As the new year begins, I saw an email pop up from the amazing Bonnie Bainbridge, in it she asked us to explore a process with the following words:
Visualisation – is about frontal lobe imaging
Somatisation – is about feeling it
Embodiment – is when you no longer feel it, you just are it.
I sat and thought about this process and realised that for many an earlier year of Yoga Practice, I had just been Mind and Body. I visualise through my Mind processing the instruction or the pose I’m seeing a teacher perform in front of me and then I see how it feels in my body, but did I truly embody it?? So this term I’ve asked my wonderful students to visualise, to feel and then pause to allow for the embodiment of the practice, to become free within. To explore through the Mind (Visualisation) Body/Breath (Somatisation) and Heart/Soul (Embodiment), when we embody the movement, the body/breath is a meditation of total fluidity, at one, an inner empowerment, that sets us into a flying free mode where we don’t care how the ‘pose’ looks our form is the pose. Let’s see where we go during this exploration this term and if our ideas/practices change as we explore….
Thank you Bonnie
here to edit.
Often we feel that we should be following our teacher or others in the class, but eventually you learn that to fly, to be embodied in your own Soma is to discover self-love and self-worth. You are your own body, so own it on your yoga mat and when you step off it, love and cherish it with compassion and kindness in movement whether it be yoga or any other form of exercise, you have it this one time only. In order to open up to deeper dimensions of yourself you move from your body, listening to its inner tunes and rhythms every time you step onto your mat, take a moment breathe, listen, notice and ask yourself What do I need to support my inner being right now? Then go from there, I wish you well - if in doubt watch your animals, they are always embodied 😉
Yoga is a discipline; we can’t just step onto the mat for one session and be ‘cured’ of bodily aches and pains or all of our inner stresses and sorrows. It takes lots of practice, perseverance and patience to achieve a deeper understanding of what makes us tick! And every day as we are bombarded with new experiences, they root themselves in our bodies as we store the memories in our muscles - Your body keeps the score.
Often as human beings we struggle with this, living in a World of instant results and being bombarded by the ‘perfect’ image of others. It’s important to remember that this is YOUR Yoga and not the person’s you are watching on YouTube or Instagram, don’t allow them to make you feel less worthy, you are so worthy of your body, your being. You can make your own shapes, in your unique beautiful body.
Step onto your mat everyday as if you have never stepped upon it before, with no expectation or perceived notion of ‘perfection’ or end gaining, work with being as it is right now and accept whatever comes through. Yes most likely you’ll feel the benefits of moving your body and a calmer more peaceful outlook, but remember sometimes you might not, go with the flow of acceptance. Only with the discipline of continuous practice will you learn to abide in all aspects of yourself.
The trees are our canopy, we take shelter beneath them and strength and courage from them as we fully connect our feet to the ground, we walk upon their roots, as like us they take goodness from Mother Earth, unlike us they only take what they need. Our practice is to be as strong and steady, but able to change to all that comes our way as we reach our branches like the tree towards the Sky or insight, compassion and loving kindness, letting go of greed and clinging to what no longer serves us 🙏
Gomukasana or Cow Face Pose
The Living Symbol of Mother Earth
In class we have been exploring different yogi animals, the Cow being one of them. I asked students what the cow represented to them – what comes to mind for you? After a little while I asked how’s your inner cow feeling today? One student said hers was a Moody Cow to the laughter of others – how’s you sacred inner cow today? Are you a laughing cow, scowling cow, happy cow, sad cow, sturdy cow, weak cow, intuitive cow, safe and protected cow, vunerable cow, earthly cow, disconnected cow, angry cow, compassionate cow and so on…. So many different cows reside within us all of the time, our practice is to accept every cow with compassionate metta, or loving-kindness/friendliness, so that every cow is welcomed at our sacred inner table. Practice Gomukasana or Shoelace in the Yin Yoga tradition to stay earthed and allow all our inner Cow parts to flow through us, developing a deeper sense of self-worth and loving kindness towards ourselves and others.
Pairs – our polar opposites. We work with opposites all the time, our practice is to observe that moment of balance between the two, and to welcome all pairs to the table, so to speak. When we are more in one than the other imbalance occurs, for example to much “Monkey” mind can create leaping across the choppy Ocean of fear and anxiety rather than leaping with complete faith over the Ocean of Calm, Serenity and Clarity. We need to work with un-abiding faith in our own inner support system, trusting and loving this inner being as the precious vehicle it is to find our own inner-freedom.
Just as the Monkey God – Hanuman took a leap of faith over the Ocean, to serve another, we have to start with ourselves, learning to love all the ‘pairs’ of Self within, persevering when it feels impossible with a complete Faith that we are on our right road. From Self- Love we learn to Love all beings.
Practice: Look at yourself directly in the Mirror and Say out loud “I love you ____” every day.
In this every changing ever flowing life, we strive and crave for constant pleasures to ensure our everlasting happiness. Well here’s the thing there is no such thing! Our lives are in constant ebb and flow, nothing is permanent, in fact the only thing we can be sure about is death. So instead of looking outwardly for sources of happiness, invite yourself to look inwardly for it instead, open your own heart and mind to loving kindness within so that you may be in constant balance during all of life’s up’s and downs, ebb’s and flows – enjoy all the pleasant, the unpleasant as a part of the journey in this wondrous human life. When we are balanced within our very essence expands to all beings.
When we practice balances in our Asana practice we are learning to go with the flow, to finding balance. If you over think it, hold your breath, or look outwardly for it, you are bound to fall down and if that happens, fine get up, dust yourself off, smile, learn and continue with your precious journey here and now. Breathe, Smile and the World will Smile with you
To Nourish and Nurture
Winter is a time to curl up and read a book by the fire, to take a restorative rest from the pace of life in order to restore our inner being, ready for the blooms of Spring, new growth as we shed what we no longer need and re-emerge. Did you make a New Years Resolve or Resolution? Personally I don’t make the old resolutions of losing weight or ‘doing’ more exercise anymore, but prefer to resolve to be in Presence with each moment. When life begins to ‘take over’ and my inner critic screams its drama’s, I resolve to stop and listen to Nature, to my breath, anything that engages me back into this moment, here and now, the Presence of Simply Being, but is not so simple to practice. All I can say is you are human and it will continue to draw you away, but it’s the practice of noticing and pausing that will help keep you grounded in Presence. Good luck, Om Shantih
So what Yoga do you teach???
This is a question I am often asked by students. The best way to describe it is that all Yoga which includes movement or asana is Hatha Yoga. The majority of my classes are Hatha Yoga, each class has elements of Movement, Breath, Meditation and Relaxation within it, depending upon what theme we are working with at that time. There are various schools or Methods of Yoga, the primary ones are:
Mudra of the Week - Ganesha Mudra. Ganesha is known as the remover of obstacles, but also places them, he gives us strength and courage. This is a practice of "getting out of your own Way". Take a moment to think about what obstacles are within you right whilst performing Ganesha Mudra: Connect your right palm under the left palm and loosely hook your fingers. As obstacles arise look upon them with Compassion and they may just dissolve away leaving you with a sense of inner strength and resilience. Affirmation you may use "May I overcome the obstacles I have placed within to reveal my own Truth" It takes practice and inner study, you can hold this Mudra for as long as you like. Further practice is to gently pull into the hands on the inhale and release on exhale.G
I'm Vanessa Gerrard, an experienced yoga instructor who leads multiple classes in and around Ashbourne.