Welcome to Emma's random musings, sometimes the science of yoga, meditation and sound therapy; sometimes asana; sometimes news....
I'm delighted that we are now offering Children's yoga and Family yoga classes at Mandala. The first sessions were held last week and everyone had a great time.
Yoga offers us many life skills and the chance to learn the calming techniques when young can be incredibly life-enhancing.
Children learn to understand their emotions and thoughts and how to not be overwhelmed by their emotions. Studies have shown that yoga can help children to build the ability to calm themseves down and improves concentration. A regular yoga practice can help children to wind down and sleep more peacefully. It's also great fun and a lovely way for children to build positive relationship with their body.
On Saturday I led a meditation and yoga class in a busy department store, at lunch time. We were not secluded in a discreet and quiet corner, we were right next to the escalators in the middle of the store. Many of those who took part had never tried yoga or meditation before. It is always such a joy to share with people new to the practice.
Everyone was completely absorbed by their meditation and asana practice and reported that they felt light and calm all day.
Proof, I think, of how powerfully effective yoga and meditation are.
August 11th 2019
Tonight in class we explored paying attention.
We reflected on how the wisdom of yoga is a result of people paying close attention to their physiology, physicality, emotions and thoughts.
Yoga was developed by those paying close attention to how thoughts, emotions, breathing, heart rate, posture and muscle tension interacted, how they affected each other and how they could be controlled to improve physical, mental and physical health.
They noticed how breathing differently, placing the body in various shapes, meditating and chanting affected physical, mental and emotional health.
They handed this knowledge down and it was expanded on through more experience.
Now science has shown that these practices....our Yoga...improves vagal nerve tone, affects the nervous system and has huge benefits for physical, mental and emotional health.
All because people paid attention...so let’s all pay more attention
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August 4th 2019
Not just the Ashtanga warm-up, Suryu Namaskar A and B are packed full of benefits, not just for arms, core, legs, hips, spine, fingers and toes, but for our COCHLEA ? and therefore balance and EVEN our connection and oneness with the universe.
As we move up, down, back and forward in Surya Namaskars we stimulate the cochlea, challenging it and strengthening it.
The cochlea tracks the zero gravity state of the earth ? so that as the earth spins, we don’t fall over and it works with balance receptors in joints and muscles to track where all our limbs are so we don’t miss our mouths when we eat, or (most of the time) trip over our own feet when we walk, or when we step forward in Surya Namaskara B.
So, Surya Namaskars help to build our connection with gravity ? and our ability to respond to our body’s relationship to gravity so we don’t fall over.
That explains why I find Surya Namaskara B so utterly joyous.
Those who come along to class know that I’m very honest about my experience and how that relates to my yoga practice.
Yoga is for real-life and we shouldn’t pretend that real life doesn’t have challenges....that’s why we practice yoga .
This week I’m in hospital in Sheffield with my dad, mum is here too and my brother via much-cherished videos-calls.
I’m experiencing enormous gratitude that we have the opportunity to spend so much time together, gratitude that we have such a wonderful loving family, friends and yoga community, gratitude towards those who are caring so well for my dad and to those who created the NHS.
I am so joyful that I overheard the consultant tell his team that Mr Ian Lowther who was next “is a really lovely chap, a really nice man” and that another nurse came into his room while we were chatting and eating sweets and said “I love the vibe in this room, it’s gorgeous”
BUT Of course there are also moments of sadness, worry and tiredness and that’s Ok, life ain’t all rainbows and we don’t always have to feel like dancing in the rain; we must acknowledge that humans have inbuilt negativity bias for survival and we need to take responsibility for overriding that by dwelling on the positive, but pretending that challenges don’t exist goes against the yamas and niyamas.
Our yoga puts us in closer touch with our experience so that we can assess, process and release it.
We can experience gratitude and anger, joy and sadness, hope and fear, all in quick succession.
But with our yoga we acknowledge how we feel and we try to be grounded, we acknowledge that the experience is our truth but also our perception, we learn how to not spin out of control, how to work towards balance, how to care for ourselves so we can care for others. #RealLifeRealYoga
I’ve been contemplating my purpose and Mandala’s purpose, the challenges encountered in trying to fulfil that purpose and how to encounter the challenges with peace...while swimming in lakes and hiking up mountains in Slovenia this week.
Yoga is a contemplative practice and I’m so grateful for the space, strength and perspective it provides.
And so I contemplate...
This time last year I was in a shepherds hut on a Portuguese mountain feeling grateful for feeling utterly grounded and connected to universal life.
This year I feel grateful for feeling free, re-experiencing the freedom that I experienced at 18 having just passed my driving test, off to university, day trips with my best friend! Free from the conditioned mind, connected only to dharma and universal love ❤️ I’ve had in my head a photo of me in a bikini on the bonnet of my metro (Brigitte, after Badot) taken by my bestie on a road trip....a picture of care-free confidence and love. This is how I feel now, the love of fellow teachers and students, family & friends, confidence and freedom ❤️??
As yogis we regularly spend time contemplating how we feel and why, who we are, what our purpose is and what to do next. The change in seasons and moons are ideal times as are times away from home, away from conditioned existence.
See you all on Thursday with exciting plans to build our beautiful, awesome community of wonderful humans
Loving Kindness meditation actively enhances the functioning of the emotion centres of the brain.
Regular and sustained practice has been shown to result in more activation in the areas of the brain associated with empathy and connection to others and reduce self-centredness.
It’s hypothesised that it’s this switch to connection and empathy and away from selfish thought that also results in the improved vagal tone and activation of the parasympathetic nervous system....feeling connected helps us to feel happy, safe and calm....neural plasticity is soooo cool
Thank you to lovely student Emma for inspiring tonight’s much needed Loving Kindness meditation stretching right out to certain politicians
The ashtanga sequence is practiced with the Ujjayi breath. It’s a breath with sound, some say it sounds like the ocean, others say it sounds like Darth Vader!
Whichever description you prefer, this sound is our mantra and an indicator of whether we need to find more space or ease off, or that we’ve lost focus.
The Ujjayi sound isn’t created by forcefully closing the throat. Like much in our practice, it’s more subtle that that.
The sound comes from directing our attention. When we consciously lengthen the inhale-pause-exhale-pause cycle, noticing all 4 parts of a breath, consciously controlling its length, we find that the sound follows. Subtle, yet powerful - that’s Ashtanga for you.