The theme for classes this term is the yoga philosophy of Sthira and Sukham. These sanskrit words can be loosely translated into strength or steadiness and softness or ease.
We will be exploring the different ways we try to balance Sthira and Sukham within our yoga practice:-
– within poses it is important to seek out a balance between strength and softness. So we look for the parts of the body that we need to hold strong in the pose and then seek out additional tension that we can release without compromising the pose. When doing sitting poses, the spine needs to be held strong and upright and we need to find a sitting position where our legs can be soft and relaxed. When doing standing poses our legs need to be strong and grounded but we need to seek out softness in our upper body, our shoulders, our face, and our breath.
– we also need to seek balance between the strength or challenge in the pose and the ease or self-compassion. We need to challenge ourselves a bit, so we can further our practice, but without straining and ensuring that we listen to our bodies and allow our body to rest when it needs to.
– another way we can bring balance into our yoga practice is by having some strengthening static poses and some dynamic mobilising practices. When we hold a pose still it is more strenuous on the muscles and it helps us to build strength in muscles and bones. When we move dynamically in a pose we are helping to mobilise our joints and tendons and maintain our flexibility.
– we will also be investigating how we can balance some stronger poses by practising self-compassion and by using our breath to soften the tension in the body.
In classes this week we will be working on balance. Balance is about physical alignment, strength and attention and as a result, many different things, both physical and mental, affect our ability to balance on any given day. In yoga we are working on:
– improving the alignment of the body so that it works efficiently with gravity,
– gradually building our muscle and joint strength,
– bringing our mind into the present moment.
We can also use a steady gaze point and a calm breath to help to still the mind.
Whilst concentrating on the physical balance, our nervous impulses, thoughts and emotions are also brought into balance. Practising balances also gives us the opportunity to practice self-acceptance and being kind to ourselves, because it’s ok if we don’t manage it today….it’s the act of practising which is important.
Breathing is such an important part of yoga. Yoga helps us to become aware of our breath and to notice the effect of the breath on the body and the mind.
Breathing is an automatic process, which is affected by the health of our body and our mind. When our mind is feeling stressed and anxious, our breath reflects this by being shallow, short and fast. Taking slow, deep, calm, even breaths can help to calm the mind and relax the body, reducing stress and balancing emotions. As such, the breath is an important link between our unconscious, automatic systems and our conscious, thinking brain. It is unusual because it is one of the only autonomic systems which we are able to consciously control and this means we are able to have a conscious effect on our mental state and our emotions by learning to consciously control the breath.
In yoga we can practice healthy breathing exercises, which help to strengthen the chest and breathing muscles, help to improve the capacity of our lungs and also help us to develop more healthy breathing habits. Additionally, focusing on the breath helps us to be more mindfully focused on the present moment.
In class this week we will be focusing on the breath, moving with the breath, using the breath to help us relax and helping to build healthy breathing habits.
If your chest is collapsed in and deflated, then your heart and your mind are probably going along with it. In class this week, we are going to work on opening up our chest, relaxing our shoulders, making room for our lungs, opening our posture, opening our minds and our hearts and thinking about being kind to ourselves and others.
When we talk about having a strong core, we are not talking about a 6-pack of muscles…and it’s definitely not about what’s on the outside…it’s about building strength and stability deep inside…it’s about your internal muscles working together to stabilise and align your body, improve your posture, improve your range of motion and lessen the chance of back pain. In class this week we will be working towards improving the strength and stability in your inner muscles… and don’t forget every time you come to a yoga class you are working on improving your inner mental strength as well!
Learning to relax is an important aspect of yoga (and life!)…. recognising tension in your muscles, learning to relax your muscles at will, relaxing in between poses, and allowing your muscles to relax and release during poses, all help to improve our strength and flexibility whilst also counteracting the effects of stress on our bodies and minds. Join us this week for some quality conscious relaxation….
This week’s classes are focusing on building back strength. Deep, easy breathing and freedom of movement are only possible with a healthy spine. Yoga helps you to increase the flexibility and movement in the spinal joints whilst also improving the strength of the muscles supporting this delicate structure. Join us for some strengthening, stretching, lengthening, posture-improving, and most importantly, relaxing.