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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Letting Go.

The practices of yoga and meditation help us to become more aware; more clear.
Awareness acts like a light flicking on to illuminate a dark room. That dark room could be your anger, your insecurity, your jealousy, your addiction(s), your avoidance, or the fear that you are allowing to run amuck in your life. Once illuminated we have the opportunity to Let Go.

Letting go requires some practice.
Like being the still, silent observer in Savasana at the end of your yoga class.
Again and again we come back to Savasana. To stillness. To learning to let go.

When our fears are left unchecked they become very real. Soon they infiltrate our every relationship, every perception, and may even begin to manifest as physical symptoms of illness or dis-ease within our bodies and minds. Soon we are reacting out of fear and insecurity  - closing our hearts, closing ourselves off from friends, from lovers, from life. When we close and tighten around the vulnerable areas within us we actually begin to defend and protect the very things we want/need to let go of.

When you start to notice you no longer like the people in your life, or that life seems mundane and you no longer feel the joy of a new day; when things start to feel negative, everywhere, this is a sign that it's time to Let Go. In fact, as soon as you start to feel that internal stress, or the fire rising within you, something is being triggered. It's time to Let Go.

Doing this, I'm finding, is simpler than it sounds. Just like Life,  in your yoga practice ...things will come up - a fearful thought, a judgement, a negative projection...and you simply notice these things as they present themselves. You let them rise to meet your consciousness. Then - instead of following that thought or that imaginary scenario down into the rabbit hole and tightening and closing your heart - you Let. It. Go.
Let it rise.... Notice it.... Feel it.... Let it go.

Life will help you. When you remain centered and aware everywhere you go you will notice triggers. Triggers are the things that stir up all the blocked energy within you. If you are committed to your own happiness, your own peace, you can begin to welcome these triggers. Instead of running away, smoking more cigarettes, eating more food, drinking more alcohol or doing whatever it is you continually do when discomfort presents in your life - you let yourself stay present. In the words of the Dalai Lama: "Every person we meet is an opportunity to practice..."

For example ~ I was recently told by a young 22 year old kid (who incidentally has never left the small town where he was raised and still lives with his parents) that I don't have a "real job"...among other things. This person is familiar with the struggles I have had this year and the enormous amount of energy it has taken to launch my business. Anyone who's ever attempted to be an entrepreneur, or to operate a yoga studio in this economy, knows just how much work is involved. In that moment I felt his disrespect like a punch in the gut. I let the energy rise within me. I felt the heat rush to my cheeks. I watched all the clever retorts and insults I wanted to say pour into my mind. but instead of entering into a banter of egos (I'm sure what he was hoping for) I simply let it go. Then I politely excused myself. Respectfully declining his high-five on my way out.

No explanation is needed. The Work is all done in the privacy of your own heart and mind.
It's easy to close your heart and shut down. It's easy to take other people's disrespect and ignorance personally. But the consequence of doing so is not optimal - bitterness, resentment, self doubt, more fear, isolation. Getting involved in the darkness does not dispel it. It feeds it.

When presented with darkness, no matter the source, look up and allow yourself to rise above it. Relax your heart. And let it fall behind you. Do not push against it, try to enter into dialog with it, or allow yourself to close and tighten because of it.

A great place to practice this is on your yoga mat or the meditation cushion, as there are plenty of things that will always arise. Especially when we begin to slow ourselves down and get really present. Your awareness keeps you centered and connected to your true nature. Call it Spirit, Shakti, Prana, Soul, whatever.....being aware allows you to stay in your center while the melodrama of life parades before you. Practice observing and letting go. Practice keeping your heart soft and open. Then, when you step off the mat and out into the world...keep noticing, keep returning to your breath, keep practicing.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Slow Down Turbo! Yoga for Stress Relief

Sometimes you can't always make it to a Yoga Studio. I get it.
Below is a simple easy yoga practice you can do at home to help you relax, re-set your nervous system and release tension during stressful times. It is not fancy, strenuous or complicated. Simple. Easy. Relaxing. It might take you 20min tops. But your body and nervous system will respond to this little bit of loving attention you give to yourself and wonderful things will begin to happen!

Take. The. Time. It's better than fretting, worrying, ruminating or feeling awful. This is easy and you CAN do this. No one else will/can truly do it for you. The only way to deal with your suffering, your discontent, your to go straight into it...and then through to the other side.

Sooooo - turn your phone off! Dim the lights. Maybe play music you like. Create an uninterrupted space for yourself to relax, breathe and focus inward. This is short. It's simple. It's sweet.
Move with intention and breath.

Hold each posture for a minimum of 5 breaths before moving on to the next.
Breathe smoothly and evenly, through the nose, throughout your practice and let the breath lengthen...especially your exhalations. Use your exhales to soften and settle into each posture.

 Vaparita Karani (legs up the wall)
This is a great place to start. You may wish to place a pillow under your hips to elevate the lower body even more and help release pressure from the lower back.
Hold for 3 - 5 min.

Roll to one side to release. Take your time and move to your hands and knees.

Childs Pose - Balasana
Shift your hips back to your heels and rest forehead on the floor in Child's Pose.
Arms either overhead or at your sides.
Breathe 5 full breaths and settle the hips down with each exhale.

Come back onto hands and knees.
Wrists under shoulders, knees under hips.

 Cat/Cow Pose
 Start to move with your breath.
1 - Inhale: lift tailbone twd ceiling, draw shoulders back, look up
2 - Exhale: tuck tailbone under (twd floor), push into hands and drop head to really round spine.
Continue with the breath - 5-6 breaths 

Come up onto the knees in a kneeling position.
Gate Pose
Extend one leg. Reach up with opposite arm. Lean over your extended leg. Look up. Reach, breathe, lengthen your Side Body.
Hold 3-5 breaths - extending and lengthening.
Repeat on opposite side.

Downward Dog
Return to hands and knees. (hands a bit forward of shoulders now, fingers spread wide)
Lift hips toward ceiling. Press firmly into both palms. Let your head relax.
Bend your knees slightly if the legs are tight.
Press the chest back toward the front of your thighs.
Hold 5 full breaths.

 Return to Child's Pose for a few breaths.
Then transition onto your back.
Reclining Twist
Bring your knees (together) into your chest.
Open both arms on the floor at shoulder level.
Take a deep breath. When you exhale let your knees move to one side...hovering over the floor. 
Inhale - knees come back through center.
Exhale - knees flow to other side, hovering over floor.
Repeat, moving with the breath, 4-5 times on each side.
Perhaps hold the last one by letting the knees fall all the way to the floor and taking a few breaths there.

 Baddha Konasana - Bound Angle Pose
Bring the soles of your feet together. Let your knees open to the sides.
You might place pillows or folded blankets under your knees for support.
Relax your shoulders, close you eyes. Breathe and let your belly rise and fall with the breath.
Sink into gravity.
5-10 breaths

Relax onto your back and let yourself settle...
Savasana. The pose of sweet surrender.
Perhaps place a pillow under your thighs for supporting the lower back.
Relax and breathe here. 
Let your mind drift.
Let gravity pull your body into the Earth.
Spend a few minutes here simply observing what arises. 
Extend compassion towards yourself. Extend forgiveness to those who have wronged you.
Contemplate the notion that the Universe is ON YOUR SIDE. It WANTS to bring you positive wonderful experiences and people. The more you relax into that notion, and the easier it becomes to focus on what you want....beautiful things begin to come.
Release everything.