"You cannot do yoga, yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yogic practices which help to reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state."
There are three main focus's in my classes:
1. BREATH AWARENESS - Calm Mind
The breath and the mind are linked. If one is off, the other is probably off too. When we take a little bit of time everyday to just focus on our belly breathing, the mind finds relief from the fluctuating multiple constant thoughts. This simple meditation is key to developing awareness. Once one is comfortable with this practice this breathing (pranayama) practice, one gently moves toward total breath control from other breathing practices.
The placement of the breath is also important. There are three lobes in each lung. The lower lobes are located in your low belly, sides and lower back. It's where we control our digestion and our reproductive organs. The middle lobes, located around the heart and under the low ribs, are where we hold our assertive qualities. And the upper lobes of the lungs are located in our underarms and shoulder area. This is where we find the finer things in life. Many people have to take time to make sure they are using each lobe correctly or at all in order to be able to move further into the pranayama exercises.
By learning how to breath deeply, you start to use your lungs more efficiently; energizing your system. Elongate the inhale; widening and expanding with placement. During a steady exhalation, gently contract the rectus abdomeninous, transverse abdominus, and intercostal muscles. Applying this type of contraction rhythmically connects the conscious and unconscious mind.
Sometimes longer, sometimes shorter. At times in the background, at times a source of action. Breath is always present.
2. QUIET AND HAPPY BODY
If I ever had any advice for anyone it would be, know yourself. Yoga is the perfect opportunity to get to know yourself. You are your own one person package. Honour it. Love it. Listen to it. All your body is ever telling you is please and thank you. So find out: What does it really need? How do you react to this or that? Who are you? Get to know all your bits and how they feel and fit. And most importantly Be yourself without rejection, just as you are, without judgement of who you're supposed to or who you thought or were told to be.
We may have to unlearn some things in order to learn how to really be human. How we grew up and what we've learned can block ourselves from seeing the truth. Who we really are. We are so much more beautiful than the old you would think. To be human is powerful. So many untapped strengths lie within you. Sometimes we are not 100% human. Our animalistic tendencies creep out (anger, lust, greed, attachment). By tapping into your inner doubtless wisdom, you start to see these arise, without reacting to them, watch with great curiosity what is really going on. This is looking at what is creating the sensation of discomfort. In class we do simple practices that will enable you to see and shift imbalances. Whenever I feel myself angry, sad, fearful, greedy, etc. I stop, take a deep breath, watch what's happening, make a choice of what to do, but most of the time I go into another room and shake my whole body and laugh about it and then return to whatever it was I was doing. Shaking off that energy. If it's sadness, I sit in it. Sadness is said to sit right next to happiness. They are both very important feelings. The link between gives them understanding. Y
There is a word in sanskrit called "Nara". It means misaligned. It also means human. As humans we are naturally misaligned. Yoga teaches us to discover these misalignments and reintegrate. "Naraka" means extreme misalignment or "hell". In other words, some of us are living in hell on Earth in our own bodies. The yogic practices help to release and minimize these misalignment's.
Understand that there is a process to everything. The process of yoga for self realization is: 1. Self acceptance and self awareness. 2. Self improvement. 3. Self absorption (referring to a higher self here).
When moving into a pose, stop at your first feeling point. Once that space opens up, move into it. Never force yourself to go beyond your limitations (this can create blocks in the body). Naturally allow each piece to go where it fits. It's not about what the pose is supposed to look like, it's about how it feels.
Relax into the body. Your body is happiest when its quiet. And when it's quiet and not constantly nagging you with pain, you're happier too. Wherever there is gripping or tension, give that area permission to relax. Softening the body while in the pose will teach the body to ease when in stressful situations. Try this anywhere, anytime. Relaxing the body is one of the most important tools to learn in order to practice yoga.
3. INNER JOY - Freedom
When in a pose, bring your breath and your thinking and your attention into alignment. Connect to your joy. It can be from a memory of a time or a place that made you feel happy or really vital and then recreate that internally. It can be a place you create inside yourself. A place that nourishes all your deep needs. A place you can close your eyes and go to at any time. A place no one else can touch.
Or using a mukha mudra (mood modifier) to help you find joy. By curling up the corners of your mouth and taking a deep breath and spreading that energy of delight through your body. Try that and see how instantly the mood can shift. For some this might feeling like you're faking it. Acting happy can make you feel happy.
Or by making it more personal in that moment. Sometimes when I have to walk up a very steep hill, instead of suffering my way through it, I change my focus, I find something around me to focus on that is beautiful. Like the way the sun looks behind the clouds or by smelling a flower or by watching that toddler jump in the puddles. By shifting your focus and returning to what's happening right now, you can find joy and gratitude in any almost situation.
By living in the moment we encourage happiness. For those who want to be happy, they have to always know where they are in life. Right here. Otherwise, it gets too complicated. Too much stuff (future and past) to clutter the mind. Living in the moment encourages happiness by removing that junk we get caught up in.
So whenever you're on your mat (or out in the battlefield of life) and you're struggling or suffering or becoming the victim (or any of the negative places you may go), shift gears internally so that it is a delight to be doing this. Choose joy. It's worth working on.