Just breathe

I love sharing different yoga practices and techniques, both on my blog and in my classes. There are so many that I have experienced and so many more that I am yet to explore all with their own benefits.

Today however, I feel like getting right back to basics. Sometimes the simplest practices can be the most powerful as well as being accessible to everyone regardless of strength, flexibility, experience, challenges, location or any other factors.

So here goes, simple breath awareness. Many yoga practices, actually all yoga practices involve the breath. Often we manipulate it to gain certain benefits, setting the pace, extending or shortening the length, sending it to different places, moving with it. Other times it is just there in the background, coming and going.

Simple breath awareness is a practice I use often myself and in my classes, it involves becoming aware of the breath with no need to alter or direct it. Observing its rhythm, speed, depth, where its going to and from, how it feels. Noticing with acceptance all of these details and letting yourself become immersed in the breath and all of its intricacies.

The interesting thing that happens here is that the breath will change, the more you become aware of it the slower and deeper it will become, more efficient, more rhythmic, more stable and steady. I like to think that my breath likes the attention and responds to it by becoming fuller, swelling with pride that the work it constantly does for me is being noticed and appreciated.

So observing the breath and the subconscious changes in the breath this brings about becomes a meditation all on its own, simple yet very calming and very deep.

Our breath is our constant companion, from the day we are born to the day we die it is with us. Tuning into the breath is a great way to tune into yourself as it is like a mirror. Our breath reflects our mind, body and heart. When we are anxious, emotional or exerting ourselves physically the breath shortens, loses its rhythm, becomes shallower. By noticing that and allowing it to return to a more natural, deep, steady flow we can reverse the effects on our minds, bodies and hearts reducing the effects of the mental, physical or emotional stress we are experiencing.

The other wonderful advantage of this practice is that you can do it anywhere, anytime without anyone thinking you’re acting strangely. So it is a great one to pop into those moments when you feel you need a little calm. Waiting at a bus stop or in the supermarket queue or settling a baby in the middle of the night or sitting in a meeting or a classroom, lying in bed in the morning or evening, anywhere, anytime. Just tuning in to three breaths will have an effect which accumulates, the more you tune into the breath the more efficient and calm it becomes, the more that flows over into your body, mind and heart.

Happy breathing!

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

New Beginnings

I am looking forward very much to teaching beginners yoga once more, this time at Harvest Yoga in Kensington. It seems very fitting that this opportunity has come up in Spring, a time of new beginnings and much growth and excitement.

Even after practicing yoga regularly for over ten years and teaching for over five years in many ways I still feel I am a beginner. There are so many practices, styles of yoga, different teachers all with something unique to offer that I have barely brushed the surface of the depths of yoga out there. I love trying something new, expanding my own experience so that both my personal practice and my teaching evolve and are enriched by new ways and methods and feelings.

Perhaps that is why I love to introduce beginners to these wonders, it reminds me of my first classes and the amazing changes that have crept gradually into my live since then through the riches of yoga practice and study.

Whatever the reasons I do love teaching beginners, introducing them to yoga and guiding them to connect with their bodies, minds and spirits in new and marvelous ways is such a privilege.  Even over a short ten week beginners course most students will begin to notice changes – feeling more comfortable in a posture, sleeping better, breathing easier, stressing less, feeling more connected, reduction in pain, freer movement, calmer mind are just some of the benefits students have reported. Everyone’s experience is unique and often the changes are so gradual and subtle that it’s hard to notice when exactly they started occurring or even to pin down exactly what has changed. Other times the changes can happen much more quickly like when one of my students recently shouted for joy in class when she felt her heels reach the ground in down facing dog for the first time!

My first beginners course at Harvest Yoga starts on Monday, 29th September at 7:15pm and runs for ten weeks. Further details can be found at Harvest Yoga or my Classes page, to book email info@harvestyoga.com.au

May Spring bring you many new beginnings…

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

 

Release Stress, Embrace Rest

What is stress? We throw that word around every day but don’t often stop to think about what we mean by it.

Here are some definitions I found…

“The physical pressure, pull, or other force exerted on one thing by another; strain.”

“The action on a body of any system of balanced forces whereby strain or deformation results”

“A load, force, or system of forces producing a strain.”

“Physiology . a specific response by the body to a stimulus, as fear or pain, that disturbs or interferes with the normal physiological equilibrium of an organism.”

“Physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension.”

“A situation, occurrence, or factor causing this.”

“Archaic . strong or straining exertion.”

Many of these definitions relate to an external force affecting something but it might come as a pleasant surprise to know that stress as we know it is not necessarily the force being applied but how we respond to that force. Yoga is the perfect tool to use in combatting stress as it works with our bodies, minds and hearts , all three of which are affected by stress.

As an example when we are running late and the deadline is applying its stressful force upon us we can chose how we react, we can become “stressed” which means a cascade of responses in our physical body, our mind and our heart or we can pause, breathe deeply, reflect on whether it is worth getting all worked up, what is the worst case scenario if we are late, acknowledge that there is little we can do to change the fact that we are running late and go about arriving at our destination as soon as we can in a calm and steady manner rather than all worked up.

This is much harder to do than it is to read and write about because our bodies respond to stress without our conscious control so often we can become stressed before we know it is happening. The good news is it is never to late to pause, breathe and go through the above steps to halt stress in its tracks. Next time you become aware of being stressed give it a go and see what happens…

We will be covering this and many more techniques to release stress as well as indulging in some wonderful embracing of rest and relaxation in my upcoming yoga retreat Release Stress, Embrace Rest at Clearview Retreat on the17th – 19th of October. Spaces are filling fast and only a couple are left so if you’d like to join us book soon to secure your place by calling Jocelyn on 03-5797 0229 or emailing diversity@diversity.org.au.

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx