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Ignite your Passion. Stay on Purpose. Find your Peace.   See you on the mat XXX

Asana 😍

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Asana is a Sanskrit term which is often translated as “posture” or “pose.” Asana can also be translated as “a steady, comfortable seat,” particularly for the purpose of meditation.

Many people equate asana with the act of performing fancy, advanced poses. However, anyone of any level of experience can practice (whether beginner, intermediate, or advanced). Individual asanas can also be modified to suit all practice needs and desires.

Why Practice Postures?

In the contemporary world where many of us are perpetually on the go, practice can slow us down and help us bridge disconnections between the body, mind, and breath. It can also be practiced to increase strength and flexibility, improve balance and core strength, and bring a sense of mindfulness into our everyday lives. Scientific research is also suggesting that a regular practice can provide the following benefits:

Relieving chronic pain

Teaching you to control your respiration

Improving sleep and self-reported quality of life

Reducing anxiety and depression

Styles of Practice

Tirumalai Krishnamacharya is commonly referred to as the founder of modern postural yoga. He is credited for reviving hatha practices in India, and he was the teacher of some of the most influential yogis of the 20th century: T.K.V. Desikachar (his son), Pattabhi Jois, and B.K.S Iyengar.

Both Krishnamacharya and his son Desikachar took a fully customizable approach to asana by adapting their teachings to suit the individual and providing one-on-one instruction. Desikachar went on to found the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram—a center for yoga therapy that continued his father’s teachings. Jois founded Ashtanga Yoga, which is known for its breath-focused, progressive sequences. Iyengar founded Iyengar Yoga, which is known for its innovative approach to props. Iyengar invented new ways to modify poses, making them more effective and accessible for all types of practitioners and levels of experience. (You can learn more about props and their application here.)

Other styles include Jivamukti (founded by Sharon Gannon and David Life), Forrest Yoga (founded by Ana Forrest), Bikram (founded by Bikram Choudhury), Kundalini (the most widespread form was founded by Yogi Bhajan), and more.

Philosophical Background

Yoga asana is the third limb of the eight-limbed path outlined in the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali—a seminal yogic text. The eight limbs are: the yamas and niyamas (moral and ethical codes), asanas (postures), pranayama (breathwork), pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (spiritual absorption).

Chapter 2, verse 46 of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra states that asana should strike a balance between steadiness and ease (sthira-sukham asanam). Practice shouldn’t be painful. If you are experiencing an excess of emotional and/or physical discomfort during your practice, either come out of the pose you’re doing, or ask your teacher how you can adjust the pose to suit your body and your practice needs. It could also be that you’re attempting an asana practice that is too advanced. If you’re new to asana, start with a beginner’s class.

Pose Names

Many poses have Sanskrit names and these pose names often describe the pose’s appearance. For example, one can see that adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog) emulates a dog stretching. And trikonasana, or triangle pose, asks the practitioner to take on a triangular shape. Utthita hasta padangusthasana means hand to big toe pose, and this standing pose literally involves just that: extending one leg and grabbing your foot with your hand (and you can always use a strap if you can’t reach). Also: Don’t feel too overwhelmed by the Sanskrit. You don’t have to know the Sanskrit name of each pose, or any Sanskrit at all to practice them. Allow your teacher to guide you through the experience and gradually you’ll become more and more proficient in this practice.

Words and thoughts by Yoga International

Meditation

Lets go DEEP: Waves and the substance from which they arise are one and the same 🙏🏾

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Svadhyaya

That mystery niyama? It’s svadhyaya—“self-study,” although the translation is a bit awkward. This Sanskrit word, like many, has a richer history than can easily be captured in one or two English words. Even within the Yoga Sutra (the bible of yoga, so to speak) the term svadhyaya picks up increasingly richer meaning as it winds its way through the first two chapters.

To translate svadhyaya as “self-study” is, on the surface of things, quite precise. The first part of the word—sva—means “self.” The second part—dhyaya—is derived from the verb root dhyai, which means “to contemplate, to think on, to recollect, or to call to mind.” Thus, it works to translate dhyaya as “study”—to study one’s own self.

But we Westerners carry some baggage along with the concept of self-study. In the West, the study of one’s self is psychoanalysis and this is not what yogis had in mind. Analysis of our thoughts, feelings, associations, and fantasies is not what svadhyaya is about. To get at that, we need to approach our subject from a different angle.

The Nature of the Self

Svadhyaya reveals itself in the traditional yoga teaching image of the ocean and its waves. Here, each wave, traveling across the surface of the sea, is likened to an individual being. It is distinguished by its location in space, as well as by other qualities, such as shape and color.

But the substance of every wave is the sea itself. Waves and the substance from which they arise are one and the same. And since individual waves are part of the sea, as they appear and disappear, they neither increase nor decrease the immensity of water in which they have their being. A wave is never other than the ocean—though it has its individual identity so long as it is manifested on the ocean’s surface.

The premise of svadhyaya is similar. Like the waves of the sea, it is said that individual awareness is never separate from the infinite consciousness in which it has its being. Individual minds have distinctive qualities, preferences, and colorings, but they are not entirely autonomous. Each mind is a wave in a vast expanse of consciousness.

Individual minds have distinctive qualities, preferences, and colorings, but they are not entirely autonomous.

The aim of svadhyaya is to bring the experience of that immense Consciousness, the Self, to awareness (these words are capitalized here to set them apart from ordinary consciousness and self-identity). Just as we might theorize that one day a wave could discover its watery nature, so a human being may discover the deep Consciousness that is the substance of individual awareness. It is this process of Self-discovery that is the essence of svadhyaya.

But to say that Consciousness may be brought to awareness, or “known,” does not mean the Self is an object, like a book or a piece of fruit. We can never claim to have stumbled upon the Self like we would a piece of loose change in a parking lot. Just as a wave cannot be the possessor of the ocean, the Self cannot be possessed by individual awareness.

Instead the Self must be experienced as the deep basis of individual awareness, and this is possible only when the mind can grasp its own underlying nature (sva) through yogic means. Broadly speaking, we could say that all yoga leads to svadhyaya, but certain specific methods are more closely associated with it. The sages tell us that we are the Self and that to “study” it is to gradually know it. The specific techniques for gaining this kind of experiential knowledge are collectively called svadhyaya.

Western Counterparts

The concept of svadhyaya is not limited to the East. In every age and place, East and West, poets, mystics, and philosophers have explored its ramifications. Shakespeare opens Sonnet 53 with these intriguing lines:

What is your substance, whereof are you made,
That millions of strange shadows on you tend?
Since every one hath, every one, one shade,
And you, but one, can every shadow lend.

If we interpret the words shadow and shade to mean individual human souls, then Shakespeare is portraying us all as strange shadows—shades who only darkly reveal the light dwelling within us. To paraphrase Shakespeare, then, we might ask, what is the substance in which every individual soul has its existence? As we have seen, this is svadhyaya’s essential question.

Walt Whitman, in Leaves of Grass, also illumines the concept of svadhyaya, but with a different kind of imagery. Whitman speaks in the first person, and in a voice that bridges the finite and infinite. Here are some lines from “Song of Myself”:

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. . . .

Myself moving forward then and now and forever,
Gathering and showing more always and with velocity,
Infinite and omnigenous. . . .

I am not an earth nor an adjunct of an earth,
I am the mate and companion of people, all just as immortal and fathomless as myself,
(They do not know how immortal, but I know.)

In his characteristic style and with unguarded innocence, Whitman proclaims here that his is a soul whose compass is universal. He speaks of himself as if he were both wave and sea—simultaneously embracing both. This is the vision of svadhyaya.

Inner Repetition

How can such a vision be part of our daily practice? An alternative translation of the word svadhyaya tells us that the word means “reciting, repeating, or rehearsing to one’s self.” Thus, svadhyaya consists of repeatedly impressing on the mind the idea of infinite Consciousness and returning again and again to an intuitive vision of it. This is accomplished through contemplative recitations (usually taken from sacred texts) and meditation on a mantra (mantra japa). It yields an increasingly transparent vision of the Self.

When the mind is transparent, when it is not distracted by competing thoughts or disturbed by likes and dislikes, it does not conceal the Self. At such times it is said to be sattvic—filled with sattva (the principle of clarity and even-mindedness). This state is the aim of svadhyaya for it allows the experience of Self-awareness to permeate the mind.

But if the mind obscures the Self, the mind is dark and insensitive to its underlying nature, and there can be little Self-knowledge. At such times it is said to be filled with tamas (the principle of obscuration). At other times, when the mind is distracted by desires and mundane involvements, it is said to be dominated byrajas (the principle of activity). Rajasic elements of mind need to be disciplined in order to acquire a taste for quietness, but when the mind is tamasic we need preparatory practice, drawing from the complete range of yoga disciplines, to prepare the way for svadhyaya.

{The Practice of Svadhyaya}

Look for inspirational scriptures, readings, poems, or lectures delivered by those who seem to have acquired inner knowledge.

 

Use these resources for contemplation of the Self.

 

Begin the practice of mantra japa—repetition of a mantra in meditation.

 

Rest in the mantra for 10–20 minutes each morning or evening (or both).

 

Let the silent witness, the indwelling consciousness in you, gradually awaken.

Contemplative Recitations

Over three millennia ago, poets of the Vedic age spoke of the Self as the One dwelling in the many, calling it the Purusha (the cosmic person), and described it as a being with “countless heads, countless eyes, and countless feet.” One of their hymns, the Purusha Sukta (the hymn devoted to the cosmic person), is one of the foremost sacred texts in the svadhyaya tradition. The first three verses, which follow, may be used for daily contemplation.

Om. With countless heads, countless eyes, countless feet,
Moving, yet the ground of all,
The Cosmic Person is beyond the reach of the senses.

He is all this, all that has been, and all that is to be.
He is the Lord of immortality, who expands Himself as food.
Such is His glory, and yet the Cosmic Person is more.

One part of Him is creation,
And three parts swell beyond as His boundless light.

This hymn speaks of the Self as the one among many who sees through the uncounted eyes of created beings; who is unlimited by time or space; who is the essence of the process of life-maintenance; and yet whose nature is only partially taken up by all this. Contemplating on such a presence—thinking and behaving as if it exists, and seeking to know it, though it is not seen or heard through the senses—is the first stage in svadhyaya.

Mantra Meditation

It is in mantra meditation that svadhyaya—silent, inner recitation—bears its fullest fruit. Repeating a mantra anchors the mind to one thought—a sound pregnant with the presence of the Self. Vyasa, the great commentator on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, confirms this in his commentary on sutra 2:2. There he says that svadhyaya means the repetition of purifying mantras. And in his commentary on sutra 1:25 he notes that there is a science of such mantras, “a particular knowledge of His name.” This knowledge lies at the heart of svadhyaya.

According to this tradition, mantras are given to students for protection and guidance. They are recited in the mind. But paradoxically, they are the source of inner silence, for when a mantra permeates the mind, it draws awareness in while the outward-going aspects of the mind become silent. Real silence in meditation is not the mind emptied of sound. It is the mysterious experience of the mind filled with the sound of a mantra.

When a mantra permeates the mind, it draws awareness in while the outward-going aspects of the mind become silent.

After first learning to observe the breath in the nostrils, beginning students are usually given the mantra soham (pronounced so with the inhalation and hum with the exhalation). This starts the process of quieting the mind and awakening the inner witness, for soham means, “that…I am; the Self…I am.” Repeating soham is the first step in acquiring direct, intuitive knowledge of the Self. Thus it is in daily meditation that the practice of svadhyaya comes to fulfillment.

A Final Thought

In his own intimate way, Walt Whitman places a few final elements of svadhyaya before us for contemplation. Again, in “Song of Myself,” he avows that the Self is not running away, not struggling to keep the truth from us, not unresponsive to our efforts at Self-knowledge. Instead, he tells us that knowing the Self is the consummation of a search requiring patient and repeated effort. And most touchingly, as is the case with so many other revelations of being, he reports that the Self is nearby and filled with grace. In Whitman’s words:

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.

 

Words and thoughts from our friends at Yoga International.

Practice and all is coming’…. 💪🙌😍

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This week we explore ‘Tapas’, Patanjali’s 3rd Niyama – which reminds us to keep on keeping on- showing up for ourselves, by chopping wood and carrying water (both before and after enlightenment) 😉

The third of Patanjali’s Niyamas is ‘Tapas’, which often translates traditionally as ‘austerity’ or ‘discipline’. The word Tapas is derived from the root Sanskrit verb ‘tap’ which means ‘to burn’, and evokes a sense of ‘fiery discipline’ or ‘passion’. In this sense, Tapas can mean cultivating a sense of self-discipline, passion and courage in order to burn away ‘impurities’ physically, mentally and emotionally, and paving the way to our true greatness.

Tapas doesn’t have to mean being solemn and serious though, this fieriness is what gets our heart pumping, heightens our desire for personal growth and reminds us of how much we love our yoga practice! Just as with all aspects of the Sutras though, Tapas has relevance both on and off the yoga mat….

Tapas on the mat

First of all, ‘discipline’ doesn’t strictly mean pushing ourselves harder in a physical sense. Sometimes just actually making the time to get on the mat and meditate, or practise for 10 minutes every day is difficult enough! For some, Tapas will mean making time to be still and observing the mind, and for others it’ll mean working on strength and practising that arm balance we’ve been putting off.

Tapas is an aspect of the inner wisdom that encourages us to practise even when we don’t feel like it, even though we know how good it makes us feel! It’s that fiery passion that makes us get up and do our practice for the love of it, and by committing to this, the impurities are ‘burned’ away. Making the decision to go to bed a little earlier so you can wake up early to practise is Tapas; not drinking too much or eating unhealthy foods because you want to feel good in your practice is Tapas; and the way you feel after an intense yoga class, a blissful Savasana and deep meditation? That’s Tapas too – ‘burning’ away the negative thought patterns and habits we often fall in to.

Cultivating a sense of Tapas in our physical practice could mean trying poses we usually avoid or find difficult, or leaning mindfully in to our edge within a tough asana. Realising that it does take time to get in to a more ‘advanced’ version of a pose doesn’t have to be discouraging at all; having the discipline to practise consistently and the humility to admit when we’re not perfect are both essential to reaping the rewards that ‘discipline’ has to offer.

As Pattabhi Jois famously said; ‘Practice and all is coming’….

Taking Tapas off the yoga mat

The discipline we learn on the mat is a fantastic lesson to take off the mat and in to every day life. When we breathe through challenging situations in a yoga practice, such as a difficult balancing pose, or when we find the strength to lift up in to an arm balance we previously thought was ‘impossible’, we can take these lessons with us and learn to be strong when facing challenging life situations.

Having the courage NOT to listen to the voices in our head that tell us we’re ‘not strong enough’ or ‘not good enough’ to attempt a more demanding pose or go for that new job opportunity is also an element of Tapas that ‘burns’ away those ‘impure’ thoughts, and leads to more self trust and inner strength.

Having the courage NOT to listen to the voices in our head that tell us we’re ‘not strong enough’ or ‘not good enough’ to attempt a more demanding pose or go for that new job opportunity is also an element of Tapas that ‘burns’ away those ‘impure’ thoughts, and leads to more self trust and inner strength.

Igniting the inner fire

Working with core strength is a surefire way to tap in to that sense of ‘fieriness’ stoking the ‘agni’ or inner fire. The core is where our Manipura Chakra lies, and this energy centre governs our sense of self confidence, inner strength, willpower and self discipline.

The element of fire – which both the Manipura Chakra and Tapas link to – is also the element of ‘transformation’, and we can see this for ourselves as we take on those challenges we’re faced with. Transformation generally happens when we allow change to happen; stepping outside of our comfort zone and practising poses we’re not confident with or may be a little afraid of is when we begin to grow and learn about ourselves. If things are too easy all the time, we don’t tend to learn the life lessons we need to make us stronger and more rounded people.

Travelling a bumpy road is well worth it when you eventually find a place of peace and freedom. The lessons we learn from facing challenges and fears are the ones that tend to have the biggest positive impact on us.

When we work with the element of Tapas, it’s important to make sure we’re acting from a place of positivity and love, and not from fear. When we push ourselves a little further, we should do it not because our ego tells us to, but because we really truly feel we can go just that little bit further.

Words By The divine Emma Newlyn Yoga

Your life becomes a Masterpiece when you learn to Master Peace ☮️

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Santosha: Contentment

In nearly every translation of Yoga Sutra II.42, santosha is interpreted as the greatest happiness, the underlying joy that cannot be shaken by life’s tough moments, by injustice, hardship, bad luck. “Contentment is really about accepting life as it is,” says Bell. “It’s not about creating perfection. Life will throw whatever it wants at you, and you ultimately have little control. Be welcoming of what you get.”

You can practice this on the mat quite easily, by acknowledging your tendency to strive to do a perfect pose and accepting the one you’ve got. “There’s no guarantee that you’ll get enlightened when you do a backbend with straight arms, or touch your hands to the floor in Uttanasana,” says Bell. “The process of santosha is relaxing into where you are in your pose right now and realizing that it is perfect.” Lasater compares santosha to the deep relaxation possible in Savasana (Corpse Pose). “You can’t run after contentment,” Lasater says. “It has to find you. All you can do is try to create the space for it.”

If you release your mind from constantly wanting your situation to be different, you’ll find more ease. “It’s not fatalism; it’s not to say you can’t change your reality,” says Cope. “But just for the moment, can you let go of the war with reality? If you do, you’ll be able to think more clearly and be more effective in making a difference.”

During those times when you don’t feel content, just act for one moment as if you were. You might kick-start a positive feedback loop, which can generate real contentment. It might feel absurd when your inner landscape isn’t shiny and bright, but the simple physical act of turning up the corners of your mouth can have amazing effects. “Smile,” suggests Devi. “It changes everything. Practicing smiling is like planting the seed of a mighty redwood. The body receives the smile, and contentment grows. Before you know it, you’re smiling all the time.” Whether you’re practicing asana or living life, remember to find joy in the experience.

 

Words via Our friends @ yogajournal.com

Cleanliness is next to Godliness 😇

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Patanjalis first Niyama- or Personal Observance is “Saucha” is broken down here by Kara-Leah Grant 😍

The first yama is Saucha, usually translated as purity and sometimes as cleanliness.

No matter what kind of yoga we’re doing – asana, pranayama, meditation, chanting, Bhakti yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga – we’re always working with purification. Yoga as a practice purifies our system and by extension, our lives.

This clearing out, on all levels, allows Prana (life force) or energy to flow freely. We release and dissolve all kinds of blockages.

This is what saucha is about – clearing out the dirt and removing the unnecessary. On a basic physical level it applies to how we clean ourselves. It’s the way we shower, scrape our tongues, clean our teeth, wear clean clothes and eat life-supporting, nourishing foods that move cleanly through our systems. Done daily, and with reverence, these simple practices will lay a strong foundation to our lives. We’ll feel better about ourselves.

On a deeper level, saucha shows up in our lives in other ways.

Saucha is about purity of energy, so in our homes, it’s about the way we organise and maintain our space.

Compare the feeling of walking into a zen-style room. The floor is wooden, there is a rug on the floor, aligned perfectly with the walls. Two pot plants fill separate corners. There is a sense of everything in it’s place and a place for everything. The room is light and airy.

Now walk into a cluttered lounge with furniture at haphazard angles, dirty dishes strewn around the room, weeks of newspapers stashed on the coffee table, clothes hanging over chair arms and toys strewn across the room.

How does it feel walking into each room? What is your inclination walking into each room?

In the zen-style room, my inclination is to sit and breathe. The energy of the room is pure.

In the cluttered lounge, my inclination is to clean up and find a place for everything. Then I can sit and breathe because now the energy of the room is pure.

That is saucha in action – the recognition that everything has it’s place and there is a place for everything. From that place of places, energy can flow smoothly. There is nothing to do but breathe.

There is good reason for this niyama and I notice it in my own life. Whenever I move into a house, first I have to get everything in order. It’s not a pristine manic order, but a sense of discovering where everything belongs so it can fulfill it’s function with maximum efficiency and beauty.

Living with a child means there’s often toys littering the lounge floor. But those toys have a place and when it’s time for bed, Samuel helps me put all his toys in their place. Underneath the daily messiness is a sense of order which we always return to, maybe not every single night, but most nights.

This adds a clarity to my life that makes my mind work better. I write better in a clean space. Everything flows smoother. The light of my life can shine brighter in a clean, orderly house when I’m clean and pure!

Imagine this – each of us has a light inside that shines out to the world. If the glass that surrounds that light is smudged, or blackened, our light will be dull or faded. The practice of saucha cleans the glass so the light can shine brightly.

My light-shining often takes the form of housework.

I’ve noticed that when I feel scattered or heavy I naturally do housework. I’ll start organising.

Maybe I’ll go to put something away in the fridge and notice the fridge door has smeared ketchup on it. I’ll fetch a cloth and clean that ketchup. In doing so, I’ll notice crumbs in the door shelves so take out the bottles and clean the shelves.

Half an hour later I will have completely cleaned out the fridge and arranged everything according to how we use it and how it best fits. The cleaning and ordering of my physical environment has a comparable effect on my psyche. I feel clean and ordered and clear again.

This is a completely different experience from cleaning a fridge because it ‘has to be done’. There’s almost a merging between myself and the fridge as I attend to it’s needs in the moment 😉

I known this about myself for five or so years now – that housework is meditative and therapeutic. It’s only through my study of saucha that I’m now able to put a name to my action. Making this conscious means I can choose to take action when required now – I can notice when I’m feeling out of sorts or scattered, take a look at my surroundings, and figure out what needs sorting out and cleaning. It’s brilliant!

How might saucha show up in your life?

How do you keep your body clean and pure? Your clothing? Your room? Your house? Your life?

Words and Wisdom via Kara-Leah Grant 🙏🏾

Connective Tissue Health & Myofascial Release

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An international yoga teacher, author & health & wellness expert, Tiffany Cruikshank is known as a teacher’s teacher & has written for & graced the cover of many prominent publications.

Tiffany imparts some wisdom on the subject of the connective tissue below: Check out the source of this article for a full list of references 

Connective tissue has a long history of being overlooked in favor of what seem to be more important features in the body. In medical school cadaver dissections, the connective tissue is carefully extracted and thrown away to reveal the more precious structures and organs, but our low prioritization of it is finally being reconsidered in light of recent research putting fascia and other connective tissue in the spotlight. With so many new studies opening our eyes to the crucial functions of this tissue, the need to reexamine our understanding of it and its potential contributions to our health and quality of life is undeniable.

Fascia, a type of connective tissue, has a broad array of functions, including linking nearby tissues, supporting organs, reducing friction that comes with muscular force, forming compartments that enclose groups of muscles and other structures, separating tissues, investing the tendons (thereby adding to their strength and resilience), creating functional chains of muscles that allow us to move more smoothly and efficiently, and much more. This tissue also contains important immune  cells, protective adipose cells, myofibroblasts that assist tissue healing, and a complex communication system to help oversee it all. Another important feature of fascia is that it is a continuous intermeshed system of fibrous tissue that weaves through the body, from head to toe. This interconnected system can be the reason your pain in one area may be influenced by changes in another part of your body, and it is also a big part of how we adapt and respond to stress via a body-wide tension-distributing system. Every year, half the fascial fibers (collagen) are replaced in a healthy body, providing us a powerful intervention point to steer these changes in the tissues at any time.

MYOFASCIAL RELEASE

The term myofascial release refers to any technique that works on the muscles and the fascia. There are many different modalities; however, the most common self-myofascial release (SMFR) techniques usually involve the use of balls or foam rollers. The beauty of SMFR is that it can be done with simple tools and training, making it accessible to the general public. There are numerous articles and studies showing positive outcomes for these modalities. The main limiting factors of these studies are that many of them are small and their methods can vary considerably. Nevertheless, most of them show significant positive outcomes with only minor side effects, which usually involve temporary soreness and/or bruising.

Fibroblasts, cells within the fascia that are responsible for producing the fascial matrix, play a large role in how the tissues remodel over time in response to the demands placed on them. These demands can have relatively positive (as in yoga, stretching, exercise, or myofascial release) or negative (in the case of poor posture, repetitive motions, or injuries) effects on the way the fibroblasts remodel the components of our  connective tissue. Myofascial release is thought to both stimulate and regulate fibroblasts; it helps break down excessive connective tissue deposition as well as stimulates them to produce new, more resilient connective tissue. It also enhances hydration of this tissue.

Probably the most well-known uses of SMFR are to increase mobility and relieve pain and injuries. The effects of SMFR on mobility are probably the most commonly studied, with positive but often temporary effects seen. Immobility, repetitive movements, poor posture, and injuries can all cause excessive collagen deposition that leads to fibrosis or adhesions between the tissues, resulting in diminished range of motion and mobility. SMFR helps to reduce and prevent excessive collagen deposition by increasing collagen turnover to keep the tissues strong, elastic, and resilient. This feature is critical both for working with injuries and helping to prevent them. Also, one of the great advantages to using SMFR is that the increases in mobility do not initiate the temporary decrease in muscle power and performance seen with stretching.

A key feature of connective tissue that we are still learning about is its function as a communication system. With six times as many sensory neurons than are found in any other tissue (besides the skin), the fascia is a huge sensory organ important both for proprioception (spatial awareness) and interoception (internal body awareness). One of the often-overlooked benefits of myofascial release is this increase in proprioception, which you feel right away. Try, for instance, rolling out your feet before attempting a challenging balance position, and you can experience this firsthand. Research suggests that increasing proprioception can also decrease pain. What’s even more interesting is the new research pointing to the fascia having its own internal communication system, which functions independently from the nervous system via vibration, crystallinity, and electricity. This suggests an inherent body-wide intelligence within this system.

Within the fascial layers, we also find important immune cells that help to modulate inflammation and tissue healing. Many people think of the fascia as just surrounding the muscles, but this tissue also interweaves through the muscles and surrounds organs, bones, nerves, and blood vessels throughout every part of the body. Since it envelops just about every structure of the body, you can imagine how important the immune function in this protective internal fascial layer is.

There is increasing evidence that the physical and mechanical environment of the tissues can influence cell behavior and tumor progression. In fact, some of the newest research on fascia focuses on its effects on cancer and suggests that healthy fascia could be an important component in treatment and prevention.

The hydration of the connective tissue is a key component in its health, influencing communication, adhesions, and immune function. Imagine dry tissues rubbing over each other with every movement. Impaired hydration of the fascia causes increased friction, stimulating the fibroblasts to lay down more collagen cross-links between layers of tissue, eventually leading to adhesions between the layers. You might think drinking more water would solve the problem, and though that may be part of the answer, it doesn’t necessarily equate to connective tissue hydration. Gentle SMFR techniques help to increase the hydration of the connective tissue to decrease adhesions, enhance communication, and facilitate healthy immune function. Think of the connective tissue as being like a fish bowl; not only do you need to add more water, you also need to clean it out from time to time.

CONCLUSION

There are also other body functions that SMFR influences—the parasympathetic response, the blood and lymph circulation, and possibly many more that may be revealed as the studies continue. In addition, there are mental and emotional implications of the connective tissue system that we don’t fully understand yet. Practitioners may observe this in their clients as an unexpected emotional release that may spontaneously arise with SMFR. The beauty of SMFR is that you don’t need to understand the emotional history of a trauma or injury to let it go; you need only provide the space to allow it to pass. Studies suggest that receiving SMFR just once or twice a week will yield a more resilient fascial system in six to twenty-four months, so slow and steady wins the race for connective tissue health. As with any healing modalities, it’s important that you consult your doctor before using SMFR and seek the help of someone trained to use it.

Though there is still a lot of research needed to show the extent to which the fascial layer may be involved in many pathologies, there is already more than enough to indicate the need for further inquiry into how the health of this tissue can affect so many interconnected systems. Myofascial release techniques show promising outcomes in enhancing mobility, increasing proprioception, supporting injury prevention, promoting tissue healing, regulating inflammation and immune function, and optimizing tissue resilience. As SMFR has so few side effects, I believe it’s our opportunity to pursue further study to see how we can best use this simple, cost effective modality that could have a significant impact on pain, inflammation, injuries, tissue health, and possibly pathologies such as cancer.

AUTHOR NOTE

Thanks to the Fascia Research Congress for promoting the work of so many researchers who help bring this information to the public, and many thanks to all the researchers out there doing the work.

Check out the source of this article for a full list of references.

See you on the mat XXX

#justdoitanyway; Aparigraha /// non-attachment or non-greed 🙌🌟➔

fitness, lifestyle, Space Foundation, yoga, yoga philosophy

This weeks offering is from the lovely @emmanewlynyoga again- she breaks down aparigraha into understandable tid-bits for you to ponder…..

Aparigraha is the last of the five yamas of Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga. It often translates to ‘non-greed’, ‘non-possessiveness’, and ‘non-attachment’.

What does this yama teach us and how do we translate this on and off our mats?

The yamas are essentially moral guidelines by which to live with regard to our relationship with ourselves, and the world around us. These moral codes can be applied both on an off the yoga mat, helping us to practise not just for the benefit of ourselves, but for the world around us….

Patanjali’s yamas are:

Last but by no means least is Aparigraha, which often translates as ‘non-greed’, ‘non-possessiveness’, and ‘non-attachment’. The word ‘graha’ means to take, to seize, or to grab, ‘pari’ means ‘on all sides’, and the prefix ‘a’ negates the word itself  – basically, it means ‘non’. This important yama teaches us to take only what we need, keep only what serves us in the moment, and to let go when the time is right.

Let your concern be with the action alone, and never with the fruits of action. Do not let the results of your action be your motive, and do not be attached to inaction – Krishna

It’s not the destination, it’s the journey…..

Aparigraha is actually one of the central teachings in the Yogic text the Bhagavad Gita, in which Krishna shares one of the teachings that could perhaps be the most important lesson of all to learn: ‘Let your concern be with action alone, and never with the fruits of action. Do not let the results of action be your motive, and do not be attached to inaction’. What Krishna is essentially saying here, is that we should never concern ourselves with the outcome of a situation, we should only concern ourselves with what we’re actually doing right now as we work towards that outcome.

For example – how often do we worry about what might come of the effort we put into a project at work, a holiday we’re planning, or a meal we’re preparing, that we never really enjoy the work itself? So often we worry if we’ll be successful enough, or ‘good enough’ when we put our hearts on the line to show the world what we’re made of, that we forget why we started in the first place.

Go for it!

If you know you have something to do and share with the world, this teaching from the Bhagavad Gita tells us to do it – and to do it with all our hearts – and to let go of what might come of it. Great poets like Henry David Thoreu and Walt Whitman, painters like Camille Corot, and even composers like Beethoven couldn’t be sure of what would come of their work. Many were considered unworthy of recognition when they first showed the world their creations, but when they let go of the need to be praised by other people – when they let go of feeling as though their happiness was determined by what other people thought, and they just worked for the love of it – they allowed their passions to come alive, and lived fulfilled and abundant lives. When we understand and can fully comprehend how to live in this way, it’s a bit like taking a huge sigh of relief….

Here, we’ll discuss how we can all cultivate a little more ‘non-attachment’, ‘non-greed’ and ‘non possessiveness’ in our lives….

Aparigraha on the mat:

We may all walk into our Yoga class looking forward to practising, setting our intention and ready to move and breathe our way towards a more peaceful mind. Often halfway through though, something happens: We lose sight of the real reason we came, and our practice is no longer about connecting to ourselves and being present, but about being better than the person on the mat next to us, or pushing ourselves into that super impressive asana…. Sound familiar? This is where the ‘non-greed’ and ‘non-attachment’ aspects come into play.

If you’ve been taking part in our September Yoga month challenge and have developed a home practice, then you’re already feeling the benefits of getting on the mat more often. The more we practise of course, the stronger and more flexible we become physically, but it takes a little longer for our minds to catch up. While our bodies are more than happy with this daily dose of asana practice, the mind is all too often distracted with thoughts about how we could be better, stronger, or how we could get into that fancy arm balance quicker. We never seem to be satisfied with just what is at that moment, the mind becomes greedy, and we want more. As I’ve said in a previous blog post about the Yamas & Niyamas – we live in a ‘McDonalds society’, we want everything, we want it now, and we want it super-sized.

Practise for the love of practising

Progress in our practice is encouraging, but it doesn’t need to be the only reward. The sheer joy of the practice is the greatest reward in itself, realising how freeing it is not to have a specific goal we must achieve, but to simply move our bodies in a way that feels good. If we practise for the love of practising, without forcing or pushing ourselves beyond our edge, the body will unfold naturally and those more challenging asanas will be accessible in no time.

Aparigraha at home:

How many clothes do you have in your cupboard that you know you won’t ever wear again, but they’re still hanging in there just in case? How many gadgets, ornaments, books and shoes do we have that we really just don’t need?

Aparigraha can teach us that we actually probably don’t need the new shirt that looks exactly like that other one we have at home, we probably don’t really need to buy that new cushion just because it goes with the new wallpaper, and we definitely don’t need that new car just because it’s better than our neighbours’….

The more we hoard material possessions, the more we weigh ourselves down with not only physical, but energetic baggage, and the more we become attached to and worry about losing these said possessions. Believing that the new object we buy will bring us happiness is based on a feeling of lack that all too often enters our minds. In this sense, ‘lack’ is that sense of ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘I’m not whole without that new thing’, when really we always were and always will be good enough no matter what. If we lighten the load a little by either selling some of the things we don’t need, or even better by giving them to charity, then we move towards living a less cluttered life both in our homes and in our minds.

The next time you feel you need to buy something new, take a moment to think of why you need it so much – will it bring lasting happiness? Will it help you find peace? Will it help you live in a more self-reliant and simpler way? (Hint…. This is also a great way to save a lot of money!)

Aparigraha in diet:

Many texts advise eating moderately, so as not to disturb our practice, and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika in particular lists over-eating as a hindrance on the yogic path. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t enjoy your favourite meals and treats, and it’s so important to make sure each of us nourishes ourselves to stay healthy, but it’s useful to listen to our bodies to recognise when enough is enough. It has been well documented that the world’s ‘blue zones’ (the places in the world with the highest life expectancy, and the healthiest quality of life) eat until about 80% full, so as to allow the body to properly digest and assimilate food. Okinawa in Japan is one of these blue zones, and the phrase ‘Hara Hachi Bu’, meaning ‘eat until you are eight parts full’ originates here.

It’s not just how much we eat that is worth considering, but also how much we throw away!

30% – 50% of the food produced in the world ends up as waste, this is equivalent to up to 2 billion tonnes. With a growing global population of around 9 billion people, demands for food are growing, but still well over 8 million people in the world go hungry every day. The food currently wasted in Europe could feed around 200 million people, so why are we still being greedy, over-buying and wasting food?

While of course we can’t all travel to undernourished countries to help feed those going hungry, we can still do our bit to help. When we practise on our yoga mat and help ourselves to feel good and create a sense of peace and positivity, that’s only really the beginning of the practice…. What we do after that is where it all counts; by creating a sense of peace within ourselves, we essentially make our selves more useful in the world. When our minds are less cluttered with worries and attachment, we can get on to the important stuff, like really making a difference in the world around us.

Start small; this could mean sticking to your shopping list next time you’re at the supermarket and not putting those extra indulgent treats into the trolley. It could mean cooking a big meal to share with friends, to make sure nothing goes to waste, or it could mean saving any leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day. Maybe this could lead on to donating tins of food to those in need, or even volunteering to help feed those at a local shelter. Remember, our practice is to help ourselves feel good, but it doesn’t stop there…

Aparigraha in our minds:

Hindsight is a wonderful – and annoyingly useful – thing. If only we knew that those things we obsessively worry over didn’t really matter? If only we could stop being concerned with what might happen, and just enjoy what is happening?

Each time we enter into a new relationship, experience a sensation of joy and happiness, or start a new project, there’s often a flash of concern as we think – even just for a moment – what happens when this is over? What will come of this?

Becoming attached to a positive feeling or a positive experience is completely human, why wouldn’t we want to feel happy for as long as we can? But when we experience positivity, do we really let ourselves fully have that experience, or do we cling to it, willing everything to stay just as it is in that moment?

Change is the only constant thing we can expect in life

The Sanskrit word ‘Parinamavada’ is the teaching that ‘everything is in a constant state of flux’. Indeed, change is the only constant thing we can expect in life. Just as the trees drop their leaves in Autumn so that they may grow new buds in Spring, the day turns to night, the seasons come and go, we too go through changes every moment of every day. Our physical bodies are undergoing change every second with cells regenerating, blood flowing, bone wearing down and then being stimulated to build up again, breath moving in and out of the body; so too do our minds experience change continuously.

Happiness, joy and peace are important emotions to feel, yes, but so too is sadness, anger and loss. To experience only the good stuff is to experience only half of what life has to offer. The school of life exists to allow us to experience and learn from every aspect of our being, the light and the dark, and to truly live we must not push away the things we don’t want to feel, but allow them to happen, and know that this too shall pass. When we let the moment be what it is without either trying to cling to it, or to push it away, we can really say we’re living in that moment, allowing things to come and go, without the need to possess any of it.

Aparigraha offers us so much freedom – the freedom to work and do what we love without worrying about the outcome, the freedom to rely less on external and material possessions to bring us happiness, and the freedom to experience everything life has to offer, whatever that may be. See what happens when you apply this yama to your life, what happens when you just let go?

Words via @emmanewlynyoga from Ekhart Yoga 🙏🏾

The Yamas: Brahmacharya: Right use of Energy

fitness, health, Inspiration, lifestyle, Space Foundation, Uncategorized, yin

We found this babes musings on this often misunderstood (and brushed over quickly) Yama. Let @emmanewlynyoga break it down for you- Brahmacharya is not what you may have been thinking…..

What does Brahmacharya mean?

The fourth of the Yamas, Brahmacharya is often translated as ‘celibacy’ or ‘chastity’, which doesn’t always make for a very popular Yama…! Traditionally, ‘Brahmacharya’ was meant to encourage those involved in the practice of yoga to conserve their sexual energy, in favour of using that energy to further progress along the Yogic path.

The common misconception that Brahmacharya is all about celibacy means it is often overlooked or considered irrelevant in our modern culture.
However, the practice of Brahmacharya or ‘right use of energy’ as it is widely translated, is more prevalent now than ever.

Contemplation: The word Brahmacharya actually translates as ‘behaviour which leads to Brahman’. Brahman is thought of as ‘the creator’ in Hinduism and Yogic terms, so what we’re basically talking about here is behaviour which leads us towards ‘the divine’ or ‘higher power’.

Regarding Brahmacharya as ‘right use of energy’ leads us to consider how we actually use and direct our energy. Brahmacharya also evokes a sense of directing our energy away from external desires – you know, those pleasures which seem great at the time but are ultimately fleeting – and instead, towards finding peace and happiness within ourselves.

“Brahmacharya also evokes a sense of directing our energy away from external desires … and instead, towards finding peace and happiness within ourselves.”

Where is your energy directed?

Consider for a moment where your energy is most directed. I’ll have a guess that a large part of it is put towards worrying and generally concerning ourselves with things that don’t really serve us best. A lot of our energy may also be spent on trying to present ourselves as someone we’re not in order to please or impress others, or maybe we direct our physical energy towards endlessly pushing ourselves to be fitter, stronger or skinnier…. Does any of this sound like you? If so, it might be time to look a little closer at that Yama you’ve been avoiding….

In order to be the best version of ourselves and to use our energy in the right way, we need first of all to listen to what our bodies need. After all, to be able to spread our message to the world and really make the most of what we learn from our yoga practice, we need to have enough energy within ourselves.

In order to be the best version of ourselves and to use our energy in the right way, we need first of all to listen to what our bodies need.

 Boost your happiness to boost your health

As many parts of the world move towards Winter, our immune system naturally needs a little boost, but we don’t always listen to what we really need the most. By becoming aware of our energy levels and really listening to what we need, we can take action to ensure we feel at our very best.

Yoga is an all-natural happiness booster – you may notice that if you’re feeling down, nothing helps more than a great yoga class – and happiness is actually a proven immune-booster too! When we’re unhappy or fearful, our bodies respond by switching on our stress-responses (that infamous ‘fight or flight’ system we’re always hearing so much about), which heightens our blood pressure, lowers our energy levels and weakens our immune system. When we’re happy and relaxed however, our nervous system switches on our healing mechanisms, which helps to keep our bodies in a vibrant and powerful state.

If we are able to direct our energy towards something positive each day – rather than directing our energy towards our often negative thoughts – we’ll not only be able to boost our immune system, but we’ll also actively be making the right use of our energy!

Listen to your body and let your practice serve you

We’re often encouraged to listen to our bodies in a yoga class, but if we’re accustomed to practicing Yin, butterfly pose in one particular way, it can be difficult to change our habits – even when our bodies are asking us to. To make the most of our energy, we can enhance our health and well-being with the right yoga practice for us at that time; if you’re accustomed to a strong yoga practice and your body needs restoring, allow some time for a deep Yin practice. If you always opt for a soft and still practice, try some Power Yoga to give yourself a boost of strength and energy. Your body is always talking to you; listen and see what it has to say!

Listen to your body! Think about where you’re directing your energy – is it helpful or hurtful?

Brahmacharya in your Yoga class

Mixed-level yoga classes are increasingly popular, which means there are lots of different abilities, Yoga class needs and energy levels together in one class. Often in these classes, lots of different options are given so everyone can make the most of their practice. You may be offered variations and modifications of postures, the option to move through a vinyasa or to rest in Balasana (Child’s Pose).

This situation can lead us in two different directions; surrounded by other practitioners, you might feel pressure to ‘keep up’ or impress others, but consider whether taking the posture is helpful or not – your practice is about your body, no one else’s. On the other hand; if you’re the type to shy away from taking it to the next level, consider stepping out of your comfort zone a little – outside of that little bubble of familiarity is where we grow the most!

Brahmacharya in every-day life: How do you use your energy?

Right now there seems to be an over-emphasis on how ‘busy’ we should all be – that busy is better – and that if you’re not busy, there’s something wrong. The point is, whether we’re constantly ‘busy’ or not doesn’t matter – it’s whether what we’re doing is worthwhile. Filling our schedule with as much as we can may seem impressive on the outside, but when it comes to how this makes us feel on the inside, it doesn’t leave much space to breathe.

“Brahmacharya encourages right use of energy, so if your energy levels are flagging at the moment, consider whether your daily tasks are draining you of your vitality. Could you find a way to take a few moments a day to just stop and breathe and find a little peace?”

This ability to slow down will not only allow your body and mind to take a much-needed break, but you’ll be much more aware of how you’ve been using your energy that day. As we mentioned earlier – listen to your body! Think about where you’re directing your energy – is it helpful or hurtful? Be aware of how you feel physically and energetically when you’re in certain situations – do some people drag your energy down? Do others make you light up? Is there something you love doing that really gives you a boost? (For most of us yes, it’s probably yoga!) Whatever your day-to-day schedule includes, become aware of not just what you do, but how you do it, and how it affects you.

By becoming aware of how our bodies and minds respond to certain situations, we can begin to cultivate a life that does serve us, and that does make the best use of our energy. By contemplating Brahmacharya within our every-day actions, we can take our yoga practice off the mat and into our lives and allow it to serve us at all times….

So what behaviour leads you towards your higher power and helps make the right use of your energy?

x Emma

 

Blog reposted from Ekhart Yoga 🙏🏾

Remember the Breath

fitness, health, Inspiration, lifestyle, Space Foundation, yin, yoga

Resident Yin Yogi @terrafirmayoga shares her musings on the magic of the Ujjayi Breath.

Ujjayi Pranayama is the most simple of all yoga’s breathing practices. And because it is so easy to do, it is so effective. It can be done in any position. Sitting down, lying down, standing up, doing yoga asana, driving in a car, going for a walk and even listening to a friend talk…

Effective at slowing down your nervous system, your heart rate and your racing mind.  You need to breathe.  Especially if you have anxiety, stress or depression, aches or pains, injuries or illness. You need to breathe.

In Yin Yoga we learn to breathe the Ujjayi breath in a yin way.  Slow, steady and soft.  There is effort, but it is minimal.  This takes time and practice.  I like to teach it at the beginning of every yoga class, as the breath is the essence of yoga.

The key to Ujjayi is a gentle narrowing of the throat passageway.  This exaggerates the sound so you can hear it. The most important element of Ujjayi is the sound. As you slow down your breath and smooth out the flow, the sound becomes consistent and steady while becoming quieter and quieter.  It is the internal sound that is so divine.  It is the internal sound that heals our wounds and replenishes our cells.  This breath is guaranteed to detox your body and cleanse your mind.

The slow pace of the breath allows time for oxygen to be absorbed into the cells with each inhale, improving the efficiency of your cellular breathing.  Did you know that you have 50 trillion cells inside of you?  If your cells are breathing efficiently this improves your metabolism which affects how your body handles nutrients from your food.

At the same time each exhale carries out toxins and waste product.  Which yoga describes as purification. A way of making your body less dense.  Simultaneously, your mind and emotions are cleared of the density as well.

The word ‘prana’ is a Sanksrit word which means life force.  It is also called chi, mana and oxygen.  Pranayama means you are moving this force through you.  A body with high levels of prana is vibrant and doesn’t succumb to sickness. Any dis-ease will be improved by increasing your levels of prana.  The level of prana moving through your body determines your health, vitality and glow.

In a general class you may have enough time for 5-8 minutes of Ujjayi.  It is merely an introduction to the full practice of 20 minutes everyday.  But 5-8 minutes is enough to get you started on your journey to wellness and it will help you go deeper when you practice the yoga poses which follow.

It is a mystery how this simple breath can weave magic into your life, but if you remember to breathe an Ujjayi breath or ten everyday, I guarantee it will change your life for the better.

Remember to Breathe…

Love Tara X

You can download a 7 minute guided Ujjayi practice with Tara on Spotify or iTunes. 

Type in Tara Fitzgibbon or Breathe, Rest, Let Go.

 

Loving Mindfully

fitness, health, Inspiration, lifestyle, Space Foundation

Well this one just about sums me up for the moment…. (being deep in my cycle 😩 but hey we are all human and one of the big upsides of this process is feeling it all (well at least thats what I tell myself on the off-days). 

Yogi-go-getter @byronbayyogi breaks it down for u here in this bite-sized snippet of whatcha need to know to keep groovin the way that only you can do #mylove. So settle into your fave chair/cushion/Turkish towel and drink this in babe ❤

There is only one of you after all- and you came here to #shinebright darling girl X

Image via @arterium

We so often waver between knowing that we are enough and the innate, biological desire to be intimate. As a woman, a long time practitioner of yoga and mindfulness, and a girl who never forgets the impossible portrayals of love in the plethora of Disney movies of her childhood, I’ve found myself in the life-long predicament of looking for love – inside and out.

And I found it – over and over again – or at least I thought I did. I found best friends, lovers, adventure companions and, eventually, someone to divulge all of the messy details of my psyche to and plan a future with. What I expected to come with these discoveries was ease. A falling into the metaphorical arms of eternal security, and a deep knowing that no matter what happens in my world, I am worthy because somebody loves me! But what I started to understand was that no matter how picture perfect my relationship is, there will always be times when I feel the earth beneath me shake – that that security is an illusion.

The yogis and spiritual masters tell us over and over again, and as I walk the path of understanding in my own life, I’ve begun to take note of these valuable lessons.

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY

One of the major benefits of a regular yoga or mindfulness practice is body awareness. Through tuning into our bodies we begin to understand how emotional tension can manifest itself in our physiology. Liz Koch (coreaware- ness.com) is an expert on the psoas muscle – a long fusiform muscle located on the side of the lumbar region. Koch says that we hold a lot of emotional tension in this area, which is why it’s not uncommon to experience strong emotions in certain yoga poses; “A primal messenger of the central nervous system, the psoas is an emotional muscle expressing what is felt deep within – what is commonly referred to as “gut feelings”. Remember the last time a relationship ended badly and thinking ‘I should have listened to my gut’? Start to trust the sensations in your body. You don’t need to immediately react to those sensations, but ultimately they may be giving you some very necessary insight into your subconscious, and you can use these insights to guide your decisions in relationships.

BE PRESENT

Modern mindfulness guru and founder of the Headspace app, Andy Puddicombe, suggests some advice for staying present during turbulent and uncertain times (and, let’s face it, love can be pretty turbulent). He recommends that instead of using our energy for wishing that a situation were different, we can put that energy into simply being – being in the moment with our self or another. When we do this our life (in relationship) “becomes a journey we are on together, day by day, discovering what is new and meeting each and every moment afresh. If we can do this, then we will experience an increasing sense of confidence, in being at ease with both comfort and discomfort, difficulty and joy.” The way to achieve this is through a simple practice of mindful meditation. “Make sure you take some time out each day”, suggests Puddicombe. When you commit to a formal practice of meditation (even a short one), it will be easier to allow negative thoughts and judgments to emerge and easily pass. Enjoy your relationships in the now and allow them to unfold organically, basking in the newness that each day brings, every day.

LEARN TO NURTURE YOUR INNER CHILD

Mindfulness master and Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh reinforces: “To take good care of ourselves, we must take care of the wounded child inside of us…if you listen every day, healing will take place.” We all carry wounds from our childhood, and these can be triggered and re-emerge in romantic relationships. When you notice yourself experiencing strong emotions in reaction to a situation in a relationship, see if you can sit with that feeling. Sometimes when we feel the urge to strongly react, we’re experiencing trauma from our past, and often this has little to do with the current situation. Take time to listen to and take care of your inner child before reacting. Hahn suggests that we can meditate on our inner child (breathing in – I see myself as a five year old child, breathing out – I smile with compassion to the five year old child in me), spend time listening to our inner child, talk to our inner child and write letters to our inner child to facilitate healing.

DON’T TAKE THINGS PERSONALLY

In his book ‘The Four Agreements’, spiritual teacher and author Don Miguel reminds us not to take things personally in relationships. He writes, “nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream.” When you can understand this, he goes on, “you can say, “I love you,” without fear of being ridiculed or rejected. You can ask for what you need. You can say yes – or you can say no – whatever you choose – without guilt or self-judgment. You can choose to follow your heart always.”

Modern philosopher and author of numerous books and essays on the topic of love, Alain De Botton, supports this advice, suggesting that when we find ourselves in conflict in our relationships, we should sometimes treat our partner like a child. He says, “one of the kindest things that we can do with our lover is to see them as children. And not to infantilise them, but when we’re dealing with children as parents, as adults, we’re incredibly generous in the way we interpret their behavior.  And if a child says, “I hate you,” you immediately go, okay, that’s not quite true. Probably they’re tired, they’re hungry, something’s gone wrong, their tooth hurts, something.”

LET GO

One of my favourite philosophers, J. Krishnamurti, has some enticing words of wisdom when it comes to love. He says, “the demand to be safe in relationship inevitably breeds sorrow and fear. This seeking for security is inviting insecurity.” When we rely on another to make us feel good about ourselves, we lose the ability to take control of our own self worth. We cannot force our lover into a vicious cycle of placating us – that’s not love. “Fear is not love, dependence is not love, jealousy is not love, possessiveness and domination are not love, responsibility and duty are not love, self-pity is not love, the agony of not being loved is not love, love is not the opposite of hate any more than humility is the opposite of vanity”, says Krishnamurti. He says, simply, when you are “not seeking, not wanting, not pursuing, there is no centre at all. Then there is love.” When we understand this, we can begin to see the importance of letting go in love. As the Buddha said, “you can only lose what you cling to.”

MAKE SELF-LOVE YOUR PRIORITY

“Authentic self-esteem comes not from improving your self-image but from knowing and accepting that core self within that is beautiful, wise, and loving,” explains Deepak Chopra. From this place of genuine self-love that doesn’t rely on external validation, you put yourself in the best position to love others and be loved. If you truly loved yourself, you wouldn’t need others to substantiate you. Instead, you could enjoy the delight of your own company. Develop the habit of continually asking yourself the question: What would I do if I loved myself?

Words by Jessica Humphries.