From London to Lisbon, Melbourne to New York, Soweto to Shanghai – wherever you are, this is an inclusive call-to-action to bring Maitri (friendliness; loving kindness) into your life, treating yourself, others, the planet and animals with ahimsa (non-harming) – the first Yama and, to reference Trip Levine, the prerequisite for listening to what the Universe has to tell you.
A beautiful example of balance – beyond the mat – is the partnership between listening and speaking; observing and acting. Please act on cultivating LOVE; harvesting KINDNESS.
Welcome October with Maitri (Loving Kindness) and this three-part video series acting as a personal call-to-action for all of us to become more observant, asking: “How can we become kinder, more loving, more compassionate human beings?”
Part 1: Dhyana (meditation)
Meditation or Dhyana (the seventh limb; “seventh stage of Yoga”-1) is a step beyond, a higher level up, from the sixth stage; Dharana, or concentration. [1-Tree of Yoga; Iyengar]. Dhyana is one of the FOUR *physical* components of the Yogasana practice, along with Asana, Pranayama and Japa Mantra. Start with a few minutes a day. But 1 minute to begin is also good! Whatever you can do is enough! And then every month, add a minute. Bit by bit progress — Yoga Krama — is about patience, perseverance, and daily discipline.
Remember to make time for devotion (bhakti).
Set your intention, and offer your practice up to someone else, something else greater than you, making it a selfless work (Yajna) of love.
Part 2: Tapas – to burn; to heat; sacrifice (this could be your Asana practice. Enjoy these warm-ups and remember to read the Health and Safety’s below
Health and Safety’s:
– Please do not practice if your are pregnant in your first 12 weeks; and your first eight weeks after giving birth, and make sure to have clearance from your doctor before practicing, please.
– Practice Ahimsa, non-harming, the first of the Yamas (universal moralities); non-harming to yourself, to others, to the world and to animals. So don’t do anything which will cause you or anyone else harm. Listen to your body, how it feels today; and if you feel any new, sharp or shooting pain, come out of what you are doing and take balasana (child’s pose) or savasana (corpse) – these are still active asanas, you are still breathing!
Props and Health and Safety notes on some of the asanas in these videos:
Adho Mukha Savasana
– Use blocks under your hands in Adho Mukha Savasana to help create length and space.
– If your heels don’t reach the mat it doesn’t matter, just bend your knees and keep heels lifted. Daily practice will see you progress.
– Cautions: Back and neck injuries – please do not practice inversions (AMS is an inversion.) Further cautions: Avoid inversions if you have high blood pressure.
– Contraindications for Adho Mukha Savasana include hypertension, stroke and heart disease – take it easy (move gently) when coming into the asana and don’t hold for too long.
– For tight hamstrings, bend you knees and lift up your heels in Adho Mukha Savasana (Downward Facing Dog);
– For tight hamstrings, lower back issues or just feeling stiff, you can soften your knees (keeping them slightly bent) for forward folds including Uttanasana in the Namaskar sequence and Dangling (Ragdoll/Baddha Hasta Uttanasana) in warm up sequence. BEGINNERS NOTE: Bend your knees and hold back of your ankles until you can work towards placing your hands flat on the mat (or on blocks) next to your feet.
Cross-legged seated asanas
– Use a folded cloth/eye pillow/folded belt between your knees in cross legged seated asanas (i.e. sukhasana, easy pose) for extra padding. Caution: knees, ankles, hips
– Place blocks/pillow/bolster under your sitting bones to elevate your hips higher than your knees for your dhyana (meditation).
As always, thank you for your patience, your time and your perseverance. I encourage all of you to move with maitri, with intention, and as Dr Seuss said:
Part 3: Svadhyaya (self-study) : A reading on Maitri from BKS Iyengar’s Light on Yoga
When things start to happen, don’t worry, don’t stew; just go right along and you’ll start happening too.Dr Seuss, Oh The Places You’ll Go
Please share your thoughts and any initiatives, ideas and thoughts on collaborating.
Sources and inspiration: BKS Iyengar – Light on Yoga; Trip Levine (Yoga Sutras App); ELSY and Stewart Gilchrist (Health and Safety’s and inspiration to fight for a kinder world, compassion, and humanity)