Sahasrara – Understanding Your Crown Chakra

Each cell in your body is individually alive. When you put them all together, the resulting form is also alive. “You” and the sum of all your cells live your life of work, family and friends. Nothing you do is directly what your individual cells do, yet they stay alive and so do you.

If we generalise that thinking, then all the plants and animals on the planet together might also add up to make a much bigger organism. The Earth itself might be alive, literally a planetary life form of its own. It certainly sounds plausible.

Where does the reasoning end? Well, if there’s life on other planets then – perhaps – all life everywhere adds up to a universe which is itself a form of life. What I’m getting to is that it’s at least plausible that a consciousness far greater than the human mind exists. Quite how it came to be…I don’t know. I’ve presented one idea, but that’s just an idea. Anyway, the point at which this greater consciousness (if it’s there at all) connects to its human counterpart is sahasrara.

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Vishuddhi chakra

It’s worth starting with a (very paraphrased) Hindu story called the Samudra manthan. I really am paraphrasing here, but in essence, gods and demons collectively wanted to find an elixir of immortality. How a common goal can unite different groups… They combined their power and unearthed it – but in the process, also released a toxin so deadly that it could destroy the whole world. This is beginning to sound more and more like modern economics! They were at a loss what to do with this terrible stuff, until Shiva stepped in. He took the poison, and drank it. He didn’t swallow it, and it remains there suspended in his throat for Vishuddhi chakra to purify and transmute. It’s said to have turned his throat blue, which is why he is often depicted blue and associates the colour blue with Vishuddhi.

Vishuddhi translates to something along the lines of special purity. To me, it’s a reminder that it’s good to be comfortable with truth. Being able to tolerate truth really does purify difficult situations – if all players in the scene really can work with the truth of the matter. To be comfortable with truth would be to be happy giving, receiving and dealing with it – even when it’s something we would rather avoid. Again, the parallels with contemporary world situations are startling.

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Reflections for Anahata chakra, your heart chakra

Anahata means sound produced without touching parts together. An unplayed musical instrument is capable of producing any melody. Anahata is a reference to the pure potential that is the force behind any creative act. Love is seen as the most creative thing of all, because it limits negativity and destruction.

We do creative things out of desire. It’s not always out of love. What’s the difference, and what’s the relationship between love and desire? The difference is that doing something out of love is doing it for the benefit of all. Recognising interdependence is an Anahata experience. For instance, with 7 billion or so people alive now, it’s no longer possible to treat the natural world as a set of resources. It’s becoming essential to participate in the life-supporting processes of the Earth, instead of just assuming they function regardless of what we do.

But desire is the access point. Through practice, we create the space to be with desires, rather than act them out. We get to understand our motives and the issues (real or imagined) that we’re trying to address. Acting out the desire is just one response: pausing for a moment means we might find a different response, such as a root-cause fix. In other words, we get beneath the wants to the real needs, we get from the mind’s desire to the heart’s desire.

Ultimately, love is usually the heart’s desire, and the actions borne out of love usually lead to the greater good.

People say that love is vulnerable. I tend to feel that love is courageous. It’s even possible that love doesn’t give a damn about anything except love! So, we can’t talk about love without talking about fear. Fear is the opposite of love in a lot of ways, because love includes and embraces, whereas fear excludes and repels.

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Ed, Hot Yoga and Yogafurie

why hot yogaI wanted to write a little about what how Hot Yoga – and of course Yogafurie – has impacted my life. Things have changed so much for me in less than ten years, and if I’m honest, I’m really looking forward to the next ten. If they’re anything like as exciting then I really won’t have time to get old…

Let me start by – really quickly – talking about how I got into Yoga and, more specifically, Hot Yoga. At school, I wanted to become a PE teacher. However, I was blessed with a family at a young age. When it came to Uni, I really thought it would be better to study IT and engineering. I thought I’d have more money that way – anyone that has a family knows that money is quite a pressure.

I enjoyed IT generally. It was technically interesting, and I met some great people. But my heart was never in it. I was interested in movement really, and this came out as a love of martial arts which I studied and taught. But then I took a very nasty knee injury in a Judo class. I could no longer practice: all I could do after that was swim and practise Yoga.

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New Years and all that…. Guest Blog by Gina Hopkins M.Sc

How many of us swear that over the Christmas season we will keep up our exercise regime and then we swear that in the New Year we will throw ourselves into the routine we had before? Did you go to your first session with vigour and then the last of holiday TV and food become an easy excuse to allow yourself to be lax?  Are the decorations still up that you really need to take down instead of going to the gym on a cold, dark night?
It’s okay.
new year

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What to Expect as a Yoga for Cancer Teacher

A Guest Article by Morven Hamilton

When I completed my teacher training as a yoga for cancer teacher in 2011, I had not previously worked with cancer survivors and I had never had a cancer patient in my class. My grandmother had had breast cancer and had overcome it in her 60s, and then again in her 70s, but I was living many hundreds of miles away and was too young to realise the gravity of her illness.

yoga for cancer

So, there I was, in front of my first group feeling very excited about what was about to ensue. Despite my inexperience and naivety I was 100% committed to the practice and absolutely sure that yoga can help anyone to overcome their difficulty and come to terms with their situation. I was on a quest to share the power of yoga with people who were suffering, and that quest had led me to Penny Brohn Cancer Care in Bristol as their resident teacher.

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Why Hot Yoga?

One of the things I really like about Yogafurie Hot Yoga classes is that we often set an intention at the start of class. It’s a few minutes to remember why we showed up, and what we might hope to change in our lives. It puts today’s class into a bigger picture of personal development goals.

We often hit the gym, or the road, every January with good intentions and a fresh determination to see it through this time. But determination gets eroded, and we stop working out or going out for that run. Perhaps that’s because we’re not taking time to remember why we’re going to the trouble.

So why hot yoga?

Hot Yoga offers some surprising benefits to anyone looking to de-stress, lose weight, rehab injuries, or increase suppleness and strength. I want to talk a bit more about all of those, but beforehand, let’s look at the method behind intention-setting in our Yogafurie classes.

why hot yoga

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Hot Yoga for Pain Management – Guest Article from Gina Hopkins M.Sc

Why now?

For those who know me and for those who don’t, I’m the lady who has Dystonia, this means my posture is pretty unusual in my neck and sometime you may notice in my back. This is what you can see. What you can’t see is the prolapsed disc at L5 causing Sciatica, sometimes in both legs, in addition to back pain. Also, you don’t see the severe neuropathy in my feet, both of them, this is extremely debilitating. You might just notice I’m off balance, take easier options and modify when exercising.

I’m not known for being a ‘Yogi’ or a Yoga fanatic, many people will be surprised I even entertain Yoga. Yoga is known for being very gentle and for those who don’t break a sweat, you’re very
wrong! I am known in Bristol for my Grappling, Wrestling, Strongman and generally being a big advocate of sport for disabled. Yoga is hard! You need to be or will get very strong from doing
Yoga!

pain management

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The Flexibly Challenged Yogi

Something that has always bugged me when I try to convince people to come to a yoga class with me is when they say, “I’d be no good at yoga, I’m not very flexible.” To which I’d reply, “neither am I!” I’ve always had short hamstrings (probably not helped by my historic love for outdoor running and lack of enthusiasm for a cool down). I also have tight hips (can’t think of a good reason for this – too much TV watching perhaps?) I also have a slight anterior pelvic tilt which basically means my bum sticks out a bit, probably caused by too much sitting.

flexibly challenged

Ten months ago, I decided to train to become a yoga teacher. I’ve always loved how yoga keeps me physically fit and calms my mind down, so I thought ‘why not?!’ So day one of yoga teacher training arrives: as you can probably imagine, I was bottom of the class in the flexibility ratings. Surrounded by a sea of bendy Wendy’s, I was facing a tough uphill struggle to be able to keep up with the others and do all the poses ‘correctly’. Luckily Ed, our wise trainer, told us, “There is no correct pose. It’s not about touching your toes. That may come with practice, but it’s about staying with your breath and being in the present moment.” Well, this was music to my ears! I didn’t need to look like all those super bendy girls on Instagram; where I got to in each pose was perfect for me (even if it was on top of a mountain of
blocks!) I also learnt that it’s incredibly unhelpful to compare yourself to others. So I stopped worrying and just tried my best.

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The whats, whys and hows of meditation

To meditate on something is to let it fill your mind. All your attention is on that one thing. If there is a thought, it’ll be about that one thing. As proficiency grows, there’ll be fewer and fewer individual thoughts during meditation. It becomes an unbroken flow of attention towards the chosen object of meditation.

meditation

There’s a few implications from this definition. First, attention and thought are treated as different experiences. You can pay attention to something without necessarily thinking about it. Example: driving. During the journey, you pay attention to the road but rarely think about the movements and decisions. Most thought is on the rest of the day, or other things important in life at the time. Here’s another example: say you’re on a course, or in a meeting, and it’s a bit boring. You know you need to pay attention, but your mind keeps wandering onto thoughts of what to do later, or other more interesting stuff. Clearly, attention and thinking really are different.

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