Present in 'the hand of the heart'

To stay present we need to keep one aspect of ourselves firmly grounded. In hands on teaching and touch, this can be placing one hand still on the body, leaving the other hand free to move. Touch has the capacity for healing, we all need touch. This rooted hand that stays on us, is known as ‘the hand of the heart’.

If we look at this in many different ways, we could say, that this is a metaphor for life, inviting us to be touched and stay in the present moment. How we need to keep one part of ourselves fully in the present is through grounding in it, leaving the other aspects of the self open to the possibility of change and flexibility.

As Eckhart Tolle says, we then create a new earth, as we stay present, as it is, creating positive change in our lives, we grow to love the present.

I have been exploring hands on teaching over the past few weeks, looking at how it affects the anatomy and physiology of the body and it matters the quality of touch in the present moment, especially from the hand of the heart. To feel the grounding, it needs to be firm and with intention. This provides confidence and clarity, so that you may elicit and find freedom in the other part of the self and make adjustments needed towards a more whole self. Essentially, this is what we do in life, as we form subtle adjustments to our experience when grounded, we find space and freedom, and feel the sense of wholeness.

Regardless of the life that we choose to lead, rather than pacifying ourselves through stimulants that take us out of the present thought, feeling or emotion, we learn to self regulate, we learn to adjust ourselves in a subtle ways, staying solely present and connected with a heightened sense of awareness to our experience, at all times. This enables us to move our lifes direction in a way that is truthful to ourselves and those around us.

When we begin deconstructing our patterns of using things outside of ourselves to self regulate, we can begin to awaken to the potential to feel in to the present as it is. If we disconnect from that which we already know, the safe place of habit, the familiar place, this is okay. What we do is focus on bettering our connection to our true state of being, to our communication both in our relationships and with ourselves in the process. We are not responsible for changes in others around us, as they observe your Deconstruction taking place. Change is the only thing we can rely on. Change provokes fear. Change and vulnerability go hand in hand. So keep one hand on the heart, as you evolve.

This song was sent to me this week and I fell in love with it, as it only goes hand-in-hand with this somehow. When we get older, when we become wiser or when we wake up to what is needed to be done, we can also feel like we loose something, a sense of self or others. But what is lost is also gained. A talk last night around igniting the ‘childrens Fire’, affirmed that our wounds are a place of great insight and markings of having lived and move us to feel more and be more connected to every part of life.

Have a listen. I love the androgyny of the singer and the lyrics.

There is a podcast by Gabor Mate and Russel Brand, who discuss working with people that are Addicts and how their need to self regulate is achieved by drug-taking. For an addict to feel normal and adjust themselves through a substance to feel this way. Whereas, Yoga is the tool we can use to self regulate. This firstly begins by forming a deeper awareness to what needs to regulate, where the patterns are and what needs to change in us and humanity, the universe, to feel fully in your body in your life, in your heart.

What manifests in your body, in your life, in your heart, is that of imbalances when you’re unregulated and out of balance. This can show up as dis-ease in one way or another, believe me. On the mat, it shows up in the way we hold ourselves, protect the self, open ourselves through our movements, our breath and the way we simply be still or not.

This week in yoga we will explore making subtle adjustments, by keeping one part of ourselves fully grounded and present. Stripping it all back.

Namaste.

HEADSTAND PRESENCE.jpg

NEW! Birth Yoga i-D is coming.

Today I welcome in to the World, Birth Yoga i-D!

To those of you that are not pregnant, don’t have children, are a man, a woman, a ‘they’, are not planning to make a baby or are trying to start a family… read on… Why? Because there is a story in everything that we can all find some point of interest within. General Classes this week will draw from my new offering this week, as I translate the root of what this is all about. This root is finding autonomy, connection and equality.

NEW! Bristol offering…

As a mother of two children aged 7 and 4, and having been a Yogini for 18 years and having become a Yoga Teacher for the past 5, I have finally developed the next branch on my tree of life, that I have named Birth Yoga i-D.

My City

I live in the city of Bristol and it is here that I will begin offering these nourishing birthing, raising, and victory parent yoga classes, that through a practice of Hatha Yoga Fusion, aim to create a ritual of good health in body, mind and spirit that will liberate and radicalise the experience of pregnancy and parenting, naturally.

My Teacher

“As with all lives, there are many other stories hidden behind this superficial account. It has not been easy, but somehow the practice of Yoga has always dematerialised the concepts of ‘easy’ and ‘difficult’. It’s the only thing that makes sense.” - Wendy Teasdil.
wendy teasdill.jpg

I trained with the wonderfully empowering Wendy Teasdil, as my teacher for the last 5 years, she enlightens the practices of Hatha Yoga and its ability for transformation at all stages of life. Through her deep wisdom of life as a practice, of the power of breath and her embodiment of traditional Hatha Yoga practices, that fuse her individual slant on technique and anatomy, Wendys teaching has taught me how to develop autonomy in the body that is rooted from the Muladhara Chakra. I would like to honour Wendy for her lifetime of experiences and profound knowledge, inspirations and techniques that continue to ignite my connection with Yoga that these classes will translate from my own direct experience, to share with you, women, parents and children, in todays world.

Wendy began her yoga practice with pranayama in 1979 and went on to study Iyengar Yoga in India with BKS Iyengar himself, the precision and attention to detail of which underpins her practice to this day. Through breath, sound using mantra, asana and relaxation techniques, that fuse together like a dream-catching web and simultaneously develop strength in women, she has taught me technique that is informed from her in-depth yogic history and study, yet from her development of a softer, more fluid and sutler development of yoga practice that builds women up with vitality from the inside out.

“The pregnancy brought with it an irresistible inner urge to spiral, to move from one posture to another with fluidity and grace, incorporating the transition as much as the action into the whole. There was clearly influence from the Chi’gung there, but it was not something outwardly learned so much as something inside wanting to break free.” - Wendy Teasdil. 
wendy flower.jpg

These yogic practices and offerings come directly from the life experiences she has sustained, through her time walking through Tibet, living in Nepal, training with BKS Iyengar and then transforming these masculine practices and traditions to feminine offerings, suitable for the female form, our wider pelvises and the emotional stability needed, through most importantly having had 3 of her own children and knowing what is needed when being a pregnant woman and becoming a parent in this world!

Wendy, having gone on to publish two books: Yoga for Pregnancy and Walking to the Mountain as well as DVDs for pregnancy and childbirth, the teaching I offer you come from a very well informed place. Wendy has shown me how to integrate pelvic floor awareness with yoga practice and how to encourage the development of autonomy and confidence in practice. Having also tragically lost one of her grown up daughters to a tragic death of recreational use of ketamine in recent years, Wendy has shown to demonstrate this practice of yoga through her life, her strength, her beliefs and her insane ability to assimilate and empathise with life challenges, the body and awareness of this precious gift to be here and now.

Without this radical, compassionate and anarchist approach to yoga in general that I also wish to continue translating, we could be seeing Yoga moving in a superficial direction, away from its traditions and transformations that is needed to keep yoga suitable, nourishing and alive in these disconnected times that we find ourselves within. With thanks to Wendy for her ability to see the world through honest and awakening eyes, to radiate love and the possibiltles of our experiences, however they come, to transform us in to better, more liberated, fearless beings.

With gratitude to Wendy, I share her wisdom through my own translation of these practices and from my direct experience as a Yoga Teacher, Mother of two, as a Co-Parent and as a Woman in todays world. These practices will aim to expand connection on every level.

Birth Yoga i-D will grow, as the women coming to classes grow and birth babies, opening up the practices to the children that arrive and the partners that too, can welcome Yoga on every level.

My inspirations:

Kala Bhairava .jpg

“Bhairava is the one who creates, sustains and dissolves the three stages of life, fearlessly.”

I present Bhairava to you whose story formulated the 3 offerings I now bring to Bristol. I believe that it takes authenticity and courage to enter in to the world and to bring life in, then to sustain life is another step. It is possible with a deep awareness and application of these qualities to take responsibility for the way that we engage with each moment, fearlessly.

I believe that story telling has a wonderful place in the world to awaken in us hope, possibility and belief to what is available to us to access within ourselves. The story of bhairava teaches us, as a form of Shiva (consciousness) that went in to a destructive mode, that we can destroy the energies of anger, lust and greed and even time to find the divine within the self. We all, no matter where and what our life looks like, have the ability to be fearless. This deity protects us from those obstacles and welcomes fearlessness in to our practice.

Further to this, I am personally inspired to support the movement of Birth Justice and Social Activist Birth communities that are striving for global equality and rights in birthing. I am movitated to encourage women to trust they were born to birth, from the practice of women such as Ina May who informed by experience of birthing and finding power in it. I support the rise in medical advances that today can help bring babies in to the world through intervention, when needed, to allow for safe birth and all the midwifes that have trained hard to support women through this. I give continual thanks to the women that have fought for Womens rights! I have equal gratitude for the men that have begun to take time to journey in to knowing how to support women in these changing times, to support themselves and who strive for equality in relationships and the role of parenting.

Thanks to my friends, community, teachers and parents that have offered me their wisdom, demonstrated their understanding of life, death and re-birth, that has motivated me to study and create these offerings of Birth Yoga i-D.

Birth Yoga i-D

birth yoga flyers insta.jpg

Birth Yoga i-D begins as a collective of classes on offer, that represent the 3 stages of life,

 'Bha' Creation 'Ra' Sustenance 'Va' Destruction,

To support women, children and families entering in to birthing and caring for new life and life changes.

We will begin focusing on pregnancy at all stages and move in to offering some Birth Preparation Workshops for women and their birthing partners to attend and then 2 further classes will open up to you. I call all 3…

Birthing Yoga for all stages of Pregnancy

Raising Yoga for Mum & Baby

Victory Parent Yoga (open to mums and dads) with child

Growing a baby and caring for the mother to be and the baby inside is one stage, yet it continues on. We become mothers, the baby comes out in to the world and then the body works hard to sustain life on the outside. The mothers body also adjusts to the return back to its natural form, without a baby inside. Then from this non hurried place of restoration, we become parents, navigating the developmental stages of life. This pulls on our physical and ethereal beings, and offers love in direct parallels. This stage affects not just mother and baby, but partners of the child too. Birth Yoga i-D recognises this and supports the men and the women through this evolution, making time and space for connecting through movement, creativity and playfulness, as well as calling upon some of the yogic scriptures, stories and wisdom to support and recite teachings that are helpful to us and our perspective on arising challenges and changes in our new relationship with others and to ourselves, as we effort to stay centred and not loose the self and the love.

Birth stories - become life stories.

Growing, birthing and continuing to raise children, nurture relationships and stay connected to the self comes with highs and lows and good times and challenging times, and I am under no dissolution of that. It is from this knowing place, that I sit in the witness seat of awareness, as your teacher, a mother, a co-parent and a yogi, and offer the non-judgmental support and knowledge to you to simply take some time to reconnect with yourselves outside of the narrative that presents itself in your life and yet, with compassion and understanding for your body, life and experience as it is. Diversity and change are the benefits we can bring to the mat and in to life, to never need to hide, suppress or deny them as they are, is life’s greatest gift. With each breath, we have the capacity to embrace and face all, with fearlessness.

If you would like to read my Birth Stories, you can find them on the website www.yoga-id.co.uk/birth-yoga and scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Essential reading:

Ina Mays Guide to Childbirth - Ina May Gaskin

Birth Work as Care Work: Stories from Activist Birth Communities - Alana Apfel

Yoga for Pregnancy by Wendy Teasdil

Non Violent Communication: A language of Life - Marshall Rosenberg

‘Raising Boys’ and ‘Raising Girls’ - Steve Biddulph

Namaste

See you in Class. All are available to drop in or book via move gb.

NEW! PREGNANCY HATHA FUSION - TUES 14:00-15:30 YOGASARA, BS6

HATHA FUSION - TUES PM 19:30-21:00 MATTER WHOLEFOODS BS5

MORNING HATHA FUSION - WED AM 10:00-11:30 YOGASARA, BS6

my baby scan.JPG

pregnant with raiden .jpg
FullSizeRender-2.jpg

'TOUCH'

Where are you all at this week? Upon reflecting last week on ‘Why do you practice yoga?’, have you been witness to the ever-changing answer to that question, or have you stayed quite fixed on seeing its benefits to you in your life?

Answers on a postcard.

samana vayu.jpg

This week, I have been geeking out on some advanced Anatomy studies and thinking about ‘touch’ as a form of healing and communication.

I have noticed the healing power of it through the basic needs in myself and my family. I grew up in a very affectionate family, offering lots of hugs and kisses to one another and we are often still this way. It works for me, and I see that directly from that way of knowing, I offer that to the ones I love too, as a way of demonstrating that love, connection. I see that now I also like to give and receive that physical affection to ones that I don’t know or love. I notice the varying qualities that arise from that. I notice the associations with touch. I notice how it can feel in my body, to give and to receive. I have explored this with friends and with colleagues in suitable ways too, and it’s been incredibly nourishing for many reasons. It is important through touch to feel safe, it is also important through touch to welcome it. The way that we touch is so vast in its various ways and we don’t all receive it in the same way. We also can’t expect that someone wishes to be touched and/or will accept the offering as the way that you intended. So this is about building relationship. This is about developing a meeting place somewhere in-between, in term of the flow of energy that is the ‘coming together’.

We can consider the role of the yoga teacher to invite a ‘coming together of yogis’ and to facilitate a safe space, enable connection to occur in the student to the self and to aid students in accessing that place of alignment and centre, through the practice of yoga and of touch, sometimes, in many forms. We think about this mostly as physical touch. But is touch just physical? We walk in to the space of a yoga practice, bringing with us all of our past experiences. If I ask you for your consent to touch, it may trigger traumas, it may ignite passion, it may have no reaction at all, but the simple feeling of touch itself can sometimes have that ability to surprise us in being able to either awaken, show up in our bodies or to release, a feeling of relief and that ‘letting go’ that we also explored last week. We are often then left feeling alive!

“Send me in to space and cut me free.” - sings Maggie Rogers.

This week, again, so much is happening in the skies above us. Depending on where your rising sign is currently, will depend on how it translates for you. Mine is in Virgo, focused on aspirations and the fearlessness to meet these. It couldn’t resonate more loudly, as I am presented with all at once, being made to figure it all out. Like a fork in the road, which direction do you take… ?????? Scorpio has a lot to do with this. We need to stay connected to our centre to find the direction through groundedness, so it can all come together and meet how it is meant to.

This is where we can begin from a yogic perspective, to think about the Vayus, the directions of energy in the body, for which there are 5. The meeting place we can consider through the vayus is Samana Vayu. This is where you can unite the upward- and downward-flowing energies at the navel center to awaken and enhance samana (the prana of transformation).

  1. prana vayu - a field of inward and upward moving energy.

  2. apana vayu - a field of downward and outward moving energy.

  3. The one in-between is Samana Vayu- the middle breath.

“Active at the navel center—midway between the realms of prana vayu in the chest and apana vayu in the pelvis—samana vayu is a concentrating, absorbing, and consolidating force. Its main function is assimilation of prana in all its forms—like a power station, samana collects energy absorbed through breath, food, sensory perception, and mental experiences and processes it to empower all aspects of life.” - Yoga International.

In our bodies, healthy Samana shows up as strong digestion, vitality, and balance at every level. Unhealthy Samana struggles with assimilating and digesting not only what we physically consume but also our mental and emotional experiences. 

If we acknowledge the need and power of the energetic body for transformation, we put our focus for activating samana vayu, on our manipura chakra (naval centre). This is also related to the element of fire. The navel centre is essential to hatha yoga! It is the hub of pranic energy and vitality, which aims to increase prana and transform the patterns of pranic flow in the body.

Asana practice in particular is designed to draw downward-moving apana up to the navel center, and upward-moving prana vayu down to the navel center, uniting these two opposing energies to awaken samana. This integrating action strengthens the body, balances the mind, and stabilizes instinctive urges like hunger and sex so we can more easily regulate them. It gives us the clarity and courage to truly see ourselves, and the motivation and power to transform our habits and karmic tendencies.

When we unite prana and apana at the navel center we expand samana and awaken the sushumna nadi, the central energy channel. This channel of energy that runs from the base of the spine to the crown of the head is where we focus energetically to achieve the state of yogic bliss: perfect absorption of the mind in the state of samadhi.

Today my practice with my senior teacher was pranayama focused, it was so refreshing. It is not only asana that is crucial for awakening the naval, but the use of the breath. Pranayama is breath control. My practice, that came directly from observing what was needed in the field of the room, was powerful. As we each entered the space, carrying our morning, evenings sleep and all those lifetimes of experiences on to the mat, we began in stillnesss and from one breath practice to another, we spent 2 hours in breath work. Bliss came, as through a form of tantric practice called Nyasa, i showed up and a woke up. This is a practice that involves welcoming the divine in to your body. It is using mantra and touch. This ‘touch’ however can be through the minds eye, inviting you to chant the mantra silence and through the mind with the focus on specific body parts.

So we return to touch… where we can think about those times where something really ‘touches us’?

Were all those times through an action of physical touch or were some of those times using the figure of speech and actually used to describe the sensation that remained after the experience that ‘touched you’ ‘was ‘touching’. We could say, that this action of touch can also be a profound action that occurs through us in ourself. We could say how beneficial it is to both touch our own skin, but to also show up in our practice of yoga, through the tools of breath, asana, meditation and sometimes the element of sangha coming to practice together, to literally touch the self from the inside.

As we awaken the self through the coming together of our pranic vayus, directions of prana flow, awakening our central channel, we invite it to awaken the self, the mind, the state of being in the world that ultimately leaves us feeling deeply and seductively intimate with the self and all manifestations of reality, without even being ‘touched’!

This is the stuff of magic, synchronicity, power, bliss, love, divine… it has it all in there. What it requires is the readiness to receive it. it requires some willpower, devotion, concentration, bhakti and commitment.

In class this week, we will move in to repeating some of our pranayamas and kriyas, and work within samana vayu intention, ending in a sweet yoga nidra. Yummy. In asana we can direct the flow of apana and prana to the navel center in standing poses, stoke samana with twisting poses, strengthen the structural support for this region in a backbend, and activate samana in a seated forward bend. Through a focused practice, using good alignment, breath and mental focus, as well as lower belly activation, drawing apana and prana together, can also be experienced as an inward feeling of the mind and a sense of integrated inner space extending from the pelvis to the head. You may experience sensations occur over the whole body, as you ignite touch points in the system. We will explore touch using the hands to move our body parts, feeling the invisible strings on our limbs, from our ribcage, as we breathe and open up our entire system from the inside out.

So lets touch. Touch our own midline. Our presence in the world. Touch where we are in truth and with kindness.

See you in class.

CLASSES:

TUES PM 19:30-21:00 Matterwholefoods, bS5

WED AM 10:00-11:30 Yogasara, BS6

COURSES:

BOOK ON! Pregnancy Yoga 6 week Course starting in November! Details on the Birth Yoga i-D section of the website. http://yoga-id.co.uk/birth-yoga/ Also now available to Book on Move GB.

Namaste.