INSPIRATION OF THE MONTH
INSPIRATION OF THE MONTH - November 2018
" In whatever position one is in, or in whatever condition in life one is placed, one must find balance, Balance is the state of the present - the here and now. If you balance in the present, you are living in Eternity"- BKS Iyengar
Our inspiration of the month is BALANCE.
Our approach and philosophy at Sukha Mukha Yoga is to provide a practice that brings us closer to balance every time we step on the mat, every day when we wake up. A practice that balances us, personally, rather than a practice that is considered balanced for the general., A practice which incorporates all the elements, the season, the day of the week, the phase of the moon, the time of the day, and and so much more that is to be considered.
We live at times in which we are often looking for the "quick fix", the "one size fits all", however the yoga practice and philosophy suggests that these do not exist. That there are no short cuts. And that a true practice requires constant effort and surrender to how life IS, rather than how we would have wanted it to be. This type of practice changes day to day and can only be seen with mindfulness and present time attention.
At times such as now, when the weather becomes warmer, many of us wake up to life. We go out more, and shed the layers of winter behind. This in itself is awakening and energizing for most of us. However simultaneously we start feeling the end of year approaching, which most of find hard to believe and digest. "How did another year pass by???". Some may experience anxiety as they realize they have not accomplished many (or any) of the "new years resolutions" they have made. Many stress mentally and emotionally about family gathering, and then of course there is the financial stress about buying all these unnecessary gifts to everyone. With this the collective energy of the end of the year and Christmas becomes intense and a general feeling of "slight madness" surrounds us.
It is important we remain aware and mindful, otherwise we will get swept away with this energy. It is important we remain grounded and even though these are the times many slip out of practice ("I don't have time...), these are the times most of us need this practice even more than ever, and not just any practice, but a balancing practice, a practice that is both energising and grounding. And even though any yoga practice will probably achieve these results, including balancing Asanas in the practice at this time of the year, will probably achieve these results more effectively.
Balancing poses require much more attention, and immediately require our attention. It withdraws us from the outside world to the internal world. It promotes a practice of Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), which is something we all need all year long, but can definitely benefit from even more now. Whilst working on asanas that challenge our balance, we work on our "equilibrioception”, which promotes stillness in yoga poses, as well as stillness in your mind.
Just as Sri B.K.S Iyengar says in the quote; "Balance is not a pose to conquer. Not a phase of life to achieve. It is a state of mind." This links to the well-known yoga concept of sthira and sukha (sthira-sukham asanam). Often translated as Effort and Comfort, Effort and Grace, Courage and Surrender. As two terms the are seemingly contradictory and yet they are not. If anything , they are complimentary. They co-exist. They represent the middle path, embodying enthusiasm and liveliness while at the same time staying focused and keeping our feet firmly planted in our everyday lives.
"Balance in the body, is the foundation, for balance in life" - BKS Iyengar
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Balance in the body, is the foundation, for balance in life - BKS Iyengar
King Dancer Pose - Natarajasana
Nata means dance. Raja means King. Nataraja is the name Shiva dons in his role as the Cosmic Dancer. This dance of Shiva is called ‘Anandatandava’, meaning Dance of Bliss, and symbolizes the cosmic cycles of creation and destruction as well as the daily rhythm of birth and death.
Stretches the shoulders and chest
Stretches the thighs, groins, and abdomen
Strengthens the legs and ankles
Contraindications for this pose:
Recent Back injuries or pain.
Spinal stenosis or spondylolisthesis.
Vertigo or other balance related issues.
Balance can be difficult in the modified version. Try bracing the free hand against a wall to help you stay stable. Many beginners, when lifting the leg, tend to cramp in the back of the thigh. Be sure to keep the ankle of the raised foot flexed; that is, draw the top of the foot toward the shin.
1. Stand in Mountain Pose. Inhale, shift your weight onto your right foot, and lift your left heel toward your left buttock as you bend the knee. Press the head of your right thigh bone back, deep into the hip joint, and pull the knee cap up to keep the standing leg straight and strong.
2. There are two variations you might try here with your arms and hands. In either case, try to keep your torso relatively upright. The first is to reach back with your left hand and grasp the outside of your left foot or ankle. To avoid compression in your lower back, actively lift your pubis toward your navel, and at the same time, press your tailbone toward the floor.
3. Begin to lift your left foot up, away from the floor, and back, away from your torso. Extend the left thigh behind you and parallel to the floor. Stretch your right arm forward, in front of your torso, parallel to the floor.
4. The second option with the hands is to sweep your right hand around behind your back and catch hold of the inner left foot. Then sweep the left hand back and grab the outside of the left foot. This variation will challenge your balance even more. Then raise the thigh as described in step 3. This second variation will increase the lift of your chest and the stretch of your shoulders.
5. Stay in the pose for 20 to 30 seconds. Then release the grasp on the foot, place the left foot back onto the floor, and repeat for the same length of time on the other side.
Full Yogic Breath
Full Yogic Breath
Full Yogic Breath is a deeply balancing pranayama, sometimes known as three-part breath because it works with three different sections of the torso and naturally engages all three lobes of the lungs. Full Yogic Breath revitalizes the entire body with prana. In particular, it benefits the vital organs, which can easily become stagnant, constricted, or fraught with emotional and physical tension when we experience stress. Full Yogic Breath relieves stress, refreshes the mind, and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, encouraging a calmer, more balanced state of being overall. It also helps to correct unhealthy breathing patterns.
Full Yogic 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.
Choose a comfortable seated or lying position and relax the body fully.
Gently close your eyes and take a few moments to settle in. Close your mouth and breathe only through your nostrils. Quiet your mind, and attune to your body.
When you are ready, inhale slowly and with purpose, drawing your breath deep into the lower abdomen, starting from the pelvic floor and slowly allowing the breath to fill upward (toward the navel) and outward (away from the spine). Initially, focus only on filling the lower abdomen.
As the breath fills this area, allow it to expand outward in all directions—to the front (expanding the lower belly), to the sides (expanding the hips), and to the back (expanding the lumbar spine and the sacrum)—as it moves upward toward the navel.
Once the lower abdomen has filled completely, continue the inhalation by filling the mid-torso in a similar manner. Continue to draw the breath upwards, from the navel to the ribs, allowing the breath to gently expand the diaphragm, the ribs, and the mid-back as the breath continues to rise.
Once the mid-torso feels full, complete the inhalation by drawing the breath into the upper chest—allowing prana to rise up into the heart, the sternum, and finally into the shoulders and the base of the neck. Feel the collarbones lift slightly.
This completes the inhalation. Then, release the breath from the upper chest as the heart, lungs, sternum and shoulders all relax—dropping down and drawing in, toward the spine. Then, expel the breath from the mid-torso, feeling the ribs contract and the navel draw in, closer to the spine. And lastly, release the breath from the lower abdomen, feeling the belly contract and draw inward toward the spine.
This completes one round of Full Yogic Breath.
Benefits of Full Yogic Breath
Calms the mind and body, reducing stress and anxiety
Promotes full and complete breathing
Increases oxygen supply to the blood
Helps keep the lungs healthy
Releases muscular tension
Prepares for deeper meditation
Do not start a breathing practice if you experience asthma, shortness of breath, or have a heart condition.