On Sunday 22nd May I will be hosting a free Happiness Habits Workshop. This workshop will overview and summarise recent findings in the field of happiness and provide options to apply this research in your day to day life now. Happy people have a higher income, better relationships and better health, with 40% of our happiness under our direct control, being happy becomes the main goal, if not the goal.
In yoga, breathing practices are called pranayama. Prana means ‘life force’ and yama means ‘restraint’. Pranayama is the practice of consciously containing and channelling the energy of the breath. It is considered to be the foundation of a good yoga practice and important for developing greater concentration and awareness. It is also good for soothing and quietening the mind and restoring the nervous system.
Pranayama exercises can be both energising and relaxing whilst enhancing respiratory function, circulation and digestion.
The most common breathing practice we do during our flow classes is called the Ujjayi breath, this breath makes a soft ocean sound at the back of the throat on the exhale by partially restricting the back of the throat. Ujjayi breath is through the nostiles for both inhale and exhale. Ujjayi breath serves to keep the body and mind focussed during your flow class whilst also providing a steady foundation for your practice, particularly in the more challenging poses.
Anxiety is really common and almost a part of modern lifestyles. It affects our emotions, our bodies, our energy levels and over time our overall health.
Yoga can help with relaxation, breathing and mindfulness, with certain poses also easing feelings of anxiousness.
There are many, many poses that can be helpful for easing feelings of anxiety with a list of my favourites from our classes at Soul Studio here:
Let me share with you the secret to a good crow pose. It’s an impressive pose that looks really challenging but really it’s all about being playful and confident at the same time.
I always like to do a Mulasana or low squat first then from the low squat set the hands on the floor shoulder distance apart and draw the knees up high into the back of the arms, from here press firmly into the hands and move your weight slightly forward whilst drawing the toes up to balance on the arms balancing. Voila.
A great pose to do just for fun (or to look good!) along with increasing your confidence, strength and sense of balance. Contraindications are wrist or shoulder injuries. Enjoy!
It seems fitting that I share today, on Valentines Day, one of my favourite (and most effective) meditation techniques, called loving kindness meditation. It is especially helpful in building and sustaining happiness (Fredrickson, Cohn et al 2008).
Loving kindness meditation changes habituated negative thinking patterns to develop a quality of ‘loving acceptance’. It also helps develop levels of empathy, with empathy being fundamental to successful relationships (and leadership).
Loving kindness meditation starts with sending loving kindness to yourself and then systematically to four other types of people, namely a respected person, a dearly loved person, a neutral person and a hostile person.
One of the most effective ways I find to practice loving kindness meditation is to sit or lie in savasana and then visualise each step by seeing yourself or the person that you are directing loving kindness to and then smiling and sending them the loving kindness.
If you feel resistance to any step, it means there is work to be done. Don’t worry, just start by doing the parts you are comfortable with and the rest can evolve as you are ready.
Have a loving and kind Valentines Day.
This is one of the new mandala that will be on the walls at Soul Studio. They are there for practical and spiritual purposes along with just being beautiful. On a practical note, we will use the mandalas to guide our practice, for example face the green mandala or the red mandala. Much easier than left and right!
On the more spiritual side of things, mandalas generally symbolise unity and harmony but they also have unique meanings. Mandalas are used in yoga and mediation to absorb the mind and cease thoughts. This lets our more creative or spiritual mind be free whilst our analytical mind has a break.
When using a mandala for mediation, it is good to first set an intention and then use the mandala as a point of focus like you do in a candle gazing mediation. I hope you enjoy the new mandalas at the studio; they will be up by next weekend.
See you Monday for first classes, remember all classes are free for February, please enter code FREE FEB at in the promo code box at the cart.