YOGA THERAPY CLINICS
Foundation workshop 06-03-2016
Today we hosted our first Foundation Yoga workshop with a wonderful, fun group.
One of the things we loved the most was the varied ages of those who attended (from late twenties to early fifties) and how it didn’t make a difference to the energy of the day. It was an intimate, cozy 3 hour session in which we went through the most essential elements of yoga practice, supported by the essence of the first five Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and how to integrate Yoga in real life.
-Wake up moving exercises.
Emile started with some simple sitting Kundalini warm- ups : camel ride, rocking the pelvis and extending and flexing the spine as we breathed forward and back. Belly-grinds -belly dancing- and siting side stretches made the area around the spine warm ad ready for the morning. For an example of this, you can watch the Kundalini Belly set in this website.
Then he took us through the feeling of standing and feeling our feet on the ground, with our eyes closed.
He finished off with cat & cow movements, baby pose and lying down twist.
-Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the basis of Yoga.
We talked about living a true Yoga life, in which we practice Yoga every minute of the day, as we stand, walk, cycle, drive, shop, work.
Yoga is not about destroying ourselves through the week with high demands and a busy life-style so that then we can “work it all out” in one or two yoga classes a week. Through our day we can breathe, stretch and be aware of how we sit or stand, and how we act toward ourselves and to others. Living in full awareness is Yoga, not standing on your head or doing complicated positions.
We went though the first 5 sutras of Patanjali, focusing out attention on the first essential principle, in which all the 200 Sutras are based: ” The restraint of the modifications of the mind, is Yoga”.
The ultimate goal of Yoga is not to attain a good physical posture, but to control the mind in its disturbing states. The path to achieve a balanced and controlled mind, is through the practice of Hatha Yoga (physical poses or “asanas”) and breathing practices.
It is not possible to calm a disturbed mind through the mind itself. If the mind is sick, how can that same sick mind make things better? so the only way is to get through the physical practice of specific Yoga postures and the breathing which have an effect on our minds.
“Only when we practice Yoga this way, we abide in our own nature”.
Only when we practice Yoga as a mean to calming and controlling the fluctuations of the mind, we will be acting in harmony with our own nature, living our life close to our real Self. This is the essence of Yoga.
“When we don’t, we will assume the form of the mental modifications”, this is, we identify ourselves with our pains, our happiness, our memories and the wrong knowledge of the world around us. We lose our original identity and we become our thoughts and our body, when we are actually in essence so much more than that. That is why, if we calm our minds and get to the basis of all these disturbances of the mind, we would find the unity among everything.
-Physical practice: main poses of Yoga and their benefits.
This was time to experience the physical and emotional effects of some of the main poses (asanas) in Hatha Yoga.
A Yoga pose is so much more than a physical experience of tight hamstrings or a stiff back, even the pleasure that we experience when we feel a good stretch is actually covering up what that particular pose means to our Self.
Tadasana or “mountain pose” gives us the amazing feeling of standing on our own feet, grounded to the center of the Earth and at the same time lifting us , the top of the head, is the peak of the mountain.
Tree Pose, is not about balancing, A tree doesn’t “balance”, but takes the nourishment from the ground and grows toward the sun.
Warrior is strong, powerful and determined, but gentle and respectful. The base -feet, legs and pelvis- are unmovable, and from here the upper body sits comfortable and open.
Twists, whether standing or sitting, stimulate the spine and the internal organs within our abdomen, and the lungs.
Side Stretches such as Trikosana -triangle- or sitting side stretches, open the constrains of our often tight side muscles and intercostals, facilitating breathing and a sense of relief.
Forward bends such as Uttanasana, if practiced wisely (without stress on the back, or the back of the legs), will bring a sensation of calms and going “inward’. We practiced a forward sitting on a chair, with the upper body rolling forward between the legs.
Baby pose or Balasana gives feeling of surrender, of letting go. Accepting, humble and inward, touching the ground and close to ourselves, it ha a powerful effect on the mind when we practice it consciously and taking out time.
Back bends are stimulating, opening and energising. It is hard to feel down or depressed when we open our chest fully. We practiced Salabhasana or locust pose, with a feeling of “flying” on the belly, lifting arms and legs.
Downward dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana showed us how to stretch the back fully, regardless of the back of the legs, and how it gave us a feeling of strength and self-support.
We finished off with a lying down one twist where it became easy to breathe in the open belly, and everyone felt open and free.
-Breathing practice: Donna Farhi’s wake up of the breath
Sitting comfortably, we tap the chest as we inhale, and slap the chest as we exhale, a few times. You will find similar breathing and movement exercises in the Yoga Therapy Set for Low Energy , based on Donna Farhi’s teachings http://www.donnafarhi.co.nz/wp/. We really recommend you to read “The breathing book”.
Emile showed us the 4 Part breathing exercise:
Sitting down comfortably, inhale 4 times up, and exhale 4 times down. At the end of the exhalation hold the breath slightly and squeeze the lower muscles of the belly. This will help you feel the area where the breath has to start from in the next cycle…
This form of breath is ideal for calming the nerves, before bed time or in situations where the chest and when we find ourselves holding the breath in stressful times of our life.
-Yoga Nidra and relaxation
A guided mediation that you can also find in this website, please read carefully the instructions and you can practice yourself anytime, any day, except when you are driving!
It was a wonderful morning, it was raining and cold outside but it was warm in our hearts, by the end of the workshop we were laughing over home-made miso soup and roast pumpkin, everybody brought their own magic. We hope that the benefits of this workshop will keep on reminding you of what you can do.
Montserrat & Emile
PS Recipes are on their way!