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.

Loving Kindness blessing

This is a beautiful blessing I shared with students in classes last week. There was a lot of interest, so here it is.

Read the blessing three times with the following intention; the first time, direct the blessing to yourself, the second time, to someone you love and finally, to someone you don’t especially like, send the blessing to them.

For yourself…..

koshas pic

 

May I be Healthy and Happy

May I be Strong and Free

May I be Clear and Wise

May Loving Kindness flow through me

For a loved one and then someone you don’t especially like…..

May you be Healthy and Happy

May you be Strong and Free

May you be Clear and Wise

May Loving Kindness flow through you

 

 

 

 

Creating Space

Life has a wonderful way of reminding us about what’s important.

About a month ago a number of unexpected events occurred in my life, one after the other, in fact all within a week; and these were pretty big ones including death of a family member and moving house. I was propelled from a place of stability and ease to uncertainty and worry. My mind was constantly busy; I felt disconnected from my heart and the effortless rhythm of life. In the midst of organising, arranging and DOING, I forgot to make time for BEING. A few weeks later, I remember walking my dog down by the river (something I do everyday) and feeling an overwhelming sense of peace. I took in the trees and the sky, the gentle breeze, the smells, everything;  I breathed in life and it was good. I realised two things in that moment; firstly, how disconnected I had become in the busyness of life and secondly, that without the busyness, I would not know the absolute joy of peace.  Life my friends, is to be experienced in all its facets; the busy and quiet times, the joy and sadness.

IMG_4446Yoga is my ground; it brings me back to my centre over and over again. When life is crazy, it helps me surf the waves of emotions and find a place of ground and stability, a place where I can reconnect to what’s important, to what is real. In  yoga, I find myself and the awareness that is cultivated within the practice is with you in every moment. This, in my opinion, is the real gift of yoga.

This recording is about finding space, taking time to acknowledge what has been and connecting inwardly to feel what comes next. 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

Why I love teaching yoga

I remember the exact moment that I decided to become a yoga teacher;  it was late 2001. My boys were then 3 and 5 years old, both attending pre school. I had more time on my hands and was wondering how to fill it. Having left a full time job in life insurance to be at home with my boys, I did not want to return to an office environment. I was attending a wonderful yoga class weekly at the Bhava Yoga & Dance Centre which was close and worked in with the time both boys were at kindergarten.

Initially I thought the class was not physical enough, having come from an Iyengar background. The postures were gentle and there was a strong focus on visualisation and meditation. After a few weeks though, I was hooked. The classes were transforming; I began to discover the depth of yoga, the moments of stillness, of breath, of ME. It was wonderful.

It was late in the same year, that I received a newsletter from the yoga centre. There was an article about their upcoming Teacher Training program. Time stood still. I remember looking dreamily out the window wondering if this was for me. The timing was perfect; I was looking for direction and this seemed to fit.  It was a wonderful opportunity to both deepen my own yoga knowledge and experience and to embark on a new career, one that could really work well with a young family.  The decision was made and I enrolled for the next year.

It was perfect; imagine studying, practicing and then working in a field that you love. A job that has flexible hours and brings something positive into other peoples lives. I remember thinking, if I can help just one person feel the way I feel when I attend my weekly class, it will be worthwhile. Yoga is like that, it changes you in so many ways. It starts in class, then permeates all aspects of your life. You experience a deeper connection to yourself and others. It is so much more than a physical practice. For me, the key difference is that Yoga is a practice of Awareness. One of my teachers at Bhava, Nola Day used to say ,YOGA is Your Own Growing Awareness.

The teacher training course at Bhava was more than I could have hoped for. It was a year of learning, exploration and integration. I have now been teaching yoga since mid 2002 and my greatest joy is sharing my passion of yoga with others. I also run workshops and retreats and have recently become co-owner of Bhava Yoga & Dance Centre.

The yoga I teach is of a creative nature, using smooth transitions between postures , themes and imagery. It is a style that is gentle and nurturing, with options and modifications of postures so everyone can participate. Bhava yoga is inclusive, no exclusive; you are encouraged to move your body in a way that is ALWAYS pain free and in a comfortable range of movement. Bhava yoga is like a moving meditation (many students practice much of the class with their eyes closed), where your body, breath and awareness are moving as one – this is union, this is yoga.

Personally for me, yoga has been my rock; through the illness and death of my father, navigating teenage boys and the emotional rollercoaster of my menopause at 43. Yoga is my constant companion, my source of strength, my voice of inner wisdom and guidance. Through practice I find of clarity , stillness, patience and peace.

The Bhava Yoga Teacher Training program for 2014, begins in early February.  It is such a privilege to guide others in this amazing practice and teachings. There are limited places available in the Teacher Training program. If you feel this may be your path, whether to deepen your knowledge and experience in yoga or to share your love with others as a teacher, I would love to hear from you.

Contact : Gabrielle Boswell  Co-Director/Owner

Phone: 0413 939 530

email: bhavacentre@gmail.com or gabrielle@buddhimind.com

In practice, I find patience and peace

Opening to the day

Below is a short yoga sequence that explores gentle upper body movements synchronised with the breath. Each movement can be experienced as a gesture (mudra) that evokes a certain mood or attitude within.

For me, an asana practice is a series of full body mudras; each posture touches us, opens us to a different aspect of ourselves, influencing the energy of the body and mind. Through yoga postures we learn to explore and develop these various aspects of ourselves such as strength (physical and emotional), softness, grace, humility, dignity, expansion, contraction, vulnerability and acceptance. We meet ourselves in yoga, and in going inward we have the opportunity to connect with ourselves authentically and then meet the world with integrity and truth.  We learn too, to open ourselves to the world around us, to the infinite possibilities that are there, to our full potential.

Blessings

‘Life as it is’ meditation

wellness-and-meditationSitting or lying comfortably, with eyes closed, take a few moments to bring attention to your breath, mantra, or any other technique that you normally use to centre yourself. When you feel settled, ask yourself this series of questions:

What have I received today?

Be specific and reflect on as many things as you can recall. It can be something as simple as your partner’s smile, the sound of a bird singing at dawn, the driver who let you merge in crowded traffic. Remember, the motivation or attitude of those who gave you something is not the issue.

In reviewing your day, you are given the opportunity to see life as it is, rather than how you think it should be. You will notice times you were present and times when you were absent (perhaps in problem solving mode).

As you reflect on what you have been given today, you may find this insight humbling, perhaps feeling a deeper sense of gratitude and a natural desire to be generous in serving others.

What have I given today?

pet loveGo through the day’s events in the same way, but this time notice what you have given to others. Be as specific and concrete as possible. As above, your motivation is irrelevant. What did you actually do? It may have been as simple as feeding your pets, washing the breakfast dishes, or sending a friend a birthday card. You may find that without great fanfare you contribute to the well-being of many people and animals—you make a positive difference to the planet.

What difficulties and troubles did I cause today?

Again, be specific. Don’t overlook the seemingly insignificant. Your list may include things like “I backed up traffic while looking for a place to park” or “I moved the kids off the lounge so I could sit there.” This question is often the hardest, but its importance cannot be overstated. It may bring up feelings of remorse, but its primary purpose is to provide a more realistic view of your life.

In general, we are all too aware of how others cause us inconvenience or difficulty, but rarely do we notice when we are the source of inconvenience. And if we do, we usually brush it aside as an accident, not that big a deal, or simply something we didn’t mean to do. We cut ourselves a huge length of slack! But seeing how you cause others difficulty can deflate your ego while reminding you again of the grace by which you live.

These questions provide the framework for reflecting on all your relationships, including those with family, friends, co-workers, partners, pets, and even objects.
Remember, what makes this a meditative practice is that you are not analyzing your motivations or intentions; you are not interpreting or judging. You are simply shifting your attention from self-centered thinking to seeing things as they are, and as all yoga traditions point out, in seeing, there is wisdom and liberation.

Blessings