July 2013 – the child

child-for-blog

Pindasana, or the Child Pose, is a calm, quiet posture which helps to free tension in the area between the shoulder blades and along the whole length of the spine.

On a mental / emotional level you may experience a feeling of security and inner peace, as well as feelings of humility and child-like innocence.

Energetically, this posture allows for a resting phase on the earth, creating a wonderful circle of energy flowing over the top of the head and neck, shoulders, arms and hands to the feet, legs and over the back.

Who shouldn’t do this posture?
Although there are no recognised contra-indications to this posture, heavily pregnant women should take care, work with their own bodies and adopt one of the modifications below.

How to do this posture:
Get yourself a couple of blankets ready and some blocks (or books) to support the head.

From Vajrasana (kneeling, with the weight back towards the heels), bend forward and bring the forehead to the floor close to your knees. If the forehead does not reach the floor or you place the top of the head on the floor, then use a block. This is not a type of headstand – it is a relaxing posture! You can place a block under the forehead or alternatively bring your hands into fists and rest the forehead on your stacked fists.

In this posture, the buttocks should ideally rest on the heels, if they don’t, fold up the blankets and place them on the heels and the backs of the calves. Play around with the folds of the blankets to get them just right to correspond with the forehead on the floor.  If it’s more comfortable you can also take the knees apart slightly to allow your abdomen to rest between the thighs – this is especially useful in pregnancy.

Once you have sorted out the blankets and blocks allow the arms to relax by the sides of the body. Breathing in focus at the base of the spine and then feel the breath moving along the spine towards the neck. As you breathe out relax the whole area of the shoulders, neck, arms and hands. Rest in this posture for several minutes, and slowly raise up when you are ready.

Top Tip: 
It is worth taking the time to get yourself sorted for this posture, playing around with the height of any blocks you need, checking whether the hips touch the buttocks, in this way you can experience the amazing relaxation this posture brings.

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Yoga and Walking

mouli-for-blogIt’s not just because the dog needs a tree that we should head out into the big green yonder… it’s because it’s actually vital for our full health and wellbeing. Here at Dru, we try to get out and about for a walk every day – read on to find out why!

1. Lift your mood
Simply by heading out for a 20 minute brisk walk your body starts to release endorphins – or the ‘feel good’ hormones. This in turn helps us to feel positive about our lives and enthusiastic about our day ahead.


2. Get fit
Brisk walking is also beneficial aerobic exercise for helping to promote weight loss. By getting out and about you are naturally using more energy and therefore helping those extra calories from that sneaky packet of crisps to be used up with exercise – rather than sitting on the hips!

3. Get a change of perspective
When we are out of our ‘normal’ environment it becomes much easier to see things from a different perspective. Those things which seemed too big or overwhelming can now become more clear and can feel more manageable.

 4. Dedicate those positive vibes
When we walk with an awareness of gratitude it can become a powerful act of dedication. When we think about how amazing it is to be able to walk, run, play and get easily from A to B, we can then choose to dedicate that great feeling to others who may be less fortunate than ourselves. We can hope that someone close to us may also feel the beauty of movement today, or that those who are not able to walk will feel some improvement in their health.

Why not give it a try next time you’re ‘pounding the pavement’!

5. Keeping it up…
It’s not necessarily easy to keep up your daily walk… When it gets really busy at work, or you get home late and you are tired, a walk round the block can feel like the last thing in the world you want to do! At these times the best thing is to put on your shoes (without thinking too much!) and just walk out the door!!! You’ll find that once you start – it’s much easier to keep going.

Here are some great ideas about how to integrate your walk into your daily life to get you started!

  1. Park about a mile away from work – then you have to walk there and back again!
  2. Don’t get enough milk… (This is a crafty one to get the other half out the door!)
  3. Have a ‘walk buddy’ – when you are with another person you can help each other to keep up the good habit.
  4. Use the stairs instead of the lift.
  5. Walk the kids to school.
  6. Make it a family habit to go for a stroll after dinner every evening.

 6. Yogic walking?
The literal translation of yoga is: ‘to unite’ and when we walk with awareness we have a wonderful opportunity to be able to connect to nature and our surroundings.

As we allow ourselves to fully enter into the joy of walking we start to experience other potent benefits. For example, it can help us to tap into a more subtle part of ourselves, allowing us to feel more emotionally balanced, physically energised and to enjoy a deep sense of connection to inner self and the world around us. Discover more about yoga and walking at one of our yoga weekend retreats in Snowdonia.

If you are familiar with some of the yoga asanas and sequences, you will also find that to practice them out of doors will bring a added dimension for you to enjoy. Learn some asana in this blog under our ‘posture of the month’ category or visit us at the Dru Yoga Online Studio here.

Anoushka (27) small

Discover the amazing benefits of walking today!

Anouschka Dack


> Yoga and walking holidays

> Dru Yoga Online Studio
> Dru Yoga teacher Training
> Yoga in your area

March 2013 – Sitting forward bend

paschimottanasana-for-blogPaschimottanasana
Sitting Forward Bend

Physically this posture is great for releasing back tension as it stretches the hamstrings and lower back muscles. It also stimulates the digestive and reproductive systems by massaging the abdominal area, thereby helping peristalsis. It also activates the kidneys, liver, pancreas and adrenal glands and it can help improve diabetes.

Emotionally it helps us by calming the nerves, releasing fear and amplifies courage. It also helps bring control over our desire-dominated senses. It’s also a very powerful asana for spiritual awakening…

Contraindications:
If you are suffering from Sciatica or a slipped disc it is advisable not to do this posture. During pregnancy or if you are suffering from any spinal, hip or knee problems please work gently. If you know you have short hamstrings please make sure you keep the spine extended and don’t reach further than is comfortable.

It is really important that when doing this posture that you hinge forward at the hips, stretching up and forward from the lower back area, not just bending forward at the waist. To help with this it may help to sit on a cushion to help tilt the pelvis forward slightly. Preparations to help with this posture are some hamstring stretches.

How to do this posture
1. Sit upright (on a cushion if necessary) with both legs stretched out in front. Place hands on the ground by your hips. Extend spine upwards towards ceiling. With each inhalation feel spine extend, exhale spine relax.

2. With your palms facing inwards, breathe in and raise your hands slowly to the heart level, lifting your sternum as you lift the hands to heart level. As the hands come to the heart visualise a soft light at the heart centre.

3. Rotate the palms to face forward, away from the body and as you exhale gently stretch forward from the base of the spine, extending the arms along your legs as far as is comfortable. You may need to bend your knees here. As the hands are in the furthermost position visualise a soft light flowing from the heart to the crown of the head and down the arms.

4. Breathing in again, turn the palms to face the sides of legs and begin to uncurl the spine from the base, drawing the hands along the sides of the legs and up to the heart level, raising the sternum once again but keeping the shoulders relaxed. As you uncurl the spine visualise the soft light flowing up the legs back to the heart.

5. Continue with the flowing movements, working with the breath for a few times, creating a soft slowing rhythm of movement and visualisation of light moving through the body, trying to extend the forward bend a little each time but working within the limits of your own body at all times.

6. For the final forward bend, once you have placed the hands at the furthermost point, extend the arms so that the palms are flat on the floor and your forehead lowers gently towards the legs. Relax in this position breathing gently. Then in your own time, uncurl gently to an upright sitting position, resting your hands on your legs for a few moments, enjoying the energy and stillness of the posture.

Top Tip:
The key intention of this posture is to replenish your energy by letting go of painful emotions. Literally translated this is ‘the west-facing posture’ and like the setting sun, it soothes and calms your mind and emotions. As you back stretches forward old habits patterns are released, losing their hold on you so that your natural intuitive senses can unfold. Experience the wonderful energy this posture brings.

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

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

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/

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