Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Changing how we think when we can't change the situation.

There was once a farmer who lived in a house with two rooms.  The cattle and bulls were in one room and his family in the other.  Life was hard, cramped and miserable so he reached a point where he was truly fed up and went to seek help from a Guru to see what to do.  The Guru advised him to put all the cattle in the same room as the family and lock the door to the other room they had originally been kept in and come back in a week.  After a week he went back, he told the Guru that life was so much worse than before and the family were more miserable what should he do?  The Guru told him to go back and put the cattle back in the original room and come back in a week.  When that week passed he returned to see the Guru, he was most happy and explained that life had become much better not only for the family but also for the cows!

When things are appearing that they are not going the way we want - when we have a disturbance in our mind due to a situation sometimes all we need to do is alter the way we think or feel about it to be able to live in contentment with what is going on.  We have to realise that the universe has its ways and rhythms and we have to be able to recognise and go with them, paddling against them only rocks the boat.  A wise person will recognise every situation as an opportunity - what that opportunity is could be very different from situation to situation and could be just the chance to be able to live with something and gaining the strength and courage to be at one with it.  That in itself can be a very powerful thing and puts you in control.  Recognise your feelings and become friendly with them just by observation.  If you want to be happy which all of us do, you have to find that state of original nature - mediation can reduce and combat suffering.  Holidays can bring freedom from the normal stress of life, meditation can bring a holiday for the mind and ultimately liberation.  Meditation is a technique to detach or disengage from a situation that maybe causing a disturbance to you, give you space to watch or look into your thoughts and then the power to overcome them or accept.  Meditation is the royal road to freedom.  

You can begin today with this simple meditation to help bring you back to your true self - 
Sit in a quiet place free from distractions - no phones, no other disturbances, if sitting is uncomfortable then you can also lie in savasana.
Hold the back straight and the spine tall.
Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and a long exhalation - repeat two more times.
Then allow the breath to regulate and become smooth and natural, notice the length of the breath and the movement in the tummy, chest, throat and nostrils.
Allow yourself to naturally become a little quieter and calmer.
Once you feel settled then start to mentally repeat SO with the inhalation and HUM with the exhalation.  Continue for the time you have - even a few minutes a day will make a huge difference.  
SO with the inhalation HUM with the exhalation.
Before you leave that space to continue your day, just sit for a few moments without concentration and just observe your wonderful self, rub your palms together creating prana and then cup your hands over your closed eyes and allow the eyes to drink the energy you created.
When you are ready slowly release the hands and continue with your day.

SO HUM meaning - I am that.  (I am that of existence, awareness and consciousness.)

Enjoy a beautiful practice, begin today without excuse, create a good habit and begin to address how we think without expecting change from a situation, if we change how we think then we are in control.  
AUM shanti shanti shanti
Mangala / Nicky

Monday, October 21, 2019

Finding Space

Creating space through your asana practice creates space within the body and allows internal cellular activity to flow.  Equally when we create space with the body it will bring more space or shall we say clarity to the mind.  And once there is space there is prana - the vital life force, once there is prana there is wellness.  Also once there is space there is room for the connections to become strong and information or chita also to flow for example the chemical information, neuro transmitters, magnetic energy and hormones etc to make YOGA happen in the body or union of that prana and chita.  Finding that space through asana practice allows healing to happen, not just for the physical body but for the whole uphadi - the body mind system.  Once healing has occurred we can start to go beyond, as essentially yoga is about the realization of the self, find space, heal and then continue to know the truth of who you are.  
The diagram above is beautifully demonstrating the Halasan or plough pose, it is an inverted forward bending position which as you can see stretches and creates space through the whole back and spine.  Increased flexibility is attained not only through the spine and back but also through the hamstrings, calf muscles and achilles and even the sole of the foot.  The spine and all the spinal nerves are nourished with richly oxygenated blood and there is a lot of tension released from the mid back or cervical region and the shoulder region.  As we find space through the back of the body there is a compression to the front - which gives a deep massage to the internal organs especially the digestive system allowing great regulation and therefore detoxing the system and releasing tensions held in the stomach - maybe accumulated through stress.  As the space increases the prana starts to flow without interruption and we can observe what happens to our thoughts.  I find halasan a deeply calming asana, I love the connection between my shoulders and the mat and then again the sense of flow through the back until there is connection again at the balls of my feet and my toes.  When I have become anxious it is this asana that really seems to soothe and bring clarity back as the breath deepens that sense of nurturing really increases, it is almost that I feel that those internal clouds that start to gather really do start to disperse and allow the flow that brings freshness and clarity back. It allows me to really take my attention internally and let go of the external experience.  Or if I find that sleeping has become difficult again this pose after holding some time and breathing deeply through the body allows me to climb back into a restful sleep without any internal disruptions.  All postures have their purpose and open up certain elements within us, and we find out over time when we have experience of our practice what we will need to nurture us at that moment, to form an intimate relationship with it to create space and become grounded, calm and with inner peace of mind, energy and body.  
Always practice under the guidance of a suitable teacher, with the suitable warm ups and sequence before attempting any challenging practice.  
Know what nurtures you, know what nourishes you, recognize what you need, your strengths, your weaknesses and how your strengths can help you overcome the weakness.  What are your aims and find in your practice that clarity that will take you there.
Enjoy, have beautiful practice and take care of yourselves always
AUM shanti shanti shanti
Mangala / Nicky

Monday, October 7, 2019

'A ounce of practice is worth a ton of theory'

Recently after teaching an asana class one student asked me 'Nicky, I have read many books but one day maybe you will share with us your secret as to you being like this?'  I replied eagerly back to her that there is absolutely no secret - it is just practice and dedication to your practice and in practice I don't just mean your asana's but also your meditations, pranayamas, diet, chanting, selfless service, self observation and complete lifestyle, being mindful and very aware of our thoughts and emotions, surrounding ourselves in positive natural environments and being able to step away from the material world even when we are caught in it.  Books are wonderful things and are to be treasured but there is nothing in comparison to actual practice, as Sri Swami Sivananda tells us 'an ounce of practice is worth a ton of theory.'  We can sit and discuss theory and philosophies until it gives us brain ache or for me at least, however by actual experience of practice you can truly begin to feel positive change.  I am by no means always floating on clouds through rainbows, I have life to deal with just the same as everybody else, challenges, blockages, expectations put upon me, moods and emotional outbreaks - I am still contained within this human body and mind, and it is an amazing wonderful gift to have and what an opportunity to learn about humankind that to be able to truly observe yourself; what is the root of that particular worry, that little bout of anger, that moment of jealousy and this moment of joy, and how do I take myself out of those moments that would have negative effect on myself and others, and how to learn to love the moments of joy without attaching to them.  It is dedicated practice that allows us to be open, to love all living things and entities no matter what, it is dedicated practice that brings compassion and acceptance.  It is dedicated practice that prevents the self sabotage, the doubt the mistrust.  It is dedicated practice that prevents us from becoming caught in a sense of being stuck, it is dedicated practice that brings freedom.  In my little humble opinion there is nothing else that can take you there. 
So my response to the question is there is absolutely no secret - just whatever is manageable for you at present in terms of practice then be brave, no more excuses and dedicate yourself to it.
Make that step - you will embark on a gritty, amazing, demanding, transformative journey, Atha yoganusasanam - now you are ready for yoga, now you are ready for change.
Read your wonderful books, but the essence is practice - it is that which is going to make you free, able to approach every part of your being no matter how scary that may be,  but it is magical. 
Love your life, love your time and love you
Dedicate yourself - put yourself on that journey, no body can do that for you but you, be brave, be honest and just do it really.
Always from the heart - I wish you a beautiful journey
AUM shanti shanti shanti
In honor of Shakti the divine feminine energy on the last of the 9 days of celebrating Devi
love to you all
Mangala / Nicky

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The magnitude of the Gayatri Mantra

The chanting of Mantra has a powerful and profound effect on the whole system, physically, energetically and mentally.  It starts to uplift our vibratory level and cleanse through our energy centers that will certainly be holding blockages from our life experiences.  Mantra - meaning Man or coming from manas - the mind and tra to free, the chanting of mantra is literally a way to free ourselves from the bondages of our mental waves, and physical limitations.  
The Gayatri Mantra is a universal mantra, a purposeful and powerful connection between divine intuition and awakening of our true intellect.  It first appeared in written form in the Rig Veda between 1100 - 1700 BCE.  It is stated that it is the poem of the divine and chanting this glorious enriching mantra firmly establishes the mind and brings joy and happiness.

Bhur Bhuvah Svah
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi
Dhiyo Yo nah Prachodayat

In meaning it is connecting to existence absolute, the creator of the three dimensions, that of past, present and future, or creation, destruction and preservation, or purity, movement and inertia.  We contemplate upon divine light that it stimulates our intellect and bestows on us true knowledge.  Or in other terms - O Divine Mother, we have darkness in our hearts, please make the darkness distant from us and bring illumination, wisdom and knowledge within us.
Aum, the vital vibration that feels the whole universe.  It is sum and substance of all the words that ever emanate from the human throat or all sounds of sounds.  It is sound symbol of the universal absolute.
Bhur Bhuvah Svah, literally means past, present and future - giving knowledge of the whole cosmos and illuminates the 3 regions of existence.  
Tat, that ultimate reality
Savitur, Divine sun - ultimate wisdom
Varenyam, to adore
Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi, we ask for divine grace and contemplate the intellect 
Dhiyo yo nah Prachodayat, we are praying or urging that knowledge and intellect to be illuminated.
In greatness it is a prayer for final liberation through the awakening of our intelligence, it increases our learning power, concentration and brings inner prosperity, eternal power, peace guiding us toward divine intuition. 
As we chant we express our gratitude to the life giving light and by chanting it is an offering to grace and to inspire ourselves, chant from the heart, chant from the soul and feel the effect through each part of your existence, as you can see from the image above the vibration of each part of the mantra is stimulating through the energy channels at particular parts of the body.  
Breath through every pore of you body the light of intelligence and wisdom.
Have beautiful days and beautiful practice
AUM shanti shanti shanti
Mangala / Nicky

Thursday, September 12, 2019

A New Dream

A New Dream by Don Miguel Ruiz

I want you fo forget everything you have learned in your whole life.  This is the beginning of a new understanding, a new dream.  The dream you are living is your creation.  It is your perception of reality that you can change at any time.  You have the power to create hell, and you have the power to create heaven.  Why not dream a different dream?  Why not use your mind, your imagination, and your emotions to dream heaven?
Just use your imagination and a tremendous thing will happen.  Imagine that you have the ability to see the world with different eyes, you see the world around you in a different way.  Close your eyes now and then open them and look outside.  What you will see is love coming out of the trees, love coming out of the sky, love coming out of the light.  This is the state of bliss.

Beautiful words shared,  why create a horror story or even a thriller, create a love story everyday.  If times are challenging or we are in times of rejection - it is painful but use it - be open to it, observe it and evolve, be yourself, be strong and find the depths within your heart, catch your lightness of being.  

Yoga Mangala is currently in Casablanca and is offering classes at my temporary home shala and also at Yogablanca - Val D'Anfa studio and Temps Danse - Bouskoura.  Kindly email me for details
Also I have my little Ugandan Tribe based in Kampala running sessions around the city and at Boutabika Hospital.  Enquiries

Find your lightness of being by giving yourself permission to be loved
shanti shanti shanti 
mangala / Nicky 

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Complete Relaxation is Vital.

Taking time in Savasana is essential for our wellbeing, to give complete relaxation for the body, the energy and the mental activity, to bring balance and harmony back.  We need complete and proper relaxation for the wellbeing of our whole system and this is the only way to take complete relaxation - lie down on your mat, a rug or even on your bed.  Take the legs mat distance apart and the arms around 45 degrees from the body, palms facing upward.  Allow the head to be inline with the spine, take a deep breath in and a long breath out, repeat a deep breath in and a long breath out and gently close the eyes.  Allow the breath to become natural and effortless.  Feel the back of your body and where the weight of your body is, where is your body at its most heavy?  Where is your body at its lightest.  Scan through your whole body from the toes upward to the top of your head and feel all the sensations within you, whatever they may be hold no judgement on them.  Then again feel your breath, the movement in your tummy and chest as you breathe through the nose.  Begin to completely relax, feeling a sense of letting your body deepen into the mat or become heavier or lighter, allowing your mind to stay connected to the relaxation, feel as if the clouds are dispersing leaving only blue skies.  Silently tell yourself - my toes are relaxed, my feet are relaxed, my legs, my knees, my hips are relaxed.  My back is relaxed, my spine is relaxed, my fingers, my hands, my arms are relaxed.  My shoulders are relaxed, my neck, my head, my face are relaxed.  My breath is relaxed, my mind is relaxed.  Shanti Shanti Shanti, peace peace peace.
Practice Savasana everyday to rejuvenate your system, bring a fresh outlook and greater clarity.
I am always honored to share the practice with people from all over the world, from all different cultures, all different upbringings, different circumstances, the young, the old, in schools, in hospitals, in studios, in fields, there is always a way and always time.
The journey may take different paths for different folk, they may use different names for different techniques or even the same techniques with different names!  But essentially where we are aiming to be is all in the same place, this place of oneness, where there is no bondage, the body, the energy, the mental waves are calm and in abiding peace.  There are no storms, no where else to be and nothing else to do, but to simply be resting in your true essence, your true nature, your true self.  This is the reason I practice Savasana every day and the reason that you should too.
Become the creator and create beautiful days
Shanti Shanti Shanti  - Peace Peace Peace
Please don't hesitate to contact me to find out about classes, locations, workshops etc, or how I can help.
From the heart
Mangala   /   Nicky
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Thursday, July 4, 2019

Calming and comforting with Pashchimotanasana

Originally in the scriptures it is written that there were 8,400,000 asanas (Yogic postures.) Imagine trying to go through and remember so many in our self practice! Each one of those asanas key to alignment with the internal space and the external space - & the universe that surrounds us -representing a journey from our simplest form that with desires and attachment to our most subtlest - that with full realization of the true self.  Over time the great Yogis and Rishis modifies and reduced the number to the few hundred that are widely known of today, and actually out of these few hundred only 84 are the most useful, and applied in the proper way with intention and awareness begin to open our energy and psychic centres.  They are a body map to a higher awareness and existence and provide a stable foundation for exploration of the body, breath, mind and beyond.
One of these 84 is known as Pashchimotanasana - or the seated forward bend.  I have always fully appreciated this posture but recently it is like my internal self and body are calling for it.  For me I think it is finding the stability that I need being close to the earth and drawing the external energy inward as you fold forwards and really giving a foundation to turn the attention to the inner landscape.  It gives me time to really feel a complete stretch taking me to the edge of that stretch and sometimes going beyond, to feel the breath and tune to quietening the mind.  I find it incredibly calming and soothing - and gives me space to approach any mental tensions with clarity and allow them to dissipate.  It was in this asana and continually repeating this asana to build the awareness of it, muscle and mental strength, that I realized that if a situation also keeps repeating itself somewhere in your life then the lessons that you need to learn from it have not yet been understood, and only when we learn can we break the pattern and move on.  Everything we learn on the mat we can apply to our everyday situations and find what we need be it courage or strength or adaptability to deal with what it is and move forward or away.  I have a deep love for this posture - maybe you will find it too -
- Sit up with the legs straight out in front of you, feet together and flexing the toes upward toward the sky.  Keep the spine straight, top of the head lifted.
- Inhale and reach upward with the arms as much as possible to really find space in the spine and back.
- Retain the stretch then exhale and fold forwards from the hips leading with the chest.
- Keep the legs straight, the knees pushing down toward the mat, keep the back as straight as possible as you fold forward, drawing the abdomen up and inward; this will enable you to fold a little deeper.
- Keep the feet flexed do not permit them to fall outwards, let your hands either rest on your knees, shins, ankles of hold the tops of your feet depending on your flexibility.  
- Breathe deeply through the nose.
- Beginners may hold the asana for 30 seconds or so and then inhale as you lift yourself up and out of the pose, you can repeat several times.  More advanced students hold for longer periods of time gradually increasing as you progress.
-Make sure that the spine is not rounded and you are leading down with your chest and not the forehead.  If you have any low back issues then the knees can be a little bent or place a cushion under them.
-Awareness should be with slow and deep breathing and let that guide you directing the energy inward.

This posture gives a powerful massage and stimulates all of the abdominal viscera, especially the liver and spleen.  It tones all the digestive organs and improves digestion.  It helps to regulate pancreatic functions which control carbohydrate metabolism and blood sugar levels, it is a very valuable asana for diabetic patients.  The entire nervous system is invigorated, joints are mobilised, the spine becomes elastic and body keept youthful.  Regular practice helps to bring relief for sciatica and any compression of the spine.  It stretches the hamstrings bring elasticity and increases flexibility in the hips.  From a pranic point of view over time it allows the vital life force to flow through the sushumna nadi running through the spine unblocking blockages and allowing us to let go of the things that no longer serve us any purpose.
So have a beautiful practice 
Love always from the heart and wishing peace throughout the universe
Mangala / Nicky