In the improvers classes in July we have been focusing on Ardha Chandrasana or Half moon posture as it translates from Sanskrit. The Sanskrit word chandra refers to the brilliance of the moon. In a pose like Ardha Chandrasana, the extension of your torso in one direction and the uplifted leg in the other draws a line that represents the flat edge of a half moon, while the energy in your extended arms and standing leg radiate out like beams in the night sky.
We have been playing with the balance element in this posture that comes from strong roots through the feet. As those of you that come to my classes will know, I put a lot of emphasis on Tadasana as I know that feeling of stability and uplift that is accessed in this pose will lend insight in to every standing pose. I like to remember that it is always a process of balance throughout the practice, that there is no one point that we are trying to reach but paying attention to the continual unfolding of movements along the way to learn more about our bodies and ourselves.
We have also been opening the hips and gently encouraging the hamstrings to relax. In this way the lifted leg is able to extend towards 90 degree and this makes for a long spine, which means that the chest is free to stay parallel to the wall and this in turn encourages open shoulders, with one hand rooted in to the ground and the other extending upwards. Therefore in all directions the limbs of the body are extending like rays of the moon and there can be a feeling a great expansion within the posture.
The benefit of Ardha Chanrandrasana are:-
This has been a very fitting time to practice Ardha Chandrana as we have been experiencing the third big bright super moon of three in 2013 recently, with the full moon falling on July 22nd - 23rd.
I am running beginners and improvers classes at the beautiful 14 Alva Street. Each month we will have a special peak posture that we are going to be focusing on and finding new ways to explore and experiment with. This means that throughout the month we will be looking at the areas of the body that we need to work on in terms of flexibility and strength to see how we can access the posture. Spending a whole month focusing on one posture seems like a lot but there is a huge amount to learn in each yoga posture and in this way students can build up a bank of knowledge on it and see themselves progress as the month goes on. Of course there will be different postures that we will be practicing in the lead up to our peak posture every week and lots of room to try new things. This way we also get the chance to explore deeper in to things as well as broader and see what can be discovered afresh about the peak focus postures. This quote says a lot to me about how I feel about working on yoga asana. However, the top of the mountain (perfect posture) is not the goal in yoga and maybe it does not even exist, just your own expression right now!“Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire. The reality of your own nature should determine the speed. If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values
I hope to share some of the monthly focuses in this blog. Please check back and see!
I have bare feet a lot of the time. For yoga, of course, but also just to walk around the house. As a treat to myself I will take my shoes as I walk on Portobello beach or through the Edinburgh meadows grass. I love that feel of the physical ground beneath my feel. It is somehow nourishing and feels childlike, carefree and connected. There is a whole barefoot movement out there:- http://www.barefooters.org/index.html and lots of evidence and theories of why it is so good for you, but mainly I just love the feel of it.
All this exposure means my feet need some tlc. So here is how to look after your feet with homemade polish which is chemical free, really cheap and so good for you!
1 - Fill an old jam jar 1/3 full of sugar or salt. This will be the abrasive which will get rid of the dead skin leaving your feet super smooth. You can experiment with adding different size crystals from rock salt to caster sugar depending of how you prefer the texture.
2 - Pour over oil (could be olive or almond or sunflower or whatever you prefer, I am currently using rapeseed) to just over the sugar/salt line. Oiling your feet is really nourishing for the skin and soothing for the mind, as there are many nerve endings in the feet. It is an age old ayuredic practice. This link will give you more info on this and what oil is the best one for your to use depending on your dosha (constituency).
3 - Add your favorite essential oil, perhaps tea tree or lavender, so that your feet will smell nice as well as being beautiful too.
4 - Use the scrub in the shower, massaging it in to your feet a few times a week.
Let me know how you get on!
I love chocolate and all things baked! I have been vegan for about 7 years now. The two have resulted in many interesting experiments in the kitchen. I have had many many disasters and a fair few triumphant and spectacular successes. This one goes in the later category:-
Raw Chocolate Brownies
Hand full of dates, blended with a little water
Then add to the blender:-
Hand full of walnuts or any other nuts you have in the cupboard
A good tablespoon full of flaxseed
1 - 3 teaspoons of cocoa powder (raw if you have it)
A pinch of salt
Just a little extra of somethings sweet - honey, agave, stevia........as you prefer
Roll the yummy mixture up in to balls. Then if you like you can roll the balls in chopped nuts, coconut, cocoa power........whatever takes your fancy.
So good for you and so goooooooooooood! As they are all blended up with no cooking, you can add more of anything you like - remember to taste test so they are just right. Therefore you really can't go wrong with them. Hope you enjoy.
I have just come back from Australia where I had my first solo art exhibition.
Here is a link to my art website:-http://kristinahanson.weebly.com/
The pieces in the exhibition are all inspired by movement - of the sea, the body and birds. Beyond this I am looking at whether there is a still point within all this movement and flux, something that remains the same, and if so how to access it. I think in the actual act of drawing, often the still point is glimpsed for me. The point where I seem to step outside of the normal constrictions of time and hours can flash past, as it is for many things that anyone is wholly involved in - dancing, music or yoga. The single pointedness of mind that seems to come from really engaging in something - is this the still point?
I have been in training for the Brighton Marathon since before Christmas and it is coming up in six weeks time now. Tomorrow will be my first time attempting 20K! I will then be able to gauge a little better what 42K might feel like. I have been inspired by the book 'What I talk about when I talk about running' by Haruki Murakami, one of my favorite writers. This book is about his life as a writer and as a long distance runner and how the two go together. In it Murakami talks a lot about the mental attitude of a long distance runner and how it is similar to the one needed to write novels. The ability to carry on, moving through what you need to get through, with no goal in sight, or so far off it is best not to think of it. I could not help comparing this to yoga and the attitude that yogis try to cultivate of non attachment, trying to stay within the moment and work not for your rewards. Its true that there is a main goal in the marathon for me of getting to the end, but if I fix my mind on this from the start it would be easy to give up as it seems so far away. Better I think to try enjoy the journey, or try to live it moment by moment, whatever it may bring. Today on my way training run home from work I stopped a heron in the water of Leith, one of my favorite moments of the day!The charity that I am running for is Greenpeace and I need as many sponsors as possible to help me raise lots of money for their awe inspiring campaigns. Please sponsor me at www.bmycharity.com/Kristina. Thank you!
I have been doing loads of interesting things in India so far, learning to cook curries, trekking in the mountains, and of course doing lots of yoga. There are so many things to learn here it is hard to know where to start!
I was asking after a meditation class at the Sivananda center the other day and was told there was none on. The monk talking to me told me that I would be welcome to go and meditate on my own in one of the temples, that I did not need any instructions or a group. In this sacred place all I had to do was sit and listen to my inner voice for guidance. The sitting and listening is all that is required, to be present. It was a beautiful reminder to me and I am thankful for the lesson.
I have been staying in Santosh Puri Ashram, India for the past few days. I felt held in this sacred place and would recommend it to anyone wanting to have authentic teaching in a family environment. The yoga practice in the morning was simple and at first try a childlike approach but in time I really got in to the spirit of things. We were encouraged in each posture to be the animal, be the cat, be the eagle, be the camel, letting each form emerge from the infinite in to the finite and then return, in this way confronting death, rebirth, any the many forms of the formless. Each posture was accompanied by the noise of the animal! There was much giggling had out of class about this but once I allowed myself to get past feeling really silly, I got in to it. I felt this approach got close to how the yogis of old thought up the postures, being inspired to take the forms of animals. Why don't you try it out (in your personal practice!) and let your imagination run free and wild.
I am back in India. Arrived this time in to the fog filled Delhi airport in the wee hours, thinking of my last arrival 7 year ago in to Bombay. Then everything was ablaze with heat and colour, the roads full of cows, horns and chaos. That first rickshaw ride was one of my most striking and lasting impressions of my stay. This time I got in an orderly government taxi with no haggling, the traffic almost in ques, in winter time wearing a coat. Everything was different this time, and I have changed so much too since my student days. In all this change I am reminded to ask - what is it in ourselves and the world that stays the same?
Hope to get some pics of my trip downloaded asap.
As my class will know I just returned from a little break away in lovely Itlay. One of the things that I love the most about that beautiful place is the food. Even the simplest of meals is created with such care and attention, usually produced locally by people who have farmed the land for generations. It is amazing how different just a cheese and tomoto sandwich can be when it is done in this way, mmmmmmmm. It is the same in yoga in a way... when you allow yourself to b completely absorbed in a simple movement, give yourself to it completely, that is when you can suprise yourself with the discovery of the simple pleasure of being alive right now in this moment.
Kristina is a Massage, Myofascial Release and Yoga Therapist who lives in Peebles in the Scottish Borders with her husband, two children and two cats. Kristina teaches One on one yoga, Pregnancy yoga and Sacred Cycles Yoga and offers massage and MFR bodywork in venues in Edinburgh and Peebles.