"When a fire starts to burn and it starts to spread, you gotta bring that attitude home."
(WHAT A PERFECT TRACK AND LYRICS TO SYMBOLISE OUR YOGA PRACTICE THIS WEEK) TURN IT UP LOUD!!!!
How do you feel your momentum and how do you get in to your zone - feel good and create the fire that blazes in you and radiates out?
People love to watch the fire burn, when they touch it they get burned, but the heat brings pleasure when you get just near enough to it, right? It brings warmth and comfort. Fire is both comfortable/ pleasurable and can be painful... We mostly run away from pain and run after pleasure, but what about the internal fire - can we create pleasure through cultivating internal heat and creating an internal fire???
I don't know about you lot, but as we have moved in to the depths of winter, I am in constant need of some heat in my life! Those that know me well and see me often will hear me harping on about the need for fire, the flames, the heat, the smell, the sound! I have an innate need to ignite it!!!!! Creating the fire. Feeling the fire!! BUT... this is no simple desire - in fact - this is a necessity for a lot of us at this time of year. It comes back to connecting with the elements all around us. Earth, Water, Fire... and this applies to the natural needs of our bodies to clear away the impurities and fight off the mucus, the colds that arise, the over consumption of food and when we begin to feel the need to reconnect to a sense of wellbeing. Within the Yoga practice of Yoga i-D, we consciously practice in a way that connects us directly to the climate, our environment, the energy and the state of mind all around us in each and every day and we tune in to that in order to create a suitable practice that targets our direct needs at this moment. You and Your Yoga MUST be everchanging to suit your needs in the moment!
'Agni' - FIRE!!!!
In last weeks blog, we spoke about Kriya Yoga and the ongoing theme this week is Tapas meaning 'to burn'. How do we create heat and in what capacity do we need it now???? Well, we need to be 'perceptive' and have 'knowledge' of our body and its needs, at all times to begin to purify and gain control of the senses. This requires self-discipline and making connection, as well as cleansing the body of its impurities to enter a pure and natural state. Through our asana (physical) practice, we can move in a strong and dynamic way, that begins to raise the temperature of the body, sweat and release the toxins as a result. Yes!
Wanna get to next level purification?!... ENTER THE WORLD OF CLEANSING AND THE BREATH!!!!!
The magic wonder tool of THE BREATH!!!! (no surprise to you yogis that attend Yoga i-D classes, we always begin with the breath!!! :) That ultimate, wonderful, life giving thing - AIR!!!!!
When the body is regulated by asana and moderate diet (a whole other world of discussion that I am soooooooo passionate about), should we begin the next stage of Hatha yoga 'Pranayama'. Breath control techniques in Yoga are known as Pranayama. If we look to texts such as the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, we can learn lots about the various practices available to us and the way we may use the breath to change the internal state of our bodies, particularly useful in varying climates where we can use the breath to create heat and also to cool us down. (I often use a 'cooling' breath technique in the sauna and it works wonders to cool me down a little).
Pranayama is more than simple breathing exercises, it is practiced systematically and under guidance. The word 'Prana' is a combination of two syllables, pra and na. Prana is a force in constant motion.
Prana is the vital 'life force' and pranayama is 'the process' by which the internal pranic store is increased. Hatha Yoga says, control the prana and the mind is automatically controlled. As long as there is air in the body, there is Life - right?! BUT - If there are impurities in the channels of our bodies where this prana flows, the vital air does not pass effectively and we stumble on all kinds of physical and mental disorders. HALT!!!!! WE DONT WANT THAT. SO........
There are stages for which using the breath are most effective and crucial in fact, for ultimate yogic states of body and mind. We are offered the six cleansing techniques that may be performed before Pranayama, known as Shatkarmas, that remove impurities and should be performed before diving deep in to the amazing world of Pranayama (blimey I could tell you so much about these but... lets explore this weeks theme more...)
In class this week, we explore Kapalbhati... this is in fact the 6th Shatkarma/cleansing practice and a breathing technique.
"Perform the exhalation and inhalation rapidly like the bellows (of a blacksmith). This is called Kapalbhati and it destroys all mucous disorders"
It is the last of the six shatkarmas (cleansing techniques) that we use in yoga to purify the body. Kapal means 'cranium' or 'forehead' and Bhati is 'light', also referring to 'perception' and 'knowledge'. Wow! - see the connection?!
Kapalbhati is a pranayama technique that invigorates the entire brain and awakens the dormant centres which are responsible for subtle perception, we call this the 'frontal brain cleansing' technique. In this practice, the exhalation is emphasised and the inhalation is a result of forcing the air out. In our natural flow of breath, it is the opposite, the inhalation is active and the exhalation is passive. This practice reverses that! In this weeks classes, we focus on Vatakrama 'air cleansing' Kapalbhati (one of three forms). Vata means 'wind' or 'air'. If this all sounds unfamiliar to you, GOOD! Give it a go and realise that we don't just get on our mats and make lovely shapes, build strength and feel good. We integrate so many elements as we sit, move and BREATHE - understanding and applying techniques means you can be selective and begin to offer your body a heightened sense of wellbeing and offer it what it needs - it's key!
By regular practice of pranayama, we can gain more of a tuned in sense towards our whole self and offer it exactly what it needs to cultivate a sustainable fire - igniting the transformative potential of your body and mind!!!!
Like we have said before, the more you put gold in the fire, the more impurities it burns away and become pure. This applies to the body too. We can create heat in the body through synchronising the breath and movement in a dynamic practice and perform these breathing techniques in addition to this, to purposefully move and change the flow of prana or energy and feel the transformative effects beyond the joy of having had a good ol stretch.
Investigate, create heat, explore, dance through vital prana life force. Lets cultivate!!!!
Getting ready to BURN :)
See you in class tonight at Matter Wholefoods (where don't forget is the place you can buy your nourishing body foods on your way out) AND if you fancy more Yoga, come on Thursday Morning 10:45-12:15 at Space 238 too.