Showing posts with label shavasana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label shavasana. Show all posts

Monday, 6 June 2016

Raga flow ~ live music & yoga unite

You may have remember my post a while ago about experiencing raga meditation in India. Well its such an pleasure to be linking up with Daisy Watkins to produce our own take on the blissful union of music and yoga this summer...

Raga Flow ~ live music & yoga 
Sunday 3rd July @ The Well Garden

Welcome to a new moon collaboration between musician & composer Daisy Watkins and yoga teacher & gong practitioner Ali Gunning. Inspired by the Indian roots of classical music and classical yoga, we have created an uplifting Sunday afternoon of live music & yoga.

Both raga and yoga inspire us towards a 'bhava' of divine bliss. Ali leads us through the yoga sequence, flowing from the heart to the crown, while Daisy's live soundtrack of viola and tampura guides and echoes our movement - until breath, sound and body are flowing as one.

We lead you into a deeply nourishing shavasana with a fusion of gong, voice and viola. And close our afternoon together with chai and nibbles.

Sunday 3rd July 2016
At The Well Garden, Hackney Downs Studios, Amhurst Terrace E8 2BT
£30 early bird (before13th June)/ concession, £35 thereafter
Suitable all levels
Bookings: 07855402837

About Daisy

Enamoured with the romanticism of carnatic raga music, Daisy embarked upon her journey into exploring and discovering the beauty and creativity that can be conjured with this tradition.

Carnatic ragas are particularly appropriate to yoga as their origins are also found in India. There are unique characteristics given to each raga which Daisy carefully selects and builds upon to create intriguing settings and enthralling scenes. Combining this storytelling craft with the philosophy and lifestyle of yoga, Daisy found herself creating subtle, flowing and grounding music.

Influenced by her western classical background, the live score is composed for tanpura and viola. Whereas a traditional raga may be more rhythmical with tabblah and sitar, this music features the soothing, lyrical tones of the viola which add to the flow of the yoga class.

Daisy performs the music live with the intention of it being sympathetic to its environment and audience. She believes live music is much more enjoyable, personal and ‘in the present’.

Daisy has performed for many guided meditations, mindfulness classes and yoga workshops in and around London.

Multi-instrumentalist and composer Daisy Watkins trained at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester. She performs regularly throughout the UK in various ensembles and is a passionate music educator.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Walking tall

I've just been teaching in Barcelona, working with alternative therapies clinic AS Terapias. 

A student remarked after class that he felt 3cm taller, and looking at him I have to say I agreed. I'm not stating any magical claims of the class but it is always lovely be reminded of some of the benefits of Yoga. In the early days of my practise, with a brilliant Iyanger teacher in Glasgow, I used to spring home, feeling long-limbed, agile and wondrous. 

Years later I don't note this feeling quite so much - when you are around something all the time it becomes really normal...Like I don't notice that I smell of incense but I am often told I pretty much have an aura of frankincense, sandalwood and patchouli.

Walking tall is a physical and psychological state, awareness of posture and confidence in being 'me' combining in a lovely positive loop: the better we feel physically, the better we hold ourselves; holding ourselves better aids positive mood. How does Yoga do this? 

The obvious postures where we are encouraged to elongate, to lengthen the spine or the limbs such as vrikshasana (tree). Or tweaking alignment of the hips, pelvis and shoulders in tasadasa. 

But also back and forward bends - e.g. ustrasana and it's counter posture shashangasana - emphasise the opening of the heart chakra, the focus on positive feelings, joy and love, towards self and others. 

The breath can open the front of the body, countering a closed-in chest or rounded-forward shoulders, simply with awareness of its movement in three parts. And while in shavasana we actually allow the spine to elongate without any effort at all, allowing joints to rehydrate and space to open up between vertebrae. 

Barcelona was pretty much constant sunshine - stepping back onto the London towpath today I inclined my shoulders up and forward against the elements. 

Like hibernating plants which will shoot and open again in spring, being able to walk tall is also about bringing sunlight and warm into our practise at this time (while respecting the seasons and accepting their shifts within). So I will say it again - starting the day with Surya namaskar, some kapalabathi and a twist can do wonders for winter mood. With a bit of Yoga DIY we can help to reduce the repair bills further down the line.

by Ali Gunning (Piriamvada) - I teach Classical Kundalini & Akhanda Yoga classes across North & East London. View from new boat, Bokissa in Clapton this am.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Do try this at home...

I'm often asked by students how and what to practise at home.

I know from experience that sequences, postures, breathing techniques, instructions to go left or right(!) etc can seem like a piece of cake in class but often go straight out the mind when it comes to replicating them alone. And this can be dis-heartening.

Plus it takes time to find focus when there are distractions all around from kids to the telly to making another cup of tea. 

So, here are some general guidelines and a simple 45 min routine. 

[Please note this is not a substitute for coming to Yoga class : )...and if you have been given advice by your doctor, me, another Yoga teacher to manage an injury or condition you may need specific modifications.]

Getting your ass onto that mat...

Pick a time of day to practise and, as much as you can, stick to it. We can't all get up at sunrise (although this and sunset are the best times of day for absorbing the prana or life force energy) but getting up 45 mins earlier and doing a mini practise before work can add hours to your day in terms of feeling more focused and balanced. 

Do not mentally beat yourself up if you miss a practise! Though do examine your reasons for doing so...were you making excuses or did you genuinely need the sleep? Simply reschedule or start your intention afresh the next day.

Find a quiet place where you won't be disrupted; there is always room even in the smallest of flats...a Yoga mat takes up the same amount of space as a sofa, so move things around. 

Please remember the principles we follow in class - never strain, rest if and when you need to and allow enough relaxation time between postures. 

Keep it simple and enjoyable.

Right, now we can get started...

Start seated, cross legged with eyes closed - gather your focus. Chanting three OM's (a-u-m) is the traditional way to open a Yoga  practise and this can be done aloud or mentally. 

Practise abdominal breathing for 3/4 minutes. Rest your hands on your belly feeling it expand on the inhale and fall back to the spine on the exhale. Make sure the spine and neck are long, shoulders relaxed. Sit on a block or cushion if this feels at all strained.

Warm the body up (seated on a chair or standing) with some gentle neck rotations, shoulder rotations, ankle & wrist rotations. Yoga helps joints remain flexible and strong.

Come onto all fours and stretch like a cat waking itself up in the morning. Marjariasana keeps the spine supple. Legs are hip width apart, knees directly below the hips, feet flat. The hands are aligned under, and the same distance apart, as the shoulders.

Keep the arms straight (elbows face out) and move the spine like a wave with the breath - inhaling to lift the head and concave the back, exhaling to round the back, pointing the tailbone down and tucking the chin to chest. Repeat 10 times.

Roll softly up like a rag doll to stand tall in Tadasana, feet together or slightly apart. Ensure the feet are rooted firmly, toes spread and weight 60/40% heels and ball. Relax the shoulders, ensure the pelvis is 'neutral' and feel the spine is long. Take 5 breaths here.

Raise the arms on an inhale, resisting the temptation to shrug the shoulders up. Arms are straight and shoulder width apart (take Jnana mudra if you like). Bend the knees and as you exhale, feel as if you are sitting down on an imaginary chair for Utkatasana

If the feet are apart, keep the thighs and knees parallel. Rather than collapsing forward, pull up through the finger tips and gently squeeze the lower abdomen inwards. Relax the face, smile and hold for 3-4 breaths. Inhale back to Tadasana and rest for 5 breaths.

Check your alignment with this nifty little animation from ABC of yoga...

Step your right foot back about one legs distance for Trikonasana - the strengthening & invigorating 'triangle' pose. The front, left, foot is parallel to the outside edge of the mat and the back, right, foot turns in ever so slightly, centre of the arch lined up with the front heel. 

Keep the body and gaze parallel, length-ways to the mat, arms are lifted to shoulder height. Inhale tall, stretch through the finger tips and reach away to the left, tucking back the left hip and resting the left hand on the ankle, shin or knee. Keep the top ribs rolling back and thighs strong (they feel like they are rotating in opposite directions). The right arm is now reaching straight up and the chest is open.

Is all the weight collapsing on the front leg? Root down the back heel and bend your knee if there is any strain or discomfort. Finally (and optional) take the gaze to the top arm. And of course breathe! Phew...a lot of instructions - this diagram may help:

To come out, look down at the front (left) foot, bend the knee and reach forward with the left arm, pressing down with (both) feet to come back to your starting position. Now change sides (step left foot back, then you are reaching to the right with the right arm and so on...).

Come down to your knees and rest in Ardha Yoga Mudra or 'child's pose' for 5 breaths. The bum sits back on the heels, arms are stretching forward, palms flat and the forehead rests on the mat, eyes closed.

Now stretch out on the tummy for Bhujangasana (cobra). This posture strengthens the lower back muscles and opens the chest and lungs - please take it easy and remember this is not just a push up. [Take precautions/ avoid for HBP].

Palms are by the side of the chest, no further forward than the tips of the shoulders, fingers spread, elbows tucked to the sides. On the inhale lift the chin, head and chest extending forwards and gently arcing the back. Tops of the feet and entire legs stay on the mat. Breathe fully & smoothly, if this is difficult back off - lowering the body. Exhale to release and rest.

Roll onto the back and lets finish with bridge, Setu Bandhasana.
Bend the knees and bring the heels towards the bum, legs hip width apart (don't let the knees roll in/ out by keeping the thighs strong). 

Lift the hips, slowly peeling the spine off the mat. Hold for 2-3 breaths and release back down - slowly slowly - imagining the spine is a chain and you are placing it on the mat one link at a time. Repeat holding for 4-5 breaths this time.

Before Shavasana, stretch the arms out to a T shape, palms face down, bending the right leg and placing the sole of the foot on the left knee. Gently roll to the left, bringing the bent knee towards the floor and gazing along the right arm. Reverse this gentle spinal twist off to the right side.

Ahhh, Shavasana. Close the eyes and be like a corpse for 5 minutes of final (and essential) relaxation. Try to release the muscles into the floor gradually from toes to head returning to your abdominal breath. Be present and observe sensation, but try to let go of memories about the past or thoughts of the day ahead. 

Bend the left knee, reach the right arm overhead and roll onto your right side before coming to a seated cross legged position ('easy pose'). Close with chanting of 'OM shanti, shanti, shanti'. 

Enjoy x