Understanding dharma - Living a life of purpose
Keeping on track with the goals and resolutions you set for New Year is a powerful way to ensure you have a great life for these next 12 months. But how do you know if your goals are taking you in the right direction?
Having a sense of purpose about your life is an important key to self-worth. Without direction, life can become one long slog of sleep, food, work and play. But… why are you here? What is the reason for your existence? These are the big questions that have been asked by seekers for millennia.
In the yogic tradition you’ll come across the word DHARMA. There is no one-word literal translation for dharma but the concept is that we try to live our life in a way that upholds truth, or to engage in ‘right living’. This is the basis of many of the ancient yogic texts including the Bhagavad Gita.
“The dharma of the sun is to shine, the dharma of a river is to flow and the dharma of human beings is to uphold that which is true to our higher nature – our life purpose. The Gita invites us to discover our svadharma – our own personal dharma, that which is ours to do in this life and ours alone, then to stand up and have the courage to follow it.” Patricia Brown
To live a life aligned with dharma we first need to discover our unique purpose - and then to live it to the very best of our ability. Doing the right things, at the right time, in the right place, with the right people can be seen as dharma in action.
So - what does ‘right living’ mean on a day to day basis? How do I know if I am aligned to my true purpose?
- Am I excited about my day when I wake up in the morning?
- Do I feel joyful when going about my day to day tasks?
- Do I have a sense of gratitude for everything and everyone around me?
Never? Sometimes? Always? Wouldn’t it be amazing to wake up with total passion for your life? To appreciate and value the people around you all the time AND to feel a deep sense of joy in everything you do?
When you are connected and in alignment with your path you’ll experience symptoms such as joy and euphoria.
The question we need to ask ourselves therefore is: “What is it that makes me feel like I’m making a positive contribution to the world? What makes me feel amazing?” An innate sense of joy is a symptom that comes when we are aligned to our higher purpose.
Interestingly, it’s often when we are using our unique gifts that our joy bubbles up inside; e.g. playing a musical instrument, painting, speaking, listening, organising etc.
Take a look at your day-to-day activities you perform every week and ask yourself, “When do I feel most joyful?”. And be honest here - I don’t mean snuggling up on the couch with a glass of wine! How about in the past? Or when you were at school - what subjects or activities were you were naturally drawn to? The answers to these questions can give you valuable clues as to your innate gifts.
You’ll discover over time that using your innate gifts for the benefit of the people and the world around you will bring you ever closer to living a life of dharma.
When you live in dharma you life becomes a seamless flow of selfless actions performed for the benefit of the whole.
This month we’re talking a lot about dharma on the studio. Radhika has a Gita verse from Chapter 7 which talks about dharma and freeing the mind.
If you’d like to explore clearing away any habits or thoughts that are stopping you from living your dharma - try one of these classes:
If you’d like some ideas and yoga support on designing your life take a look at our Goals and Dreams theme.
Ayurveda is an ancient healing science from India that originated 6000 years ago. It uses the natural laws of nature to help a person live a long, healthy and happy life.
Ayurveda can provide guidelines on the best diet, daily routine, seasonal routine, natural supplements, therapies, yoga, meditation and even the best behaviours for you to follow to stay vibrantly healthy and satisfied so you can reach your full potential. Ayurveda helps you to recognise when there is an imbalance in your body and gives you natural tools to bring yourself back into balance.
AGNI - THE FLAME WITHIN
Agni is the Sanskrit name for fire. In Ayurveda, it refers to the biological fires that effect our body’s ability to digest, absorb, assimilate, transform and mature matter.
This applies to our thoughts and emotions on a conscious level as well as food and water on a physical level. The main fire we have most control over is our digestive fire. The strength of our agni is a big determining factor in our overall health.
AMA - THE ROOT CAUSE OF ALL DISEASE
Ama is a toxic residue, which subdues agni and clogs up the channels of the body, creating imbalances and eventually leading to disease. The formation of a small amount of ama is a normal part of the digestive process, however, if our agni is impaired or disturbed through stress, adverse weather, inappropriate diet or lifestyle, then ama cannot be efficiently cleared and eliminated.
The immune response can then be weakened and serious diseases such as cancer or autoimmune disorders can manifest. Ayurveda therefore believes that ama is the root cause of all disease.
Our digestive fire can be suppressed when we over eat, under-eat or have heavy meals at late at night. Also having sugar, too many processed foods or eating foods in the wrong combination can cause our agni to become low.
Lower levels of agni effects our energy levels, weight, clarity of mind, memory and cause mood swings and depression. It can also contribute to insomnia and digestive problems and other, more chronic conditions such as diabetes and arthritis.
SIX GREAT WAYS TO STRENGTHEN YOUR AGNI
To strengthen your agni and thereby also reducing any ama; here are six simple, effective techniques to get you started:
1. Enjoy small, regular meals throughout the day.
2. Eat light, fresh, organic vegetables.
3. Try using pulses and grains instead of more processed protein.
4. Have your main meal at lunch time when your agni is strongest.
5. Take digestive stimulants e.g. ginger, lemon & black pepper.
6. Drink at least 1 litre of warm water throughout the day with ingredients like ginger, turmeric, fennel and cumin seed.
When there is no ama in our bodies and our agni is balanced we should feel light and clear—just like a beautifully burning fire. Here are some indications of balanced agni:
- waking refreshed after a good night’s sleep
- feeling bright and energetic
- being cheerful and enthusiastic
- a calm, clear mind
- normal appetite and good digestion
- healthy glow to the skin
- strong immunity
- no aches and pains
WANT TO KNOW MORE?
Introduction to Ayurveda online course
COMING SOON! This 4-week course will teach you how to feel totally in control of your health: more energised, radiate and balanced.
Ayurveda helps you make sense of yourself—to understand your original nature so that you can heal and revitalise your body, mind and emotions.
- Personal Ayurveda mentoring sessions online or in North Wales:
Annie Jones: firstname.lastname@example.org
Janey Fitzgerald: email@example.com
- Upcoming courses and events:
1st September 2017 Yoga, nutrition & detox retreat in Snowdonia
4th November 2017 Ayurvedic Nutrition & Cookery workshop, Otley
5th November 2017 Yoga for Your Dosha workshop, Otley
17th November 2017 Ayurveda to balance hormones retreat in Snowdonia
1st June 2018 Ayurveda introductory weekend retreat, Snowdonia
28th September 2018 Yoga, nutrition & detox retreat in Snowdonia
Snowdonia courses & retreats – 01248 602900
Otley events – 01943 467189
For more info on the Ayurveda Diploma or Certificate practitioner course please contact Shona Sutherland on 01372 725327
The system of success
With Annie Jones
In the yoga tradition, there is a system of success known as the 4 S's. Including them as part of your life plan is a key to an energised, centred, joy filled experience within every moment.
- Seva – the power of service to others
- Sangha – the benefit of association with like minded people
- Satsang – the power of sharing and communicating in a way that empowers
- Sadhana - The power of a strong personal spiritual practice
Seva – the power of service to others
One of the most powerful ways to super charge your energy levels, balance emotions and enrich one's good karma is to make time to help others. When we go the extra mile, somehow providence come to our aid in unexpected ways, just when we need it. This can take many different forms from making a cup of tea for a fried in need to taking time to offer support to a charity or to help a good cause. Even on those days when you may feel low in spirit, you will be surprised how helping someone else in those moments can change your state in moments!It's a secret tool to success!
Sangha – the benefit of association with like minded people
When we spend time with like minded people, we get the chance to share the wonder of what we know and enjoy sharing this with each others. This can add to our lives and strengthen our values and beliefs. It can give us confidence we are on the right path doing the right thing and at the right time. This can include attending a regular yoga class, or meditation class. Why not go on a retreat or a training programme that helps you up skill in the company of like minded people. Even sharing a meal together with good friends that are supportive of your life plan can help ( that is a hint – you can invite me to dinner any time – all vegetarian of course!)
Satsang – the power of sharing and communicating in a way that empowers
This is all about how we communicate. One aspect is taking time to attend events, workshops where you can hear about empowering subjects that keep you inspired. Even if you are a teacher yourself, it is good to attend other classes to keep learning. In the Yoga tradition as in any professional setting, a mentor is well recognised asset to one self improvement and taking time to hear what others have to offer you and your life plan. It can also include being observant of how one speaks and our choice of words. Words can heal but they can also hurt.
Sadhana - The power of a strong personal spiritual practice
This is about developing your personal daily practice in yoga and meditation. So often I hear of teachers that are so busy teaching they don't make time for a personal practice. It is vital to success and for keeping one stable, centred and emotionally balanced amidst ever changing circumstances. Please make time to establish a morning and evening routine that nourishes you from inside out.
Take time to understand and read around the 4S's. They can add colour, wisdom and insight into your life fir this month. Take one a week and work with it and watch the magic unfold!
The Sacral Chakra - the base centre
With Annie Jones
The seven chakras of the human body
The 7 Chakras are the energy centres in our body in which energy flows through. The word 'chakra' is derived from the Sanskrit word meaning 'wheel'. Literally translated from the Hindi it means 'Wheel of spinning Energy'. A chakra is like a whirling, vortex like, powerhouse of energy. Here is a list of them:
- the muladhara - Base or Root Chakra -last bone in spinal cord - coccyx
- the swadisthana - Sacral Chakra - ovaries/prostate
- the manipura - Solar Plexus Chakra - navel area
- the anahata - Heart Chakra - heart
- the vishudha/visshudi - Throat Chakra - throat and neck
- the ajna - Brow or Third Eye Chakra - pineal gland or third eye
- the sahasraha - Crown Chakra - Top of head
Understanding the swadisthana chakra - also known as the sacral/naval centre
This, the second chakra, is located above the pubic bone and below the navel.
While the Root Chakra is satisfied with survival, the second chakra is the centre associated with pleaslure, procreation, empathy, connection and creativity.
Health issues that indicate that the second centre is out of balance
- Uterine or bladder problems
- lower back pain
- problems with the large intestine.
A balanced second chakra leads to feelings of wellness, abundance, pleasure, and joy. When this chakra is out of balance, a person may experience emotional instability, fear of change, sexual dysfunction, depression, or addictions.
The word swadhistana can be translated as “the dwelling place of the self.” The element associated with this centre is water. It is therefore greatly influenced by the moon. (Interestingly the symbol associated with it is an upturned crescent moon). The colour associated is orange.
I look forward to connecting with you again!
The Muladhara Chakra - the base centre
With Annie Jones
As the muladhara chakra is seen as our foundation - its really important that we get it ‘right’. So many of us go through our ‘yogic’ life, do our yoga and our meditation, but without conscious effort and directed intension, our chakras and their imbalances can remain largely unchanged.
In life, our foundations are our core principles, our moral values. They are your feeling of security in yourself and the material world around you, which leads to sense of deep trust that everything is ok (regardless of circumstances). The base centre can also reveal a bit about who you truly are - for example, who are you behind closed doors when no one else is watching??? In essence this chakra is about your security - including money, abundance, shelter, food and your trust in the world and people around you.
Foundations, by their very nature need to be strong, secure, balanced and stable. This is what we are aiming to generate by working with the base centre. It is also said to be a centre of rhythm - so things like walking and drumming are said to be very good to establishing balance and regulation in this centre.
When working with the chakras it pays to be honest with yourself. Why not keep a journal for the next few months to chart your journey through your chakras.
Muladhara Chakra - Annie Jones
Join Annie as she takes you through a simple series of movements which are aimed at creating a sense of connectedness with the Earth.
In addition to this short video, here are some other yoga and meditation techniques to support the base centre:
- Earth Meditation by Andrew Wells (free class)
- Locust pose - from Easing Back Pain, class 3
- Bridge pose
- Simple runner (illiopsoas stretch)
- Butterfly (adductor) stretch
Fact Sheet about the base centre
- Mula = root and adhara = support. This means this chakra is the root from which we take our energetic and spiritual nourishment as well as therefore being the support upon which the chakra system is based.
- Associated with the sense of smell.
- Connected with the earth element - therefore ‘mother earth’ the one who provides us with energy and food.
- The guardian is Ganesh (the elephant headed god who is said to remove our obstacles).
- The colour of the chakra is said to be a ruby red. Symbolically it also has an associated colour and shape; a yellow square.
- Mantra or seed sound is ‘LAM’.
- It is said to represent our unconscious mind.
- Positive and balanced qualities include: innate joy, simplicity, purity, integrity, vitality, vigour , growth, security, trust, connected to friends and family.
- Unbalanced qualities: greed, self centredness, laziness, inertia, domination of physical desires, negativity, insecure, fear, paranoia, issues with food intake and diet.
6 Important reasons to practise yoga outside
with Jane Saraswati Clapham
Here are some of my top tips on why it’s important to take your yoga practice outside – even if it rains!
- Helps detoxification
In traditional Chinese medicine, having bare feet on the earth at sunrise helps the liver to detox. It’s even better if there is dew on the grass, or if it’s slightly wet. Chilly but beneficial – it feels great when you stop!
- Increases the feel good factor
Nature is universally accepted as increasing feelings of well-being. So, of course, does doing yoga! It’s something to do with the combination of fresh air, beautiful surroundings and increased negative ions.
- Tunes the body into nature
We are natural beings, yet in the past couple of hundred years have had to adapt to living away from the land. Doing yoga outside helps our body to deeply relax. Recent research in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health showed that people who lived near green spaces had lower rates of mental and physical ill health.
- Keep our mind sharp
Studies have shown that children who are surrounded by nature have longer attention spans than those without. I’ve found that a quick walk in fields clears my mind and increases my concentration levels. At lunchtime, why not head for the park, or if you have something to think through, do it outdoors!
- Negative ion high!
These negatively charged particles in the air are found in great numbers in forests, by the sea or rivers. Negative ions help us feel alert and reduce anxiety and depression. According to researchers, this is because they increase our capacity to absorb and utilize oxygen so that it reaches our cells and tissues more quickly. Doing yoga or pranayama outdoors is therefore a great double dose of increased energy!
- Attune to the cosmic power
Yoga is rooted in nature. Postures are named after animals, trees, and doing yoga outdoors enables a deeper connection to be made with the earth and heavens. Dru Yoga sequences, for instance the Earth or Moon salutations, are so powerful when done outdoors, facing a full moon or in a beautiful forest. Rather than sitting in a yoga studio visualizing being outside in the moonlight – it feels so much more powerful to actually be outdoors!
Let us know how you get on practising your yoga outside on Facebook, see you there!
Discovering Energy Block Release sequences (EBRs)
with Annie Jones
When we receive an energy, for example of anger, it not only finds a niche in our mind but also percolates to other layers, starting with those layers closest to the mind and then spreading outwards. The first reaction to feeling the energy of anger is usually an emotional one. For example, we feel hurt, and then we may actually sense it physically as the energy reaches the body layer. When the energy arrives at the physical layer it will lodge in the joints, causing stiffness and aches. From the joints the energy, if not discharged from our body, will transfer to the muscles and from there into the internal organs. Once this happens the energy block becomes deep seated and over a long period of time creates ‘dis-ease’ within the body.
It is unhealthy to allow unresolved emotional energy to work its way inwards to the vital organs, so we must learn how to release it on a moment to moment, or at least day to day, basis. This is where EBR sequences come into their own. The gentle movements work with the joints and muscles in a subtle way, releasing energy and allowing it to flow back out into the external world.
The gentle Energy Block Release (EBR) movements work with the joints and muscles in a subtle way, releasing energy from the joints and allowing it to flow back out into the external world.
- Emotional energy is relatively easy to understand and to deal with. Notice, however, the same process in action with regard to our self esteem. For example, we may feel fully confident about a situation until a short, often meaningless remark can create self doubt and our confidence dissolves. We can reclaim our power and strength, however, by combining the Energy Block Release movements with carefully selected affirmations.
- Negative thoughts and attitudes create rigidity in our actions and patterns of behaviour. Negativity can create impenetrable barriers and defences, which inhibit our capacity to ‘feel what we are really feeling’, including our capacity to feel love and joy as well as pain and sadness. The process of Energy Block Release over a period of time softens and begins to melt such rigidity around the energetic and emotional bodies.
- Energy Block Release sequences reverse the process of absorbing energy into our joints, muscles and organs and allow us to detoxify from the inside out.
- The movement work on its own releases energy initially at a physical level and then gradually at deeper levels. When we involve mental and intellectual suggestions as well, the whole process is vastly accelerated.
- Consider the Energy Block Release as a process assisting detoxification at every level. We need to clear the debris in order to clear our vision. When this happens we become even more effective in bringing about self transformation. Please be aware that there is always more going on than is apparent on the surface. If you want to gain the most benefit from the sequences, train yourself to be fully present, bringing an aliveness and freshness to each movement.
KEY POINTS TO BEAR IN MIND
> Avoid locking any joints or holding the limbs or torso rigid. When the joints lock, the energy flow is inhibited.
> Allow all movements to arise out of the spine. Even something as simple as raising your arms sideways accompanies extension and elongation of a dynamic and flexible living spine. Move slowly and with awareness.
Consider the Energy Block Release as a process assisting detoxification at every level. If you want to gain the most benefit from the sequences, train yourself to be fully present, bringing an aliveness and freshness to each moment.
Here are a few free EBR videos for you to enjoy:
Enjoy a daily tonic for health, well being and longevity with Annie Jones
Let me introduce you to chyawanprash – an ancient Indian elixier
History, Myth & Origin
It is believed that the formula of chyawanprash was discovered by the sage Chyawan or Chyavana. He was the first to prepare this tonic, and used it to regain his own youth and longevity. Charak Samhita, the ancient Ayurvedic treatise written by sage Charak in the 4th century BC, contains the first historically documented formula for chyawanprash. According to this ancient text, chyawanprash is "the foremost of all ‘rasayanas’ or herbal formulations.
Some of the main benefits are:
It is made up of around 50 different herbs and forms a delicious jam. It can be taken as a warm drink, simply add warm water, or even better – milk. It has all the 6 tastes within in – so creates a complete balance for the body.
It is a tonic that helps boost the immune system and fight disease.
Chyawanprash is said to offer a variety of benefits, such as increased energy and improved cardiovascular, digestive, respiratory, and reproductive health.
Also its said to possess rejuvenating properties and it's also thought to deliver anti-aging effects.
Chyawanprash is purported to protect against the following health problems:
- high cholesterol
- improved brain funciton
Some proponents suggest that chyawanprash can also enhance libido, as well as fight some forms of cancer.
Most good health shops will provide it – there different ones available – try different one- you will find you favourite and take it daily as a tonic for health, well being and longevity.
Deepen your yoga practice
with Annie Jones
This month I would like to share with you how to enhance your yoga practice and make it even more meaningful. In Dru Yoga you will have noticed that we often talk about the koshas, or layers of the body (physical, energy, emotional, mental and bliss). In this video I describe the different layers of the koshas and how you can use them to deepen your yoga experience.
Here’s a reminder of the 5 layers (or sheaths) of the the koshas:
- Annamaya kosha - the physical layer
- Pranamaya kosha - the breath and energy layer
- Manomaya kosha - the emotional and mental layer
- Vijnanamaya kosha - the intellectual and higher thinking layer
- Anandamaya kosha - the spiritual, bliss or ‘centre of peace’ layer
Exploring the manomaya kosha in depth:
The third layer, or manomaya kosha, is crucial for helping us to stay happy and emotionally balanced. 'Manas' means mind and it refers to the aspect of the mind that relates to how we feel and how we pick up data from our external world through our senses. It is the instinctive/intellectual sheath of ordinary thought, desire and emotion. It is also known as part of the subtle body or Suskshma sharira.
During your yoga practice, your mind will come up with all sorts of thoughts and emotions based on your ability strength, balance etc. It will also judge the alignment and ability of other people, the teacher or even the style of teaching. At times you may also feel overwhelmed by your emotions. Getting caught up the mind’s constant chatter is a sure way to feel frustrated or unhappy - but it is all part of the process! When we befriend our mind and lift our emotional state we can use our yoga to develop some of the the higher functions of the manomaya kosha so that we can move into the inner, more subtle layers easily.
The manomaya kosha is also equated with our level of emotional maturity and also our ‘emotional intelligence’. When it comes to our happiness and success its well acknowledged that our emotional intelligence (EQ) is just as important as our intellectual ability (IQ). Emotional intelligence helps us to build stronger relationships, succeed at work, and achieve our career and personal goals.
My 3 top tips to strengthen manomaya kosha:
- Focus your mind during your practice by deepening the level of concentration involved - balancing postures are great for this!
- Rest your awareness on your breath whilst in your yoga postures - this helps to focus your thoughts.
- Notice how you feel before, during and after your yoga. Stoping between each movement heightens your awareness of the present moment
De-tox your liver
with Annie Jones
After enjoying all the extra delights of the New Year and Christmas period, many of us may find we've gained a little extra weight and can struggle to deal with the extra toxins in our bodies. One organ that is under stress dealing with this extra load is our lovely liver! It is the most important organ to support the de-tox process, the break down of unwanted fats and it lowers cholesterol, so definitely worth looking after!
In this February newsletter video we have included a specific movement to support and de-tox your liver which is also great for "the day after the night before"!
Here are some of my great tips for a healthy liver:
- Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated
- Eat your greens – as this helps to alkalise the liver
- Eat beetroot and artichoke globes
- Mix milk thistle tincture in a glass of water
- Take Barley Grass to nourish the liver
- Drink vegetable juices
- Avoid processed foods
- Limit alcohol intake
- Exercise your body
- Reduce trans fats and overly fatty foods
Get a great night's sleep...
with Annie Jones
A great night's sleep has to be one of the best ways to really nourish and heal the mind, body and soul. I am not suggesting that you tuck yourself in and stay in bed all day! There are many secrets that make a good sleep, short, sweet and powerful. 8 hours sleep is an optimum amount that when deep, offers many benefits such as improving your quality and appreciation of life.
1. Improved learning capacity
"If you are trying to learn something, whether it’s physical or mental, you learn it to a certain point with practice," says Dr. Rapoport, who is an associate professor at NYU Langone Medical Center. "But something happens while you sleep that makes you learn it better the mind becomes more focus and memory improves too”. In other words if you’re trying to learn something new, whether it’s Spanish or a new tennis swing — you’ll perform better after sleeping."
2. The Ayurvedic approach
Ayurveda has a great understanding that helps us understand why we may have difficulty sleeping. You may know that there are 3 main ‘doshas’ or constitution types in Ayurveda:
- Vata – outgoing , creative and fast moving
- Pitta – detailed, methodical and passionate
- Kapha – loyal, reliable and compassionate.
These 3 constitutions are structured into the times of the day. Pitta time is 10 – 2, Vata time is 2-6 and kapha time is 6 – 10.
The evening time is Kapha – it is a time to start, unwind and relax. From 10pm in the evening, Pitta begins and so the body begins to wake up again – watch out for the second wind that happens! If we are not preparing for bed and switching off our computers – this is when we wake up and will have difficulty sleeping – the easy solution – get to sleep before 11.00pm!
Find out more about ayurveda – click here.
3. Live longer
In a 2010 study of women ages 50 to 79, more deaths occurred in women who got less than five hours or more than six and a half hours of sleep per night. As you get older you need less sleep.
4. Curb inflammation
Inflammation is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and premature ageing. Research indicates that people who sleep for six hours or less in one night—have higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins.
5. Weight loss
Great news, researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were well rested lost more fat (56%) of their weight in comparison to those who were sleep deprived, who lost more muscle mass.
6. Stress levels
"Sleep can definitely reduce levels of stress and with that people can have better control of their blood pressure," Dr. Jean says. It helps to nourish the paras-sympathetic nervous system thus aiding the healing response of the mind and emotions.
Top tips to help you sleep better:
- Progressive muscle relxation - imagine that a ball of light is traveling along your body, beginning at the top of your head, going down to the tips of your toes, and then coming up again. As it passes your muscles, they fill with light and relaxation.
- Take a nap - if your sleep has been interrupted or there've been unavoidable late nights, an afternoon nap can help you catch up. Experts advise that naps should be taken earlier in the afternoon, rather than later, and that we should keep them to 30 minutes or less. This will avoid disrupting your sleep at night.
- Lavender bath - take a hot bath and add a couple of drops of lavender oil. Lavender has naturally occurring relaxing properties.
- Chamomile tea - helps calm the nervous system and helps to promote a restful sleep.
- Less electricity - switch off your computers after 8.00pm so that your nervous system can relax.
- Switch off - try not to be too busy at night as this may affect your state of mind, therefore making harder to drop off.
- Introspection - this is a practice that you do at the end of your day. It allows you to let go of the business of the day and forge new habits that will help you relax and build new beneficial habits. Review the day from the start to the end, to the point where you are sitting now. Explore what worked for you and events that you know you would like to improve. Look at those for a moment and replay the event, creating the perfect solution. In other words, resolve the day’s activities. In this way you nourish your emotions and will sleep better.
- Self massage - take time daily to massage warm oil on your body. Sesame oil is a generally beneficial oil that suits all body types. Once you have completed this, step into the shower or the bath as this will allow the oil to go deeper.
- Meditation - take time to sit at the end of the day and enjoy this Sleep Well meditation with Jane Clapham
- Yoga - The Moon Salutation is a great sequence to practice just before you sleep or if you have woken up and have trouble getting back to sleep. Enjoy this session with me on Balancing the Water Element which includes the Moon Salutation. Once you have mastered the Moon Salutation, you can perform it on its own when you need it.
Discover your daily health plan with Dinacharya
with Annie Jones
Dinacharya is the mystical secret of the east that has all the solutions you would ever need to keep young, happy and full of energy. ‘Din’ mean ‘day’ and ’ acharya’ means wisdom - in a word - Dinacharya is the the most amazing way to create a daily routine that guarantees an enriching and energising day. Fortunately for us, Ayurveda is steeped in a multitude of techniques, practices and therapies that have the ability to totally enrich our every day experience in every way possible. The good news is that it is an all natural approach to health!
You may well know that Ayurveda is based on the 5 elements that form a combination of 3 main constitutions – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata people are mobile, light, dry, creative, quick thinking, light hearted and they are great communicators. People with a Pitta constitution are ambitious, good leaders, passionate, friendly and confident. Kapha people are grounded, loyal, stable, kind and loving. The following routines are designed to support all three doshas.
There are two ways of using Dinacharya. The traditional morning health sequence and the daily practices that can be used throughout your day.
The traditional Dinacharya health sequence
Have a go and discover the power that you can access from within. Gain greater mental clarity and improved memory and joy.
- Start your day by booking your bathroom for 15 mins!
- Warm water: start your day with a warm drink of water.
- Oil pulling: start by using 2 tables spoons of warm sesame oil and swilling it around your mouth for 2 minutes, then spit it out into the sink. This helps remove toxins that may have built up during the night.
- Gargling: then take another tablespoon of sesame oil and gargle to help clear your throat.
- Brush teeth: to help move the oil from your mouth and as a mouth freshener.
- Body massage: now take a few minutes to massage your body with a warm oil (sesame oil is a good all rounder).
- Warm shower: enjoy a warm shower that will allow the oil to enter deeper into the skin.
- Neti: this is a pot of warm (salty) water that will clear your head and sinuses when gently poured through one nostril to the other.
- Nasya: is where you place a small amount of ghee in the opening of the nostrils to help lubricate and clear the head (you can also lubricate the ears with some ghee to help the nervous system).
Dinacharya for the rest of the day!
These are tried and tested techniques that will increase your health and youthfulness and give you an abundance of energy
- Take a walk daily as this balances all the doshas
- Yoga and relaxation – this can be further developed by practising according to your dosha
- Epsom salt bath
Supplements or herbs that are a general all round asset to your health kit:
- Triphala: This is a popular supplement that is helped to promote bowel movement. Many individuals also experience constipation and bowel irregularity.
- Brahmi: Brahmi helps compartmentalise information in the brain and provides clarity – and once you feel organised and on top of things, the stress just falls away as a wonderful side benefit.
- Tumeric: Turmeric (Curcuma longa), the bright yellow of the spice rainbow, is a powerful medicine that is beneficial as an an anti-inflammatory agent to treat a wide variety of conditions, including flatulence, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, bloody urine, hemorrhage, toothache, bruises, chest pain, and colic.
We invite you to try any of the above practices to help improve your health and well being. As you feel more energy, you will feel younger and lighter in mind, body and soul. Ayurveda is a great way to learn many different ways to improve your health, correct your weight, and enjoy many more years of life and abundance – to find out more, have a look at the following Ayurveda course that we are running in North Wales – the best new year gift you can give yourself
Boost your immiune system
with Annie Jones
Happy Christmas to you all – yes, there it is, we have said it. We have joined the yule-tide festivities!
This time to year brings all kind of gifts – the ones we enjoy and the ones that may not be so pleasant - As I walked into the office this morning – there it was - I met a friend, full of cold!!! Yes, here we go – we enter the influenza season – watch out everyone!! So what better gift can I give you than to remind you to boost your immune system now!
The first thing is to invite you to enjoy the Inner Fire sequence – this will keep you digestive system strong and keep those colds away!
Eight of autumn and winter's finest immune boosting foods…
Here are a few thoughts for keeping colds at bay!
The bright orange cucurbita, a vegetable in the same family as squashes and gourds, is the perfect immune strengthener. Not only does pumpkin blend nicely into desserts, hearty casseroles, stews, soups, and curries, this versatile veggie is jam-packed with all sorts of essential nutrients that will guard the body against colds and germs—such as vitamin C, folate, antioxidants, zinc, beta-carotene, and even heart-healthy omega 3 fats.
Not only does this comforting spice do the trick in warming the cold toes, fingers, and noses—cinnamon spice or cinnamon sticks have a long history of medicinal use when it comes to treating stomach upset, stomach flu, nausea, and stubborn colds due to its natural antibacterial and anti-viral properties. Why not add a sprinkle to your tea!
Garlic might do the trick on Halloween to keep the vampires away. However, this pungent and aromatic herb is efficient for keeping real life horrors at bay as well. Garlic contains allicin, a chemical compound that’s been administered for centuries as a natural medicine to prevent all sorts of flu viruses, fungi, and bacterial infections.
This medicinal root can be added to warm water or herbal tea (with a bit of honey) to soothe a raw throat, quell a stubborn cough due to cold, ease nausea, and subdue digestive upset. It is also great for upset tummies and helps boost the digestive system.
You might have scratched your head the first time you laid eyes on this white, sick looking carrot. However, the parsnip offers more than a punch of unmistakable flavor to soups and stews, the root vegetable is super rich in Vitamin C, a known immune booster that wards off common cold-causing infections. Parsnips are also rich in potassium, which Harvard Medical School credits in lowering blood pressure and controlling hypertension.
It’s a beneficial gift for autumn —considering apples serve up huge anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic benefits in each bite. So get munching to ward off all sorts of common cold infections and fall allergies.
7. Sweet Potatoes
Aside from providing a healthier, less starchy alternative to regular white potatoes, this vibrant orange tuber adds a sweet taste to casseroles, fall soups, curries, and pies. But in addition to landing low on the glycemic index, sweet potatoes pack a serious vitamin C and beta-carotene punch to protect eaters from cold and flu infections.
8. Barley Grass
The new toddy for boosting the immune system – simply go to our Dimensions Heath Store to find out more.
Autumn nurture the yogic way
with Annie jones
Hi dear friends,
Please enjoy this free EBR 3 sequence which is a part of the new Design Your Destiny class, filmed on location in Australia – it is a beautiful class. It will be great for those of us in the oncoming colder days to put on and feel immediate warmth from the sun. This class is like going on holiday - perfect for opening the lungs and helping to keep all colds and flu away.
Autumn is a time to nourish and nurture. Here in Europe, it is getting darker earlier and colder, so taking time to look after yourself is the key to keeping yourself happy.
Here are 5 things to make your autumn magical:
1. Eat warm and nourishing soups and vegetables. Try this pumpkin soup (see below) from Keith's blog.
2. Integrate a warm oil massage before you have a bath of shower to help keep your skin and nervous system supported.
3. Drink plenty of warm drinks – carry a flask with a pinch of turmeric, cumin and ginger in it.
4. Get out for refreshing walks, well wrapped up. Natural light is really important for you – especially for those of you who tend to suffer from the SAD syndrome.
5. Start picking up your intake of vitamin C to boost your immune system or Triphala (from the Ayurveda system) to help prepare you for the change in season that is happening.
For those of you who want to really expore your health over the next few months – then have a look at my new on line health and nutrition course that I have recently launched called BOUNDLESS ENERGY. It does what it says on the tin!
We look forward to being in touch again soon,
1 tbsp / 15ml sunflower oil
1 leek (washed and sliced)
1 tsp / 5 ml black mustard seeds
1 tsp / 5 ml cumin seeds
1 tsp / 5 ml turmeric
1 bay leaf
1 lb/500g butternut squash (peeled and chopped)
1 lb/500g sweet potato (washed and chopped)
1 ¾ / 1 ltr pints water
1 tsp / 5 ml grated ginger
4 tsp / 20 ml bouillon powder
Heat the oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. Allow them to pop for a few seconds.
Add the other spices and leeks. Sauté for a few minutes.
Add the veg, ginger and water, boulion powder and simmer for 35 minutes.
Remove the cinnamon and bay leaf. Then liquidise.
Health benefits of smiling
with Coby Langford
‘Whistle while you work”, “laugh off the pain”, all terms we drop into our every day language – but is there a little bit of science behind all this?
- Studies have shown that smiling boosts your immune system by stimulating your body to produce more white blood cells. Hospitalised children that were visited by storytellers and puppeteers who made them smile and laugh showed higher WBC counts than children who weren’t visited.
- Smiling Improves your mood - the movement of the muscles in your face when you smile triggers the release of endorphins - smiling causes you to release endorphins – get ‘runners high’ without the running.
- Smiling lowers stress and anxiety. When endorphins are released the levels of cortisol in your body is reduced. Studies also show that smiling when you are in a stressful situation lowers your heart rate, which will relax you and reduce your unpleasant feelings of stress and anxiety.
- Smiling apparently helps you live longer – 7 years longer according to one study. This is due to the effects of reducing stress, helping your heart, and thereby keeping the body healthy longer.
- Fake it till you make it! Fake smiles work as well as real smiles – the brain doesn’t distinguish between real and fake smiles – it interprets the positioning of the facial muscles in the same way. This is the ‘facial feed back hypothesis’. The more you stimulate your brain to release endorphins, the happier and more relaxed you will feel.
- Smiling reduces physical pain - endorphins act as the body’s natural pain killers – for chronic sufferers of pain, laughing can be very helpful - “laugh off the pain”!
- Laughing can give you all the benefits of exercising. How? Well laughing expands the lungs, stretches some muscles, and stimulates homeostasis, replenishing the the cells with a good increase in oxygen intake.
So all this explains why, after a Dru relaxation, we commonly say “open you eyes and SMILE”!!!
And finally... to satisfy the curious amongst us… Why is smiling contagious? Studies report that seeing a person smiling activates the part of your brain that controls your facial movement, which leads to a grin.
So, there we are! Who knew how powerful a smile could be for your health and wellbeing – and we haven't even started on how much it will help the person you are smiling at!
Introduction to Ayurveda
with Annie Jones
Hi dear friends,
Well, as Autumn draws near, here is a nourishing article for you to enjoy with a warm drink, sitting by the fire! As you may know, I am an Ayurvedic practitioner and recently enjoyed a conversation with a fellow practitioner who kindly prepared some great tips to help you over this next month... enjoy and thank you Veronica!!
Ayurveda Tips for a Healthy, Happy and Luminous Autumn
Autumn doesn’t come in quietly. When we thought we could get used to the clouds and the rain, the fireworks of late summer sneak in with a cheeky, bright smile, welcomed but uninvited, only to let the grey sky and the rain in again right the following day.
Ok, then. Is it time for soups and stews or for salads? Do we wear a light jacket or start putting on warmer layers? All transition can be very confusing indeed. What we know for sure is that something is shifting. Change is in the air. The days are definitely shorter and, even though Autumn is the time of the year when the world asks us to rev up and race all the way to Christmas, nature calls us to develop a more introspective gaze, to look inside, to slow down, to conserve our energy and to enjoy the very small and luscious pleasures that Autumn keeps in store for us if only we slow down a bit, listen and allow our senses to open up.
Autumn, a change of season and your unique constitution
Change is always stressful, but especially to vata types (people with high level of air and space in their constitution). In Ayurveda everyone is a unique combination of three energies: vata, pitta and kapha. Even if your constitution is other than vata (it can be pitta, where the predominant element is fire and water; or kapha, where the predominant element is earth and water) in Autumn you might still feel literally ‘under the weather’. Our modern, fast lifestyle produces vata imbalances, no matter what your constitution is. What does that mean? Symptoms of a vata imbalance are:
- Joint issues and discomfort
- Nervous system imbalances, such as anxiety or just feeling nervous more often than normal Insomnia
If you are suffering an aggravation of any of the above symptoms this autumn, that it’s very normal at this time of the year, regardless of what your constitution is. As well as following the dietary recommendations above, you could try the following remedies. Ayurvedic tips for this transition time:
- Make the most of the abundance of late summer with local, organic produce. Our bodies still have enough fire to deal with them. However, start shifting from astringent, cold and dry foods like salads to warmer soups, dhals and kitcharis. Think warm and creamy!
- To cleanse out the accumulation of heat that has happened during the summer, eat plenty of bitter greens (any green leaf vegetable).
- Drink some tulsi tea to keep you warm, grounded and calmed during this time of movement and change.
- Practise (self) Abhyanga (Ayurvedic self massage using warm oil) at this time of the year, sesame oil is the best. Use this lovely practise to increase the awareness of your body, to check-in with yourself and as a reminder that time for self-care is important. It’s also great for your immune system. Use Mahanarayana oil on areas of your body where you experience aches and discomfort.
- After your massage, make yourself a ginger bath: A third of a cup of dry ginger powder and third of a cup of baking soda in the tub. Warming, grounding and pure delicious.
- Yoga: try the Dru Online Studio class Letting go.
- Meditation: Blue Mist Meditation.
If it is evident that Autumn does not come in quietly, it is also true that it doesn’t leave quietly either. In this time of introspection, we all tend to feel a bit sad as we head towards winter. Lack of light, short days. In a way winter may remind us of death, of the temporality of it all. Images of trees standing bare, heavy lead skies, cold. But there is a promise hidden in every season, a promise full of life and future, an Autumn is not the exception. Before the leaves fall from the trees to follow their natural cycle, they use their last bit of prana to explode in the most vibrant, pulsating, colourful breath. That’s the promise that autumn brings us. There is beauty in every season of nature and we are part of that promise and that beauty, and by aligning with nature and its seasons through our daily lifestyle, we learn that something in us needs to fall and die in order to be reborn with an even brighter light.
Have a happy and cosy autumn.
Dru Yoga Teacher and Ayurveda Health Coach
Flying and overcoming jet lag the yogic way!
Well, having just returned from Africa and a fairly entertaining flight where the seats were soooo uncomfortable, overcoming jet lag and the overall effects of flying is an important subject!
How does one make flying easy, especially long journeys? With so many of us traveling abroad these days and often going straight back to work – it is worth looking at.
What happens when we fly?
Flights can be the cause of a variety of different issues for example dehydration, toothache, headaches, stomach pain and ear pain. Sitting for a long period of time, can also cause blood to collect in your legs and feet. When blood leaves your veins for the surrounding tissue, that nasty mid-flight foot swelling ensues. In extreme and rare cases, this can escalate into blood clots.
Plane cabins are pressurized to simulate a 6,000 to 8,000-foot elevation on Earth and because your blood absorbs less oxygen at these altitudes your body can feel fatigued. Gas fluctuations also affect your ears. During a plane’s descent, the tube that lets air in and out to maintain pressure doesn't react quickly enough, so air can’t pass through and pressurize your ear correctly. That’s why swallowing, clicking your jaw or yawning helps. It can open the tube, let air flow and allow the ear to return to normal pressure.
What is jet lag?
Jet lag is also known as time zone change syndrome or desynchronosis. Jet lag can occur when people travel rapidly from east to west, or west to east on a jet plane. It is a physiological condition which upsets our body's circadian rhythms - hence, it is classified as a circadian rhythm disorder. Jet lag symptoms tend to be more severe when the person travels from westward compared to eastward.
Keys to a successful flight
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
- Rub oil on your hands and feet as you travel
- Hold a pressure point on your hand
- Once you have landed, arrange a massage, especially with oil to help ground your body
- Listen to relaxation programmes to help nourish the nervous system during the flight
- Sleep shorter periods of time and move around more
- Limit sedatives you might take in-flight to reduce inactivity while asleep
- A natural method of thinning your blood to help prevent clotting can include garlic, turmeric, and willow bark
- Wear loose clothes especially below the waist. Consider buying compression socks and/or a compression outfit called “jet skins.” The graduated pressure helps support the muscles which pumps blood back to the heart
- Avoid tight clothes especially things with belts and pantyhose that can block blood flow and further compound unnecessary pressure on your body
- Stretch your legs as often as you can. Standing up and moving around every 30 minutes or so can help with the blood circulation
- Try to move your legs and stretch your ankles once per hour
- Take a short walk to stimulate the blood pumping back to your heart
- Elevate your feet and legs when possible
- Draw circles with your toes to rotate your ankles if you are stuck in one position and cannot walk
As preparation for your flight, remember to enjoy a walk and do one of the yoga sessions from Dru Yoga Online as it will help your body cope during the flight. Learn the relaxation system and take yourself through it on the plane. Once you've landed and settled, enjoy a good session of yoga. If you're going to be in transit and staying in a hotel, improve your sleep by doing one of the ‘relax and unwind’ sessions with me (Annie).
Discover what is really going on inside you with Live and Dry Blood Analysis
with Annie Jones
It is not often that you get to have a glimpse into your inner world. We often use this term when referring to our more meditative practices, ‘looking inside’, ‘going within’. I am referring now to the magic and awe inspiring moment of seeing inside your body. Those of you who are mothers, will recall the excitement and wonder on seeing the movement and hearing the heart beat of your child in the womb from the pregnancy scanner systems. How amazing it is to see your inner world from the outside!
Live and Dry Blood analysis allows you to see your inner world for yourself. Seeing hundreds of minute red blood cells moving in their own orbit is like witnessing your own unique universe. I remember the first time that a tiny droplet of blood was placed onto a slide and projected through the lens of a highly powerful Heam Microscope. It was a magnificent moment. That was my inner world moving around in front of my very own eyes!! It was extra-ordinary!
What does it reveal?
Immediately, I could see the acid/alkali balance of my body. It showed my hydration levels, the general health of my digestion, liver, adrenals. It revealed how well my body was absorbing oils, how much free radical damage there might be. I was able to see if there was any excessive crystalline formation and cholesterol damage. From My Dry Blood picture I was able to see my health history, any chronic or acute pictures and where that might be in my organs. I could see if there was any heavy metal poisoning and how well my skin was able to de-tox.
As a result of this analysis, I was able to develop a specific health and nutrition plan and then test the results with another blood analysis a few months later. I was so impressed with the overall picture that the Live and Dry Blood gave me of my personal health picture that I went on to train in how to do this for others.
Here are my top 10 tips to help you take care of your health:
1. I recommend that you get a check up at least once a year with a medical or experienced health practitioner
2. Get enough sleep and try to go to bed before 11.00pm. Sleep is a master healer and helps nourish the nervous system (which we regularly overload!!)
3. Drink enough water and good liquids daily. This can include straight water, herb teas, lemon and ginger. If you enjoy a cup of coffee or tea, simply make sure you balance it out with plenty of natural water as they are both dehydrating
4. Eat a healthy balance of acid /alkali foods. We should be 80% alkali (yes, your greens) and 20% acid (hmm the sugars)
5. Get out in natural light for a minimum of 20 mins a day – get your vitamin D dose to keep your bones strong
6. Find a way to exercise that you enjoy. I am writing this for the Dru Yoga online, so yes, I am biased in directing you to your yoga practice!
7. Take supplement to add to your diet. I am certain that we do not get enough vitamins and mineral in our food and based on the busy lives we now all lead
8. Be happy – get those endorphins going – laugh a lot. It is the best medicine!
9. Take time out to be you. Be in nature, meditate.
10. Have a vision for what you want to achieve for yourself and your loved ones. A sense of purpose gets you out of bed in the morning!
More info about live blood analysis...
Live blood analysis – also known as live blood cell analysis, nutritional microscopy or sometimes dark field microscopy biological terrain assessment – is fundamentally the analysis of living blood under an extremely powerful microscope connected to a camera. The condition and quality of your red blood cells have a direct impact on your present and future health, with stress and disease appearing in the blood years before they manifest in the body. So what do your blood cells look like?
Live blood testing enables us to see your blood exactly as it behaves inside your body, giving a clear picture of your health at a cellular level. We are not looking for patterns that lead to a ‘diagnosis’ in any shape or form, but are merely looking for imbalances in the pH levels in your blood.
If you would like to experience a Live/Dry Blood analysis, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
P.s. Here is a free home video that shares a little more on the subject – enjoy!
The healing power of laughter!
with Annie Jones
Yes, there it is – laughter – such a powerful way to stay happy and healthy and full of energy! Our emotions can be the biggest drain on our energy reserves – so it is worth getting a daily dose to keep a good healthy perspective on life.
I said to the Gym instructor, "Can you teach me to do the splits?"
He said, "Sure, how flexible are you?"
I said, "I can't make Tuesdays."
Benefits of laughter:
- Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
- Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
- Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of wellbeing and can even temporarily relieve pain.
- Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
- Smile. Smiling is the beginning of laughter. Like laughter, it’s contagious. Pioneers in “laugh therapy,” find it’s possible to laugh without even experiencing a funny event. The same holds for smiling. When you look at someone or see something even mildly pleasing, practice smiling.
In a Catholic school cafeteria, a nun places a note in front of a pile of apples; "Only take one. God is watching." Further down the line is a plate of cookies.
A little boy makes his own note, "Take all you want. God is watching the apples!"
When we speak of light, we tend to think of the sun. However, many of us feel ambivalent about it. We love to sit and soak up its rays and yet at the same time we fear the damage that can result from prolonged exposure. Because there has been so much publicity about this, we are now afraid to sit in the sun at all without using sun block.
It is important though, for as much of our skin as possible to be exposed to the sun for 20 minutes a day without reaching for the sun cream. Sun block does exactly what it says – it blocks the sun from penetrating into the cells of our body and while it is important to protect ourselves if we’re out in the sun for a long time, cutting ourselves off from its rays completely can be harmful as well.
Research shows that the natural light of the sun is good for your eyes and helps the brain to work better. Avoid staring into the sun, but do be in sunlight sometimes without glasses or lenses if you wear them, as they block the helpful rays. The human eye contains photosensitive cells in the retina, which link directly to the pituitary gland in the brain. These are stimulated by sunlight, especially the blue spectrum that we can’t see. They affect the hypothalamus area of the brain, which controls our biological clock and influences circadian rhythm, sleep patterns, hormone regulation, our reaction time and our behaviour. The hypothalamus also regulates the combined actions of the nervous and hormonal systems.
All the cells in our body are affected by these things, and disease can arise without enough sun stimulation, including diabetes, cancer and heart disease, as well as psychological diseases. The pineal gland, which produces melatonin, benefits directly from sun stimulation. Sunlight is also an invaluable source of vitamin D, an important nutrient that has powerful effects throughout the body. Conditions like rickets (brittle bones in children) are returning, because of vitamin D deficiency caused by lack of sunlight.
Exposure to morning sunlight helps you get out of bed in the morning, increases alertness, helps mood and increases vitality. You could have these effects earlier with the sun than with your morning coffee! So take time each day to spend time in the sun, absorbing it into your mind, heart, soul and body. Systematically breathe the brilliance of the sun into all parts of your body. Focus on areas that need healing. Use affirmations, mantras, visualisations for your life – success, health and goals.
Indoor light can be helpful as well, if the sun is reluctant to reveal itself! Use full spectrum light bulbs around the house, which have a similar but less powerful effect. And try meditating on light, especially in the dark days of winter. Visualise a beautiful golden light at the crown of your head and let it flow down like a river into every cell of your body. Or try a candle meditation, gazing at a flame for a minute or so, then closing your eyes. You may continue to see the flame with your eyes closed. This practice activates all the light centres in your body.
You can make the most of the sunlight by enjoying the Advanced Sun Salutation with Radha Patel or join Mouli MacKenzie with more gentle sequence that captures the power of nature with the Salutation to the 4 Directions.
Ahh, my favourite... :-)
There are 1440 minutes in a day. How many times have you heard yourself say – ‘I simply do not have enough time to be still and relax’. We have enough time, I think it is more about what we choose to do with our time. When we allow magical moments to unfold, by nourishing this part of us, strangely enough, more time will reveal itself. It is a wild phenomenon!
There are as many ways to keep this part of us healthy as there are human beings on the planet! Meditation and prayer are probably 2 of the most powerful ways. Being in nature is also a profound tool to nourish the Anandamaya Kosha.
I want to share one particular method with you and that is the power of mantra. Mantra come from the word ‘manas’ – the mind. One of manta's primary functions is to harness and focus the 'monkey mind'. Once there is stillness in our thoughts, we can experience the silence behind or beneath it. The mind is like the ocean waves, and once they become still, we can sink into the depth of the silent ocean! Mantra is the use of pure sound, repeated often so as to create a focus for the mind. This process is known as 'jappa' and is the recitation of an incantation, word or phrase. It is knows to be a part of all major religions and is able to exist outside of this frame too.
Here are two mantras for you to enjoy that will support you two big areas of your life. The first is about clearing your path or 'removing obstables' and the second works with building your abundance and financcial wealth. My attitude is – it may be new to you, and it may work; so why not have a go! You have nothing to loose!
There are many mantras in many different lanugages. As we've put this post into the 'yogic health tips' blog we thought we'd share a couple of sanskrit mantras with you to enjoy.
Om Ganeshaya Namaha
Ganesha is linked to ‘removing obstacles’ in your path. He is the 'Elephant God' and is called upon at the beginning of any new project and at the start of any event. You can use this mantra when you wish to remove any obstacles that are preventing you from moving forward in a job situation, a relationship, establishing your spiritual practice. Ganesha is also said to be the bringer of great joy. So when there are moments where you feel you need a little more joy and happiness- repeat this mantra.
Om Laxmaya Namaha
Laxmi is said to be the guardian of success, wealth and abundance. She is the one to call upon when you wish to have success in a project, or to have abundant health and wealth.
To nourish the Anandamaya Kosha, simply set time aside daily to be quiet, to sit and listen and to say your mantra. Nourishing this layer will filter down and effect all the others layers in a powerful way. It is the most important one to keep healthy!
What a revelation that you can train the intellect and actively learn to choose the way you think from moment to moment. This really puts us in the driving seat of our lives. We are no longer victims of what is happening to us! Fantastic!
The practice I would like to share to help keep this kosha healthy is that of goal setting. Every evening I set my goals for the next day. It is a great feeling as I re-call the day and tick off what has been achieved and then focus on what is to come. Having a plan creates a feeling of confidence and control. Having a purpose and a vision for our life is key to our ultimate health and harmony! Below I've written some of my thoughts for you to play with when you sit at night with a your notebook to plan the day ahead.
This process is how I prepare ahead for each day:
- Think about what lies ahead over the next few days
- Write it all down
- Now put them in order of priority
- Select that which is possible/ important to do tomorrow and put any others in the future
- Your list should also include areas that you know are important to you – for example, I always include the following health points in my list:
> My personal yoga and meditation practice
> Taking my vitamins and minerals
> Going for a walk
> My other action points for the day
At the end of the day, make time to physically tick off what you have done in your notebook, then once again look at what is still to do over the next few days, adding in anything new arising from the day that requires attention. Then re-prioritise what needs to be done tomorrow.
Watch your mind and intellect experience a feeling of ‘being in control’. Amidst it all, remember that there will always be those unexpected days where nothing seems to go according to plan, and that is alright too!
Ideally some of your daily or weekly plans need to include items that will contribute towards your overall vision - where you are going and want to acheive as long term goals. If you would like support with exploring this area of your life have a look at some of these classes on goal setting.
Smile and enjoy the journey!!
We so often feel that we are at the mercy of our emotions. This is not the case! Our circumstances may not always be in our control but the way we respond to life and how we react emotionally is in our control. Like a muscle, however, our emotions need training. We need to observe how we respond or react to circumstances and then find tools to re-train. When events happen, that are unpleasant, we have a choice to hang onto this pain or to:
- Let it go
- Transform it
- Address it with confidence, or with a friend
One of the most effective tools I have every come across to help manage my emotions (Manomaya kosha) was given to me by my mentor, Dr.Mansukh Patel over 30 years ago. I have used it every day ever since. It is the process of what is called INTROSPECTION. It is also a fantastic way to let go of the day so that you can enjoy a deeper sleep.
I invite you to sit quietly for 5-10 mins at the end of your day just before you go to sleep. Cast your gaze briefly over your day, from the point of awakening to the point at where you find yourself now. Re-call the events of the day. Celebrate them,! Now go to the areas that you were not so happy with and replay the sinareo as your would like it to have gone. Try not to attach yourself to the people involved, but rather, concentrate on the outcome that you are seeking. See yourself triumphant and see that the situation resolved for the good of all. Each time you perform this process, it will get easier and quicker. It is said that the transformation that you create will sink into your sub conscious as you prepare for sleep and help change the pattern of reaction/response that you have to that which is more favourable.
What is Prana? It is more than the air we breathe. Prana is the universal principle of energy or force. It is the sum total of all energy that is manifest in the universe, all the forces in nature and powers which are hidden in all beings and which lie everywhere around us. There are 3 main ways to harness this invisible force.
- The air we breathe
- The food we eat
The word 'pranayama' translates to mean; the science of breath. It iis the most powerful way to harness our innate force of life. They way we can look after this part of your system and keep it fit, is to be aware of your breathing. Take time to observe your breath as you walk, sit, at work and on awakening. Practice breathing deeply. It is known that by consciously breathing with depth, you can keep a calm mind and balanced emotions.
Sama Vritti The Square Breath
This technique is such a powerful and simple to use. Choose a equal ratio of breathing that is comfortable for you. I tend to use 2:2:2:2. I have fond memories of working with this breath when I was a school teacher working with young children. It was one of the best ways I had to create an immediate calm in the classroom as the children created a square whilst watching their breath. One young child used to watch himself running around the square in his running shoes. He was one of the ‘more dynamic’ boys in the class, shall I say, and it worked every time, without fail to create a calm and relaxed state! Thankfully!!
When ever you feel a little over whelmed, tired or un-focused, sit for a moment and simply watch your breath creating this equal ratio breathing. Simply breathe in for a slow count of 2, hold for the same count, breathe out for 2 and finally pause again at the end of the out breath. The balance of the ratio will calm and relax mind and body. You can continue this breath for several minutes, and when you're ready, simply open the eyes or gently move the body to come out of the awareness of the breathe and breathe normally.
Enjoy looking after your Pranamaya Kosha!
Ohh the joys of looking after the human body! When we are young, it seems all so easy. We hardly seem to have to do anything to keep the body balanced and can stay up late, eat and drink whatever we want, work hard and play hard. Well, the news it – Newton’s law of cause and affect influences all of us. In other words, there is no getting away with anything. Bad habits will catch up with us at some point!! Health is not just the absence of disease, it is also about feeling happy, energised and in love with life. What are symptoms of great health? Here are a few!
- Friendly and happy
- Sleep well and wake up feeling rested and fresh
- Good mental performance
- Low incidence of ill health
- Long life span
So what are the keys to look out for to keep the Anamaya Kosha happy?
- Look at a good healthy diet plan that has a balanced acid/alkali ratio. The recommended food intake is said to be 80% alkali (greens, water, fruit, essential fats) and 20% (grains, milk, some of the naughty stuff!). We are all different, so explore and observe the foods that work for you. Cut down on sweets, caffeine and alcohol.
- Get enough sleep. 8 hours is great. We can probably get away with 6 hours for a while. Lack of sleep can have adverse effects on our nervous system and make us anxious and worried. Sleeping in a dark room is best as it activates the natural melatonin that induces a relaxed state.
- Exercise – yes of course! Getting out into natural daylight walking is a great start. This helps stimulate the serotonin and natural endorphins to help keep you happy and alert. As you are reading this at Dru Yoga Online, of course I am biased to suggesting "DO YOGA!"
- Go organic with as much as you can in relation to food and products you put in your hair and on your skin!!
- Enjoy a massage regularly to help relax and nurture your body.
Here's a great class from Dru Yoga Online that I recommend and that will help you get in touch with the physical body:
Get Fit Series: Class 1 with Coby Langford
Enjoy your Get Fit series! First, sample Coby's activations to get you fit and active! Then enjoy a fantastically strong version of the Dru Sun Sequence (Surya Namaskara) to stretch, tone and strengthen the whole of your body; the Maltese Cross (Shava Udarakarshanasana) for a great stretch in the lower back and shoulders.
Sneak in a piriformis stretch to ease of the glutes before settling into a short deep relaxation to complete a fantastic re-energising class.
Enjoy looking after your body. It has to carry us around for many years. It is our temple. If we take good care of it, it will take good care of us.
The Koshic model of health - by Annie Jones
The Kosha Model is an ancient model of health that has been the foundation stone for the majority of health models that exist today.
What are the Koshas and why are they important for your health picture?
‘Kosha’ is a word for ‘layer’ or ‘sheath’. It refers to the different aspects of our humanness, and to create health in all of them is synonymous to absolute radiant and successful living! I was a Physical Education teacher in my younger days and was really interested in keeping fit. When I came to yoga, it opened my understanding to a whole new level. Fitness is not just a process of toning, stretching and strengthening muscles, it also requires your energy levels, emotions, intellect and inner peace to be 'fit'. It was a fantastic revelation!
The 5 Koshas:
- Annamaya Kosha - the physical layer. This includes how our body moves, what we eat, posture and our relationship with the physical world around us.
- Pranamaya Kosha – this includes the air we breath and the life-force that is sustaining us. It is found in food & sunlight but is primarily drawn from the air we breathe
- Manomaya Kosha – this relates to how we feel at any moment. Are we cold, hot, sad, happy, fearful, angry, lonely?
- Vijgnamaya Kosha - Can we harness the way we direct our thoughts? Can we choose the thoughts we have from moment to moment? This layer helps us to be in control of our destiny by co-piloting the way we think and the choices we make.
- Anandamaya Kosha – my favourite – the spiritual layer. This is the part of us that has had, for most people, the least training! There are 1440 minutes in a day. This layer is to remind us to take some of those minutes to be still, quiet and to listen to and wonder at life in all its diversity!
So my plan today is to remind you to be aware that you are more than just a body. You exist on so many more layers and all of them require a little of your love an attention if you really want to be happy, firm in a vision, healthy and at peace with yourself.
Take the next 5 days and decide to be aware of each of the above areas. You do not need to do anything particularly, but simply be AWARE. Have no judgement, you do not have to make any changes, just be aware.
- Day 1: Be aware of your physical situation, your posture, health status, the immediate environment and what you eat.
- Day 2: Be aware of your breathing process. How often are you aware that you are breathing? Is it a deep breath? What happens when you are worried? What happens when you are relaxed? How many breaths do you take in a minute? Compare it with others!
- Day 3: Be aware of how you are feeling. No need to judge it, simply observe. What emotions do you go through in a day. How do you feel about yourself, the people around you. What happens to your body when you have strong emotions?
- Day 4: What are you thinking now? How are your thoughts? How do you manage choices? What is the dialogue that is going on in your own head? What are your plans for today? Do you have a plan? No judgement, simply observe.
- Day 5: Do you have a practice that helps keep you still? Do you go for a walk, connect with nature? Do you feel calm and peaceful? No judgment, simply ask the question and see what unfolds