Have you ever been curious about the chakras or mantras? Maybe you have heard about Kundalini yoga but have no idea what it is about. Now is your opportunity to find out!
Together with my good friend Brenda we have put together a four week course for you to discover the fundamentals of Kundalini Yoga.
The course will cover the topics of:
Why Practice Kundalini?
Kundalini not only develops strength and flexibility it also works on balancing the glandular system, calming the nervous system and awakening and elevating our consciousness. It is a profound practice of the physical and energetic working together as one.
Week 1 October 7th: Spinal Energiser
Week 2 October 14: Nabhi Kriya
Week 3 October 21st: Surya Kriya
Week 4 October 28th: Chakra Kriya
Price: €50 for all 4 classses
Drop in class will be €15 but it is recommended that all the classes be taken as a course especially if you have no previous experience with Kundalini Yoga.
When: Oct 7th , Oct 14th, Oct 21st Oct 28th 10:30-12:30
Where: Passeig de Lluís Companys 13, 3A
Back Pain A Reality!
Back pain is a reality that most people experience, and now the trend is starting even earlier with children as young as 10 experiencing pain in the back and neck. This can be put down to modern lifestyles deteriorating our posture. Sitting all day at a desk, carrying heavy bags (even handbags fall into this category) staring down at a phone, driving, and even the shoes we wear to some extent negatively impacts our posture.
Hunched Shoulders & Low Self-esteem
Unfortunately the list doesn’t stop there, and nor does our bad posture. Hunched postures don’t end because we stop sitting, we then continue to walk and sleep in this way, causing a multitude of problems from back ache to spinal disk dislocation, and while pain is the physical discomfort we endure from bad posture, lack of confidence and insecurity are the lesser known side effects. When we see a person standing upright they appear to ooze confidence. Your body language not only signals to others your mood, but also affects your own state of mind.
“Movement, like posture, tells the brain how it feels and even manages what it remembers. As walking becomes more open, upright, and buoyant, our memories about ourselves follow suit.”
― Amy Cuddy,
Watch this super interesting TED Talk by Amy Cuddy to find out more about how body language can affect your mood.
Get Curious & Help Yourself!
The big question is: what can we do to help ourselves? Well getting curious about your body and wanting to help yourself is the very first step. Beginning a yoga and or meditation practice is a great way to ease your body and mind while learning more about yourself. Recent studies have shown the huge benefits of yoga and meditation for even chronic pain management, with yoga showing to have long term effects on the brain and how we perceive pain. Personally I also experienced the power of yoga to correct my own posture and relieve back ache. An almost immediate effect of yoga and meditation is stress reduction, which in turn reduces the amount of tension in the muscles. Muscles assume their normal tone and flexibility, hence significantly reducing pressure in the back.
Break Patterns Feel Great!
So how can you get started today? Start by breaking your body out of its usual postural patterns and dedicate a little bit of time to moving the spine in all six directions, which make up the full spectrum of spinal movement.
Direction 1 – Spinal Extension aka arching the spine
This shape lengthens the spine, expands the chest, strengthens the lungs and facilitates deeper breathing. Emotionally it opens the space around the heart allowing difficult emotions to pass through and best of all it counteracts the hunched posture that we so regularly find ourselves in throughout the day.
This shape can also be seen in such postures as Cobra Pose and Upward Dog commonly known as backbends but better viewed as ‘front extensions’ as lengthening is the aim over bending!
Direction Two – Spinal Flexion aka rounding the spine
This shape works on increasing space in the back body stretching the back of the lungs and toning the abdomen. Emotionally it gives us the feeling to go inside become reflective and restore our natural calm. Deeper variations of this can be seen in paschimottanasana, a seated forward bend and uttanasana a standing forward bend.
Directions 3 & 4 – Lateral Side bending aka side stretches
By bending to the left and right we are stretching out the side body. This again creates even more space for the lungs, increases mobility in the ribcage and lengthens the muscles between the abdomen and the pelvis.
Deeper variations of this stretch can be found in postures such as parsvakonasana, extended side angle stretch and reverse warrior.
Directions 5 & 6 – Twists as experienced in seated or reclining twists to both sides
Twisting to the right and left completes the set of six directions, helping to work against fusing and limited mobility of the spine Twisting also hydrates the intervertebral disks and massages the organs within the abdomen supporting digestion by increasing bloodflow to the area. A deeper variation of a twist can be found in postures such as reverse triangle and reverse side angle stretch.
Simplicity is key!
The best thing about these exercises is they’re simplicity and the fact that you can practice them anywhere at any time. From your desk to your sofa or even while you are waiting in line!
Benefits of 6 Direction Back Stretch:
What Is Correct Posture & Why Do I Need It?
Our correct posture is when the body is aligned in such a way that the back is straight, shoulders squared and relaxed, chin up, chest out, and stomach in. Yoga helps you achieve the correct posture as it targets the relaxation of specific muscle compartments. Cultivating good posture not only helps maintain a healthy body and spine it also helps to increase our confidence and promote a mind body awareness that allows a deep understanding of the body.
This is a sentence that you hear A LOT when people are talking about yoga. It’s almost like the golden sentence that everyone wishes to know: How it will happen? When it will happen? and what kind of yoga made it happen? Well I want to share with you my story and what I believe many of us are saying when we claim that ‘Yoga changed my body’.
Cut back to 8 years ago before my yoga practice began and to the say the very least, I still had youth on my side, so back pain or discomfort, headaches and such things didn’t really register on my scale as important. I knew they were there but they were so far down on my list of priorities that they were not worth thinking about.
I was in fact very disconnected from my own body. I suffered every year with sinus infections and then a very persistent annoying cough, had a lot of difficulty breathing in general, I regularly had headaches and back pain had been a part of my life since as long as I could remember.
Sweating Balls & Mental Torture
Then yoga happened! One day my friend Lauren called me and said I’m going to Bikram Yoga come with me! I jumped at the opportunity, not really having any idea about what it entailed. Lauren’s only advice to me was ‘Be prepared to sweat balls’
That first yoga class was, in that moment, the worst and the best thing I had ever done! In my mind I hated every second of it but my body was loving it! I left there feeling mentally like I had been tortured, but physically like I was walking on clouds.
The Light Goes On
This was the moment that the light inside turned on. It became apparent to me the level of disconnection I had with my own body. I had no idea that breathing could be so difficult, I also was completely unaware of the things my body was capable of!
This new awareness of my body came with mixed feelings. As the light turned on inside I could finally see all of the things that were hidden away in the dark, some of them positive and some of them a little self destructive.
I realised I had been neglecting my body in a big way, I didn’t give it the attention or care that it deserved, I was walking around believing that my body would support me no matter how I treat it.
With this light now shining inside of me despite how regularly (or not regularly) I was practicing yoga I could not go back to that level of disconnection with my body, in fact with every breath and every step I took, my consciousness of the importance of the body only grew.
The Body Unlocks It’s Secrets
This is when my body began to change, when I decided to explore the limits of my body and breath in every yoga class, when I took my attention so deep inside that I could identify the muscles inside my body. When I began to be present and aware of my actions while practicing, I was giving my body my full undivided attention every time I stepped on the mat, and in return my body was showing me, little by little, the scale of its potential.
I am sure you are curious to know which were the main changes I found with practice, which don’t include being able to do a handstand or having a six pack!
This really was just the beginning of the multitude of ways that yoga has changed my body. And subsequently I have also been able to tone my body build muscle and increase my flexibility.
Give Yourself What You Need
Really what all of this translates to for me is that I live at ease within my body, I have a greater understanding of what it needs and how to take care of myself physically and emotionally. I still get headaches occasionally and every now and then experience back pain, but through all of this I know how to alleviate my symptoms, I know the triggers that caused it and how to feel better, and most importantly, I then give myself what I need.
How Yoga can change our body!
So really we can say that yoga changed my body by opening my mind and by allowing me to have a greater connection to myself.
The short answer to this is no. Starting a Mysore practice is actually the best way to start learning the sequence.
I know it can be intimidating at first, to think you will be stood on your yoga mat all alone with no one telling you what to do. Thankfully that feeling will quickly disappear once you realise you aren’t alone. The teacher will always be there to support you, give you a helping hand and maybe a gentle reminder about which position comes next.
In fact Ashtanga yoga was traditionally taught only through the Mysore style self practice. (Now if you are asking yourself ‘What is Mysore class?’ Please check out my first post!) Students learning Ashtanga would be introduced to each posture one by one, only as the teacher believed their body and mind were prepared. In this way most people starting a Mysore practice would have no idea of the postures in the sequence unless they had been introduced to them by their teacher.
So the question is, why would you even want to stat a Mysore practice in the first place? Well that one is easy to answer!
Firstly: Training the body, freeing the mind!
You are training your body to remember movements that will become almost subconscious. This frees you up to focus on your breathing, dristi (point of focus) and bandhas (Internal locks in the body). All of this is what equals a meditation in movement a.k.a. ‘A Yoga High’ one of the primary objectives of Ashtanga yoga. Of course this is much easier to achieve when you don’t have to listen to a teacher’s voice.
Secondly: Listening to your body!
You have as much time as you need to go through the postures, maybe spending more time breathing into areas that feel tight, or working a bit longer in a preparatory position before trying the full thing. Freedom is the key word here! Freedom to listen to exactly what your body is telling you and giving it exactly what it needs.
Thirdly: Adjustments & personal tips!
You get more adjustments and personal one on one time with your teacher! Adjustments are a central part of an Ashtanga practice, the gentle adjustments you get in each position help to coax the body into opening gently. It’s like a cross between a massage and a trip to the chiropractor. Not only does this open the body you also get to experience the deeper feeling of each posture as you can focus on the sensations rather than exerting effort. A Mysore practice also creates a space in which you a free to ask the teacher questions and receive personalised tips e.g. how to improve flexibility or strength or how to work on your breathing! Whatever you can think you are free to ask!
Fourthly: Freedom to practice alone!
Last but not least and possibly one of the greatest benefits of starting a Mysore yoga practice. It gives you all the skills and confidence you need to go off and practice on your own and with a sequence that can be easily modified to suit your mood and energy.
For more on this, check out the video below from anatomy expert and Mysore teacher David Keil.
So who’s in for Mysore class?
Mysore is the traditional way of learning Ashtanga yoga, named after the city in India where Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, the guru of Ashtanga Yoga, lived.
Mysore class is not guided by a teacher standing in front of the class calling out postures, it is a quiet self practice of the Ashtanga sequence, with the teacher there to adjust and guide you when necessary. All instruction is given on an individual basis and as you gain strength, stamina, flexibility and focus, poses will be added on to your sequence. The class is open to all levels, from absolute beginners to more experienced students.
Some of the Benefits of a Mysore Practice:
• You can show up when it suits you between 18:00-21:00. As long as you leave enough time to finish your full practice, you can come to Mysore class at any point. You don’t need to worry about rushing from work or home to get to class on time anymore.
• Mysore class is for everyone. It is wonderful for families and couples who wish to practice together, but have different levels of experience. With everyone in the room doing their own practice, Mysore class is a great way to work at your full capacity.
*Mysore practice will be every Monday from 18:00-21:00 at Carrer dels Lledó 13 (Huaira Spa)
Please feel free to email or call me with any questions.
I personally could feel the energies of this ‘strawberry’ moon building for days beforehand. I wouldn’t say that I am always so affected by the moon, but this one in praticular was making me feel very sensitive & emotional.
The night of class was no exception, and as I turned up to the spot over looking the sea, the sun was already setting making shades of pink and orange that could have made me cry, see I told you I was feeling emotional!
The class began with the changing colours of the sky, and I enjoyed seeing many new faces experiencing the beauty of nature and their own bodies. There was sometime before the star guest made her appearance, but without fail she started to rise out of the sea a giant glowing ball of red, much to the delight of the crowd.
As always class ended with smiles all round and some very relaxed bodies. Charged now with the energies of this full moon and the summer solstice’s light, we carried on with our city lives, with a new reconnection to nature.
Thank you beautiful yogis for these awesome moments we shared together, and now a special gift for you, my recipe for ‘Power Tea’ & lots of pretty pictures from class.
Boil water and pour over tea of your choice, let it brew for a couple of minutes. Crush the handful of cardamon with the back of a knife and add to the tea and bring to a boil. Let this simmer for a couple of minutes. Then turn down the heat and add in the rest of the ingredients, tasting as you go along to adapt to your tastes.
Leave a comment below telling me how you enjoyed the class, and sign up to the newsletter for more amazing tea recipes! 😉