Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Grounding Yourself with the Tree!

Are you feeling flighty, lacking in concentration and focus, feeling a little bit fidgety or hyperactive, or even a little lost?  Or do you have weakness in the legs?  Then working with Vrikshasana the tree pose is going to help bring back a sense of focus and grounding. 
1.Stand straight with the feet together arms beside the body and find a point of focus in front of the body, something that is not moving.
2.Breathe slowly from the abdomen.
3.Keep your point of focus and using the left hand bring the left foot to the inner right thigh and allow the knee to point outwards.
4.Feel grounded through the supporting leg and foot and lifted through the crown of the head as you pull in your abdominals towards the spine to increase strength.
5.When you feel secure in your balance, bring the hands together in prayer position in front of the chest and keep breathing deeply.
6.With an inhalation stay firm in the supporting leg and raise the arms up to make your branches.  Hold for about a minute or for as long is as comfortable whilst keeping the breath flowing.  Then release the leg down gracefully.
7.Repeat on the other side. And then repeat the whole thing again 2 more times.

This pose really helps to balance nervous energy or restlessness.  It increases your sense of focus and concentration and keeps you rooted to one spot for some time.  It is a very good preparatory practice for meditation.  It strengthens the leg, feet and ankle muscles and in turn as they become stronger helps to protect the knee joints and hips.  Through increased focus mental balance is increased or nervousness soothed.  Sometimes we have so much going on our minds become easily confused, tree pose is wonderful to bring back a sense of clarity and calmness.  So, can’t keep still?  Feeling anxious then tree pose it a great boon to bring the quiet side of you back and gives a sense of support from the earth.  Balancing poses can be difficult especially when the thought waves are coming fast and furious so don’t worry about what happens, have no expectations and just try, if you fall down, then get yourself back up and try again. Balancing can also be fun and builds on your sense of determination.  This is also wonderful for kids and teenagers to practice to help with calming and soothing the mind with all the demands that are placed on them these days. 
So enjoy making beautiful forests!
The image above is a variation with the foot placed to the front of the thigh making a half lotus tree.
Have beautiful days
Om shanti Om
Mangala / Nicky

International day of Yoga is coming up on 21st of June, hmmm what shall we put together this year!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Dealing with Obesity through Yoga.

In todays world there are many reasons why throughout all continents more and more people are suffering from obesity.  What is fundamental is that we look at what is the root cause of this, we are living in the most comfortable of times, but people are at their most unhealthy, why are people resulting in such unhealthy ways of eating and living?  There are many choices out there it is not necessary to live this way.
We know the effects physically that obesity can bring – heart diseases, diabetes, circulation and joint issues etc.  Mental side effects can be depression, loss of enthusiasm and vitality and a feeling of being in a rut that you simply can’t see anyway out of.  People are not feeling good about themselves, which leads to more unhealthy choices and deepening into the rut.
What causes obesity?  Simply the wrong choices on how we are eating and what we are eating.  Why do we make those wrong choices, because we are turning to food to replace something that we feel is missing from our lives, love or being needed by someone or the community, feelings of anxiousness or nervous energy, these can all direct us to food. 
Ultimately any emotional and mental instability is the root cause and it is this that we need to address.
Yoga can give the inspiration to direct these negativities into a positive attitude and allows the ladder to be put into place to start the climb out of the rut of bad habits and wrong thinking.  Here is how to make a start –
Find a teacher that inspires you, gives you confidence and develops your will power.
Learn some relaxation techniques especially if you are the nervous eater type, and use these before you eat.  Eating in a tense way can lead to wolfing down your food and eating far too much which is impairing the digestion.  Learn to relax before you eat, say a prayer or mantra for the food you are taking and respect that food, take what you need and not more.  Enjoy the process of eating, tasting the food and chewing well.
Those that eat out of boredom need to direct themselves toward some positive activities, and away from home or the place where there is so much temptation of food around.  Get out into the community and get involved, go for walks out in nature, meet some new people, see how you can help out and be a benefit to your local community.  We all have something that we can offer even if it is just listening to others.  Get involved with some gardening projects and see if you can grow your own vegies or fruits.
Practice yoga – Surya Namaskar is a wonderful boon for the whole system.  Practice slowly to begin with and slowly build up your stamina.  At first practice for a shorter amount of time and have more relaxation afterwards, notice how you feel, how your body feels after practice and slowly increase the practice over time.   Practice such poses as pawanmuktanasana, pachimotinasana and padahastasana.  Practice breathing techniques such as alternate nostril breathing which will calm and soothe your system and start to bring the endocrine system back into balance, and help to soothe the mental activity.  Practice Yoga Nidra for complete relaxation.
Start to turn your diet around slowly, don’t make any harsh changes; this will result in a mental revolt in what you are doing and likely that you will make many steps backward and not forward.  Gently start to make healthier choices and begin to eat more natural foods, fresh vegetables, fruits and grains.  Over time your body will naturally start to want these types of foods than the unhealthier options.  Cut down on your sugar, replace with a natural sweetener like honey, maple syrup or jagery.  Don’t switch to artificial sweeteners these are equally as bad for you, be as natural as you can.
Practice Yoga and raise yourself out of your condition finding harmony once again through the mental and physical self, you will find the feelings that are missing or you think you are missing from your life through the practice.  Your heart is full of love, compassion, joy and peace and yoga will show you the way to finding them again.  Yoga can show you the way back to being a complete happy, healthy and joyful being.
Take the courage and dive in!
It is advisable to find a class that is suitable for you, not too demanding, a gentle Hatha class would be advisable, and remember to relax once you become tired within the class.   Slowly over time your fitness levels will increase and your body will start to change.  Do it with love for yourself and patience.  Ask the teacher for a few asana’s (postures) you can practice at home to help the process.   Find the fresh energy that you need and a new positive you through yoga.
Have beautiful days and love yourself, your body, your energy and your mind, because you are beautiful.
Om Namah Sivaya
Mangala / Nicky.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

All things are difficult before they become easy - Peacock Pose.

“Have patience, all things are difficult before they become easy.” Hafiz

I love this quote from Hafiz and it is so true, we forget that once we couldn’t even crawl and that had to be learned, we couldn’t walk or run, or feed ourselves, all had to be learned.  Sometimes the world throws things at us that seem overwhelming or incredibly challenging that we may want to hide under that cozy blanket and hope the situation will disappear.  But as Hafiz says, all is difficult before it becomes easy, then after that we wonder what we were worried about.  Or what we were worried about has become forgotten – we shift forward.  I love the fact that yoga asana or postures teach us to shift forward, no matter how long it takes us – poses can be incredibly challenging, but they are supposed to be, this helps us deal with those things that are challenging in our daily lives.  What we learn on the mat we can apply off the mat.  They teach us to be braver, to be able to move with ease through different situations knowing we will get to our goal in the end.  The amount of times I have fallen on my face with this peacock pose, but all it came down to was finding my own way on how to come up, this took a little playfulness and a lot of patience.  Sometimes a little play with the body will take us a long way toward knowing how to handle something.  As well as all the physical benefits, it was a case of determination, concentration and focus that got me there in the end.  And importantly a sense of trust that I could make it, tell yourself you can do something and it really works, so we think - so we become, tell yourself you can’t do it and it will seem impossible before you even try.  So have a go, have confidence in yourself and try, you never know you just might make it, I have faith in you, so try why not, and if we fall we learn.  One person told me, we don’t fail, sometimes we have success and sometimes we learn!  And that is so true.

Benefits of Mayurasana –
This asana stimulates the metabolic processes which increase secretions from the glands.  It stimulates the elimination of toxins from the blood assisting in healthy skin.  The digestive organs are massaged and it is great for managing any digestive disorders, diabetes and sluggishness of the liver and kidney.  There is development of mental and physical balance and helps with muscular control.  Toxins are eliminated, lethargy reduced and an awakening to the kundalini Shakti can occur.  
“The peacock posture destroys the effects of unwholesome food: it produces heat in the stomach and destroys the effects of poisons, it cures fever and is a very useful posture.” The Gerunda Samhita.

Never practice or try to practice if you are pregnant, have high blood pressure, have any hernia, peptic or duodenal ulcer, or have physical weakness.  ALWAYS practice under the guidance of a suitably qualified teacher, and take care if you don’t want a bruised nose!!  

Enjoy showing your glorious tail feathers Peacock style in everything you do!
Have beautiful days Om Shanti Shanti Shanti

Mangala / nicky