Yoga Philosophy Part 1

It’s difficult to learn yoga philosophy. Many of the yoga philosophy books are difficult to read, and it can be a lot to digest. It can feel as though you’re swimming in the midst of information, and can’t make the links. I will try post the highlights from my learning as I go, as a way for me to further understand, and to share this info with you in a concise way.

Below is some paraphrasing/quotes from a book I’m reading: Roots Of Yoga by James Mallinson and Mark Singleton.

“Union may be variously conceived as being with the manifestation of one’s own nature; with an element; with Siva’s (the state of enlightenment) power; or as the conjunction of the individual and the supreme self. Yoga is the union of all dualities.”

There are many definitions of yoga. In the Bhagavadgita, yoga is described as equanimity, skill in action and separation: “… Abandon attachment, and be equanimous in success and failure. Yoga is said to be equanimity.”

“Yoga is skill in action”

“Know that which is called yoga to be separation from contact with sufffering. It should definitely be practiced by one whose mind is not dejected.”

“Yoga is a sharpened axe for the canopy of creeperrs that are all calamaties, a magical means other than herbs, mantras and trantras fot attaining the spendour of nirvana. Even the worst deeds are wiped out as a result of yoga, like the thickest and blackest of thick black clouds by the fearsome gale. Yoga destroys sins, even those amassed over a long time…”

“Liberation is the most important of the four aims of man, and yoga is its cause. Yoga is the three jewels that take the form of right knowledge, conviction and conduct.”

“Yoga is union of the vital principle and the self. It is the knowledge of Siva [the state of yoga] and the self as not being different. It is the knowledge of one’s self.”

“Yoga is situated in the self.”

“Yoga is the union of all dualities. There is no merit greater than yoga, no happiness greater than yoga, and nothing more subtle than yoga, for there is no higher path than yoga.”

“[Yoga is] the union of the sun and moon, the individual soul and the supreme soul. And in the same way the union of all dualities, is called yoga.”

“Living apart, eating little, disciplined in speech, body and mind, always intent on the yoga of meditation, taking refuge in dispassion, giving up egoism, force, arrogance, lust, anger and grasping, unselfish and peaceful: such a one is for for becoming Brahman.”

That’s all for now. I will keep sharing as I go!

Start your home practice –

Consistency is key!

Yoga classes and regular self-practice should go hand in hand. The ultimate goal is to be doing both weekly. Coming to class helps you learn new things, be aligned by the teacher, provides community, and gives inspiration. A home practice helps you cement what was learnt in class, improve at a quicker rate, and develop space for new learning to happen in your next class because you’ve digested the previous one through extra home practice. A home practice is also silent. No teacher to rely on. This is invaluable for your yoga journey, so that your practice becomes independent.

Starting a home practice can be challenging. Often one doesn’t know where to start, what poses to practice, or in what sequence to practice them in. The 3 main challenges facing home practice is: time management, distractions, and lack of knowledge of what to do. Here are some essential tips for starting or maintaining a regular home practice.

Ask: why practice yoga?
Why do you do yoga? What benefits do you feel after class? Is it strength, clarity, flexibility, stress reduction? Remind yourself of these reasons; write them down or refer this this mail when you’re uninspired.

Start small
Regularity trumps duration! A daily 10min practice seems manageable, right? 10 minutes is a great start to building confidence and routine in one’s practice. The truth is, consistency and the quality of the practice is more important than the time on the mat.

Limit distractions
Turn off your phone for those 10mins!!!!!! Laptop off, doors closed, dogs in the other room, kids at school. You’re giving yourself these 10mins, you may as well make them a quiet and calm 10mins.

Start simple
Keep your practice simple. Pick an aspect to focus on – maybe you want to work on standing poses. Pick 5 poses and practice those. Practice the same 5 poses the whole week to limit confusion and to save time on planning your practice.

Come to class!
Come to class with the intent of re-practicing what was taught that day. After finishing class, write down all you can remember from the class: poses, the sequence they were in, any specific instructions the teacher gave you, any props you were given for certain poses. Use this as your sequence for next home practice, or even for the next weeks home practice!

Get me to help you!
Bring your 10min sequence to your next class and I’ll be happy to give you a few pointers in the right direction, or help you plan your next week’s practice.

Savasana, savasana, savasana!
I’ve saved the most important point for last. DO NOT leave out savasana (the final resting pose). If you only have time for ONE pose, then practice savasana. If you are a beginner and have no clue where to start, then just practice savasana. Give yourself at least 2 mins out of a 10min practice to lie in savasana.

I hope that give you some inspiration to practice today. If you would like to receive more yoga tips and inspiration, as well as 15% off Back2Nature products, sign up to my newsletter.

Namaste,

Monique

 

Botswana 2018

I’ve recently come back from holiday in Botswana, and I loved it so much I have already booked a trip for next year. If anyone ever plans to go to ever visit Botswana please let me know and I’ll give you some extra tips I wish I’d been given.

Going on any holiday can present challenges to one’s yoga practice. Priorities shift, and we find ourselves in a new routine and surroundings. A camping holiday presents unique challenges; you are often exposed to the elements, bugs and without spacious shelter.

This kind of holiday needs some extra consideration and dedication! I’ve put together some key points to help you stay focused and motivated in such times.

  • Do your practice first thing! Create a routine, and make this routine part of the your camping group dynamic. As soon as you’ve had breakfast it’s too late. The days activities will run away with you and the opportunity to practice slips away. The sun will have been up long enough to make the shade too scarce and it will soon become too hot to practice. Rise and practice!
  • Explain to your camping companions that you will be prioritising your yoga practice first thing each morning. This creates some sort of social pledge, and when they notice you slacking they may even call you out on why you aren’t practicing!
  • Find some flat, hard ground to practice on. Do not try to practice on soft sand. It will give you an unstable practice that can cause injury. Uneven ground can also make you go home feeling very skew.

  • Bring a dedicated ground sheet. You need to feel as though you can spread out and relax, and not restricted by the confines of your tiny mat. It will also reduce bug traffic across your mat 🙂
  • Find thick shade. There’s nothing worse that getting into a pose and you are squinting your eyes to the sun. You will be left feeling frustrated rather than refreshed!

I hope I’ve helped inspire some regular practice for your next camping holiday! Till then, see you in studio!

Keep practicing,

Monique 

Props and prep

A typical Iyengar class in Kalk Bay, as students prepare for Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Pose). Props can help prepare the body by giving it the correct alignment. The use of blocks and a belt in Pincha Mayurasana helps to keep the elbows shoulder width apart and the hands apart. This encourages the armpits and chest to open, as well as ensuring that you access the pose using the correct muscle groups. In this way the props become the teachers, and slowly the correct action is learnt by the body. In this variation, students are about to walk their legs up the wall.

The yoga cure

Science steadily catches up to “prove” that the magic of yoga in fact works. Yoga helps manage and treat many diseases and ailments resulting for inflammation, including depression, arthritis, high blood pressure and digestive disorders. This must be why so much importance is placed on Sarvangasana / Shoulder Stand in Iyengar yoga  

This link below explains:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201607/vagus-nerve-stimulation-dramatically-reduces-inflammation

 

It’s all in the balance

Yoga is like life – its a balance of holding on and letting go. We cannot control the flow of life entirely, so we must learn to do what we can and let go of the rest. This is what the asanas (postures) teach us. Through holding postures, we learn to be in the present moment, do our best, and surrender to the rest. Yoga literally rewires the brain to cope in this way as we hold difficult poses. So when we are faced with hardships in real life, those neurological pathways fire out of habit and we learn healthier stress responses. Not only does this increase our coping mechanisms, but also leads to a more fulfilled and happier existence

Iyengar Yoga Retreat

BOOK NOW

Tickets through Quickethttp://qkt.io/yQXDMr

 

 IYENGAR YOGA RETREAT:

with Monique Woolls-King

McGregor, Western Cape

22-24 September

All inclusive

Arrive 4pm Friday 22nd

Depart 4pm Sunday 24th

Total 2 nights

Whether you are a current practitioner of the Iyengar method, or have heard about it but never tried the practice, then this retreat is for you!

About Monique:

Monique is a certified Iyengar yoga teacher and has been practicing for 8 years. She is dedicated to her practice and believes in the powerful effects of yoga on the body and mind.

The Retreat:

Monique invites you to discover and reconnect with Iyengar yoga in the quaint village of McGregor. This retreat will focus on alignment, therapeutic sequencing, and prop usage to gain the most out of your yoga practice. This retreat is ideal for beginners who want a safe introduction to yoga, but also provides deeper instruction for more advanced practitioners.

With each new day we will be serving up 3 fresh and nourishing vegan/vegetarian meals. Mornings will kick off with energising combos of juices, smoothies and raw foods. Colourful spreads of salads, proteins and grains will ground and restore us at lunch hour. Dinners will be a time to relax and converse and will entail a 3-course vegan meal inspired by Asian and Mediterranean flavours.

Highlights:

  • Yoga Alignment
  • Prop usage for a more effective practice
  • Therapeutic sequencing for a healing weekend of yoga
  • All meals vegetarian with vegan options available
  • Nature walks & guided meditation
  • Personal time in beautiful McGregor
  • Optional hikes

Schedule:

Friday: 4pm check-in, 6pm yoga, 7.30pm dinner

Saturday: 7am yoga, 9am breakfast, 11am props & alignment discourse, 12pm yoga, 1:30pm lunch, 2-5pm personal time, 5.30pm yoga, 7pm dinner

Sunday: 7am yoga, 9am breakfast, 10.30am nature walk & guided meditation, 12pm yoga, 1:30pm lunch, 2-4pm personal time

BOOK NOW

Tickets through Quickethttp://qkt.io/yQXDMr

Price:

R4200 pp sharing luxury double room w private en-suite

R2900 double room pp sharing  (shared bathroom facilities)

R2600 pp single sharing (shared bathroom facilities)

BOOK NOW

Tickets through Quickethttp://qkt.io/yQXDMr

Extend more in Ustrasana

This is Ustrasana, Camel Pose. Many find this pose difficult on the lower back. The blocks help one extend more, creating space between the vertebrae so that one can access the pose, and stay in it for longer. Join us next weekend for an Iyengar yoga retreat to learn more!

BOOK NOW http://qkt.io/yQXDMr

Tickets all inclusive from R2600

Letting go

There’s always a bigger picture, and we are really tiny in comparison to the larger picture at play. We are small in comparison to that which is outside of us. There is a cycle of growth and decay that is outside our control. Our mind often gets stuck on specific objects of desire, creating attachment which leads to suffering.  We tend to clutch on to things outside of our control which only worsens our suffering. When a person says “more for me, more for me”, then he is obsessed with fear. The practice of Aparigraha/Non-attachment (one of the Yamas) helps free us from this cycle of suffering and fear. Non-attachment simply means having confidence in one’s existence and abundance. The one who is stingy is afraid of themselves and has no idea of their strengths. On the mat, it is about letting go of our attachment to the poses and how they should look and feel, while being unattached to the benefits you think you’re getting.

Access deeper poses

 

This is Virasana – Hero Pose; a pose that can be difficult for the knees if one tries to sit on the floor. The height of the foams pictured here give the knee joints space, allowing one to be comfortable in the asana. Props help practitioners stay longer in poses, thereby increasing the effects and enabling higher levels of healing and awareness to be reached. Join us in McGregor at the Iyengar Yoga Retreat for a weekend of going more deeply into your yoga practice.

22-24 September | All inclusive from R2600 | Book through Quicket: http://qkt.io/yQXDMr