Books

Yoga Practice and Wisdom by BKS Iyengar

Iyengar encourage his students to unify body and mind by thinking not only about the front, back and sides of the body, but the front, back, sides of a leg, an arm, a toe, a bone, a cell. When in a yoga pose, think about the skin, the length and breadth of an eyelid. It changes your practice.

Forgiveness

Fertig writes:

‘The act of forgiving must be made over and over again.”

But no advice was given how to actually grant forgiveness on a practical level. Perhaps this is because it is so personal and we each need to find our own way.

Two possible suggestions: Singing (a relevant song). Reading (a relevant book).

Exhibitions

Went to the Forgiveness exhibition by Carrie Fertig at the National Glass Centre yesterday. It took as its starting point the four steps of forgiveness listed by Desmond Tutu:

  1. Tell the story
  2. Name the hurt
  3. Grant forgiveness
  4. Renew or release the relationship

Glass was a great medium to use for the subject of forgiveness, it has reflective properties, can be heavy to carry, or fragile and capable of shattering into a million tiny pieces.

A common thread was how hard it is to forgive oneself.

Laughter

Yesterday’s monthly laughter session had a Halloween and Bonfire night flavour. The Bollywood inspired laughter firework was a keeper!!

Yoga

Passed on some of the information and exercises that were covered in the Pranayama workshop. Students were interested to learn that the Ujjayi/Ocean breath, often touted as the breath to use in posture work, is no longer recommended for that purpose.

Also known as the psychic breath, it is primarily a meditative breath which leads to altered states of consciousness.

We focused this week on the 3-part yogic breath, simply locating and familiarising ourselves with the different sections and names used when describing basic breathing techniques. Always useful to go right back to basics and check you haven’t slipped into bad habits or misunderstandings!

Pranayama workshop

There was no Yoga 4 Faces this month as I was attending a Pranayama taster workshop led by Philip Xerri.

It was a whistle-stop tour through various breathing practices. The three-part yogic breath was likened to practising scales on the piano – preparation for the tunes/more advanced pranayama exercises.

I particularly liked the Polarity Breath which is meant to harmonize the Koshas or the different levels of the body – the physical body, energy body, mental body, intellectual body and the bliss body. This was performed as a relaxation practice, supposed to realign the body at a cellular level.

Another interesting exercise was Surya Pranayama Mudra. A simple breath and movement exercise acknowledging the sun (surya) as the nourishing centre of our lives. As we stretched our arms forward we visualised the sun resting between our thumbs and then drew its energy into our hearts.

Smiles in unexpected places No.16

Or perhaps unexpected smiles in daily places…

Yesterday on the train there was an announcement that it was the train driver’s birthday and could we all give him a smile and a wave as we got off. Most people did!!