Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Free yourself from Allergies with Yoga

It seems as if I am meeting more and more people these days suffering from allergies at various times and I myself have been suffering from an allergic reaction recently so thought I would write a post with some helpful practices that can aid decreasing or preventing the reaction. 
Firstly though where are all these allergies coming from?  Allergy is a reaction, generally to something harmless, but for some of us we react to these things, some reactions are instant and some are a delayed response after hours or even a few days.  Pollen, fur, dust, pet dandruff, chemical fumes, fungus, insects, egg, nuts, lentils, cotton fiber, and an improper diet are all common allergens, but what triggers the reaction?  Actually the main cause is hypersensitivity due to stress, too much stress on the body i.e. violent exercising can be a trigger, emotional stress, overload to the brain and fatigue and a weak immune system can be causes.  Often people suffering with allergies are a little sensitive and sensitivity can cause a lot of stress.  Stress causes a disturbance to the prana (vital energy) and prana tells the nervous system how to behave.  If the prana is being overworked the systems in the body are being overworked, then the body starts to recognize some things to be dangerous and wants to get them out hence the reaction.  So what are the remedies?  Firstly we need to keep away from the allergen, antihistamines, steroids are just suppressing and not providing a cure and can lead to other complications, so the best way is to de-stress and de-tox.  Many skin rashes and eruptions are attempts by the body to eliminate toxic wastes whether physical or emotional that cannot be eliminated in other ways.  An itch is often a way of expressing a mental tension that arises from a personal conflict.
So here are a few practices that are going to help and bring about a sense of control over ones anxiety and stress levels making a happier, calmer and healthier being again. 
Start by trying to practice Mauna - silence for some time (whatever you can manage, even if it is 5 minutes.) in your day.  This will give you some space to work through the things that may be bothering you giving you some perspective.   In this time of silence allow the thoughts to come and try just to observe them holding no judgment on them, just let them come and go and the next thought come, like waves. 
The practice of Suryia Namaskar (sun salutations) as a kryia (cleansing technique) will help eliminate the toxins, that is to practice it until the body is sweating quite well, then relax in savasana the relaxation pose and allow the sweat to be absorbed as it is full of prana (energy.)
Sarvangasana; the shoulder stand is an excellent posture for calming the mind, purifying the blood and stimulating the thyroid and parathyroid glands enhancing the whole metabolic system.  Gradually build up the amount of time you are holding the pose for and try to practice for at least up to 5 minutes without forcing.  Directly after sarvangasana practice matsyasana – the fish pose as a counter pose to shoulder stand. 
Naadi Shuddhi or anoloma viloma – the alternate nostril breathing will strengthen the immune system and bring harmony re-balancing the pranic flow of the system.  Using the right thumb to close the right nostril, inhale through the left, then close the left nostril with the ring finger and exhale through the right.  Inhale through the right and exhale through the left, that is one round.  Continue for about 15 minutes.
And try to incorporate the practice of Yoga Nidra – the art of complete and proper relaxation into your day, I find just before I go to bed works wonders to really relax each part of the body and set you up for a great nights sleep.

So your routine could be this –
5 minutes of sitting in silence in a comfortable position as long as the spine is held straight.
The Sun salutations at least 6 rounds
Relax in savasana
Sarvangasana – shoulder stand working on the length of time you are holding
Matsyasana – fish Pose 30 seconds or longer
Alternate nostril breathing up to 15 minutes
Yoga Nidra at least 10 minutes.

Try to incorporate this into your daily routine, now I hear cries of how can I fit it in, I am so busy!  The Dalai Lama says if you have time to breathe then you have the time!!
Start with shorter amounts of time if that is going to help, but after some time you will feel the benefits and will naturally want to increase the length of your practice.

Eat well and naturally and reduce the amount of salt as this will reduce itching and irritation.  Lots of fruit and beautiful veggies and less of everything else!!

For now lets enjoy the practice and get rid of this stress
Om OM shanti Om
I wish you beauty through every breath
Mangala / Nicky.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Slow aging, reduce weight, feel younger and boost your Vits with these two quick and easy salads.

Eating a little raw food each day is a really important part of our diet and helps to maintain the alkaline levels within the body.  There is so much you can do with a salad, so variety is never a problem, they provide fiber rich foods which make us feel fuller so we eat less and provide many powerful antioxidants keeping our cells in better shape.  See the benefits of these two and get stuck into a salad!

Carrot and Black Current Salad
½ cup of black currents
5 carrots
1 tsp. organic honey
1 tsp. fresh limejuice
Pinch of sea salt.

Soak the black currents in boiling water for 5-10 mins, whilst peeling the carrots and grate.  Put in a salad bowl and add the honey, limejuice and salt. Add the currents and toss well.

Black Currents – Have a lot of therapeutic values and contains complex vitamins such as vitamin C, potassium, salts and essential oils.  Considered to be an elixir of youth and helps to eliminate uric acid and anti-rheumatic properties.  I’m loving the black currents!!

Carrots – A great source of fiber helping relief constipation, slows down the aging of cells, is excellent for the eyes and contains a good amount of Vitamin A.  Also helps in cancer curing properties.

Beetroot and Cucumber Salad
1 beetroot (raw)
2 cucumbers
½ tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. fresh limejuice
½ an orange squeezed
Fresh coriander leaves chopped

Peel the cucumbers and beetroot and chop in thin strips.  Add the curry powder, limejuice, orange juice and garnish with the coriander.

Beetroot – High in nutrients such as Iron and vitamin C, helps in absorbing Iron from the body.  It is best eaten raw as if it is cooked it looses its vitamin content as vitamin C is water-soluble.

Cucumbers – Has many health benefits and it is a great hydrator as it contains 90% water.  It is a great soother both internally and externally reducing the heat within the body.  Great for the skin and for tired eyes.  Contains Vitamin B, K and C, potassium, copper and manganese and can help to avoid nutrient deficiency.  Apparently they improve the health of the brain too and with many Vitamin B properties also reduce feelings of anxiety and stress, so bring on the cucumbers I say!!

Enjoy crunching on your salads knowing that the suns energy or prana is within everything that has grown below and with that in mind taste every bit and chew in love for that which has been provided for you from nature.
Have beautiful days
Om shanti Om
Mangala / Nicky.

Classes start at Gems International School Kampala, Uganda, next week! 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

"But I just can't Meditate!"

Often when I meet new people, start new classes or receive new practitioners into classes I hear the same old comments such as ‘But I’m just not flexible.’ Or ‘I can’t meditate at all; my mind is all over the place.’ Or ‘Yoga oh no I can’t do yoga!’  And when I hear this it sends a little smile into my heart as I think back to practitioners that I shared the joy of yoga with and heard these exact comments, and since they have gone off to do their teacher training and are now established yogis and yoginis. 
We all have to start somewhere and the very fact that you have entered a class for the first time or maybe sitting there reading this blog means you have some spark of interest somewhere no matter how deep down in the subconscious it may be.
So here are some things to consider that may ease your mind a little. 
On the matter of flexibility; flexibility of the body is not an important issue, you may have seen photos and pictures in their droves of yogis in all sorts of wonderful positions, which may be a little intimidating when we start out.  But don’t worry touching our toes and is not the important bit, but the journey of getting there is.  And no matter what your flexibility these postures are designed to have an amazing amount of internal benefits to your organs for example which will be receiving that stimulation no matter where you are in terms of flexibility.  The physical benefits to maintain the health of the body or improve the health of the body are there no matter what.  It is important though to become aware of your body and then also the flexibility of the mind.  Don’t put so much enversis on the body.  Developing the heart through these postures is more important.  The practice of the yogic postures has more bearing of a mental process.  It is about examining and observing, how does your mind react to your body and visa versa.  There will be moments of fear, of distrust or frustration – all the things that life throws at us arise through the practice of postures, but through practice we learn how to deal with them.  Then what we learn on the mat we can apply to our lives.  Asana’s (postures) themselves are patterns that connect us to and are in line with the cosmos, that open us up to new possibilities, in our bodies, minds and lives.  Practice is a great opportunity to know your body on a deeper level we all have different skeletons so don’t worry about how the posture looks on the model in the pretty picture or how it looks on the practitioner next to you, you find your own way, this is the yoga.
On Meditation, yes the mind jumps everywhere this is the nature of the mind, don’t think you are the only one sitting there thinking this and that, what is for lunch, when I have to pick so and so up, when the deadline is for this and that.  This is completely natural and actually shows a healthy mind.  But again by doing the practice no matter how you perceive yourself to be at it is bringing the benefits, the magic is happening but it takes a bit of time and a bit of dedication and trust.  Taming the mind is a huge job it is like taming a wild tiger, so don’t get annoyed with yourself, be kind to yourself and just observe, watch the thoughts without trying to stop them, just sit and watch like watching a movie without being involved in the play.  In time you will begin to see yourself naturally becoming a little calmer, reacting a little differently to situations, dealing with things in a more peaceful manor.  And when you start to become a little more peaceful the people around you also do, it vibrates out like ripples, and so the practice is not only for you but also for all that surround you.  By just sitting in silence you may just find that little bit of space that you need.
On the matter of feeling pain.  There is a difference between a good pain and a bad pain.  If guided correctly there are only good things to be benefited from feeling a good pain.  Of course there will be a little discomfort or sensations to the body that you may not be used to as the body begins to adjust, stretch, lengthen and release tensions.  A good pain you can breathe through.  A bad pain is a sudden, sharp and shooting pain and if experienced you should immediately come out of what you are doing.  A good teacher with proper training will guide you correctly and according to your capacity, the best way is slowly.  Let your teacher know of any medical conditions no matter how small they may seem before the class.
Practice is also about working through our emotions and this too can sometimes be painful.  How our mind is reflects on our body and visa versa, often back issues are completely due to a build up of emotions, also our hips is where we hold a lot of emotional issues.  Be patient with yourself, let things bubble up, observe them and let them pass.  Each practice can feel very different from class to class depending on many factors such as how tired you are and what you have eaten.  Sometimes it feels better to hold back and other times it feels good to challenge yourself, only you can decide but it is important to never ever force anything to happen, be kind and gentle to yourself and have no expectations, there is enough pressure in the world we don’t need any more.
Of course yoga is not for everyone at his or her stage of samsara the circle of life and death, but it there for everyone, for all of humanity and I admire anybody who takes the courage to step onto the mat.
Enjoy your practice, be open, be joyful and allow the inner light to grow and shine.  The most interesting of journeys are often the most difficult.
Om Lokha Somasta Sukhino Bhavantu
May all beings find balance, harmony and peace.
Have beautiful days.
Om Shanti
Mangala / Nicky.