For many of us, this has been an opportunity to become familiar with a home practice. Practicing alone, at home gives you the chance to move more deeply into your Self, as you explore your responses to the practice without the distraction of others. By creating your own space, you find yourself in your own energetic bubble and this allows you to drop more fully into the experience of your practice.
Practicing alone is a natural progression in yoga as you find yourself increasingly focusing inwards. Your inner world becomes fascinating and ever changing, and there is no longer the need for company in this exploration. Developing your home practice teaches you to become responsible for your practice – more disciplined in taking to your mat – as you are now accountable to yourself, instead of your teacher. In doing so, you deepen the connection to your Self.
This is my longstanding experience of practicing at home. I would love to hear yours, so do please click here: http://freetothink.co.uk/contact/ and share your experience!
In his book Guided Meditations, Explorations and Healings, Stephen Levine talks of having a soft belly in order to feel from the heart:
“We are conditioned to suffer. The society of the hard-bellied and deeply pained conforms to this lowest denominator. We wander hard and lost through our lives until we awaken with a deep sigh of letting go and soften to the path of mercy.
“When growth has become the priority, soft belly becomes the context for our letting go. Observing the relative openness or closedness of the belly gives insight into when and how we are holding to our pain. When the belly is hard there is holding. Some degree of fighting or posturing is resisting and hardening to the moment, attempting to control. You may have to come back to soft belly dozens of times an hour.
The belly is an extraordinary diagnostic instrument. It displays the amoring of the heart as a tension in the belly. The deeper our relationship to the belly, the sooner we discover if we are holding in the mind or opening into the heart. Trying tightens the belly. Trying stimulates judgement. hard belly is often judging belly. Even trying to understand what is being said now, the belly may tighten.
“Don’t try to understand. Enter the process. In soft belly simply allow understanding to arise, all by itself, from your true nature.
“Beyond the mind is everything you long, in the mind, to know. But the great irony of the spiritual search is that what we are looking for is what is looking.
“It is difficult to see that which sees, but not impossible. It takes some work to let go of old ways of seeing. Softening the belly is a beginning.
“Indeed we are programmed to hold to our pain, to turn it to suffering. We are taught to harden the belly, to hide its fullness, its roundness, its spaciousness. Women in particular are programmed to be “attractive”. Encouraged to wear undergarments that compress the belly and decrease the sense of spaciousness. Men, too, can often be noticed “holding in the belly” to be acceptable. Implored to be hard-bellied by a culture which confuses hardness with beauty. It is a dangerous way to live if one wishes to be fully alive.
“The more ones thinks that he or she is the body, the tighter the belly will be at times. There are so many levels of letting go into the enormity of being, but when there is a holding in of the belly the heart is not so available.
“Ondrea and I have been doing this practice for years. And still we notice again and again that the belly needs to be reminded that it has unconsciously tightened to that which we wish to remain unconscious of. So you inhale down into the belly, And you exhale out past the heart. And the belly softens and you find room in your body for healing, for being, for liberation. The softer the belly, the greater the capacity to stay present and awake during the dense dream of heavy mental states. Soft belly encourages investigation of the body-patterning that accompanies such states. It allow exploration without getting drawn into their familiar, seductive thought-patterns. We cannot over-estimate the importance of softening …
“… Now, deepen soft belly to make room in your life for you life.”
Currently, we have available, at our fingertips, a wealth of free, online goodies, designed and created to enable us to stay occupied, amused, fit and healthy and this website has an excellent variety of healthy, feel good options. Including this weekend: two whole days’ of free yoga, meditation, talks, comedy, etc (see Om and Bass festival, near the bottom of the page). The link below will take you to the main page:
Uma Dinsmore-Tuli is one of my wonderful yoga teachers. She trained me in the art of yoga nidra, and some of you may be familiar with one or two of her practices that I offer from time to time.
Uma, and her husband Nirlipta, are offering a gorgeous nidra practice every afternoon at 3:00pm, and everybody is welcome, so why not treat your Self to the precious luxury of settling in, getting really comfortable and relaxing through all the layers of your being. Click here to listen live, or at any other time.
The Mandala Yoga Ashram residents are currently chanting the Mrityunjaya mantra 27 times every morning at 7:30am and the invitation is there for anybody who wants to join them (we don’t always manage 7:30am as we haven’t always finished our practice by then!). After the mantra, they have recorded a beautiful metta (loving kindness) meditation that you can also join in with. We find it very calming, and it is a good way to help to raise the vibration of our struggling planet right now, by sending out the traditional mantra for healing, along with loving kindness to the world, at a time when it really needs it. If you would like to access this practice go to:
www.mandalayogaashram.co.uk, then click on Ashram Blog, and scroll down to the third post (Mrityunjaya Mantra Chant/Meditation by Swami Satyadaya), led by Swami Satyadaya.
If you would like to practice just the mantra without the meditation, then the second post (Mrityunjaya Mantra) is led by beloved Swamiji (Swami Nishchalananda) the ashram’s founder, a truly beautiful being, who is full of light and love.
with Sarah Kemp, Julie Blayney and
Moving Deeper Into Your Practice
18th April 2020
Pinchbeck Village Hall,
Six House Bank, West
day will offer students a rare opportunity to connect more deeply with their
Self, through a carefully planned, extended yoga practice that is suitable for
all. So come along, dive in, and let your mind and body be transported on a wonderful
The practice has been designed to take you through
all five yoga layers of your being. The day will begin with energising Pranayama with Emma, and then a dynamic Forest Asana
practice led by Julie. Sarah will then guide you through a slow, meditative Yin
practice to allow the mind and body to connect and open further. We will close with
some delicious, healing Restorative poses and nidra,
to fully nurture and rest.
Modifications will be offered throughout.
To book your place, please contact Carole: firstname.lastname@example.org, Sarah: email@example.com or Julie: Julie.firstname.lastname@example.org or Emma:email@example.com