If you’ve ever placed your palms together in 'prayer position', you’ve practiced yoga mudra. Perhaps you’ve sat with your thumb and index finger together during meditation – that’s another mudra. Yoga students all over the world are practicing simple mudras every day, but most of us don’t know how and why these special hand gestures work. It’s time to change all that. Mudras are powerful, enjoyable and accessible to everybody – you don’t need to be fit and flexible to place your hands in a simple gesture. Here’s a rough guide to mudras and how to use them in your yoga practice.Read More
Many people learn to meditate because they hear it's a great stress buster. But, ironically, it’s hard to meditate when you’re stressed. When the body and mind are filled with tension, it can be very uncomfortable to sit still in meditation. This is why many people find meditation challenging or believe they ‘can’t’ meditate. We know that meditation is good for us, but we don’t know how to prepare to meditate. Like all good things, meditation is always better if we add a little preparation.
Read on to discover a simple ritual to prepare for a relaxed and satisfying meditation.Read More
Yoga is the ultimate disruptive technology. The ancient sages teach us that suffering is caused by the dysfunctional patterns and paradigms that we (often unconsciously) cling to. We can change those messed up patterns in our bodies, minds and energy systems by practicing the Eight Limbs of yoga.
The ancient sage Patanjali defined yoga as a state of mind in which all our conscious and unconscious patterns of belief quieten down. It’s the process of letting go of all the things you think (or subconsciously believe) about the world so that you can see things as they truly are.
That’s not something most of us can do at the drop of a hat, which is why Patanjali gives us an 8-step program for moving towards that state of absolute clarity – the Eight Limbs of Yoga.
The first two steps, Yama and Niyama, are guidelines for living a good life with clean living and healthy relationships at the top of the agenda. Next, Patanjali tells us to practice the aspects of yoga that are most familiar to Western students– asana (poses) and pranayama (breathing techniques). We're then asked to switch off from external distractions and move through the three stages of meditation, ending in Samadhi – the state of blissful awareness that we experience when all the mental noise and habits stop.
The first seven steps are all preparation for that final state of transcendent bliss, but we often don’t approach our yoga practice in that way. Asana becomes a form of exercise, novelty or distraction rather than preparation for a practice that promises to deliver the peace and clarity that we’re craving. So how do we approach asana in a way that makes it an effective part of our journey towards Samadhi? By putting the breath at the very heart of every practice.Read More
How many hours yoga teacher training have you done? 200hrs? 350hrs? 500hrs+? There is a seemingly endless array of post-graduate yoga teacher training options. How about a 40hr yin training? Perhaps a weekend course on how to teach kids yoga. What about prenatal, somatics, fascia, acro yoga, adjusting, alignment or a course to help you market your classes? With such a dazzling variety of trainings, there’s one question I’d like to ask. How much yoga teacher training is enough?
I’ll follow that question up with another one. How much of the training you’ve already undergone do you use in your everyday teaching? Actually, how much of it do you even remember?Read More
Heart disease is the single leading cause of death in Australia. There is now a significant body of research to demonstrate that Yoga Therapy can play an important role in helping people to manage heart disease.
The European Journal of Preventative Cardiology found that yoga (and not the active, exercise kind of yoga) is comparable to walking and biking when it comes to cardiovascular health.Read More
“What yoga pose is good for back pain?” I’m sitting opposite Jade a newly qualified yoga teacher who’s just started mentoring with me. “Well”, I begin, “where is the pain?” Jade describes her student’s lower back pain and I ask a few more questions. How did the pain start? What is the student’s lifestyle? I suggest a few simple poses and ask Jade to teach them to me. She teaches the asanas, but doesn’t pay much attention to the breath. When I ask about her instructions for the breath, she seems surprised. “I thought we were focusing on the lower back,” she replies.
It’s never about the lower back. Or the neck pain. Or the anxiety. Or the eczema. As a yoga therapist, it’s always about the whole person. While it would be great if there was a yoga pose to fix every health issue (imagine a doctor prescribing ‘take two down dogs and call me in the morning!’), therapeutic yoga is a more subtle approach to wellbeing. It’s also more thorough. Jade’s student certainly needs to work on stretching and strengthening his back in order to relieve the pain, but any qualified physiotherapist could provide a set of exercises that would do that. Why do yoga if a physio can fix it?Read More
Pranayama, or yogic breathing, is an important part of yoga. But many yoga classes focus on the physical postures and don't include many breathing techniques. That's a shame because pranayama practices can make a big difference to how you feel - and fast.
The way we breathe directly influences the way we feel, think and behave. That's because our breathing regulates the autonomic nervous system. Each time we inhale, we activate the sympathetic nervous system - that's the 'fight or flight' mechanism that readies us to deal with looming threats. Each time we exhale, we activate the parasympathetic nervous system - this is the 'rest and digest' function that allows our bodies to go into repair mode, sleep soundly and build nurturing relationships.Read More