Monthly Archives: September 2014

A new perspective…

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A new perspective…

One of the joys of running a yoga studio, is that I get to decide the classes & workshops on offer, and very often I am delighted to choose things I would like to try myself!

When Rachael first approached me, I knew nothing about the Franklin Method and so she introduced it and we talked about her offering some workshops.  I think we were both excited in equal measure – that was almost 6 months ago, and having just attended one of the workshops, I am delighted to have found an embodied anatomy approach that compliments and supports my yoga practice perfectly.

Rachael has a beautifully light and playful approach to teaching her subject – her enthusiasm shines in her smile and her knowledge flows easily as she presents potentially tricky anatomy & physiology in ways that quickly allow you to really see, know and feel where and how your body moves.  

As a yoga teacher, I have often found reading books dry and difficult to translate to the flesh and bones of my practice, but after just one session with Rachael I feel a more connected, integrated foundation of anatomy in my practice and in my understanding.

Using simple visualisations and movements, Rachael first enabled us to experience everyday movements in new ways – helium balloon shoulders and lead weighted hands had us shrugging our shoulders into freedom!  Being able to visualise the movement of muscle fibres led us into movements that felt smoother, lighter and altogether more natural and complete.  

I have long been fascinated by the psoas and its relationship to freedom of movement in the lower back & the hips, I’ve read about its interaction with the diaphragm and the breath, how it impacts on kidney & adrenal function, but I have never felt that knowledge…until now.  

Coming from a yoga background, I confess to feelings of resistance when it comes to Pilates and have always felt that it places too much emphasis on a strong abdominal-focussed core at the expense of the breath and freedom of movement in other areas…Not so with Rachael’s integrative and sensitive approach…Through the Franklin Method of activating the ilio-psoas as a deep core muscle, I experience toe taps, the bicycle and leg lifts that felt strengthening and freeing.  Modified warrior poses had the psoas firing in ways that I have not before experienced in that pose, and have provided me with another way to deepen my own experience of the pose, as well as to offer the possibility of new insight to my own students.  

Working with the Franklin Method balls to massage and connect with the psoas and other deep muscles was a popular activity with all the students in the studio…The audible sighs of released tension and complete relaxation rippled around the room!  A little self massage went a long way, and led us into supine practices that seamlessly let us find, work and then relax the psoas.  

Rachael gently guided us through a mindful moment at the outset of the class, and again at the end of the workshop to ensure feelings of presence and connection to the body set the tone for the day and sealed in all that we had learned.  I was surprised by how joyful the session had been, how freeing it had been and how it improved my mental clarity as well as easing some habitual tensions out of my body.

I feel quite evangelical about the Franklin Method and I cannot wait to attend more workshops with Rachael and to work alongside her to bring her fresh and insightful approach to more students and teachers of yoga.  

Now, you’ll have to excuse me as (like all good teachers) Rachael left me with some homework…

OMx 

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A handful of flowers…

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Pushpaputa Mudra by Portsmouth Yoga

Pushpaputa Mudra

September is a time of transition…our littlest are often beginning preschool…our still little ones are often beginning school…junior school begins…secondary school…college…university…the new academic year draws our children back out in the world away from our mothering & the family home…

In the garden, plants are fading…flowers becoming fewer…green slowly makes the shift to red as Autumn glories in a spectrum of yellow and orange, flaming golden as a last defiance to the onset of the darker months, a final promise that the sun will shine strong again…

This is the time of Harvest…nature offers a final bounty to see us through the harsh winter ahead… (ok, ok, I’m romanticising, most of us will just pop to the local supermarket & stock up…but put yourself in a long house with the promise of warm fires and your loved ones gathered about the flames to wait out the dark and the cold…)

It is a time to reflect, to gather that which will sustain us, to come to terms with the anxiety of the looming darkness and begin the process of transformation, which is best done in darkness after all…

Pushpaputa Mudra (a handful of flowers mudra) offers openness and acceptance…all we have to do is sit quietly and pay attention…listen a while…what does life (or God) have to offer us?  What is waiting for us?  What new opportunities are presenting?  If we listen, we hear those gentle hints from life, we do not need the jolt of fate (take your own baby steps before the push comes leaving only that gut wrenching fall into the unknown…)

Sometimes, we are frozen by apathy…darkness looms and we retreat…sometimes, we are frozen by fear…When we feel there is not enough in our lives, fear creates that need to grasp, to hold on and refuse to share and so shortage and anxiety become the focus of our days…

Fear can be overcome by openess of heart and what we offer, we attract…

Harvest is a time of fullness in fact, a reminder of the abundance in life…the bounty of nature, the fruits of our labour… (sorry, not sorry, no pun intended!)

Harvest is a time to rejoice…the Harvest full moon is drawing close (UK – Tuesday 9th September 2014)

Let this be a time to gather in the harvest from your garden or allotment…and let it be a time when you take stock of the abundance in your life…make a list of all that you DO have…find the joy in celebrating all that you have gathered so far…

When we see what we have already, we become so much more open…the heart opens, the mind opens, and we can present open heart, mind and arms to the world…when we acknowledge all that we have, we feel there is so much more we can give…

Know that you have enough, feel it in your heart, in your bones and be prepared to share even a little…watch the ripple…as you open your heart and your hands, others will reciprocate…Give a smile, get a smile…give a hug, receive a hug…by far the most beautiful and satisfying two for one bargains out there…

If this is a time of transition for you, if this time holds fears…take a few minutes to sit quietly and rest your open hands, palms open to the sky and all that life (or God) has to offer…as you breathe, accept that joy flows in with the inhalation and allow yourself to feel full of joyfulness and the wealth of life (health, friends, family, a home, gratitude is the attitude…) and when you exhale, imagine that this joy and wealth has become so abundant that you can allow some of it to radiate through your heart and back out into the world…

Transform fear and the creeping feeling of apathy into an opportunity to explore abundance and joy…

“From Joy we are born, through Joy we bcome beings & live, to that sacred Joy will we return” Taittiriya Upanishad 3-6-1

Let this time of transition be a joyful opportunity for transformation…celebrate all you have, give thanks for the abundance in your life, and see what you can offer back to life, to your family, friends or community (local or global)…

OMx

Below is a beautiful Wiccan prayer for Harvest – very slightly adapted from the article by Patti Wigington – and you can find her ideas for creating a group Harvest celebration in the Wiccan tradition here at about.com

We call upon the powers of Earth,

and welcome you to this circle.

May the fertile soil of the land bring us

prosperity, abundance, and the bounty of the land, in this time of harvest.

We call upon the powers of Air,

and welcome you to this circle.

May the winds of change bring us wisdom and knowledge

in this season of abundance and bounty.

We call upon the powers of Fire,

and welcome you to this circle.

May the shining light of this season’s moon

illuminate our way through the coming winter.

We call upon the powers of Water,

and welcome you to this circle.

May the cool autumn rains wash away the last comforts of summer,

and prepare us for the chill that is to come.

By the light of the moon,

we celebrate the season, and rejoice.

May the next turn of the Wheel bring us love

and compassion, abundance and prosperity, fertility and life.

As the moon above, so the earth below.