To me, Yoga means balance. It translates as ‘to yoke’ ‘to harness’. I think it is our attention that must be yoked or harnessed. The original mindfulness. Yoga is the stilling of the mind – being in the present moment is the golden key!
In class, you will hear me instructing you to allow your breath to settle into a natural rhythm, just as if you are at home relaxing with a book, listening to music or watching TV. Whatever movements we do, follow this natural rhythm of breath. It is this awareness of our breath, letting our movements follow the breath that keeps us focused, present. It is our breath that balances body, mind and spirit.
Try noticing your breathing habits at different times of the day, during different activities. Is your posture allowing fresh oxygen into your lungs and stale air out? Are you tense, your breath shallow? Or relaxed, your body spacious, allowing your chest and abdomen to expand and condense with full rhythmic breaths?
Try this practice which helps co-ordinate movement with breath:
Whilst sitting, (feet flat on the floor), standing or lying aim to relax with good spinal posture. Without changing it, notice your breath enter and leave your body. Become interested in its ebb and flow. Feel how and where your body rises and falls with the ebb and flow of each breath.
Now gently uncurl and curl your fingers in time with your breath… After several breaths gradually add more stretch to your fingers, thumbs and hands …Now as you uncurl the fingers also rotate your arms outwards from the shoulder joints so your palms face forwards if standing or sitting - or the ceiling if lying … and return the arms as the fingers release and curl once more.
Concentrate on allowing your natural rhythm of breath to lead the movements. You might try this for three or four minutes or for a little longer. How did it leave you feeling? Let me know…
Come and join a class to learn more!
Membership of IYN recognises that whilst my teaching embodies the philosophy of Yoga it demonstrates excellent practical skills, knowledge, safety & care and is rooted in ongoing personal practice.
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Copyright Alison Skinner, 2016
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