Tiger Pose or Majariasana 2

One of my favorite variations of majariasana is tiger pose. To practice come on to all fours as for majariasana and tune in to your breath. When you feel ready on an inhalation lift and extend away your left arm and right leg, imagining a line running from the left fingertips to the right toes and making that line as long as possible. On your exhalation return to centre and then repeat with the right arm and left leg on your next in breath. Flow from one side to the other allowing a lovely opening through your limbs and torso as you do so. I like to finish with holding the pose on each side for a few breaths, this gives you the chance to check your balance and really feel that length through the body. Remember to make sure you are raising the opposite arm and leg as it’s much easier and more stable this way.

If this is challenging for you, you can work towards it by starting with the arms only, lifting and extending them forwards one at a time on the inhalation for a few rounds then do the same for the legs.

If it is easy you can try bending the knee of your raised leg and reaching back with the raised arm to catch hold of the foot. This brings in a nice gentle backbend and opens the front of the thigh wonderfully as well as stretching through the arm and shoulder. Be sure to repeat on both sides to maintain balance within your body.

Tigers are awe inspiring creatures, I could spend hours watching them at Melbourne Zoo where this photo was taken last year. What I love about them and all cats is that whatever they are doing, they do it completely. If they are resting they can let go of all tension and relax their whole body – anyone whos been to a yoga class knows that this is extremely difficult to do. Though they look like they are way out of it, the minute they sense something of interest they can be on their feet in no time. Just what we work towards achieving in savasana – fully conscious rest.

When they are active they pace or play or eat with complete focus and determination. In this world where we are encouraged to multi task and do three or four things at once I take inspiration from this and allow myself to be absorbed as much as possible by the job at hand. Of course distractions do arise but as long as I recognise them and bring myself back I feel I am doing well.

Hope you enjoy tiger pose and all that it has to offer.

Love & light,

Belinda.

xxx

Caught off balance

I was caught off balance very literally last night. As I was getting into my car the door swung shut and knocked me so that my face hit the car resulting in a nasty, swollen egg right next to my eye. I feel a little silly for this happening for, as my beloved so kindly pointed out to me, getting into a car is not that dangerous and it seems silly to have injured myself doing something so mundane. Thankfully the swelling has gone down but there is now a nasty looking bruise spreading across my eye so I look like a boxer rather than a yoga teacher.

Life is full of lessons and I often look for them when something like this happens. It is most often guesswork trying to work out what I could learn from such experiences and I sometimes feel like I am simply trying to find a siver lining from what could otherwise be seen as a cloud on my day. It does make me feel better however and helps to put a positive spin on a negative outcome. Maybe the lesson  here is mindfulness? That I was not fully present as I leaned into the car reaching to put my bag on the passenger seat so that when the door closed on me I wasn’t aware enough to be prepared for it. Or it could be good old surrender, accepting what happens and resisting the urge to label it as good or bad. Or even the cliche of it could have been worse. I could have knocked my eye or sustained a concussion or broken a leg or any number of other possibilites.

It is easy to overthink these things so I resist the urge and move towards simple acceptance of what has happened. I have a black eye, it is a temporary condition and will pass with time. Maybe the lesson is just to be careful when getting into the car!

Love and light,

Belinda.

xxx

Ode to a purr & Majariasana part 1.

I was woken this morning by a heavenly sound,

Its timbre rumbling gently around.

In a soothing rhythm  it rose and fell,

I was instantly under its spell.

Never too loud but always present,

Healing vibrations, peaceful and pleasant.

The gift of his purr my cat gave to me,

And I smiled and accepted it gratefully.

What a lovely awakening, a cats purr is the most lovely expression of contentment I know and just listening to it makes me smile and feel that contentment spreading into my own being. If you have the means I highly recommend indulging in a little listening-to-purr meditation at every opportunity.

This mornings pre-dawn performance by Linus has inspired today’s post to be about Majariasana, cat pose. This truly is and all round lovely asana which can be adapted to be slow or fast, static or flowing and has unlimited variations to cater to your individual needs from one day to the next. I can’t list all of them here today so will continue my cat pose variations in next Fridays post Majariasana part 2.

Today we’ll cover the basics of cat pose with a few pointers so you can explore it further for yourself – the best way to become familiar with and indulge your own personal needs each time you practice.

To begin take a kneeling position with your hands beneath your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips, keep your gaze to the floor in front of the hands. Here, in what I call the neutral position, the back should feel long, open and free of any pressure as it is not supporting any weight. Tune into your breath and when you feel ready begin to gently move the spine with the breath, increasing the range of movements gradually until you reach your comfortable limit. As you inhale let the belly and chest open down and to the front, looking forwards so the neck also takes part in this gentle backbend. Then as the breath flows out lift the belly and open the whole back of the body towards the sky curling the chin towards the chest. That is all there is to it, flowing with your breath and feeling into the spine as you gently allow it to warm up with the flowing motion.

Once you have the flow happening you can really indulge yourself in this practice, let your body tell you what feels good and simply follow it’s lead. You might like to experiment with holding each part of the posture for a few breaths or begining each change of position at the base of the spine and letting it flow up towards the neck in a lovely snake like ripple. Have fun and let me know if you discover any other lovely variations.  You might even like to try a little purr as you ease your way through majariasana.

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

 

One door opens…

I am renovating my old home in Sunshine which has been a long journey so far with no end to the road in sight. We are building a second storey with four bedrooms and two bathrooms as well as changing the existing layout of the house to include an open plan living area, yoga room (looking forward to that!) and, of course, a staircase.

The biggest, craziest thing about this is that we are doing most of the work ourselves. In the beginning this mostly required finding professionals to do the drafting, engineering and permit applications for us but once all of that was complete it was time to get down to the hard yakka. We dug and dug our own foundations in the solid clay and rock that lies beneath our home. We wheelbarrowed concrete to fill those metre deep holes and we cut open out existing walls to put steel poles in place to support the second storey. We have also reclad our home, removing the very old and weathered weatherboards to replace them with cement sheet, one day to be painted with textured paint. We have put up with endless mud and dust and drafts as part of the journey.

The lastest job was to remove the existing front door and frame and put in our new double doors. This is still in progress and currently we have the doors hung after a marathon effort yesterday where we finished hanging the final door by torchlight at around 10pm. Now we just need to fit the locks and put the security doors in place and we’re good to go. I am very happy to see the end of the old door which had glass panels boarded up after my son put his hand through one of them a couple of years ago, one of the hazards of old homes is that there was no safety glass when they were built.

Many people have asked me how I am coping with the disorder that results from major renovations, while I am not saying there haven’t been moments when I think we are quite mad for taking this on most of the time I get by through celebrating each small jobs completion. Yay, the holes are dug – time to celebrate. Then a happy dance when they were filled with concrete and more cheers when the back room floor was complete, then the walls, then the deck. By counting each small step forwards I am mostly staying positive and learning lots of new skills. I can now lay glass bricks, hang a door, build a deck, work most powertools (though I am never comfortable with them, they are mostly designed for right handed people while I am left handed so I never feel fully in control!) and, best of all, I can lie on my new deck and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing we built it ourselves.

So far as well as learning all of these new skills I have learned not to rush, not to bother setting timelines as you’ll never keep them, to enjoy the journey and take pride in what we are doing and to have fun along the way. Also to fit in my yoga practice to small spaces and small periods of time as sometimes, that’s all there is.

Love and light,

Belinda.

xxx

 

 

 

Breathe in, Breathe out

One thing that yoga focuses on through most practices is your breath. It gives us something to occupy the mind and create rhythm in our movements. More than that, it gives us an immediate tool to measure what is going on for us in each moment. This is fantastic to practice whenever you need to, not just in your yoga class.

When you are impatient your breath is short and sharp, when you are in suspense you hold your breath, when you are upset or angry the breath becomes erratic and uneven, when you are relaxed the breath is deep and regular. Sometimes we can lose ourselves and get carried away by stormy emotions playing havoc with our breath which goes on to affect the whole body. Shallower breath means less oxygen coming in which lowers our energy levels to deal with whatever has caused the distressing emotions in the first place.

If we catch this happening we can bring ourseves back to calmer waters by directing the breath to gradually become steadier. The very act of awareness will begin this process and you can continue it by imagining the breath as waves coming and going into your body, picture a beach and the waves washing in then receding and notice the regularity of their movements. Feel the wave of your in breath filling your lungs, bringing new energy and prana into your body. Then the softness of the exhalation as you let go of tension and release the breath and body.

This practice will allow you to deal with your everyday stresses more easily and with energy to spare so you feel renewed rather than drained afterwards. Happy practicing!

Love and light,

Belinda.

xxx

Family ties

We returned last night from a weekend away to visit my partners family over Easter. We had a fantastic time and were blessed with unseasonably warm and sunny days which allowed us to go kayaking, play tennis and enjoy time outdoors with our extended family.

It is lovely to see how my children get along so well with their cousins who they only see occasionally due to the distance between us. There is never any awkwardness or shyness, they fall right into playing together as though they’ve never been apart, even though it is months or sometimes years since they last saw each other. The bonds between them seem to be strengthened rather than weakened by the time and distance between getting together, they know they have limited time so they make the most of each and every moment. I am glad they have that connection as I was lucky enough to grow up with a very close extended family, by that I mean close both in distance and relationships. I took this for granted growing up but have since realised how lucky I was to be able to see my cousins regularly and share our lives as we grew up together.

The yogic philosophy of living in the present and finding contentment with what we have is relevant here. How often I catch myself looking backwards or forwards and thinking of how things were better back then or will change and improve once this happens or that is done. My children enjoying every last second with their cousins without dwelling on the time they’ve missed out on or the fact that we soon will part inspires me to do the same.  Yet again I find myself reflecting on how much of what yoga teaches us is present in childhood but lost as we grow up and have more responsibilities and busy lives to lead. It only takes a moment to close my eyes, reflect on all that I have and come back to the present moment and what it offers me. Settling in back home today with unpacking and washing to do I am smiling and content with a house full of tired but happy children and a sense of joy in each moment.

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

Jathara Paravrtti

You may wonder why we twist so much in yoga, the reasons are many but one of the main ones is cleansing. In any twist the torso gets a good wringing out and release which allows stale energy to be squeezed out and a new flood of prana to flow in to the spaces that have been cleared. Other reasons to twist regularly are that the digestive, circulatory and respiratory systems are all stimulated to some extent depending on which twist you are practicing and the spine benefits greatly from the lengthening and spaciousness in the sides of the body created in a good twist.

There are many twists and each has many variations but one of the most commonly practiced is Jathara Paravrtti or lying abdominal twist. The reason I include this in most of my classes is that it has very few contraindications and feels great. It is supported by the floor, opens up the lower back area and whole spine up to the neck, warms up the hips and gives the belly and all of the organs in that area a nice massage and connects movement with breath as you flow through.

You can practice this stand alone without warming up first or include it in your home practice, it is great as a warm up, wind down or both.

Begin in constructive rest, lying on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. The distance between your feet and hips should be comfortable so take some time to find the right spot. Place your arms straight out to your sides level with the shoulders, palms facing up and hands relaxed. Spend a few breaths here in this neutral position, letting yourself become familiar with your current breath pattern and allowing it to become relaxed as you settle in to your practice space mentally as well as physically.

When you feel ready breathe in here and on the next exhalation let your knees flow over to the left as your head turns to look at the right hand, breathe in to roll back to the centre and breathe out to the opposite side. Keep flowing with your breath for 3-10 rounds then come back to the centre.

Stay for a few minutes of stillness after the activity to allow yourself to soak in the benefits then take your revilalised body and mind back into your day with a smile on your face.

Love and light,

Belinda.

xxx

 

Holiday time

Well the school bell has rung for the last time in term 1 so here we are already enjoying the more relaxed feelings of school holidays.

I am a lover of the holidays, even though they are often busy, messy and noisy they are fun and in my family we make time to do the things  we always mean to do but often don’t have time for during the term. Baking (we have hot cross buns proving at the moment), jigsaw puzzles and games as well as outings and, much to my children’s disgust,usually a bit of a clean out day.

This morning Mr 12 year old complained that the holidays were boring as there is nothing to do but lie around and read. I replied that I long to have that luxury to which he grudgingly agreed that it was pretty good. His only problem is that he’s running out of books so we are off to the library tomorrow to get more reading material to tide him through.

I enjoy watching my three children in their creative play, the storylines they come up with would give any writer a green streak of envy and the role playing is dramatic, fantastic and often hilarious.

Today is the clean up day, interspersed with rewards such as baking and computer time as goals are achieved and items on our clean up list are crossed off. It is a lovely day for cleaning up if there is such a thing, the sunshine helps to show where the dust is and motivate me to make things shine. The kids have their favorite “clean up” tracks which help to get us all moving and at the end I can already picture us digging into some warm buns in our clean house.

Heading off to inspect the bedroom now, hopefully it’ll pass muster and we will be able to cross it off the list.

Love and light,

Belinda.