Smile and the world smiles with you….

Think of someone you know that has a beautiful smile, the kind that touches your heart and lifts your spirits. You see their eyes light up and they generate a warmth and joy that connects from within.

The likelihood is that you are smiling as you think of this person. Your body relaxes, your breathing is steady, and your mood lifts.

Studies have shown that the act of smiling, alters your body’s chemistry and elevates your mood. We only have to try it to find out!

I will often invite people to smile during a yoga class. If we are holding a yoga pose that requires balance, focus and concentration, we might notice that we tighten in the mouth and hold our breath. Softly smiling however releases tension in the facial muscles, we also let go of tension in the mind and the body. A reminder to breathe steadily in and out through the nose counteracts any feelings of tightness. When we take deeper slower breaths, with a typically longer exhale, we stimulate one of the key nerves of the body, the vagus nerve. Activating this nerve slows the heart rate, reduces blood pressure and helps us feel more calm and at ease.

The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the human body and is the main pathway connecting the gut to the brain. It is in charge of reducing and turning off the ‘fight or flight’ response of the body. You can consciously activate the vagus nerve to induce inner-calm through relaxing the muscles of the face and breathing steadily in and out through the nose.

Try this:

Sitting comfortably on a chair or on a cushion, take a nice inhale through the nose and sigh out through the mouth. Do this a couple of times.

  • Settle yourself and notice your normal breath as it is in this moment.
  • Take a breath in through the nose, pause, and then exhale out through the nose, long and slow.
  • Centre yourself in the here and now, feeling the length in your spine, notice how your shoulders drop a little with each out breath.
  • Now, take a deep steady inhale through the nose, breathe down into the lower belly, feel your ribcage expand, then your chest. Stay with the pause at the top of your inhale. Then take a long deep exhale through the nose, emptying your chest, the rib area and the lower belly. Feel that sense of slowing down as you continue with this breath, softly smiling as you do so.
  • Breathe in smiling, feeling the healing, nourishing aspects of oxygen in your body. As you hold the breath for a few seconds, imagine it radiating health and nourishment inside you. Then breathe out thinking “Letting Go”, releasing all of the tension in your body through your exhale.

You can do this breathing at any point throughout the day, waiting at the train station, queuing in the supermarket, or intentionally taking the time out to do this at home or at work.

Keep smiling…..and, of course, keep breathing!

We are what we repeatedly do

We all have our positive and negative habit energies, cultivated over the course of our lives, a result of conditions and circumstances over time.

If we are aware of our negative habit energies or behaviours, then we might choose to do something about them, especially if we start to become aware of the detrimental impact on ourselves and those we interact with. The start of the process is befriending the self and becoming aware of how we act in the world, getting to know who we are from the inside out, stepping back and viewing this world of I, Me and Mine.

One way to begin is by bringing attention to the breath, even for a moment, this will set the stage for facing that moment, and the next one with greater clarity. It creates a small window to tune into the body and the mind, sensing what’s going on.

It takes practice to catch our reactions as they are emerging. Through ongoing meditation and mindfulness practice we start to lessen the hold that repetitive thought patterns can have on the mind and the body. Over time, through self observation, reflection, and self understanding, we can affect change, bit by bit, until the grip of the negative habit energy starts to loosen itself. Using the breath as an anchor in difficult moments we can create space so that instead of amplifying our reaction we can pause and choose how to respond.

The negative habit energy will not disappear completely, but overtime will reduce in volume.

As Aristotle said, we are what we repeatedly do, so let’s make the time and the effort to become the better version of ourselves.

Life is like the (dutch or british) weather, it is never the same for very long!

Life would be dull if things stayed just the way we wanted them to be. Every minute, every second there is constant change and movement taking place, in everything. In this moment,- sitting or standing, wherever you are, change is happening in your body, right down to the most subtle level.

I feel good right now, I want to stay feeling good. It’s bright and sunny, it may rain later, it may hail or even snow. I might cry. Yet I want to stay feeling good.

We want to cling to the joy, show aversion to the pain, make it go away somehow.  It is easier perhaps to stay present with what is joyful, yet often, ironically, we can be more present with suffering because it feels more raw.  To be present in whatever mood state or situation we must practice being in touch with our mind state and body state and we can do this through the breath. Conscious breathing is our anchor to finding balance and composure in the midst of change.

Circumstances change, people change, everything changes, even though we can delude ourselves into thinking otherwise.  Becoming aware of this helps to create a more balanced and contented perspective. All of us will face sickness and death, all the big topics we don’t like to think about when it comes to impermanence, especially our own. Yet confront them, – see that change is all pervasive, understand it and embrace it.  Make the most of your life and your potential for being. There is nothing passive about accepting impermanence!

 

 

Herinneringen

I am learning Dutch and the word herinneringen is one I came across at the weekend, I wanted to say: “memories are a funny thing”. (I didn’t get much beyond the first word, herinneringen!).

What is the memory of this summer just gone, was it a good one? What defines that?

Memories are part and parcel of the complex nature of being, some form deep emotional roots, others are so transient they evaporate. We cannot be who we are without our backlog of memory files, created moment by moment; they form and shape the narrative of our identity. Some files gets edited and re-edited as we retrieve them, talk about them,  and embellish them. The weight of those files, is either the baggage we carry on our backs, or,  the notepad that weighs very little.

Herinneringen is an interesting concept when we talk about mindfulness. Mindfulness is often interpreted as moment to moment awareness, but it is of course bound up with memory. The traditional Pali meaning of the word mindfulness (Sati), is seated somewhere in the realms of remembering, calling to mind. How we experience successions of now moments is based on the history of how we experience and interpret our life.

Think back on part of your summer, how much of what you remember and recollect truly reflects the experience? There is a tendency for the remembering self to focus on the negative aspects, even if they only constitute a small part of the overall experience.

The cultivation of mindfulness helps create memory files that are less judgemental, less prone to mental elaboration. We learn to experience  our day to day without getting caught up in the proliferating narrative and the meta narrative that ensues. This happens over time as we develop our mindfulness practice and get to know our selves better.

Herinneringen

I am learning Dutch and the word herinneringen is one I came across at the weekend, I wanted to say: “memories are a funny thing”. (I didn’t get much beyond the first word, herinneringen!).

What is the memory of this summer just gone, was it a good one? What defines that?

Memories are part and parcel of the complex nature of being, some form deep emotional roots in our being, others are so transient they evaporate into the ether. We cannot be who we are without our backlog of memory files that are being created each moment; some files gets edited and re-edited as we retrieve them, talk about them,  and embellish them. The weight of those files, is either the baggage we carry on our backs, or the notepad that weighs nothing.

Herinneringen is an interesting concept when we talk about mindfulness. Minfulness is often interpreted as moment to moment awareness, but it is of course bound up with memory. How we experience successions of now moments is based on the history of how we experience our lives and how we recollect those experiences, what emotions and embellishments we attach to them.

The cultivation of mindfulness helps create memory files that are less judgmental, less prone to mental elaboration. We learn to experience  our day to day without getting caught up in the proliferating narrative and the meta narrative that ensues. Heed the remembering self through experiencing moment to moment life without the negative bias that can be the rod of the remembering self.

 

Home

Satty Yoga is integrated yoga and mindfulness, a synergy between the mind, the body and the breath. A process of moving into balance and harmony through a physical practice that reveals the expansiveness of the mind and the natural creativity of the body.

The practice allows us to get to know ourselves better through tuning into our bodies and our minds. This tuning in, or soft listening, is cultivated through the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness is an active process with many aspects to it. The most common aspect is knowing what we are experiencing whilst we are experiencing it. Being able to drop into present moment awareness without judging or story telling.

We experience the natural energetics of the body and at the same time still the fluctuations of the mind, the two go hand in hand.

You do not need to be flexible to try yoga, the greatest flexibility required is from the mind! You work with the body’s natural intuition, softly listening, moving with the ebb and flow of the breath, moving and feeling into your rhythm towards greater mental and physical well being. Satty Yoga facilitates the process of transformation, YOU make it happen.

Smile from within 🙂