This month the news is that we need to focus on looking after ourselves; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, from looking after our feet to facing our fears.
There is a range of fantastic health news to be found on the Zen Monkey website. A quick browse of the articles this month could lead to all-round better health as we move into the colder, darker months.
Get Your Body Ready For Autumn
Let’s begin with focusing on our feet, those unsung heroes of our yoga practice. They ground our poses, anchoring us to the ground. They lift up into the air above us as we learn to face our fears and conquer inversions and hand balances. By practising a few simple exercises, such as strengthening our arches and spreading our toes, we can improve the health and strength of our feet, which will be good news for our yoga practice.
Eat seasonally to keep healthy
In the global market that we live in, we have forgotten the rhythm of the seasons and how different foods simply shouldn’t be available all year round. By listening to good old Mother Nature, we will naturally eat foods that give us the right balance of nutrients.
Ᾱyurveda also offers a wealth of knowledge to guide us through the germ-laden obstacle course of the coming months, by using a host of preventative measures. Ranging from simple dietary tips, to wrapping up warm, to applying oils to our bodies, to avoiding cravings by only eating when we’re hungry, Kate Siraj can help keep us healthy for Autumn.
Speaking of Mother Nature…
For those of us that suffer from any of the plethora of period-related problems, it’s a monthly headache, or literally, womb-ache. Pre-menstrual tension, cramps, extended bleeding, dizziness, nausea, the list goes on and on. Two days ago, we shared the top 5 foods to add to your diet to lessen period pains, and there’s more good news: our yoga practice can help us too!
However, it’s not a quick fix, as Sally tells us in her article: “The science tells us that practice needs to be sustained and regular (at least three times a week) to be effective. In most studies, effects showed most positively after three to six months.”
There’s also the often-recurring question of whether women should practice inversions during a period. In one way it’s quite nice to be told that we have to rest and take it easy at this sensitive time of the month, in another way it can be frustrating, we’re not disabled! The answer seems to be in the very practice of yoga itself, because as we deepen our mind-body connection, we learn to listen to and understand the needs of our bodies. Doing inversions while having our period is just another facet of this principle. Learn to listen to your body.
“Writing And Yoga Saved My Life”
Model and actress Cara Delevingne was in the news this month saying that “writing and yoga saved my life.” Despite her runaway runway success, the demanding and shallow world of modelling had left her deeply insecure. Through yoga she re-found her inner confidence and fought off depression. It was during a yoga session that she had her break-through:
“I was chanting and I got so angry with myself, and I broke through something and I burst into tears which I hadn’t done in years.”
Yoga allowed her the mental space to open up to herself. Here are a few other ways to take advantage of the mental health benefits of yoga this fall:
Make Room for Rest
Rest is equally important to your mental, physical and spiritual health as showing up on your mat is. This applies to taking adequate Śāvāsana at the end of your practice, as well as having days when your practice is simply sitting. Most of us feel that we have accomplished more after a sweat-inducing, energising practice, but restorative yoga is just as important, if not more and it can help counteract stress and anxiety.
Take Time to Meditate
Meditation can take us to a more peaceful state of consciousness, which in our wired and often stressful lives is more important than ever. If we never give our minds a little downtime we will burn out. In fact, research has shown that meditation “can actually restructure the brain.”
Mastering Your Emotions
We don’t tend to think about our emotional health as an area of our lives that we can control. But just like our physical and mental health, by focusing in on how we’re feeling and practising positive emotional responses we can change bad habits.
There are lots of ways that Fear keeps us prisoner. It tells us that we ‘can’t’ do something, it paralyses us, it can cause physical symptoms and it’s almost never good for us. For example…
Why is it so scary being upside down? Because we’re programmed not to like it. We’re less stable on our hands than our feet and there’s more chance that we could fall and hurt ourselves. But it’s just a matter of practice, little and often, and then we’ll find that going upside down is just another way of putting our fears in perspective.
We all come up against Dvesha or an aversion to things that we find hard or scary — like filing, or pincha mayurāsana (forearm stand). But we can change this resistance through identifying the poses we find the hardest and then do them again and again and again. This way we are taking control of the thoughts which so often dictate our actions.
Overcome big and little fears in three simple steps: Meditate more, be positive and face it head on. As Mel says, “overcoming your greatest fears is an important part of your yoga journey”.
No Copyright For Bikram Choudhury
Yoga is a gift from the ancient Hindu culture and religion. In the 20th Century great yoga gurus, such as B.K.S. Iyengar and K. Pattabhi Jois revealed the long-hidden benefits of yoga and the Western world is now benefitting from their generous knowledge.
However, there are those out there that want to take yoga for themselves. There’s nothing wrong with making a living out of yoga, many of us do so, but the principle of asteya (or non-covetousness), teaches us that it’s not right to claim more than our fair share.
The recent news that the United States Court of Appeals has ruled that a sequence of yoga poses performed in a heated room — popularized by Bikram Choudhury, the self-proclaimed yogi to the stars — was not entitled to copyright protection seems like good news for the yoga community at large.
Personal Spiritual Practice
According to the revered Hindu sage Vedavyasa, mankind is currently languishing in the Kali Yuga, or the Age of Discord. However, instead of casting about in the inside world for someone to blame, we can all take responsibility for our own behaviour, by looking to the yamas and niyamas for guidance.