January/February 2020

I quote the amazing Nelson Mandela, who brought liberation, in a very humble proud manner, to my birth country, South Africa. He is not just speaking about his own country, but the whole world, as well as our own internal world. Peace has to start within...

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.”

“The oppressor must be liberated just as surely as the oppressed. A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.”


A lifetime of struggle taught him that “no one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love...Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.”
(Alex Perry - Time Magazine, 12/2013)

What are we observing and practicing on and off our mat this month?
Use your practice to discover what is oppressed in you, and who is the oppressor, retuning to this place of self-love through a quiet steady practice. What liberates and inspires you?! Often our own thought-forms connected to old stories are our own oppressors, restricting us from moving forward in our lives.
Once we feel inspired and loving, this changes. Commit to reigniting your flame of goodness.
If this feels impossible and overwhelming, especially when there are some deep stories that continue to play out their obvious importance in your life, replaying like old films again and again in your busy mind, perhaps it is worth taking time over the change of the years to reflect on Grief...
...as I so aptly learnt from Sophie Sabbage in her book, The Cancer Whisperer, grief is not just mourning the loss of someone you love, but is also mourning other losses in your life. “It is emotional oxygen, as vital to our health and wellbeing as the air we breathe and the water we drink. It is our best, most appropriate response to regret, loss, bereavement, hurt, privation, disappointment and change. It is the transitional bridge from the life we wanted or expected to live to the life we are actually living, the one riddled with out-of-the-blue setbacks and let downs.”
Grief opens the heart and helps us heal, however, we must be willing to look at what we are grieving about. We need to: List our losses, Lay down our regrets, and Honour our hopes. If you wish to know more about the process, ask me. Or simply start to write a list, recognizing, honoring and releasing.
To support you, clear your mind with some breathing first...

Pranayama: Kapalabhati (Skull radiant or Breath of fire).

“This rapid style of pranayama creates an internal rhythmic massage, stimulating the circulation of cerebral fluid and influencing the compression and decompression in the spine and brain. This stimulation pumps the diaphragm and lungs, improving the heart and blood circulation, which helps wash out waste gasses. It heats the nasal passages and sinuses, clearing away excess mucus, helping build up resistance to colds and respiratory disorders. It improves constipation and digestion, helps stimulate a sluggish system by accelerating the metabolic rate and strengthening the nervous system, and helps normalize the adrenals. This practice also accelerates pranic movement throughout the body and brain, increasing physical vitality and bestowing clarity of mind.” (Sarah Powers, Insight Yoga).

What to do:
Take three slow Ujjayi breaths, placing one hand on your belly to stay connected to the breath.
Take a full inhale (no Ujjayi breath now), and begin emphasizing the exhalation in quick, clear spurts similar to blowing your nose. Take short inhalations in order to keep going, but allowing the emphasis to be on the exhalation. The sound is quick and crisp on the exhalation, and silent on the inhalation.
Stay steady in your posture, while your belly moves in and out matching your breath. Your hand can check your breath (belly moving toward the spine on the exhalation).
The pace should feel consistent and repetitive; no straining the breath.
Start with thirty pumps on the first round (stop sooner if you lose rhythm or start straining). On your last exhalation, slow the air a bit to allow all the breath out and then take a slow, deep inhalation and pause (kumbhaka) at the top of the inhalation. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. After holding the breath an appropriate amount of time, exhale slowly till you feel empty. Pause and soften here again (kumbhaka). Hold as long as you comfortably can. After holding, slowly breathe in and out. This is one round. Repeat three rounds.

With consistent practice, you will strengthen your lungs and respiratory muscles, thus increasing the amount of pumps in each round (i.e. 50 to 100 pumps in one round).
This practice can also help to open the heart.
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