Favourite reads & quotes
The 8 Limbs of Yoga
There is so much more to yoga than the poses we do on the mat.
Yoga is a life long journey and one of continuous study and learning.
The 8 limbs of yoga teaches us, moral precepts, personal observances, the postures, breathing, to draw our awareness inwards, concentration, meditation and union with the Divine.
If you would like to learn more I highly recommend
by Bhava Ram. It has brilliant easy practices to follow.
(link to Amazon)
Follow the breath
I feel the energy rise and fall with my breath.
Closing my eyes I follow my breath,
Like Alice down the rabbit hole I seek the edges,
Of my body,
Of the Energy.
When I encounter resistance,
Within my body in a pose,
I have come to understand that the root,
Of this resistance lies within my mind.
Memories etched in the unconscious mind,
In movement revealed,
Come as I am ready to heal them,
So I let them come.
I do not resist because I know,
All things in their time will surrender,
To the Love that lives within,
And the pose will evolve.
I have come to trust my breath will lead me to relinquish the pain And bring me to that moment of release,
Where my being conjoins,
And I reach the state of Oneness.
Beautiful poem by Liz Smith-Anderson from The Poetry of Yoga
Lemon water in the morning
I love a glass of warm lemon water in the morning. It's refreshing, wakes you up, it's an internal shower and a good source of vitamin C.
Turns out there are real benefits to drinking lemon water, but some over-hyped ones as well.
Here is a great article by the Wellness Mama on it's benefits and myths.
"We don't use the body to get into the pose.
We use the pose to get into the body."
"Yoga does not ask you to be more than you are.
But it does ask you to be all that you are."
"Anybody can breath,
therefore anybody can practice yoga."
Our top books on the Chakras
by Judith Anodea
Chakra Yoga book
also by Judith Anodea
A Yogis Guide to Chakra Meditation
by Paul Grilley
Favorite books on Yoga
The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga:
The Philosophy and Practice of Yin by Bernie Clark
Yin Yoga: Principles and Practice
by Paul Grilley
Insight Yoga: An Innovative Synthesis of Traditional Yoga, Meditation, and Eastern Approaches to Healing and Well-Being by Sarah Powers
Light on Yoga
by B.K.S. Iyengar
Yoga and the Elements
Everything in nature is made up of five basic elements: earth, water, fire, air, and space. Knowledge of the five elements allows the yogi to understand the laws of nature and to use yoga to attain greater health, power, knowledge, wisdom and happiness.
This arises out of deep intuition of how the universe operates.
The Four Agreements
This is a book everyone should read and agreements we
should all live by.
BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
The Four Agreements sound simple, even simplistic. But try keeping just one for an entire day!
What Is Yoga?
The word yoga, from the Sanskrit word yuj means to yoke or bind and is often interpreted as “union” or a method of discipline.
The Indian sage Patanjali is believed to have collated the practice of yoga into the Yoga Sutra an estimated 2,000 years ago. The Sutra is a collection of 196 sutras (aphorisms) that serves as a philosophical guidebook for most of the yoga that is practised today.
It also outlines eight limbs of yoga: the yamas (restraints), niyamas (observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing) pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyani (meditation), and samadhi (absorption). As we explore these eight limbs, we begin by refining our behaviour in the outer world, and then we focus inwardly until we reach samadhi (liberation, enlightenment).
Today most people practising yoga are engaged in the third limb, asana, which is a program of physical postures designed to purify the body and provide the physical strength and stamina required for long periods of meditation.
What Does Hatha Mean?
The word hatha means wilful or forceful. Hatha yoga refers to a set of physical exercises (known as asanas or postures), and sequences of asanas, designed to align your skin, muscles, and bones. The postures are also designed to open the many channels of the body—especially the main channel, the spine—so that energy can flow freely.
Hatha is also translated as ha meaning “sun” and tha meaning “moon.” This refers to the balance of masculine aspects—active, hot, sun—and feminine aspects—receptive, cool, moon—within all of us. Hatha yoga is a path toward creating balance and uniting opposites. In our physical bodies we develop a balance of strength and flexibility. We also learn to balance our effort and surrender in each pose.
Hatha yoga is a powerful tool for self-transformation. It asks us to bring our attention to our breath, which helps us to still the fluctuations of the mind and be more present in the unfolding of each moment.
What Does Ohm Mean?
Ohm is a mantra, or vibration, that is traditionally chanted at the beginning and end of yoga sessions. It is said to be the sound of the universe. What does that mean?
Somehow the ancient yogis knew what scientists today are telling us—that the entire universe is moving. Nothing is ever solid or still. Everything that exists pulsates, creating a rhythmic vibration that the ancient yogis acknowledged with the sound of Ohm. We may not always be aware of this sound in our daily lives, but we can hear it in the rustling of the autumn leaves, the waves on the shore, the inside of a seashell.
Chanting Ohm allows us to recognise our experience as a reflection of how the whole universe moves—the setting sun, the rising moon, the ebb and flow of the tides, the beating of our hearts. As we chant Ohm, it takes us for a ride on this universal movement, through our breath, our awareness, and our physical energy, and we begin to sense a bigger connection that is both uplifting and soothing.
The Yoga Journal
Interesting read on...
The Benefits of Child's Pose
Ahh, Child's Pose, dream about the moment your yoga teacher tells you to find your way to this tasty pose at the end of a long flow? There is something so nourishing and nurturing about this pose, especially when it is placed between long standing sequences.
Child’s Pose is a true resting pose, and one that you can hold for long periods of time without the need for props. Child's Pose is often overlooked and neglected, so let’s spend some time shining a light on all that is wonderful about this glorious pose.
1. It’s super calming for the mind.
Placing your head (namely your ‘third eye’ or the spot just between your eyebrows) down on the mat has an instant calming and soothing effect on the brain. The inward fold of the body, with the eyes looking back towards you sends a signal to your brain that you’re safe, and that it’s OK to rest.
This pose is amazing if you’re finding yourself in a place where you have many thoughts swirling around in your head.
2. It’s great for your digestion.
Doing Child's Pose with your knees closer together, so that your belly is resting on your thighs, is a great way to massage the internal organs which may help move your digestion along. Taking long, slow deep inhales and exhales in this pose will push your abdomen into your legs, and then draw it back up again.
Doing this repeatedly is literally going to manually massage your intestinal tract. This is especially helpful if you have gas! Yes, I said it. It happens to all of us and that’s OK. This pose will help you move things through.
3. It elongates the lower back.
If you sit at a desk all day, stand for long periods of time, or are otherwise alive in the world, chances are you have some compression in your lower back.
This is because we tend to ‘dump’ our weight down there, and usually aren’t consciously pulling up and engaging your lower abdominals all day long (which you may be doing too, in which case, good for you!) Folding over your legs immediately reverses the splaying of the tailbone that can cause lower back pain.
Child’s Pose allows you to open up and stretch this area of the body.
4. It opens up the hips.
Like your lower back, your hips may be taking a beating in your day-to-day life. Sitting in a chair for long periods of time can actually tighten all of the muscles in and around your hips.
By taking your knees wide apart in your Child's Pose so that your belly can relax in between them, you will be getting a nice stretch and opening through the hips. This is going to help reduce any hip pain you may be having, as well as help improve or maintain the health of your hips throughout your life.
5. It reminds you that resting is a good thing.
If you love to push yourself in your practice, you may be tempted to skip resting postures in classes, or to avoid doing them in your own practice. But remember that in yoga we are striving to cultivate a sense of balance. It’s not all about being at 100% effort all the time.
Taking time to rest in your practice may actually help you to cultivate the ability to take time out in your everyday life. You may find that you are better able to stop and re-charge your batteries. I always find that it is amazing how much my life on the mat mirrors my life off of the mat, and vice versa.
If you are looking to cultivate a better relationship with resting in your life, I highly recommend Child's Pose and other resting postures on the mat.
Interesting read on...
Yoga & Happiness
When we understand the true flickering, temporary nature of this world, then we can understand the beauty of each moment. If we cannot find happiness within ourselves, we cannot find it anywhere - That's when real Yoga begins.
We have all felt that soothing feeling at the end of a yoga class, the release and sense of lightness. This is what keeps us coming back time and time again. The goal of yoga is to bring us into a mood that sustains us so that we don't have to go into a yoga practice to change our mood. That is when we start to bring yoga into all aspects of our lives.
Nothing can bring us lasting happiness, but you have it already. The real thesis of Yoga is not that you get your health, well-being or inner peace from outside ourselves such as fame, fortune or relationships, which is what our culture often teaches us but rather we have it already. So the question becomes What am I doing that's disturbing that? As supposed to How can I get something that I already have?
What am I doing to disturb my own health and well-being? When we look at ourselves instead of relying on others for our happiness we can choose to act and change the patterns or behaviours that stop us from living the life we want to live. The meaning and purpose of life is to find out who we are. Yoga is a way to realise our authentic selves.
What am I not paying attention to that I need to?
What am I not hearing?
The Guru Is Your Own Self
If the light is already there and its being obscured by darkness a Guru - Remover of Darkness, can help you to find your inner voice. Whether you have chosen to follow the teachings of a great Master or “go it alone,” you will eventually come home to the Source.
Ultimately, the Guru lies within you and all the great Teachers are nothing other than mirrors of your own self—someone you have created to remind you of all the things you have forgotten.
The Light you see in these Divine Beings is a reflection of your own Light. You cannot bow to any external Guru without also bowing to yourself. The end of the journey is to rediscover the Enlightened Guru that is none other than your own Self.
Remember Ramana Maharshi’s words:
“The Guru is none other than the Self. As the seeker’s mind is bent outward, the Self takes a human shape as a Guru, to help drive it inward.”
Some more favorite reads...
A New Earth & The Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle
The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
The Secret - Rhonda Byrne
Warrior Goddess Training - Heatherash Amara
Everything is Figureoutable Marie Forleo
Interesting read on...
The myth, the brain and meditation.
The purpose of Meditation, Yoga and other mindfulness practices is not to stop or control our thoughts, but rather stop our thoughts from controlling us.
The notion that humans only use ten percent of their theoretical brain capacity has been floating around since the late Victorian Era. It has been mis-attributed to many people, including Albert Einstein. Scientist claim that we use all our brain all the time and Neurologist Barry Gordon* says, "we use virtually every part of the brain, and that (most of) the brain is active almost all the time."
The entertainment industry has jumped on this myth and several movies have been made that are inspired by this notion. Lucy, in particular, depicts a character who gains increasingly godlike abilities once she surpasses 10 percent, though the film suggests that 10 percent represents brain capacity at a particular time rather than permanent usage.
Often when I encourage my students to introduce meditation to their lives they say that they are no good at meditating, their minds are too busy. That they can't stop thinking. The purpose of our mediation practice is not to stop all our thoughts. It is to be still and quiet long enough to hear what lies between the thoughts of our conscious mind. The thoughts we wish to stop are the thoughts of duality - planning, should and should haves, the misconceptions or Vrittis that function as a conversation with ourselves.
One of the oldest yogic texts Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, (100BC - 300AD), tells us that if we sit quietly, pay close attention to our mind, and practice this diligently, then we will gain supernormal powers, very much like Lucy. These advanced capacities, known as siddhis, are not regarded as magical; they’re ordinary capacities that everyone possesses. We’re just too distracted most of the time to be able to access them reliably.
So what lays beyond our conscious mind?
People practice meditation for different reasons. Some turn to meditation for its many benefits for the body, mind, and relationships; others are seeking personal growth, emotional healing, or spiritual development. Regardless of what your initial intention was or is for starting the practice, when you meditate long enough, you are bound to discover many things about yourself. These are the things and thoughts we want to focus on, these are the thoughts and emotions that once worked through will bring us healing and allow us to bring change into our lives.
Our personality, together with our conscious thoughts, emotions, decisions and interactions with the world, all happen at the level of our conscious mind (10% of our brains capacity) Could this be what Einstein was referring to? However, that is just the tip of the iceberg of our consciousness. Beneath this conscious layer of our mind is our subconscious mind (50%) and, even deeper, our unconscious mind (40%). Together they are the structure of our personality. They are the hidden motivating forces behind all our decisions, thoughts and feelings. They have a profound influence in our life, and yet we know very little about them. Our conscious mind is so busy and agitated that we rarely get the chance to look deeper.
Very much like a beginner Yogi will discover emotions, thoughts and behaviours previously hidden within themselves, so will a beginner meditator discover challenges and discomforts within that they have not before come across. They may think, “Since I started meditating, my mind has become busier”, or “Meditation is making me feel more anxious and restless.”
Giovanni Dienstmann writes on his blog that meditation is not making your mind more noisy or anxious. It’s simply revealing the noise and anxiety that was already there. However, with fewer distractions, you see it all too clearly. It’s like allowing a cup of muddy water to settle, so you can clearly see all the dirt that was already in the water.
Apart from making your mind more calm and clear, meditation also heightens your sensitivity, and sharpens your attention—so you will be able to perceive things in yourself that you were blind to before. Trapped energies in your psyche will come up. It’s the opening of the “Pandora’s box” of your subconscious mind. It’s not always a lovely sight, but it is a sign of progress in the practice.
As meditation deepens, our attention begins to dive into the subconscious. The conscious mind becomes less busy, and the awareness is thus allowed to recede back to deeper levels of our being. With that, things that we had repressed, or chosen to overlook in life, are there waiting for us.