Oasis of Stillness

I recently attended a wonderful restorative workshop with yoga teacher and friend Ingrid Jolley. At some point in the session, while resting in a beautiful heart opening posture she led a guided visualisation of a lake with the group. Inspired by this meditation, I decided to share it in my own yoga classes over the past week and have recorded it to share here as well. I have naturally used my own words and included some pranayama as well. Enjoy!

lake reflection

 

Beads of Light

chakras i am

I love working with the chakra colours. In this relaxation/meditation, I have weaved the colours and an affirmation associated with the 7 main chakras into a creative visualisation. You could practice this in savasana (lying on the floor) or seated upright. Ensure your body is supported and comfortable to allow for a deeper experience to unfold. When we support our body in meditation, our energy and attention is drawn away from the physical layer, opening to higher levels of consciousness and a spacious enquiry.

You may choose to rest in stillness and silence after the guided relaxation, allowing your attention to open to all that is inside and around you. Let your focus be relaxed and open, aware of everything but nothing specific. As your attention is drawn to and lingers on a specific thought, sensation, emotion, sound, memory or image, open your attention out – be expansive and spacious.

As the energy of Spring draws us out into the world with new projects, time in the garden, clearing out cupboards and drawers and generally being more active, remember to also cultivate the inner “garden” through relaxation, meditation and other mindfulness practices.

Mountain to the sky

This guided relaxation was inspired by a recent retreat at Mt. Buller, a truly beautiful place in spring.

We explore –

the mountain, a symbol of the earth and stability,eagle, water, sun

the water that runs at the base of the mountain,

the fire of the sun that warms the earth and sparkles on the water’s surface

the bird that glides on the warm air currents and

the space of the infinite blue sky.

Sun/Moon guided relaxation

When we take a moment to look and feel, we can connect with the balance of life in and around us. Asun:moont times, we feel uplifted and energised and at other times, quiet and reflective. It’s natural to move between the two (in fact they support each other), this is healthy for our body, emotions and mind.

In this recording, we visualise the energising warmth of the sun shining down the front of the body and the soothing quality of the moon flowing underneath. Enjoy!

Explore deep relaxation and understanding through iRest® Yoga Nidra

iRest® Yoga Nidra is a form of meditative self enquiry that stems from the ancient teachings of yoga. Within each practice we learn to pay attention to the various feelings, sensations, emotions and thoughts that are constantly changing within our body and mind. This is a mindfulness practice which has a calming affect on the nervous system helping to release physical tension and quiet a busy mind. We learn too, that the sensations we experience are messengers providing us with information; when we listen, we may come to a deeper understanding about ourselves.

yoga-nidra

We learn through iRest to meet, greet and welcome all that arises in our awareness. As we practice acceptance, we learn to meet challenging feelings, emotions, thoughts and memories with a more relaxed response. As we practice acceptance, we don’t “get stuck” or fuse with our experience and therefore move beyond it. We learn to respond, rather than react to life.

iRest offers deep relaxation and can be helpful in managing stress, fear, depression, pain, insomnia and trauma. It is practiced in a comfortable position (usually lying down) and no previous yoga experience is required.

I have included a short iRest practice below. Allow 20 minutes where you will not be disturbed, find a comfortable seated or lying position using cushions and blankets as needed.

If you are interested in exploring iRest further, I run a regular 6 week online course.

Enjoy!

Changing how we think, feel and experience

serenityIn class this week I am exploring the Apan (energy) mudra. This is a wonderful practice to help remove waste products and toxins from the body and to stimulate the energy of the liver and gallbladder. When our liver is functioning well, this in turn has a balancing effect on the mind.

When we work with the fingers and hands in yoga (hasta mudras or hand gestures), we are influencing the flow of prana (energy) in our body and minds; changing how we think, feel and experience on all levels.

With practice, qualities such as patience, serenity, confidence, inner balance and harmony may be experienced. As Apan mudra has a balancing effect on the mind, our ability to visualise, face new challenges and look to the future is enhanced.

THE PRACTICE

apan mudra

Find a comfortable lying or seated position.

With each hand, place the tips of the thumbs, middle and ring fingers together, extending the other fingers gently.

Close your eyes and feel where the fingers touch, while visualising the gesture in your mind’s eye.

Rest your awareness here softly, feeling and observing  – no expectations, or judgement, simply being with your experience as it is, from moment to moment.

You may like to simply sit with Apan mudra for anywhere from 5 – 45 minutes or include the following visualisation.

In your imagination, sit in a beautiful garden. Enjoy the colours and shapes of the plants around you – a garden that is blossoming and full of life. You appreciate the wonder of nature – how a seed germinates, how a plant grows and blooms. In an empty garden bed, plant something that you want to bear fruit, to come into being now or sometime in the near future; a conversation, a relationship, a project etc. Imagine how it sprouts, continues to develop, blossoms and bears rich fruit. See too, who will benefit from these fruits. Finish your visualisation with a sense of gratitude.

You may also like to affirm several times –

I plant my seeds, care for them and receive a rich harvest – that I thankfully accept. 

Rest quietly for a few moments and when ready open your eyes, welcome the light and world back in.

Ref: Gertrud Hirschi, Mudras: Yoga in your hands (Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC York Beach ME, 2000), p73

Eternal Circle of Life meditation

The SATNAM mantra is one of my favourites and is widely used in Kundalini yoga.

This mantra is called the Primal Sound Mantra, because it consists of the five primal sounds: S,T,N,M, and ah. The literal meaning is as follows: Sa means birth (or infinity); Ta means life; Na means death; and Ma means rebirth. Thus, the mantra describes the eternal circle of life: birth, life, death, rebirth.  

SA is the beginning, infinity, the totality of everything that ever was, is or will be.

TA is life, existence and creativity that manifests from infinity.

NA is death, change and the transformation of consciousness.

MA is rebirth, regeneration and resurrection which allows us to consciously experience the joy of the infinite.

In addition..

Sa: evokes a sense of emotion and expansiveness
Ta: creates a feeling of transformation and strength
Na: stimulates a sense of universal love
Ma: evokes the quality of communicativeness

satnam

 

In this meditation, which could be practised either lying in savasana or seated comfortably, I have brought together mantra (sound), mudra (gestures) and a connection to the corresponding chakra.

Enjoy!