Happy Easter to all of you who celebrate it. A happy beginning to all. When we wake up each day, it's like being born again. We have the chance to begin again. So, let go of all the stuff in the past that no longer serve you and begin to move forward toward your dreams. Start each day with gratitude for the opportunity to be the you that you've always wanted to be. Be grateful for the lessons of the past, have hope in the future and live firmly in the present. Try it!
Starting new is not always comfortable. As they say, usually new beginnings are disguised as painful endings. For some, it's a break up of a relationship or being laid off from a job. For me, my biggest new beginning was the death of my daughter. My life changed so much but I'm not going to go into that now. Let's just say I wouldn't be sitting here talking about new beginnings, teaching yoga, and being a happy, fairly chilled (yes, this is a very chilled version of the old me) person that I am now if my daughter did not come into my life and left so early.
The only way to start new after a painful ending is to be grateful for that ending. It's not easy but without being grateful, we can't start to see the lesson in it. Without learning, we can't really move on from it. If everything is always easy and comfy, there won't be lessons to learn and we won't be growing. If we didn't have that bitterly cold winter we just had, the sunshine and slightly warmer day today won't seem so special! Embrace the tough time, be grateful for all that you can learn from it, and then grow into a better future.
Here is a link to a video of one of my teachers, Sadie Nardini, teaching us how to start our yoga practice without overdoing it and freaking out the muscles - Power Stretching Yoga Warm Up. I would suggest you do some Happy Breath and Happy Twist (see below for directions) to warm up before you follow Sadie's video. Let this be your new way of practicing on the mat. Warm up sufficiently, then stretch gently as you continue to build heat before you launch into stronger, deeper poses.
Here is how to do the Happy Breath:
1. Stand with your feet about hip width apart, knees soft.
2. Inhale and stretch your arms forward, open to the sides and then raise up. All 3 movements in one smooth long breath in. Exhale with HA sound, bend the knees and drop your torso and arms down into easy forward bend.
3. Round the spine to come up as you breathe in and repeat the 3 arm movements. Exhale with HA and drop into easy rag doll-like forward bend again. Repeat at least 6-8 times. Make sure you really let the HA out loud!
4. These movements are done quite quickly so that you begin to warm up the body! Make sure you keep the pelvic floor and lower belly engaged (drawn in and up to protect the spine).
5. Stay in the last forward bend with soft knees and wave side to side or bend one knee and straighten the other to stretch the body out a bit. Slowly come back up with rounded back, head up last, when ready.
Now you're ready for the Happy Twist.
1. Stand with feet about hip width apart again. Let your arms hang loosely by your sides and keep the knees slightly bent. Engage the pelvic floor and the lower belly.
2. Breathe normally (soft ujjayi which is like when you blow to fog up a window but through the nose) and begin to gently twist side to side. Allow the arms and the head to move with your body.
3. Speed it up when you're ready and keep going for a while until you feel nice and warm. The spine will love it (as long as you don't overdo it!!).
4. Please don't just suddenly stop. Gently slow down. Just like the blades of a fan that spin a bit slower, then a bit slower still until they stop spinning.
You might want to add a few cat-cows (on hands and knees, inhale to open the heart in a gentle backbend, and exhale to round the spine, tucking the tailbone and the chin in). You're now ready to begin this wonderful 37 minutes Power Stretching Yoga Warm UP with Sadie.
Be well, everyone, be wildly happy and grateful for each new day, each new breath, and be the kindest and best you always. Have a fabulous April.
Wow, it's hard to believe that we are already in March! So sorry I haven't posted a blog in a while. Here I am though! I hope you're all enjoying the slightly warmer and definitely longer days. FInally, the short, dark, and seriously cold days seem to be behind us. Having said that, I'm glad for those days when the temperature struggled to get above 0 degree because suddenly 6 degrees seem warm! It also brings home to me the idea of unity within duality.
What is unity within duality? You might think that yoga is all about unity, and you'd be right but unity cannot exist without duality. Oneness would mean nothing if there was no duality. In our physical practice, we always talk about rooting down and rising up, drawing in and reaching out, surrender and effort, and so many other seemingly opposing actions or concepts. It's these opposite actions that bring us back to our centre, to the stillness within. When we practice a pose and focus our attention on the opposite actions taking place within the body, we are also creating unity in another kind of duality - unity of the mind and the body - which leads us right back to our calm centre.
Let's look at a simple pose like a low lunge. In Low Lunge, the feet, the back knee and the tailbone are rooting down into the earth while the crown of the head and the arms reach up. The 2 halves of our pelvis also move in opposite directions: the front half in a posterior tilt or at least squared, and the back half in an anterior tilt (nodding forward). In fact, even when we walk, the 2 halves of our pelvis move in opposite directions! Our spine meets our pelvis at the SI joints so you can imagine that as the 2 halves do their thing, the lower back spine can be affected. If we can engage our core muscles, we can keep the spine from being pulled and torqued along with the hips. So the two movements of our hips lead us back to our centre, our core.
In life off the mat, duality bring us back to our centre too. When our reality is different from our goal, we need to come back to our centre, our core belief, in order to live and express ourselves in a way that serves us best. If we live only in our dreams of the future, we aren't grounded in reality. If we focus only on our much we hate where we are, we can't move forward to our desired goal. Yes, have a dream but live in the now. Yes, accept your reality but never stop dreaming.
Join me this month on the 24th, 10-1:00 at Escape Yoga Studio, Matlock, for our Unity in Duality workshop where we will learn to move our body in opposite directions in order to move into stillness, and learn how you can take that off the mat into your life. Please see Unity in Duality Workshop for more details and for information on early bird discount. Please contact me to book your place.
There are always the sun and the moon, the day and the night, the light and the dark. Embrace them and you will find peace right at the centre. Be well, yogis, be wildly grateful for all that you are and are not, and be the best and kindest you always.