Ayurveda, Yoga

So what are we doing when we get on our Yoga mat??

I love Olga’s approach to Yoga – to me it makes so much sense. As I get older I have found great value in slowing down, breathing deeply, moving mindfully,  and listening to the messages my body and mind tell me.

Here are some suggestions about what to include in your yoga checklist to get the most out of any yoga practice…

Written by Olga Kabel – Yoga teacher and Yoga Therapist

ShowUp1. Show up:

first physically – literally getting yourself down on your mat, and then mentally, bringing your attention to this moment, to this body.

 

Listen2. Listen:

Instead of allowing your mind to make all the decisions, listen to your body. Notice how you feel (keeping an open mind) and which parts of you need more care on any given day (physical body, energy or mental state). Throughout the practice consistently check in with yourself – how does this movement feel, how am I doing, where does my mind go, and so on.

Breathe3. Connect to the breath:

In yoga we give lip service to deep breathing all the time but then somehow lose that connection halfway through the practice. Instead have your breath inform and guide EVERY SINGLE ONE of your movements. Breath is the most direct link we have to our physiology, specifically the balance between the sympathetic (‘fight-and-flight”) and parasympathetic (“rest-and-digest”) systems, which means that by regulating the breath we can literally change how we feel.

Customize4. Choose a practice that is relevant to YOU.

Depending on what you are trying to accomplish, you might have short-term and long-term practices. Short-term practices address your current physical, energetic and mental-emotional state. Those practices can be completely different from day to day. They are most effective when you are trying to maintain a stable body, consistent energy and clear mind to deal with today’s challenges. In a long-term approach you would do the same practice for an extended period of time (days or weeks), tweaking it only slightly. This is done for the purpose of addressing chronic issues that usually do not get resolved in a space of one practice.

Focus5. Keep your attention anchored.

When you do a familiar practice it is easier to go on an autopilot and just cruise along while simultaneously thinking about unrelated things. Attention is a tricky thing – it takes practice to learn how to direct it and maintain it.

 

Expand6. Do more than asana.

Asana (yoga poses) are great and can serve all kinds of useful purposes. But it’s simply not enough for a well-rounded yoga practice. Working with your breath and your mind is just as important (if not more). It doesn’t need to be anything complicated or intricate. The simplest way to include other elements in your practice is to take 12 deep breaths at the end of your practice (using pace or technique that is connected to your overall theme), and then stay mindful of your experience for 5 minutes (keeping your attention anchored on how you feel).

Observe7. Take time to absorb and integrate.

Don’t be in a rush. Take time between poses to close your eyes and check in with yourself. At the end, don’t just jump up and run to the next thing. You can use Savasana or any comfortable seated position to take time and observe the impact of the practice on each one of your layers (physical, energetic and mental-emotional). This will deepen the effect of your practice and will give you valuable information on whether or not it worked for you (which you can use moving forward).

In this complex and ever-changing world it is always good to get back to the basics and celebrate yoga’s ability to get us in touch with ourselves. In the long run this has more impact then looser hamstrings or mastery of difficult poses.

Ayurveda

What’s Ayurveda got to do with the weather??

Sudden changes in weather like the ones we are experiencing at the moment can affect our moods and even our health.

How many of you have felt at low ebb, low energy, a bit of a cold coming on, can’t quite seem to get into your groove so to speak?

This past week has had a sense of heaviness, increased moisture  in the form of rain, sea frets or cloud-covered days, and a grounded, slow feeling.  These are all qualities shared by the Kapha Dosha.  This kind of weather can seem a bit oppressive at times, and can leave us feeling weighed down, stagnant, or uninspired.  And actually, every kind of weather can either bolster or encumber our sense well-being depending upon our inner nature – some of us like it hot while others relish the damp and cloudy days.  Some people even enjoy a long cold winter – brrrr!!

Personally I am solar-powered and love the light summer months of dry warmth with plenty of sunshine which balances out my inner nature perfectly!  This heavy greyness sends me right out of kilter – so what to do??

Ayurveda teaches us that like increases like and that opposites balance.  If you’re feeling slow, heavy and a bit stuck, the perfect antidote is to get moving with a short invigorating morning routine to shrug off the sluggishness.  Brush your teeth, scrape your tongue, and if time allows give yourself and oil massage followed by a warm shower.

Treat yourself to some energising exercise – ideally this will be between 6-10am or 6-10pm which are the Kapha times of day.   This might be a brisk walk or bike ride in our glorious countryside, an energetic yoga routine or maybe even dancing around your living room to some funky tunes!  Wear some bright and warm energising colours like reds or oranges.  Be spontanious to lift your mood, see some friends, go somewhere you’ve never been before!  Eat some light and dry foods to balance out the heaviness you are feeling.

Doing something that balances out the qualities of whatever the weather brings  will make a world of difference to how your day goes – and as always the weather will change, so however you feel today – this too shall pass…