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!

Immunity Boost

I returned from a wonderful week teaching at Sanctuary Retreat in Mission beach, North Queensland to find my family coughing, sniffling and low in energy; yep they all had a head cold.  Determined to not be taken down, I put together a program of positive attitude, lots of rest (challenging for me!) Zinc, vitamin C, echinacea and a yoga sequence that boosts the immune system.  I am feeling really good! Sure, my throat was a little sore for a few days, and my hankie had a good workout, but it hasn’t developed into anything nasty.

Here is a little of what my students are practising this week; this sequence will also help the functioning of the lympathic system, which supports our immune response. A practice that includes supported and inverted postures, increases circulation of lymph—a clear, watery fluid that moves through the body picking up bacteria and viruses and filtering them out via the lymph nodes.

Unlike blood, which moves as a result of the heart pumping, lymph moves by muscular contractions. Physical exercise, such as yoga, is great for keeping lymph flowing. The movement of lymph is also affected by gravity, so anytime your head is below your heart—for example, in Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) and Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand)—lymph moves into the respiratory organs, where germs often enter the body. When you return to an upright position, gravity drains the lymph, sending it through your lymph nodes for cleansing.

It is beneficial also to allow your neck, throat, and tongue to relax fully, thereby encouraging the lymph to flow freely through the nose and throat.

Thymus reset –

thymus reset

  • Make a fist and place your pinky finger side on your breastbone, just below the notch between the collarbones.
  • Take a deep breath, and as you slowly let it out, firmly pound on this spot 9 times or so.
  • Repeat 1-3 times, until you feel more balanced and calm.

This is like flipping a breaker off and on again and is said to balance the thymus and the central channel of healing prana (energy) it represents.

Uttanasana (standing forward bend)

Uttanasana: Standing forward bend

Practise with soft knees, weight slightly forward without crunching the toes; head, neck, throat and tongue all soft and arms resting back within the shoulders.

 

Adho Mukha svanasana (downward facing dog)

adho mukha svanasanaThis is a beautiful posture to explore balance between the weight and work on the shoulders and on the pelvis. There should be a balance too, between ease and effort, shoulders moving down the back away from the ears, with the lower ribs hugging into the body to avoid collapsing into the lower back. I like to think of my head and heart moving forwards and hips and shoulders moving back. Maintain a softness in the elbows and knees.

adho mukha svanasana - one leg raisedTry this pose, lifting one leg, bend at the knee and slowly cirle into the hip. Straighten, release then rest in child’s pose (see below) using bhramari breath (humming) for 5 rounds.

Repeat with the opposite leg, then explore a second round of bhramari in child’s pose.

Or this variation, add a twist……

adho mukha svanaasana twist

Reach back with right hand to left ankle. Stay for a few breaths, then switch to the opposite side. Maintain level hips so the twist occurs at the waist.

 

Balasana (child’s pose)

balasana image

Bring hips back towards the heels with your head resting comfortably on the floor; arms either gently extended forward or resting back beside you.  If needed, you can support the head with your hands.

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (supported)

setu bandha sarvangasanaLie with support (bolster, blankets) under the spine, with shoulder blades resting on the floor. A gentle inversion that opens the chest, stimulates the throat and calms the busy mind.

A lovely way to finish your yoga practice.

Om

Welcoming the light and shadow

Does a snowflake, flung from an angel’s wing, trust the fall, 

not yet knowing the grand design or what it will become?

There is patience, a whisper of natural order,

as it follows it’s innate path, anchoring light to Earth.

~ Transformation by Myra Dutton

In the depths of winter I find myself moving between emotions; loving the gentle sun as it shines on my face, enjoying the layers of clothes that keep me cosy and warm, then feeling flat and demotivated when faced with overcast skies, grey and drab, or frustrated I can’t walk the dog as it’s raining.

Here are some recent pictures I took as I walked by the local creek; it captures both the shadow and light.

IMG_3099

There is peace to be found in acceptance; the inevitable change of seasons and to notice how our own natural rhythms and cycles are connected to those of the earth. We learn to value sunshine and shadow, light and darkness, activity and rest, work and play – to explore the balance; the yin and yang.  

IMG_3098

Yin characteristics are cool, wet, feminine and quiet, whereas the yang is the opposite: warm, dry, fast, masculine and extroverted. Winter is a yin season, a time for storing and conserving our energy in the way a bear retains fat by hibernating , or a farmer stores food for the cold months ahead.

 

The yin and yang symbol reminds us that both sunlight and shadow contain within themselves the potential or seed of their opposite quality. At the darkest part of the symbol is a small dot (bindu or seed) of light; at the lightest part, is a small dot of darkness. The challenge can be to accept the value of both the light and the dark.

yin yang symbol

At a time of the year when there is less light, we benefit from embracing the value the darkness. Think of a baby developing and growing within the darkness of the womb, or a seed in the darkness of the soil. The dark is good. It is a place for rest and renewal, a place of healing, wisdom and inner knowing.  We can use quiet, reflective and mindfulness practices such as yoga nidra (deep relaxation) and meditation to get in touch with this place within. Here we may find understanding, inspiration and insight into who we are and discover our heart felt desire, that which we want more than anything in life, for health, wealth or healing.

Here are some questions you may like to reflect on at this time of the year.

1. What aspect of yourself or life have you kept in darkness? What have you avoided, repelled or ignored?

2. Which aspect of yourself or life could benefit from warmth, compassion and light?

3. As the sun’s light strengthens over these next few months, what aspects of your life would you like to cultivate and strengthen?

I am running a 6 week iRest® yoga nidra course beginning Friday 9th August @ 6pm. If you are interested in exploring this practice of deep relaxation and self enquiry, please contact me or click here for more details.

Random Acts of Kindness – Pass it on

When we take time to reflect on our thoughts and actions we can learn much about how we interact in the world around us and how the world interacts with us.

Recently I realised some interesting things about myself…….

About 6 months ago, a woman I had only met a few times came to my door with a book I had mentioned on Facebook I would really like to read. She arrived with the book and a single yellow rose beautifully bound in a cream ribbon. Inside the book was a Ripple Kindness Card; on the front of the card are the words “PASS IT ON” and on the back it says,  “Someone has touched your life with kindness. Please put a smile on another face by paying it forward”. I loved both the gesture and the idea and ordered some cards myself through this Sydney based company – http://ripplekindness.org/

ripple kindness card

Over the next few months I would occasionally leave a card at my favourite cafes; I would order a decaffeinated coffee, pay for two and leave a Ripple Kindness Card for the next person who came in and ordered the same. Only once have I still been around when the card was played forward and I was keen to move on and hoped they didn’t know it was me. 

About a month ago I decided to leave a gold coin in a small zipped pocket in my handbag so I had change for a trolley when grocery shopping. I was pretty pleased with myself as I rarely have the right money and knew this would make my shopping experience much easier.  A week later after I had finished my shopping and replaced the trolley, I decided to Pay it Forward. I went back to the trolley bay, placed $2 coin in the front trolley and left a Ripple Kindness Card alongside the coin. On this particular day, I had a bit of time on my hands and decided to hang around and see what happened. Yep, that was a big mistake!

Before long I would see this play out and was a little excited. It only took a minute before the trolley guy came over and popped both the $2 coin and the card in his top pocket. I was so disappointed; how dare he ruin my surprise.

It wasn’t long before I realised that my feeling of disappointment was predominately directed at myself. Why did I need to stick around to see my plan play out? I wasn’t giving freely, but was attached to the outcome. Perhaps the trolley guy needed that money?  Maybe he would pay it forward. 

kindness1

I do believe that everything is as it should be; that we are, who we are, as a sum of all our experiences. I have learned many things from this about myself: to give without expectation or attachment to outcome, to trust in life and to be gentle to myself and others.

Life has many lessons for us if we are open, willing and ready to receive. I say, bring it on !

In the words of Maya Angelou; “If you get, give. If you learn, teach”. 

Namaste

Opening to Clarity and Truth

vishuddhi chakra

The throat centre, vishuddhi chakra is the seat of verbal communication. When open and balanced, we give voice to our thoughts and feelings, our deepest hearts desire. We can speak with clarity and truth, expressing our wants and needs to others.

The colour associated with the throat centre is blue; a colour that brings peace and tranquility above everything else, promoting both physical and mental relaxation. It reduces stress, creating a sense of calmness, relaxation and order – we certainly feel a sense of calm if we lie on our backs and look into a bright blue cloudless sky. It helps regulate the metabolism.

Blue in Nature

  • ocean, water
  • fruit such as blueberries and blue plums
  • blue cheese
  • birds like bluejays, bluebirds, Blue Heron, robin’s egg
  • jewels like lapis lazuli, blue sapphire, blue topaz
  • flowers like forget-me-nots, cornflowers

Blue should be used with caution for those feeling sad, lonely or depressed, as it may increase these symptoms.

Here is a recording of a guided relaxation I used in class recently, connecting the colour blue and vishuddhi chakra.

Blessings

Words matter

 

 

We express ourselves to others and the world around us through communication: who we are, what we believe in, our attachments and aversions. Much of this communication is through gesture, posture and facial expressions, while spoken communication gives voice to our thoughts and feelings. Each “word” is a creative union of thought and energy. Ideas become thoughts, concepts, language and your plans take on the energy to manifest in the world as the actual results of your intent and skill.

Do you honour your own beliefs and speak out when you should? 

Do you talk over others, or not listen well?  

Do you feel shy and afraid to extend your energy into communication?

Talking consumes a huge amount of energy, so choose your words carefully. At times it is appropriate to be quiet, to listen.

When you next speak, T H I N K :

T – Is this Truthful?
H – Is this Helpful?
I – Is this Inspiring?
N – Is this Necessary?
K – Is this Kind?

In yoga, the throat centre, vishuddhi chakra, represents our ability to communicate verbally. A well balanced Throat Chakra will allow you to communicate and express yourself more freely. You will realize that you can trust your inner voice and speak your truths.

Here is a simple hasta mudra (hand gesture) for balancing the energy at the throat. Bring the pads of the thumbs and middle fingers of both hands gentle together forming Akash mudra. As you sit comfortably, spend a few moments to follow the natural rise and fall of the breathe; to feel the body breathing itself easily and naturally. When ready, repeat silently the following affirmations:

akash mudra

 

 

I express my unique qualities each day

I transmit a unique frequency, my voice is heard

My communication is open, clear and harmonious

 

Spend a little time sitting with each and feel when it’s time to move to the next. You may like to simply work with one affirmation, see what resonates with you in the moment. Recording yourself saying the affirmations can be helpful and very powerful; make sure you leave enough time to centre at the beginning and in between each affirmation for the words can “land”.

Namaste

Auto Suggestion Relaxations

Here are two wonderful relaxation techniques that use auto suggestion in helping the body and mind to relax. They are especially beneficial to use in bed if you have difficulties getting to sleep. You may like to learn the sequence and repeat mentally to yourself or perhaps record yourself saying the sequence (it has been said that we relax best to the sound of our own voice!).

dog-savasana

Auto Suggestion Relaxation – Letting Go

Auto Suggestion on Exhale