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yin

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

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

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 😇

barre, fitness, health, Inspiration, lifestyle, pilates, Space Foundation, yin

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 🙏🏾

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.

 

The Science of Yin Yoga

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

Resident Journo @byronbayyogi has something spesh for all you yinners out there……  She is about to give you the down-low on why Yin is so god-damn juicy…. and why you should get yourself on yo’ mat girl ❤

(Repost from our friends @ Uplift Connect:)

Image: Unknown

Creating Balance in Your Practice

The long-held, deeply restful postures of Yin Yoga provide a welcome contrast to the more dynamic, Yang dominated practices that are popular in the modern, Western world. A remedy to our fast-paced lifestyles, Yin is a practice that encourages people to slow down–immersing in the kind of stillness that can lead to the expansion of consciousness.

Today’s Yin Yoga is highly influenced by the philosophies of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which say that the body contains meridians–invisible energy highways that carry Qi (energy). The physical postures of Yin are said to work with these meridian lines to improve health and wellbeing.

Western science is also discovering the impact of the practice on a physical and psychological level. Yin creates the space to activate the parasympathetic nervous system(our rest and digest) and the longer holds work to unwind the body’s deeper layers of fascia (as opposed to working with the muscles in more dynamic movements). As we work with these layers, we create the conditions to release deeply held tension in the body and mind.

The Evolution of Yin as a Yoga Practice

The introduction of Yin Yoga to the West happened in the 1970s and is credited to yogi and martial artist, Paulie Zink. The roots of Zink’s practice are in Taoist Yoga, where Hatha Yoga poses are held for longer periods of time. The current style of Yin Yoga, however, was popularised by Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers, who have infused more Traditional Chinese Medicine and anatomical science into the practice.

Paulie Zink
Paulie Zink brought Taoist yoga–the beginnings of Yin Yoga–to the West in the 70s.

Truth Robinson, a long time meditator, yoga teacher and Chinese Medicine Doctor, teaches Yin Yoga training for esteemed yoga school Power Living, and has passionately studied the practice and its origins. He says:

The meridian theory Paul Grilley used is over 2500 years old and originates in China… It is based around the idea of Qi, which is erroneously translated as energy.

Sarah Powers, who was teaching at the same studio with Paul, “came to love the quiet floor poses that Paul was teaching”, says Robinson. He says, “Sarah suggested that… they should call these long-held, floor poses Yin Yoga… Paul and Sarah then taught the Yin Yoga practice to a growing number of students and it eventually became the practice we have today.”

Yin and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine is a system in which practitioners use herbal medicines and mind-body practices, such as acupuncture and Tai Chi, to treat health ailments and enhance wellbeing. In these Chinese systems of health, meridians are said to be channels throughout the body that direct the flow of Qi through an interconnected network that forms a complete energetic circuit. Qi can be weak, strong, agitated or balanced, and this impacts on our physical and emotional health.

Each meridian is associated with a different internal organ, and therefore the health of this organ is affected by the way that energy flows. For example, author of Brightening Our Inner Skies: Yin and Yoga, Norman Blair, says:

If the stomach meridian is blocked, we could feel nervous and unable to feel satisfied with receiving support. If there’s an imbalance in the Liver meridian, this manifests as anger and a feeling of hopelessness.

Yin for your meridiansYin Yoga affects our meridians–channels of Qi that run throughout our bodies.

According to these philosophies, there is no difference between our physical and emotional health–they are interconnected. Hence the health of the organs has a direct impact on our emotions, and vice versa.

When Paul Grilley delved into these traditional Chinese philosophies, combined with yoga asana, he discovered that certain yoga postures could impact the meridians and the way that Qi flows through them. Blair explains:

Certain Yin poses have greater influence on certain meridians and it is possible to construct a Yin Yoga practice that is based on this knowledge. In Butterfly, we strongly affect the Kidney meridian and the Bladder meridian. Frog accesses the Spleen meridian, supporting our creative potential.

The Anatomy of Yin

Sarah Owen is one of the leading Yin Yoga teachers in Australia and has been mentored by Sarah Powers for over a decade. She explains that the lower parts of the body, as well as the internal tissues, are more related to Yin Yoga than the upper body or the external tissues, such as muscle. She says:

“The more internalised tissues are best nourished when the muscles are not engaged but instead kept relaxed, and when the poses are held for longer periods.”

One of these internalised tissues, and a word we often hear associated with Yin, is fascia. Author of Fascia–What It Is And Why It Matters, David Lesonak, explains that fascia is like “a silvery-white material, flexible and sturdy in equal measure–a substance that surrounds and penetrates every muscle, coats every bond, covers every organ, and envelops every nerve.” He explains:

The most important thing to keep in mind… is that the fascial net is one continuous structure throughout the body…The ‘everywhereness’ of fascia also implies that, indeed, it is all connected, and thus is ‘connective tissue’, which is a term often used interchangeably with ‘fascia’.

FasciaFascia surrounds every muscle, covers every organ, and envelops every nerve.

Erin Bourne holds a Bachelors of Exercise Science, as well as extensive training in Yoga and Myofascial release. She teaches the anatomy of Yin Yoga on teacher trainings and is currently writing a book that looks at Yin poses from a physiological, energetic and meridian perspective. She explains that if we stop moving parts of the body in particular directions then the fascia begins to dehydrate, solidify and constrict. She says:

Think of a kitchen sponge that’s left to dry for days. It has no spring or flexibility. Yin Yoga lengthens the fascia, releasing the stuck spots and allowing the tissue to rehydrate and glow again (like soaking the sponge).

Fascia needs at least 120 seconds of sustained pressure to start to change. “This is why Yin, with its long pose holds, actually lengthens the fascia,” says Bourne.

Bourne explains that the poses in Yin Yoga also work the lines of the meridians, opening the whole length of a meridian and bringing light (Qi) to those dark spots in the body. Recent research has confirmed that 80% of meridian points in the arms correspond to the fascial planes, indicating a link between these Eastern and Western philosophies.

Robinson illustrates the importance of remodeling this connective tissue through adopting a dedicated Yin Yoga practice, to counteract the effect of how we hold our body in our daily life:

We all practice Yin all day every day, in whatever pose you adopt the most. Your body will see this as an important posture for it to hold and so will alter its structure to support your activities.

Yin and the Nervous System

Simon Borg Olivier is a long time yoga teacher, physiotherapist and university lecturer. He acknowledges that many of the fitness-dominated practices we see today are putting practitioners into fight or flight mode; activating the sympathetic nervous system and inevitably leading to anger, aggression and competitiveness. In contrast to these heart rate increasing practices, Yin Yoga works to activate our parasympathetic nervous system, which allows us to rest and digest. Simon says:

I believe that if you are doing real yoga then you should be feeling love, happiness and safety while you are practicing, not only in your relaxation after your exercise… To generate yoga on a physical level by improving blood flow without needing to increase heart rate is not only possible but it is the way of healthy people and the way of real Hatha Yoga.

Yin yoga activates our parasympathetic nervous systemYin Yoga activates our parasympathetic nervous system, which allows us to rest and digest.

Tara Fitzgibbon, one of the most well known Yin Yoga teachers in Australia, agrees. “Yin yoga gives us permission to be still. It provides balance against all of life’s Yang activities, and allows us to reach deeper levels of rest, which open us up to higher consciousness.”

Yin and the Mind

The ‘mood’ of a Yin Yoga practice is one of self-acceptance, compassion, and simply being present, rather than an attitude of striving to improve ourselves or berating ourselves for any difficulties that may arise. Instead, the practice becomes like a meditation in which one can observe mental habits and accustomed ways of reactivity. The Yin Yoga practice creates a ‘holding space’ to practice mindfulness or other meditation practices, and to observe the inner and outer experiences as they arise. – Sarah Owen

As both Eastern and Western science are unveiling, when we relax in Yin Yoga, we begin to heal the body’s deeply held tensions and change the patterns that leave our body constricted, and impact our emotional health. As we progress through these physical, emotional and spiritual layers, the opportunity for expanding our consciousness easily follows.

Author:

Jessica Humphries- catch her Mondays and Fridays 9:30 am ❤