In praise of all things green!

blossom-for-blogIn praise of all things green – awakening the Anahata Chakra. Jane Clapham explores her love of spring’s verdant colours, and shares a technique to open your heart centre.

It’s May in Snowdonia, and finally spring is on its way after a long, hard winter. Seeing the signs of new growth fills me with hope and energy. This morning, I sat on the mountain side to do my meditation practice, and marveled at the new shoots of grass peeping through the frost-burned land. Verdant dandelions and sorrel were showing their new leaves, and cheeky blue tits perched on the blossoming apple trees near where I did my yoga, hopeful of a crumb or two from my breakfast.

I can honestly say that at this time of year, I adore everything green. The new hawthorn leaves fill me with delight, and when the sun shines through the horse chestnut and rowan leaves, my heart sings. The emerald grass reminds me of my childhood on a small farm, when we would anxiously wait for the spring grass to emerge for our hungry cows. Grass to me isn’t a luxury lawn, a square of decoration in front of my house, but the source of my family’s livelihood, years ago.

In Snowdonia, winter’s freezing touch renders everything brown or grey in varying shades. And so, even now, over twenty years later, I get excited at the coming of spring, when all things green emerge after the long winter sleep.

But why in particular does the colour green feel so therapeutic?

In colour psychology, green is associated with feelings of harmony, balance and growth. A study at the University of Essex found that people exercising outside experienced more benefits than those attending a gym indoors. According to the researchers, being exposed to shorter-wavelength colours, such as blue and green, evoked feelings of calmness, whereas red and yellow were more stimulating. This could be because lush greenery signalled abundant food and nearby water to early human ancestors, resulting in positive feelings toward the colour green becoming hardwired into the human brain over the course of evolution.

In Dru Yoga, green is associated with the colour of the heart centre (anahata chakra), which is at the very centre of our bodies. When the heart centre is balanced, we can give and receive love and form healthy relationships. On the meditation training course, we do meditations on the anahata and associated hrit chakras, which help us awaken to a deeper sense of warmth and peace. The anahata chakra is the place from which we can hear the ‘unstruck sound’ or music of the soul, which we explore on advanced meditation courses.

Try this Dru meditation technique to awaken the heart centre, awakening your potential for unconditional love:

Relax for a few moments and focus on your breathing, watching the natural rhythm of each inhalation and exhalation. Focus on your heart centre and visualize an emerald green light in the centre of your chest, bringing balance and healing to your body and mind.

Imagine a situation in your life that needs healing. Create an image of that situation in front of you, as if it were on a video screen. As you breathe in, draw some of the stress of the situation into your heart and immediately send it upwards and out of the top of your head as you breathe out. Feel that above your head is a region of golden light in which you have full access to your healing potential. Imagine the stress entering this region and visualise the situation being completely healed.

On an in-breath, draw this newly transformed situation into your heart and breathe it out into the scene in front of you, bringing peace and a good solution to that situation. See smiles of relief on the faces of everyone concerned.

Repeat steps 2-5 until you feel relaxed, calm and full of joy. Gently allow yourself to awaken, moving your fingers and toes then having a good stretch before you get up.

If you’d to experience Dru meditation in Snowdonia this summer, combining therapeutic meditation with walks in the beautiful green mountain scenery, then join us from 16-18th August for a Dru meditation retreat. More details on the Dru website here.

 

jane claphamby Jane Clapham

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Jane Clapham is a Dru Yoga and Dru Meditation teacher trainer, who started doing Dru Yoga at the tender age of 15 and hasn’t stopped since!  She now teaches Dru yoga, meditation and sound courses in the UK, Europe, India and Australia. She runs Meditation teacher training courses in Snowdonia, Wales as well as meditation retreats worldwide.

May 2013 – the bow

bow-for-blog

Dhanurasana or the Bow is an amazing backward bend, which also opens the chest and stretches pecs and quads. This posture gives a complete activation of the whole spine, helping maintain both its suppleness and strength and also of the hips.

In the final rocking stage the bow gives a gentle massage to the abdominal organs, obviously aiding digestion.

In this posture the Manipura chakra (the solar centre) and Vishuddhi chakra (the throat centre) are activated. As a consequence we find that on a mental / emotional level this posture helps us to become more able to express yourself.

The bow is a very powerful posture for helping us to train the mind. In the practice of archery it is said that the concentrated focus on a target helps the subject and the object to become one.

Contraindications:
If you are suffering from heart problems, high blood pressure or have had recent abdominal surgery please avoid this posture. Women who are pregnant or are menstruating should also avoid this posture.

Body preparations:
It is really important to prepare the body for the stretches this posture brings. Use the Quadriceps stretch (stand on one leg and hold the other foot close to the buttocks – keeping the knees close together and the sternum lifted), the Iliopsoas stretch and the pectoralis Stretch (take a yoga strap – or your hubby’s tie – and hold onto it with your arms about 1m apart – then lift up and over your head, so your arms are stretched out behind you).

How to do this posture:
You can perform this posture on a blanket if you need to cushion the hip bones. You may also find that you need to use straps to perform the individual stages of this posture. If your hands don’t reach your feet easily then please take care not to over-stretch – use a strap or a sash hooked around the ankle. It is important to gain the benefits of the posture without any pain.

Stage 1 (preparing the knees and thighs)
Lie in the prone position with both hands extended in front and the forehead placed on the floor. Bend the right knee and bring your right hand back and take hold of the foot. Draw the foot towards the right buttock so you can feel the stretch along the front of the right thigh.

Then bring the left hand also to the right foot. Breathe in and as you exhale raise the right thigh by pushing the front of the right foot into your palms and moving your heel away from your buttock, whilst at the same time lifting your head and chest off the ground. Hold for a few seconds, breathing normally. On an exhalation lower your head and chest to the ground and release hold of your right foot. Make sure you release hands and feet gently back to the floor.

Rest in Makarasana for a few moments before repeating with the left leg.

Stage 2 (full posture)
Remain in the prone position, bend both knees and take hold of the right foot with the right hand and the left foot with the left hand. Breathe in and as you exhale raise both the top of the body and the legs off the ground. As the body balances on the abdomen it rocks gently with each breath (the breath will be faster than normal in this position).

Your arms are like the bow-string which tenses to bring the body back into the shape of the bow.

Top Tip: 
It is important to follow this posture with some forward bending postures. Either the knee-to-head posture (Janu Sirsasana) or the sitting forward bend (Paschimottanasana) would be ideal.