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  1. Yin Yoga has to be the most overlooked style of yoga around which is a crying shame as it has so many assets. That being said I know it will not be for everyone even the most convinced yoga practitioners probably because it is a very introspective an meditative type of yoga and there are those of us who will prefer something more dynamic.

    Nevertheless, don't be deceived as while Yin Yoga is not necesaarily a restorative cosy practice it should have the same outcome as hatha albeit a differing path.

    Yin Yoga could be said to have come out of hatha yoga in that it uses many of the conventional hatha postures with a few of its own thrown in that are growing in number every year along with some familiar but modefied poses too.

    There are three practice elements to yin yoga. 

    One: come to a suitable or appropriate stretch (twist or squeeze)

    Two: Relax, connect with the breath and relax into the pose

    Three: Stay for time

    The first element is of great importance and it is the one that many who are new to yin take a while to adjust to and sometimes they don't. Element One requires a little vigilence. The key is in the words suitable/appropriate. In Yin Yoga we are going to try and stay in the pose for anything from 3 to 6 minutes or longer (element three) and if we attempt to do this applying our selves in the same way that we might in a 30 second pose will be very tiring, stressful and build unwanted tensions.

    Yin appeals more to our soft connective tissue which prefers gentle considered movements and stretching and if we cultivate this kind of approach it will help our tissues and skeleton to tone and strengthen over time. 

    The relaxing element is important as by letting go once we are in a yin pose then we build less tension and are less likely to feel stiff the following day.

    We are also able to get into a better relationship with our breath because we are in the poses for longer and this allows us to be more focused and introspective. This latter value makes yin appealing to those interested in developing meditation. 

    So who might yin yoga benefit besides everyone!

    Well, it tends to appeal to an interesting mix. On the one hand it is great for those who wish to conserve energy or who don't have a lot. It is also useful for sports people as it can be a great complement to active exercise. Over the years I have people with M.E. an CFS together with weight trainors, footballers, runners, cyclists an ju jitsu martial artists. But it can be beneficial to those who do other yoga during the week or simply walk for exercise. It is a good idea with yin to be sure to complement it with something more aerobic at least like walking during the week as out and out all stretching can weeken us an we don't want that. 

    So if you practice yoga already why not give yin a chance sometime or if you are in sport or want to complenment some other kind of daily exercise with a more prolonged stretching style yin is well worth a try. It can really bring on your flexibility. 

    There has been some interesting research recently in Japan that is showing that the kind of work we do in yin yoga can help heal soft connective tissue that might not respond to other kinds of treatment so yin is evolving.

    Get in with the yin crowd!

    Barry Todd

     


  2. novels

    Do the novels you like reflect something about you? 

    If you like romantic novels, which many do,  just see the many books that Mills and Boon churn  out, then you are probably getting a bit of a romantic injection that is maybe not wholly a part of your life.  A bit of wishful thinking  It's a bit of harmless fantasy.

    Mystery and crime novels give you a chance to escape from your life too as you try to figure out whodunit and get involved with the plot.  Those types of books probably satisdfy the deep thinkers and the people who like working things out.

    Then there are the books that are not so much stories as platforms for writers to show off their skill in constructing beautifully descriptive sentences.   I would guess that these might appeal to people striving for exactitude and perfection.

    Many of these novels and stories are also transcribed into films, sagas and soaps. With some such regular inputs into our lives it's almost like the subjects in the fiction become a part of our lives too as we become outraged, concerned or want revenge and can't miss the next episode.  Reference: the public outcry and protest when Deidre from Coronation Street was jailed.  The writers of soaps like Coronation Street East Enders etc. have to be great at studying human beahviour as they mimic or exaggerate real life and real people to enable us to relate even more to the stories. REaders/viewers often know someone who behaves in exactly the same way as the character  being portrayed

    However, it is the more extreme novels that bring me to write this blog.are the ones that take us into a fantastical world which goes beyond the classic fight of good against evil, take us beyond the rawness of authors like Annie Proulx who write about the reality of raw violence in everyday life red-neck America some of which can be disturbing yet enlightening to the relatively refined lives we are used to.  Far from escapism into a romantic dream.  It is without doubt, that her writing, coming later in her life was based on her experiences living in the forgotten  and hard living areas of Oregon.

    There are the novels that take you on the journey of a broken mind where even at the end of the book you do not know what was real and are left confused yet somehow stimulated and without an ending. 

    All of the ideas in a novel come from the experiences and imagination of the writer so having just read a fascinating sequel book (missed the first one and won't be going back for it) Dream Paris, I really questions the mind of the writer, Tony Ballantyne.  He has a bit of a cult following apparently  It is well written and keeps you guessing.  It is as imaginitive as 'Alien' with back packs changing into giant spider like creatures and infiltrating  the wearer, which is acceptable horror type stuff.  But the list of really extreme concepts that pop up regularly in the novel  make me wonder what experiences this writer has suffered to go beyond violence  to some kind of bizarre acceptence that anything goes.  The concepts of beyone torturous and to even come up with some of the ideas I think reflects a troubled mind.  It has been disturbing to read this novel and maybe that is the idea but I am not actually sure if the story is detracted from by theses needs to extreme as the story would be quite good without them.  Nevertheless it smacks of someone whose life has been unsettled, possibly violeated in some way and who feels insecure and has supressed anger   There you go then

    Andrea Lowe , Hypnotherapist and Trainer

     

  3. yoga

    There are ten yamas and niyamas. One for every finger. They are a bit like ten commandments but because yoga is not religeous they are provide us more with guidelines or mental supports.

    The yamas are referred to as restraints and are called ahimsa - non harming, satya - truthfulness, asteya - non stealing, bramacharya - non over indulgence of the senses, aparigraha - non greed.

    The niyamas are referred to as observances and include: sauca - purity of body and mind, santosha - contentedness , tapas - a firy ambition to apply oneself, svadhyaya - self enquiry and ishvarapranidharna - surrendering everything to something higher than ourselves.

    These are very lofty and ambitious qialities to apply to eveyday life. When you look at them you may well say well, yes I think I might be close to achieving some of them but not sure about the others.

    To try and apply them to daily living with ourselves and interactions with others can be daunting and as they appear at the start of Patanjalies 8 Limbs of the yoga process it can seem like we have to master them before we get down to postures or asanas. Good luck with that. Come back in a few years I hear you say.

    In another reality it may be more sensible to use them in our daily yoga practice as supports to tht practice and this way we cna begin to merge them into our thinking and in time they can trnaslate into daily like.

    So how might this happen.

    Well, ahimsa can be chunked down from restraining from non hurting, harming or injuring ourselves or other in our thought, words and actions to something more accessible such as simply be caring with yourself in pratice. Satya can simply be being truthful with yourself. Asteya can be not "stealing" from yourself that which you intuitively don't want to give such as energy etc. bramacharya can be wise use of energy and aparigraha simply avoiding greed ( eg don't over pratice)

    Sauca can be simply clean in body and mind and practice area. Santosha seek to be content with your current situation even if you still want to improve. Tapas practice regulalrly even if only 10 minutes a day. Svadhyaya self enquire or learn as much as you can about yourself and ishvara pranidharana can be simply trusting the power inside you (intuition).

    This approach is more accessible and it will still have a subtle effect over time and if you keep looking back at the mening behind the concepts you will likely find that you are getting stronger with them as the months and years go by.

    Remember, most importantly that like all the techniques in the 8 limbs of yoga the yamas and niyamas are tools for your use as practitioners and you are not meant to be slaves to them.

    Barry Todd

  4. guitar
     
    Are Parlour music evening the thing of the future? They certainly are in Australia  as people are getting fed up with paying wage packet prices to see their fav. bands - Initimate events are now the main attraction.
    The benefits of an intimate lounge/parlour type event is that you are close up and friendly  getting the full impact of the performance. Watching from a tiered arena is one step better than a BIG tv screen. Admittedly you won't get Cold Play or U2 performing in a lounge but they all started somewhere. When you've been priviledged to see a band in it's formative years it's always thrilling to reflect back during their success.  

    After all what is live  music all about?  It's not about watching someone famous, it's about listening to some serious talent and letting the vibrations get into your soul.  Being close enough to feel almost at one with them as they perform and listen to their often very personal stories behind some of the music they have chosen to share with you for the evening.

    Andrea Lowe,  Zen Lounge

  5.  P1000452

    Yoga is often a science of misconception. What I thought yoga was about when I started practising many years ago has changed many times over the years and in fact the whole idea of yoga is open to interpretation. Having said that everyone can find something they need in yoga whether it is toning and flexibility, a calm mind or stronger mind, undestanding thoughts an feelings, a complement to their sporting regime, better mental health, focus and concentration, physical and emotional balance, spiritual fulfilment etc etc. or they may want all of these things.

    I started when I was preparing for my GCE's at school when a fellow pupil told me a friend of theirs  only needed 2 hours sleep and had amazing concentration skills because of yoga. I was impressed and curious and wondered if yoga could do the same for me. I wasn't totally sure whether to believe the sleep thing but some adults at the time said it definitley had a connection with calmness and relieving nervous tension which I had loads of! I just had to try it. I must say that very early on I felt a bit special knowing that I was now a "yogi" practising this ancient mystical discipline and revealed it only to those very close to me. They thought it was just a phase I was going through. Well, many years later I'm still with it.

    Yoga definitely helped me through my GCE's then later A Levels and subsequent examinations by practising the postures, the breathing, relaxation and meditation. If not at the time, I probably came to realize much later how it all worked. How the postures began to make me feel physically more comfortable. The relaxation putting me on better terms with my feelings and emotions and the meditation bringing the incredible benefits of sitting in stillness. That also impoved my patience! The breathing sort of glued everything together.

    The greatest thing of all at that time when under the control of a structured school and later college regime and still at home under parental house rules so to speak,  was that yoga began to give me a growing sense of self empowerment. When I was in a tight corner in class, in the exam room or with the occasional family or friend confrontation I could just connect with my breath and find that calm abiding that all the great yoga sages talk about. It takes daily practice over time but it gets stronger. Cultivating that growong sense of physical awareness and the subtle power of the breath and stillness can help your own yoga practice evolve in a personal and individual way.

    You get on better terms with feelings and emotions and the continuous self enquiry improves the relationship you have with yourself and this translates onto relationshigps with others. You see things coming that bit quicker than the next person, you become less reationary and you begin to get over those day to day mini traumas more quickly so you can get on with your life in a more positive and creative way.

    So try yoga. By all means try it to get more toned, flexible and strong. To get calmer and more focused. To improve concentration. As a psycholigical buttress. But always remember that thread that runs through all practice that thread of self empowerment. Yoga can be that life long friend and rock from hereon in. The one nobody else sees but can sense it in your demeanour and the way you deal with life.

    Barry Todd

     

  6. fearThe use of fear

    Who would want to use fear you might ask.  It would seems strange to purposefully create a fear in another human being.  Yet it is something that, at least in our culture, we are brought up with.
     
    Think of parenting, using fear as a way to protect a child from harm, yet embedding in them an uncertainty as their very foundation and all they know, their base is put under threat. 'Mind you don't fall; don't go to near the edge, don't burn your fingers, even though not meant to be, are all suggestions of the danger that is waiting to harm safety.  If you read the 'Continuum Concept' by
    Jean Liedoff, you will discover that in some cultures trust rather than caution is used to keep the children safe, still maintaining that wonderful feeling of safeness and security whilst exploring and discovering.  So phrases like 'this is where you balance really well; you know how far to go; its good how you know fire can burn' for instance are much more positive, not taking away their individuality and self preservation instincts. The examples in the continuum concept are even less prescriptive and much more trusting.
     
    So is it any wonder that as a culture and as individuals we are open to being influenced and made fearful by predicted failures insecurities and disasters?
    The worried parent who is fearful that you will not achieve the status they think you deserve, telling you what you have to do or else you will never amount to anything! But it's too late you already are 'something. and the person that you may become might not be everyone's idea of successful but if you are happy ....? or That not very nice husband or boyfriend who has worn you down with predictions of your helplessness and worse if you leave him. His fear of losing what he wants is influencing him to intimidate you.
     
    On a less personal level and prevalent right now politicians who spread fear in the hope of encouraging the masses to listen to them and get them what they want, when the fear is simply based on their opinion and exaggerated at that. 
    They are unable to trust the populace to make their own informed opinion  Difficult when the facts have been so warped from political fear.
     
    We have been brought up to move away from perceived fear and run to protect ourselves.  Yet deep down we know this is not the way.  Look at all the super-heroes that we love to watch.  They go into real danger only, face it and sort it out.  They don't sit wondering what might happen and imagining dangers..
     
    Franklin Roosevelt famously said 
    'The only thing we have to fear is fear itself' 
    Quite right it sabotages and freezes, limits emotions and opportunities.
     
    Makebe this avoidence of fear is why we often like to experience fear in entertainment, watch feaful things happening to others and feel the horror or take part in scary activities that you know are safe and controlled.
    Because our natural instinct before all the indoctrination is to face fear and overcome it - enhileratingly satisfying!
     
    If you can be a little analytical when you hear someone sprouting fear at you then you can begin to be your own super-hero and move away from fear developing your freedom, potential and emotional intelligence.  Asking yourself why they feel the need to attempt to give you that fear. What is in it for them?
     
    So one last fear to think about: Be brave, be happy, make your own decisions and live your life not the one that other people want you to have. Here comes the fear - otherwise you may never really find out who you are.
     
    Andrea Lowe
    Hypnotherapist and Trainer
    Mind and Body