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Entries in Meditation (4)

Sunday
Mar172013

Meditation Classes

The meditation classes have been building nicely over the last year and a half and we now have a lovely regular group meet up. The initial intention was for us to experience different types of mediation (mantra, walking, gazing, sound, chakra/energy) but having a 'drop in' style class makes this quite challenging to facilitate. People are at different stages in their practice and because of this I feel it would be best to use the 'drop in' weekly session for the following meditation practice:

Arriving and Centering 5 mins
Breathing Practices 10 mins
Guided Body Scan / Visualisation 20 mins
Meditation on point of focus (breath) 20 mins
Grounding Body Awareness 5 mins

This format offers the opportunity for people new to meditation to experience simple and effective ways to help meditate but also the more experienced can use the space for their own practice.

We could also hold Saturday/Sunday workshops and explore the different type of meditation. Let me know if you're interested....

Warm wishes
Tracey x

Tuesday
Mar272012

Meditation - Nadi Shodana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)

Nadi Shodana - Alternate Nostril Breathing

Nadi Shodana is one of the most popular and effective pranayama practices to be used before concentration/meditation. 
 The practice controls the flow of breath and vital energy (prana) to the brain and has a very calming and balancing effect.

 Both Ayurveda and Chinese medicine place great significance on keeping the channels of the body and mind clear and consider it vital to our wellbeing.

According to many Tantric texts, the human body contains 72,000 nadis that move prana to every cell. Some are wide and rushing and others are a mere trickle. When this system flows freely, we are vital and healthy and when it becomes weak or congested, we struggle with poor mental and physical health. The practices of hatha yoga are so effective because they strengthen the flow of prana in our bodies, invigorating the current so that it carries away obstructions that block the free flow of energy.

Hand Position

Bring the thumb of your right hand to a third of the way down the right side of your nose.. you will find a small indent.. if you press here gently it will block the air from flowing through your right nostril.  Bring your ring finger a third of the way down the left side of your nose and this will block the airflow on the leftside.  Index finger and middle finger can rest in between your eyebrows or curled in towards the palm of your hand.  This hand position is known as deer mudra and directs the energy in a positive way.

The Practice

Come into a comfortable meditation position (cross legged, kneeling, sitting on a chair is fine) and most importantly be sure that your posture is steady and comfortable.  First become aware of your natural, easy breathing in through the nostrils and out through the nostrils (simple breath awareness).

Close your mouth and be sure to keep your tongue and jaw relaxed.

Inhale through both nostrils    Exhale through both nostrils

Lightly place the pad of the thumb on your nose just to the right and below the bridge; lightly place the pads of your ring and little fingers on the corresponding flesh on the left side of your nose. Gently pressing with the ring and little fingers to close the left nostril, exhale fully through the right. Then inhale fully through the right, close it with the thumb, release the left nostril, and exhale through it. Inhale through the left nostril, close it with the fingers, release the right nostril, and exhale through it. This completes one round of Nadi Shodhana. 

The Benefits

Calms anxiety

Relief from stress

Grounding the mind

Clearing the energy channels and encouraging  flow of vital energy

Enhancing mental concentration and clarity

Alternate nostril breathing can also be practiced mentally as you visualise the breath entering and leaving the alternate nostrils.

Iyengar tells us that the blood receives a larger supply of oxygen than in other types of breathing practices.  The nerves are calmed and purified, and the mind becomes still and lucid.  Its practice keeps the body warm, destroys diseases, gives strength and brings serenity. 

BKS Iyengar – Light on Pranayama

How Alternate Nostril Breathing Works

It balances the opposite energies in the body, in a very similar way to the Chinese theory of yin and yang.

One nostril is cooling, one is heating

One has a male energy, the other has female.

Breathing through one nostril stimulates the left hemisphere of the brain and the other nostril stimulates the right.

 

Please come and join us to experience nadi shodana and other forms of meditation and pranayama in the Barn. 

Monday morning - 12pm to 1pm

Tuesday evening - 6:45pm to 7:45pm 

The Tuesday evening meditation flows into our weekly Kirtan group which you are welcome to join

 

Tracey Cramond   BWY Dip

Wednesday
Jan252012

Meditation - Trataka

Trataka is one of six Kriyas (cleansing techniques) mentioned in the ancient text of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. It is commonly known as concentrated gazing, steady gazing, or intense concentration and forms a stepping stone between the physical and the spiritual.  

Trataka is also a simple but powerful practice of concentration (dharana) which is the first of three stages in our meditation practice.  In trataka, an object is gazed at until its subtle form manifests behind the closed eyelids. It can be practiced on several objects, but the most popular and effective is trataka on a flame. The flame produces the best after-image which helps to visualise the flame even when eyes are closed. 

Our eyeballs are constantly moving either in large movements or small tremors.  Even when asleep, the eyes move in the form of REM (Rapid Eye Movement). The aim of trataka is to still the movement.  When the same object is constantly gazed at, the brain becomes accustomed and stops registering the object. Alpha waves are increased which indicates that particular areas of the brain have ceased functioning and concentration is heightened.  

The aim is to stare at a lit candle concentrating on the tip of its wick.  To do this we sit in a comfortable meditation position (cross legged, kneeling, sitting on a chair is fine) and place the lit candle arms length away at eye level.  Close the eyes, quieten the mind and be aware of the eyes relaxing, take a few moments to focus on the breath and settle the body.  Open the eyes and focus on the red tip of the wick. Gaze for as long as possible without blinking and without strain until the eyes begin to water or tire. When the eyes become tired or begin to water, gently close them and gaze at the image of the flame behind closed eyelids.  When the image is lost open the eyes and gaze again at the candle.  This is to be repeated 3 or 4 times. If the afterimage moves, bring it back to the centre (the space in between the two eyebrows.. a little above)

 

During the practice of trataka the breathing must be slow, rhythmic and deep. This will bring steadiness to the breathing process, making the body and mind steady.


Benefits

At a physical level, trataka strengthens the eye muscles by exercising them to focus upon a fixed point.
Trataka relieves eye ailments such as eye strain and headache, myopia, astigmatism and even early stages of cataract. The eyes become clear and bright.  Trataka benefits not only the eyes but a whole range of physiological and mental functions. It is therapeutic in depression, insomnia allergy, anxiety, postural problems, poor concentration and memory.  The benefits of a one-pointed mind are strong willpower, improved memory and increased 

Prohibitions

Epileptics should not practise trataka on a candle flameas a flickering light may trigger a fit.  A totally steady object should be used instead such as a pebble or black dot.

Precautions

  • This method of internal cleansing should be carried out with the guidance of a yoga teacher.
  • Candle gazing must be with a steady flame, so that it does not flicker and dance. 
  • The ability to keep the eyes open continually should be developed gradually and without strain. 
  • This practice clears accumulated complexes, problems and suppressed thoughts from the mind so that one can witness what is emerging.  This could be phychologically disturbing if the problems imerge too rapidly. Stop the practice if this is the case.
  • A black dot should be used as the focal point, instead of a candle flame if there is eyestrain, myopia, astigmatism and early symptoms of cataract.
  • Stick to an object of choice for gazing so that it becomes a familiar practice.
  • Gazing at the sun should be avoided because the eye membranes are too delicate.
  • Those wearing contact lenses may need to remove them.

"As a lamp in a windless place does not waver, so the transcendentalist, whose mind is controlled, remains always steady in his meditation on the transcendent Self". The Bhagavad Gita

Please come and join us to experience trataka and other forms of meditation and pranayama in the Barn. 

Monday morning - 12pm to 1pm

Tuesday evening - 6:45pm to 7:45pm 

The Tuesday evening meditation flows into our weekly Kirtan group which you are welcome to join.

 

 

Tracey Cramond

BWY Dip 

 

 

Saturday
Jan072012

Happy New Year!


A gentle reminder that my yoga, meditation and kirtan classes start back next week (week commencing 9th January).  Please use our online booking system to reserve a space Yoga Barn bookings

I've also introduced a loyalty card for my hatha yoga and meditation classes where you can receive a free class of your choice or yoga mat.

I'm looking to include a testimonial page on the website so if you have any words (positive ones hopefully!) you would like me to add then please email me with them.  Just a few sentences would be great!

A huge thanks to all of you for coming to the Barn and making it such a lovely space to practice all the different aspects of yoga.

Look forward to seeing you soon, Namaste, Tracey xx

 

The Yoga Barn

10 reasons to do yoga

 

1.            One of the most obvious benefits of yoga is improved flexibility and posture. If you stick with it, you’ll notice a steady improvement as your muscles lengthen. And you may find that general aches and pains start to lessen: for instance, tight hips can overstrain your knee joints and tight hamstrings can cause lower back pain.

 

2.             Yoga offers us the opportunity to take joints through their full range of motion. And the health of joint capsules can be optimized by movement. Half of people over 60 will have a significant degree of osteoarthritis, and can benefit from a regular yoga practice.

 

3.             Weight-bearing exercise can help to strengthen bones and help to prevent osteoporosis. About half of post-menopausal women are at high risk from osteoporosis. Yoga poses such as down-facing-dog can help to strengthen arm bones, which are particularly vulnerable to osteoporotic fractures. Yoga practice may also help to increase bone density in the vertebrae.

 

4.             The intervertebral discs (that sit between each vertebrae and its neighbour in the spine) are believed to receive nutrients through the compression and release created by movement. A well-balanced yoga practice with plenty of backbends, forward bends, and twists will help to keep your intervertebral discs supple.

 

5.             Yoga can help improve circulation and get the blood flowing around your body. Twisting poses are believed to help squeeze out venous blood from internal organs, allowing fresh oxygenated blood to flow in once the twist is released. Inverted postures, such as shoulderstand, encourage venous blood from the legs and pelvis to flow back to the heart, where it can be pumped to the lungs to be freshly oxygenated. And the breathing exercises – pranayama – that are part of yoga classes help to get more oxygen to your cells, which function better as a result.

 

6.             When you contract and stretch muscles in yoga postures (as well as when you move into and out of them), you increase the drainage of lymph (a viscous fluid rich in immune cells). This helps the lymphatic system fight infection, destroy cancerous cells, and dispose of the toxic waste products of cellular functioning.

 

7.             The medical journal The Lancet, published two studies comparing the effects of Savasana (a relaxation pose, where you lie on your back) with those gained by simply lying on a sofa. After three months, Savasana was associated with a 26-point drop in systolic blood pressure (the top number) and a 15-point drop in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number). The study found that the higher the initial blood pressure, the bigger the drop experienced, So - if you've got high blood pressure, you might benefit from yoga.


8.             Vigorous types of flowing yoga, such as astanga yoga, can boost your heart rate into the aerobic range. And regular aerobic exercise can lower your risk of heart attack and relieve depression. Even yoga exercises that don't get your heart rate up that high can potentially improve cardiovascular conditioning. Studies have found that yoga practice lowers the resting heart rate, increases endurance, and can improve your maximum uptake of oxygen during exercise.

 

9.             Many conditions - such as irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, constipation – can be exacerbated by stress. Most yoga classes will finish with a relaxation session, giving you precious time to switch off and unwind. And all forms of physical exercise, including yoga, can help to ease constipation  - theoretically lowering the risk of colon cancer—because moving the body helps to move food and waste products through the bowels.

 

10.             Some studies suggest another by-product of a regular yoga practice is better sleep – and that means you'll be less tired and stressed and less likely to have accidents.

 

 

And 5 good reasons to meditate

 

1.             People who practice meditation have been shown to problem solve more effectively, as well as acquire and recall information better. And that is probably because they are less distracted by their thoughts. Other studies have found that regular yoga practice (including meditation) can improve coordination, reaction time, memory, and even IQ scores.

 

2.             Feeling blue? At the University of Wisconsin, Richard Davidson, Ph.D., found that the left prefrontal cortex showed heightened activity in meditators. And that has been correlated with greater levels of happiness and better immune function.

 

3.             Meditation appears to have a beneficial effect on the functioning of the immune system, by boosting it when needed (for example, raising antibody levels in response to a vaccine) and also lowering it when needed (for instance, mitigating an inappropriately aggressive immune function in an autoimmune disease like psoriasis).

 

4.             Stimulation can be a good thing, but too much of it can tax your the nervous system. Meditation and yoga encourages you to relax, slow your breath, and focus on the present. All these things help to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, lowering breathing and heart rates, decreases blood pressure, and increases blood flow to the intestines and reproductive organs.

 

5.              According to several studies, yoga, meditation, (or a combination of the two), can help to reduce the pain associated with arthritis, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, as well other chronic conditions. And that means you’re more likely to stay active, happier and – possibly-  need less medication.