Thursday, May 28, 2009

Manipura Chakra

Manipura Chakra, the third chakra or wheel of energy in the body is located at the solar plexus. It is therefore associated with digestion. On a more esoteric level Manipura Chakra is associated with dyanmism, energy and will power. It is the seat of one's identity and personal power. It is the centre of our sense of Self.

If Manipura Chakra is out of balance we can lose our identity, our self esteem. Think about it. If a person feels low, worthless. If they have low self-esteem the tend to hunch forward, crushing and cramming the solar plexus area. Someone in touch with their sense of Self walks tall, opening their Manipura Chakra.

Watch out though! Chakras can be *too* open. Out of balance in the other direction, when ego takes over and runs the show and arrogance prevails.

Like so many things it is all about balance. Finding a sense of Self without arrogance, without having to let the world know about it. Finding that sense of Self but not hiding it either.

Of course on a physical level an imbalance in this Chakra can manifest in abdominal and digestive disorders.

So why am I talking about this specifically? Well I am currently working with a series of poses, the second part of the Pawanmuktasana series (you may remember that the first part worked on freeing the joints) which works on the core muscles and thus on balancing Manipura Chakra.

The question of course is, is it working?

Honestly, I'm not sure. I'm going through a lot of personal stuff at the moment and it's hard to find a balance. My yoga practice always helps of course but I'm not sure if I'm finding my sense of Self right now.

I do however have digestive problems and I have to say, they seem a *lot* better working with this sequence, so maybe I juse need to give it more time.

Oms and Namaste :)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Jala Neti

I spent yesterday on a yoga workshop. We worked predominantly on Pawakmuktasana 2 (a series of exercises that work the abdomen, helping with digestion and abdominal issues as well as working on Manipura chakra -- but I'll write more aobut this at a later date). We also did some work on the Kriyas or cleansing practices. Mostly theoretical as some of the Kriyas are quite bizarre (this is a good link if you are interested in reading more).

One Kriya that is both popular and useful in the West is Jala Neti. This is a salt water nasal cleansing, using a Neti Pot (see picture). Basically you tilt the head to one side and pour a solution of weak salt water into one nostril. You use a solution of one level teaspoon of seasalt in half a litre of warm (not hot) water. As the water goes into one nostril it comes out of the other and cleans out the whole sinus system. It is beneficial for people with allergies, sinus infections, ear, nose or throat issues, migraines and headaches and a whole heap of other stuff!

It must be done on an empty stomach (so first thing in the morning is good) and if you do a morning practice it should be done before the practice. Remember that the nose needs a lot of blowing afterwards to dry out the nostrils otherwise you will feel a bit sniffy all day!

I used to do Jala Neti regularly and I recall that it really helped with my persistent sinus and hormonal migraine issues. I can't really remember why I stopped. I think I broke my Neti Pot and never got round to getting another.

Well I have a new Neti pot and am going to try Jala Neti every morning for the next few weeks. Yesterday morning I had the beginnings of an hormonal migraine. After Jala Neti it began to subside without the need for painkillers.

Do any of you perform Jala Neti or any of the other Kriyals regulalry?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Regularity and Simplicity

Regularity and Simplicity go hand in hand.

A long time ago, before I even contemplated training to be a yoga teacher I practice Astanga Vinyasa yoga. I longed to be able to practice 6 days a week as the tradition prescribed but the time it took to do full Primary made it almost impossible to fit into my daily routine (without getting up at 4.30am or something equally foolish!), so it turned out that apart from my bi-weekly Astanga classes, my mat stayed in it's funky mat bag!

Over the years, with my discovery of Viniyoga and Satyananda (both of which traditions I draw inspiration from) and especially my discovery and training in Yoga Therapy, and of course becoming a teacher myself, I began to find that the more simple you kept your practice, the more regular your practice would be. I know that my 30 minute practice every morning does me far more good than struggling on my mat for 2 hours and only managing it once a week.

Once I began my daily practice I noticed that other things in my life became routines as well. For example, I get up early every morning to do my yoga practice even though I don't really have to get up as early as I do, it just feels right these days. I have also found my life becoming more simple. I no longer crave the excitement I used to and am happy here at home with my belove and my kitties!

When I work with clients on a one-to-one basis I have two pieces of advice I give them for sticking to their self practice:-

1) Keep it Simple - Don't make hugely ambitious goals for yourself that you will never keep. Let's start with 20 minutes of yoga 2 or 3 times a week.

2) However simple the goal STICK WITH IT!!!! If you don't feel like getting on your mat just do it anyway. After a few weeks you'll just step on your mat regardless.

With more routine and regularity in my life, my life has become better. All my adventures these days begin on my mat!


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Yoga and Pilates

Since I got back from teaching on the retreat in Turkey last year I've been trying to work out where I'm going with my career. As some of you know, teaching a retreat in the sunshine on the beach had been the height of my ambition. After it happened, as early as the plane trip home I felt deflated and directionless.

I've carried on teaching, I've carried on reading, I've carried on going to yoga training days. Don't get me wrong, I love my job with a passion, I'm just looking for something else.

I had two directions. I could either go back into academia and write my PhD or I could pursue the health and fitness avenue.

I mulled it over, I drank a lot of cups of tea and then I realised that right now I'm not ready to face academia again. If one could write one's PhD without the politics of academia (and Cambridge University is like an Agatha Christie novel there is so much lying, gossiping and backbiting) it would be wonderful. But one can't.

So to cut a long story short I have decided to pursue the health and fitness route further. I am already a qualified yoga instructor and yoga therapist and Level 3 on the Register of Exercise Professionals, so the world is my oyster in terms of where I can go from here. Because I already teach and have my Anatomy and Physiology Diploma (which I'm going to do the Refresher for), I can branch out without having to do the hours and hours of supervised teaching and anatomy exams.

So I have decided to train to teach Pilates as well. Personally I think yoga and pilates work well together (not in the same class obviously, I mean from a teaching perspective). As my yoga practice and my teaching become slower, deeper, working on subtle energies, so I feel I need a more dynamic and anatomical challenge. It's also another string to my bow workwise/clientwise.

I will do the eight week intensive once we move to Cambridge next year. In the meantime I have to do at least 30 hours with a Pilates instructor.

Now, I did a lot of Pilates in the past, but haven't had a teacher for a couple of years since my old teacher went back to Australia. So I went to my first class with my new teacher yesterday. Oh My God I'd forgotten how hard Pilates is! I ache and ache!

But it's a new challenge, a new step on the career ladder, another step in getting my body back to full health and another step for Project Fitness.