Blog and class notes 27 January 2017

Welcome to a new term leading up to Easter in which my theme to begin the year is Yoga Fundamentals. It’s never a bad thing to go back to basics for even teachers and experienced students as it gives us time to re-evaluate and  focus on the core elements of yoga.

The theme for the first week was the breath, which underpins everything we do.The breath, mind and body are interdependent. For example, when we are resting and relaxed, this should be reflected in our breathing, which is roughly at the rate of around six to eight breaths each minute, although there is no hard and fast rule. However, when we are stressed, our breath often becomes faster and shallower, which in turn feeds into feelings of anxiety and alarm.

Deeper yogic breathing can reverse this, and help us unwind and relax. We can focus on our breath at the beginning of class to help and prepare both the body and mind for practice.

A good way to start is to lie in the ‘constructive rest’ position, with the knees bent and feet flat on the floor.By closing the eyes, and following the rise and fall of the belly under the hands, we bring our awareness to the flow of breath through the nose. We can introduce a count in and out, to focus the mind, and further slow down and relax.

After 5-10 minutes of letting go, you can start to link a movement to the rhythm of breathing: for example, bringing the arms overhead, gently swaying the knees from side to side, or lifting the hips up to the ceiling and down.The breath should initiate the movement, and continue a little afterwards.

This week we worked with yoga belts to deepen into our stretches using the breath. Rest by hugging the knees into the chest afterwards.

The Breathing Poem by Thich Naht Khan

Breathing in, I am aware I am breathing in

Breathing out, I am aware I am breathing out

Breathing in, my breath becomes deep

Breathing out, my breath goes slowly

Breathing in, I feel calm

Breathing out, I release

Breathing in, I smile

Breathing out, I release

Dwelling in the present moment

I know this is a wonderful moment