- Observe. Yoga practice in the West has become mainly focused on the physical but what I love about yoga and how it has changed my life like so many people is that when you learn more you discover it is a philosophical practice, an art, science and way of living. The ‘father of yoga’ Patanjali who lived around 500 BCE described the process of yoga in 8 stages or 8 ‘limbs’. The first of these is called Yama, ‘observances’ and the first of these limbs is ‘ahimsa’. Which can be translate as ‘love’, this speaks of relationship and love – and the idea that before we can begin any practice or evolve we need to ensure we have a loving relationship with ourselves which outwardly reflects as a loving relationship with others. The ‘limbs’ don’t have to be in order and the third limb ‘asana’ (the physical practice) does make loving ourselves and others a hell of a lot easier. As the breathing and physical nature of the practice reduces stress, calms the mind and erodes the unloving thoughts that so easily take over. soothing our soul. After a yoga class we feel good, and its then so much easier to love ourselves and others.
- Practise Yoga nidra. As our stressful 24/7 lifestyles mean we are constantly ‘switched on’ we have a build up of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin, which contribute to dis-ease in the body, weight gain, disturbed sleep, sugar cravings and so many other disturbances. Rather than another dynamic vinyasa class, including restorative yoga practices have a profound impact on wellbeing. Yoga nidra (or yoga sleep) activates the parasympathetic response in the body, also known as ‘rest and digest’ meaning that wecan ssimilate our food, rest the body and mind and increase energy. It is the ultimate ‘self care’ to be loving and nurturing to oneself which again ultimately means that we can be kinder and more loving to those around us.
- ‘Our heart is our greatest teacher’, one of my teachers, Uma Dinsmore- Tuli said this to me at the end of a class and it resonated deeply. When we take time to go quiet, and listen we have all the answers within. So we need to find a teacher or teachers that can facilitate this self-discovery – that create space and inspire curiosity within. It is not about the teacher’s social media following or if they can do a one armed hand stand – though impressive this may not help you anymore to discover yourself. Also a great teacher is one who is there for the class and who adapts for the students before them teaching with compassion and ‘loving kindness’.
- Less is more. Have time in the class where there is silence – no music/talk to allow yourself to connect with your inner voice. Often this feels really scary! But this gives you time to cultivate a relationship with yourself and gives time for inner reflection.
- I like to open the practice with taking some time in a restorative pose, ‘supta bhadda konasana’ reclining coblers pose on a bolster, and my favourite heart opening pose. The bolster under the upper back opens the heart and chest, an area which is often closed up, just from our sedentary lifestyles where many of us are hunched over a computer or car steering wheel much of the day but also as the knocks of life from ended relationships and other losses, cause us to disconnect from our heart space (anahata chakra) to avoid further pain. The hips are also opened here – we store so much pain and tension in our hips and stress signals traveled down our spine to our psoas muscles firing them up so we could run from a predator in the jungle! But now there is no predator…generally, we do not run and that energy or fear is stored in our hips. This is a great release.
- Ylang Ylang is the oil of the inner child and is a powerful remedy for the heart. Modern day society honours and reveres the mind over the heart. Yet the heart, with its intuitive ways of receiving information, is an essential part of the soul. Ylang Ylang reconnects an individual with the inner child and the pure, simple ways of the heart. It encourages play and restores a childlike nature and innocence. It assists in accessing intuition or “heart knowing”.
To begin a more loving practice visit eco wellbeing spa, studio and cafe Bhuti