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  1. The Miracle of Chair Yoga

     index

    I suspect many seasoned and accomplished yogis would not give chair yoga much consideration.

    When it first came into the yoga arena it was directed mainly at those who struggled to stand and do yoga and also as a useful exercise for desk bound office workers.

    These two uses are still valid but the amazing value of chair yoga became apparent to me a couple of years ago when introduced as a unit on the yoga teacher training course. Even then it was intended to give trainees another tool in their kit when trying to accommodate struggling students.

    What was amazing was that the trainees group feedback after practising chair yoga was surprisingly positive rather than dismissive. They thought it had left them feeling like they had done a regular yoga practice despite their not having been on their feet for an hour. What's more I had to agree with them.

    Admittedly, you are using a prop that many yogis would feel unnecessary but the secret around chair yoga is to use the chair creatively while still keeping as close as possible to yoga posturing.

    Like any yoga flow the practitioner can put as much or as little effort in as they like depending on their desired outcomes or their physical capabilities.

    A flow can be adopted that will work from the feet right through to the upper body.

     So to begin with sitting towards the edge of the chair you can flex the toes as if beginning the attempt to stand but simply applying the pressure of that effort on the toes into dorsi flexion. Then pointing the toes to the rear of the chair below the seat and pressing the upper toes down into the floor as in plantar flexion. These are humble beginnings but effective for toning the feet.

     From here we can do a rounded selection of work with the legs and hips from extending the legs alternately clasping behind each thigh to flexing and clasping each knee for flexing hips.

     A modified version of Warrior II is accessible keeping the sit bones on the seat of the chair and a kind of Tree Pose which sees the legs extended in front with the ankles crossed while clasping the hands above the head.

    One pose I like for core and hip strength is simply lifting the feet off the floor and bringing the soles together.

     Then there is the chair twist using the back of the chair to stabilize the rotation and yes even the Chair Pose itself but a more accessible version and without quite lifting the sit bones off the seat.

     There's many more in the flow I use culminating in some neck and shoulder work and even a meditation if we have time.

     I have used Chair Yoga a number of times with my “remedial” yoga group and it is always a winner with them. What's more they never think it is a soft option even those in the group with greater range of movement and strength. What's more once familiar with the chair yoga flow it is easy to practice at home. All you need is a kitchen or dining room chair and you're away.

     Barry Todd (HathaYogaMan)

     

     

     

     

  2. Hummus

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    Home made Hummus has no comparison with the  commercial stuff.  it's like trying to compare real coffee with the powdered instant sort.

    And it is so easy to make that I don't know why they ever sell any in the supermarkets
     
    Here's how.

    The short cut version:

    Take a tin of chick peas and drain the liquid but retain

    Put chick peas in a mixing bowl. add one table spoon of tahini, a good squeeze of lemon and some zest. a clove of garlic a little olive oil
    Blend everything together, if it is dry then add some of the drained liquid or more oil . Season  There you have it done.

    To make it even more special add to the ingredients a small handful of fresh herbs.

    More ideas:

    If you want to be extra authentic you can use dried chick peas, soak overnight and boil then simmer until tender DON'T THROW THE WATER AWAY

    If you want to make your own tahini it is just sesame seeds roasted and ground with pestal and motar into olive oil with a little seasoning
    You can add chilli instead of herbs
    Balsamic vinegar instead of some of the liquid and a thousand other things - just experiment and use your imagination.

      The flavour of commercial stock tends to influence the flavour of the dish you are making whereas the pure water from veg or chick peas just provides a backdrop for your dish =- this is especially relevant with soups.

  3. lying down

     

    I was first introduced to yoga nidra almost a decade ago when it was mainly seen as another yoga relaxation tool. It still is but I have come to realize that there is much more potential in yoga nidra than merely helping us relax.

     What is Yoga Nidra mean?

     Well, loosely interpreted it translates as Yoga Sleep and when used as a relaxation technique a half hour of nidra is said to be equivalent to 2 hours conventional sleep.

     Nidra is practised mainly while in savasana but any position will work provided you can relax.

     The elements include opening only ones audio perceptions and listening to the instructions of the person conducting the nidra.

     Rotation of Consciousness and Visualizations

     There is a period in the nidra when we are invited to visualize a number of arch type objects such as clouds, deserts, temples, beaches etc and then another period when we experience what is called rotation of consciousness.

    In rotation of consciousness the “narrator” takes us on a journey around the body making reference to each body part from the right to the left systematically. This has the effect of relaxing the body and the mind bit by bit calming down those neural pathways between the brain and body. The visualizations are said to have the effect of smoothing the minds level playing field allowing for the alleviation of the effects of our mental and emotional patterns that are our deeply ingrained often negative habits and known in yoga as samskaras. They are likened to muddy cart tracks that have hardened to the extent that they keep pulling successive carts onto the same exact path. So it is with our minds where we create over time deep rutted neural pathways that continually take us down the same mental and emotional roads. Visualization can help to smooth out these notional tracks.

     So even in its basic form Yoga Nidra can have a positive effect on our minds and bring us great relaxation and calmness.

     Sankalpa or Resolution and Yoga Nidra.

     We can make resolutions whilst relaxed any time and they can be very beneficial but in Nidra they become one of its prime movers. In Nidra practice we make a sankalpa or resolution close to the start and at the end of the practice with reference to something we would like as an outcome. As this resolution is done in deep relaxation it can have a very profound outcome mainly because it is more likely to register deeply with our subconscious. The difficulty is coming up with the right sankalpa.

     I have come to the conclusion over the years that it is necessary to have some resources within us to make the sankalpa achievable. So if for example we ask for something material such as a large mansion or to become a millionaire within 6 months this might be possible provided we truly know we have deep within us the resources to make that happen and we are only prevented from achieving it by some obstacles. This has to be genuine and not an illusion. The sankalpa can help remove those obstacles. If you do not have those resources and still ask for the lofty outcome your mind can be thrown into conflict trying to deal with the demand.

     So depending on your resources it might be best to start with simple resolutions. Those that are within your grasp but for some reason allude you.

     The thing about Nidra is that you can progressively use it to build your strengths until you have greater resources over time. You may never have the resources to gain the mansion or the millions but there can be many gifts along the way. I have found that it is best not to be preoccupied with what you want materially or socially or anything else that concerns personal development but rather to think more about what kind of person you would need or like to be to achieve the things you truly desire which may not be material.

     Using Nidra in this way can often lead to more profound and lasting change. Remember that the yoga sages of old used nidra to develop their spirituality. Gradually over time cultivating their body, mind and spirit to move them ever closer to samadhi or the ultimate being state in yoga.

     Finally, if you think that by practising nidra and listening to the instructions of a stranger might be risky it is important to point out that you can actually record a nidra script on to your own mobile and listen to your own voice while relaxing. This way you can use the same script for some time and periodically change the sankalpa.

     Many sages and yoga masters have claimed that their advancement and progress on the yoga path was made more possible because of their systematic use of yoga nidra. All the more reason why nidra should not be ignored.

     Barry Todd (HathaYogaMan)

  4. What is a Chauvinist?

    noun.. a male who patronizes, disparages, or otherwise denigrates females in the belief that they are inferior to males and thus deserving of less than equal treatment or benefit.

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    Even if it's who can get the nearest to the bin some people have reign supreme

    Well thats the commonly accepted term for the word but is that the only meaning?

    You might guess, by the word, that chauvinism comes from the French language.

    It originated during the Napoleonic wars when Nicholas Chauvin was injured during this period.  Depite his debilitating injuries he switched his fanatical obsession to Bonapart in the face of great hostillity prejudice and overwhelming opposition.  His single minded devotion to his cause resulted in the term chauvanism.

    Jingoism is the term we use nowadays in this country, which means an agressive approach to foreign policy, believing in aggression as opposed to peaceful negotiations.  It also means a strong belief that your own country is superior to any others.  What we might now call extremism too.

    Even in its currently accepted form chauvanism does not just apply to men it applies to any group who believe they are superior to other groups and fanatically defend that group to the extent that they treat outsiders with contempt or hostillity at best.

    So apart from males, and other groups that spring to mind who tend to believe they are superior, some feminists could also fall into the catagory of chavinist if they have little regard for men and treat them as inferior beings.

    Why do People become chauvanists?

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    Any form of agression towards another person, organisation or group of people is pretty much always through abject fear.  This is of course,is often  irrational and so the fearful person becomes the one to be feared as they turn to aggression in one form or another to detract from their inferiority.

    From the man who says 'Good Girl' to the woman in an effort to dismiss her equality, to the terrorist who is willing to blow themselves up to hurt the perceived  enemy.

    One is downright annoying the other is downright dangerous and a menace.  They are simply bristling up like the dog in danger

    Drip feeding the attitude of even the mildest form of put down, can be very annoying to the 'victim' and eventually could lead to aggression if the victim continues to communicate with that aggressor.  If victim doesn't walk away and doesn't get aggressive then they are likely to become that inferior being that the agressor needs to feel superior.  Unless they can talk about what is going on and begin to understand each other a little better they are lost.

    These people feel inferior to almost everyone and they don't really know why, nor do they believe that they can stop others from dicovering  that they are inferior so they have to use every tactic to express their superiority.  That normally includes at the very least putting people down and at the ultimate eradicating them.

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    Most often that behaviour is so well inbedded that no amount of talking would do any good.  It would be a locking of antlers.  What is needed is for that aggressor to realise that they have a problem and to be prepared to do something about it.

    The office or workplace aggressor who maybe gets right up peoples noses but at the same time may have a group of weak people who are prepared to follow and support is unlikely to recognise that there is anything wrong with her/him. Similarly the chauvinist who is aggressive towards family either thinks the family is argumentative or the family have become submissive and the aggressor is sanctified as right (and safe).  However, as we all know  behaviour is not just about what you say and do, it is also about your body language, your internal tensions and your supressed fears.

    They're all  bubbling away under there waiting until you have time to notice them.  When the children let go of the apron string and don't need as much from you, when you retire and no-one looks up to you or there is no one to take your rantings... thats the time when you start to notice your body tensions and your mind overloads.  Thats when you find sleep difficult and you are unhappy for no real reason....that's the time when you could possibly start to think that you need help.

    Your fear has become an embedded belief and you are so good at transferable skills that you have enabled yourself to transfer that fear onto something that you can really get your teeth into and make an impact on.   It's exactly the same with terrorism.  There is a lot of locked away anger within terrorists - not about anything to do with what they are targetting but about long ago when they couldn't do anything about it.  They're using the skill of transfering that anger to feel that they are doing something about it.

    Amazingly or maybe not so amazingly, these fearful people would rather put down and fight someone of the opposite sex, someone who they feel is inferior to them or even  another country or race they looked down upon, they would rather do that than simply face their own fears.

    It starts in childhood and needs addressing there.

    We have too long looked upon children as non beings who we can boss around and order about.  In some cases beat and take all our aggression out on.  That's what makes broken adults.   It's time we started treating our children as little adults with respect and good example but that's another blog.

    Andrea Lowe (Senior Hypnotherapist)

     

     

  5. It's not often you can get it.  Certainly it is something that you can't get in tin.  The taste is like a velvety.wholesome tantalising and delicious sensation.  To top it all you could well be taking a dose of nutritional supplements with every spoonful.

    What is this soup of Specialness.  Why it's nettle soup of course!

    Once you have a taste for it you are more than prepared to dedicate all the time and effort and face the very possible odd sting here and there to get at it.  It has a short season and we're in it right now. When you pick a lot of it you begin to notice the slight difference in taste depending on where you picked it.

    So if you would like to become an afficionado of nettle soup then here's how to go about it.

    First identify which weed is a nettle.  Check it out online.

    Look for nettles that are in places that would be difficult for dogs and other animals to access for their (not to put too fine a point on it) toileting.

    Pick the top of the stem so you are getting fresh young leaves - they taste better.

    To pick you will need to wear rubber style gardening gloves.  Sometimes I have used scissors and cut the stem then very carefully trapped it in the scissors and dropped into a carrier bag.  You will most likely get stung somewhere on your forage but it will wear off eventually.  I've not tried grabbing a handful which is said to not sting.

    Getting them ready for soup:

    Empty the contents into a washing up bowl filled with cold water and swish them about to clean off any unwanted bits.  Take a colander full and rinse thoroughly under the tap, continue until all is rinsed.

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    You need a pan ful of nettle as it soon diminishes.

    Now to the cooking stage

    Soft fry one medium onion in a large saucepan.

    Add one peeled potato and water or any stock you have from vegetables you have cooked (don't use concentrated stock as it alters the taste)

    Add the nettles by cutting the leaves off the stalk and popping in the pan - Dont touch them use scissors.

    You will see that they will almost immediately wither. Add one leaf of spring green cabbage  and a crushed clove of garlic.

    Add a handful of fresh  herbs such as sage, parsley, rosemary, oregano etc do not use a lot of one herb.  This will act as the background stock taste.

    Cook until the potato is soft then liquidise.  Add seasoning to tastenettle soup

     

    The potato is there to thicken the soup as it would be very watery otherwise.

    Eat and enjoy. Become addicted.

    Read this blog about the benefits of nettle and feel a little smug

    http://www.mindandbodybury.co.uk/blog/read_76178/good-to-get-nettled.html

     

     

  6. Last night in the Self-Hypnosis class we were talking about stretching your comfort zone and it made me thing about how difficult it is avoid being decieved into thinking you are doing something challenging when all the time you are reinforcing your comfortable zone.

    If you are a from person you are most likely to move to comfort from challenging situations.

    anxiety 6If you are a to person you will always be moving towards challenges and avoiding getting too comfortable.

    Which is best?

    Well its that old chestnut of extremes.  In moderation both are useful and comfortable yet challenging line between the two is certainly advantageous. 

    As with most things taken to the extreme both could be your worst enemy too.

    The Wilting Wall Flower

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    Many people undoubtable have more of the comfort seeking element to them.  However in the extreme these people are likely to be the ones that attempt to merge into the background and would love to think the could be invisible.  They shy away from any form of attention and avoid situations where they may experience attracting a little focus or interest.

    They will eventually be taken for granted byeven the most careing of  their nearest and dearest and will quietly resist any expectations for themselves just going about their business in a submissive and downtrodden way - whether the are or not.

    They will be difficult to have a meaningful relationship with as they will have no opinions and little to say for or about themselves.

    What are they moving away from - well you've heard the advice - don't expect anything and you won't be dissappointed - that's it, they are moving away from being let down or disappointed and maybe the  thought of disappointment and attracting the disapproval of others. Don't forget you can't please everyone all the time.  So whatever you do at some point you will be attracting disapproval from someone somewhere.  The irony is that doing nothing is also something open to the disapproval of others. So the wilting wallflower can never win.

    This person is also very disappointed with themselves as they see themselves as nothing and have all the desires to do something and be someone inside buring away.  They are angry with themselves deep inside and that anger is eating away at them so they have to keep that well hidden and begin to feel unworthy too. 

    Their comfort zone would be stretched in so many ways if they communicated more or joined a knitting circle for instance.  However with someone so extreme they would probably need some help to get them through some of the hidden emotional baggage that they lug around with them.

    Not many people are this extreme

    At other extreme is the person who always has to be moving towards challenges. 

    The Fidgeting Frantic Firecracker

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    This person is always facing challenges head on.  Nothing gets in their way including their need for a bit of peace and quiet.

    In their relationships their family will always take second place at best as their need to beat another challenge take precidence everytime

    If they stop, they are extremely uncomfortable as they too have hidden agenda that they really don't want to look at and as long as they keep busy with energy consuming targets and remain fully focused then they don't have to stop and think about their inner demons

    Many of these people reach high and get demanding jobs that then require that they are fully committed and over worked.  

    They believe that relaxation is a competitive game of golf or some other form of demanding exercise which pumps them full of endorphines that temporaily make them feel good but arely relaxed.  They thing that stretching their comfort zone is mastering a new sport or hobby.

    For these people their comfort zone stretch is found within  and rarely do they take the time to look there.

    Both the Wallflower and the Friecracker are hiding from their inner demons.  In the extreme they need some form of help to get them to release their need to hide and to be able to be free from the restrictions and able to move more towards the centre ground.

    So  whether you are dead centre or a little off centre, stretching you comfort zone is a really empowering thing to do providing you know where your comfort zone lies.  Take a moment and think about it.

    Here are some really simple examples to kick start your progress:

    Smile at someone you don't know (in a safe environment)

    Look for the fun in everything you do (I promise everything has the potential to be fun)

    Limit what you expect  from yourself - just enough.

    Do something daily no matter how you feel.

    Good luck! 

    Let us know what you have done to stretch your comfort zone (that might be another stretch) it might help others with ideas too.