Inspiration Of The Month - March 2019
"Yoga’s concern for nature is more relevant than ever. It is a crucial factor in the future of the planet and of our species. This Yoga of nature is not just a matter of getting everyone to practice asanas but bringing a yogic way of integration into how we live, balancing the outer and the inner, nature and spirit, on a planetary level. " - David Frawley
This month is devoted to raising our awareness in regards to what is happening in the world and how can we take our yoga off the mat and into the world.
You might think: what does yoga and environmental awareness have to do with each other? And how does practicing warrior and head stand have anything to do with the planet?
In the Asana practice we keep shape shifting. We become a mountain, an eagle, a snake, a dog, a camel, a warrior, a sage. We stand up on our feet, on our head, on our arms. We turn this way and that way and challenge the physical body in and out of different poses.
One of the reasons we do this is to break the limited sense of self many of us hold, to break the belief we are separated from each other and from the world, and to be reminded of the interconnectedness of us all.
When the illusion of being separate is dissolved, more insights arise from within our hearts, and we then find the strength, the courage and the means necessary to act upon these insights and turn them into actions.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali begin this way:
Atha Yoga - Anushasanam
Now the practice begins. NOW.
Every moment we have an opportunity to wake up to life as it is, regardless of what happened up till this point and regardless of expectations we have of how they are to become.
Present moment awareness and action..
The Environment needs us. Mother Earth needs us. The Ocean needs us.
We should lift our heads and our hearts,challenge our way of life, not in order to become judgmental and beat ourselves up for it, but so that we acknowledge what is asked of us and what we can do more.
It doesn't take much to become more educated and involved.
All the means are in front of us.
Literally at the tip of our fingertips.
It is easy to fall into despair, especially when we just start learning about what’s happening. It’s overwhelming. It’s disturbing. It really is. And yes, every action one can take should never be underestimated. No action is a waste of time or energy. One can never know how far one’s actions might reach.
So it is important we draw inward, just as we do every time we step on the mat, we shed off the layers of fear that surround us, and even more so the layers of indifference we have surrounded ourselves with, and ask of ourselves:
What can I do today? Just today.
Whatever it is, just focus on what you CAN.
And then go ahead and do it.
And repeat this every day. As many times as you can. As often as you can.
Trust it to take its own course.
The main thing is: start taking action. Start today. Start now.
"The beauty of small acts is that they cannot be stopped. There is no inconsequential action, only consequential inaction. Real transformation originates from the bottom and moves outwards." - Paul Hawken, a leading environmentalist and the author of Blessed Unrest.
A few habits I adopted during the past year:
Package free consumption; after I watched the movie "A Plastic Ocean", I just could not keep doing the same things I was doing for so long.
I have reduced my packaged consumption in at least 80% (if not more). There are still a few items I still struggle to find package free, but all the other I purchase mainly from "Scoop", and I make sure I do not buy any fruits or vegetables that come in a plastic covering, plastic box or cling wrap. I applied this also to our toiletries and we now use soap bars, rather than plastic bottled soaps and shampoos.
Reusable coffee cups have been a part of our life style for a few years now, but even more so the past year, to the point that if I do not have my reusable cup, I just skip the coffee.... (well... most times... just to be honest...).
My next step is to buy a compost. And there is still so much that can be done.
We are sharing a lot of inspiration this month on social media, and we would absolutely love to hear your ideas, suggestions, inspiration, the way you approach this whole concept of yoga off the mat and in every day life.
Together we can do even more...
Yoga is a way of harnessing the secret powers of nature within us to manifest our own higher natural potentials for a greater awareness. This requires a very deep connection with the world of nature in body, mind and heart. It cannot be done mechanically or en masse, nor made into a franchise. It requires an individual orientation to the living world, which is not just human society but all that is. - David Frawley
Jump to Inspiration of the month:
I used to put my mat on the earth, but now I try to make the earth my mat.
- Denise Bordeleau
Forward bends & TWISTS
Wide Legged Forward Bend - Prasarita Padottanasana
Wide-Legged Standing Forward Fold is a calming forward bend that stretches the hamstrings and back. There are several arm variations and other modifications available, making this a suitable pose for yoga students of all levels!
Some of the benefits of this pose are:
Great to relieve headaches and fatigue
Calms the mind
Relief from neck & shoulder tension
Stretches and strengthens the upper back and shoulders
This pose has all of the benefits of both forward folds and inversions This pose also quiets and soothes the nervous system. Additionally, it helps prepare the body and mind for deeper yoga poses and introspection.
Caution: Lower-back problems, avoid the full forward bend.
Some beginners aren't able to easily bring their hands to the floor and need a good deal of support in this forward bend to protect their lower back. Try raising your hands off the floor by resting each on the end of a block. If your back is still rounded, then use a folding chair to support your forearms. Always Remember in forward bends to emphasise the length of the front torso.
1. Step your feet about 3 to 4 feet apart, with your hands on your hips.
2. Lift up tall through your whole torso and fold slowly over your legs.
3.Place your hands flat on the floor or to blocks, shoulder-width apart; begin to stretch your torso forward.
4. Fold deeper, bringing your head toward the floor. Bend your elbows, stacking them over your wrists.
5. Anchor your feet, firm your leg muscles up into your hips, and gently squeeze the outer thighs in. Lengthen your entire spine from your sitting bones to the crown of your head. Hug your forearms together, pointing your elbows straight back. Draw your shoulders up your back.
6. Option to then come to Parivrtta Prasarita Padottanasana, (Revolved Wide-Legged Standing Forward Fold. Bring your left hand to the floor between your feet, directly under your chest. Bring your right hand to your right hip. Keep your spine and the front of your torso long.
7. With an exhalation, straighten your right arm and reach toward the ceiling. Your arm should be vertical and your fingertips should point to the ceiling. Keep your hips as level as possible, twisting through the torso instead of the hips.
8. To release, slowly unwind and return both hands to the floor. Then, bring your right hand to the center and repeat the twist to the left for the same amount of time. Return to center. Then, bring your hands to your hips. On an inhalation, slowly return to standing with a flat back.
Kapalbhati Pranayama - Skull Shining Breathing Technique
Kapalabhati is a traditional internal cleansing technique and detoxifies all the systems in our body. And the obvious sign of a healthy body is a shining forehead which can be obtained with regular practice of this pranayama. A forehead that glows not just from the outside but also an intellect that becomes sharp and refined.
Kapalbhati 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.
Come to a comfortable seated position, spine long.
Place your hands on your knees, palms up or down.
Take a deep breath in.
As you exhale, pull your stomach.
Pull your navel in back towards the spine.
Do as much as you comfortably can. You may keep your right hand on the stomach to feel the abdominal muscles contract. Pull the navel in.
As you relax the navel and abdomen, the breath flows into your lungs automatically.
Take 20 such breaths to complete one round of Kapal Bhati pranayama.
After completing the round, relax with your eyes closed and observe the sensations in your body.
Do two more rounds of Skull Shining breathing technique (Kapal Bhati pranayama).
Benefits of Kapalbhati Breath
Effective in reducing weight by increasing the metabolic rate
Clears the nadis (subtle energy channels)
Stimulates abdominal organs and thus is extremely useful to those with diabetes
Improves blood circulation and adds radiance to the face
Improves digestive tract functioning, absorption and assimilation of nutrients
Results in a taut and trimmed down belly
Energizes the nervous system and rejuvenates brain cells
Calms and uplifts the mind
Avoid practicing this breathing technique if you have an artificial pacemaker or stents, backache due to slip disc, recently went through an abdominal surgery, or are suffering with epilepsy or hernia.
Women should not practice Skull Shining breathing technique (Kapal Bhati pranayama) during and shortly after pregnancy, as well as during menstruation as it involves vigorous abdominal squeezes.
People with hypertension and heart problems should practice this breathing techniqueunder a yoga expert's guidance.