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Here we go again - preparing to turn inwards and away from life outdoors. You may have been lying in the grass, gazing up at the sky, spreading out your arms and legs to keep cool. Now, we turn gradually towards the opposite - to keep ourselves warm, we close the doors, keep the windows closed and we start to cuddle up, curl inward, turn to tending to our own homes, our own bodies. Its a great time to notice how movement can generate energy, and where the flow of energy circulates and where it gets stuck and cold. To get the energy flowing throughout the whole of our body, we can start the day with some movement on or off your yoga mat. 15 minutes is enough to un-block some tense spots and the use of yoga props can help us even more. A yoga belt or strap can contain our bones and joints to avoid over-reaching! Blocks can keep legs moving symmetrically, and a block between the hands can do the same for the arms as insight can arise when the arms are moving at the same time.
You certainly don't need to be super-fit, or at all fit for that matter, to get moving in the morning and the effects of unblocking the body can mirror the effect in the mind to create clarity, flow of ideas, more productivity. The heart is beating, the lungs are working, the blood is circulating, and the miracle of the body is getting on with its constant effortless balancing of the systems.
Here's a short morning practice you can do starting from your bed:
1. Use a yoga block between your hands to stretch back over your head as if you're yawning your whole body awake
2. Come to sit on the edge of your bed and rotate your shoulders forwards and back a few times - simple, slow, repetitive movement to wake up the brain gradually and gently
3. Time to stand up - feel your verticality and raise your arms to reach into the sky, Once again take a few yawns, sighs, and go to a window to look out.
4. Place your hands over your heart and feel your aliveness. Move in any way that feels good - you can put on some music to shift your mood to 'fully awake' mode
6. Come to stillness, Notice your breathing and start to take some smooth even long breaths, If you want you can use your arms to express your breathing direction.
7. Don't forget to come back to normal breathing in between the long ones to make sure you're not creating more tension
8. Imagine you are waking up every cell of your body and let them know that you are thankful for the miracle that is your body
9. Consider what you are going to do today - set an intention for your day and call out a few words name what it is you desire for yourself
At this point, you could do a short practice on your mat moving the spine in all directions, sit on a zafu, or folded blanket to meditate for 15 minutes, or lie down over a bolster to open your heart.
Have a great day and check back in at the end of the day with the same words and see what insights come up!
You can find Yoga Props in yogaunited.com.
Next time you’re on your yoga mat, tune into noticing mode, in a mindful way and let your inner child come out to play. Treat your yoga mat like your playground
We are so encouraged to be witnessing a growing recognition of the importance of Restorative Yoga and a number of studio timetables are creating slots for Restorative classes and many teachers are including elements of the practice in their own workshops
Do you have trouble relaxing? Our brains are so wired to ‘do, do, do’, it can be really difficult to ‘simply be’ for a while. For busy people, the concept of ‘doing nothing’ can feel pointless, uncomfortable and even empty. And stressing about relaxing can make things worse with all the trying, the self-talk about lack and should I.
When you know someone who loves yoga, then the festive season is a great time to treat them to something they will love and use.
What is walking mindfully or a walking meditation? People often don't get what it means or how to do it - whether it just means not speaking while walking, walking alone or moving slowly - well yes, all of those things but what's important is bringing your Self into the present moment - when we are focussed on the now instead of ruminating about the past of worrying about the future, we are FREE of our stuff for a moment and each moment may accumulate into seconds and minutes of freedom. It's so simple really. What would it be like to be free from your lists of things to do, projects, responsibilities - here's HOW!
Thich Nhat Hanh has wonderful and simple instructions to 'Walk like a Buddha'
1. Make no effort but simply enjoy the experience of walking
2. Start by focusing all your attention on the sole of each foot as it touches the Earth
3. Don't take the next step until you have connected fully to reality of this moment
4. Smile and take the next step
5. With each step, print your stability, your solidity, your freedom, your joy on the ground
6. Seal the ground with the mark of being alive, the mark of solidity, the mark of freedom
7. Remember there is a Buddha inside of you. Give up your mind and allow the Buddha to walk for you
8. When your mind gets busy, notice the breath coming in and out
9. To stay mindful, repeat the words I am alive, I am making a step...or any words that help you to smile or walk as a kind of meditative offering.
10. Do not be surprised if this way of walking opens insights and you get carried away with working things out or a new story. It's OK - the mind is part of you too.
If you want to find out more about mindfulness, meditation and workshops for busy people,
Check Out Yoga United Education
by Judy Hirsh Sampath taken from the practice of Walking Like a Buddha from Thich Nhat Hanh's book, Buddha Mind, Buddha Body - Walking Toward Enlightenment.