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Restorative Yoga – What is it all about?

As some of you know I love delivering (and receiving) a slow, restorative yoga practice. What is it all about you ask? Here is my article I wrote for the OM Yoga Magazine (May 2021 issue) .

 

“Restorative yoga is a restful yoga for stressful times.  This is a nourishing and soothing style of practice that creates inner peace and harmony and leaves you feeling recharged, reset and restored.  You will find deep peace in your yoga practice that can carry you through the tides of your life.

 

The soothing and well supported poses offer us the opportunity to linger quietly for a few moments and savour the simple sweetness of life.  Restorative practice guarantees to leave us nourished and well rested. The poses are held for several minutes at a time and are deeply supported by bolsters, blankets, pillows and blocks.  Restorative yoga practice is like an internal retreat.  Deeply nourishing and healing.  You feel as if you received the biggest and most beautiful hug.

 

There is a bigger need than ever now to slow down, pause and reset. The business of our everyday life, the constant stream of news, social media updates and stress resulting from the world situation can be very overwhelming.  The slower yoga practice that creates a feeling of peace and deep release is now more popular than ever before.  The restorative style of yoga is an absolute

must in this day and age.   Eva can confirm this from her own experience as her slow and mindful classes are in high demand and very popular.

 

To start the restorative practice, take time to get comfortable on your props and make any necessary adjustments. The comfort is important as we hold these postures for longer than in your regular yoga class. Use your inner wisdom to guide you toward greater comfort, making any modifications you need.  The bolsters and blocks support the body to release muscular tension.  As the body is fully supported, we can relax into the shape of the pose and ‘receive’ rather than ‘do’ the pose.

 

Although the restorative poses might look easy and peaceful, they can be challenging especially for a beginner yogi. Be patient and give your body time to settle and release any built-up tension. Give yourself time.. In the restorative practice you create time to let go off your everyday stresses and truly let go

of any business and worries.  You will be awarded with the ability to drop with ease into a place of deep contentment.  Your body will relax, the mind will quieten, and you will rest quietly in the present moment and see clearly the peace that resides within you.

 

Main objective of this practice is to relax and restore.  Let gravity do the work, connect with the breath.  If your body gives you signals that you need to come out of these postures, please do.   Focus is on the breath and calming our body and nervous system.

Restorative poses help relieve the effects of chronic stress with the help of props that provide a supportive environment for total relaxation.   The restorative classes are designed to move the spine in all directions as healthy spine enhances our wellbeing. Some restorative poses are backbends, some are forward bends, side bends, spinal twists and supported inversions.

 

Supported inversions such as Legs up the wall reverse the effects of gravity.  As we sit or stand most of the day, blood and lymph fluid accumulate in the lower extremities and by changing the relationship of the legs to gravity, the fluids are returned to the upper body and heart function is enhanced.

 

During the restorative practice the heart rate slows down and our organs and nervous system is soothed.  Restorative yoga balances energies and hormones in our body.

The benefits of the restorative practice also include becoming more patient, improving concentration, feel more grounded, sharpen intuition.

 

Some of my favourite restorative poses are:

 

Supported Savasana with a bolster under the knees, pillow supporting the head and an eye pillow across the eyes.  Practice at the beginning and the end of your class. This soothing pose gives you a time to arrive, check in, slow down your breathing and activity of your mind. The support under the knees releases tension from the lower back

 

Reclined Cobbler where we lean a bolster on a stack of blankets or blocks and then lay back on it, with a block under each thigh, feet bound together by a strap.  This pose provides opening to the hips and chest and invites time to focus on breathing and/or heart opening meditation.

 

Supported Bridge pose with a bolster under the lower back, knees bent, feet on the ground.  This pose releases tension in the hips, abdominal muscles and chest. With the head lower than the heart we deepen the relaxation response.

 

Supported Childs pose with a bolster between the knees.  Fold forward over the bolster and rest your head on it. Blanket may be placed either under the hips or on the lower back.  This pose releases tension in the back and hips.  The bolster provides a feeling of comfort and security.

 

Legs up the Wall – rest your legs on the wall and enjoy the soothing effect this posture has on your nervous system. Alternatively support your hips by a bolster or folded blanket and raise your legs up in the air. Excellent for your circulation and redirecting the blood flow to your heart and brain.

 

Soften, Relax, Release. It is impossible to have a peaceful mind in a tense body. It is impossible to have a relaxed body inside a cascading mind.  To feel good you need peace.  Calm your thoughts to calm your being. Relax your muscles to release distracting thoughts.  The body remembers everything. Let go so you can feel good.  Outside and In.

 

You are only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry.  Don’t worry.  And be sure to smell the flowers along the way. (Walter Hagen)

 

To sum up:

Props uses in the restorative yoga –

Bolsters

Blocks

Cushions

Blankets

Straps

Eye pillows

 

Pace of the class –

Very slow, the postures are held for anything between 3-10 minutes (even 15 if time allows)

 

Benefits –

Release of muscular tension

Calming the nervous system

Sense of contentment and peace

Ability to let go of daily worries and stress

Improving patience and self-awareness

Balancing energies and hormones in our body

Connecting with breath

Giving yourself that much needed ‘me time’ to reset and recharge

 

Eva Kristlova is a professional yoga teacher living in East Sussex.  Eva teaches online and in person and runs a beautiful yoga space, the Yoga Life Studio in Eastbourne.  Eva’s passion is bringing a slow, mindful and restorative practice into today’s fast paced world and helping her clients to reduce stress, anxiety and physical, mental and emotional tension.  Eva’s restorative classes will leave you feeling completely nurtured, stress free and relaxed.

Eva would like to share a free Restorative class with you, all you need to do is e-mail her on info@yoga-life.co.uk

www.yoga-life.co.uk

www.yogawitheva.co.uk

@evakristlova

All photos by @sarahcarmodyphotographyuk

Coming out of Yoga hibernation

With the lockdown rules in the UK now relaxing it was with a great excitement and anticipation to learn that we are now once again able to run yoga classes outside, and with up to 30 people including the teacher!

 

Our group of Eastbourne beach yogis, who have been meeting weekly for a morning beach yoga for quite a few years, has gone into hibernation during the lockdown and with the spring coming the group messages started to float amongst the yogis, sharing the positive news of the beach yoga restarting again as soon as end of March.  It was a sign of hope, joy and new beginnings.  With a great pleasure I called my yogis out of their winter yogic sleep.

 

It was actually quite a strange feeling for me as a teacher, as I got used to teaching from the comfort of my empty yoga studio and my home with all of my students being on the other side of the screen. And now suddenly I had up to 30 real people coming to my beach class! From zero to 30 can be quite overwhelming! I was almost nervous…

 

As I parked my car on the beach and grabbed my yoga mat, the sun was shining and I could hear the gentle waves in the distance, a big smile appeared on my face.  I took a leisurely walk towards our meeting place where several yogis were already waiting and chatting amongst themselves.  The sounds of joy, laughter, excited greetings and happy chatter spread across the beach as more and more yogis kept arriving.  It was literally like coming out of hibernation and someone even commented that we were like worms coming out of woodwork!

 

We all settled on our rocky beach and nobody seemed to mind the slight discomfort of stones and pebbles underneath our yoga mats.  After a little pause when the class took time to arrive and take the reality of being in a proper face to face class in, we were ready to begin, moving through our yoga practice as one. Breathing as one.  Being together once again united in yoga. I think I speak for everybody when I say how special the class was and that constant smiles were plastered all over our faces from the beginning till the end. Half way through the class I had a sudden realisation – we are not on ZOOM! I had to have a little laugh and shared that with my students – guess what we are not online!  All I can say, the class was super magical… seeing the happy faces of the yogis, hungry for connection, togetherness and community spirit was really heart-warming.

 

It is our tradition to dip our feet in the sea after the class. How wonderful to experience this again, hear the happy cries as the water is still pretty cold in March and feel the sand between our toes.  This was the perfect end to a very special yoga reunion!

 

Being in the yoga hibernation made us appreciate what we have even more.  What we took for granted in past we now treasure tenfold.  It almost felt like a pause button was released and we are in the ‘play’ mode again.  Playing, connecting and practising together once more.  And if we have to go into hibernation again, we know that our yoga spirit and connection will carry us through the rough seas and bring us to a calm and peaceful beach once again.

 

From the Eastbourne beach

Eva xxx

 

 

 

Make it happen in your business

I am super thrilled to share with you my article for the OM Yoga & Lifestyle Magazine!  I was asked to provide 7 tips on how to run a yoga business in the current climate, which to be honest is not always easy! You might know that I run a beautiful yoga space, the Yoga Life Studio in Eastbourne and despite many setbacks of 2020 and 2021 we are still here and going strong, teaching online and connecting our beautiful community.

Please check out my 7 hacks and read the article here: https://www.ommagazine.com/make-it-happen-in-your-yoga-business/

Feel free to connect with me to chat about your yoga business

Eva xxx

ONLINE classes

As so many yoga teachers for now I too had to move all of my classes online.  It is actually pretty cool and I am so grateful that we are still able to stay connected and practice together.

I have regular ZOOM classes, that anyone can join. Just ask me for the zoom link and password, I will be very happy to welcome you to my class! The classes are as follows:

Tuesday 9.30am – Gentle Hatha Yoga, suitable for beginners

Wednesday 1.00pm – Lunch class for all abilities

Thursday 10.00am – Gentle Hatha Yoga

Friday 12.45pm – Restorative Yoga

Sunday 11.00am – Yoga for all abilities

Please come and give it a try!

In addition I am so happy to let you know that I created an online platform for pre-recorded classes that you can access 24/7. Here my fellow 20+ teachers and I deliver various styles of classes, ranging from 5 to 90 minutes.  This a wonderful way to keep your practice alive and pick and mix as you chose! Have a look and join us, you don’t know how much it would mean to us!!

Yoga Life Members (yogaeastbourne.com)

I hope you are all well and navigating through these challenging times with positivity and strength. Connect with me via my classes or message! Best wishes, Eva xxx

Outdoor classes featured in the YOGA Magazine

I was totally overwhelmed by this fantastic feature in the November issue of the YOGA Magazine.  They published my articles about all of my outdoor classes, including beach yoga, yoga with alpacas, paddle boarding, my classes in Cuckmere and in the Yurt.  For ever grateful for this beautiful recognition. Have a little read and come and join me outside whenever you can!

The Power of Intention

At the beginning of a yoga class your teacher may say to you take a few moments here to set a Sankalpa an intention for your practice, something that you wish to bring more of into your life or something you would like to work towards during your practice. We can use intentions on and off the yoga mat. For example you can set an intention to practice yoga with kindness for yourself and others, this could include moving through your practice slowly with gentle movements taking good care not to go to deep into a stretch and not jolting your body, seeing how your body feels today rather than pushing into a pose just because you did it last time. Also letting go of any negative thoughts or feelings you have for yourself and your body, not being critical of yourself and others by taking your attention back to your breathing when you notice that you are doing this. An intention is formed by the heart and mind and is used to focus and harmonise the mind and body.
Intentions are very powerful. As you set your intention you put your energy and focus on to it and send a very powerful signal out to the universe, the universe begins to give you opportunity’s to put your intention into practice and make it happen, the next step is to look out for the opportunity and take it with both hands and enjoy your intention as is manifest into your life.
Here is the story of when I set my first intention. I was on one of Eva’s beautiful yoga day retreats when I said to her that I had seen the pictures of the retreat in Egypt and how I’ve always wanted to stay in a tent on a beautiful beach like the one they go to. I said to Eva ‘ I have a family and wouldn’t really be able to fit in a week’s yoga retreat for myself’  Eva said to me ‘ well then set an intention to go there one day!’ I had never heard of this before but I like the sound of it! It felt good to not have to figure out the details of how I will get the chance to go there and just be happy knowing that one day I will go there.
About a week later I bought a yoga magazine and it had a special focus on yoga teacher training, I read though it and thought hmmm I do love yoga and I’d love to share it with others, I wonder if I could be a teacher? So I messaged Eva and asked if I would be able to do the teacher training course which she said yes of course. So 4 weeks later I signed up! 18 months later we all met at the airport very excited to be flying to Egypt! To take our final exam together on the beach! There was 18 of us in total and we all got our tickets for the flight, we boarded the plane and began finding out who we was sitting next to, it was very exciting. I got to my seat and settled in for the flight sitting next to Eva! As the plane took off I suddenly remembered the intention that Eva had encouraged me to set 18 months ago! I was overwhelmed when I realised that I had set the intention to go to Egypt and now at random I was sitting next to Eva who had encouraged me to set the intention and also a little bit spooked at the true power of Intention
❤
Ps. I have definitely set an intention to go back to Egypt with Eva ♥️
By Lindsay Howarth

Article in the Spectrum Magazine

By Deana Morris (Editor of Spectrum) and Eva Kristlova

When I sat down with yoga studio owner Eva Kristlova, to interview her about the business of running a studio, life was very different.

We were sitting in a café. We were talking about community and how she’d had that principle as the primary driver for Yoga Life Studio in Eastbourne’s South Street.

BWY teachers who may dream of starting a yoga studio would be interested in Eva’s approach because Eva’s studio is big step away from the gleaming gym-culture model.

Our conversation had focused on how it’s possible to run a business that supports its community; not only by providing a space to practice and a place to teach, but also give to its communities in other ways.

Then along came the corona virus pandemic.

Right now teaching yoga is an online experience. Yoga teachers around the world are getting to grips with webcasting technology.

Before the UK’s lockdown rulings, Eva’s studio was one of the first in Eastbourne to act and close its doors, to shift online for the safety of its clients.

‘We’re a community yoga business,’ said Eva. ‘It was critical that we put our clients first and we were aware many of our community were in higher risk groups. We initially thought we would be closing our doors for 14 days, but that was before the lockdown was announced. Now, of course, no one can know how long this situation will be with of, or whether it will return in the future.’

Up until a few weeks ago, Eva’s studio worked like this:

Eva’s rented space to local yoga teachers and Eva taught classes at the studio herself. The studio also had one class a week which was ‘pay by donation’, all donations going to a charity of the teachers’ choice. This makes the studio experience available to everyone, regardless of income, and benefits charities needing financial support.

Her community focus has attracted yoga teachers such as David Sye, whose work in war zones and conflict-hit communities is well-known. David regularly teaches weekend workshops at Yoga Life Studios.

Training as a yoga teacher with the British Wheel of Yoga, Eva joined the Yoga Life Studio that was within her town’s enterprise centre, run by Wenche Beard. ‘It was a great space but the location wasn’t ideal,’ admits Eva. ‘You could hear the noise of people around the studio. Distracting really. We were the only yoga people in town then though, which seems strange now. Eastbourne has a strong yoga community with around half a dozen studios now.

‘The reality for me is running a yoga studio as a way of life, not a profit pursuit. The money I make comes from my teaching, the studio income from teachers hiring space keeps the studio running.’

Life Yoga Studio’s current home is within converted stables. Bare-brick walls, cast iron radiators and wooden floors are all part of a welcoming, colourful cosiness. The only outside noise now is the chiming of the nearby town hall clock.

But as a community-focused studio, how do you keep communities thriving when you’re teaching online?

A pioneer of local yoga studio teaching online, here are three tips Eva passes on to you from her experience.

1.The Yoga Life Studio in Eastbourne had to close their doors overnight due to the Covid19 pandemic. After the initial shock and fear of uncertain future and the health, mental and financial impact on the studio, our clients, teachers and the whole population there was no time to waste.  I knew that we in some way still need to provide service for our clients as so many people rely on their yoga, breathing and meditation practice and for so many people their regular visit of the yoga studio is the highlight of their week. A time when they can recharge, refuel and clear their mind, ready for the daily challenges of our lives.   Me and my team found the prospect of teaching online quite daunting.  But somehow overnight we managed to set up several online classes using Zoom, purchased a microphone and with the help of friends and family converted our studio into a recording space, complete with a big screen.  So here is my Number 1 tip – Overcome your fears. We adapted so quickly because we knew that our community needs us. So even though the online teaching and setting everything up from the scratch was scary, we dived in and did it anyway despite of our limited knowledge and lack of experience and online teaching confidence. If you know you have to do something, go for it. Even if you throw yourself in deep end you will learn to swim. Try not to hold back because of fear or lack of confidence – remember we are all constantly learning. And there is lots of support available.

2.It was a steep learning curve for all of us! But with patience and determination we made it work. I  set up a little support group for the teachers where we share our online teaching experiences, dos and don’ts,  trial runs and any feedback. We started to deliver several daily online classes, some from the studio and some from our teachers’ living rooms.  We learnt and still are learning so much! My second tip is – ask for help.  There is help and support available if you look for it.  We are not always good at asking.. we feel we should be able to know and do  everything perfectly. In fact, reaching out will bring you and your community much closer. Nobody knows it all. So within the studio and Eastbourne yoga community I encourage the teachers to support each other, we practice in each others classes, we help each other with the test runs, and constant communication takes place amongst us all. It is like having one big happy yoga family.

3.
My third tip is to remain authentic.  Teach from your heart, share your own essence.  And do it for greater good, not for financial gain.  The world needs more yogis now – more then ever. Yogis, healers, peace makers, you.  Remember – Be You – everyone else is already taken.  You clients will really value a teacher that is ‘real’ – complete with slip ups and confusing their left and right side. So show the world who you really are, the fabulous and unique you. And believe that you are good enough!
So being authentic, dealing with technical issues and frozen screens live, laughing about it and teaching anyway just makes us more relatable and I think that our clients like that. Knowing that we are just like them!

Our clients were so grateful that they could still join us online and be part of our fabulous community. After all that’s what people are missing most.. Contact and true connection with others. Now we feel that through providing online classes people can still see each other, wave and chat and take part in a class together. It is really important to me as a teacher that I can still help someone and make them feel better, calmer and happier, knowing that they are still a part of this amazing community.

We had some amazing feedback and so much gratitude from regulars and from complete strangers for us adapting to the current situation and still looking after our community that is now growing internationally.  We will carry on uniting the international yoga community even after all this is over.

And here is my extra tip that in fact runs throughout this article – community. That’s what matters most. Create it, be part of it, support it.

Looking for positives during this challenging time. Stay well

Namaste

Quick Yoga Sequence for Balance and Strength

After spending lots of time indoors it feels so great to stretch the legs and test our balance. You can practice yoga literally anytime and anywhere, without a mat and props, even wearing trainers. As long as we can breathe we can practice yoga!
Practising yoga outside gives us a really great boost. All the fresh air, greenery, the sounds of nature and songs of the birds – so soothing and nourishing for our nervous system! Instantly we feel recharged and revitalised and this feeling is likely to stay with us for a while!

Why don’t you try it these yoga stretches next time you find yourself walking in a forest, park, fields nearby or in your garden! And of course at home too. All our postures are done standing, focusing on balance, strength and positive attitude. Let me take you through it:

To start with take couple of deep mindful breaths. Fill your lungs and your whole body with prana (life force, energy). As you exhale imagine that you are cleansing your whole system and releasing whatever does not serve you anymore.

Start to test your balance by simply transferring your weight from side to side and rocking gently forward and back. Feeling the ground underneath your feet, connecting with the Earth and exploring how balanced or unbalanced you feel.

Our first posture is Standing Knee to Chest pose. Transfer your weight to the right side of your body and slowly start to lift your left knee. Here you can either reach for your knee and take hold, or you can hold the back of your thigh. I chose to hold my knee and give it a squeeze. Notice how this simple balance feels for you – is it easy or perhaps slightly challenging? Remember that each day is slightly different. One day we might feel stable and next day wobbly. It depends on what is happening in our body, in our life, whatever might be on our mind, how we feel emotionally and so on. Just be as you are.
See if you can hold your knee or thigh for up for 4-8 breaths. Switch the sides whenever you need to. Please note – balancing outside is trickier than on a smooth surface of a yoga studio. Whilst in the posture say to yourself: ‘I am balanced’.

From here we enter one of the most iconic yoga poses – Tree Pose. To start we again transfer our weight to the right, feel the right foot grounding and connecting with the earth. Imagine that you are sending roots all the way down into the ground. Then lift your left heel off the ground. Here you have couple of options. You can either:
– Leave your toes on the ground and rest your left heel above your right ankle
– Bring the sole of your left foot to your right calf (avoid knee!)
– Bring the sole of your left foot to your right inner thigh
– Bring your left foot on the top of your right thigh (half lotus)
You can have a little play here and try all four options – see which ones come easily and which ones make you unsteady. Each side might feel slightly different. Chose one position that feels best for you and stay for several breaths. Focus your gaze on a still point ahead of you and say to yourself: ‘I am grounded’.

You can try a transition from the Tree Pose straight into the Dancer Pose – or not! If your legs need a little break give them a little shake! And when ready prepare for one more balance. We will start on the right side again.

Beautiful and graceful Natarajasana – Dancer pose.
I like to start with my right hand on my heart/chest. Slowly start to lift the left foot and reach for it with your left hand. You can either take hold of the outside or inside edge of your foot (why not try both variations). Hold your left foot in your hand and then slowly start to push your foot into your hand whilst tilting your upper body forward and reaching forward with your right hand. Don’t forget to smile and appreciate your strength and amazing ability of your body to balance. The Dancer pose is very uplifting – let it lift you! If you feel slightly off balance you can always use a wall or anything stable you can see around you or even a friend – use your right hand to hold on! As you feel your heart expanding say to yourself: ‘I am loved’.

Step your feet wide distance apart, right toes pointing to the right and left toes forward. Check that your right heal aligns with your left instep and that your hips are level. Lift your arm to the sides (shoulder level) and bend your right knee so the knee is directly above your ankle (Warrior 2). Then place your left hand on the back of your left thigh and reach up to the sky with your right arm, gazing up and creating a lovely back bend. You just entered Reversed Warrior! Feel your heart opening and say to yourself ‘I am peaceful’. This posture is also referred to as a peaceful warrior. Enjoy this beautiful pose and all the beauty around you.

After you practiced on both sides slowly fold forward into your Standing Forward Fold – soften your knees, relax your spine, shoulders, arms and jaw. When ready very slowly come up into standing again (Mountain pose).

Now shake your legs and arms and give yourself a big smile! Enjoy your day!

Little tips for your balances:
Fix your gaze – focus on a still point ahead of you (Drishti)
Connect with the ground – the standing leg is rooting into the ground
Slow down your breathing – make your breath steady, even and regular
Clear your mind – if your mind is full and busy you will find it difficult to balance, so try not to respond to your thoughts.

Benefits of this practice:
Finding balance and strength, connecting with nature and yourself, energising your whole system and releasing stale energy. Uplifting and bringing positivity to your day.

Mind Games

Be mindful of your mind – it can be positive and encouraging one minute and negative and looking for obstacles and ways to discourage you the next.  Deep down we all know that the mind is not always right, it can obscure the reality as it is trying to be our master.  Of course we need to listen to that inner voice too but let’s not be ruled by it.

The mind can put many fears and limitations onto you. For example

-you are not good enough

– you are too old for this ..

– you are not flexible enough, strong enough

– you will never succeed and so on

 

How about we say No to this self-judgement and our own negative self-talk.  We don’t want to let our mind stop us from following what we want to do and fully achieving our potential and life purpose.

I went for a run today.. My mind was stopping me from going for a long time. I’ve been running my whole adult life but last year there was a block.  My mind was creating reasons for me not to go.  After many months of saying to myself that I will go for a run, this morning I finally announced to my son that I am going for a ‘power walk’.  I didn’t think I would be able to run anymore as my mind was so negative.  My mind told me :

  • You left it too late
  • You put on weight
  • It is not good for you
  • You don’t have time for this
  • It is not good for your knees
  • You will never get fit anyway
  • You will not be able to stick with it
  • It is boring

Well this morning I decided not to listen to my mind and the limitations that I was made to believe.  I went for a run and it felt amazing! I started jogging with a smile on my face, the sun was shining, the birds were singing.

The run was up the hill.  Soon enough my mind started to resist, urging me to stop, walk or just turn back and go home.  It was very interesting to observe this, I chose not to listen and carried on.  I checked my legs – they were happy running, no pain and all ok there, my body was fine.  I checked my breathing – it was regular, even and well paced.. no problem there either. I checked my body – little bit of sweat but it felt good.

So.. I checked my mind. And just like a toddler having a tantrum or a stroppy teenager here it was.  My mind having a great time discouraging me and pushing all these negative and limiting thoughts forward.  It was actually a bit of a revelation.  Knowing that we all have a choice.  Do we listen to our negative mind and let it rule and control us? Or do we recognise it for what it is – and soothe and nourish that toddler/teenager within us.  Can we chose to listen to our heart more, our soul, our whole being?

I know it is not always easy. We all have our inner critic, sometimes it sits quietly and sometimes it shouts.  We can really explore this in our yoga practice too.  As we know Yoga is meant to be non competitive and all inclusive.  How many of us were told my our minds that we are not strong, flexible, as good as someone else, and so on.. Just watch that little voice and don’t give it the satisfaction of a response.. Allow your mind to become quiet.

 

I’ve been teaching yoga for few years now but still every now and then my mind pipes up with the most ridiculous thoughts and brings up my own insecurities.  The top ones being – who do you think you are; you are not good enough; you need to lose weight so you look better in that pose; you can’t do arm balances well, this is boring, when is the class going to end and so on.

Sometimes that negative self talk can throw us. But just pause and take a moment. Reflect on all that you do in your life that brings joy to you and to others.  All the things that you can do, how far you have come, and what you achieved. Reflect on all the wonderful people in your life and all the blessings.  You will be surprised – the positives outweigh the negatives by a lot!! Switch your mind set to positivity. Even crack a little smile, observe your thoughts and let those negative ones pass without response. Cherish the thoughts that bring you self appreciation and respect.  And you know, who cares that you cant hold the ‘Crow’ arm balance? Only you, nobody else, so let it go…

Taming our negative mind is a constant practice.  When we recognise it is just playing games with us because it wants our attention and to be in charge it can be the A-Ha moment.  And we will slowly start to turn a corner.

When we quieten the busy mind and become still and without thought, all the treasures that have been buried underneath all the chatter and activity of our mind will come to the surface.

When the water is turbulent it is hard to see through it.  But when the water becomes still it is clear to see. And it is the same with our mind. When it is busy and full of negativity we can’t see clearly. When the mind settles and becomes still and positive we will be able to see everything with much more clarity.

 

The silence is not empty

It is full of answers

(Rumi)

 

Many classical and modern yoga texts explore the mysteries of mind in a great detail (for example Yoga Sutras of Patanjali). This is just my musing drawn from my own experience.

 

Here are some techniques that help me with quietening my mind:

  • Close you eyes and try to direct all of you awareness inward, away from the hustle and bustle of outside world. Dive into your own universe and try not to get distracted. Find your own inner sanctuary.
  • Connect with your breath, feel each inhale and each exhale as they follow one after the other. Notice the length, depth, sound and rhythm of your breath. Notice the rise and fall of your chest, expansion and release of your ribcage, rise and fall of your belly, subtle movement of your whole body.
  • Regulate your breath. Really nice and simple technique is introducing a count to your breathing. This ratio should be available to most: Inhale for the count of 4 (one, two, three, four) – pause (retain breath) – exhale for the count of four (one, two, three, four) – pause (retain breath). Give yourself several rounds.
  • Check on your body – notice the meeting points between the body and the floor and where in your body you hold tension. Use your exhale to soften your body and release tension into the ground, away from you. You can do a little body scan here – starting with your feet, feeling your heels touching the floor, relaxing them into the floor. Feeling your calves touching the floor and releasing them into the floor and so on. Release the tension that you hold in your muscles, joints, bones, your mind and your heart. Your exhales will really help you along the way, they are really powerful.
  • Visualise that you are beside a beautiful mountain lake. The surface of the lake is still, calm and peaceful. Your surrounding are serene and quiet. Now imagine that the surface of the lake is the state of your mind, completely still.  With no activity, nothing to do, no thoughts. Occasionally you will notice little ripples or waves on the surface of your lake, these are your thoughts.  Chose not to respond and simply watch those ripples or waves fade away. The surface of the lake and state of your mind is peaceful and still once again.  You can use the same imagery with the sea, imagining sitting on the beach watching the waves coming in and receding again. In that case fill your mind with the in and out motion. Nothing else.
  • Present moment – our mind tends to constantly run away from Now. We find ourselves dwelling and going over past events or agonising and worrying about future. Try to bring your awareness to now. This very present moment. Your breath, your body, the sounds around you, the scenery, the scent.. For as long as you can stay here, in this very moment. The present moment is the only place where life exists.. so enjoy it.

You will find your own techniques that work for you –  these are my go to tips that I like to use.

 

To summarise – You are the master of your mind, not the other way round. Enjoy the little explorations of your mind’s mysteries and if in doubt, just breathe and trust the process.

Namaste, Eva xxx

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