INSPIRATION OF THE MONTH
Inspiration Of The Month - January 2019
“You are what your deepest desire is. As is your desire, so is your intention. As is your intention, so is your will. As is your will, so is your deed. As is your deed, so is your destiny.” - Upanishads
Our inspiration of the month is setting intentions, sankalpa.
We all hear it and with the New Year here may feel called to set our "New Year resolutions", for many of us setting resolutions that are very unrealistic and that we set each year without ever fulfilling. These resolutions more than often come from a place of ego and the conditioning that has been put upon us. We more than often fail as we make these intentions from a place of not feeling good enough, a place of lack, believing that when we meet these resolutions we will finally be happy .
In Yoga, there is an alternative, the setting of intention, your personal sankalpa. “By definition, a sankalpa should honor the deeper meaning of our life. A sankalpa speaks to the larger arc of our lives, our dharma—our overriding purpose for being here.” - Rod Stryker
Skalpa means vow, or “the rule to be followed above all other rules.” San, refers to a connection with the highest truth. Sankalpa, then, is a vow and commitment we make to support our highest truth.
When our true sankalpa is revealed we connect to the divine and a tremendous will and energy will surface, along with action and the wisdom on how to deliver that action.
How to discover your sankalpa:
Find a comfortable place to sit. You could lie down if sitting is extremely uncomfortable. Lying down has the tendancy to get us too sleapy so if you can prop yourself up or sit on a chair or on the sofa, then do that. Otherwise lie down and possibly bend the legs with feet on the floor and knees poitning up to keep you a bit more actice.
Start by taking a few breaths. Arriving not only in body, but in mind and heart.
Stay here for a few minutes until your breath becomes comfortable. no need to make it be anything other than it is. Allow yourself to see the judgmental mind expecting and demanding, and then with a smile, let it go. simply allow each breath to move in and out of the body as it wishes to, until it finds some kind of a comfortable rhythm.
Ask yourself, 'What does my spirit want?', 'What is it striving for?', 'What sense of lack do I carry with me?'
It may take sometime before an answer arises. When an answer rises, ask yourself, is this my Spirit or my Ego? Do this with kindness and non judgement. Remember it is not easy to break patterns.
A Sankalpa is stated in present tense. It is short and positive. For example; if your spirit yearns to forgive someone who has hurt you, it can be,
"I am forgiveness"
"I am unconditional love"
"Unconditional love me guides me on this path"
"I am free of fear"
"I have the courage to overcome all obstacles that come my way"
“I am a positive force for the evolution of others”
"I am whole".
When you feel you have found a sankalpa or wish to try it out for as long as needed, start each morning (even before you come out of bed), or each practice, by closing your eyes, taking a few deep breaths, and repeating the exact same sanklapa, with the same words, 3 times.
By definition, a sankalpa should honour the deeper meaning of our life. A sankalpa speaks to the larger arc of our lives, our dharma - our overriding purpose for being here.
- Rod Stryker
Meditation Practice for Reflection
To begin, minimise your distractions by letting others know you need some quiet time alone to meditate and finding a place you will not be disturbed and are comfortable in.
Calms central nervous system
Enhances self awareness
Lower blood pressure
Contraindications for this pose:
If you are uncomfortable in a crossed leg easy pose try and sit in a chair. Sit away from the back of the chair with the spine tall and legs uncrossed, feet connected to the floor.
Start small, a regular daily meditation that is only 2-5 minutes long is better than trying to sit for 20-30 minutes once a week. It’s not the length of time that matters, it’s merely the consistency and commitment to doing it every day that counts. Also, try and stick with one meditation and do this for a month, rather than trying a different type each day. This will mean less pressure in trying to find the perfect technique, allowing you to fully embody and experience your chosen type. If after that month you want to try a new technique go for it, knowing that you gave the previous meditation time and dedication.
1. Find a comfortable seat, close your eyes, and start to connect to the breath, taking several slow deep breaths. Use your breath to go inward and connect with anything that may be present.
2. In this space of quiet, set an intention that you are ready to let go of anything that is ready to be released.
3. Next, bring to mind something in your life that you know has reached it’s time to be brought to completion and breathe into knowing that it is time to let go. Let yourself visualise how it will feel when you do let this go. What new path awaits once you let go of the old? Make this visualisation as vibrant, bright and engaging as possible.
4. Now ask that inner guide, your internal wisdom to tell you the action you need to take to let go, so you can fully make space and be open for this new vision in your life. Listen for the answers. Open your eyes and record this in a journal.
5. Close your eyes again, take a few deep breaths, and give thanks and gratitude to yourself for taking this time to go within. Make a commitment to follow through with the steps you need to let go of the old and pave way for the new.
Sheetali/Shitali Pranayama - Cooling Breath
Sheetali /Shitali Pranayama is known as the Cooling Breath. It is a breathing practice that cools the body, the mind, and the emotions. Sheetali comes from the Sanskrit root sheet, which means "cold" or "frigid." andtranslates as ‘that which is calm, passionless, and soothing’.
Sheetali pranayama is mentioned in the yoga texts Hatha Yoga Pradeepika and Gheranda Samhita.
Shitali Breath Instructions:
The guidance of a teacher is always recommended.
If you ever feel unwell or dizzy - stop the practice immediately.
These practices are to be done moderately and with much observation, as they are extremely powerful.
1. These practices are best practices on an empty stomach
2. choose a comfortable seated position; hips higher than knees, spine long.
3. take a few moments to observe and become aware of your natural breath and state of being (physically, mentally and emotionally)
4. Remember that if at any point throughthe practice you feel unwell, stop the practice and come back to your natural breath.
5. Inhale options:
-If you can roll the tongue:roll the tongue from the sides so that it forms a narrow tube. The tongue is folded from both the sides and the edges almost meet at the centeron the top. Then Inhale slowly
-If you cannot roll the tongue:simply make a shape of a circle, as if you breathing through a straw, lift the chin slightly and inhale this way.
6. Close the lips (no matter which option you took), lower the chin slightly towards the neck (Jalandhara bandja), and exhale slowly through the nose
7. Repeat stages 5 and 6 a few times (6-10 times)
8. After the last exhale, bring the neck back to natural, come back to your natural breath, and observe the effects of the practice.
Benefits of Shitali Breath:
Through the practice of pranayama, you can reduce all of the mental noise—the agitation, distractions, and self-doubt—that prevents you from connecting with your own inner light, your true Self. In this way, pranayama can have a profound effect on your life.
Balances excess pittaDosha (Ayurvedic constitution)
Cools the body and clears excess heat
Kindles the digestive fire and promotes optimal digestion
Mitigates hyper acidityin the digestive tract
Soothes inflammatory skin conditions
Helps to calm inflammation throughout the body
Calms and soothes the mind, supporting mental tranquility
Bolsters the flow of prana throughout the body
Fosters a sense of satisfaction
Soothes colicky pain
Alleviates excess hunger
Quells excess thirst
Reduces blood pressure
When to Use Shitali Breath:
Twice a day, or as needed during stressful times. Shitali Pranayama is particularly supportive when you're feeling drowsy in the morning or during an afternoon slump when you need to improve your focus.
Before You Begin:
Shitali requires an ability to roll the tongue by curling the lateral edges upward to form a tube. If you do not have this ability, an alternate variation of the cooling breath (known as sheetkari) is described below, in the “How to Practice” section.
These instructions are meant to provide a safe, general introduction to these pranayamas. Of course, it is always best to learn a new technique in person, with a qualified teacher.
1. Low blood pressure,
2. Respiratory disorders (such as asthma, bronchitis, or excessive mucus),
3. Chronic constipation,
4. Those with heart disease should practice without the breath retention.