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Finding Freedom with Yoga

Yoga is all about opening to new horizons. This changes how we feel about our Self, the world around us, our relationship to nature to community and with one another.

When we are in touch with our breath we recognise the emotional tone of our day to day existence by simply becoming aware of the natural rhythm of our inner being. Maybe even noticing our own heartbeat, whether our breathing is choppy and the mind racing or whether the breath is rhythmic and smooth and there is a sense of being at ease.

Yoga offers time to choose, to pause, in the moment, to recognise what's happening in our own organism, to be still and notice the coolness of the inhalation in the nostrils. Can you do this now? Feel, lengthen and experience for a moment how this consciously, continually lengthened inhalation eventually and naturally elicits a long sighing out breath.

When the exhalation simply falls away, there lies a momentary pause before the next inhalation., Time to notice the cooling and slowing down of breath and mind. Overtime this practice leads to a better sense of connection to our inner being. It forms the foundation of awareness of beginning meditation, anapanasati, mindful breathing. Mindful, in this case meaning, breath as a single pointed focus.

And when the mind wanders, we are now able to find breath as a potential anchor on which to rest awareness. Alternatively, if this doesn't work for you, try sensing the weight in the feet, seat or hands, depending upon whether you are sitting, standing or lying down. This too may act as an anchor to enable us to draw the scattered mind within and for us to experience the inner dimension of our being.

Breathing awareness practises can be simple like following the flow of breath in the nostrils or they may be more structured as offered in the overlay of a breathing pattern, as in the practice of Pranayama. Prana. means breath energy or life force and yama means to restraint or impose a pattern. These ancient practices have been found to help calm the nervous system, ease a busy mind, help to increase and stabilise mobilisation of the body.

So yoga, is not just about making postures.. Breathing practices, as well as meditation are integral to both a balanced body and balanced mind. They serve as a direct aid to improving our mental health, as well as to bring balance, ease and efficiency of movement to the physical body whilst helping to calm a very busy mind.

Begin now. Make an intention for a set time each day just to pause with a few mindful breaths or sitting in stillness, wherever you are and just for a short amount of time, say 5 very slow mindful breaths, and witness the inner movements.

There is no right or wrong way of doing a practise of noticing a wandering mind and choosing to either let it roam or choose to find an anchor and observe. Begin with different seated positions, lying down, or standing. Witness what is arising, re-forming or falling away in the mind. Then, try taking a posture for 2 mins. Start by being aware of the scattered mind, draw attention inwards to your anchor and how it connects the body and mind to gravity, then rest awareness on the sensation of breath. Give it a try and see how it goes.


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