Then release the hand mudra, allowing both arms to raise up and overhead. Feet turn forwards and then out the left. Repeat 3 times on the left side. Raise arms to overhead and then allow the arms to separate and come back to standing tall and strong. Visualising your goal, and knowing that it will become manifest. “Manage your mind and you will manage your life – otherwise your mind will manage you!”

The story of Arjuna, the best archer In ancient Indian mythology there was a teacher called Dronacharya. He was one of the greatest warriors of his time – having mastered the use of various weapons. Dronacharya was asked to teach a group of young princes (5 brothers, called the Pandavas and their rivals, the Kauravas) in the art of weaponry. The Pandavas and the Kauravas were quick to learn, and soon picked up various skills. While all the princes learnt the use of all the weapons, each of them had their own favorites. While Dronacharya was a fair teacher and treated all the students equally, he couldn’t help admiring Arjuna the most. Arjuna was not only the best archer of all, he was the most focused, he most enthusiastic and the most driven. However, this admiration was misconstrued as favoritism by the Kauravas, and they continually complained against it.

Deciding that it was time these misunderstandings were set at rest, Dronacharya decided that it was time to prove Arjuna’s uniqueness to the rest of the students. He called all the students to the grove outside the ashram. He had placed on one of the trees a wooden bird with a prominently painted eye. He addressed all the students and said, “Young princes, you have learnt most of the skills necessary for a warrior, and it is time you take a test and show me your abilities. Right now, I want you to show me your skill in archery. There, on that tree is a wooden bird with a painted eye. You have to aim for, and hit that eye.” The first one to be called was Yudhishtra. Dronacharya asked him to aim at the bird, but wait for him to say the word before letting the arrow loose. When Yudhishtra was ready, Dronacharya asked, “Yudhishtra, please tell me what you can see.” Yudhishtra replied, “I can see the bird, the tree, the fruits on the tree and more birds.” Dronacharya replied, “All right. Leave your bow and arrow and go.” Yudhishtra was surprised, but obeyed his teacher and did as he was told. Next was the turn of Duryodhana. Asked the same question, he replied, “Master, I can see the bird, the tree, the leaves, the fruits, another bird…” But before he could complete, Dronacharya said, “You can go!”

Duryodhana was wild, and he flung the bow and arrow to the ground before he stood aside. Next was the turn of Bhima. Again, he was asked the same question by Dronacharya, and he replied, “Master, I too can see the bird, the tree, the fruits……” he too was interrupted and made to stand aside. Next was the turn of the Pandava twins, one by one. When posed the same question, Nakula said, “I can see the people, the trees and the bird” and Sahadeva said, “I can see the bird, the fruits and the tree.” They too were turned away. Finally, it was the turn of Arjuna. As soon as Arjuna was ready, Dronacharya asked, “Arjuna, what can you see?” Arjuna replied, “Master, I can see only the eye of the bird, and nothing else.” With a smile on his face, Dronacharya said, “Fire!” and Arjuna let loose the arrow which found its mark. Dronacharya turned to the other princes and said, “Did you all understand the point of this test? When you aim for something, you must look at nothing else but the target. Only intense concentration can help you strike the target. All of you could see the other things like the trees, the fruits, the leaves and the people because you were not concentrating on the task given to you. It was only Arjuna who was really concentrating. So now all of you know why Arjuna is the best student!” Dronacharya’s test silenced the Kauravas, and all understood that Arjuna was indeed the best student.

Source; http://anustoriesforchildren.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/arjuna-passes-test.html