Yoga is Harmonious Connection

Connect with Self

The principal aim of practicing Yoga is to connect you with your inner being.  The breath is the meeting place between of the external world with your inner world; the link between the body, mind and spirit.  When practicing Yoga we must keep the breath flowing; inhaling and exhaling through the nostrils at all times.

Just for a few moments, whilst sitting comfortably, place your hands on either side of your ribcage and and close your eyes.  Observe your breathing, lengthen your inhalation and your exhalation, listen carefully and feel the sensations of the subtle flow of air and energy. Notice whether your ribcage and abdomen are expanding and contracting.  Release judgement, observe and accept the beauty of the present moment.  An inner sense of calm will emerge.  This is your birthright.  Use your awareness to bring yourself to your centre at anytime that you feel the need.

Tree Pose

“Yoga is a light, which once lit, will never dim.  The better your practice, the brighter the flame.”   BKS Iyengar

Tree Pose

YOGA AND THE TREE

Since ancient times and across all cultures the tree has been considered sacred. The inherent qualities of the tree are generosity, forbearance, balance, strength, flexibility and tolerance.  All parts of the tree are useful….roots, bark, branches, sap, leaves, flowers, and fruits…shelter, fuel, oxygen and protection.
From a Yogic perspective the roots represent the foundations of integrity and truth, the trunk represents a dedicated practice and the branches are the asanas and postures.  The bark is the protection needed when the mind detaches from the body and focuses inward and the sap is the concentration of the juice of energy at the core of being.  Leaves are related to the lungs and breath.  The flowers are meditation and the fruits are the attainment of freedom, poise and peacefulness.
Within a seed is a spark of potential which holds all the wisdom of the mature tree.  A balance is needed; as above so below.  Also between strength and flexibility; if the wood is too rigid it will be brittle, too flexible and it will not support it’s own growth.  As you practise the Tree pose, you may like to personalise what the tree means to you.

Vrksasana – Tree pose
     
Benefits:
Strengthens the thighs, calves, ankles and spine.
Stretches the groins, inner thighs, chest and shoulders.
Improves balance, relieves sciatica and reduces flat feet.
Soothes the mind and nervous system, develops confidence and concentration.
*Avoid if suffering from headache, insomnia, low blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure do not raise the arms.

*If you are not sure about your balance, begin by practising with your back 1cm away from the wall. Not so that you are leaning against it, but having it there if you start to lose your balance.
Standing firmly on your left foot, activate the muscles of the leg to be firm and strong like a trunk.
Bend the right knee and place the sole of the foot against the inner left thigh, with the toes pointing toward the floor.
Bring your awareness to the right knee and let it move slightly back to open the right hip.
Place the palms of the hands together in prayer position, level with the heart.
Broaden through the collarbones and let the shoulders release down, expand through the chest as you breathe through the nose and relax the facial muscles.  Focusing softly on a point in the distance at eye level helps to gain stability in the posture.
As the tree grows up towards the light of the sky, imagine the light of your heart center radiating outwardly.

Tree Pose Hold for 5 – 10 breaths, release the arms and the leg and repeat for the other side.
*If you cannot place the foot against the inner thigh, try placing the arch of the foot against the inner knee, cradling rather than pushing into the knee joint.
If balancing is a challenge you may have the right big toe resting on the floor, whilst maintaining to hold most of your weight through the standing leg.
*If you want to take the pose further; you may raise the arms above the head keeping the palms together.

Tree PoseThen separating the hands and fingers, stretch the arms outward like the branches of a tree.
Even though you are stretching up through the arms; try to maintain the shoulders releasing away from the ears, and the chest opening and expanding.

Tree Pose - Vrksasana *Notice how, when you concentrate on balancing, you must still and free the mind from distractions in order to maintain stability.  This is one of the great benefits of practising Tree pose.

What makes a Healthy Asana?

Boat Pose

5  Essential Elements of Yoga Practice :

IMMOBILITY  - the ability to remain motionless in the asana for a number of breath cycles.

BREATH CONTROL – the breath is constantly in motion in a continuous stream.  The practitioner must breathe through the nostrils and be soft and complete in their breathing.

EFFORTLESSNESS – a healthy asana is achieved without straining or pushing oneself beyond one’s abilities.

MUSCLE STRETCHING - various muscles will be moved with equal emphasis on  surrendering and stretching as activation and contraction.

MENTAL CONCENTRATION - It is essential for a the aspirant to find a quiet focus which keeps the mind firmly anchored in the present moment.

 

Tree of Yoga

 

Tree of Yoga

 

Happy Eostre,  getting creative at home.  I did a wonderful guided meditation on Good Friday, where I saw myself as a tree.  It was a huge ficus with a giant canopy of boughs, providing a sanctuary of shade and shelter.  It had amazing flowers and delicious fruits, and it had just as much reach under the surface of the ground as was visible above.

The drawing is of the Tree of Yoga. The roots are the foundation or the Yamas / ethics, the trunk is represented by the Niyamas / codes of conduct and the Tapas / dedication to practice.  Leaves are the symbol of Pranayama / the breath or bridge between inner and outer.  The bark is the protection to allow Pratyahara / sense withdrawal to the sap which is the Prana / life force moving through the whole.  Flowers represent the Dhyana / meditation and the fruits are Samadhi / bliss.