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  1. the-elegant-luxe-life-seated-twist-pose

    I can remember many years ago when I started practicing yoga that there was no real evidence of yoga teachers in most towns (cities maybe). I lived in Prestwich then and you had to go to Chorlton or the Manch.Univ. campus to find one. If you did it was likely they taught Hatha Yoga.

    In contrast today there seems to be a yoga teacher in every town and village across the UK and the styles vary from Ashtanga Yoga to Dru Yoga and many more.

    This might look like it would be hard to choose which way to jump.

    It can depend on what outcome you are looking for in your practice. Are you simply wanting to persue a moderate physical activity that will make you more flexible, toned and a little stronger; are you looking to relieve your stress and anxiety, are you seeking a deeper level of spritual reality? If it is one of the former then pretty well any style could suit you. Then again if it is one of the latter pretty well any style  could suit you! You might just find that Ashtanga Yoga is a bit physically challenging or Kundalini Yoga a bit high voltage. But all claim to be going in the same direction albeit a different path.

    So you could do a little yoga touring. Yes that means move around and try a few till you find the right one for you. I think the same goes for differing yoga teachers. You eventually find one that you are comfortable with and like the varying styles of yoga, all teachers are different but it is fair to say they are all on the same path. Or should I say they are all on a different path that leads to the same place! 

    The same concept applies to the deeper thinking behind yoga asana classes. The thinking we see if we read Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.

    In the sutras we find the practitioners framework referred to as the Eight Limbs which are Yamas and Niyamas (the restaints and observances) Asana (postures) Pranayama (breathing) Pratyahara (sense withdrawal) Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi (concentration, contemplation and merging into blissfulness). 

    Many think that it is best to start with asana and pranayama and we are often first introduced to yoga with these two limbs. Yet they are all referred to as the "limbs" and they are not necessarily meant to be considered in a linear way. Like saying "Well, I'll stick with the asana and breathing for a while and maybe in the future look at Dharana and the last two and sometime I'll get around to the yamas and niyamas. The point is that in their own right each of the limbs is going in the same direction so we should not really neglect any of the limbs for long. I was remiss myself for years putting off Samadhi thinking that it was for more "advanced" practitioners, whatever that means!

    Once we have started to get comfortable with asana and breathing then why not delve into dharana and even samadhi.

    Even if we spent months just contemplating the yamas and niyamas along with our asana work we would learn a great eal about ourslves.

    The yamas and niyamas themselves also lead to Om as does simply working more with pranayama. In fact working more with the breath even when you are off the mat will show you how the breath is that amazing link between body and mind.

    So when you are wondering where to go next with your yoga practice be daring, be adventurous and move around those limbs with greater confidence and prove to yourself that all paths do indeed lead to Om.

    Barry Todd


  2. courage

    Face the Fear   ... and do it anyway ..... face your fears  .....

    Okay good advice maybe but what the hell does it mean?

    Anyone who has been watching 'Breaking Dad' on TV will know that  Bradley Walsh has been subjected to facing many of his fears and doing them sometimes with pride, sometimes regret.

    But generally we can each take or leave those kinds of fears which may be seen by some as dare-devil stuff.

    We all need fear to survive.  Not saying that anything is impossible and with some belief you could probably walk through fire or on broken glass but in everyday life as we know it we programme our fear to stop us from taking unecessary risks .... and heres the crunch.

    Our programming during our life has decided what kind of level our fear barometer is set at and we tend to live within that level. The fear is not of the things you need to face but is an emotional fear of becoming unsafe.  In other words a zone in which you feel safe - also known as your comfort zone.  So facing the fear probably means stretching your comfort zone.  You could do this gently and slowly or like Bradley Walsh you could get thrown in the deep end.  This could have one or more  of several effects: make you fearless (unlikely); build up your confidence to do more (possible); establish the fear even deeper (possibe); make you physically or emotionally ill (possible).

    Deciding what course of action to take to conquer your fears needs careful consideration as any over stretching could cause you to further withdraw into your zone of comfort.

    Lets take a break for a moment and consider those who have been brought up doing things we would need to summon up some courage to do.  Like circus performers for instance introduced to the high wires or trapeze.  To them it is simply a part of their life but they may have other fears that we cope with easily.

    This example may offer us some insight into the base of our fears.  The emotions that influence the fears are more generalised often allowing you to go about your daily life in trepidation and anticipating a disaster.  

    We only have the past. the present and what we imagine for the future, to live up to and influence our perceptions and choices. 

    So in some ways  our fears that we live with are like self-fulfilling prophecies in that we choose the option most like what we fear to take as our reality.  This is one of the areas that we can work on to improve our safe space.  Once we feel the anxiety of fear or the result of a perceived negative experience we can take the time to look at the situation and do our best to introduce new perspective to view it through.

    One perspective could be to imagine you are someone else who you admire and who you believe would be able to handle this situation more confidently than you did.  Allow yourself to experience their perspective with your body and your mind.

    Another way would be to imagine yourself distanced from the  situation in some way.  Up in the air like a  bird looking down on it;  behind the situation and far away; from yesterday; from tomorrow; from next year.

    All these things are increasing your experiences and options for future fears and even those fears that are with you all the time known as anxiety.

    Anything that you imagine well becomes within your experience range as a memory.  That's why sports people spend great lengths of time practising in their mind achieving their sporting ambitions.

    So if you suffer from fear or anxiety then give this a go and please let me now how you get on.

    Thanks for reading.

    Andrea Lowe, Senior Hypno/psychotherapist
    at Mind and Body