Sound Advice


600394_421617931239046_1475004198_nOn October 11 and October 18th there will be LIVE MUSIC in class, provided by Luc Acke and Javier Rodríguez Huertas at Indaba Yoga Studio, Marylebone, 10-11:30am. Please come!

Tasya vachakah pranavah
Always chant OM; God is OM, supreme music
-Patanjali

Living and working in London means that all around, there is sound. Police sirens, bus horns, jack hammers and cars whizzing past provide a colorful if not distracting backdrop. Sometimes moving beyond the chaos of the cataclysmic sound waves can be challenging.

The practices of yoga provide a framework of moving from the gross (large) elements to the subtle. We work from the outside, in, so to speak. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali outlines and eight-limed path (ashtanga) the provides steps for transformation; transformation from our belief about being rooted in our belief about who we are as a physical form, to being something more subtle, something timeless. The eight-limbed path consists of the yamas (restraints), niyamas (self-restraints), asana (seat/connection), pratyahara (looking inward), dharana (concentration), dyana (meditation), and samadhi (enlightenment).  Throughout these practices, we learn to cultivate our listening skills, ultimately arriving at the ability to hear even the unstruck sound, the soundless sound of Om.

In the sanskrit dictionary, there is a word nadam, which translates loosely to sound. Nada Yoga is the yoga of deep inner listening. The related word nadi means river or stream. Nadis are the channels in the subtle body through which consciousness flows.

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika states that samadhi (enlightenment) is achieved when the anahata (unstruck) nadam can be heard. The ultimate goal of Hatha Yoga is to hear this soundless sound which is Om, the dissolution of all sound and the music of the spheres. To do this the yogi must first perfect the ability to listen.

Sound is the essence of all energy. The first vibration, the Nadam, was “unstruck,” meaning that it occurred at a time when there were no things to strike against each other to make a sound. This first very subtle vibration is still resonating through each and every vibration that has arisen since the beginning of time.

To begin the practice of Nada Yoga, the yogi first practices pratyahara, shutting off as many external sights and sounds as possible and drawing inward. The first stage of pratyahara is to become still and quiet, and allow an inner tranquility to permeate the senses.

This is not easy to do, so a prerequisite might be to refine the ability to really listen. One way to do this is by appreciating good music. Be selective; it is helpful to choose music that induces an inner state of well-being. Practice listening to your own voice and to those around you. See if in walking through a busy city you can look for the sound of Om, even in the jackhammer, even in the car’s horn.

Once external listening is refined, we can cultivate the ability to listen inward. Yoga practices provide techniques for tuning our instrument, for transforming an ordinary body into an extraordinary instrument for Divine Will; for love. Through the practices of Nada Yoga, the yogi’s mind becomes absorbed in the inner sound of Om.

Live Music, Saturday October 11, with Luc Acke


luchttp://www.lucacke.be/player/?playlist_id=1&iframe=true&wmode=transparent

I’m so excited to be teaching with Luc Acke again on Saturday, October 11th at Indaba Yoga Studio, 10-11:30am. There is nothing like practicing to live music, and Luc’s voice and the harmonium are especially grace-filled. If you have never practiced to live music before, come and experience the live vibrations and incredible sweet bhav (mood). Hope to see you there (to sample Luc’s sound, click on the link below his picture).

Twist and Shout


 

IMG_1154

Twisting plays a vital role in maintaining the health of our bodies and minds. The twisting motion is important because it incorporates so many central points of the body, and encourages movement in the spine as well as the organs. Yoga twists require the work of the abdominal muscles, oblique muscles, spine, neck, shoulders and pelvis. Each twist improves the strength and flexibility in all of these areas, resulting in two distinct and essential benefits:

The Relief of Back Pain and Pressure
The lower back region bears a considerable amount of weight when you are standing or sitting throughout the day. This can put pressure on the lower vertebrae and restrict circulation. Yoga twists can reverse the daily damage to your lower back by restoring circulation, increasing flexibility and correcting posture. These positions rejuvenate the spinal column and improve range of motion. This makes daily yoga twists an excellent way to relieve back pain.

Cleansing and Detoxifying Body Tissues
Performing yoga twists massages inner muscles and organs, essentially wringing out toxins while bringing in a rush of fresh oxygen and nutrients. This flushes impurities from inner tissues and helps organs perform their functions properly. Among other benefits, this is an effective method for improving sluggish digestion.

Join me on Sunday, October 5 to learn more about twisting and the relationship of twists and front, back and side bending in the Central Column: Architecture of Asana Series at Indaba Yoga Studio, Marylebone, from 1:30-4:30pm. There will be twists aplenty and backbend merryment too. Please come!

Take your practice on the road this summer


lizzieBUILDING A SELF PRACTICE ON AND OFF THE MAT
with Lizzie ReumontSunday, July 6th, 1.30-4.30pm
at Indaba Yoga Studio

Whether you are going on holiday or just wanting to spend more time in the sun, don’t let your practice get left behind! This workshop is about creating a well-balanced self-practice, whether you are completely new to practicing on your own, or are an old-timer to self-practice and looking for some inspiration.

Sequencing, alignment and self-adjustment will be key themes, as will the role of pranayama, diet and nutrition. To support the workshop (and your practice) Raw Fairies, the raw, vegan food delivery service, will be on hand with some tips for adding nutrition into your daily regime and sharing some treats.

LIzzie’s vinyasa-based classes are infused with a passion for music, attention to alignment and awareness of the breath. Hands-on, intelligent adjustments are her specialty, enabling the practitioner to open blocked areas of the body and deepen into the practice. Above all else, Lizzie believes that the only way to practice and to teach yoga is with a compassionate heart.
SIGN UP NOW

Creating (and sustaining) a Self-Practice


Join the Building a Self-Practice Workshop on July 6th at Indaba Yoga Studio, Marylebone, from 1:30-4:30pm. 

lizzieMy self-practice began when I moved to Kosovo in 2006. Prior to that time, I had yoga classes readily available to me, and despite attending classes for almost ten years, the idea of unrolling my mat in my home seemed daunting and untenable. Then, I moved to Kosovo.

Equipped with nothing but my yoga mat, a belt and a couple of blocks, my self-practice commenced. Left on my own without a teacher’s guidance, a couple of things struck me within the first couple of weeks. First, I knew more than I thought I did. When left to move freely, my body could inform itself of what to do. My muscles and tissues had a memory after all, and may have been more present in those thousands of prior yoga classes than my mind! Second, I could move to my unique breath count, which was a big revelation to me, and very freeing at the time. Third, I realized that my mind was more attached to practicing certain asanas than others, for a specific period of time and in a given environment than I would have liked to admit.

At that moment, my self-practice opened wide up to a limitless sea of opportunity. My practice became as much about letting go of my mind-made constraints as it did about creating strength and flexibility through asana, pranayama and meditation. Engaging with learning tools such as the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali was also a big part of my self-study.

Whether you have 5 minutes or 55 minutes, a daily self-practice is a time to check in and be in your body. Here are 5 tips to help get you started:

1. Drop your Expectations:  So often, our expectations are what prevent us from being present in the moment. 5 minutes of a yoga practice everyday is better than no practice, and actually, your yoga practice can start now! How are you sitting? What is happening with your breath? Are your feet grounded as you read this? What kind of subconscious thoughts are going through your mind?

2. Set your Clock: If you are under time constraints, set an alarm for the time you need to finish by. This will allow your mind to fully be present with your breath and your body, rather than lost in thought, anxious about over running.

3. Follow your Breath: Allow the breath to inform the movement. The more breath is used as a metronome, the more external environments and sounds move into the background and the state of yoga is truly available.

4. Take time to warm up, and cool down: Even if you have ten minutes, give yourself a few minutes to ease into the practice and heat up the spine. As important is a cooling down period leading to rest. My general rule of thumb is 20% of the practice should be in warm up or rest mode. This is when and embodied awareness is cultivated and can be brought into the practice, and also out into our daily life.

5. Fuel your Practice Right: Yoga practice happens in daily life, starting with how we treat other beings, and what we put into our bodies and minds. Eating nourishing whole foods that have the least impact on the planet and animate life is as much a part of the yoga practice as rolling out your mat. When we eat other beings who have suffered, beyond contributing to the cycle of suffering in the world, we ingest the suffering of the animal as well. This contributes to the thought cycle in the mind, which leads to physical and emotional toxicity. A positive intention set before each practice is as important as an organic, vegan smoothie. Speaking of smoothies, Raw Fairies will be at the workshop to talk more about diet and nutrition for fueling a yoga practice, and may even have some smoothies on offer.

For more information on sequencing, self-adjusting and building a rounded practice, hope to see you at the workshop on June 6th.

%d bloggers like this: