Posts Tagged With: wellbeing

Find Love in unexpected places

While I tried to calm my overactive mind by a stroll along the beach, I was happily surprised by the following:

Let Love find you

Let Love find you

What a beautiful present! I felt much better straight away about my decision to go for a walk and my guilt started to disappear slowly. Guilt about not applying for jobs, studying my yoga Teacher’s Training course preparations, writing blogs or other useful tasks. At the same time inspiration arrived for my next blog. Once again I learned that relaxation is beneficial in a lot of ways.

This little sign of love brings me to Bhakti yoga, also called the yoga of devotion or love. The Sanskrit word bhakti is derived from the verb root bhaj, which means ‘to belong to’ or ‘to worship’. Bhakti can be translated into devotional service or pure love. Within this yoga style, your personal relationship with God and emotional fulfillment and wellbeing are your focus points. It is the way towards realization and union of the individual with the universe or the Supreme Soul through acts of love and service. Bhakti yoga leads to the same destination as all the other branches of yoga, but is especially suitable for those who are emotional in their nature and have feelings of love and devotion highly developed. In terms of the five principles of niyama, bhakti yoga is Isvara pranidhana; surrender of one’s actions and one’s will to God. Through practice you can reach a higher state of intelligence and that makes you lose the identity of the self, you become one with God.

Above all, love is the most fundamental drive of every living entity. You cannot be happy without satisfying your desire to love. So let’s LOVE today on Valentine’s Day!

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Graceful Yoga

Dru yoga has its roots in Hatha yoga and is based on flowing dynamic movements, directed breathing, mudras, positive affirmations and empowering visualisation. It is a gentle and graceful form of yoga and is designed to be practised by people of all abilities, fitness levels and age groups. Dru comes from the Sanskrit word dhruya meaning ‘still’ and ‘unchanging’. It refers to an inner space which is still and spacious. In this stillness you are able to sit back from anything that may be happening around you no matter how stressful your life can be at times. In this place you will find inner calm, strength and tranquillity.

Dru yoga was first taught in the West by a small group of friends working at Bangor University in the United Kingdom. Mansukh Patel and his friends were trained in Dru yoga by Mansukh’s parents. His parents participated in Mahatma Gandhi’s non violence resistance campaigns in India. Mansukh and his family emigrated to the United Kingdom from Kenya after Mansukh’s childhood in the Great Rift Valley.

A Dru yoga class has usually the following pattern: activation, Energy Block Release Sequences (EBRs), postures, mudras and sequences, relaxation and meditation. EBRs are easy-to-perform sequences of movements, breathing patterns, hand gestures and visualizations that help release specific blockages in your physical, emotional and other subtle energies. These blockages can lead to ‘dis-ease’, stress and physical and emotional pain. The success lies in awareness of your movement, rather than your physical accomplishments. In Dru yoga joints are kept relaxed and soft during movement as in Tai Chi. This soft approach creates flexibility and a free flow of subtle energy. The EBRs involve an unique way of movement. It feels like a focused natural and smooth dance to me. A perfect way to release stress and tension and transform your negative thoughts or attitude in a more positive view.

Dru yoga can significantly improve your wellbeing; physically, mentally and emotionally. Practising this form of yoga can boost your energy level, improve your vitality, flexibility and strength, ease back pain and wash away stress. Through the development of stillness and calmness you are better able to deal with the pressures of modern living. You will feel emotionally more balanced and have greater (self) confidence and appreciation of life.

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Western World Yoga

In the western world, Hatha yoga is one of the most commonly practiced form of yoga. It is also called the Yoga of Postures, since it is mainly focused on asana and pranayama, the third and the fourth limb of yoga. Hatha yoga is described by Yogi Swatmarama, a Hindu sage of 15th century India. ‘Ha’ means sun and ‘tha’ means moon. Therefore Hatha yoga is commonly translated as uniting opposites and creating balance. It refers to creating balance between opposites such as female and male (energies) or hot and cold. Another common translation of Hatha is forceful or willful, since it requires a lot of physical efforts. A reasonable amount of time is spent in the poses to discover correct alignment and develop strength and flexibility. Patanjali defines asana as ‘a posture which can be hold for a certain amount of time’. Since you spend some time in each pose, the challenge is to focus on the posture, stay attentive and surrender to the moment. In this way body and mind are connected and becoming more balanced.

Hatha yoga is perfectly suitable for beginners, since it generally is a slow-paced stretching class with gentle basic poses with no flow in between the asanas. It is a perfect way to increase your feelings of health and wellbeing and get used to asana, meditation, breathing and relaxing techniques. My introduction to yoga started off with Hatha yoga as well. For me it was a perfect way to get used to different postures, learn to sit still and observe my mind and especially learn to relax. During my first experiences in savasana or corpse pose I felt restless. While other yoga practitioners around me were almost sound asleep, I became aware of my overactive mind; thoughts and feelings where all over the place. I realized how much I was used to comparing myself with others all the time. How easily I judge myself and others. For sure my initial steps in the world of yoga, were not always smooth, joyful and peaceful. Yoga has taught me to be real and to start accepting myself just the way I am. Yoga not only connects my body, mind and spirit, it also provides me with feelings of connectedness with other people.

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Asana

Asana (postures or poses) comprise the third limb of yoga. Traditional usage defines asana as both singular and plural. It addresses physical limitations so you may cultivate more comfort during the limbs that follow. In the yogic view, the care of your body is an important stage of your spiritual growth.

Originally, in the context of yoga practice, asana refers to two things: the place where a yogi sits and the manner or posture in which he sits. Patanjali describes asana as ‘to be seated in a position that is firm, but relaxed’ for extended, or timeless periods. According to the Yoga Sutra’s, the only requirement for practicing asana is to be steady and comfortable. Asana later became a term for various postures suitable to restore and maintain a person’s wellbeing and improve the body’s flexibility and vitality. Through the practice of asanas, you develop the habit of discipline and the ability to concentrate, both necessary for meditation. 

Yoga in the West is commonly practiced as physical exercise mainly. Thus focusing on the asana especially and thereby neglecting the other limbs. In contrast, the yoga practiced in the East is more associated with spirituality, meditation and growth. It quite appeals to me to imagine the eight limbs as an iceberg. Typically only one-ninth of the volume of an iceberg is above water which can symbolize (part of) the third limb. Practicing and learning yoga postures and the result – a healthy and fit body – can be easily seen with the naked eye. However other limbs include consciousness, meditation, concentration, enlightenment or control of the breath which are less visible and rooted from within primarily. If you just practice the ‘visible’ asana it equals a fitness class or gymnastics practice. While on your yoga journey you can develop and establish the relationships with this – on first sight – invisible part of the yoga philosophy. If you start to look at a deeper level, you can discover a whole new world and surprise yourself with the enormous amount you can learn and grow. Enjoy the journey!  

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