The most challenging part of yoga is not about touching your toes or balancing on one leg. It can occur in the simplest poses - a child's pose, a deep stretch, even in savasana the final relaxation. It is about surrender.
If COVID has taught us anything, it is that so much of our life is beyond our control. To make ourselves feel safe, to have some ground beneath our feet when all is swirling around us, we tighten, close down and contract. This gives a perception of control and holding onto something...but instead it does the opposite.
In class our focus has been on Spring renewal - we have been practicing lightening up as we come out of Winter. This means a letting go and unburdening of anything we are carrying around that does not support our wellbeing and our highest Self.
This meditation can be used as a seated practice or a guided relaxation lying down in savasana. It is drawn from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition - I find it an extremely purifying practice that helps me shift negative thoughts and emotions that might be crowding my mind. In dealing with some difficult emotions these past few weeks, the practice has helped me process these and free myself of a negative thought pattern. It has left me feeling lighter, cleansed and calm again.
Wouldn’t you love to find the OFF switch sometimes to shut down your busy mind and over stimulated nervous system so that finally, you could rest deeply?
Yoga nidra is a special practice that brings you into a very deep state of rest. “Nidra” means sleep. But this is not any ordinary sleep – the body sleeps as the mind remains lightly aware, taking us into very deep states of relaxation.
So many things we do to relax are not actually resting for the body and mind. Think of the things you might do to relax – perhaps watch a movie, catch up with friends, go for a walk or bike ride, gardening, cooking – all might be enjoyable and worthwhile but they do not switch off our over burdened nervous system. While we are receiving input from the external world, our nervous system is fired up sending data to the brain for processing. In yoga nidra, we shut down the sense organs and turn inward to reduce the nerve impulses to the brain. We activate the parasympathetic nervous system which is our rest and digest mode.
"The goal of meditation isn't to control your thoughts, it's to stop letting them control you"
Mindful May was a movement started a few years ago to bring mindfulness to the forefront of people’s lives – an online platform you could join for daily inspiration, mindfulness techniques and a challenge to meditate daily for the 30 days. I like to celebrate Mindful May by including meditation in all classes.
Why do we need to be more mindful?
The Buddhists and Yogis describe our minds like drunken monkeys, jumping erratically from one thing to the next, completely out of control. Often it is not until we sit silently in meditation that we come to experience how out of control our mind is! As we are so caught up in thoughts of the past and the future, we are missing the only moment that we have – the present.
In this newsletter find out about Mindful May - understanding what is mindfulness vs meditation and take part of the challenge - commit to sit throughout May. All classes during May will include meditation! Also delicious pumpkin curry recipes, class updates including new classes, workshops and one on one sessions.
You can access the newsletter here.