Tag Archives: yoga nidra

Be Here

Well 2020 has certainly given us our challenges as we grapple with fires here in Australia and now a global health crisis to send us all back into our homes and many out of work.

It is hard to adjust to the changes we are experiencing at the moment and many people are feeling stressed and anxious about the future. What can yoga teach us about being here – not running away from the present moment to something that has passed or into the future and something that has not eventuated?

To stay in the moment, to just do this minute, this hour, this day . Your yoga practice teaches you just that .. to be in that moment. …to hear your breath and your heartbeat, to feel your muscles moving and stretching, to keep your mind with the practice and notice as it wanders.

Now is the time to draw on your yoga toolbox. The asana, the pranayama, the meditation and deep relaxation that yoga brings.

Some of the asanas I find really helpful are those grounding asanas like the warrior series or Virabhadrasana. This is especially helpful if you can do this outside with your feet grounded into the earth. Inversions are a great way to stimulate blood flow to the brain and boost immunity and confidence. You can do a simple inversion like downward dog or mountain pose (Parvartasana) as we call it in our tradition or a head stand if this is something you are experienced in . Twisting practices stimulate the digestive system and the circulation in general, boosting metabolism. The key to good twists is to keep the spine elongated ..no slumping and exhale with the twisting action ..allow the neck as part of the spine to follow the twist. Let the twist gradually unfold up your spine, as though you were walking up a spiral staircase, so that each vertebra participates in the twist.

Another great asana at this time is the bridge pose or Khanderasana. This gentle backbend allows for the stimulation of the thymus gland as the chin moves toward the chest. The thymus gland is a small organ behind the breastbone that plays an important function both in the immune system and endocrine system. It also calms the body, alleviates stress and opens the heart space.

The best breathing or pranayama practices include Bhastrika (see post from July 21 2014 or bellows breath that stimulates the digestive system and alternate nostril breathing or Nadi Shodana to balance the breath and the mind.

And of course our tool box would not be complete without meditation or a Yoga nidra. I find yoga nidra to be a very essential element to good health. It has the capacity to allow us that deep relaxation and release of mental tensions. In this restorative state, your monkey-mind abates and the body maximizes it’s ability to take in nutrients, regulate hormones and glucose levels, and boost immunity.

So there are many ways in which yoga can help you through this difficult time. Be patient, allow time for slowness and be kind to yourself and others.

Learning to let go

Autumn is such a lovely time of the year.  I always marvel at the beautiful display that nature puts on before she decides to have a rest over the winter and watching autumn leaves fall is such a peaceful pastime. Recently I was thinking about how clever nature is to cast off that which is no longer needed  and was reminded of the value in doing just that ourselves!

autumn2 022

How often do we get stuck repeating the same old patterns and habits that we know do not really serve us anymore? These old patterns or conditionings are known as samskaras to the yogis.  They are based on past experiences and if left continue to influence the way we function in this world.  Perhaps you find yourself always apologising for your behaviour?  Putting others needs before your own? Not taking time out for yourself,  feeling that you somehow do not measure up or need to work harder, faster, to feel good about yourself??

There may be some things that really push your buttons; people who don’t appreciate you,  people who think differently or treat you in a particular way.   At some stage we all need to ask “is my behaviour and response helping me to grow?”  If this is not the case then perhaps it is time to let some of this stuff go.  Just like the deciduous trees around us it can be healthy and a great relief to just drop it!!

How can yoga help us to do that?

To begin with true yoga requires you to be fully present.  This is something that develops with time and practice.  You make a conscious effort to keep the mind with the practices by following the breath, counting rounds and focusing on different parts of the body as you move into postures or asanas as they are called.

By becoming fully present you begin to notice the mind and how quickly it jumps from one thing to another …how easy it is to be distracted by thoughts.  Some of these thoughts are quite repetitive and they generally have no basis in truth but are based on some past experience where you felt a certain way or reacted to something.  To watch without getting caught up is the secret because this allows us to detach from all the emotional baggage around the thought.

By using particular breathing practices you can balance the breath and learn to control our breathing when we are anxious and stressed by events around us or things that people say.  This creates the space necessary for you to take that step back to “see” your usual reaction or response and decide consciously if this is what you want to say or do.

The practice of yoga nidra (see post from Jan 2012) allows the time and space for physical rest but also offers the opportunity for the samskaras to become apparent and be released.  Particularly when the teacher is using opposites and visualisations as these may invoke feelings and memories that you learn to watch in a relaxed and detached state and they begin to lose their power in your waking state. In yoga nidra you set an intention for your life.   A short positive statement about something you are working toward (a sankalpa) when you are in the deeply relaxed state that yoga nidra brings about  can guide your actions and thoughts in your waking state.

Letting go is not instantaneous  but the benefits of practising the art of “just dropping it” are so worthwhile.  You are no longer reacting to things but choosing how you wish to respond.  It does not matter how many times you need to practise..it is the fact that you do which will make the difference.  So take some inspiration from the deciduous trees and stock up your yoga toolbox..it will change your life.