New Year, New Lifestyle

So I have decided that after Christmas I would like to start to make the switch from being a Lacto Ovo Vegetarian to eating mostly Vegan and much more Raw food.

 

I have been a Vegetarian now for over 20 years, and in that time I have  gained quite a few pounds,  you see I am also a cheese and chocolate lover,  I like to finish my meal with something sweet,  and for these reasons I think this might be a serious challenge for me!

So my intention is to plan well and keep a new blog of the whole process,  including Daily record of some detailed stats,  such as my energy levels, craving levels (and what they were for), weight, BMI, and a good diary.

So before I start, I’d like to reach out to others that have made the change for information,  advice and help.

So if you want to help me make the change, in any way,  let me know and I will make sure you feature in my blog posts.

An Island within an Island

Ogliastra - Paradise!

Ogliastra – Paradise!

When you think about Sardinia, if you have even heard of it, you probably think of the Costa Smeralda and the famous, rich elite. Sardinia is an Italian island in the middle of the Mediterranean and is a lot bigger than most people think, it’s about the size of Wales. If you have visited or come on holiday here, you have most likely to have been to one of these 3 areas; The Costa Smeralda area, Cagliari, Costa Rei & Villasimius area, or Alghero & Bosa area.

But I wonder how many of you have even heard of Ogliastra? Not many I am guessing, and it’s such a shame, the Ogliastra area is in my opinion THE most scenic, picturesque area of the island and is located on the South East of the island. So I’d like to share some of the wonderful secrets of this area and give you an idea of what this area of the island has to offer.
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Below is my Google Map of the area, and you can download it into your Google Maps app on your mobile device for when you visit completely free! Click the star to view in Google Maps add it to your favourites, you can read this help article if you have Google My Maps android app or access the map from your “My Places” sub menu on Google app on the iPhone.

 

My Top 5 things to see in Ogliastra

1. Beaches
The beaches of Ogliastra are as stunning as they are varied. There are soft, white sandy beaches, pebble beaches, coarse sandy beaches and beaches with large rocks and boulders; there are small and secluded beaches, long and open beaches, little coves, harbours and bays, beaches you can only reach by boat or by hiking, easily accessible beaches; they’re all here! My personal favourites are Su Sirboni at Marina di Gairo, a small sandy cove with shallow waters which you have to walk about 20 minutes to reach from the road, it has no services so you need to go with everything you will need, but is well worth the visit & Cea near Bari Sardo, a large sandy cove with a red rock formation jutting out of the water which is a great area for snorkelling and is well serviced by beach bars and also a restaurant.

2. Mountains

Ogliastra borders the Gennargentu mountain range and National Park and offers some other stunning mountain areas such as the Tacchi D’Ogliastra, Supramonte di Baunai & Pedra Lunga. I live in the shadows of the Tacchi and I am still stunned and awed by the views that I see every day in this awesome area of the world. The Tacchi offer the more daring among you the opportunity to try climbing, there are also quad bike tours and challenging hiking trails. The mountain areas offer sanctuary to Sardinia’s wildlife, with a vast array of fauna and flora to enjoy including Mouflon, wild boar, deer and wild horses as well as birds of prey and smaller wildlife. Sardinia has no poisonous snakes, insects or spiders, so no worries there!

3. Waterfalls

With mountains come waterfalls, and although Sardinia is hot, Ogliastra has some wonderful waterfalls and pools. There are the pools of Coccorrocci near the Marina di Gairo and the waterfalls at Santa Barabara, Ulassai. The waterfalls at Ulassai are more serene during the summer and most spectacular after hard winter rain, but the area is still stunning to visit even in summer and I would recommend getting off the road and exploring under the bridge and the little walking tracks that flank the waterfall to find some of the lower pools. There are no tourist pathways so don’t expect it to be up to Health & Safety standards, but if you don’t mind taking responsibility for your own safety then this area is one of the most relaxing places to spend an hour or so. The Pools and waterfalls at Coccorrocci are more gentle and more well-travelled, but you will still need to be responsible for your own safety and the few tourists who travel to them will most likely be chilling in the shade of the trees or enjoying a little soak in one of the cool, freshwater pools.

4. Caves

Ogliastra has some spectacular caves for visiting. Within the Tacchi D’Ogliastra at Ulassai you can visit the Grotta Su Marmuri, which has a guided tour and a guide who speaks English. The cave is a steady 10 degrees so make sure you go prepared with a jacket and warmer shoes, the first time I visited I wore flip-flops and a strappy T-shirt and I was totally freezing! Closer to the sea is the Grotta Del Fico near Baunei, originally discovered and used by a Jesuit monk to study Monk Seals which nested in the caves, and accessible by boat or by foot using a guide through the area of Golgo.

5. Nuraghe

All over Sardinia you can find the ruins and remains of the ancient Nuraghic civilization. Ogliastra is no exception and offers some stunning examples and archealogical sites. My personal favourites are Nuraghe Sceri near Il Bono, which is still the most peaceful and profound place I have visited on the island to date and Nuraghe Serbissi, near Osini; a much more remote site, arrived at after a trip along a long white road (dirt track) with spectacular views and a tour guide who can explain the relevance of the individual dwellings and points of interest, including a cave that runs underneath the site.

As well as these natural wonders there are also other opportunities and things to do and to enjoy in Ogliastra.
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My Top 5 Things to do in Ogliastra

 1. Retreat

Yoga In Sardinia offers week-long Hatha Yoga, Mindfulness & Yoga Nidra retreats, partnering with local hotels to offer retreats at different price ranges and different experiences of the area; from sea and sun to mountains and tranquillity. Or you can create your own exclusive, personalised Yoga or Wellbeing retreat. You organise your own travel and accommodation arrangements and then you select what activates you want, when and where for your individual retreat. Yoga on the beach, Mindfulness at the waterfalls, massage in the peaceful surroundings of your villa; the choice is yours. A wonderful unique & exclusive opportunity to create your own perfect relaxation retreat! So it may be blatant self-promotion, but who else is going to do it! We also offer group yoga lessons on the beach and Holistic Therapies during the summer months. To find out more and request a no obligation quote from us, visit our website.

2. Kayak

Explore Ogliastra’s amazing coastline by sea kayak, enjoy the calm, clear waters of the island and see the stunning coastal views. Franceso at Cardedu Kayak offers courses and excursions by Kayak as well as longer trips exploring the coastlines and camping on the beaches. You can find out all the information on his website.

3. Green Train

Why not see Ogliastra by train? The Green Train ambles through the chasms, valleys and rich landscape of Ogliastra, taking you across iron bridges and through old stations and places inaccessible by car. Find out more from Fiorenza & Geoffrey at STS on their website.

4. Dive

Ogliastra Diving offers courses in diving, snorkelling & free diving as well as some activities above water such as Wind Surfing and Paddle Boarding. Explore the varied underwater habitats and life of Ogliastra, you might even catch a glimpse of the local dolphins. They are based in Bari Sardo and you can contact Fabiana and see all the details on their website.

5. Mountain Bike

Explore Ogliastra by Bike visiting coastlines, mountains, woodlands and beaches. Francesco from Kayak Cardedu also offers Mountain Bike tours in the local area with a range of tours from easy to medium expert. Check out the range of tours on his MTB Ogliastra website.

And finally, if you are visiting the area here are a few tips.

My Top 5 Tips for visiting the area

1. Hire a car; public transport is the not the greatest here and taxis are hard to come by and expensive. This is one holiday destination that you will want to get out and about to see all the wonders of the area.

2. Download Waze free SatNav  or bring your own SatNav with you – you’ll need to get off the beaten track to find some of these hidden treasures and having a SatNav will give you more confidence! Find out more about Waze here.

3. Be adventurous; Ogliastra has so much hidden beauty, but it’s not for the shy among us, you will need to go down little dirt tracks and through some tiny winding village roads, don’t be frightened to explore, some of the most beautiful beaches and stunning Nuraghe here are at the end of a tiny dirt track!

4. Learn some essential Italian phrases; the locals here are wonderful, friendly people, but they are not English speakers! Use Duolingo free to start learning.

5. Try the local specialities; my favourites are Culurgiones, a pasta parcel filled with potato, mint and cheese and served with fresh tomato sauce & Sebadas, a crispy fried dessert pasta filled with mild, fresh Pecorino and served with melting, warm honey.

Culurgione with fresh tomato sauce & Basil

Culurgione with fresh tomato sauce & Basil

Sebadas with honey

Sebadas with honey

Thank you for taking the time to read my top 5’s of Ogliastra. Please feel free to leave me some comments or make some suggestions for other places to see or things to do in the area. If you decide to visit the area, or have already been please let us know what you think of this beautiful area of Sardinia.

Ciao Ciao

 

Gratitude Walk in Ogliastra

It’s hard not be be overwhelmed with gratitude for life in this environment; so many reasons to feel joy for life surrounded with so much beauty, so much incredible, wild scenery. The air heavy with the scent of pollen, there were so many wild flowers along the road as I walked home from Jerzu, blues, purples, yellows, whites…such a spectacle! The butterflies gracefully fluttering through the air, my two companions making me laugh by energetically chasing the shadows of butterflies and bees on the road.

I walked for 2 hours, enjoying the spring sunshine, I saw only 3 cars the whole time, and one person tending his beehives; such a wonderful walk I wanted to share a few photos with you. I am not a photographer, I carry my iPhone with me and take shots when they present themselves, but I hope they give you an idea of how beautiful this “Island with an Island” of Ogliastra is, and I hope it might inspire you to visit, there is so much to see and do here if you love the outdoors and nature it truly is a paradise!

Jerzu

As I walked away from Jerzu travelling back home, this was the first view back to the “City of wine” with it’s cantina nestling just below!

 

Tacchi above Jerzu

The “heels of Jerzu” or Tacchi D’Ogliastra” jutting out from the earth above the town.

 

View towards Tortolì

The view looking towards Tortolì & Cardedu.

 

Rocks

An unusual rock formation jutting out at the side of the road and Kuma & Shiva trying to find lizards.

 

Tacchi

As I get nearer to home, this is the view the other side of the ridge from Jerzu.

 

Tacchi Valley

Looking further South towards the end of the valley.

 

Our Valley

The other side of the valley from the Tacchi, this is the valley that our house nestles along.

 

View towards Gairo

The view from our valley, looking back towards Jerzu & Gairo

 

Valley

The entrance road to our house is at the bottom of this valley. Notice also the little chasms caused by the rock formations here.

 

Monte Ferru

View towards Monte Ferru from the valley.

Top 5 Tips for Reducing Stress in 2014

Need to relax?

Need to relax?

Stress is on the rise, more people each year are reporting stress as being a problem in their life: effecting their work, home life and health. After years of depression, stress and barely keeping my head above water with our modern, frantic pace of life, I finally broke down, and after a couple of months off work with stress I finally quit. It was time to get out, heal myself and get some perspective.

So that’s what I did, I checked out of society, and in 2010 I moved to rural Sardinia with my retired partner and took some time to heal. It was pretty drastic and most people can’t or don’t want to go quite that far! Well, rather than suggesting you quit your job, abandon society and move to a foreign country, I would instead like to share some of the simple things you can do to manage your own stress, some of the practices that have really helped me to learn how to deal with stress, get a different perspective on life and feel healthier, happier & more positive.

Now the holidays are over, the credit card bill is in, the weather is likely getting you down and you’ve probably given up on most of those New Year resolutions; your stress levels are already likely to be rising in 2014, here are 5 things worth trying out for yourself:

1. Take a deep breath

Our breathing is possibly the cheapest, easiest and most effective way of controlling our central nervous system and getting our body to calm down. By learning very simple breathing exercises we can tell our bodies to chill out, relax and calm down! Breathing more deeply and extending our exhalation (out breath) makes our body stop producing those nasty, unhealthy stress hormones and start producing those nice relaxing hormones instead. Ok, so that’s a bit of a super-simplified explanation of the sympathetic (fight, flight response) and parasympathetic (relaxed) nervous system, but you get the idea!

There is a free audio practice available to try on my website.*

2. Count to 10

It’s a another of those cliché’s, but giving yourself time to pause, reflect and acknowledge what is going on before reacting, can make all the difference. Learning how to observe how you are reacting, both

  • emotionally; how you are feeling and why, and
  • physically; how this reaction or emotion feels in the body, can give you some perspective and allow you to make more positive, calmer choices when you respond to stress. By learning to recognise why we respond in certain ways, by learning our own behaviour patterns, we can choose a different path and learn to respond in a way that is more beneficial to us emotionally and physically.

3. Eat away your stress

So I’m not suggesting we get out the ice cream and chocolate and start bingeing here; I’m talking about making healthy choices about what we eat to manage our stress! Certain foods can help us to be less stressed and promote a sense of calm.

  • Foods high in Magnesium, like Spinach & Quinoa promote a sense of calm.
  • Foods high in Omega 3, like walnuts, nourish the brain helping you think more clearly, and reduce stress hormones.
  • Foods containing tryptophan, like sunflower seeds, soy & spirulina, cause the production of serotonin; that feel good hormone.
  • Foods containing vitamin C, like kiwi, kale and guava, reduce stress levels and boost your immune system.

And guess what, certain foods can actually cause that nasty stress hormone, Cortisol, levels to rise, and guess what they are: yup, anything packed with fat, sugar or salt; so avoid cakes, chips and crisps!

4. Sleep more

Get a good nights sleep.

Try to get more sleep, go to bed a bit earlier than usual. It’s another one of those vicious circles, you’re stressed out, can’t get to sleep so you sleep less. And in turn, less sleep lowers your immunity, makes you irritable and reduces your ability to cope causing you more angst and anxiety. So how do you break this cycle?

Here are a few tips to get more sleep:

Switch off the TV & computer at least half an hour before you go to bed: use this time to have a relaxing bath or listen to some calming music.
Do some very gentle yoga or Tai Chi to help calm your body and mind.
Listen to a guided body relaxation.
Do some long, slow, deep breathing and become completely involved in the process of breathing, how it feels, the movements of the body, the flow of air at the lips, nostrils of the back of the throat. You can also count your breaths, counting backwards from 100 to 0 each time you inhale and exhale.

5. Learn some stress management tools

Finally, make some time to learn some tools that will help you to reduce your stress levels and help you to deal with any issues in your work or home life. Mindfulness based stress management techniques have been shown to reduce stress levels and to help us to be more peaceful and happy within ourselves, despite an increasingly overwhelming and demanding world.
Incoming search terms:

There are lots of really simple and very effective tools out there we can use to help ourselves, these are just 5 that I have found useful in my own life.

Stay happy, healthy and remember to enjoy life in 2014!

OM TIMES: Top 5 Tips for Reducing Stress in 2014
by Alexandra Redmond
omtimes.com/2014/01/top-…-stress-2014/

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About the Author

Alex has been practising yoga & meditation for over 15 years and started teaching 5 years ago. She has recently launched Stress Management for a Modern World, an online mindfulness based stress management course.

Alex is from the Isle of Wight, UK, and moved in 2010 to live in Ogliastra, Sardinia for a simpler and quieter life. You can find out more at her website here. meditationcourse.yogainsardinia.com/about-me/ She is also on Twitter, Google+ & Facebook.

* free download Breath Relaxation Practice
meditationcourse.yogainsardinia.com/downloads/breath-relaxation-practice/

A Morning Walk in Ogliastra

I live a truly blessed life, being able to take a leisurely walk with our 2 labs on a beautiful sunny January morning in our corner of paradise which is Ogliastra, Sardinia. I hope you enjoy my little photo post of our walk, and next time you need to get away from it all for a break, consider Ogliastra, it’s a truly special place!

Looking out over the valley, blue skies, gorgeous views...

Looking out over the valley, blue skies, gorgeous views.

Corbezzolo Tree, otherwise known as the Strawberry Tree.

Corbezzolo Tree, otherwise known as the Strawberry Tree.

Corbezzolo Blossom & Berries

Corbezzolo Blossom & Berries

Wild yellow flowers with impressive Tacchi in the background

Wild yellow flowers with impressive Tacchi in the background

Tacchi d'Ogliastra with bee buzzing around yellow wild flower.

Tacchi d’Ogliastra with bee buzzing around yellow wild flower.

Prickly pears lining the country road.

Prickly pears lining the country road.

Abandoned House nestled in the hillside.

Abandoned House nestled in the hillside.

Oh look, a gently flowing river...

Oh look, a gently flowing river…

Look, it's water, we love water, yay!

Look, it’s water, we love water, yay!

Oh, yeah, that feels good on the paws!

Oh, yeah, that feels good on the paws!

Ok, Ok, we're coming.

Ok, Ok, we’re coming.

Water rushing over the ford.

Water rushing over the ford.

Puddles for puppies to play in, orange trees lining the path wall.

Puddles for puppies to play in, orange trees lining the path wall.

Another pretty waterfall along the way.

Another pretty waterfall along the way.

Hello Shiva

Hello Shiva

Hello Kuma

Hello Kuma

Girls just want to have fun...

Girls just want to have fun…

A shack for the shepherds I think, check out the car cut in half.

A shack for the shepherds I think, check out the car cut in half.

A little reminder that personal loss & grief are all part of life's rich tapestry as I pass a memorial at the side of the track.

A little reminder that personal loss & grief are all part of life’s rich tapestry as I pass a memorial at the side of the track.

And we go through the woods, this is near the end of the walk and the place the girls go mad chasing each other and playing hide and seek around benched and boulders!

And we go through the woods, this is near the end of the walk and the place the girls go mad chasing each other and playing hide and seek around benches and boulders!

Chase me, chase me!

Chase me, chase me!

The woodland covered in diverse funghi, that's it, back home now for a cuppa and some lunch!

The woodland covered in diverse funghi, that’s it, back home now for a cuppa and some lunch!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 tips for a naturally healthy winter

It’s the holiday season, time for parties, presents and lots of good will; yay! Unfortunately this time of year is not always merry-making and fun, it’s also the season of colds, flu and general ill health. The good news is there are really simple, easy and natural things we can do to maximise our immune system and keep ourselves healthy.

Here are my top 5 tips for staying healthy this winter:

1. Drink a cup of Turmeric Milk each day.

Drink a cup of Turmeric each day to boost your immune system.

Drink a cup of Turmeric each day to boost your immune system.

Turmeric has been used for centuries to boost immunity and treat coughs and colds. Lots of people are put off by the idea of drinking turmeric, try my favourite recipe below, it’s sweet, warming and will keep those colds at bay, you might be surprised how good it tastes!

I like to make up a paste that I can keep in a jar in the fridge and use whenever I need to instead of making it fresh each time, then just add between half and a whole teaspoon of the paste (to your own taste) for each mug of turmeric milk.

Ingredients for the paste:
1 tbsp ground Turmeric
½ tbsp ground Ginger
½ tbsp ground Cinnamon
1tsp Black Pepper
1tsp Vanilla essence
½tsp Ground Cloves
½tsp Allspice
½tsp Cardamom

To make the paste, add all the spices together and bind with a bit of water until it forms a paste. Then pop the paste in a small jar and conserve in the fridge.

(Feel free to remove any spice, apart from the turmeric, that you don’t like or add in your own favourite sweet spice)

To make a cup of turmeric milk

Ingredients
250ml milk (this can be cow’s milk, goat’s milk, coconut milk, almond milk, rice milk or soya milk depending on your dietary and taste requirements, but I think it goes particularly well with coconut milk)
½ or 1 tsp mixed paste (recipe above)
1 tsp Honey (or agave nectar or any other natural sweetener of your choice)

Add the milk into a small saucepan, then mix in the paste and bring to boil.  Add in the sweetener to your taste and then remove the saucepan from the heat. Use a tea strainer over your cup and pour the Turmeric milk through the strainer into your cup. Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg. Enjoy!

2.Practice some winter breathing exercises.

Breathing techniques (Pranayama) can boost general and lung health and help keep airways, throat and lungs free from infections.

Kapalabhati Pranayama, also known as the cleansing breath, cleanses the body’s internal system, not only the respiratory organs, but it also has a beneficial effect on the digestive system and organs, including the stomach, pancreas and liver. (You can read more about the benefits of Kapalabhati here).

To practice this breathing technique:
Sit comfortably with a straight back to make space for your lungs, and place your hands on your lower belly.

Use your diaphragm to forcefully and fully expel all the air from your lungs (as if you were blowing your nose). If you are new to this practice, use a longer slower exhale to force the air from your lungs, slowly working up to shorter, more forceful exhalations.

Allow the inhalation to come naturally, the lungs filling spontaneously, without effort or forcing anything.

Perform this cycle ten times to start off with, or less if you feel light headed, then allow your breathing return to normal and observe the sensations in your body. Repeat these cycles of ten movements two or three times to start off with and gradually work up to 6 rounds (60 breaths).

Here is a Youtube demonstration of Kapalabhati breathing from Yoga International.

If you are suffering from high blood pressure, any heart disease, hernia, gastric ulcers, vertigo, epilepsy, lung diseases such as asthma or poor lungs capacity or recovering from tuberculosis or if you are pregnant, you should do these exercises only under expert guidance.

3. Eat lots of fruit and vegetables

Eat fresh, local fruit and vegetables every day.

Eat fresh, local fruit and vegetables every day.

Make sure your are getting lots of health boosting vitamins and minerals, eat at least 5 portions of fruit and veg each day. If you don’t like eating them, try juicing them!

Top fruit & veggies for winter health are Kiwi, Oranges, Blueberries, Cantaloupe, Spinach, Broccoli, Kale, Carrots, Mushrooms, Sweet Potatoes.

Try adding some raw, organic coconut oil into your smoothie or meal for an extra boost.

Always buy your fruit and vegetables as fresh and local as possible.

4. Reduce your stress levels

Stress hormones lower your body’s ability to fight off infections and viruses, and can even cause illnesses and diseaase. Take steps to reduce your stress levels this winter; simplifiy your life as much as possible, be picky about which party invitations you accept and make time to get some physical exercise; take a walk in the countryside or park and get some fresh air out in a natural environment.

You can use a deep breathing practice to calm down your nervous system, check out our free guided breathing practice below.

If you are looking for more specific and sustainable ways to reduce your stress levels, check out our website for more information about our online Stress Management Course.

5. Sleep well

Sleep

Get enough sleep!

If we’re not sleeping well, we’re more likely to get a cough or cold, studies have shown that a lack of sleep decreases the levels of infection fighting white blood cells in the body. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep and keep your immune system at peak condition! Make sure you are relaxed before heading off to bed; switch off the TV or computer for at least half an hour before bedtime and go to bed a little bit earlier. Listen to a guided relaxation like this one when you head off to bed.

That’s it Folks! Have a wonderful festive season, stay healthy and here’s to a happy, stress free 2014 😉

 

Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, fitness, or other health program.

 

My top apps for Yoginis

I have tried quite a few of the apps for yoga & meditation out there, some good, some not so good and I thought I would share some of my top picks that have stood the test of time on my iPhone. You’ll notice there are no actual Yoga apps on my list, this is purely because I have not found a yoga app that I enjoy using for my home practice yet, as a yoga teacher, I tend to practice a more intuitive yoga at home, rather than a set practice, so the apps I regularly use support this type of home practice rather than instructional apps. The apps below I use on my iphone, I am due to get an Android tablet soon, so as I find some good Android apps I’ll add them in.

 

1. Mindfulness II

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This app has some lovely guided meditations and also a silent meditation timer with mindfulness bells at intervals you choose. I like that there was a choice of guided meditations and the personalised meditation options, which allow you t choose an introduction and then a period of silent meditation. They also have a specific app for meditation during pregnancy.

iOS app store link

Unfortunately these apps do not appear to be available on Android yet; lets hope that changes soon!

 

2. Universal Breathing: Pranayama

app-breathing-relax-stress-anxiety-relief-pranayama-yogic-screen1-thumb

I love this app for the flexibility of being able to programme my own timings and ratios for different pranayama practices. I would like there to be a nice singing bowl tone or something a little more gentle to note the end of the practice rather than just the abrupt cut off of the sound., but it is a minor irritation compared to the flexibility for more own practice it offers.

They also have a range of other relaxation and yoga apps.

iOS app store link

Android app link

 

3. Nature Scenes

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The sounds board allows you to create your own background music, it has great selection of sounds and the ability to change the volume of each individual sound to create the perfect ambiance for your yoga or meditation practice.

iOS app store link

There appears to be no Android version available yet.

 

4. Zen Waves

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For anyone who is wide awake at bedtime and having trouble quieting down their mind, this app can really send you off to sleep without disturbing your partner or the need of headphones. It using a gentle pulsing of light to help you calm, you simply synchronise your breath with the pulsing light. I like that you can use this also with your eyes closed as you are still aware of the pulsing, but in a relaxing way, which does not prevent you going off to sleep. There are some personalisation options including being able to change the colour of the light as well as the length of the pulse. It’s not the best looking app, but it does a great job!

iOS store link

No Android version.

 

 

Per trovare la pace interiore….

 
 
Per trovare la pace interiore, dedicati con piena attenzione e interesse a tutto ciò che fai…
Per trovare la pace interiore, vivi pienamente nel momento, sciogliendo passato e futuro nei cicli dell’eternità…
Per trovare la pace interiore, rilassati interiormente: nel corpo, nelle emozioni, nella mente e, infine, nello spirito…
Per trovare la pace interiore, pratica il non attaccamento: sii sempre consapevole che niente e nessuno ti appartiene veramente…
Per trovare la pace interiore, coltiva consapevolmente pensieri gioiosi…
Per trovare la pace interiore, non avere desideri; realizza che la felicità è dentro di te, non nelle cose o nelle circostanze esteriori…
Per trovare la pace interiore, realizza che non puoi cambiare il mondo, ma puoi cambiare te stesso…
Per trovare la pace interiore, proietta la pace all’esterno, nell’ambiente che ti circonda…
Per trovare la pace interiore, vivi semplicemente, riduci ciò che ritieni “necessario”…
Per trovare la pace interiore, conduci una vita sana: fai abitualmente esercizio fisico, mangia con regolarità, respira profondamente…
Per trovare la pace interiore, agisci in libertà, dal tuo centro interiore, senza essere schiavo di ciò che il mondo ti chiede…
Per trovare la pace interiore, accetta la verità in ogni circostanza come la tua guida…
Per trovare la pace interiore, non desiderare quello che hanno gli altri, ma sappi che quanto è tuo di diritto troverà il modo di raggiungerti…
Per trovare la pace interiore, non lamentarti, ma riconosci che quello che la vita ti concede dipende da quello che tu, in primo luogo, concedi a te stesso…
Per trovare la pace interiore, accetta la responsabilità dei tuoi fallimenti e realizza che solo tu puoi trasformarli in successi…
Per trovare la pace interiore, conquista te stesso, non limitarti a cessare le ostilità…
Per trovare la pace interiore, sorridi nel cuore anche quando gli altri ti guardano storto…
Per trovare la pace interiore, dona la gioia piuttosto che pretenderla dagli altri…
Per trovare la pace interiore, lavora con gli altri, mai contro di loro…
Per trovare la pace interiore, medita e attingi alle sorgenti di pace dell’anima…
Per trovare la pace interiore, accetta te stesso: non essere cieco di fronte alle tue colpe, non odiarti per esse…
Per trovare la pace interiore, ama gli altri in modo disinteressato, senza motivazioni egoistiche.
(Swami Kriyananda)

 

Salamba Sirsasana

“Put the attention into the luminous connections
between each of the centers throughout the body.
The base of the spine and the top of the skull,
The genitals and the heart!
The heart and the throat,
the throat and the forehead,
the forehead to the top of the head . . .

Attend to the current of relationship
electrifying, ever-pulsating, richly textured,
between each of these and every other.

Then attend simultaneously to resonance of all with all.

Enter that glowing net of light
with the focus born of awe
and even your bones will know enlightenment.”

Infinity dancing everywhere..

“Experience the substance of the body and the world
as made up of vibrating particles,
and these particles made up of
even finer energy particles.

Drifting more deeply,
feel into each particle
as it condenses from infinity
and dissolves back into it
continuously.

Noticing this, breathe easily
with infinity dancing everywhere.”

Perfection?

This is not an advanced. perfect or difficult yoga posture, this is not a fit, perfect body, but this IS yoga and it does feel perfectly blissful!
Cobra posture, Cea Beach, Ogliastra
There are so many photos and videos out there of perfect bodies doing perfect (and advanced) poses. They feel wrong to me for 2 reasons; the first: they are just another example of modern society’s obsession with sex, perfection and beauty which places pressure on everyone to reach these unrealistic goals and promotes, self loathing, inadequacy and a desire to be something other than what we are. The second: I worry that it puts many people off trying yoga, because the postures we see are advanced postures and are not achievable for many, even after years of practice, not every body is the same and not every body is capable of some of these advanced postures. So many people who are curious about yoga have said to me “I can’t do yoga, I am not flexible enough”; these pictures and videos do nothing to encourage these people and it is a shame because so many could benefit from a yoga practice.
I understand that for some these pictures are incentive and goals and I am not saying there is no place for them at all, but I do feel the balance with videos and photos showing more subtle and gentle practice is totally off.I long for the day when we will be encouraged to embrace and love ourselves for who we are and where we are on our journey and when we can learn to see and accept others for who they are, with all their imperfections!

It starts with you…..

It starts with you…..
Governments cannot change the world, neither can churches, society nor any other authority.  Nobody can be forced to show compassion, tolerance, respect and nobody can be forced to change.
Gandhi said “be the change you want to see in the world”.
The world will only be more peaceful, compassionate, tolerant and safe if we each individually commit, every day, to being the best we can be; to show respect, to be compassionate, to help others, to choose how we react to challenges and differences, to show by example that there is a better way.
Can you imagine the revolution that would occur across the whole planet if each and every person on the planet, on this very day chose compassion instead of selfishness, chose generosity instead of greed, chose to think of us all being interconnected and sharing resources and knowledge in a fair way instead of the protecting the needs and greed of individual countries, religions & cultures, chose to give without thought of receiving, chose to be tolerant and respectful of others’ differences in ideas, beliefs, colour and culture instead of prejudiced and intolerant, chose forgiveness over anger and hate?
Peace in a bubble by John Taylor 
It can happen, but we must stop expecting someone else to do it for us, we have to do this ourselves. So why are we waiting for something or someone else to save the human race, to save our world?
Begin today; be the best you can be; allow your tranquility, compassion and generosity to be the example to everyone you meet. Choose to react and think differently today, see the change it brings about within your own heart, your own well-being; allow the change to spread from you like a bubble, show others how things can be different; if your change in attitude makes just one person feel a bit more positive or a bit happier, wouldn’t it have been worth it??
And if you slip up and make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up, we all make mistakes and we all have bad days; show yourself compassion and forgiveness and begin again…never give up…always “be the change you want to see in the world.”
Let’s start the revolution together….

Emotional pain, acceptance; Yoga

I was mooching around the internet last week, just generally looking at yoga stuff and I saw a picture of a yoga pose; one of those yoga pictures with a perfectly formed, young, attractive body in an advanced posture, and when I clicked onto the site it had come from I was taken to the blog of an anorexic lady, with lots of posts expressing self hate, self loathing and even a few about self harming. I felt a huge amount of compassion towards this person who appears to be in a very dark place, and I do really hope that she does get to a yoga and/or meditation class with an experienced yoga teacher who can help her on the path to self acceptance and in time maybe even a place where she can learn to understand that she does deserve love and is beautiful.

What occurred to me after (and I looked at a lot more links from pictures of these beautiful, advanced yoga postures with young, attractive, slim people) was how many people out there are striving to be the image the media and modern western culture is holding up as perfection, and how far this representation is of what yoga really means. I saw images of yoga postures with slogans attached to them about striving to be the best, to be slim, to be more competitive, to be more than you are today; it was represented as a fitness practice –  something people do to make themselves something else….and I felt sad. Why??

For me, yoga is totally not about being competitive; it is about self acceptance, a feeling of being connected and alive, being completely joined with the present, enjoying the here and now, experiencing this moment totally….whatever it is presenting to me. For me yoga is not something that I do, it is something that I am……it is my breath, my body, my feelings, my total experience (whether it be happy, sad, painful, pleasurable, etc) in this moment and so much more.

Yes; it also helps me to move beyond my current limitations, but with patience and with compassion for myself, without the feeling that I am not good enough now and need to be something else – something more; instead just with the ongoing experience of being with my body and breath I move beyond my past limitations and, yes, there are days when things are different in my body, but with a connection with yoga I see them now only as “different”, and I can see things as they are instead of judging my body, things, people, experiences as “worse” or “better”.

I have been in some dark places during my own life and I know intimately some of these feelings of self loathing, feelings of lack of self worth, grief, pain, separation and sorrow that I saw reflected in many people’s blogs and websites and I hope, with all my heart, that anyone out there who feels inadequate, ashamed, hurt and unloved will find a way to know that they can be happy, they can experience peace, stability and love. And to anyone who is reading this and feels in a dark place right now: please try yoga and/or a meditation, preferably with an experienced teacher who can demonstrate and guide you beyond just the physical exercises, it may not be an overnight fix, but with the right guidance it really can change your experience of life for the better.

Namaste

Le Pieghe in Avanti Dello Yoga

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Prasarita Padottanasana
Spendiamo un sacco di tempo in posizione eretta, in particolare in piedi. Per stare in piedi causa la colonna vertebrale di comprimere e questo tipo di posture allevia la tensione nella spina dorsale. Le pieghe in avanti possono fatto in posizione eretta o seduta.
Le posture di piegarsi in avanti offrono molti vantaggi, loro estendono i femorali e tutta la parte posteriore del corpo, contribuendo a mantenere flessibile la colonna vertebrale, alleviano i problemi digestivi, stimolano il plesso solare e calmano la mente.
Questo tipo di asana ha un’azione massaggiante sugli organi nella parte superiore del corpo, anche migliora la circolazione ai vari organi, come l’addome, pancreas, fegato, intestino e reni. Sono buoni per la digestione e la disintossicazione perché la posizione aiuta a stimolare gli organi di digerire il cibo e rimuovere i rifiuti e le tossine dagli organi e tessuti del corpo.
I nervi di tutti i diversi organi del corpo passano attraverso il midollo spinale e le pieghe in avanti espandono lo spazio tra le vertebre spinali che migliora la circolazione che ha gli effetti benefici sul corpo.
Anchequeste postureaiutanoad allungaree rafforzare itendini, i muscoli della gambainternae aumentarela forzadelle gambe ele ginocchia.
Le pieghe in avanti stimolano Samana Vayu, il respiro di equilibrio. Questo ha effetti benefici sulla digestione, la temperatura corporea, il parto, le mestruazioni, vitalità e di equilibrio generale. Queste posture anche promuovono l’espirazione piena di aria dai polmoni dalla compressione del torace.
Ci vuole il tempo, la pratica e la pazienza di padroneggiare la piega in avanti, rilassatevi nelle posture, non cercate di spingere o costringere il vostro corpo in queste posture, fate le posture solo come loro potete sostenere comodamente senza alcuna sensazione di bruciore o dolore.
La piega in avanti non sono raccomandati per tutti. La gente che ha sofferto incidenti o lesioni alla spina dorsale, che ha sciatica o in stato di gravidanza dovrebbero chiedere loro insegnante per le modifiche di queste posizioni e, ed in alcuni casi, evitare totalmente di piega in avanti.
Come per ogni tipo di esercizio fisico, se si ha una patologia o lesioni, chiede consiglio ad un medico.

Lo Yoga – una introduzione

Lo yoga è una pratica antica, sviluppato in India, e creduto per provenire in una civiltà chiamato Harappa. Lo Yoga è stato registrato nei testi chiamati “Veda” risalente 4-5000 anni fa. Ha radici nel Induismo e il brahmanesimo, tuttavia le pratiche possono utilizzato per migliorare qualsiasi credenza spirituale o utilizzato come una pratica puramente fisica per migliorare la salute e benessere fisica e mentale.
Yoga ha molte diverse forme di pratica ed è tradizionalmente un modo della vita e non è solo le posture fisiche che lo associano qui in Occidente. La pratica dello yoga è dedicato alla creazione di unione tra corpo, mente e spirito. Infatti, la parola sanscrita “yoga” ha il significato letterale di “giogo”, da una radice di “yuj ” che significa di aderire o di unire. Il suo obiettivo è quello di assistere il praticante in usando il respiro e il corpo di promuovere la consapevolezza di noi stessi come gli esseri individuali che sono intimamente connessi a tutta la creazione.
In circa 200 dC Patanjali scritto in un testo intitolato “The Yoga Sutra di Patanjali”, che è la guida di uno stile di vita yogica. Questo testo sacro descrive il funzionamento interno della mente e definisce una guida di 8 punti per controllare l’irrequietezza della mente che ci permette di godere di una vita piena di significato e pacifica e, infine, raggiungere l’illuminazione.
L’ottuplice sentiero dello Yoga inizia con le pratiche preliminari di yama, niyama, asana, pranayama e pratyahara che sviluppano il fondamento della vita spirituale e affrontare la salute e il controllo del corpo fisico ed emozionale. Gli ultimi tre pratiche di dharana, dhyana e samadhi, che non sono possibili da raggiungere senza la prassi precedenti, si occupano di ricondizionamento e di formazione della mente e lavorando per raggiungere l’illuminazione.

1.     Yama

Yama si riferisce al comportamenti sociali e principi morali, il modo in cui trattiamo gli altri e il mondo che ci circonda. Ci sono cinque yama:
·         Ahimsa – Nonviolenza e compassione per tutti i viventi. La parola “ahimsa” significa non ferire o non si comportano crudelmente verso qualsiasi creatura o qualsiasi altra persona. Però, Ahimsa non è solo carenza di violenza, significa gentilezza, cordialità, e di mostrare considerazione per gli altri e le cose. Si riferisce anche ai nostri doveri e responsabilità; Ahimsa significa che in ogni situazione dovremmo adottare un atteggiamento compassionevole e non nuocere.
·         Satya – Un impegno di essere sincero e onesto.Satya significa dire la verità, tuttavia non è sempre desiderabile di dire la verità perché potrebbe causare danni a qualcuno inutilmente. Dobbiamo anche considerare Ahimsa in quello che diciamo e come lo diciamo. Se dire la verità ha conseguenze negative per un altro, può essere meglio non dire niente. Satya non dovrebbe mai essere in conflitto con ahimsa. Questo principio si basa sulla comprensione che la comunicazione ed azione onesta formano le basi di relazioni sane, comunità sana e governi sani, e che la menzogna, disonestà, esagerazioni e falsità fanno male agli altri e, in definitiva, si fa male a noi stessi.
·         Asteya – Non rubare.Steya significa per rubare, asteya significa prendere nulla che non ci appartiene. Non rubare include non solo prendere ciò che appartiene ad un altro senza permesso, ma anche utilizzando qualcosa per uno scopo diverso da quello previsto o fuori dei confini è stato offerto dal suo proprietario. La pratica di asteya si riferisce anche a non prendere nulla che non sia stato dato liberamente. Questo implica considerazione per come si cerca il tempo o di attenzione d’un altro, quando chiediamo il tempo e l’attenzione che non è liberamente dato è, in effetti, rubando.
·         Brahmacharya – il controllo dei sensi.Brahmacharya indica che dobbiamo stringere relazioni che favoriscono la nostra comprensione della verità spirituale. La persona che pratica brahmacharya evitando incontri sessuali senza significato, nocivi o abusivi e usa la sua energia sessuale per rigenerare il collegamento con il Sé spirituale.
·         Aparigraha – Il controllo del desiderio di acquisire e accumulare ricchezza. Aparigraha suggerisce prendiamo solo ciò che è necessario, e non approfittare di una situazione o comportarsi avidamente. Avete veramente bisogno di più scarpe, un’altra macchina, o di essere al centro della conversazione quando vedi i vostri amici? Aparigraha incoraggia anche rilasciando i nostri attaccamenti alle cose ed una comprensione che il cambiamento è l’unica certezza nella vita.

2.     Niyama

Niyama si riferisce a autodisciplina e di responsabilità, come ci trattiao. Ci sono cinque niyama:
·         Shauca – La purezza e la pulizia.La purezza si riferisce a mantenere pulito se stessi, i vestiti, ed il vostro ambiente. Di mangiare cibi freschi e sani. Shauca si riferisce anche alla purificazione della mente delle suoi emozioni ed i pensieri negativi come l’odio, la passione, ira, lussuria, avidità, illusione e orgoglio.
·         Santosha – La contentezza e gratitudine.Santosha si riferisce alla coltivazione di soddisfazione e di tranquillità, trovando la felicità con quello che avete e chi siete, invece di concentrarsi su ciò che non avete o quello che si preferisce essere. Per avere la pace e la contentezza con i nostri stili di vita, anche mentre vivendo le sfide della vita e le difficoltà diventa un processo di sviluppo personale e spirituale.
·         Tapas – L’austerità e di autocontrollo.Tapas si riferisce a mostrare disciplina del corpo, della parola e della mente. L’obiettivo di sviluppare l’auto-disciplina è quello di controllare e superare le distrazioni e desideri di breve termine, per rimanere concentrati e dirigere la mente e il corpo per la crescita e lo scopo spirituale.
·         Svadhyaya – auto-riflessione e studiare.Questo si riferisce allo studio dei testi sacri, qualunque libri sono rilevanti per la vostra pratica spirituale, che vi ispirano e vi guidano sul vostro sentiero spirituale. Si riferisce anche a qualsiasi attività che coltiva auto-riflessione e di sviluppa intenzionalmente la consapevolezza di sé in tutte le nostre attività e pratiche, di rispettare e accettare i nostri limiti e di riconoscere i nostri tratti meno positivi per lavorare con compassione e pazienza per crescere oltre di loro.
·         Ishvara-Pranidhàna – Celebrazione della Spirituale.La finale Niyama si riferisce al riconoscimento che la spirituale o divino permea tutto ed attraverso la nostra consapevolezza di questo possiamo abbracciare il nostro ruolo come parte della Energia Divina.

3.     Asana

Le posture di yoga sono utilizzate per preparare il corpo per la meditazione. In Occidente consideriamo spesso che la pratica delle asana o posture sono solo come un esercizio di regime o un modo per stare in forma, però, per sedersi per un lungo periodo di tempo in meditazione, richiede un corpo agile e sano. Se siete liberi di distrazioni fisici è più facile di controllare la mente e di interiorizzare i sensi per le pratiche avanzate di meditazione.
 
   
4.     Pranayama
Prana riferisce alla forza vitale o energia che esiste ovunque e scorre attraverso ciascuno di noi ed è generalmente comprende meglio attraverso il respiro. Pranayama è il controllo e l’estensione del respiro ed il prana all’interno del corpo. Le pratiche del pranayama purificano il corpo e rimuovano le distrazioni dalla mente per rendere più facile di concentrarsi e meditare.
  
5.     Pratyahara
Pratyahara riferisce alla ritiro dei sensi dalla consapevolezza conscia. Pratyahara può accadere durante la meditazione, pranayama, o durante l’esecuzione di asana yoga, qualsiasi volta che si stanno concentrando l’attenzione verso l’interno.

6.       Dharana

Dharana significa concentrazione o di attenzione totale di mente ed è spesso praticata con una particolare attenzione, come fiamma di una candela. In dharana, la concentrazione è senza sforzo, sapete si concentra  la mente quando non c’è il senso del tempo che passa.

7.       Dhyana

La concentrazione senza oggetto di attenzione è chiamato dhyana, questo porta allo stato di meditazione. La pratica della meditazione non è incoscienza o mancanza di consapevolezza, ma è piuttosto uno stato di maggiore consapevolezza e un senso di connessione con l’universo. La calma raggiunto in meditazione si diffonde a tutti gli aspetti della vostra vita.

8.     Samadhi

L’obiettivo ultimo dello yoga è Samadhi o beatitudine assoluta. Questo è supercoscienza, in cui voi e il Divino diventano un tutt’uno. Quelli che hanno realizzato il samadhi hanno raggiunto l’illuminazione.
Ci sono molti stili ed approcci diversi allo yoga, e sebbene tutti gli stili si basano sulle stesse posture fisiche ognuno ha una particolare attenzione, che può essere incomprensibile per un principiante di yoga, tuttavia significa che le persone di tutte le personalità e le capacità dovrebbe trovare uno stile che li soddisfa.

 

Tipi dello Yoga:
Hatha – posture dello Yoga, respirazione, pratiche di pulizia e rilassamento
Raja – Meditazione
Bhakti – Devozione
Karma – servizio disinteressato
Jnana – Studio
Japa – Mantra
Stili maggiori dello yoga:
Stili tradizionali sviluppato da guru indiani

Hatha – ritmo lento e delicato e fornisce una buona introduzione alle posture di base dello yoga, pranayama e meditazione.
Integrale – gentile, accessibile e un stilo non competitivo che incorpora pratica fisica, i rapporti spirituale, intellettuale e interpersonale.
Iyengar – forte attenzione alla allineamento ed equilibrio nelle posture, spesso con l’uso di sostegni con le posture detenuti per periodi più lunghi.
Ashtanga – un stilo vigoroso, una pratica atletica e scorrevole
Kundalini – uno dei tipi più spirituale di yoga con particolare attenzione alla respirazione, meditazione, mudra, kriya e canto
Sivananda – pratica lenta e delicata, con un focus su 12 posizioni importanti.
Viniyoga – pratica adattabile e gentile che include le posture, il canto, la respirazione e la meditazione
Kripalu – pratica delicata e personalizzata con l’accento sulla meditazione e trasformazione spirituale


Stili contemporanei sviluppato in Occidente

Bikram – posture vigorose dello yoga in una stanza riscaldata tra i 95-100 gradi.
Anusara – una pratica con cuor leggero, che scorre con l’utilizzo di puntelli.
Forrest – una pratica fisica forte ed emotiva con l’accento sulla guarigione e trasformazione
Jivamukti – una pratica vigorosa che scorre ed usando i temi di filosofia e cantando in ogni lezione
Restauro – una pratica molto rilassante con l’utilizzo di puntelli per aprire il corpo attraverso lo stretching passivo con posture possedute per un massimo di 20 minuti alla volta
Yin – le posture sono detenuti per lunghi periodi di tempo per allungare i tessuti connettivi, come tendini e legamenti.

  Lettura consigliata aggiuntivi
Autobiografia di uno Yogi Paramahansa Yogananda
Yoga Sutra di Patanjali
Bhagavada Gita
Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha Swami Satyananda Saraswati
Il Cuore dello Yoga – T.K.V. Desikachar

Beginners guide to Yoga

Yoga is an ancient practice, developed in India, and is thought to have it’s roots in a civilization called the Harappan. Yoga has been recorded in texts called “Vedas” dating back 4 to 5 thousand years ago. It has roots in Hinduism and Brahmanism, however it’s practices can be used to enhance any spiritual belief or it can be used as a purely physical practice to enhance physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Yoga has many different forms of practice and is traditionally a way of life and not just the physical postures that we associate it with in the West. The practice of yoga is dedicated to creating union between body, mind and spirit. In fact, the Sanskrit word yoga has the literal meaning of “yoke”, from a root yuj meaning to join or to unite. Its objective is to assist the practitioner in using the breath and body to foster an awareness of ourselves as individual beings intimately connected to the whole of creation.
In approximately 200 AD Patanjali wrote down the guide to living a yogic lifestyle in a text called The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali. This sacred text describes the inner workings of the mind and sets out an 8 point guide for controlling the restlessness of the mind enabling us to enjoy a meaningful and peaceful life and, ultimately, attain enlightenment.
The eight-fold path of Yoga begins with the preliminary practices of yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, and pratyahara which build the foundation of spiritual life and deal with the health and control of the physical and emotional body. The last three practices of dharana, dhyana and Samadhi, which are not possible to achieve without the previous practices, deal with reconditioning and training of the mind and working towards attaining enlightenment.

1.       Yama

Yama refers to social behaviour and moral principles, how we treat others and the world around us. There are five yamas:
  • Ahimsa – Nonviolence & compassion for all living things. The word ahimsa means to not injure or behave cruelly to any creature or any person. However, Ahimsa is more than just lack of violence; it means kindness, friendliness, and showing consideration to other people and things. It also refers to our duties and responsibilities; Ahimsa implies that in every situation we should adopt a compassionate attitude and do no harm.
  • Satya – Commitment to being truthful and honest. Satya means to speak the truth, however it is not always desirable to speak the truth because it could cause harm to someone unnecessarily. We also have to consider Ahimsa in what we say and how we say it. If speaking the truth has negative consequences for another, then it may be better to say nothing. Satya should never come into conflict ahimsa. This principle is based on the understanding that honest communication and action form the foundations of healthy relationships, communities and governments, and that lying, dishonesty, exaggerations, and mistruths harm others and ultimately ourselves.
  • Asteya – Not stealing . Steya means to steal; asteya means to take nothing that does not belong to us. Non-stealing includes not only taking what belongs to another without permission, but also using something for a different purpose to what was intended, or beyond the boundaries it was offered by its owner.  The practice of asteya refers to not taking anything that has not been freely given. This includes having consideration for how we seek another’s time or attention; when we demand time or attention that is not freely given it is, in effect, stealing.
  • Brahmacharya – Sense control. Brahmacharya indicates that we should form relationships that foster our understanding of spiritual truth. The person who practices brahmacharya avoids meaningless, harmful or abusive sexual encounters and uses their sexual energy to regenerate the connection to the spiritual self.
  • Aparigraha – Controlling the desire to acquire and hoard wealth. Aparigraha suggests we take only what is necessary, and we do not to take advantage of a situation or behave greedily. Do you really need more shoes, another car, or to be the centre of the conversation when you see your friends? Aparigraha also encourages releasing our attachments to things and an understanding that change is the only certainty in life.

2.       Niyama

Niyama refers to self-discipline and responsibility, how we treat ourselves. There are five niyamas:
  • Shauca – Purity and cleanliness. Purity refers to keeping yourself, your clothing, and your surroundings clean. Eating fresh and healthy food. Shauce also refers to the cleansing of the mind of its negative and disturbing emotions like hatred, passion, anger, lust, greed, delusion and pride.
  • Santosha – Contentment and gratitude. Santosha refers to the cultivation of contentment and tranquility by finding happiness with what you have and who you are, rather than focusing on what you don’t have or what you would rather be. To be at peace and content with our lifestyle even while experiencing life’s challenges and difficulties becomes a process of personal and spiritual growth.
  • Tapas – Austerity and self-control. Tapas refers to showing discipline of body, speech, and mind. The purpose of developing self-discipline is to control and overcome the short term distractions and desires, in order to stay focused and direct the mind and body for spiritual growth and purpose.
  • Svadhyaya – Self-reflection and study.  This refers to the study of sacred texts, which are whatever books are relevant to your spiritual practice and inspire and guide you on your spiritual path. It also refers to any activity that cultivates self-reflection and to intentionally develop self-awareness in all our activities and practices, to respect and accept our limitations and to recognise our less positive traits with a view to compassionately and patiently working to grow beyond them.
  • Ishvara-Pranidhana – Celebration of the Spiritual. The final Niyama refers to the recognition that the spiritual or Divine suffuses everything and through our awareness of this we can embrace our role as part of the Divine energy.

3.       Asana

The postures of yoga are used to prepare the body for meditation. In the West we often consider the practice of asana or postures as an exercise regimen or a way to stay fit, however, in order to sit for any period of time in meditation, it requires a supple and healthy body. If you are free of physical distractions it is easier to control the mind and internalise the senses for the advanced practices of meditation.

4.       Pranayama

Prana refers to the life force or energy that exists everywhere and flows through each of us and is generally best understood through the breath. Pranayama is the control and extension of breath and prana within the body. The practices of pranayama purify the body and removes distractions from the mind making it easier to concentrate and meditate.

5.       Pratyahara

Pratyahara refers to the withdrawal of the senses from conscious awareness. Pratyahara can occur during meditation, pranayama, or when performing yoga asana; any time when you are focusing your attention inward.  

6.       Dharana

Dharana means concentration or one-pointedness of mind and is often practiced with a focus such as a candle flame. In dharana, concentration is effortless; you know the mind is concentrating when there is no sense of time passing.

7.       Dhyana

Concentration without an object is called dhyana, this leads to the state of meditation. The practice of meditation is not unconsciousness or lack of awareness, but rather is a state of heightened awareness and a feeling of connection with the universe. The calm achieved in meditation spreads to all aspects of your life.

8.       Samadhi

The ultimate goal of yoga is Samadhi or absolute bliss. This is superconsciousness, in which you and the Divine become one. Those who have achieved samadhi have attained enlightenment.
There are many different styles and approaches to yoga and although all of the styles are based on the same physical postures each has a particular emphasis; this can be baffling to a beginner to yoga, however it does mean that people of all personalities and abilities should be able to find a style that suits them.
Types of Yoga:
Hatha – Yoga postures, breathing, cleansing practices and relaxation
Raja – Meditation
Bhakti – Devotion
Karma – Selfless service
Jnana – Study
Japa – Mantra
Major styles of yoga:
Traditional Styles developed by Indian Gurus
Hatha – slow-paced and gentle and provide a good introduction to the basic yoga poses, pranayama and meditation.
Integral – gentle, accessible and non competitive style of practice incorporating physical, spiritual, intellectual and interpersonal relationships.
Iyengar – strong focus on alignment and balance in the postures, often with use of props with postures held for longer durations.
Ashtanga – vigorous, athletic and flowing style of practice
Kundalini – one of the more spiritual types of yoga with an emphasis on breathing, meditation, mudras, kriyas and chanting
Sivananda – Slow and gentle practice with a focus on 12 key postures.
Viniyoga – adaptable and usually gentle practice which includes postures, chanting, breathing and meditation
Kripalu – Gentle and individualised practice with an emphasis on meditation and spiritual transformation
Contemporary styles developed in the West
Bikram – vigorous yoga postures in a heated room between 95-100 degrees.
Anusara – light-hearted, flowing style practice with the use of props.
Forrest – strong physical and emotional practice with an emphasis on healing and transformation
Jivamukti – vigorous flowing practice with themes on philosophy and chanting at each class
Restorative – very relaxing practice with the use of props to open the body through passive stretching with postures held for up to 20 minutes at a time
Yin – postures are held for extended periods of time to stretch the connective tissues like tendons and ligaments.