The weather is heating up, but you can still do yoga and cool down at the same time. This restorative sequence showcases my favourite prop - the bolster. The bolster can be used in many ways to support your body in various positions allowing for deep release of the muscles, connective tissue and joints. By sinking your weight completely into the bolster and the floor, use your breath to deepen the relaxation throughout your body and mind. If you don't have a bolster, you can use a stack of blankets.
These poses can be done in the order below or choose just a couple to finish your day to help transition into a peaceful evening and a restful sleep.
I am excited about what 2018 brings! The time spent over Christmas and New year is a wonderful time for me to reflect on the year that has been, consider any changes to be made or to redirect my energy toward that which nourishes and flows in my life. See what is stagnant and start afresh, make way for the new.
Here is the Summer newsletter which looks into the yogic practice of deep heartfelt intentions 'sankalpa'. I thought it was fitting that the first workshop of the year focusses on establishing intentions and activating the fire and energy in our body to stay motivated and disciplined. There is no point in just sowing the seed of intention if we don't get to experience the bountiful harvest.
Learning the art of efficient relaxation…exploring yoga nidra
We have very busy lives. As a result, we carry a lot of tension in our body and mind. When we do take time to relax, or even sleep, we can find it challenging - our mind not able to switch off, or aches and pains in the body distracting us. Our methods of relaxation may not even be restorative such as lazing on a lounge watching a movie, reading a book, chatting with friends. We are so overwhelmed and bombarded with constant stimulation and the nervous system disturbed by stress, that our first steps should be to drop the stress from our body and mind, and withdraw from any external distraction. Then, only then, can our nervous system recharge and our mind rest.
To celebrate summer, Living Harmony is offering 3 classes for only $30 for any Saturday class, starting in December. There are 4 Saturdays to get your classes in, start the Summer and weekend in the right frame of mind, and end the year feeling connected in body and mind.
SATURDAY 9.00-10.15am Yoga Flow
This class is a dynamic practice that includes energising sun salutations, standing sequences, balances and inversions to develop flexibility, build strength and link breath to movement. All classes finish with a guided relaxation to feel completely refreshed.
SATURDAY 10.30 - 11.30 Yin Yoga
This is a deep release class that focuses on the tissues that are dry and stiff within the body. Expect long, deep holds of poses on the floor, breathwork and mindfulness practices. Suitable for all.
Contact Rachel to book your spot, only 8 people in each class.
Spring time is here - a time for renewal and Spring cleaning of the body and mind. Living Harmony Yoga's Spring Renewal newsletter has details about upcoming workshops, hosting a chant circle and new classes for next term, plus Spring renewal practices and recipes.
You can read the newsletter here
Are your shoulders and upper back tired from spending long hours in front of a computer? Or from driving? Perhaps you feel like you live life more in your head and less in touch with your heart?
In this workshop, we will activate into our heart space on all levels.
We will use strengthening, stretching and trigger point techniques to release your upper body. Pranayama (breath) and back bends to expand the chest and ribs. The ancient Buddhist practice of Tonglen (giving and taking) will ignite our hearts with loving kindness and compassion for ourselves and all other beings.
Our lives are so busy, full of activity, distraction, movement, planning, doing – all very yang-like, leading us away from inner balance. We need to cultivate opposite qualities like calming, stillness and surrender (yin aspects) to settle into equilibrium. Because modern living is so out of balance, yin yoga is the perfect practice to counteract this and return us to harmony.
We carry layers of tension – physical, emotional and mental. Yin is a practice of undoing, dropping tension from the deepest parts of our being. As we sink into the pose, we become still and allow the body and mind to release what needs releasing.
In yin we spend a long time in a pose, to move the stretch deep into the body, targeting joints and connective tissue. As these tissues are strong, the way to massage and release tightness is a gentle tug over time (usually a few minutes). The body responds by lengthening, strengthening the fibres, improving the flow of fluids and energy into that area.
The main connective tissue targeted is fascia, which covers everything in our body, creating a 3D-like matrix. Fascia allows muscles and other tissues to move and slide over one another when well lubricated. As we age, are injured, even when we sleep, fascia can become dry and stuck together, leaving us to feel “shrink-wrapped” in our own body. Yin restores and hydrates fascia enabling improved joint range of motion, flexibility and suppleness.
Staying in a pose for a few minutes can feel challenging, especially if the sensations are strong or the mind is busy. We use mindfulness techniques to rest awareness with the breath and on the sensations arising. We sit with ourselves in the raw experience of the present moment – with no distractions, no need to avoid or change the experience, just sitting with acceptance. We become the observer to the never-ending waves of thoughts, feelings, plans, memories, allowing them to come and go like waves moving onto a beach and returning to the ocean – without grasping, without following, without indulging.
As we free ourselves from our constant mental distractions, we learn to be, we learn to rest in our true nature and experience our own inner bliss and come to accept the impermanent, ever-changing flow of life. We drop the resistance, we release the tension, we undo what needs undoing and surrender into the present.
Suggested Pose (photo above): supported fish – this pose counteracts rounded shoulders often caused from spending long hours at computers or driving; opens the heart and lungs to enhance breathing; releases the neck, shoulders and thoracic spine.
Come into the pose with the knees bent and lower your upper back over a prop (block or book), placing it at the base of the shoulder blades (bra line), allowing the shoulders to hang freely. Depending on the height of the prop, you may need another one to support your head, or rest your head to the floor – only take your neck back into a gentle arch, allowing the throat to open and soften. If your back is comfortable, extend the legs, otherwise keep them bent. If the prop is too high for your spine, use a rolled up towel placed underneath the shoulder blades. Rest here for at least 3 minutes, explore softening the muscles around the ribcage and bringing the breath into the front, side and back ribs. To come out, bend the knees, engage your core, bend the arms and use the forearms to help slowly bring you off the prop, gently roll yourself to the side and lie flat on your back for another couple of minutes.
To explore this practice deeper, come and join the Winter Nourish Yin Yoga workshop, 19th August. Or join the weekly Yin class, Tuesdays at 5.45pm. Contact Rachel for more information.