Exciting New Blog Posts - Continuing the Legacy.
|Posted by Yoga Professionals on September 20, 2018 at 10:45 PM||comments (0)|
Sunday the 23rd sees the Autumn/Spring Equinox depending on whether you live in the northern or southern hemisphere.
Time for another cyclical shift signaled by sunlight. Nature experiences the change in light (in relation to the Earths position to the sun) and the plants, animals and bodies of water adjust and adapt - as easily as how the end of an inhale naturally becomes an exhale, or vice-versa, daily, seasonally and annually.
The Great Teacher.
Urban Yogi's, like most modern people can often lose their connection to the great teacher the sun and powerful rhythms of nature that speak to us and signal, just like in plants and animals that our own adjustments need to be made, internally and externally, physiologically, mentally and spiritually.
One way to assist these shifts and support ourself holistically is to become conscious of the changes in seasons, the quality and intensity of light and availability of certain foods and doing what we can to live with more or less light; ultra-violet, infra-red and Vitamin D with the seasonal and circadian rhythms changes.
This can help us tune-in and respond to the external stimulus of nature, helping to balance internal metabolic processes by co-ordinating and working in harmony with the environment as best we can (light, food, water, practice, nature etc).
Sharing the Gifts.
We can also be conscious of this in our yoga practice whether teaching or participation, the class responds to the stimulus and guidance of the teacher their knowledge and guidance sharing ancient and modern yoga practices and philosophy (founded on these same natural principles).
Sequencing a yoga class involves using this knowledge and creating patterns and structures, the body and mind then responds to stimulus, just the way the sun shares its knowledge in sequences or cycles, the rhythms of the day, the contrast of night and day and seasons. The plants and animals adapt, adjust and sometimes accommodate in response to the light of the sun (as someone I know would often say).
In class, as students we respond, on gross or more subtle levels to the teacher or in our own practice to our own intuiton and yoga knowledge and play - maybe today the class is more dynamic (day/yang) or restorative (night/yin), shorter or more extended, given time constraints.
We bring our mind and body into focus, into alignment gradually with warm-up, mobilisation and stretch adding in awareness on the breath, maybe a mantra, a drishti(focal point) etc to build the sublte prana and physiological benefits, guiding the pratice towards a more general class or more specific goals.
When teaching, knowing the benefits of counter-postures and sequencing, considering time of day, ambient temperature, goals and level of the group assist us in sharing with the students equally, like the sun giving to everyone, (except to those maybe in Scotland), without the expectation of receiving.
The Greatest Cosmic Cycle of Death and Re-Birth.
The practice ends with finally cooling and settling ourself before the counter-posture to the active practive, the corpse posture or Savasana. The ultimate relaxation posture gives us time, like the night time hours, to relax the body and mind; a time for stillness, surrender and an opportunity to revitalise the system. We can also honour the greatest of cosmic cycles, that of death and re-birth.
If we tune into the lessons and wisdom of the sun and seasons we can think of the whole calendar year similar to a yoga practice and make a kind of sequence out of it. The Spring being the waking/warming up of the body and mind after the long savasana of the winter, you can see where I'm going with this.
The seasonal cycles and glorious sun and it's equality of influence over nature, the solar system and ourselves, can be the ultimate teacher sharing love and light (literally), teaching us of the gifts of the seasons, weather systems, food, climate and the benefits if heeded on our physiology, psychology and spirituality.
Let Us Give Thanks.
With these feet I can dance
on the Earth, twist and turn,
make my way.
With these hands I can plant
an orchard, taste the sun,
share vital breath.
With these lips I can whisper
on the breeze, of stories
to touch your heart.
With these eyes I can see
an eternity, dream a journey
With these knees I can fall
be humble, kneel with the ants,
With these bones I can burn,
surrender to the earth,
dance with the sun.
|Posted by Yoga Professionals on September 18, 2018 at 8:45 PM||comments (1)|
Many apologies for the technical hitch here on the blog - being unable to make comments on blog posts etc. I heard a few of you were having difficulty, please bear with me.
I have had to admit to myself that I need help. It is not easy for me to admit, haha and so now I'm looking for some one with the right knowledge to make things easier and teach me what I don't know - Web Design 101.
This situation happens relatively often for me, I become super excited by life, a project etc and off I go. I then meet with a few challenges that I'm able to work through and feel invinsible (ego anyone?). As I go deeper I make mistakes maybe even figure those out too - and then BAM! I hit a wall.
I try and try but for whatever reason am unable to work something out that 'should be so easy', this is when I usually get down on myself and tell myself I'm stupid, I'm a bad person, 'why cant I do X or Y?' I'm sure you can understand…Enemy No:1?
Ajna Chakra and Intuitive Guidance.
Along with updating the Yoga Professionals website I am also researching the 'Path of the Kundalni' chakra series, I'm writing for posts on the blog over the next few Monday's and been reading about Ajna Chakra (third-eye centre) and the link with the teacher student relationship.
The author was explaining that along with being the Chakra of truth and is also the seat of the guru/disciple realtionship, where clarity and discernment of the truth and it's challenges can be shared on the journey to realisation.
Our daily life and path to enlightenment meets regular mental, emotional and even physical blocks, some days unable to take another single step forwards in the fog, out of exhaustion or the inability to see the path or blinding truth.
Yes we need a guiding-light, someone to share our journey, who has a clearer understanding of the path and pitfalls. Even if this support is right in front of us are we able to let go of our sufferening? Victim mentality and sufferening may have become our identity, 'I must do this on my own' if I dont then I'm stupid, crazy, inadequate, BAD, people will laugh at me, I'm unloveable - and the list goes on.
Why do we find it difficult to accept when we need help? Even that we deserve help, that we do not have to carry the burden and weight of 'it all.'
"Let it Go, Let it GO…."
What would happen if we let go? Surrendered to the unknown, expressed our fears, aloneness, our vulnerabilities to a higher power and ask for help?
This support can come from the divine in many forms besides a spiritual guru…in my case at this very moment a 'computer whiz' would be great.
This story below seems to symbolise and shed light on this predicament, see what you think:
A peasant family had to leave their farm. They packed their belongings onto a cart and set out on their journey. The family sat up on the wagon and the little farm dog ran beneath the cart in the shade. Soon the little dog came to believe that it was he alone who was hauling the whole cart on his back. He ran and ran and soon felt totally exhausted and at the end of his strength. Then he thought to himself: "This is truly an unreasonable expectation that I, the smallest and weakest, should not only have to run the whole way but must also carry a fully laden cart. I simply can't continue. I give up!"
Exhausted he came to a standstill - and, to his absolute amazement, the cart continued on its way without him. It was only then that the little dog clearly understood that it was not him that kept the cart moving - it was the horse. (www.chakras.net)
The Dog Can Rest…Breathe!
Yeahhh! The little dog can rest, phew! The divine has it all under control if we trust in this higher power, there is a natural order and flow if we can stop for a moment and see the truth - see how easy things are.
All we need to do is let go of our troubles, insecureties, vulnerabilities and our stories; all part of the spiritual journey. Haha, that's why it's called practice…a daily, hourly, moment by moment practice. Breathe!
Not that we suddenly neglect our loved ones, work etc, but can be freed from any chains binding us to them, fear of loss, jealousy, posessiveness and come back to (self) love. From a place of inner love we can give it freely, instinctively coming from a natural place of love, we are love.
And from this place of being we can be a light for others searching in the fog. We are able to recieve (and ask for) love, help and guidance, whether from our guru on the mat or a computer whizz in a coffee shop in Chiang Mai.
|Posted by Yoga Professionals on September 16, 2018 at 11:25 PM||comments (0)|
red-rooted fear, can’t let go.
Pray for gratitude.
There are many paths to Samadhi and many ways to practice yoga, Karma, Bhakti, Jnana as an example and are personal to each yoga devotee. My own personal practice began around 1997 with Hatha yoga; Asana, some simple Pranayama, Pratyahara, concentration (Dharana) exercises - sitting and focusing on the breath, and simple mantra. 21 years later the focus in my practice has shifted a few times, as various elements in my life seemed to dictate the change in focus.
This was true of Conrad he began as most of us in the west do with asana, pranayama etc, this is always a good foundation for the first few years of practice, to establish a solid foundation in the body, breath and mind.
Conrad found that after a while his yogic practice was more orientated towards the Bhakti devotional path. Various serendipitous ashram experiences, swami's and yoga lineages, plus his love of singing and dancing; even his pop group in the early 90's were called The Love Disciples, so there was a foreshadowing and led to his devotional path still to come.
I know he spoke on his teacher training courses of his love for the Bhakti practices of chanting, mantra, prayers and celebrations of all forms, Jaya Ganesha, Hare Krishna, and Gayatri Mantra being some of his many favourites. A Bhakti yogi's life journey flowers from the heart-centre and Conrad naturally was connected to and communicated from this chakra and had many lessons in life around this pathway to Samadhi.
More aligned to the Tantric and Jnana path of yoga, I have always felt a natural connection to the intellect, study and communication through language and words, along with a deep curiosity to explore life and it's extreme polar expressions. My yogic path has guided me towards writing, using language to share the principles, philosophy and inspirational light of the yoga unfolding.
The Jnana journey does need to be grounded in a firm foundation of other expressions of the yoga journey but after the recent passing of my brother, I became aware of a more heart-centred connection to life - a gift I only fully understood after such a devastating loss - a heart broken can either shut down or stay open; there is now a chink in mine and the devotional journey of love has begun.
Our life is mostly never direct and the path of the kundalini through the energy body faces many challenges like the butterfly's transformation, the dormant seeds awakening and the human expereince all face environmental, emotional and psychological challenges towards the ultimate union with cosmic bliss and Samadhi. This enlightenment comes from a step by step clear expression of our truth, tranquillity and letting go of the attachment of anything that sidetracks us on that journey, only then can we fully blossom, or like a tree can offer delicious fruit.
Yoga and the union of body, mind, spirit with the universal spirit can be shared in many ways including through writing, and traditionally the philosophy and practice were passed down as an oral form of oral tradition in song, mantra various practices, knowledge etc. Some lost and some documented in poetry form like the Sufi poet Rumi as an example and the Bhagavad Gita (The Song of God) a philosophical form of literature to guide aspirants along the path.
Writing in article form, novels, poetry etc can be another light to guide us along the sometimes lonely and rocky path and support us on our yoga journey. My wish would be that the writing I will share here now and in the furture can be of support to the vast wealth of knowledge Corand has left behind orally, in the YTT manuals, here on the website and in his prolific book on yoga The Complete Guide to Yoga for Fitness Professionals.
Over the next few weeks, I'll share various forms, including today a haiku, number one in a series based on each of the 7 main chakras, with the essence of each as the main focus. Haiku is a very short poetry form from Japan with 17 syllables divided into three lines, 5/7/5 syllables, there are many more qualities of traditional forms of Haiku but this is the simplest form.
|Posted by Yoga Professionals on September 11, 2018 at 8:30 PM||comments (1)|
There is so much valuable information in the Yoga Professionals YTT manual shared by Conrad, from his vast knowledge, experience and love of yoga, that I thought at least once a week I'd hone in on one useful little nugget as a reminder to us all, including myself.
"Respecting Yoga’s Origins -
In many western societies, when something is old it is often thought of as outdated and past its prime. This is reflective of modern technologies, lifestyles and cultures, and for many, modern day science is the new path to enlightenment.
In many parts of the world however, with age comes wisdom.
Yoga in the West is often more about the physical than the spiritual and is thus reflected in the styles of classes available in health clubs and yoga centres alike. This physical aspect of Yoga will for some bring deep spiritual meaning through learning to listen to the body when in a posture.
Yoga is a holistic form of therapy for many health problems of modern day life such as asthma, blood pressure, diabetes, digestive disorders and arthritis to name just a few.
• Asanas (yoga postures) can help remove the physical discomforts accumulated from everyday life.
• Relaxation gives us essential time off; a rare commodity in today’s fast paced living.
'A yoga posture should feel steady and comfortable. A yoga posture is mastered when the breath, the body and the mind become one. When there is no restlessness in the mind or in the breath, the body and the mind can become a calm and meditative state'.
(Yoga Sutras, 2,46 Patanjali Maharishi).
To respect all yogas is to be the true yogi (a human being who is committed to the practice of yoga). To give thanks to all the yogis who came before us is honouring the true lineage of yoga, for yoga is not a style or a statement; it is a personal practice of love and compassion. Take from yoga whatever suits you as a human being and here begin your journey.
‘For those ignorant of Raja Yoga, wandering in the darkness of too many options, compassionate Svatmarama gives the light of Hatha’.
(Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Svatmarama, Ch 1 vs. 3)"
Yoga Professionals, Yoga Teacher Traing Manual. Level 3 Diploma, Conrad Paul, Chapter 1, pg 19/20.
For me the essence and take-away from this is a reminder to be repectful of all people, cultures and lifestyles. This begins with ourselves, to be mindful in our own life and practice, being repectful and kind to our own bodies and mind. Only then as teachers of yoga can we be mindful of others journey on the mat and in life. No matter their age, physical abilities etc, they have come to us to be held safely in our compassion, humility and knowledge, as we have been held safely by our teachers and the lineage that came before us.
Feel free to share your thoughts.
Photo Credit: J W @ www.unsplash.com
|Posted by Yoga Professionals on September 10, 2018 at 7:35 PM||comments (0)|
Each word you whisper
is an incantation,
awakening the dead.
A skeleton key
with luminescent blood
surging through your veins,
a ritual dance
an offering to the gods.
Shake it out,
sweat it out,
call me close,
take my hand
share the dance,
hold me with your
Trace the universe
across my skin,
an infinite flow of miracles
we create and destroy
in every grateful,
and each shared
|Posted by Yoga Professionals on September 9, 2018 at 11:00 PM||comments (0)|
Wais and Respect.
The tradition of bowing, kneeling before, full prostration and the deeply spiritual anjali mudra (palms together, thumbs to the heart centre) and Sanskrit word Namaste can all show respect and on a deeper level in the yogic traditons begin the link between the inner world with the outer, the divine in us and the divine in everything, humble reminder of the wholeness and connectedness of life.
My brother Conrad (Yoga Professionals founder) and I have always been connected to the reverent bow through most of our lives, first as students of karate as children, then both students and teachers of yoga, including journeys to India and also living in South East Asia, in particular the Thai wai, palms together in anjali mudra with a small bow.
Recently I myself returned from a trip to Seoul, South Korea and experienced the bow in my daily interactions with people, just the same way we shake hands, as in most of Asian cultures. The deeper the bow and length of time it is held relates to the age and respect of elders (and many other factors)…I found this out quite often when meeting younger people who proceeded to bow pretty deeply. Haha.
The Size of the Ego Vs The Size of the Solar System.
It may feel strange or uncomfortable to begin with to lower our heads in reverence, as our ego puffs out its chest to say, ‘I’m in charge!’…So sweet, like a toddler teetering on the edge of a step playing ‘I’m the king of the castle.’
There is no denying the size and power of the ego, but the universe; seen and unseen, shows how tiny in comparison we and it are, though no less important than anything else in creation.
Surya, the sun and centre of our solar system can’t really be denied as the most important part of the divine creation, at least as far as the Earth and humanity is concerned. Without the many wavelengths of light there would be no life of the planet, or at least as we know life — maybe we all might look like some of the strange and wonderful creatures at the bottom of mile deep oceans.
Prostration and surrender can surprisingly act as a counter to the egoic mind, the small ‘I’ that believes it is so much more important than it really is, though alone in the world. Ultimately the individual surrenders to become part of the supportive, collective whole.
Surya Namaskar and Beyond.
In the yoga traditions the simple and yet complex practice of Surya Namaskar or sun salutations (or Chandra Namaskar, moon salutation) can be thought of as physical practice for sure, but there are many more subtle levels to explore as the yogi’s practice deepens, though too many to talk about here. If you are interested there is a wonderful and complex book by the Bihar School titled Surya Namaskara — A Technique of Solar Visualisation.
Besides the physiological benefits of stetching, strengthening muscles, joints, lungs and heart, a simple and yet powerful addition to the sun salutation practice can simply spend a moment to firstly give thanks to the ego for its support in our reactive daily life, asking it to ‘stand down’ and begin to simply feel our bodies, feet on the floor etc.
Conscious Breath, More Focused Mind.
Connecting with the breath, awareness on the inhale and exhale can then simply put, begin the shift from the sympathetic nervous system, the fight or flight response, stimulated daily by stressful modern living, to the parasympathetic nervous system and a more relaxed, introspective response. We can become more focused on conscious breathing calming the monkey-mind chatter in our head and restoring some balance to manic or depleted energies in our body.
Love and Lineage.
Our inner awareness can, if want, be brought to the teachers that have gone before us, the one guiding the practice today, the teacher inside ourselves, any particular deity you feel aligned with or wish to experience more directly. Shiva, Shakti, Vishnu, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, all in recognition of the purpose of the yogic journey, to shine with this higher energy reflected back at us in symbolic form.
Finally we can give thinks to the most magnificent higher reflection of our solar nature shining back at us, the sun. Reflecting it’s humbling message of illumination and compassion, shinning for us all, irrespective of how we may as human’s divide ourselves.
All this before and during the asana practice of Surya Namaskar, Sun Salutations guides us to a more blanced understanding of ourselves and the yogic technologies.
Also check out the Gayatri mantra for it’s devotional message and meditation to the sun.
|Posted by Yoga Professionals on September 8, 2018 at 8:15 AM||comments (0)|
Exploring all things yoga including inspirational, educational and relevant weekly posts for new students, recently qualified and also industry established ex YP students.
After the sad news of Yoga Professionals founder Conrad Paul's death and passing on to new and exciting yoga adventures, there has been time for reflection and deep spiritual lessons for us all. These lessons and love will continute to unfold and his last and final gifts to us will I'm sure take time to reveal themselves. Let us be open to them all.
This blog can be a space for us to continue his legacy and spiritual lineage, heartful insight, passion for yoga and professionalism in the teaching industry.
More to come soon.
With love and light,