How Do You Feel

When people start yoga invariably they expect to feel something in the physical body, to feel a really good stretch, to feel a little stiff after strengthening the muscles but what often surprises people is just how much they feel! Yoga gets us in touch with our feeling/emotional body as opposed to being always in the thinking/analysing mind. We live in a society where being ’emotional’ is seen as criticism and many of us bury our emotions so deep that we forget how to feel. This presents a problem because most of us want to ‘feel happy’ and to experience the emotion of ‘joy’ yet by shutting ourselves off to feeling the less positive emotions we limit our ability to feel all emotions fully and end up residing in a bland existent where things are ‘not bad’. When I was little and gave my school reports to my Father he’d respond with ‘not bad’ and I have always hated this expression. It means nothing, it exists purely on the grey scale of life and I don’t want to live there. I want to live in Full HD colour, where things are great, things are terrible, things are fantastic, things are sad. Yoga teaches us to wake up and feel all our emotions: the truly amazing ones and the really rubbish ones as big feelings are life affirming. We learn to take the rough with the smooth as we trust in the lesson of yoga that the only constant in life is change, so right now if you are riding the wave of a rough emotion, maybe grief or heartbreak, allow yourself to feel because it too will pass, it has to for everything changes.

So next time you find yourself feeling in class, don’t censor yourself or shut off that feeling. If you want to give the person on the mat next to you a ‘high five’ because you just manged crow for the first time, or you feel your eyes welling up with tears after camel, or even that feeling of anger that arises when the teacher asks you to do chaturanga for the 25th time that class, feel the emotion, experience it head on and then notice how it passes.


Yoga Sequence To Help With Sleep

A really interesting start up business called Casper whose specialty is creating outrageously comfortable latex memory foam mattresses asked me to write a little post with some yoga poses that help promote a restful nights sleep and I was more that happy to say yes for getting a good nights sleep is so key to our health and happiness.

Do you find that you struggle to get to sleep or keep waking up during the night? Knowing just a few yoga tools can really help. Not sleeping properly isn’t something that you have to accept as it is totally within your own ability to alter your sleeping patterns.

The science . . . in every brain there is a core of neurons in the lower brainstem. This collection of neurons is referred to as the waking centre of the brain. Stimulation of the waking centre arouses from sleep and also prevents sleep onset. So the best yoga tools are the ones that can affect the waking centre and shut them down long enough for you to get a good 7-8 hours sleep.

1) From standing, start by focusing on your breath and counting the inhale and the exhale so both last for the count of 3. Then with an inhale reach the arms out wide and up as your palms touch above your head and with the exhale draw your hands down the centre line of the body. Repeat 5-10 times.

2) Cat / Cow. From all four, inhale to arch the spine and look up and exhale round the spine, stretching out the upper back. Perform this slowly linking the breath and the movement. Repeats 5-10 times.

3) Sit back into childs pose, make a pillow with the hands and rest your forehead down. Stay here for 5-10 breaths.

4) Come up to seated for Chandra Bedhana single nostril beathing. Using your right hand, fold in the index finger and middle finger. Place the right thumb onto your right nostril, blocking the flow of air. Inhale through the left nostril, release your thumb and exhale through both nostrils. Repeat 12-16 times.

5) Supported Bridge Pose. Lie down on your back, feet hip distance apart. Lift the hips high to the ceiling and place a block, bolster, cushion, rolled up towels or similar under your hips, to keep your hips elevated without requiring any muscular work. Place your hands either on your belly or on the floor over your head. Stay here and breath gently for 3-5 mins.

After completing this sequence or part of it, go straight to bed. Keep practising it, and each time it will get more and more effective. Let me know how you get on or if you need any more help.


Why I don’t DO Yoga!

Laura Green YogaEver noticed the use of the word ‘practise’ in yoga? We have a ‘yoga practice’ and we ‘practise yoga’. We don’t ‘do’ yoga. This is no accident and is usually a very deliberate choice of wording. For when we choose to practise something we are giving ourselves permission to get it wrong, to do it badly, to learn and to improve, we don’t have to be ‘perfect’ at it. I find this distinction really comforting within my own ‘practice’, whether it comes to falling on my face during crow poses, collapsing in a heap whilst trying a handstand, or sitting down to meditate whilst my mind continues to think about 20 million other things than just ‘Ommm’, it’s ok, it’s all good because you know what ‘I am practising’. Some days I make progress and learn a lot, some days I just tread water and other days everything feels too damn hard, but again it’s ok, ‘I am practising’. I don’t commit to mastering, perfecting or even getting good at anything, I simply remember to practise; as the wise and great yoga teacher Pattabhi Jois is famous for saying ‘Practise and all is coming’. What are you practising?