Top Tip No.6

 

posture cat

Put a photo on your screen saver to remind you to think about your posture.  This great cat mummy is at the Oriental Museum in Durham.

Yoga

Last week’s session was based around boosting mood and energy. Kidney energy can get depleted at this time of year, so we did the tapping warm up and rubbed our kidneys. We did the Wild Goose breath and Egyptian Sun Salutation to encourage thoughts of warmer climes.

With regard to mood, I’ve heard it said that you should look up at chimney pots if you feel down, and are looking down. With this in mind we practised the side bend that encourages you to look up and open the throat chakra.

The session finished off with a relaxation connecting us to the earth and the air.

Yoga

Yoga Philosophy talk, Daniel Simpson, Lit and Phil 29 Jan 2019

Apparently there is no yoga philosophy! End of talk!

To summarize very briefly: What we know about yoga comes from the Indian Vedas, Buddhism and many inter-related philosophies over 3000 or more years.

While yoga as union with the universe and transcendence of the self is mentioned in the Upanishads and other classic Indian texts, the mainly physical yoga we practice today comes from the Tantras around the 16th century. In Tantric belief the body is the vehicle of the divine, and is treated as such. Before the Tantras physical postures were only a small part of yoga.

Interestingly ‘Hatha’ does not mean sun and moon as I always believed. It actually means ‘force’. Sanskrit is open to many subtle and nuanced interpretations. In Hatha yoga we harness the ‘force’ of the sun and moon within the body, usually through the breath.

 

Yoga 4 Faces

Yesterday’s session encouraged us to focus on appreciating our sense organs. Eye exercises were accompanied by a potted evolutionary history of the eye. If you palm your closed eyes and then move the hands away and back you can sense not only the temperature change, but a change in the quality of light and darkness. Somewhere in ancient history this sense, from a light sensitive cell or two on the skin, would have indicated a possible predator and enabled our primitive ancestors to hide, and survive and reproduce, and ultimately refine the light-sensitive spot to become the amazing organ it now is.

Even though we focused mainly on the face, students felt completely relaxed, body and mind, by the end of the session.

Talk

Fantastic Planets and Where To Find Them, Emily Brunsdale, University of York, Lit and Phil Newcastle

Yoga is about union with the universe, so it seemed pertinent to go to a talk and learn more about the galaxy we live in.

Presented as a travel guide to space, (complete with retro style travel poster images), we learnt how we find new planets orbiting other stars (the science bit) and which ones really should be on your bucket list, if you have the time (a spare 100 light years or so) and the money (a trifling £50 trillion or more, for each trip…)

To date 3890 exoplanets have been found and with new spacecraft already out there and in the pipeline, this is set to increase exponentially.

Recommended trips include:

51 Pegasi b – this was the first ever exoplanet found, so a bit of a must see.

Kepler 16 b – has two suns, so you get two shadows and two sunsets.

Kepler 186 f – possibly has red vegetation as the light from the star is predominantly red and vegetation may reflect that light. Apparently our own sun gives off light mainly from the green spectrum and this is reflected out by plants on earth.

Trappist-1 System – has 7 planets all in the same orbit. All the planets are ‘tidally locked’ which means they always show the same face to their host star. As a result they are hot on one side and freezing cold on the other.

PSO J318.5-22 – is a rogue planet with no host star! Permanent darkness, permanent party planet!

LHS 3844 b – orbits its host star in 11 hours. Birthdays twice a ‘day’. You’ll be blowing out candles at breakfast and bedtime!

Yoga

Someone asked me last week why we didn’t breathe out through our mouths. I was a little stumped. I know why we don’t breathe in through the mouth. It’s a protection thing. Nasal hairs trap bacteria and the nasal passages warm the incoming air so it’s not a shock to the system. But why don’t we breathe out through the mouth?

Some disciplines encourage it – pilates students are instructed to breathe out through the mouth.

In Hatha Yoga however we work with the life-force, the vital energy or prana. You may have heard of chi in acupuncture or Tai chi. Prana is the yoga equivalent. It travels in channels or nadis through the entire body. We want to conserve and control this flow of energy and when we breathe out through the mouth we lose this energy, more of it and more rapidly.

Also there are two main nadis connected with the nasal passages. They cross each other in the body and their points of intersection are the chakras. By breathing out through the mouth we are perhaps losing part of this connection with the chakras.

There are a multitude of disciplines, yoga, pilates, tai chi, aikeido, karate etc, etc, and they all have specific breathing practices. It might be confusing to be told one way to breathe in a pilates class and another way to breathe in a yoga class. Be flexible and open minded, keep practising and you may find that you can accommodate the different approaches and appreciate the distinct effects that they have. Above all, keep breathing!!