How I discovered Dru Yoga…

dru-class-teacher-croppedI first discovered yoga in the mid-nineties. I was teaching at secondary school level at the time, and I was looking for a way of managing a stressful job and keeping flexible. I noticed my local leisure centre offered a yoga class and I joined up.

At the time I wasn’t aware of different yoga styles, but from what I recall it was a hatha style class, with the emphasis on holding various hatha poses for a period of time.  I had never tried yoga before and loved it – it offered me time out after a busy day’s teaching for myself to just be and quieten my busy mind.

Soon after starting yoga I began to re-evaluate my life and as a result left teaching. I loved the job in many ways, but the practice of yoga really brought home to me the effects that my teaching job was having on my health.  I entered into a series of jobs in heritage, moving around the country. I endeavored to keep my yoga up – using videos when I couldn’t find a class.  And attending classes where ever possible – over the years I have attended hatha, Iyengar, Yin and Kundalini classes.

I first came across Dru yoga in 2009 whilst surfing online. I remember being intrigued by its gentle graceful nature, flowing sequences and the ‘energy block releases’ unique to this style of yoga. I looked for a local teacher but unfortunately wasn’t able to find a regular local class in my area. I contacted the Dru Midlands office based in Wolverhampton and they encouraged me to try some workshops and even try the Teacher Training Taster day they had planned.  Having attended the taster and a workshop – as well as buying the DVD – I became hooked.

I completed the Dru Teacher Training course in 2012 and I loved every minute of it. Not only did the course satisfy my appetite to discover more about Dru, I learned effective techniques to apply in my everyday life. When it’s all feeling a bit hectic my favorite is to take some time out and stand in mountain pose, breathe and ground myself. Simple, yet very effective!   And the energy block releases have taught me the importance of releasing unresolved emotional energy.

Dru yoga has been a valuable addition to my life on many levels. It helps me manage the demands of daily life, keeps my energy levels up and also allows me the time and space to focus. I am now teaching Dru Yoga and I am constantly delighted to see how Dru yoga positively helps and empowers my students.

Susan Hardwick
Dru Yoga Teacher, Nottingham

Disocver more about Dru:
> www.druworldwide.com
(yoga holidays, yoga teacher training & local yoga workshops and classes)
> Online Yoga studio
> Online Meditation course
> Online Gita Course

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January – Seat of Compassion

seat-of-compassion-for-blogThe Seat of Compassion is a very important posture within Dru Yoga as it holds the key to one of our most important principles: the opening of the heart centre or Anahata chakra.

Dru Yoga is often recognised as one of the most powerful forms of yoga to open up the heart centre in a gentle and flowing way. When you consciously open the heart many beautiful qualities become available to you including compassion, generosity, kindness, loyalty and gratitude.

In this posture, the Seat of Compassion, you are opening the lower energy centres, gently stimualting your fire and motivation and then, through the movement of the arms, you  draw that energy flow upward to the heart centre and out through the hands. This allows your creative dynamism to be expressed out into the world through the heart qualities of generosity and kindness, rather than through emotions such as anger, irritability or low self esteem. Use this posture when you need to get into your heart space.

Physically this posture also stretches the front of the hip – the illopsoas muscles, as well as being a great stretch for the quadricep muscles on the front of the thigh (it’s great for runners and cyclists!)

How to do this posture:
1. From kneeling, engage your core muscles in the lower abdomen and then take your right foot forward, ensuring that the knee is directly above the right ankle in the full extension. If you have knee problems or are pregnant, please keep a shorter distance between the front foot and back knee, and you may wish to place a blanket or cushion under the knee that is on the floor.

2. Raise both arms up in front of you to shoulder height. Keeping your right arm extended away from you, breathe in and lift your left arm up to vertical above you – gazing at your hand. With the out breath, allow the left arm to continue to arch over head and extend out behind you. Continue to follow the hand with your eyes so that you are now looking behind you.

3. With the next in breath soften both your arms, and with the out breath push the palms of the hands away from you, stretching the palms slightly. You may find that you are able to sink deeper into the hip opening stretch with each out breath. Repeat at least 3 times with slow, deep breaths. Focus on opening the heart centre, and the connection between your hands and the heart.

4. With the next in breath raise the left arm up to vertical – following your hand with your eyes and with the out breath return the hand to shoulder height in front of you. Slowly lower your arms to the floor. When you are ready swop sides and repeat with the left foot forward.

Please do not over stretch in this extended runner position. To begin with, keep the back knee directly under the hip, creating a 90 degree angle between the hip joint and knee. Gradually increase the angle by taking the back knee further away from you as your muscles lengthen and you feel more comfortable in this position.

 

December – the dog

dog-for-blogAdho Mukha Svanasana – downward facing dog

This is a great posture for helping you to settle into the moment – and let go of any Christmas tension!

As an inversion it’s important not to do this posture if you have high or low blood pressure, glaucoma have had recent abdominal surgery. It’s also advised against doing this posture on the first 3 days of your menstrual cycle.

Physically this posture stretches out the hamstrings and gastocnemius (calf muscles) and latissimus dorsi in the back. Its enhances circulation to the head and brain helping us feel refreshed and invigorated. This posture helps us let go of the past and brings us totally into the present. On an energetic level you may be aware of energy flowing from the base, mooladhara chakra, though all the chakras up to the crown.

How to do this posture
Come onto your hands and knees with the knees directly below your hips and your hands below your shoulders. Tuck the toes under, engage your core muscles and with the exhalation lift your knees away from the floor. At first keep the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted. Lengthen your spine and lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling whilst gently easing the heels towards the floor, straitening the knees.

Keeping the head relaxed in line with your arms once again soften your knees and lift the heels. Take the weight slightly forward onto the hands. Then lift the tail bone and gently take the heels back towards the floor.

Enjoy this flow for a few moves before bringing the knees back down to the floor. Rest the head to the floor and drop the arms down by your sides for a few breaths. Make sure you pause for a few breaths before you stand up in order to balance your blood pressure.

www.druworldwide.com (yoga holidays in North Wales)
Online yoga studio
Online Meditation course
Online Gita Course

November – Maltese Cross

Are you ready for this one… Sharva Udara-karshan-asana… phew! A long sanskrit name for a fantastic posture!

This posture is an extension of the simple lying twist. It opens and stretches out the chest and pectoral muscles, gives a great rotation to the spine, strengthens the core and loosens up the lower back. It also stretches out the gluteal muscles  which helps ease hip and back pain, aids digestion and helps trim the waist line!

Please take care if you have acute back pain, sciatica or a slipped disc – and please don’t do this one if you are pregnant or have had recent abdominal surgery.

This posture is great to do all year round to keep your back healthy. Its also especially useful when you need to connect with the earth element and ground your energy system. After travel or a long day at work this posture can really help you to let go of the day and help you settle again. Its also very relaxing once you are in the posture, so you can use it if you are feeling a bit tired or lethargic and want to do ‘just a little something’ to get your yoga practice started – or indeed just before your deep relaxation as a way to unwind and prepare for stillness.

How to do this posture
1. Lie comfortably on your back with the knees bent up, feet flat on the floor. Bring the right knee up to the chest and extend the left leg down onto the floor. Place your right foot on the floor on the inside of the left knee and stretch the arms out to the sides at shoulder height, palms facing upward. Take a deep breath in.

2. As you breathe out, keep your right shoulder anchored to the floor and take the right knee across your body and lower it towards the floor on the left side. Turn your head to the right. Relax and breathe normally.

3. When you feel ready extend your right leg until it is parallel with you left arm. Then relax here as long as is comfortable. Allow gravity to help you enjoy the stretch through the hamstrings, hip and lower back.

4. To come out of this posture bend the right knee and roll the right hip back onto the floor, placing the foot on the inside of your left knee again. Extend the foot out along the floor and rest for a couple of breaths before repeating on the other side.

June – the chair of the heart

Utkatasana is a great yoga posture that alleviates stiffness in the shoulders and encourages good alignment in the legs.

The ankles are strengthened and the achilles tendons are stretched. The heart receives a gentle massage. The abdominal organs and back are toned and the chest is opened. It is also a posture that can create balance and brings joy. On an energy level this posture acts directly on the heart chakra at the level of the manomaya kosha, inducing feelings of devotion, compassion and love. So what are we waiting for?

CONTRA-INDICATIONS Those with ankle, knee, hip or shoulder joint problems should keep the movements core stability muscles contracted. Anyone with neck problems, high blood pressure or heart disease should limit the amount of time the arms are held in the overhead position.

How to do Utkatasana, the chair of the heart
Before you do the posture do a few warming up movements by shaking out the joints, twisting the spine and generally activating the body and energy flow. It’s also beneficial to stretch out the solaus muscle at the base of the calves by placing one foot slightly in front of the other, both feet pointing forward. Then bend both knees, taking the centre of gravity down to the point between the feet. Repeat the stretch on both sides.

Part 1
Stand in tadasana. Breathe out, then engage your core muscles. Breathe in and raise your arms from your sides until your right palm meets your left overhead in the praying hands mudra. Breathe out and bend your elbows, allowing your hands to come towards the crown of your head.

Part 2
On the inhalation, bend your knees while straightening your arms, creating space in your heart region. Keep the heels down and sink down as far as you can, stretching your calf muscles. Keep the core muscles strong so your pelvis stays in the neutral position.

Part 3
Breathe out, straightening your legs again and at the same time bending your elbows, lowering the praying hands towards the crown of your head. Repeat these movements a few more times. Finish by lowering your hands down the midline of your body towards your sternum. Hold in namaste for a few breaths while observing the effect of the posture. Relax your hands by your sides.

For more information about Dru Yoga classes, workshops, holidays and teacher training, visit us at www.druworldwide.com

Dru Yoga Flow

Often in my workshops and on our training courses I get asked “what is your specialty”… An interesting question for anyone. Some things I love but am not necessarily and expert in and others I resist with all my being but its something I do really well!

With regards to yoga I often conclude that my specialty is what I love to do rather than how good I am at it! For me that area is what we call Dru Yoga Flow.

When we combine Dru Yoga postures into a slow, flowing sequence, Dru Flow is born. This style of Dru is often what you experience at our local classes and workshops. Individual postures or asanas are very powerful in their own right, and, when combined with other postures of a similar type or feel those benefits can be directed, guided, amplified and can create amazing changes in our energy, emotional and physiological system. Its like an alchemy of energetic awareness!

Many of the sequences that you see in Dru are combinations of the ancient postures combined together for a specific outcome. For example the Vitality Sequence is a different, but similar in feel to the Dru Power sequence. However, these are very different from the Moon sequence and Earth sequence which have a very different look and feel.

When working with Dru Flow, you will initially have to trust the teacher, book or DVD to know what each sequence is doing to the different layers of your body, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. As you begin to explore this aspect of yoga in depth you will then begin to feel what happens within the body and energy – this is when your yoga practice really starts to work for you. Guided by your own body’s intuition your will be drawn to one sequence or another, or even a combination of sequences and postures that make up your yoga practice. This will then begin to vary from day to day, dependent upon what you need at any one time.

To build up your repertoire of yoga postures and sequences you can try a few things like attending a local Dru Yoga class, a Dru Yoga workshop in your area or our Dru Yoga Foundation Course or join our Dru Yoga Online Studio. Another great way to learn Dru Postures is through our books and DVDs. I recommend the Dru Yoga Stillness in Motion book, as this had diagrams about the energy flow within the sequences.

Enjoy working with and exploring this fabulous form of Dru Yoga!
Anouschka Dack

Dru Yoga teacher trainer
and Holistic therapist, Manchester UK