Mindfulness Meditation … On and Off the Mat

Join me for an introduction to Mindfulness Meditation and how to use this powerful tool as a formal meditation discipline, as a practice within everyday life and to enhance your yoga asana practice.

Will we explore ancient and contemporary meditation techniques together –  seated, standing and walking, and then apply our understanding in a Slow Flow class.

gorge mindfulness moment

So quiet in the middle of everywhere -and nothing- with some incredibly ancient rocks

In this way we aim to drop within, into the awareness that is always there, and dwell from a place of deep abiding calm.

Once you have learned the simple ( yet not easy) techniques of mindful meditation you can take it into every situation, anywhere (and with this in your toolkit you’ll never be bored again!)

This workshop is on Sunday October 14, Grassroots Yoga, Mornington on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula

1.00-3.30pm, $45

Wear comfortable clothes suitable for both yoga and sitting.

Bookings are vital through grassroots yoga website or app or the mindbody app.

 

Self Practice-  in praise of commitment.

Burra Show grounds

You would think, going to a popular yoga class with a great teacher, that the class would be full of yoga teachers every day, right?  But the reality is, most yoga teachers, and certainly all the dedicated ones, are yoga practitioners first… and being a devoted yoga practitioner means that you have a self or home practice, probably daily, often early or first thing in the morning. You can usually tell the teachers who don’t have a committed practice.

In saying this, self or home practice is in no way limited to yoga instructors- a home practice can be fit into almost any career or vocation. And anyone with a home practice can attest to the benefits it offers.

So what is it that sets home practice apart from going to class?

When you roll out your mat- at home or in a self practice space, it’s your practice… so you can decide what you want to focus on- the breath, a certain asana and the poses that open you up for it, movement of energy, commitment to a set sequence, mindful movement. You name it, it’s your practice!

There’s a whole lot less ego in the room- especially if you are alone. You find your mind stays on the mat and it’s far easier to maintain your focus when there’s not some mad bendy guy or super strong woman floating along on the mat next to you, so you won’t find yourself comparing your practice/body/strength/ new lycra pants to theirs and they in turn won’t compare themselves to you. Similarly, your ego won’t be tickled by the presence of a newbie in class- especially if you are also the teacher type. 🙂 Alone at home, or in a dark corner of a good, self practice space, it’s only your own ego you have to worry about. After a while, if you keep your focus steady on the breath or something else constant, even that should shut up for a bit.

In your own practice, you can explore certain poses at length, staying longer than a few breaths or doing the poses that might help you find depth or strength in the pose.

Along the same lines, you can explore some of the different aspects of yoga within a asana if you choose to hold it longer- the breath (pranayama), pratyahara (sense withdrawal), dharana (single pointed concentration), dhyana (meditation), or some of the kleshas (obstacles to yoga) such as attachment or aversion that arise in your favourite or most loathed asanas.

As self practice evolves over time, you really get to know your individual body/mind/self, and in time are far more able to accept that being.

Being faithful to something that’s not always easy- as self practice can sometimes be difficult to maintain-  gives you the sense that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.

Here are some reasons that may encourage you to start a self practice regimen:

  • you can take it anywhere- all you need is a mat- in fact you might not even need that, a flat space is enough. ( The image above is from a campground / old show-grounds on the way to The Outback in South Australia- a perfect place for a morning practice while the kids played football, before a long day on the road )
  • you can choose a time that suits you- whatever your day involves
  • you can change that time to suit your schedule when something comes up – a sleepless night or day off for example
  • you can adapt the routine or emphasis of your practice to suit your changing needs- going to a strong yoga class when you have period pain might not be a great idea, or a yin class when you are full of excess energy or motivation
  • similarly, you can choose what kind of practice to do for the time of the day available for you- doing a strong, sweaty class with inversions and arm balances in the evening might not suit your constitution if you find it hard to sleep. Or a Yin or Restorative class in the morning might make you too relaxed and you find you can’t get anything done for the rest of the day 🙂
  • your Savasana can be as long as it is meant to be ( there’s some formula about 5 minutes of rest per 30 mins of asana- something sadly very rare in a class setting)

 

Self practice is the perfect adjunct to GOING to class, and I’m not suggesting you never practice in a group, led setting again. Regular classes are an awesome thing. A good yoga teacher will teach you something new every single time you go to class ( assuming you are attentive) – and every teacher will gift you with something different. Self practice is time to consolidate what you learn in class and have your body learn what your mind has taken in ( your practice of your theory), and to learn things for yourself.

Together, self practice and led practice make for authentic yoga.  It’s a beautiful thing. 

One more very useful thing about self practice is that you can wear your favourite pants with the hole in the crotch and no one is around who cares. 😉 

 

Myofascial Release Workshop

MFR B:WHere’s a self care workshop that is not only for yoga practitioners, but anyone with a body that feels the aches and pains of being alive 🙂
Gym bunnies, bike riders, joggers, horse riders, surfers, hikers, people who are on their feet all day, tradies, gardeners … the computer geeks, video editors, graphic designers, painters, hairdressers… and the less active, who still hurt!
You name it, any one who either over does it, doesn’t have time to do enough or has repetitive movement patterns in their daily lives..
so, that’s probably YOU….
This deeply restorative workshop focuses on finding and holding the pressure points throughout the physical body to relieve stress and strain from the muscles, joints and nervous system.
MFR addresses skeletal muscle immobility and pain patterns by relaxing contracted muscles, improving blood and lymphatic circulation, and stimulating the stretch reflex in muscles through the use of tennis balls and long held, yin type poses.
Participants will not only come away feel deeply nourished and relaxed, but they will learn massage techniques to add to their toolbox of self care.
Date: Saturday 21st October, 2017
Time: 3-5pm
Cost: $45 per person including workshop tools and take away information –
10% discount for GRY members!
Please go to the Grassroots Yoga Mornington website to book- (it’s listed under workshops)
OR book on mindbody

Destination Sensation

 

bw saddle web

Yoga is an inward journey, I fear this is increasingly forgotten. In the yoga studios and gyms lined with mirrors, I’m almost certain it IS being forgotten. It’s true that this is where we go, these studios, for motivation, or for convenience, for a certain teacher or style, an adjustment or two, to be a part of something, for a community of sorts, for a reliable heat source or a mat sized flat space to call your own for an hour or two. Or for a regular pay check without the frustration of self promotion. 🙂

But yoga is also solitary. Actually, yoga is primarily solitary. A solitary, inward journey. Every student coming to class regularly should ALSO be devoting time to self practice. Turning up on your own mat to your own time and doing something ( it doesn’t matter so much what, as long as there is breath and focus).

I hear, over and over, that you don’t have the motivation for self practice.. the discipline — but I beg to differ. If you can come to class you have that drive in you, already. You say you don’t know what asanas to practice. I say you’d be surprised by your kinaesthetic memory even if you’ve only been to a handful of classes.

( Sequencing poses is quite intuitive. In can be ‘pose and counter pose’…. ‘compressive followed by expansive’. And/or a series of poses working one group of muscles on one side of the body, perhaps building up in depth or strength or hold, followed by the other side. Breathing is even more intuitive. Upward movements ask for an inhale, downward for an exhale. The breath wants to be smooth and fluid by nature, not ragged and jittery. Not forced in. Certainly not forced out. Not usually held, but sometimes so quiet it drops away. Focus is all that is needed here. If in doubt just breathe naturally! )

Then, here is where the concept of a quiet practice comes in. A practice doesn’t always have to be based on the constant chatter of a teacher and her generalised ‘blanket’ cues ( as experienced as she is, she can’t feasibly speak for everyone).  Or paced with the prescriptive mantra of the breath of your fellow class attendees. Yoga doesn’t require an external noise source ( your teacher’s playlist ),  defining a choreographed plot line with a musical peak pose moment.

A silent, solitary, inward practice.

Self motivated. Without mirrors or selfie sticks.  Without the internet or a podcast. Without music. Without that hottie on the mat next to you. Without a teacher or his instruction. Without that ‘advanced’ student to follow along, in front of you. Without the back-drop of a rack synthetic hot pants for sale at the studio, or boxes of packaged vegan bars / trendy ( ok, delicious) cold pressed juices, the free coconut water that calls you to rush out of your savasana before it runs out.

Can I ask you to practice alone, in old, not particularly flattering but just comfortable clothes, on a no frills mat from Target rolled out in a little bit of space somewhere, with your eyes half closed?

A silent, solitary practice is where yoga takes flight. For here, without external reflection, the mind is drawn inward and you start to notice, and in time observe, sensation. The feelings of being in a physical body. The feeling of the muscles, bones, sinews, skin. The stretch of the fascia, the rebound. The sensation of the breath moving in and out of the body. And more subtly, the sensation of energetic movement and pattern. Each pose has an attendant sensation. Perhaps a little -or a great deal- different for every body. Perhaps changing every day. The actual quality of the sensation is not what matters. Noticing the quality, with curiosity,  without judgement or categorisation, is what matters.

This is the present moment. This is the gift we are given whilst placed in a physical body. Sensation which always already brings you to the present moment. The start and the end of the journey, sensation is forever present, woven through all experience.

 

 

 

 

Yin yoga, Myofascial release & Yoga for the Face!

Yin Yoga, Myo-Fascial Release and Face Yoga workshop:  A self-care workshop:

savasana
I’m holding an afternoon workshop on these three delicious gems of self care on Sunday May 22nd at Hummingbird Eco Retreat, Red Hill, on the Mornington Peninsula in the beautiful Yoga space there. 

EXPERIENCE Yin Yoga , a slow and mindful form of yoga designed to wipe your stress away physically and mentally and bring you to an altered state of being. Yin yoga is a beautiful adjunct to a busy life or indeed a more yang style yoga practice. In Yin yoga we concentrate on sensation in the present moment. It is literally the anti-thesis of multi-tasking, and at the same time it is a powerful physical practice, working on deep connective tissue to relieve the body of stagnant energies.


LEARN Myofascial self release techniques ( MFR ) to shift stubborn tightness in the fascia (the connective tissue ) and muscles, helping to release habitual muscular patterns and chronic pain and enhancing everyday mobility. We use tennis balls on trigger points and along acupuncture meridians to ease blocked energies, built up pain responses and chronic tension.


TRY out Yoga for the Face- a yoga facelift method to tone the face via its muscles – a workout we never think of doing but one that is just as important as all the muscles below the neck. Everyone knows that toned muscles don’t sag, and this is just as true for the face. Yoga for the Face also enhances circulation to help with clear smooth skin. On a less superficial note,  Yoga for the Face also helps with tension in the head, face and neck, bringing relief from headaches and jaw tension. 


RELAX with a guided Yoga Nidra meditation, deep relaxation through a mindful rotation of awareness.

The workshop includes notes on Myofascial techniques and tennis balls and sock for the MFR therapy, plus chai tea and a healthy gluten free/ dairy free snack.

1.30 – 4.30pm Sunday 22nd May

( this workshop would make a great early Mother’s day gift- vouchers available! )


Investment: $65
Couples/friends: $120 for two
Early bird price ( book & pay before May 8th ): $55,
$100 for two.

Suits all levels including absolute beginner and the established yoga student- and this includes most bodies!

Check out the lovely accommodation at Hummingbird if you want to make a weekend of it. http://hummingbirdeco.com.au/sleep/accommodation

Bookings for the workshop can be made via email :
heidi@yogaguerilla.com
or call/ text Heidi on 0403560850

Yin Yoga class

yin yoga

Yin Yoga is a fantastic way to bring flexibility and suppleness to the body, while deeply relaxing the mind and regenerating the spirit. With its roots in Ancient Chinese Taoist practices, Yin Yoga poses tend to be simple and in the range of most bodies. The poses are suitable to do every day, at any time, and are a great additional to a more Yang Yoga practice such as Ashtanga, Vinyasa or Bikram, and for people who do a lot of sport, cycling or jogging. It is equally effective for more sedentary folk looking bring balance back to their bodies.

Yin Yoga is not about effort and activation of the muscles towards the bones, increasing strength.
It is rather about ‘modest stretches, patiently endured'( Paul Grilley ) – allowing the deep ‘Yin’ tissues to relax and stretch, the body’s relaxation response to kick in, and the bones to move apart- essentially decompressing them. Yin Yoga works the deep fascia (connective tissues), softening the dense build up of this gel like tissue and making it more fluid- greatly reducing stiffness and pain.

This is the Power of Yin Yoga, and what keeps it safe and non aggressive, all the while whilst releasing stagnant energy and habitual muscle patterns built up from daily life, work and sporting activities.

With a regular practice, the body rebuilds in a new and more elastic way, the joints stay young and supple. It very effectively reduces lower back and hip pain in many people.

I absolutely love it, makes me feel deeply connected to the world and grounded in life- and hence after 25 years of a commitment to strong & dynamic yoga forms such as Ashtanga Vinyasa, I find it a perfect addition to my life in yoga.

My next Yin Flow Yoga class starts next week on Thursday March 25th @ Hummingbird Eco Retreat in Red Hill, on the Mornington Peninsula – at 9.30 am.

When You’ve Gone Too Hard – what to do to sort yourself out when you’ve over done it in your practice

Firstly, I’d like to make it known, that not only hot headed, pitta type Ashtangi’s are the ones that occasionally find they have gone too hard. It can happen to any yoga practitioner- it’s happened to me from vinyasa classes, and definitely from Iyengar classes. Even from Yin self practice. Definitely from group Mysore practice.

Luckily, it’s less likely as you mature, mellow and grow out of your ego a bit. So, read on, whatever kind of yoga floats your boat/ navasana. This post is very much related to the last post “Effort in Yoga”

So the signs are there… maybe immediately after savasana, maybe a few hours after, or later that evening, even the next morning if you didn’t sleep well…. you feel like crap, or a bit like crap, or kind of awesome and light at the same time as feeling completely crap and about to fall apart at the seams.

Yep, you’ve overdone it.

In your practice that morning ( or whenever- some people actually practice at other times of the day, apparently, and to good effect… apparently):

You did a ‘new‘ pose.

Or you did a pose you don’t usually do.

You applied maximum effort in every single pose, pushing yourself to your limit (not me, not for some years now)

Or you did something incorrectly. Perhaps you played around with letting the buttocks go in backbend instead of your usual tightening- as you’ve heard conflicting ideas. Perhaps you doubted yourself, what you know about yourself.

Or you played around with sequencing without following yoga law and perhaps, if you are honest, that sequencing wasn’t the greatest (headstand in the first 15 mins beginning of class, anyone???… it happens, I’ve seen it! )

Or you did 108 backbends (shish!!!)

Or even 5.

Or you went ‘really deep

You forgot to engage your bandhas.

You over engaged your bandhas.

You over breathed (see Simon Borg Olivier on this topic- he’s the man)

Or you got an amazing adjustment in class. Or a shitty one (it happens)

You sweat a great deal ( doesn’t happen to me at all, I get a little jealous sometimes )

You practiced in a very, very hot room ( personally I’m not into artificially heating the body in yoga, though I know a lot of people just love it)

Or you didn’t do savasana at all or for long enough (don’t quote me on this, but isn’t it meant to be 5 mins savasana for every 30 mins of asana practice?)

Or perhaps you finished off your practice with some sex (perhaps not so common in class but in home practice, if you are both yogi’s, all those pheromones floating around….)

Whatever it was, you feel Jittery and Over stimulated. Tired- no, utterly wrecked, unable to do anything. Completely Distracted. Emotional. Off balance, Weird in your spine. Headachy. Spacey. Ravenous. Nauseous. Unable to translate concepts into words. Twitching in your eyes. Fluttering in your heart. You go outside to hang the laundry out and can barely lift your arms over your head…. and your heart pounds like it never usually does from just simple effort.

Any or all of the above ‘mistakes’ to some extent or another.

You’ve over done it. You naughty boy. Bad lady!!

Perhaps I’ve made it sound a bit dramatic. All these things above are not inherently bad in themselves ( well, not doing savasana is bad!!!! ) but they can all set you up for:

nervous system over stimulation ( jittery, spacey, weird in your spine, eye twitches, sensitivity to light and noise )

or muscle exhaustion ( pain and exhaustion, weakness ),

dehydration ( headache, nausea, muscle pain, cramps , cravings),

temporary blood pressure issues ( pounding heart, unable to catch your breath, feeling like your heart is beating behind your eyes),

feeling unmotivated – any of the above mistakes, but especially over effort, perhaps trying over and over to ‘nail’ a challenging pose. It is well known know that motivation/ willpower has a finite scope- we only have a certain amount of energy each day to do things. Use it all up getting out of bed at the cracker, in the dark and cold and going gung-ho doing your morning practice… and you may well be set to waste the rest of your day. Maybe that’s fine sometimes… but if it’s a pattern then something has got to give. If you want to contribute to, you know, the external world.

being utterly ravenous (over breathing does this, in yoga and in sport and other physical activities. It seems to be about the bodies need to return to homeostasis ) Often thirst is also mistaken for hunger, or poor food choices are made, which compounds the situation.

cranky, irritable and decidedly un-yogi ( over pushing AND over breathing, too deep and too fast, increasing adrenaline and cortisol in the body makes for a ‘hot head’– ready for some argy bargy. )

Traditionally, the aim in Yoga was always to increase the length of our breaths in each direction, slooooow inhales and even longer exhales- in order to decrease the amount of breaths we take. ( In Yogic belief, we are born with a certain amount of breaths and we want to learn to breath less in order to extend our lifespan ) SO MANY PEOPLE are over-breathing with their deep, FAST, forced breaths- in effect hyperventilating, and over doing it!

This is not what Yoga is about, feeling like this! Yoga is about restoring the body, supporting it. Purifying it and making it ready for meditation. For union. For self, as in SELF realisation. Loss of ego. You know the score.

Effort is fabulous, and doing tapas is vital to yoga practice. A strong practice is great for many people. But going over board in any form of Yoga is not tapas. It’s not sattvic and it is not a practice of ahimsa, either.

aside: Here is a quick definition of tapas, from yoga journal. Thanks Yoga Journal, my motivation is running out 🙂

  1. The word “tapas” comes from the Sanskrit verb “tap” which means “to burn.” The traditional interpretation of tapas is “fiery discipline,” the fiercely focused, constant, intense commitment necessary to burn off the impediments that keep us from being in the true state of yoga (union with the universe).

You can still be doing tapas without messing with your homeostasis, baby!

Ok, so I could go on at length. Ok, so I have already…

BUT what can we do when we have found, oh dear, that we have gone too hard. What can bring us back to equilibrium?

These things have worked for me in the past- back when I used to push it too hard in a younger, more pitta dominated time ( and when I could spend all day practicing then flopping around lazily post practice- and back when I wasn’t a parent and I didn’t see the direct consequence of being cranky/exhausted/overstimulated etc etc. Nothing is quite as irritating as the noise of children, even happy delightful ones, when you are fried/not in balance. )

Go back and do savasana… for at least 15 minutes. With blankets and eye bag even if it is warm. Go back to bed if you feel really crappy- if you have the lifestyle for it!

savasana

Drink more water… warm to hot, never cold. Dehydration takes a while to resolve.

Eat warm food, grounding food such as oats, buckwheat bread, eggs, soup. Root vegetables. Not salads. Not spicy curries. Not raw food. Not cold food. Not processed food. No crackers.                                               A little fruit could help- dates and figs are great if your digestion can cope- just one or two. Warm, cooked apples with cinnamon and a fat source like butter or ghee or coconut oil, unrefrigerated perfectly ripe mango, banana… no sour fruits or citrus. No yoghurt either until you feel in balance again.

buckwheat chia bread

Eat GHEEghee is good! I have studied pranayama several times with O.P Tiwari of the Kaivalydham and he always tells me to ‘eat more ghee’. prescribing 4 TBs a day for my needs- not easy to consume that much but I do my best. I make it every week and use it in everything. Here it is solid, being winter both outside and inside the house, but if you melt it, it’s easier to eat.

ghee

Rub your feet with ghee before going to bed and put socks on, if you feel overstimulated and are worried that sleep might not be yours ( upward moving energy poses and practices can do this- hence not doing headstand, uddiyana bandha practices or even backbends in the evening)

Give yourself a foot massage– again, with oils.

Put socks on- cold feet can really mess with the body after practice.

put some socks on

Drink some milk if milk is your thing. I can’t drink it so homemade, warm almond milk with spices and honey is a good one too.

Go for a quiet, slow walk, barefoot great if it warm enough. Keep your chest and throat and lower back WARM.

Go get some shiatsu. Tell your practitioner what you’ve gone and done to yourself.

Do some Alternate nostril breathing for at least 5 minutes. More is better. Without kumbhaka ( retention of breath ) is advised if you are new to it.

Do Shitali pranayam if you are irritated and cranky. It is a fabulous panacea for over heated, over stimulated post practice yogi’s.

Legs up the Wall pose ( Vipariti Karani) – what a magic pose over over stimulation. Or Legs Up the Couch pose if you find yourself without a wall to lean on. Having your legs above your heart does wonders for the nervous system. Stay for 10 minutes, keeping warm.

legs up the couch pose

Take a warm bath with magnesium salts – especially if you are feeling it in the muscles.

Hide. Choose your activities. Going to the Southern Hemispheres largest mall for some ill advised retail therapy might not be the right thing to do right now (or ever?)

Ok, so say you’ve jumped in your car and are headed to work and you realise you have over done it. The ideas above might not be an option, right? Perfect thing for you to do would be to hum. humming is the way forward. Inhale long, quiet, slow breaths, exhale while humming- long, slow and completely. Inhale, repeat. For at least 5 minutes. Humming quietens down the over stimulated sympathetic nervous system and feeds the parasympathetic nervous system. Chanting Aum could do it, but try any humming- along to music if you like. When you hum for some time, taking care NOT to over inhale, you will notice the benefits. It helps you concentrate, too.

On public transport? Think humming might not cut it with your fellow passengers? Inhale very very very slowly, through the nose into the belly and only lightly up into the chest, ( yes, abandon bandhas for this, people) and exhale even more slowly, making sure to relax the belly on the next inhale. For as long as it takes.n’t reach for coffee, tea, chai or chocolate. But… don’t forget to eat! But then  also, don’t go overboard trying to replace that weird feeling with food.

Oh, one more thing. Get off the computer. Doesn’t help a bit.

Any others I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments.